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David Thompson
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November 20, 2008

Comments

Anna

Nobody expects the diversity police!

If the little gremlin in the photo "intervened" in my lunch conversation he'd get a plate in his face.

David

Faced with such presumption, it would, I think, be quite difficult to resist the urge to do violence. Yet if I were to punch one of these little shitstains senseless and then set fire to his twitching body as a warning to others, *I’d* be the one viewed as the villain of the piece. There’s no justice, I tell you, “social” or otherwise.

carbon based lifeform

"It is just one of many recent efforts to promote diversity - such as gender-neutral washrooms, prayer space, and halal and kosher food service… The editorial board of the student newspaper, the Queen's Journal, acknowledged the good intentions of this latest effort, but was skeptical of a program that "seems to be an inadequate, lack lustre attempt to deal with social inequalities.""

It ever ends, does it? Social perfection is always just out of reach.

newbie

"They believe in everyone's entitlements, which are never met quite sufficiently and need to be extended endlessly. For them, the perfect society will result in perfect people."

http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon1119td.html

gaffee

"It's unlikely six facilitators in a crowd of thousands will have much impact on fostering dialogue in residences," they write, adding that the facilitators could face "hostility” from students who feel they have been "cornered" or had their privacy violated."

What's the PC way of saying "get the fuck out of my face"?

David

“It ever ends, does it? Social perfection is always just out of reach.”

It’s the promise that never quite delivers but usually costs something. Just another imposition here, another intrusion there, and paradise will surely be ours. This time.

And those who favour such things often call themselves “liberal,” oblivious to the irony.

Horace Dunn

I can't help speculating about the people who developed, and are implementing, this "initiative". I wonder how they would have reacted, when they were undergraduates, if their universities and colleges had announced a scheme like the one under discussion.

Am I alone in thinking that they would have seen it as an attempt by the unfeeling authorities to force them to conform? Doubtless they would have insisted in the importance of inter-generational conflict. It is the function of the young to challenge the status quo, face down the orthodoxy etc etc.

Presumably, now, the young need have no such concerns, since their elders have pretty much got everything sussed. All the young need to do is to take care not to rock the boat.

This is pure speculation, mind. Perhaps I've got them all wrong. But somehow, I don't think so...

gaffee

"This is not about preaching. It's not about advice giving. It's about hearing where students are at."

"It's not trying to stifle something. It's trying to foster something."

"it's not like we're pulling someone aside and reprimanding them about their behaviour."

"They're not disciplinarians. They're called facilitators for a reason."

And there's nothing suspicious about all this pre-emptive denial?

David

“And there’s nothing suspicious about all this pre-emptive denial?”

Methinks their subtext is showing.

templar knight

You all know it's all about the whiteness!

Anna

Horace

"I can't help speculating about the people who developed, and are implementing, this "initiative"."

"Ms. Girgrah said this status will give the facilitators "a little bit of credibility and perhaps some respect.""

Clue. :)

David

“It’s trying to foster something.”

Yes, compliance.

But I wonder what happens if the target doesn’t comply and has opinions of their own. Perhaps opinions regarding the “facilitators” and their extraordinary arrogance. Will the target’s behaviour still be “interrupted” in a “non-blameful and non-judgmental manner”? Or will passive-aggressive condescension become a little less passive?

pst314

"these little shitstains"

You're showing these liberal fascists more respect than they deserve.

Anna

Don't make him angry. He's totally badass. :D

jrdroll

"Idle hands are the devil's playground"

clazy

Some students will deliberately set out to attract the facilitators, in order to toy with them. The facilitators will believe that this behavior demonstrates the potential for committing a hate crime, and the pranksters will be suspended to protect the safety of the student body.

David

Clazy,

Like so many of such measures it does have a whiff of self-fulfilling prophesy. First, impose on people in a way that’s patronising and offensive, then wait for them to react with hostility before claiming that the induced hostility is a sign of some moral shortcoming and a validation of the original intrusion.

Anna,

“He’s totally badass. :D”

Well, it rather illustrates the problem.

Horace Dunn

I've been trying to see this is a gentle positive light. As an attempt to nurture intellectual discourse and development. But when I read:

"It's not like we roam around the halls looking for people having conversations. If somebody is yelling something across the dining hall that's a racial slur, yes, we will intervene in that situation."

I'm unable to see it as anything other than official policing of debate. Pure and simple.

Anyhow, I'm pretty certain that, now that Mr Hayward's picture has been published, students will know to shun him. Never mind Mr Hayward. Coventry's very nice this time of year, I'm told.

David

Horace,

When people use terms like “dialogue facilitators” and “social justice” – especially in the context above - I see no reason to assume their motives are benign. I tend to view the wilful lack of clarity as a sign of dishonesty or unbecoming intent.

Horace Dunn

David

Yes, indeed. But what fascinates and bewilders is the seeming lack of self-knowledge among these people. That is, assuming that they're not consciously intent upon being oppressors. Apart from anything else, the message being sent to students on this campus is that the authorities do not consider them capable of constructive and worthwhile disourse without intervention and guidance from the authorities. If that is true, then why did they agree to take them on as students? It used to be thought that the ideal student was someone capable of inventive and imaginative thought. Whatever happened to the notion that education was a "drawing out" of an individual?

There was a time when the Left concerned itself with the rights of individuals, freedom of conscience and the right to dissent. There's a whole lot of hypocrisy going on here. These "educators" seem to have little faith in the young people they're being paid to educate, which suggests to me that they're in the wrong line of business.

David

“But what fascinates and bewilders is the seeming lack of self-knowledge among these people.”

Maybe that’s what they’re keen to share - a lack of self-knowledge. Or a lack of mental autonomy, at least.

pst314

"a lack of self-knowledge"

Or maybe they have plenty of self-knowledge, and they're in touch with their Inner Maoist.

Jim Whyte

"Daniel Hayward, a 46-year-old Master's of Divinity student, applied to be a facilitator believing the role would offer him an opportunity to connect with many different students."

Hmmm. And I felt like a loser for finishing graduate school at 26. At Queen's, no less.

spiro

The greatest irony is that this suppression of free expression is cropping up first on University campuses.
For all the screeching and gnashing of teeth that the "Patriot Act" received here in the states, I have not heard of one incident of government cronies commandeering private conversations for the any purpose.

One other point. Where are the students' parents in all this? At the very least, what caring parent would want his/her child daily bullied and intimidated into an "acceptable" mindset. Nice "education" er..."RE-Education" -- this makes Marine Corp bootcamp tactics look loose and tolerant.

HatlessHessian

What noble intentions, shielding these children from harmful thoughts that might challenge, confront or confuse their minds raised in the purity of ideological education. Of course, these most well-meant efforts only lead to the complete collapse of the un-hardened minds once they encounter real argumentative adversity. It truly is a shame to see the product of such protected practices shattered at the mere mention of confrontation.

All kidding aside, what kind of sick bastard tries to deprive a young individual from learning how to deal with challenging thoughts and arguments? Why do liberals continue to produce the most useless, wimpy and scared creatures that are nothing but easy targets for the real predators?

bgc

I'm not generally in favour of assault, but I do hope we see a few bloody noses and black eyes - sorry, eyes of colour - resulting from this.

rxc

Yuu know, if this works in the universities, maybe the new administration might want to try something similar in public transportation. They could hire a bunch of sensitive types to ride the metro in Washington and "intervene" in the discussions that the riders are having, to try to get them to talk more about race and power and authority and privilege, while going to/from work each day.

Doean't that sound like a great way to build community? Especiallly since som many more people are going to be riding public transport instead of driving their polluting cars.

Bob-B

It's amusing the way they say they will be 'non-judgmental'. Does this mean they will be just as likely to intervene if someone is saying 'Bush is a war criminal' as they are if someone is saying 'Islam is not a peaceful religion'? I doubt it.

Rob

"Daniel Hayward, a 46-year-old Master's of Divinity student, applied to be a facilitator believing the role would offer him free accomodation, food and an income while at the same time an opportunity to get off with younger female students."

Facilitators? Political narks. Political commissars, making sure that all thoughts are pure.

Rob

"It's amusing the way they say they will be 'non-judgmental'"

Whenever someone says they are "non-judgemental", you know that they are, in fact, as judgemental as hell about things they don't emphatically agree with. The people who claim most to be 'tolerant' are the fascists who'd ruin you for not shedding a tear during Obama's acceptance speech.

J. Peden

Trapping people while they are trying to eat is a nice touch.

J. Peden

Just let me eat my waffle!

TDK

This seems vaguely on topic
http://www.nas.org/polArticles.cfm?doc_id=296
... an interview with Tom Wolfe discussing his new book and American academia. Here he discusses the Summer controversy:

""Iannone: Yes. You think he could have resisted? He should have stood up more forcefully?

Wolfe: No question about it. They weren't attacking him on intellectual grounds but on religious grounds. They were treating him as a heretic, a transgressor. They were assaulting his character. We learned how to deal with that one in our sophomore year at St. Christopher's. If someone impugns your character, you can't waste time trying to defend it. You'll just end up sitting there wringing your hands and bleating something lame like, "I am, too,a good person."

Iannone: So you should do what instead?

Wolfe: Attack the attacker. Attack his—in this case, their—character. All he had to say was, "I cannot…believe…what I am now witnessing…members of the Harvard faculty taking a grossly anti-intellectual stance, violating their implicit vow to cherish the free exchange of ideas, going mad because a hypothesis that has been openly discussed for almost half a century offends some ideological passion of the moment, acting like the most benighted of Puritans from three centuries ago ransacking all that is decent and rational in search of witches, causing this great university to become the laughingstock of the academic world here and abroad, sacrificing your very integrity in the name of some smelly little orthodoxy, as Orwell called beliefs like the ones you profess. I'm more than disappointed in you. I'm ashamed of you. Is that really how you see your mission here? If so, you should resign…now!...forthwith!...and take to the streets under your own names, not Harvard's, and forbear being so small-minded and egotistical as to try to drag Harvard down to your level. Ladies, gentlemen…kindly do not display your ignorance…on these hallowed premises…while holding aloft the flags, the standards, of this university. Be honest with yourselves, even if you can't be honest with Harvard. Look…think…and see…what you have become." That would have taken care of the whole thing.""

David

“They weren’t attacking him on intellectual grounds but on religious grounds. They were treating him as a heretic, a transgressor.”

Maybe the preposterous nature of the exercise becomes clearer if we swap the “social justice” blather for something else:

“Excuse me; I just heard you talking about waffles. They’re very good, aren’t they? Let me tell you how waffles relate to God’s plan for you…” [ sits down, uninvited ] “Have you felt God’s love? Would you like to...?”

I think it captures the dynamic.

David

TDK,

Actually, I think the Lawrence Summers incident is pretty indicative of what’s taking place. The attack on him was irrational and dishonest and stank of passive-aggressive thuggery. Those who were shrieking loudest, including Maureen Stanton, claimed to be aghast and “deeply offended” yet offered little by way of credible rebuttal. The crux of the “outrage” was an appeal to injured feelings - a pattern that was mirrored in the subsequent discussion here. Summers was raising questions that simply must not be aired, and for which he must be punished. As indeed he was:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/09/diversity.html

Conversely, “social justice issues” must occupy all possible space at all possible times, including private conversations over lunch. The idea, it seems, is not to encourage “debate” in any meaningful sense of the word, but to predefine the terms on which discussion is *allowed* to take place and the language that may be used. Which isn’t the same thing at all.

JuliaM

HatlessHessian: "All kidding aside, what kind of sick bastard tries to deprive a young individual from learning how to deal with challenging thoughts and arguments?"

The kind of sick bastard who doesn't want to have to deal with any conflicting viewpoints from this young indivisual in the future...

gaffee

"The idea, it seems, is not to encourage "debate" in any meaningful sense of the word, but to predefine the terms on which discussion is *allowed* to take place"

Exactly.

David

Gaffee,

Well, if someone can dictate the framing and language of a debate before it even begins, they’ve a better chance of winning and getting their own way. They can then reject as inadmissible any evidence or argument that can be construed as offensive, however dubiously. This is essentially what Maureen Stanton and her fellow harpies did, with shameful success.

It’s the passive-aggressive approach and very much in fashion.

J. Peden

"It’s the passive-aggressive approach and very much in fashion."

And also now known as "help", or at least the only kind that counts.

Anna

"A sampling of some behaviour that could warrant attention from university-appointed student facilitators, tasked with policing students' offensive language at Queen's:

If a student uses the phrase "That's so gay" in conversation.

If a student calls someone or something "retarded."

If a student writes a homophobic, racist or other derogatory remark in a public space, such as on a residence poster or classmate's door.

If a student avoids a classmate's birthday party for faith-based reasons."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081119.wlanguage19/BNStory/National/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20081119.wlanguage19

Anyone want to bet that list is going to get a lot longer?

David

Anna,

“Anyone want to bet the list is going to get a lot longer?”

Of course it will, as all such lists do, at least until they’re challenged publicly. The exercise must be validated by finding, or inventing, new verbal injustice to correct. As I noted in previous posts, the list of things covered by campus speech codes is bizarre and hilarious – or it would be hilarious, if it weren’t being done for real. And note how the list conflates genuinely malicious acts – scrawling racist graffiti on a student’s door – with things that are trivial – for instance, referring to a naff film as being “a bit gay”.

For reasons stated earlier, I very much doubt these measures are about civility or “fostering debate” or “engaging issues spontaneously”. (People do lie about their motives, after all; some more than others.) It’s much more likely to be about the exercise of power and the propagation of a neurotic worldview. Specifically, a neurotic worldview that’s difficult to support in a free exchange of ideas. Hence the efforts to dictate what kind of discussion - and thinking - is permissible.

J. Peden

It’s much more likely to be about the exercise of power and the propagation of a neurotic worldview. Specifically, a neurotic worldview that’s difficult to support in a free exchange of ideas. Hence the efforts to dictate what kind of discussion - and thinking - is permissible.

Of course: Free thought is what such people hate - along with life.

J. Peden

"It's...permissable", of course.

Horace Dunn

Anna

The list you discovered raises an interesting point. Let's take "That's so gay" as an example of unacceptable discourse.

Now, what happens if the person uttering that phrase is gay? He might be homophobic, but he might also be employing irony as part of his dicourse. Egually, he might be adopting the expression, so often used to belittle and demean him, in order to undermine its power, and so empower himself.

This might make things rather difficult for the "facilitators". It would help them in their task if they had a better idea of the social background of the people they were policing.

Perhaps the students could all attach some easily recognisable badge to their clothing so that misunderstandings would be less likely to arise.

David

Horace,

“Perhaps the students could all attach some easily recognisable badge to their clothing so that misunderstandings would be less likely to arise.”

I’m thinking the whole pink triangle / yellow star arrangement would be useful here, so as to denote those who are entitled to non-literal use of the term “gay”. Of course for this to work we’ll need detailed files on each student’s sexual interests, linguistic habits and propensity for irony. But don’t worry, we’ve soon have a team working on that too.

The Thin Man

My nephew is a sweet natured and witty 12 year old. My sister waited until he was about 10 to have the talk with him about the fact that I am a big old homo.

I had two or three short conversations with him about the topic - he was curious about certain things and I did my best to answer his questions and he seemed fine with it - until a few days later when we were watching something on TV which prompted him to say something like "That's REALLY gay". (I can't remember exactly what it was, but I have to say that I thought it was REALLY gay myself.)

The realisation of what he had said stopped him in his tracks and the good natured banter we had been engaged in was replaced by a sense of profound embarrassment and awkwardness on his part.

I tried to assure him that he had caused me no offence, but he took some convincing, having had it drilled into him during 5 or 6 years of lefty indoctrination - sorry public education - that anybody who is not straight has a personality so fragile that they might collapse into some kind oppression induced coma should the word gay be connected with anything non-positive.

Presumably this is what the "attitude managers" are after. Not to tackle real prejudice and the people who might actually do me harm because of my sexuality because lets face it, they are a rapidly diminishing species and the ones who are left are very scary and would not even be amenable to the processes being described in this post, but to make themselves feel better by going after soft targets who are in fact no real threat at all.

How committed to their ideals they must be to make decent kids feel like social outcasts (exactly the effect I thought they were trying to mitigate) whilst completely avoiding the danger of standing up to actual hatred.

David

“Presumably this is what the ‘attitude managers’ are after. Not to tackle real prejudice and the people who might actually do me harm… but to make themselves feel better by going after soft targets who are in fact no real threat at all.”

Well, I think one really has to consider the possible motives involved. What would the job - as outlined by the dean of student affairs - actually entail? What are the psychological dynamics and rewards of doing such things? What kind of personality would be drawn to that kind of “work”? And how well does that sit with the claims of benign intent?

And bearing the above in mind, what are we to make of the dean’s assertion that, “If people are having a conversation… and they’re doing it loud enough for a third person to hear it… it’s not private”? Is anyone feeling remotely reassured?

As you say, it’s the comical notion of fighting oppression in - wait for it - university dining rooms. Gasp. As we all know, they’re infamous hotbeds of seething hate crime. If these “dialogue facilitators” were to venture where real ugly intent is most densely concentrated – say, the nearest council sink estate, preferably after dark – then I might say good luck to them. Though frankly, I don’t fancy their chances. But pretending to fight the power in one of the most safely PC environments it’s possible to imagine is just masturbatory pantomime and beneath contempt.

Anna

The back-pedalling begins:

"Talia Radcliffe, president of the Alma Mater Society students union, said she feels the program has been "mischaracterized." "(The program) has no coercive measures, no punitive aspects whatsoever," she said. "(It's) kind of like a platform from which to jump, rather than a wrist-slapping for bad language."

http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2008/11/20/queens-diversity-program-mischaracterized-administration/

"There were reports that Queen's University in Ontario had recruited students to eavesdrop on conversations, and were instructed to interrupt when they heard words deemed to be offensive, such as homophobic terms or those that denigrate women. But Radcliffe said the Intergroup Dialogue Program merely invites students to take part in forums and workshops. "I don't think facilitators are interrupting conversations," she said. "That's been misconstrued."

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20081119/queens_facilitators_081119/20081119?hub=TopStories

David

“The back-pedalling begins.”

No surprise there, given the unfavourable coverage. But if the project *has* been “mischaracterised” and “misconstrued,” then the dean of student affairs and at least one of the “dialogue facilitators” tasked to “intervene” have also “misconstrued” what it is they’re planning to do. Thus, the claim that students will merely be “invited to take part in workshops” doesn’t exactly convince. And how will these “dialogue facilitators” justify their role without resorting to eavesdropping and intrusion? Won’t there be an incentive to impose and provoke and thereby “reveal” a problem that needs to be “corrected”? Didn’t the dean of student affairs in charge of the project say: “If people are having a conversation… and they’re doing it loud enough for a third person to hear it… it’s not private”?

Likewise, the claim that the programme has “no coercive measures, no punitive aspects whatsoever” is dubious. It seems to me that attempts to embarrass and sermonise, however softly spoken, are pretty presumptuous, coercive and irritating. The alleged lack of official sanction, if true, is immaterial. They, not the students, have overstepped the line of propriety. Again, on what basis do the proponents of this programme feel they have any right to interrupt a private, if passionate, exchange on a contentious subject and, uninvited, prescribe the way it “should” take place? That is, after all, what the “facilitators” themselves appear to think will be happening: “Seeing if [what was said] can be said in a different manner.” Presumably, the university has procedures in place to deal with overtly malicious acts – scrawling racist graffiti on a student’s door, say – so on what moral grounds are these additional efforts justified? Isn’t it a frivolous, self-indulgent use of resources?

JuliaM

"If a student avoids a classmate's birthday party for faith-based reasons."

I'm puzzled as to what 'faith-based reasons' there might be for not attending a birthday party. And how that could be distinguished from not attending it because you can't stand him/her, or you're 'washing your hair' that night....

David

Julia,

Quite. I’m trying to imagine the mindset that lists such things without registering the, um, difficulties that immediately spring to mind. How is the implicit subjectivity and intrusion to be avoided? And why is not attending a birthday party listed alongside scrawling racist graffiti on someone’s door? Should the compilers of such lists be trusted to be either competent or benign?

Dr.Dawg

David:

I'm here almost by invitation, after taking exception to two references to physical violence, one of which appears in the last sentence of your post.

At my place, you indicated that you were simply indulging in a little hyperbole. Unfortunately, such "hyperbole" has found its way into comments elsewhere on this self-same topic. I find it somewhat alarming that for those who are quick to defend the right to freedom of expression when the target is Islam, or homosexuals (I'm thinking of cases that have been brought to various Canadian human rights tribunals), the notion of physical violence springs so quickly to their minds when it's progressive speech that's at issue.

Because, if you step back, that is we have here: individuals encouraged to speak up when they hear slurs being uttered in their presence. They have no power and no authority other than their own ability to argue. They are neither thought police nor jackbooted thugs. All they have is speech. It just happens to be speech of which you disapprove.

My ex and I once heard someone loudly use the n-word in a restaurant table next to ours. Both of us spoke up on that occasion. Were we mindless politically correct thugs, or civilized folk who didn't want their dinner spoiled? Should the fellow have kicked us both to the curb?

In any case, the subject we are discussing is likely to have been someone's fantasy:

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20081119/queens_facilitators_081119/20081119?hub=TopStories


David

Dr Dawg,

You don’t need to be invited here. You’re quite welcome.

As I said in the comments on your site*, you took my flip and obviously hyperbolical remarks - which were essentially bait, raising the issue of humour, subjectivity, etc – as indicating real physical intent, thereby advancing a misleading argument to your readers. You can use “hyperbole” in scare quotes if you wish, but the point about misinterpretation, wilfully or otherwise, remains. And it’s not a trivial issue. If you can be mistaken – and we’ve had several, lengthy exchanges so you have some idea of my humour and habits – then others will be too.

* http://www.haloscan.com/comments/drdawg/3676920871301441757/#200753

“…the notion of physical violence springs so quickly to their minds when it’s progressive speech that’s at issue... It just happens to be speech of which you disapprove.”

I have no idea what you mean by “progressive speech” but the term seems a tad presumptuous. I don’t recall criticising speech of any particular kind. I criticised the interruption and possible inhibition of private discussions by condescending interlopers, whose intention seems to be to dictate what constitutes permissible private debate. Which is not the same thing. Your attempt to frame the conversation taking place here as inhibiting “progressive speech” is similarly misleading.

“My ex and I once heard someone loudly use the n-word in a restaurant table next to ours. Both of us spoke up on that occasion.”

Good for you.

“Were we mindless politically correct thugs, or civilized folk who didn't want their dinner spoiled? Should the fellow have kicked us both to the curb?”

This is facile conflation. The situations are not equivalent for reasons outlined earlier, several times.

“In any case, the subject we are discussing is likely to have been someone’s fantasy.”

I suggest you read my comment of 10:50am today, which may cast some doubt on that. As I said earlier, if the project *has* been “mischaracterised” and “misconstrued,” then the dean of student affairs and at least one of the “dialogue facilitators” tasked to “intervene” have also “misconstrued” what it is they’re planning to do.

Dr.Dawg

David:

Thank you for your initial comment, and for directing me to the dean's remarks in your earlier one (10:50am).

When does public speech become private (or vice-versa)? The dean of student affairs has a point. A cabinet minister in Canada lost his remit because he was overheard making some damaging comments on an airplane, by a staff member for another party who subsequently publicized the minister's remarks.

My understanding was not that these facilitators would obtrusively listen in on as many conversations as possible--the campus, after all, is quite large--but would, if certain slurs were noisily uttered in their presence, remonstrate. This, if it's happening, is but an extension of programs now in place in some of our high schools, in which trained students intervene when they come across incidents of bullying and harassment.

I think this is all to the good, and the only difference that I can see between it and the anecdote I offered is that there is some training and official support involved. It's still speech met by more speech.

But back to the issue of physical violence, if I might. The fact that we have had long exchanges in the past has indicated to me (and I mean no condescension whatsoever here) that you are an urbane and civilized man. This is why your references to violence raised in me some concern. Hyperbole? All right, but why would the idea of violence even come to mind in this context? You aren't alone: I have cited other examples of this in my own post.

[OT: No comments on the BNP outing?]

Dr.Dawg

"The fact that we have had long exchanges in the past has indicated"

Read: "Our long exchanges in the past have indicated"

Sorry--I really should compose off-line.

The Thin Man

I have just posted this at Dr Dawgs site:

"Any civilized person should speak up, of course, when homophobic slurs and so on are uttered."

And who are you to decide what is homophobic? Are you gay? Has a deputation of gay people selected you to be our spokesman?

Why are you qualified to be the arbiter of what is proper and what is not?

Who died you and made you Lord High Protector of All Minorities?

Where were you and your ilk when I, whilst standing in front of the attacker to protect my boyfriend was head-butted and had two front teeth knocked out by a real homophobe,?

Sitting pretty in your safe, tenured, candy-assed university spouting this same kind of drivel - talking shops of high minded but abstract theory and "solidarity" that have a personal cost of zero.

The 6 people I was with - lefty pacifists to a man - couldn't run away fast enough.

The one man who intervened, with whom I established a long friendship was a dyed in the wool conservative, who, even though he was uncomfortable about "queers", rushed to my defence and prevented my injuries from being much worse. Where would your calculus rate that good man?

This is wholly representative of all my actual experience of homophobia.

You lefty gay-wads are all talk and will reassure yourselves that you are "right-on", choosing soft targets for your campaigns for so called equality and tolerance - while completely failing to get in the faces of those who actually exhibit hate.

Where are you now - as Californian homos resort to the N word and attack Christians and Mormons because they didn't get their way on proposition 8?

Where are you and your socialist compatriots on the vicious homophobia of Muslims?

Sitting pretty in your tenured candy-ass universities trying to control words rather than actions.

Organise a homophobia workshop on a council estate. Stand up in front of one of the lower class bully boys (the same lower class scum that you are so ardent should be supported by my taxes) that attacked me or just shut the hell up, because otherwise you are just blowing smoke and using my sexuality to score political points against people you don't like. And that's the real point here - it's not that you are motivated by any real desire to help people - you just don't like views that don't coincide with your own.

I detest your implication that free speech doesn't matter - that it is OK to open windows into mens souls over a dining room conversation whilst ignoring racism and homophobia in the communities that you view as "protected".

I detest the implication that, as a gay man, my personality is so fragile that I need YOU to stop people from making jokes about gayness or associating gayness with anything less than the totally positive. Some of the vilest people I have met are gay. Bitchy queens and racist middle class bigots whose behavior is never questioned because they have a special status in the minds of lefties. Gay men who have beaten their partners and who lie and cheat with gusto. White straights do not have a monopoly on bad behavior.

Double-standards. Blog posts about "tolerance". Welcome to the lefty world of the politics of appearance. Cost and danger free but with all the social benefits of being "right-on".

David

Dr Dawg,

“It’s still speech met by more speech.”

But who gets to decide what’s acceptable, or indeed private? Isn’t it actually “private speech met by instructions to speak differently, in an approved way, even in private”? And what if someone says “no”? What are we to make of the dean of student affairs, who says, breezily: “If people are having a conversation… and they’re doing it loud enough for a third person to hear it... it’s not private”? Doesn’t that statement warrant a raised eyebrow? And I’m not talking about shouted racist abuse, which is almost certainly covered by existing policies; I’m talking about less clear-cut instances, of which there would most likely be many. (What about something like my comments that were quoted on your site?) And based on the statements of the “facilitator” quoted in the article above, it seems inevitable that eavesdropping would rear its head sooner or later, if only to justify the project. And how would you or I react if someone heard and chose to interrupt a private conversation we were having, possibly much like this one, and presumed to make suggestions as to how we might say things “in a different manner”?

Maybe we should look at it this way. We’ve joked and debated at some length and you have, I hope, at least some idea of my humour and habits. You should, I hope too, have some confidence that I’m not prone to making racial slurs or harassing people for no particular reason. Yet, despite this, you took comments I made (to illustrate a point about humour and subjectivity) as indicating a literal urge to violence, thus giving your own readers a misleading impression. Isn’t it possible, indeed likely, that others will make the same mistake? Doesn’t that give you pause?

And don’t you see the broader difficulties that would inevitably arise if people are employed to monitor speech in the ways indicated (accurately or not) in the piece quoted above? And doesn’t it concern you that these self-appointed Guardians of Verbal Propriety seem to regard innocuous references to a substandard film being “a bit gay” as no less actionable than real acts of harassment – say, the scrawling of racist graffiti on a student’s door? Given the apparent willingness to conflate the trivial and the truly obnoxious, doesn’t that raise concerns about *their* judgments and motives?

And isn’t the basic premise of monitoring and “correcting” private discussions just a tad worrisome? Can I monitor yours? Or do I need “training” and an approved outlook? Should we suppose, based on nothing in particular, that those selected to do so, whether we wish them to or not, will invariably have our best interests at heart and be dazzlingly competent and objective? Or are racism, homophobia and an urge to suppress “progressive speech” the only conceivable grounds for concern?

Dr.Dawg

I responded to TTM's rant at my place. Suffice it to say that he should not make such easy assumptions about a person with whom he is not acquainted.

David, what I see in your comments and in those of others is a wildly exaggerated response to something that falls far short of the monster that is being created by the critics. There is no threat to free speech here--just, as I said, the addition of more speech. The apparent officiousness of it all has you upset, and I can understand that, but I think that there's much less here than meets the eye.

This is not telescreens and thought police. If it's taking place as described, it's a few trained students trying to make Queen's a less hospitable place for prejudice, by verbally confronting it. I hardly think that our conversations would warrant intervention!

David

Dr Dawg,

“OT: No comments on the BNP outing?”

I followed the BNP membership list story but didn’t have much to add to what was blogged elsewhere. And there are times when you just don’t want certain subjects in your head, if you see what I mean.

David

Dr Dawg,

“I hardly think that our conversations would warrant intervention!”

Well, maybe not this one, but others perhaps. If we were to poke through the archives, I’m pretty sure we could find comments of mine that would set antennae twitching. (Muhammad ahoy!) And I’ve a pretty good idea of how I might react if accosted on that basis by some condescending prick. (And condescending pricks will almost certainly be drawn to “work” of that kind.)

And I notice you haven’t addressed the points raised above, a number of which are pertinent regardless of how ominous you feel the proponents’ intentions are.

Dr.Dawg

David:

I thought I had. There are times when common sense should prevail. This initiative doesn't lend itself to a Jesuitical exercise to determine what types of speech would come under the ban, with all of the refinements and hair-splitting that such an exercise inevitably produces. If the program is actually on offer, only the more egregious cases would be addressed--if only because there are only so many hours in the day, and there are 20,000 or so students attending.

If someone poked their noggin into one of our conversations, I think we would remonstrate right back, wouldn't we? Might make for an amusing blogpost, in fact. :)

The Thin Man

"trying to make Queen's a less hospitable place for prejudice"

No it's not. It's about the orthodoxy of the leftist world-view being imposed by bureaucratic fiat and the exclusion as socially unacceptable any views or beliefs that deviate from that.

Don't they get it - however vile the members of the BNP and their views are, provided that they aren't encouraging violence, they are as entitled to their views as Dr Dawg is to his.

Without this freedom, we are no different than the Protestants who persecuted the Catholics in 16th Century England, or the Catholics who massacred the Huguenots in France.

I presume no-one would suggest that I support or condone Fred Phelps and his "Church"- but I would be horrified to see him and his awful family arrested for their beliefs. I find Islamic teaching about any number of subjects - but especially homosexuality abhorent - but I would not want laws requiring all sermons in Mosques to be vetted by bureaucrats - because I know that such laws would be terrible and unjust instruments that would and there is no uncertainty in this - they WOULD be used to diminish the freedoms of other groups.

David

Dr Dawg,

“I thought I had.”

Well, no. It seems to me you’re basically saying there’s nothing to worry about because only loud and inarguably nasty stuff will be acted upon and the people involved are honest and benign and will know when to mind their own business. Needless to say, and based on past experience, I see no reason to share your confidence. And many of the points I’ve raised throughout this thread are pertinent even if one assumes the most implausibly positive intentions at all stages, which I don’t. They’re matters of practical application, personal space, ideological loading and inevitable ambiguity. To assume that good intentions (embraced heroically by everyone involved) are sufficient grounds for comfort seems to me rather fanciful.

But ‘tis late, I must to bed.

Dr.Dawg

To assume that good intentions (embraced heroically by everyone involved) are sufficient grounds for comfort seems to me rather fanciful.

I suspect peer pressure would play a strong role as well, given that the facilitators have nothing but their wits to fall back on--no civil authority, no power to sanction. There could be some fascinating conversations arising from this, which is all to the good in itself at an institution of higher learning.

Good night, David.

Dr.Dawg

"To assume that good intentions (embraced heroically by everyone involved) are sufficient grounds for comfort seems to me rather fanciful."

I forgot--no html tags here. These are David's words, in case I caused confusion.

Earlier for me across the pond, but I'll sign off too, and ruminate about The Thin Man's suggestion that responding to speech with more speech is, in this instance, a replay of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

The Thin Man

"If the program is actually on offer, only the more egregious cases would be addressed"

Then how do you account for this:

"Should Gov. Ted Strickland fire the state agency director who authorized an improper search of private records?
An inspector general report found Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Sservices Director Helen Jones-Kelley authorized an improper search of confidential records of Joe the Plumber -- the Ohio resident turned political celebrity. Strickland suspended the director without pay for four weeks, but Republicans are calling for her firing.

Jones-Kelley serves at the discretion of the governor, and according to state policy:

"using resources to violate or attempt to circumvent confidentiality procedures is strictly prohibited." Doing so "may be cause for termination."

Jones-Kelley said in a written statement through her attorney that her only intent in authorizing the information searches was to fulfill the agency's fiduciary responsibilities to Ohio's families.

But Friday, Strickland gave his reasoning for not firing Jones-Kelley, saying she made a mistake, and the punishment he settled on was appropriate.

"I felt one month without pay, which will deprive her of nearly $12,000, was a pretty severe sanction," Strickland said. "But I did not feel this good person who has served the public admirably for so many years should be tossed aside because she made a mistake."

How many "mistakes" of this kind will it take for Dr Dawg to understand the chilling effect on free speech of programmes such as this one?

The Thin Man

More reductio ad absurdum from Dr Dawg.

I'm not claiming that anybody would be massacred - just pointing out that the same "good intentions" as the Catholics had in trying to save their society from the evil heresy of the Huguenots is what is at the root of speech codes.

In what way is the suppression of an individuals right to hold whatever views seem appropriate to themselves different from this kind of enforced orthodoxy? Aren't people entitled to be stupid or bigoted in their private spheres?

How ready will anyone be to question a politician or "dialogue-facilitator" if the cost of doing so is to bring down quasi-official opprobrium and risk the social exclusion that such opprobrium may lead to?

What speech codes enforced by official sanction represent are a form of the Milgram Experiment or the Stanford Prison experiment. What results is the effect of exposure to authority and the acquiescence of the average individual, not a change in the thought processes or views held by those affected.

David

Dr Dawg,

“If it’s taking place as described, it’s a few trained students trying to make Queen’s a less hospitable place for prejudice, by verbally confronting it.”

Well, as I’ve shown above, there are grounds for doubting the judgment and motives of those involved, including the casual redefinition of privacy and the conflation of innocuous language with acts of real intimidation. These are a few of the many points you still haven’t addressed. And failing to attend a student’s birthday party may also be taken as a sign of intolerable prejudice and a basis for intervention. This doesn’t exactly bode well.

“There could be some fascinating conversations arising from this, which is all to the good in itself at an institution of higher learning.”

Given the above, and given that the dean of student affairs doesn’t seem to respect the idea of private discussions being none of his damn business, I’m pretty sure some of the exchanges will be “fascinating,” though possibly not in the way you suggest. And this, for me, is the thing. We really haven’t touched on the question of personal space, as if it didn’t matter. As The Thin Man said, we should be very, very wary of opening windows into men’s souls. I have no interest whatsoever in a person’s private bigotry and stupidity. However distasteful they may be, a person’s private views are, in themselves, none of my business - and none of yours either. If the person who holds those views isn’t actually hurting anyone or impeding someone else’s business, I see no sufficient reason to probe their psychology or guide them towards The Light™.

No-one I know is keen to hear racist epithets being shouted pointedly over lunch, but is that really what’s happening, or likely to happen - sufficiently so to warrant the measures being taken? Do gay students and black students walk across the dining hall and common room fearful for their wellbeing and assaulted verbally at every turn? We are, after all, talking about a *university* here, not a rough run-down high school in some low-rent neighbourhood. And if that isn’t happening – and happening very often - is there any credible basis for even considering the measures above and what they entail?

gaffee

Dr. Dawg: "If someone poked their noggin into one of our conversations, I think we would remonstrate right back, wouldn't we? Might make for an amusing blogpost, in fact. :)"

The point is we don't want "dialogue facilitators" poking their noses in at all. We don't want to have to "remonstrate right back." And as david said, what happens if someone tells them to fuck off and mind their own business? Is that "hate speech"?

erm

Not sure Dawg appreciates thin ends of wedges.
And i was hoping for a leftist version of a "fisking" of The Thin Man's post that he attempted to dismiss as a rant.
Otherwise it appears that he has (for want of a better expression,) been "pwnd"

pst314

"David, what I see in your comments and in those of others is a wildly exaggerated response to something that falls far short of the monster that is being created by the critics."

If you raise the temperature slowly enough, the frog won't notice that it's being boiled until it's too late. And the cook will insist that the pot is just a hot tub.

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