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UTC students incensed at pro-Trump chalk drawings washed them away and replaced them with messages that said "Black UTC supports unity."
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Jay Greeson
The terrifying phenomenon that nearly forced up to 50 Emory students into crisis therapy has spread.

Like the locusts of the Old Testament or the Black Death of the 14th century, the pro-Donald Trump messages written in chalk on sidewalks have now arrived at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Oh the humanity. Have we executed an emergency escape strategy? How many lives have been lost because someone decided to express — in chalk! — support for the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination?

Excuse my tongue-in-cheek response, but it's better than the finger-in-throat gag reflex that all of this genuinely inspires.

This counts as offensive in today's 21st century pillow-soft world of modern-day academia? Worse yet, expressing her opinion is apparently costing the writer a spot on the UTC student government association.

According to reports and social media, a student group has asked for Hailey Pickett's resignation for her alleged role in the chalk messages.

So we have a student association forbidding its members from having a political opinion unless it either meets with their viewpoint or is considered politically correct enough.

Is this 1980s Russia?

Just to be clear, UTC has an 11-point checklist for proper sidewalk chalking etiquette, a list that details where and when and how close and who can use chalk.

In fact, the policy says clearly that there can't be chalk messages in Heritage Plaza (rule 4) and that violating the chalk policy means a student conduct code violation (rule 11).

(And if you think this policy is new and in reaction to the Emory debate last month, well, according to UTC records, the school's chalking fundamentals were instituted long before that and were last updated in May 2013.)

Bemoan our society that is overrun with rules and regulations already designed to create homogeneous viewpoints and "safe spaces" in which no one ever has their feelings hurt.

A UTC spokesman said the university is staying out of the details on each side, and while policy was violated — by the original pro-Trump message as well as the group that erased it and replaced it with it "Black UTC supports unity" — "nobody's in trouble."

"Clearly, we want our students to feel free to exercise freedom of expression, freedom of speech in a civil, respectful way, and that's really what we're hoping students will come around to," UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell said in a statement. "We're hoping that our students will recognize this as a teachable moment."

Teachable? Maybe. As long as it's not about the safe space conundrums and please spare me the "all-inclusive" stance that far too many folks use in moments like this.

All-inclusive? Hogwash. The all-inclusive crowd is for all-inclusiveness as long as everyone shares their viewpoint.

That's not all-inclusive, that's seclusion at its very core. In fact, while we should all want everyone to have opportunity, I do not want everyone to have the same point of view. At best, that's boring. At worst, that turns us into a living society of manila folders hoping to keep everything together as we strive to never offend or inspire or motivate or anger or entertain or anything else that raises the emotions that make life worth living.

Respecting everyone's view as long as they share a similar point of view is as bigoted and self-important as the target of this faux rage.

And worse yet, it's the over-reactionary hyperbole like this that fuels the Trump engine. It's throwing more trash into the dumpster fire that is the GOP meltdown.

This type of hypersensitive, nonsensical reaction adds another verse to Trump's song about broken bureaucracies.

In fact, Trump's primary weapon in this campaign has been his all-too-familiar message of "Make America Great Again."

Heck, when we get to a place where folks are penalized for supporting a particular candidate, maybe we should focus on making America America again.

Unless, of course, that offends the delicate sensibilities of the whiny among us.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com. His "Right to the Point" column runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays on A2.

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