Criticism | Beware of Mandated Kindness

Beware of Mandated Kindness

© 2017 Vernon Miles Kerr

San Francisco _West Portal Monthly_ columnist, Manfred Wolf, in this month’s “This Time, This Place” column, examines the many facets of the current trans-atlantic trend to coerce kindness and “sensitivity” out of the populace, not only by public shaming, but—more ominously—by governmental mandate.  Here is the column, in its entirety, posted here with the permission of the author.

Winners and Losers

by Manfred Wolf

The noted Dutch columnist Rob Hoogland recently wrote in the newspaper De Telegraaf of a new rule in Sweden requiring youth teams of young soccer players up to age thirteen to no longer keep score.  Evidently this ruling is the Swedish Soccer League’s best interpretation of the United Nations Treaty for the Rights of the Child.

Hoogland works out the logic in back of this, but any reader of this column, living as we all do in a time and place of political correctness, could easily do the same. The new rule ensures that while there may be no winners, at the very least we’re sparing an equal number of children the ordeal of being losers.

Numerous American examples come to mind. If the whole class gets a Valentine’s Day card, then some children will be saved from getting no card.

But actually, the Swedish example is worse: after all it’s an essential part of the pleasure of playing soccer that your team might win.

And, furthermore, isn’t losing also important? It may be less fun to lose, but it can be said to be good for you. You don’t even have to go all the way to the notion of “character building” to defend the principle of score-keeping. There’s something important you can gain from it.

But there are, of course, two sides to this whole matter. Inevitably, these P.C. attitudes have created a kinder world. Who would argue with the greater considerateness shown the disabled? Who would take issue with the various rules giving more work opportunities to the handicapped?

The other side is that an unnecessary coddling has crept into our lives. People are encouraged to feel overly sensitive, to be hurt by sometimes imaginary slights.

Besides, I cannot escape the feeling that underneath all this legalistic kindness lurks an authoritarian mentality ready to pounce on insensitive souls. Some of the rules and regulations that are designed to prevent hurt, or scorn, or offense, or denigration of others, are produced by people who love rules, formulas and restrictions. I sense a whiff of totalitarianism:  you can be called out for being “insensitive,” and you may need to be “reeducated.” Teams of psychologists must teach you through sensitivity training to understand that you have committed mental harm to those who are the most vulnerable among us. You should be made to recant your ways, and if you’re not ready to do so, then perhaps you should be punished by boring lectures from some aggregate of bureaucrats, psychologists, and other specialists in sensitivity.

Beware of people who want to teach you to be better than you are. And, above all, beware of the institutionalization of kindness. It is often imposed by those who are far from kind.

Manfred Wolf’s new book, “Muslims in Europe: Notes, Comments, Questions,” is available on


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