Monday, November 21, 2016

Journalists--Both "Progressive" and Non--Push Back Against the Trans Pronoun Edicts

The National Post's Christie Blatchford--the "Non"--recounts her experience with totalitarian groupthink at what was laughingly described as a "debate" about "free speech" that took place at the University of Toronto this past Saturday:
The format consisted of a two-against-one setup, [U of T professor and trans pronoun-balker Jordan] Peterson against two other professors — lawyer Brenda Cossman, who is the director of sexual diversity studies at the university, and the University of British Columbia’s Dr. Mary Bryson, a professor in language and literacy and in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.

(Bryson’s official profile on the UBC site uses the pronoun “they” to refer to her, as in, “Throughout Mary’s 27 years at UBC, they have served in many senior administrative roles…” I take from this that “they” is her preferred pronoun, but I decline to use it.

She began by immediately denouncing Peterson, comparing him to the late Philippe Rushton (or, as Bryson spelled it, “Philip”), another psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario who made controversial links between the brain sizes of the three major races and concluded that Orientals (Asians, as they would now be called) were smarter than Whites and Whites smarter than Blacks.

In her opening written statement, Bryson quoted from David Suzuki’s opening remarks at the 1989 debate between the two men: “I do not want to be here. I do not want to dignify this man and his ideas in public debate.”

She continued throughout to refer to Peterson as “this man” who was making “knowledge claims as a professor” without “peer-reviewed scholarship”, at one point declared that “the goal of reducing inequality” has “always been the fundamental goal of education” and in her closing remarks suggested the U of T ought to consider “an apology for any damages to the right of safety and the right to humanity on the part of trans and gender-diverse people at the university.”
Spoken like a true believer. In another time and another place, she would have made Robespierre--or Stalin--proud.

Meanwhile, even CBC uber-prog Neil Macdonald has a problem with the language edicts:
This will not sit well with activists who demand ownership of their pronouns, and that others abide strictly by their wishes. 
There are people with vaginas, and with penises, who regard themselves as "non-binary," or "genderfluid" and who want to be referred to as "xe" or "ne" or "ve" or "hir" or "thon" or "zhe," and are building aspirational language constructions to suit their wishes.  
For example: "Xe likes xemself." 
As one student protester's sign declared: "My pronouns are not up for discussion." 
But of course, they are.  
Genderless English pronouns are neologisms, invented to suit a worldview. Following the logic of today's young warriors, I could begin demanding that my colleagues refer to me as "blort" or "zonge" with the expectation that they would respectfully begin doing so. 
Still, universities — the earliest adopters of radical language — are falling into line, advising faculty to go along with whatever anyone specifies as his or her personal pronoun (my very use of "his or her" would be regarded in the academy as heteronormative and offensive).
Macdonald makes a pitch for what he sees as a more "sensible," less "jarring" approach:
CBC reporter Carolyn Dunn, for example, recently filed a story about a four-year-old boy who identifies as a girl, and whose mother prefers gender-free pronouns. 
Dunn's report referred to the child as "they," perhaps the first time the singular they has been used on-air by a CBC reporter. She actually referred to "their penis." 
But that's as far as CBC is prepared to go, at least right now. The rule for CBC journalists is to "respect individual preferences while keeping in mind that clarity for the audience is paramount."...
If referring to one little boy's sexual organ by using the plural "their penis" is "sensible," then I'm a blort.

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