In his invariably colorful way, Marc Randazza summed up the conflict at George Washington University:
This is a total douche v. douche fight.
On one hand, you have the YAF. I can’t see what is “un-Christian” about taking a class that makes you learn how to be nicer to other people — especially when those people are from a group that, until quite recently, didn’t have a lot of friends or supporters. When someone tells me that their religious beliefs conflict with spending a little time learning about how to perhaps not offend people, it makes me think that their religion isn’t worth a fucking damn.
This isn’t being “un-Christian,” or un-anything except hostile.
The Young America’s Foundation chapter at the Washington, D.C.-based academic institute has refused to participate in LGBT sensitivity training recently made as a requirement.
The contention was that the sensitivity training conflicted with their values, which makes little sense unless the values of which they speak is to hate people who don’t share their views on gender and sexual preferences. But,
Now, in the other douche corner are the LGBT assholes. They’re even worse than the YAF. Mandatory fucking sensitivity training? Are you serious? Listen, if YAF wants to have as part of its oath of membership, “I pledge to hate faggots and trannies” then that’s their goddamned right.
As a student organization, the YAF student office holders were required to take, and pass, training on “gender identities and using proper gender pronouns.”
“And their refusal to use preferred gender pronouns should be considered an act of violence and a violation of the non-discrimination clause required in all GW student organizations’ constitutions.”
This is where it all rushes into the rabbit hole, or as Randazza calls it, “douchetastic.”
Alex Pollock, chairman of the GW College Republicans, explained to the campus publication GW Hatchet that the training “should be mandatory from a sensitivity perspective.”
“Regardless of your views on LGBT people, LGBT people exist. … The intent is not to belittle political or religious organizations,” said Pollock. “The purpose of this bill is to make student organization leaders aware that we have a diverse student body and make people feel included.”
Let’s get one thing straight up front: refusing to embrace another person’s demand for sensitivity is not an “act of violence.” Punching the person in the face is. Disagreeing is not. To call it such is a perversion of language, which brings us to the second prong of this training.
Since I write a bit, the requirement for training in the proper use of pronouns was of some concern. What are they talking about? Is it wrong to use the feminine pronoun when talking about female? Perhaps, if that female identifies with the male gender, it will hurt her feelings to have the feminine pronoun used.
Is the point that GWU doesn’t want anyone’s feelings hurt? Well, there is nothing wrong with that. It does, however, present a problem in clarity in writing, and there is something wrong with that. For better or worse, our language has certain rules by which we communicate, and among those rules is that females are identified by using the feminine pronoun, males by the masculine, and mixed by the masculine as well.
This fails to take into account the various permutations that reflect the political preferences of individuals whose preferences are not reflected in our extant rules. They want to change the rules. They’re allowed to want to change the rules.
Maybe some day they will, though I doubt it largely because the elimination of gendered pronouns will wreak havoc with clarity and understanding. They don’t care. I do. I suspect most of us would prefer to have a clue what words mean rather than subjugate human understanding to the sensitive feelings of everyone else.
But having this rammed down your throat is where this goes seriously awry. This model isn’t a GWU problem, but a problem on campuses nationwide. If it was truly a matter of understanding that diversity exists and we would all be better people if we respected other people’s feelings, then these schools could chisel the Golden Rule on their lintels and be done with it.
That’s not what they’re teaching, unfortunately. They’re teaching that one set of political rules is right, and any others are wrong. They’re teaching that people must adjust their thoughts, their words, so that no person’s feelings are hurt. They are teaching that the only acceptable belief on campus is theirs, and students can either embrace it or they’re out of here.
They are imposing rules based upon values that reflect one side of a political debate. And for those of you who share those values, who believe with all your heart and soul that they are right and just, and anyone who disagrees is wrong and evil, bear in mind that the political winds shift without warning, and one day the GWU student government may require training that all black students bow in the presence of white students, and use the title “master” when referring to them.
Of course this is ridiculous hyperbole, hardly likely to happen, but it’s offered to make a point. This is the manifestation of a political trend. As society matures with regard to gender and sexual preferences, these issues may well be viewed as silly trivialities, the sort of childishness that shouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings because they’re just words, not “acts of violence.”
On the other hand, when institutions of higher education demand that its students adopt political positions, whether progressive or conservative, and thus seek to control the minds of their charges to mold them to vote for the candidate of their choice, it is, as Marco says, “douchetastic.”
Diversity is a real thing, but it includes diversity of opinion and language as well as diversity of color, gender and sexual preference. Tolerance isn’t limited to what pleases you or me. Or the George Washington University student counsel, or the YAF or Allied in Pride. There is no harm in learning about what others believe. There is harm in requiring you to believe it as well.