Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It can happen here

A warning for Americans from a Canadian professor who has been critical of legislation that mandates particular language and criminalizes violations. Apparently at least one American city has already gone down that path:
.... Authorities [in New York City] now fine citizens up to $250,000 for the novel crime of “mis-gendering” — referring to people by any words other than their pronouns of choice (including newly constructed words such as zie/hir, ey/em/eir and co). ....

.... The Big Apple now legally protects a non-exhaustive list of 31 gender identities. ....

Facebook offers a choice of 58. ....

“Gender-neutral” pronouns are, in my opinion, part of the “PC Game.” Here’s how you play:
First, you identify a domain of human endeavor. It could be the wealth of people within a society. It could be the psychological well-being of individuals within a given organization. It could be the prowess of school children at a particular sport.

Second, you note the inevitable continuum of success. Some people are richer or happier than others. Some children are better at playing volleyball.

Third, you define those doing comparatively better as oppressors of those doing comparatively worse.

Fourth, and finally, you declare solidarity with the latter, and enmity for the former (now all-too-convenient targets for your resentment and hatred).
You have now established your moral superiority, cost-free, and can trumpet it at will. ....

Words such as zie and hir, are, in my opinion, moves in the PC game. It’s not a game I wish to play. .... It’s a free speech issue, in its essence.

People often defend freedom of speech on the grounds that citizens must retain the right to criticize their leaders. That’s true, but it’s not the fundamental truth. ....

To identify problems, solve them, and reach consensus, we have to do it foolishly. We have to mis-speak, and over-react, and engage badly in intense verbal conflict. We have to be tested and corrected by others. All of that requires legal protection.

People become upset by differences of opinion, and want them suppressed. And it’s no wonder. But the alternative is worse.

Without free speech, we cannot explore our ever-transforming territories, orient ourselves, and get to the point. Without freedom of speech, we will not talk — and we will not think. ....

There is...a crucial difference between laws that stop people from saying arguably dangerous words and laws that mandate the use of politically-approved words and phrases. We have never had laws of the latter sort before, not in our countries. This is no time to start. .... [more]