I read online a lot, and every time something interests me I save it in a folder. One of my folders–now the bulgiest–is called “pc idiocy”. It is time to clean it out. Here are the award candidates, taken from various publications. My comments in italics.
Candidate #1, London. From Martin Daubney, Heat Street: Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make: London is becoming a global laughing stock. Both intellectually and literally, Londoners are dying under the weight of a virulent dose of political correctness. Political correctness is the Ebola virus of reason.
Last week, Transport for London pointlessly buckled to LGBT activists and banned the quintessentially British (and universally polite) phrase, “ladies and gentlemen” from its station announcements. Its replacement – “good afternoon, everyone” – is deemed more “inclusive” and “gender neutral,” although even that might offend those with multiple personality disorders. That’s okay, London no longer has ladies and gentlemen.
In a city that has recently undergone three terrorist attacks, this might seem like a curious use of resource for its Mayor, Sadiq Khan. But this is 2017, and who’d be surprised if TfL went the whole hog and integrated Xe pronouns into its announcements, or renamed ‘sexist’ Tube stations such as Cockfosters and Shepherd’s Bush? (They could re-name Seven Sisters station Seven Persons). On Friday, this rot spread, when academics at King’s College London decided to swap portraits of its founders for a “wall of diversity,” after Professor Patrick Leman, the Institute’s dean of education, claimed “busts of white, bearded men” were “intimidating” and “alienating” to BME students. Was it the beards or the paucity of melanin that was intimidating?
We could discount these two hen-brained incidents as yet more “political correctness gone mad”. But they are indicative of a London that perpetually looks down the wrong end of the telescope for micro grievances, yet lacks the guts to tackle very real problems that are staring us in the face. This obsession with political correctness is not only turning London into a laughing stock, it’s actively killing Londoners.
The clearest example is the British Police’s Stop And Search scheme. Designed to allow police to frisk suspects for concealed weapons, it has long been hated by critics as “racist,” who correctly point out that 65% of searches are on black men, who are six times more likely to be searched. Sensing an opportunity to appeal to minority communities, in 2015, while running for London Mayor, Sadiq Khan vowed to “do everything in my power to cut stop and search”.
In the year to the end of March 2016, there were 387,448 stop and search procedures conducted by police in England and Wales, a fall of 28% on the previous 12 months. In that same period, London’s Metropolitan Police announced that gun crime in London had soared 42% and knife crime 24%. Recorded crime was up across virtually every category, with a total 4.5% increase to nearly 774,737 offences. Who’d have thought a 28% drop in searches might result in a 24% boom in knife crime? Clearly not London’s Mayor. In one school in his city, 3/4 of ten-year-olds said they knew somebody who carried a knife.
So who is carrying and using all these knives? British police don’t like to publish crime by race or ethnicity. But when data has been obtained under Freedom Of Information Acts, it’s shown that in the City Of London, 36% of knife crime is perpetrated by black people, who only make up around 13% of London’s 8.6 million populace. Furthermore, 24% of stabbing victims are black men.
You could conclude it’s reasonable to stop and search those most likely to be knife criminals. Surely, if black lives truly mattered to London’s Mayor, he would ramp up Stop And Search to help stop black men being disproportionately killed or jailed. Instead, in April – at the end of a week that saw eight fatal stabbings in the Capital, two less than a mile from my home – Khan trumpeted his new £1.7m “online hate crime hub”. Some wondered: does London’s Mayor seriously prioritise cutting nasty tweets over fatal stabbings? Someone fatally stabbed isn’t going to tweet a complaint, let alone a nasty one.
Similarly, Khan has rejected Prevent, the British government’s only anti-terror strategy, as “toxic” adding “it’s seen by some communities as spying and snooping”. In the wake of the London Bridge terrorist attack that left eight ordinary Londoners murdered in the streets by ISIS jihadists, Khan took every opportunity to remind us Islamophobic “hate crimes” –that included tweets – had increased fivefold. I’ve lived in London for 23 years. Not only has its skyscape and its human landscape changed forever. So has its mindscape. Today, we live in a city where racist statues, Islamophobic tweets and public transport announcements are deemed more pressing issues than tackling terrorism, knife crime or London’s latest malaise, acid attacks. In case you aren’t up on the news, young men (mostly) ride around on motor scooters in order to throw acid on women (mostly) for some unfathomable reason. When any pretense to good order breaks down, it tends to break all the way down.
Candidate #2, P.E.T.A. From IFL science: The laws of the jungle are often brutal, but so it seems are those of copyright. For years a wildlife photographer has been dragged through the courts in America over whether or not he owns the copyright to a photograph of a monkey, who supposedly took the image itself.
Now, the case is being taken to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who claim to be representing the monkey, and the poor photographer is basically bankrupt. While judges have previously ruled that the monkey cannot own the copyright, PETA has appealed against these decisions. The battle for ownership of the photo began years ago, when the now infamous portrait of a black Sulawesi crested macaque was posted on Wikipedia without a license. The photographer, David Slater, objected stating that they were stealing his picture, only for Wikipedia to counter that it was, in fact, the monkey’s own work.
After that, PETA decided to take up the case and represent the monkey after Slater used the image in a book of his wildlife photographs, suing both Slater himself and the publishers for breaching copyright laws. PETA sought a court order to administer any proceeds earned by the image on behalf of the monkey, and use it for the conservation of the species, despite having no previous interactions or demonstrable interest in them.
And so started the long, drawn out, distressing, and mostly downright ludicrous legal battle over who owns the “monkey selfie” image. PETA argues that the monkey that took the photo of itself by pressing the button knew what it was doing and so has artistic ownership of the photo. Slater, on the other hand, says that he spent three days in the forest gaining the monkeys’ trust, and setting the cameras up that eventually resulted in the selfie taking place, and that it would not have occurred without his input.
The point is, PETA doesn’t appear to actually care whether or not the monkey is the original author of the photograph. The animal rights organization has jumped on the case and is using it to further its own agenda, mainly in attempting to set a precedent that an animal can own property, and can be treated as a human in the eyes of the law. They argue: “If this lawsuit succeeds, it will be the first time that a non-human animal is declared the owner of property, rather than being declared a piece of property himself or herself.” But the two are not mutually exclusive. The macaque was not under threat of being or becoming property, and giving it the right to own property does not change its situation. It has, however, resulted in bankrupting and ruining a man who was trying to make a living as a wildlife photographer by highlighting the plight of the endangered macaque. So what, humans are just greedy primates who invented reading and then used that skill to oppress other species
Candidate #3, Seattle City Councilman Larry Gossett. From National Review, Katherine Timpf: A councilman in Seattle is reportedly opposed to hosing sidewalks that reek of excrement near a local courthouse because he fears that it might be racially insensitive.
The area surrounding King County Superior Court includes a homeless shelter and other social-services organizations and has become an “unsanitary and potentially frightening” scene — one “that reeks of urine and excrement” — according to an article in the Seattle Times. Desperate for help with the disgusting environment, two of the court’s judges have asked the city to please power-wash the poop-covered sidewalks. That seems like a pretty reasonable request, but apparently, one councilman is worried that doing so might be a form of microaggression.
According to the Times, Councilmember Larry Gossett “said he didn’t like the idea of power-washing the sidewalks because it brought back images of the use of hoses against civil-rights activists.”
Anyone over the age of three knows that if you see poop somewhere, it’s supposed to be cleaned up. What’s more, most little kids could probably also tell you that said clean-up is supposed to involve water. In fact, before this, I would have told you that this is probably the least controversial opinion in human history. But social-justice alarmism can do a great job of turning the clearly uncontroversial into an outrage, and often at the expense of basic logic and practicality. It’s not that all social-justice activism is bad, of course. It’s great to be nice, and it’s great to be sensitive, but an obsession with social justice and political correctness can make people’s brains start to malfunction — and I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a better example of that than this. My comments would be completely superfluous here.
Candidate #4, Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS). From The NY Post, Jeff Blehar:
When Radiohead, by general consensus the most culturally important rock group in the world, announced that it would be extending the concert tour for its widely acclaimed 2016 album “A Moon Shaped Pool” into 2017, the biggest surprise of all was the final show on the schedule: Tel Aviv. On Wednesday the band will play in Israel for the first time in 17 years. It’s also the first time since the 2005 emergence of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, created by Western pro-Palestinian activists as a means of punishing Israel through academic and cultural boycotts not only of the country but of Israeli artists and academics who perform or speak abroad.
Rock stars garner far more media attention than academics, of course, so trying to prevent bands from playing in Israel is a key component of isolating Israel not just politically but culturally. To see Israeli fans rejected by their heroes. Thus it was a major public scandal to Western activists (particularly in Europe) to find out that Radiohead wasn’t on board with it.
Radiohead’s history with Israel is surprisingly longstanding and deep, on both a professional and personal level. It was the country where the band scored its first hit single (“Creep,” which took off there after flopping in its initial release everywhere else across the world). It has been the site of many of the band’s most memorable concerts, and lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood even met his wife (Israeli artist Sharon Katan) there, back during their first visit in 1993.
And yet, while the members of the band had never expressed a public opinion one way or another on the BDS movement, the default assumption was that, as politically active leftists and titans of the modern music scene, Radiohead would naturally be supportive of it. So when it was discovered that The Most Important Band In The World didn’t subscribe to BDS’s political program, yawps of outrage arose from BDS activists and soon turned to intense lobbying (both public and private) to force them to “reconsider.”
Celebrity BDS’ers — including Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, former South African Archibishop Desmond Tutu and Pink Floyd’s unutterably condescending Roger Waters— signed a public petition/“open letter” to Radiohead insisting the band cancel the Israel show and uphold the BDS cultural boycott, or else the band’s previous commitments to social justice would be considered “mere rhetoric.” Moore accused the band of being complicit in “state-sponsored fascism.” Musician Robert Wyatt smugly denounced the band as acting as “fragrant camouflage for [Israel’s] relentlessly accelerating ethnic cleansing campaign.” Celebrity BDS’ers? Shouldn’t that be BS’ers? “State sponsored fascism”? Really? Whom, the state of Radiohead?
Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s normally publicity-shy frontman, responded to all of this in a bracingly direct interview with Rolling Stone: “There’s an awful lot of people who don’t agree with the BDS movement, including us. I don’t agree with the cultural ban at all.” He continued, getting to the heart of the issue: “I would never dream of telling [people] where to work or what to do or think . . . It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves. I thought it was patronizing in the extreme.”
Candidate #5, Harvard. From The Daily Signal: For the second time in less than two years, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana is expanding paternalistic restrictions and sanctions on the student body based on whom they choose to be friends with. In an email to the student body on July 12, the dean reported that the “USGSO Committee”—which handles policy on “unrecognized single-gender social organizations,” and which the dean co-chairs—released preliminary recommendations to be reviewed by the faculty and then approved by Harvard University’s president, Drew Faust.
These recommendations outline a new policy that exceeds the bounds of a prior, already overreaching policy, which will remain in place unless Faust approves the new policy. The first policy, begun in 2016, targeted all-male and all-female organizations, including fraternities, sororities, and final clubs, all of which are off-campus, self-funded, and unrecognized by the university.
It stated that starting with the class of 2021 (this fall’s freshmen), members of those organizations will be barred from receiving prestigious scholarships (like the Rhodes Scholarship), athletic team captaincies, and leadership positions in recognized student organizations. In response, some clubs, like the traditionally all-male Spee Club and the traditionally all-female Seneca, decided to transition to being co-ed.
The new policy goes even further. Claiming that its initial goal of ending gender segregation and discrimination was “too narrow,” the committee’s new policy extends its sanctions to any “private, exclusionary social organizations that are exclusively or predominantly made up of Harvard students, whether they have any local or national affiliation,” single-gender or otherwise, so that the clubs that attempted to adhere to the first policy cannot escape sanction.
Perhaps even more distressingly, it recommends that students who choose to join these clubs will face suspension and expulsion from the college. The faculty committee is seeking to model this policy on those adopted by Williams College and Bowdoin College, including a policy that requires students to pledge that they will abide by the school’s “Social Code,” a code that prohibits joining, pledging, rushing, or even attending events sponsored by the prohibited groups.
The groupthink mentality of the importance of “diversity and inclusion” is apparent throughout the committee’s report. As it continually emphasizes the importance of making all Harvard students feel “included,” it then asserts, in bold letters: “It is important to note that no one has suggested doing nothing.”
This is simply untrue. Numerous students have suggested allowing students to retain their rights to freedom of association, and professors like Harry Lewis have publicly condemned the administration’s intervention in students’ private lives.
In addition, a student referendum on the policy, referenced in the committee’s report, showed that nearly double as many students voted to repeal the sanctions as voted in support.
While it lists several clubs that the policy is intended to apply to today, it also applies the policy broadly to any similar organizations that are made up primarily of Harvard students, and which are private, exclusionary, and social in nature.
The logic of this policy could be more far-reaching than even the administration realizes.
Could a group of friends at Harvard fall subject to this policy if they exclude others from a private party they host? What about a private game night? Does this group of friends need a formal name in order to be subject?
By targeting such a broad swath of “exclusionary” actions, the administration of Harvard College has resorted to treating adult students like some elementary schools have treated first graders, requiring that everyone in the class be invited to each child’s birthday party.
It is paternalistic, hypocritical, and frankly insulting that administrators have imposed this policy. As one of the most exclusive universities in the world, Harvard has claimed to select only those with the brightest futures and best judgment for admission.
If this is so, then the administration should allow students to make their own choices of outside affiliations, rather than becoming a nanny state intent on scrutinizing the details of students’ social lives.
For these reasons, it is imperative that Faust reject the faculty’s new policy and reconsider the existing policy regarding students’ outside affiliations. Freedom of association is paramount to American society and basic liberty, and Harvard is mistaken in abandoning it. Isn’t Harvard supposed to be elite, with only the best and brightest getting in? This is how they treat the elite? Alumni, you should be ashamed. At the end of fiscal year 2014, Harvard’s private endowment–contributions + investment returns was $36,429,256,000!!!
ANNOUNCING THE WINNER, ENVELOPE PLEASE……..WE HAVE A 5 WAY TIE, BECAUSE EVERYONE MUST WIN!