Thursday, December 22, 2016
The tyranny of ‘ze’
The words ‘he’ and ‘she’ are set to become a thing of the past at the University of Oxford, according to a story in The Sunday Times. Apparently, in a bid to promote an inclusive climate and avoid offending transgender students, Oxford University Students’ Union is recommending use of the recently invented gender-neutral pronoun ‘ze’. What’s more, it’s reported that students want this linguistic imposition to be extended to lectures and seminars.
On Twitter, Oxford’s vice president for academic affairs, Eden Bailey, has described this as a ‘completely made-up controversy’ for which there is ‘zero evidence’. Despite this, within the space of 48 hours, news of Oxford’s gender-neutral speech edict has been covered in just about every media outlet going.
The story has such traction because it comes at the end of a year when many students’ unions have been brazen in dictating what their members can read and listen to on campus – epitomised by the recent ban on tabloid newspapers at Queen Mary’s College London and City University. Likewise, the claimed prohibition against ‘he’ and ‘she’ taps into an obsession with transgender issues that runs through education.
Forget Oxford’s students’ union, it was the university council that approved a policy to label as harassment, and therefore potentially subject to disciplinary proceedings, deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender person, or persistently referring to their gender-identity history. Perhaps the bigger story, eclipsed by news from Oxford, is that teachers at schools in England are being sent a guidance book which advises against referring to pupils as ‘boys’ and ‘girls’.
The preoccupation with gender as something completely removed from biology, and something that every individual must discover and perform, reaches beyond the UK. In the US, young people applying for a college place are offered a range of gender options and ‘the chance to move past the traditional gender binary in classifying themselves’.
At the University of Toronto, professor Jordan Peterson sparked international controversy last month with his public refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns. While notionally supporting his right to academic freedom and free speech, the university warned Peterson that he could be in breach of the Ontario human-rights code, and asked him to ‘stop making statements’ because students and faculty had complained that his comments were ‘unacceptable, emotionally disturbing and painful’.
There are many reasons why dictates on gender pronouns should be opposed. Telling people what they can and can’t say, and what they must say, is a significant incursion into individual liberty. People are free, quite rightly, to refer to themselves however they want and to hope that others respect their wishes. But to compel individuals to speak in a particular way, and then seek to punish them if they disobey, is to force someone to act against their conscience.
In Canada, Peterson has criticised legislation to make ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ protected categories under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Making words compulsory runs counter to free speech. Peterson’s critics have made numerous attempts to silence him, even glueing his office door shut.
The notion that one person can dictate the language used by others reveals the narcissism inherent in much of the current obsession with the idea of gender as a construct. It encapsulates a demand that others see the world as you do, and declares that any challenge to your view is a threat to your innate sense of self. The truth about gender, we are told, is located not in objective reality, and definitely not in biology, but in an individual’s head. People are to be referred to as what they say they are, irrespective of all evidence to the contrary.
Education officials are at the forefront of championing this new version of fantasy-as-reality. Ironically, these are often the very same people who have recently taken to expressing outrage at the ‘post-truth’ denigration of facts and experts, supposedly typified in the vote for Brexit and Donald Trump.
The effect of enforcing a view of gender as a construct performed through language is perhaps the opposite to that which is intended. In a bid to move beyond biology, people become compelled to represent and enact their chosen gender identity. Delegates to this year’s National Union of Students annual conference in the UK were greeted on arrival with a range of stickers they could use to indicate to everyone else whether they preferred to be addressed with ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’.
At some universities in the US, seminars begin with students introducing themselves and their preferred gender pronouns. When people are pushed to declare a label, they risk becoming reduced to that category type and trapped in a performance of gender.
The push to take society – starting with schools and universities – beyond binary biological categories of male and female might seem radical. But not only does it fly in the face of how people make sense of the world, it can be a very conservative move. A teacher referring to ‘boys and girls’ will barely register with most children, let alone make them feel oppressed.
Introducing bizarre new words into the language, and telling children gender is something they can choose, is guaranteed to cause confusion. Even worse, it sends out the message that there is a correct way to behave, associated with each gender: if you’re a girl who likes football, or a boy who likes wearing dresses, you’re not just a normal child, but someone who needs a new set of pronouns and labels.
I hope the demand that Oxford students use ‘ze’ is nothing more than a ‘made-up controversy’. If it is, perhaps they could campaign to get the university policy overturned that states that deliberately misgendering someone is harassment. If nothing else, there are so many more interesting things students could be discussing with their professors than which pronoun they prefer.
ITALY AT BREAKING POINT: Hundreds take to streets after migrant attacks teenage girl
A MASSIVE protest erupted on the streets of the Italian port city of Trieste after an 18-year-old girl was attacked by a migrant group.
The incident sparked a large scale police response after the young girl said she was approached and detained by three migrants near a refugee centre in the city which is situated close to the Slovak border.
According to reports 400 citizens took to the streets after the girl reported the incident to her mother.
And it has been claimed that the mass demonstration turned ugly after migrants began throwing stones at the crowds who assembled to protest at the incident.
The mother of the girl who has not been named spoke to the newspaper Gazzettino insisting her child has been left traumatised by her experience after she was cornered coming off a bus.
She said: "It is not right to be afraid for your daughter, I do not know if my daughter will be able to go back to public transport."
The incident occurred after a migrant centre was set up at the Villa Nazareth di Trieste.
However a protest group known as Stop Before Trieste was set up after a number of females were alleged to have been harassed by migrants.
Stop Before Trieste organiser Alessio Edoardo said: "Ours was a protest against the institutions, we did not want to incite to racism. "We have always and will continue to work alongside the police. "I as the organiser of the event agreed with the Police that we were to protest in an area agreed by the Police.
"However it was not possible to comply with the order because the turnout was remarkable. "
But the Solidarity Consortium which manages migrants said the demonstration was aggressive.
A spokesman said: "Only the strong presence and readiness of police forces prevented very serious consequences in terms of physical violence against foreigners who were only going to the canteen.
"The climate of racial hatred and related violence are growing rapidly and Trieste, behind a thin layer of normality."
According to local reports the city spent £9.2m hosting immigrants to the city last year.
However there has been anger because 7,000 people are reported to be unemployed in the city which has a population of 201,000.
Campaigners are reported to be upset over the influx of more than 1,000 Afghans and Pakistani immigrants who they claim are not fleeing war.
They have also reacted to the rise of what they call "shanty towns" of illegal migrants who have set up home in the city according to local news outlet Trieste Prima.
FRC's Perkins: Trump's Sec. of State Must Ferret Out LGBT and Abortion Activists in State Dep't
Commenting on the pro-abortion and pro-LGBT agenda emplaced at the State Department by President Barack Obama over the last eight years, Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins said Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, must make it clear that he will seek to dismantle this radical, anti-family agenda and ferrot out the radicals who are promoting it at the expense of true diplomacy and international human rights, such as religious liberty.
Under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, the Obama administration has promoted its LGBT and pro-abortion agenda worldwide, said Perkins in the FRC's Dec. 15 Washington Update.
"Clinton made her intentions known early in her tenure that the administration would not only promote special rights based upon sexual behavior within the State Department but would use the State Department to export the LGBTQ agenda globally," said Perkins. "These behavior-based rights have consistently been a major emphasis of the Obama administration’s foreign policy."
In addition, he said, "the Obama State Department under Hillary Clinton also promoted abortion, declaring reproductive healthcare a basic human right." Perkins added that foreign diplomats "have complained about the strong arming by the State Department to force them to accept its liberal view on social issues."
"To carry out this extreme agenda, the Obama administration has systematically filled the ranks of State with LGBTQ and abortion activists," said Perkins. "Unless the next Secretary of State is willing to resist and remove this embedded agenda, the promotion and protection of true human rights, like religious liberty, will continue to languish."
"It’s for this reason that I have raised concerns about the nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State," said Perkins. "I certainly don’t see Tillerson cut from the same cloth as Clinton or Kerry, but he doesn’t have to be for these anti-life, liberal social policies to continue. He must have the courage to stop the promotion of this anti-family, anti-life agenda, which is very much a question mark given that he capitulated to activists pushing to liberalize the Boy Scouts’ policy on homosexuality when he was at the helm of the organization."
In closing, Perkins said, "The incoming administration needs to make clear that these liberal policies will be reversed and the 'activists' within the State Department promoting them will be ferreted out and will be replaced by conservatives who will ensure the State Department focuses on true international human rights like religious liberty which is under unprecedented assault."
Australia: A politically incorrect warrior is unrepentant
STEVE Price doesn’t mean to annoy you. It’s just a perk of the job. “I do like upsetting people who have got thin skins, absolutely. I don’t set out to do it but when I do it it’s very enjoyable,” he tells news.com.au.
It means 2016 has been particularly entertaining for the controversial broadcaster. He’s found himself at the centre of several media storms in the past 12 months — from the now infamous stoush with The Guardian columnist Van Badham on ABC’s Q&A to countless fiery showdowns on Ten’s The Project. Uproar and calls to have him pulled from the air ensued.
While some personalities might read the cues and pipe down for a few months, limiting their appearances and softening their views, the 61-year-old chooses to go full-steam ahead. Because according to Price, it’s about time “white old men” were heard.
“Just because I’m a white old man doesn’t mean that my voice has to be silenced,” he says. “Old white men have as much right to have a view as anyone else. The left seem to think that unless you’re from some lobby group or some feminist action group or an LGBTQI community spokesgroup then that’s the only people who are allowed to have a view about things. Well, that’s not true.”
When that sentiment is repeated back to him — that old white men aren’t allowed to have a voice — he quickly clarifies.
“Well, I’m not because I’ve got a huge audience to express my opinion, I’m very lucky. (And) For a start, I don’t feel old,” he says.
And he’s right. His audience is massive. This week’s final radio survey for 2016 had Price’s nightly program at the top of its timeslot in Sydney and Melbourne for the year. The show is broadcast to 56 stations across the country on the Macquarie Media network and, for the past six years, he’s appeared twice a week on Channel Ten’s The Project.
On the popular current affairs program, it’s easy to pick what side Price will take when an issue is flung his way. His opinions on bikeways and politically correct seasonal greetings are enough to get under people’s skin. But it’s his thoughts on harder issues that see him hit the headlines — and rile the show’s hosts Waleed Aly and Carrie Bickmore.
“Carrie’s had a chip at me a couple of times this year. I must say they’re all very good people to work with, I don’t have a personal issue with any of them. We just have different political views. And I think that helps the show,” he says.
Despite the barbs he regularly throws at Aly on the air — their most recent biff earlier this month was about protesters who descended upon Parliament House — Price admits he has no issue with the host.
“No. It might look it, but no,” he says. “Waleed has very strong views about issues like offshore detention. He has strong views on climate change, he obviously has strong views about the Islamic community’s role in Australia. And my views happen to be completely opposite to that.”
Prior to his mainstream notoriety, Price became familiar with the burn of national backlash. In 2003, he came under fire for comments he made on his 2UE breakfast radio show about a gay couple on The Block. But even by the standards of a controversial broadcaster — he doesn’t see himself as a “shock jock”; he has a “journalistic background” — 2016 was a particularly rocky one.
On a personal level, he doesn’t care. When it comes to work and the controversies that follow, Price says he doesn’t let it affect his home life with wife of ten years, Wendy Black, who’s the Chief of Staff to industry minister Greg Hunt. “We just have to have a fence up between what I do and what she does,” he says. But he does get aggravated when commercial interests are targeted.
“The only time I get concerned is when people try this nonsensical idea of trying to convince advertisers not to advertise on your station — whether it’s radio or television — because of what someone’s said,” he says.
“There was a huge online campaign to try get advertisers not to advertise on Channel Ten — there was a massive campaign to get me thrown off The Project. Neither of those things happened. Not one advertiser cancelled. And not at any time did anyone who was running Channel Ten or The Project do anything but say to me, ‘We’ve got your back, nothing is furthest from our mind than having you on’. And in fact, in the middle of that Van Badham thing, it was contract time for next year and we re-signed.”
Four months after “that Van Badham thing”, Price admits he “should’ve seen it coming”.
He explains the finer details that happened behind the scenes that Monday night in July: He was told Derryn Hinch would also be a panellist. He wasn’t told Van Badham — “who I’d never heard of, quite honestly” — would be a guest. He says he was called that day by a producer who warned him there would be a “question about the Eddie McGuire, Caroline Wilson blow-up in regard to drowning and women and domestic violence” and to have an answer ready to roll out.
“What they do then, of course, is they then plant that question with someone in the audience,” he says. “The bloke who asks the question, he had a tragic story about how his sister had been a victim of domestic violence and been murdered by her partner.
“That question was aimed directly at me right at the end of the program, hoping they would get some reaction from me. I already had a view about Eddie and Caroline. I said, ‘Look we should’ve all just moved on’. And I didn’t recognise the tragedy of this guy’s story — and that’s what became the story, because Van Badham just started shouting at me.”
In the moment, Price told Van Badham: “I think you’re just being hysterical.”
His reply added fuel to the fire and left the audience in shock as they gasped.
Still, there’s only one thing about the moment he would change.
“The only thing I regret about that whole incident is I should’ve acknowledged the bloke’s loss of his sister at the beginning of my answer — that’s the only thing I regret,” he says. “And the only reason I didn’t was I’d already formulated in my mind what my answer to the question about McGuire and Wilson was going to be. So when you’re sitting there on live television in front of an audience ... I mean, I didn’t really hear clearly, as well as what I should have. I didn’t understand exactly what he was saying and I should’ve. I don’t regret using the word ‘hysterical’ because I had no knowledge that it had some historical meaning which people then started quoting at me the next day.”
So, is it too easy for Price to be set up as the bad guy?
“There’s not too much sympathy for me — I think most people realise I’m able to stand up for myself,” he replies when asked if he’s become a human punching bag. “If you have views that are a little bit awkward for people to hear, views that people feel are a little bit too aggressive, it’s easy to portray that person as the bad person. I don’t feel like the bad guy at all, I just stick up for myself. I have consistent views about things and if I need to express them I will.”
And it’s what makes him and Macquarie Media — the network behind his current radio show — money.
In 2002, as the breakfast host on Sydney’s 2UE, he was reportedly sitting on $1 million a year. He refuses to comment on his current salary.
“2GB’s a commercial radio station which survives on provocative content and strong opinions. And it only survives if it rates in the ratings. So what I will say about my show is that we rate number one. We make money and management leaves you alone,” he says.
Given that simple strategy to success, some may question the authenticity of the broadcaster’s “provocative” views. But Price denies ever hamming it up just to engage and enrage audiences.
“I’ve never ever confected an opinion about anything,” he assures. “If you don’t genuinely believe in what you’re saying, it’ll catch up with you. If you’re doing four hours of radio a night five days a week then you have to be true to your opinions. Otherwise, you will stumble at some point and say something and the audience will pick you up and say, ‘Hang on, last year you said this and now you’re saying that’. And saying you’ve just changed your mind is just not good enough.
“If it’s a strong view about something, you’ve got to genuinely hold it.”
Even if it gets you in trouble.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.