Editor’s note: Incivility should not be new normal

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

The snowflakes that populate the country’s colleges and universities are transitioning from offended to offensive. And their actions are threatening free speech.

These students are so put out by any viewpoint that differs from their own, they are rebranding college campuses as places where diversity of thought goes to die.

That’s a troubling trend.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, one of the favorite targets of the left, got another dose of incivility last week when she gave the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black institution in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Students in the audience were so outraged that DeVos stood in front of them, they booed and screamed and turned their backs to her. It’s painful to watch.

DeVos continued on with her 20-minute speech, which ironically called for tolerance.

“While we will undoubtedly disagree at times, I hope we can do so respectfully,” DeVos told the unruly crowd. “Let's choose to hear one another out.”

Too bad many of these graduates weren’t paying attention. Some students were reportedly offended by a statement DeVos made in February about historically black colleges and institutions. She had said these schools were pioneers in school choice, which was an unfortunate choice of words.

She quickly clarified her meaning and emphasized the administration’s intent to support these colleges.

Regardless of what these students think of DeVos, she’s still a human being deserving of basic civility. And she also has devoted much of her life to helping minority, low-income children have access to a better education.

What happened at Bethune-Cookman isn’t unusual. This kind of bad behavior on campus is happening all the time.

Berkeley canceled a speech by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter last month after threats of violence. And dozens of other campus events have been disrupted or canceled since last year for similar reasons, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

It’s also a reflection of what’s taking place off campus. The left claims to embrace everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender or class.

Yet when it comes to diversity of ideas — especially conservative ones — forget it.