Monday, November 27, 2017

Canadian University: Can’t Show Both Sides of “Gendered Pronoun” Debate

From Reason Magazine:
As Lindsey Shepherd was pleading her case before Wilfrid Laurier University faculty and staff, the 22-year-old Canadian grad student and teaching assistant seemed caught off guard by their demands. Her superiors weren’t saying she couldn’t show a televised debate over gender-neutral pronouns in the context of a classroom discussion on language—they just needed her to condemn one side of the debate first. To do otherwise, they said, was “like neutrally playing a speech by Hitler, or Milo Yiannopoulos.”

Shepherd neither endorsed nor decried either side of the TV Ontario showdown between controversial University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson and Nicholas Matte, a professor in the Waterloo University women’s studies department. In the clip that Shepherd played for first-year communications students, Matte and Peterson argue over whether it’s appropriate for professors to address students by pronouns other than “he” and “she” — something Peterson refuses to do.

The clip was shown in the context of a class discussion on how language shapes culture and how gender-specific pronouns have caused controversy. “I was not taking sides,” Shepherd—who does not agree with Peterson’s position—would later tell school authorities. “I was presenting both arguments.”

After an anonymous student complaint was filed, Shepherd was called into a meeting with her supervising professor Nathan Rambukkana, another communications school professor, and the university’s manager of gendered violence prevention and support. They claimed that Shepherd was “transphobic” and that she needed to keep her “problematic” views out of the classroom. Shepherd pushed back, insisting that she didn’t share in Peterson’s pronoun point-of-view but thought it was important not to bring her own views into the discussion.
This, however, has a happy outcome.

Read the entire article, but briefly, Shepherd stood up for her rights, went public, and the university had to apologize for her treatment. Her case was helped by the fact that she secretly recorded the conservation with Rambukkana and the campus bureaucrats.

The initial response from the university was vacillating and confused.  But the recording was so embarrassing (and the backlash from public opinion so severe) that the President of Wilfrid Laurier issued a statement saying:
The conversation I heard does not reflect the values and practices to which Laurier aspires. I am sorry it occurred in the way that it did and I regret the impact it had on Lindsay Shepherd.
In a decent university, this apology would not have been necessary because the attempt to suppress discourse would not have happened.

Shepherd offered her conclusion on Twitter:

Conclusions

In spite of the good outcome here, cases like this are merely the “canary in the coal mine” showing a pervasive culture of bigotry and intolerance in academia. Few students are as gutsy as Shepherd. Most would submit to pressure, or more likely avoid any expression likely to upset the intolerant campus left.

The business about recording conversations is good advice, at least in one-party consent states. Bureaucrats need to face the possibility that their bullying tactics will be laid out in the open for all to see. And if they are not deterred by that possibility, they need to be exposed.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Not a Confederate

GLENN MCCOY © Belleville News-Democrat. Dist. By UNIVERSAL UCLICK. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Virtue Signalling: Marquette President Lovell Signs Letter on “Climate Change”

Global warming (euphemistically now called “climate change”) is a trendy issue among liberal, secular-leaning Catholics who aren’t comfortable with the Church’s position on issues like abortion, gay marriage, or the transgender agenda.

In a lot (probably most) cases they “aren’t comfortable” because, in their hearts of hearts, they are pretty much secular liberals, with perhaps just a bit of a residue of Catholic piety.

Thus is comes as no surprise that an organization called Catholic Climate Covenant has written a “Letter to President Trump and Members of United States Congress.” It demands “[o]n behalf of people who are poor and vulnerable and future generations” that the U.S. “fund the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; honor U.S. commitments to the Green Climate Fund; and meaningfully participate in the deliberations of the UNFCCC.”

It then piles on some religious rhetoric:
Catholic leaders across the nation and world have explicitly and consistently affirmed climate change as a moral issue that threatens core Catholic commitments, including to: protect human life, promote human dignity, exercise a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, advance the common good, live in solidarity with future generations, and care for God’s creation which is our common home [italics in original].
Of course, Michael Lovell, President of Marquette, signed it.

So why not? He has a right to his opinion, doesn’t he?

But Brian Rosenberg, President of Macalester College, admits that:
The first and ultimately most important reason [for a university president] to steer clear from politics is educational.

Colleges are meant to function as places where there can be free and open discourse and sometimes passionate disagreement about a very wide range of issues, including the political. To the extent that the president, as the most visible spokesperson for the university, takes a political stance, she or he runs the risk of biasing or even limiting the expression of views by others on campus.
Rosenberg goes on to say that public statements are fine “when politicians actively undermine the core values by which our institutions live,” which he sees as justifying bashing Donald Trump. But stretching this dictum to rationalize popping off on any controversial issue is going way too far.

Further, it is controversial whether the Earth faces a climate catastrophe. Alarmists insist that “the debate is over.” But that’s untrue; indeed it’s pretty much a flat out lie. And it’s used to try to shut up and stifle dissenting opinions. No university president should sign onto the shutting down of debate. Especially when he is no expert on the issue at hand.

Who Signed the Statement

But the key to what is really going on is found in the list of presidents who signed the statement.  What kind of company does Lovell keep?

We can identify the institutions who are most committed to a real Catholic identity by consulting the Cardinal Newman Society’s list of “recommended” colleges and universities. These are institutions that take their Catholic identity very seriously and have resisted secularizing influences. Seventeen institutions are listed there, and the president of only one of them (Mount Saint Mary’s) signed the letter.

Perhaps some of the others disagree that a climate catastrophy is on the horizon. Or perhaps they don’t think it appropriate to speak on an issue on which they have no expertise. Or perhaps they feel no need for virtue signaling to impress secular elites.

The list of presidents who did sign is laced with the more secular institutions: DePaul, Fordham, Georgetown, Loyola (four different ones), Saint Louis University, Notre Dame, Xavier (Ohio).

Also interesting is the number of nuns who signed (the older orders have been a source of secular political activism in recent years, witness the “Nuns on the Bus”). And of course, the there are usual suspects among leftist activists (the Executive Director of Pax Christi, who happens to be a nun).

Speaking for the Poor

Particularly ironic is the claim to be speaking for the “poor and vulnerable.” In poor countries, the necessary path to raising people out of grinding poverty lies in more energy. And reasonably priced energy. Solar Panels and windmills aren’t going to do it.  At least, not for decades.

Ignoring this fact makes it easier for climate change crowd to feel very moral. And when we add Catholic rhetoric, secular-leaning Catholics not only get to feel moralistic but get to (for a change) claim they are doing something “Catholic.” For people like Michael Lovell, the temptation has to be overwhelming.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day: Alabama Quarterback Runs TD, Sees Soldiers, Salutes

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Here We Go Again

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Plaintiff in Title IX Marquette Lawsuit Complained to Office for Civil Rights

We have blogged about former Marquette student Jane Doe (a pseudonym) who is suing Marquette for the treatment she received following her alleged rape (and also for Marquette’s failure to properly punish the accused rapist before the alleged rape).

We declined to draw any firm conclusions about the case, since many of the people involved refused to talk about it. We did note the implausibility of a concerted conspiracy against her in the College of Nursing, where she claims she was badly mistreated and eventually forced to leave Marquette.

In addition to filing a lawsuit, Doe filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which that office received on July 7.

Here is the statement that Doe provided the OCR.

On a form asking what she wanted from Marquette, Doe responded:
I request censure for MU and acknowledgement that corrective action has occurred preventing other students from enduring this treatment. Because I was forced to withdraw from MU, I would like help in entering other schools. I should also receive reimbursement for tuition and related expenses (including legal expenses).
The narrative she supplied OCR mostly recounts the same claims she made in the Complaint in the Title IX lawsuit, with an exception or two. A key claim in the Complaint is that Marquette’s Department of Public Safety discouraged her reporting the alleged rape to Milwaukee police. A fuller account of her claims is given in the narrative.
I told my parents, who went with me to report the assault to MU department of public safety (MU DPS). The MU DPS told me and my parents to think long and hard about reporting to Milwaukee Police because if they don’t charge him, he would find out and possibly act out against me; Did I really want him to know that I have reported him; I should think long and hard about this before calling the police. At this time, the DPS officers were aware of [redacted] and status with Marquette.

Even though MU discouraged us from [redacted] my parents and I did not think that was the right to to do. We reported to Milwaukee Police Department.
If this account is accurate, officers at Public Safety blundered badly. Note, however, that had they encouraged her to report the rape, the outcome would have been the same. She would have faced the investigation of her case by the Milwaukee Police, the long-delayed trial of her accused rapist, rape charges against her filed by her accused rapist (in apparently reprisal) and so on. So it will be difficult, in her lawsuit, to prove that any damages followed from this alleged blunder by DPS officers.

Office for Civil Rights Responds

The Office for Civil Rights judged her complaint under two rubrics: (1) Discrimination, and (2) Retaliation.

The complain based on discrimination was dismissed, based on the fact that she was late filing the complaint. The letter from Dawn Matthias (OCR team leader) said:
You informed OCR that you did not file your complaint within 180 days because you were afraid the University would retaliate against you. However, this is not an acceptable basis for a waiver of the 180-day filing requirement.

Because your allegation of discrimination is not timely and OCR finds no basis for granting a waiver, OCR is dismissing this allegation effective the date of this letter.

Retaliation

The Office for Civil Rights likewise dismissed the claim of retaliation, saying:
Although you contend that the Associate Dean who denied your grade appeals was aware of your report of sexual assault, you did not provide information suggesting that the Associate Dean’s stated reasons for denying the grade appeals were false or illegitimate. In light of the protracted amount of time between the protected activity and adverse action, and the lack of any indications of possible retaliation, OCR finds that you have not stated a prima facie case of retaliation and is dismissing this allegation.

Conclusion

It might seem that all this is damning for Jane Doe’s lawsuit against Marquette. But it’s not quite so simple. There is no evidence the Office for Civil Rights actually investigated the case. The passage quoted above implies that Doe’s complaint about retaliation was dismissed based merely on the fact that she herself presented no convincing evidence. Several documents from the OCR file were withheld from this blogger (based on privacy concerns) and Lauren Skerrett of the Office for Civil Rights declined to say whether any of them contained more evidence or investigative reports. But the meticulously written letter from Dawn Matthias indicates no additional evidence or investigation, and the redactions in that letter are too minor to conceal such.

But the bottom line has to be that Doe’s case is rather weak. The notion that her alleged rapist should have been suspended or expelled before he raped her only makes sense if his treatment was egregiously lenient, and we don’t know that it was. Further, even guys who are terrible jerks and deserve some punishment aren’t typically likely rapists.

The actions of DPS officers, if they really did discourage reporting a rape, were grossly unprofessional. But it’s hard to see how that changed anything in her subsequent experiences. And evidence of intentional mistreatment by multiple people in the Nursing College is missing.

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Racism: Canadian Singer Invites “Brown Girls” to the Front, Tells Whites to Move Back

From the CBC:
The Halifax festival says the incident involved a white volunteer photographer and several white audience members who reacted negatively when [Lido] Pimienta invited “brown girls to the front” during her Oct. 19 show.

The outspoken singer, who took home the Polaris Prize for her album La Papessa last month, frequently asks her audience to welcome people of colour to the front of the stage. In turn, she requests that white people move back.

While Dudka doesn’t offer much detail in his post, festival spokesman Trevor Murphy confirmed Allie O’Manique’s account of what transpired.

O’Manique says the problems started when the volunteer female photographer refused to step away from her spot near the front. It led to a clash with nearby audience members who became angered over her insistence on remaining near the stage to take photos, says O’Manique, who performs as dream-pop act Trails and shares management with Pimienta.

“She just kept saying, ‘Move to the back,’” says O’Manique.

“Finally after saying it about 10 times — and the woman refused to move — (Pimienta) said, ‘You’re cutting into my set time and you’re disrespecting these women, and I don’t have time for this.’”

Event organizers say the volunteer was removed from the show and ultimately chose to sever ties with the festival.
A clear example of racism, right?

Except the organizers of the event accused the woman who refused to move back of racism, and apologized profusely to “people of color.”
The Halifax Pop Explosion music festival is apologizing for the actions of a volunteer who interrupted a performance by Polaris Prize-winning singer Lido Pimienta with “overt racism.”

A statement on behalf of the festival’s board of directors addresses the singer directly and promises to make changes to improve “anti-oppression and anti-racism training” over the next year.

“We are sorry that one of our volunteers interrupted your art, your show, and your audience by being aggressive and racist,” reads a Facebook post signed by vice-chairman Georgie Dudka.
And further . . .
In closing their statement, Halifax Pop Explosion organizers specifically addressed people of colour.

“We are going to try our best as a festival to create ways to make our spaces safer and more accessible for you. We hope we can rebuild some trust and that you will come back to our shows.”
So resistance to politically correct racism becomes “overt racism.”

White people in the U.S. signed on to the Civil Rights movement in the belief all races should be treated equally. They never signed on to being demeaned, derided and discriminated against. And in the 2016 Presidential election, the fought back against that by voting for a flawed candidate who nonetheless sent that message.

Do people in Canada have a similar choice?

[Postscript]

Not surprisingly, Pimienta has anti-Semitic views.

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