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March 12, 2009

Comments

Karen M

"Yale's Committee on Gender-Neutral Housing has been meeting since the fall of 2007 to decide whether Yale should allow juniors and seniors to live with roommates of the opposite sex, an accommodation demanded in the name of transgender students. (Yale, along with Princeton, is the only Ivy not to have authorized so-called gender-neutral housing.) There is no suggestion in any of the news coverage that Yale has tried to determine how many transgender students are actually enrolled at Yale."

clazy

David, you might find this piece interesting as an example of how campus victimology moves into the real world (or I suppose that should be half-real world, since I'm talking about art):
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000%5C000%5C016%5C252zsbwa.asp?pg=1

David

Clazy,

Thanks. It does rather support the impression that what’s being cultivated is a sense of being entitled to agreement: “I belong to group X, therefore you should defer and extend special favours. Look at my badge.” Those who disagree, for whatever reasons, are very often depicted as indulging in “harassment” or as malicious by default. It’s a wonderful way to short-circuit actual debate, and it suits people who don’t have very sound arguments for getting whatever it is they feel entitled to.

Anna

"Get the hell over yourselves, you whiny, parasitic little bitches."

Testify, brother! Testify! :)

Techie

I have observed similar (though not nearly as extreme behavior) at a local college. The funding budget of the Women's Resource Center was being cut and the usual suspects were raising cain. "How will women be accommodated on campus without a [larger] WRC? How can they feel comfortable?"

It was pointed out that the current enrollment of the school was something like 70% female and a majority of the faculty were female, so the school not being a "women accommodating place" seemed like a silly point to make.

But, I'm sure they got their funding restored.

David

“Testify!”

Well, at a time of widespread belt-tightening, one might imagine these tribal frivolities would be scaled back, or done away with as quaint or ludicrous. We no longer live in the sexually repressive Fifties, certainly not students at Yale. Instead, they continue to spread and grow, consolidating influence, apparently immune to economics, while fostering what amounts to a passive-aggressive worldview. The people I’ve met who were involved in such things were remarkably self-involved, not to mention doctrinaire and cartoonish. It’s rather odd talking to someone whose sense of self revolves around their “non-heteronormative” sexuality and its alleged, somewhat dubious, political ramifications.

It ain’t a turn-on, that’s for sure.

Shane

Thank you David for a thoughtful post.

I live here in California, where the anti-prop 8 folks are gearing up for another fight. Two ballot measures are in the works and will have signature gatherers anxious to get the 700,000 sign ups in time for the next election day. More interesting will be the effect that the intimidation tactics we've seen will have on donations to those fighting the redefinition of marriage - average people who gave relatively little were attacked, and if they were Mormons it was even worse (remember EL Coyote restaurant?). Since it is known that donating might get your name published in the local paper, inspiring threatening emails to you and phone calls to your employer, it's going to take courage to stand behind your convictions.

I had thought once that we could use the gay/lefts hysterical violence against them when it came time to gather voters, but I think there was a method to their madness. Since same-sex marriage is "inevitable" is it really worth making the donation and enduring the danger?

David

What I find eerie is the use of organised suppression and intimidation by those who proclaim their “tolerance” and “progressive” attitudes. There’s an obliviousness to contradiction that’s more than a little odd. The archives here have plenty of examples of this tactic (see, for instance, Indoctrinate U) and I’ve just been sent another one:

http://www.dailycollegian.com/news/feder_s_hate_crime_speech_cut_short_by_protests-1.1604850

I’m not defending Feder or his views, about which I know very little, but it seems to me that if he’s such a villain it should be easy to refute him publicly, calmly, using his own words. But there seems to be a trend towards short-circuiting debate by denouncing certain viewpoints as inherently malicious and unworthy of rebuttal, often on self-serving grounds. The readiness to silence people with whom one disagrees is ultimately much more troubling than any particular set of views that might be expressed. If we don’t get to the refutation, how do we *know* we’re right? And how can we address new information if that information isn’t even heard because we *feel* so righteous?

TDK

Refusing to debate "beyond the pale" opinions has become very mainstream

Here's Al Gore refusing to debate Bjorn Lomborg (who incidentally believes in AGW)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Cc2j00MrCI&eurl=http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2009/03/dont-miss-this-1-minute-youtube-video.html&feature=player_embedded">http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2009/03/dont-miss-this-1-minute-youtube-video.html&feature=player_embedded">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Cc2j00MrCI&eurl=http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2009/03/dont-miss-this-1-minute-youtube-video.html&feature=player_embedded

David

For some reason, I’m reminded of Zohra Moosa, who wants to “spend a lot of society’s money” on “social justice” but doesn’t feel obliged to explain why, or what “social justice” is:

“I’m a little bit tired of spending so much of my time defending the most basic principles of what I stand for. It serves to distract. What I need is a safer space where I don’t lose so much energy justifying why social and environmental justice are worth spending a lot of society’s money on. What I want is a space where these ideas are a given…”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/11/so-very-tired.html

TDK

Yes - you've captured a common theme

As in the article - they need a "safe space". Not safe in the sense of they are about to be assaulted, but safe in the sense of our opinions are delicate and mustn't be exposed to challenge.

-

All this reminds me of an event that occurred many years ago when I was still a practising socialist. A friend of mine who was a nurse had been invited to a Feminist Nurses Action Group (I forget the exact title). She invited me along to her second meeting with them, partly to give her support and partly because she thought I would be interested. prior to entering she announced my presence and asked permission to bring me in. The door closed while a fairly heated debate occurred about whether I could be admitted without the requisite chromosomes. I was granted admission. I mainly observed and thought I got on alright with the group. Then we left.

Subsequently my friend was excommunicated. Members had threatened to quit if she wasn't expelled. Nothing I'd done. It's not at all clear what the actual offence was but apparently she was guilty of passive-aggressive behaviour. I guess they felt they had been presented with a fait accompli when I turned up at the meeting room and they were forced to face the dilemma of either being tolerant or being pure. The agony of resolving contradictions.

And that's how they treated people who agreed with them but broke the rules of protocol.

David

“…they were forced to face the dilemma of either being tolerant or being pure.”

In-group belonging is often the priority - purity, as you put it - hence the tendency towards extremism. As the mainstream assimilates (or tolerates) whatever was radical ten years ago, the goal posts have to move and new struggles have to be found. For some people - quite a few, I think - the contrarianism and drama is hard to do without. It would make them feel less special. Whether the drama is justified, or sane, doesn’t seem to matter very much.

You were once a practising socialist? I hope you weren’t too scarred by the experience.

TDK

I like the phrase practising socialist because it is evocative of practising Christian. It suggests that much as an atheist abandons evolutionary creationism, I abandoned utopian creationism.

Baltar's Beard

"Yale needs a new LGBTQ office..."

What's the difference between L, G and Q?

David

TDK,

Thanks for the clips. I still couldn’t make out what Feder was saying that was so “hateful” or deserving of disruption. The bits I could actually hear above the howling sounded statistical and dry. Hardly incitement to pillage. Though the exchange in clip 5 is revealing, where a student says, rather grandly, that he - the student - has been “shut down by the dominant knowledge structure,” as if what’s happening in front of him is some kind of righteous payback. When challenged by the cameraman and confronted with the hypocrisy and intolerance of his peers, he just looks vacant and mumbles non sequitur about “racism” and “the Klan.” Students can be, and often are, insufferably self-justifying, but the wholesale regurgitation of this incoherent waffle must make him especially proud.

John D

"he just looks vacant and mumbles non sequitur about "racism" and "the Klan.""

The students are just putting fingers in their ears and going "La La La La La."

BackwardsBoy

These types of people obviously watched too much Mr. Rogers whilst growing up. They were told, over and over, that they were "special".
Now they seem to think that any thought caught bouncing around inside their otherwise empty heads is so important that simple disagreement with them automatically equates to hatred.
"...whiny, parasitic little bitches" indeed. David, you're far too kind.

David

Regarding the clips linked above, it’s the ludicrous irony of leftwing students claiming that “campuses are places for open-mindedness,” while proving the opposite by drowning out an opinion they happen to disagree with (for reasons that still aren’t clear). They claim to oppose “hate” while acting in ways designed to intimidate not only the speaker but anyone who wants to hear what that speaker has to say.

The protestors aren’t remotely interested in *rebutting* Feder’s opinions and evidence – which, if they’re right, should be easy – they just want to stop anyone even hearing them. They want a monopoly and they want it now. Another student sneeringly mentions the “marketplace of ideas,” while making sure no-one else gets a chance to hear views *he* doesn’t like. Evidently, his worldview is the one everyone should have and competition won’t be tolerated.

What’s extraordinary is just how widespread this inversion of reality is, and the obliviousness to contradiction is actually quite sinister.

Karen M

"Unsurprisingly, this appetite for grievance and indulgence has been exploited and internalised by many students, especially those entranced by tribal identities and the leverage those identities make possible."

It does give extra leverage. If you're in a special victim group you can demand apologies even if you're wrong because your feelings have been hurt. It doesn't matter who was right because feelings trump facts.

David

“If you’re in a special victim group you can demand apologies…”

And other favours, as shown above.

In response to the recent “dialogue facilitators” farce and the organisers’ preoccupation with designated victim groups, I offered this scenario:

Student A believes that Muhammad was an exemplary figure and living proof of Allah’s most merciful intentions. He hears a stranger, Student B, sitting at a nearby table talking to a friend and explaining why Muhammad is a reprehensible figure, citing his behaviour as related in various Islamic texts. The language is fairly blunt but each claim is supported with evidence. Among the words used are “pirate,” “murderer,” narcissist” and “paedophile.” Student A takes exception to this and complains to a “facilitator” with mutterings of “Islamophobia” and “hate speech.”

Now whose argument is more likely to be subject to scrutiny? Which perspective is most likely to be deemed “biased” or “disrespectful” - the blunt but logical critique or the pretentious fantasy? Does the person complaining of injured feelings have an advantage here? Will both perspectives be flattened into one egalitarian plane of “fairness,” in which both are somehow correct and deserving of respect? Or will Student A’s injured feelings be granted inordinate weight and then be used as a pretext to dismiss as “hate speech” any reminder of his philosophical inadequacy?

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/11/temerity-revisited-.html

This is why the official outline of “dialogue facilitation” is wilfully opaque and short on practical examples. If you take the above scenario as a plausible illustration – and I think it is – then suddenly it doesn’t look quite so “fair” at all.

AntiCitizenOne

> What's extraordinary is just how widespread this inversion of reality is, and the obliviousness to contradiction is actually quite sinister.

Freudian Projection is one of the three pillars of socialism, the other two are Envy and Narcissism.

gaffee

"The students are just putting fingers in their ears and going "La La La La La.""

Soon they'll be singing properly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMVql9RLP34

David

“It doesn’t matter who was right because feelings trump facts.”

Indeed. See also the post linked below, in which a member of another identity tribe claims that daring to argue why one isn’t “transphobic” itself constitutes “transphobia”: “I don’t really believe that anyone has the right or ability to accurately gauge their own actions as phobic or not. The community being harmed is the only one with the perspective necessary to make that distinction.”

As I said at the time:

“[D]espite the howls of victimhood, which so define our age, it’s hard to excuse the opportunist denial of any objective criteria or coherent ethical rationale. Thus, injustice is defined, unilaterally, by *feelings*, or *claims* of feelings - and, of course, by leverage. Phobias, prejudice and oppression become whatever the Designated Victim Group, or its representative, *says* they are. And the basis for apology, compensation and flattery becomes whatever the Designated Victim Group *says* it is. The practical result of this is egomaniacal license and the politics of role-play.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/05/tears-and-role.html

Karen M

"The students are just putting fingers in their ears and going "La La La La La.""

David, did you see this?

"I don't know when it became acceptable to refuse to listen to another's viewpoints. Isn't this the very type of behavior that open-minded liberals abhor? … Especially shocking is that many of the professors who chose to "stay away" teach courses in the law, jurisprudence and social thought department. Shouldn't they, of all people, want to hear a talk given by a member (yes, any member) of the Supreme Court? The professors explained their absence by saying they refused to offer a "tacit endorsement of this man's presence on campus." They continued, saying they "will neither ask questions nor debate Justice Scalia" because he does not subscribe to the "liberal ideals of constructive disagreement." …There are many who would argue that this is the adult version of covering your ears and yelling, "I'm not listening! I'm not listening!"

http://amherststudent.amherst.edu/current/opinion/view.php?year=2003-2004&issue=17&section=opinion&article=02

David

Karen,

Thanks for that. It’s an excellent riposte. I like this in particular:

“My father, who is one of the most conservative figures in government, chose to send me to Amherst to be taught by some of the greatest minds in the country. I took classes with four of the protesting professors. Would a man who is opposed to the ‘liberal ideals of constructive disagreement and debate’ send his daughter to a school well known for its liberal leanings? Absolutely not. My parents encouraged me to go to Amherst, where I would be challenged academically, and where my conservative views would also be challenged. It is a shame that when my father came to our campus he was unable to enjoy an intellectual debate with the very people he respected enough to teach his own daughter.”

The letter below the one quoted is also interesting. Note the indefensible distortions in what Scalia is alleged to have said. (Again, if he’s such a villain, refuting his *actual* statements should be easy. Misrepresenting those statements suggests the protestors are the ones whose position is insecure.) As I’ve said more than once, the term “liberal” has acquired decidedly perverse connotations, insofar as many of those who identify themselves as “liberal” are clearly anything but. Much as being “progressive” all too often entails not listening as a matter of alleged principal.

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