If I had to tear a page out of Nick Saban’s carefully guarded playbook while trying to describe the way the endless discussion of race dominates almost every facet of life these days, I’d have to say it’s running through society “like [excrement] through a tin horn.”

Now I’m not sure whether the simile Coach Saban used at a press conference last week was stuck in his head from an earlier time in life or if he just verbally married (now legal in Alabama) poop and musical instruments in a rare moment of silliness, but it’s sure stuck in my head. Kind of like my dad’s saying about a frog with wings not having to “bump his ass when he hops.” Feel free to use that one Nick.

Saban was colorfully trying to describe the situation of being overwhelmed in some capacity, such as when an opposing offense starts running the ball down your defense’s throat. I’m still not sure why one would choose a tin horn versus brass to transport excrement — really I’m not sure why one would use a horn at all, especially if a cowbell was handy — but I am totally in tune with the feeling of being run over.

At this point I’m sure many Americans feel like they’ve been on the field for too many plays while listening to endless discussions about race, fairness and what’s offensive. And before anyone gets their nose wildly out of joint, I’m not trying to say race relations aren’t still an issue in this country. What I am saying is the current method of dealing with the issues that still exist is actually making the problem worse.

It’s nothing new for activists and political zealots on both ends of the spectrum to bludgeon the rest of society, but the tin horn is overflowing these days. We’ve moved from more tangible discussions of police brutality and whether or not people are being gunned down because of race, to a nationwide “movement” about the dangers of walking across a college campus and being offended. While there is a gravity to the topic of police brutality, the complaints flowing from university campuses hardly deserve the hysteria.

Groups like Concerned Student 1950 at the University of Missouri or We Are Done at the University of Alabama are attempting to elevate the unpleasantness of sporadic idiotic behavior and name-calling to a national crisis level. These groups issue demands for apologies from people who didn’t wrong them for things almost impossible to be controlled. In the process of trying to guarantee themselves a “safe space” from ever being offended, these student organizations are absolutely willing to run all over everyone else like … that tin horn thing.

What began at Missouri has spread across the country. At many universities now, students are issuing demands for a variety of things ostensibly centered around stopping racism. In most schools, demands involve administrators apologizing for systemic racism or scraping the names of long-dead white dudes off buildings because their actions from decades or centuries ago offend modern sensibilities. It seems students who should have learned how those they study were people of an earlier time with its own set of sensibilities believe it makes more sense to simply expunge anyone who doesn’t measure up to 2015 standards from public view.

At the University of Alabama, the SGA president has put together a video where he and two other black students describe some of the challenges they’ve faced, most of which involve someone calling them the “n-word.” The young lady in the video claims after Obama’s re-election white students were kicking in doors and beating black students, something that pushes the bounds of credulity. It’s highly implausible that type of behavior would have escaped intense legal and media scrutiny if it actually took place.

The irony that the first black SGA president in 40 years is demanding the administration expose and stop “The Machine” — the Greek system-driven group that controlled SGA elections for years — while leading the charges against UA is clearly lost on these “protesters.” They come off primarily as a protest looking for a cause.

Most of what we’ve gotten from the college protest groups is a collection of buzzwords and phrases we’ll be hearing for years to come. When someone is called a name now, it’s a “micro-aggression.” The aforementioned “safe spaces” are where “students of color” can go and feel totally protected, as if in a womb of some sort, because danger constantly lurks on the way to biology class. We’ve also learned the term “black pain,” something non-blacks have no way of possibly understanding but should recognize as being ever-present.

Why these sensitive souls don’t recognize their demands actually presuppose their fellow white students are a threat, no matter their actual intentions, is lost on me. The activists feel scared walking across the mostly white college campuses, an emotion white people are told it’s racist to feel when walking through a predominantly black part of town. White students, faculty and administrators who had nothing to do with slavery or segregation are expected to accept that it’s OK for protesters to constantly insinuate white evil and assign bad intentions to the honkies.   

The student protesters appear to believe anything that offends or might remind them of something that offends is racist. The power of hurt feelings has gotten so strong a university in Ottawa, Canada, even canceled a free yoga class because someone decided it was taken from an Indian culture that “experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy” at the hands of the British. Even stretching, it seems, is culturally insensitive.

I’m not trying to downplay the hurt feelings a black student would have if some redneck called him the n-word. It’s wrong and obviously offensive. But the universities and society in general aren’t doing student protesters any favors legitimizing their ridiculous demands. In the real world there aren’t safe spaces and people don’t always care about your “pain,” no matter what color it is.

Seems to me student protesters would be far better off racially if they focused on the progress that has been made, and understood their generation is far removed from the sins of the past and that the vast, vast majority of their fellow students wish them no offense. It’s time for everyone to stop living in the past.

University protesters also should realize this barrage has overrun most everyone’s tin horn at this point and it’s getting harder and harder to care what they’re offended about.