By Oliver Hodges
A few months ago during a social studies class in a Canadian University, a young assistant professor showed a clip from a TV debate on a national news channel. The debate was on the topic of legislation to enforce the use of gender pronouns and criminalise the misuse or failure to use a transgender person’s desired pronoun. Jordan Peterson, one of the TV debaters, put forward the argument that when the government can legislate our speech, they are effectively legislating our thought processes and are creating an Orwellian or Gileadean dystopia, in which speech is controlled and free-thought suppressed. A reasonable argument one might suggest and one which was reasonably countered by the suggestion that transgender people are being discriminated against and require greater protection. So far, seemingly innocuous.
But it is not so. Rather, the professor in question was dragged before a ‘diversity’ committee for review. Her crime: promoting divisive and aggressive views apparently offensive to a number of students taking her class. It was thus that according to the so-called ‘diversity’ committee, the act of showing this video was the equivalent to legitimising Hitler’s views concerning Jewish people. A significant leap to say the least, especially given that she showed both sides of the debate in her class. Fortunately, the professor in question retained her position, although she was fiercely admonished and humiliated by her peers and superiors.
So, what did she do wrong? Or, more importantly, what is going wrong?
In our times, there is a disturbing emergent movement among young, radical left-leaning university and school students; it is the desire to create neutrality at any cost.
But, neutrality is not equality. Neutrality is the desire for equality of outcome, rather than equality of opportunity. That is to say, for everyone to be neutral we must bring some people down and push others up so everyone’s head is at the same level and stays there. No one says anything of offence and no one suffers any injustice. So what’s the issue with this?
Well, neutrality is unattainable and you can never not risk being offensive.
Why? Because offence can’t be given out; it has to be taken.
Through the mere act of having a conversation, you are risking being offensive. You have no idea how someone might react to what you are saying, but you say what you think on the assumption that an opinion is not inherently offensive. The offensiveness only occurs when meaning is attached to what you say when people interpret it and when they make assumptions about what that opinion means for them and other people and thus how they should feel. So, to suggest that anyone has a right to not be offended is ludicrous and unfeasible. For, to do so, not only would we have to stop all conversation and remove a significant chunk of the English language, but we would also have to call a halt to free thought.
And it is this desire to enforce neutrality that is destroying the left’s cause.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, was recently recorded at a Q&A taking a question from a woman in the audience before interrupting her after she used the word ‘mankind’ to tell her that she must instead use the term ‘peoplekind’. The problems with this are three-fold. Firstly, Trudeau is failing to recognise that “mankind” is not gendered and actually finds its etymology in an era when “man” referred to all humans, not just males. Secondly, by trying to enforce neutrality of language, Trudeau exhibited ‘mansplaining’ of the first order. He interrupted the woman, told her what to say and having allowed her to correct her mistake, only then did he let her continue. Thirdly, ‘peoplekind’ is not a word, ‘humankind’ is, use that.
This absurd failure to employ common sense and basic principles has meant that Conservative figureheads like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers are gaining immense online followings as they speak out against this trend to censor speech and prevent free thought. People are fighting back against the didactic and oppressive left that claims a moral superiority as the foundation for their authority to act carte blanche. And no, to fight against this desire to censor free speech and thought does not mean you are prejudiced in anyway. Jordan Peterson may stand in opposition to any attempt to legislate language, but that does not mean he or any other person of similar belief, is transphobic, racist, or a white supremacist. The latter, being the latest weapon of choice for the left. E.G. You are white and privileged so I can discount your opinion for two reasons: the first being the colour of your skin and the second your background and position in society, both of which you have no control over. Does this reverse racism coincide with the accepting, egalitarian movement the left claim to be promoting? It doesn’t seem so.
The predominant publicised fear of the 21st century is of a fascist, right-wing movement occupying governmental positions, creating tyranny and inciting division, which of course can only be quelled with neutrality. Yet, I propose the opposite. The Trump government, Brexit and UKIP are the least of our worries. The true danger we face today, is a Neo-Marxist movement enacting a ‘social cleansing’ in the name of neutrality. We need only cast our minds back to the Soviet communist cleansing in the 1930s of the most efficient, middle class farmers, the ‘kulaks’, as evidence for this. Over 3 million ‘kulaks’ were killed or sent to labour camps and 5 million peasants died from the resulting famine that occurred as all the key food producers had been removed. And if this seems far removed from our society today, you need only look at the removal of any symbol of supposed ‘privilege’ that is occurring as we speak. The emergence of ‘safe spaces’ will soon not be enough, rather we will have to remove any ‘dangerous’ persons harbouring ‘dangerous’ opinions from all public domains and violence will be excused for the ‘struggle’. Social Justice Warriors can shut down invited speakers and incite riots, leftists can vandalise historical statues or monuments supposedly representative of inequality, university committees can humiliate their professors and all without opposition. The left is erasing history and free thought in the hope that we overlook the similarities between the horrors committed under the fight for neutrality in the past and the horrors they are soon to commit in the present.
Beware the green-eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on.
The radical left is alive and well, it is hungry and we are the meat.