political correctness

It’s one of those headlines that make you scratch your head and go – “Am I living in the Twilight Zone?”

Some Arizona State University students have demanded that the school rename its “walk-only zones” because the moniker – they claim with indignant determination – is offensive to disabled people.

Before I get in to some of the hilarious responses to that demand, let’s set the stage.

Walk-only zones” were created in 2013 in some of the most heavily congested thoroughfares on campus, host to some 75,000 people. Things banned from these zones from 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays include:  bikes, skateboards, Segways, golf carts, maintenance vehicles and the like.

Students must dismount wheeled vehicles within the boundaries, which offer fancy bike valet areas and bike skateboard parking racks. The zones aim to reduce injuries, as students on bikes and skateboards were apparently crashing into people often as they hurried to class. The zones have helped reduced accidents significantly, according to the State Press campus newspaper.

Basically the “walk-only zones” have nothing do with with making disabled people feel bad about themselves and everything to do with making sure students aren’t barreling through crowded pathways.

Now, some students are annoyed with the zones, but not because of the title, according to comments on Facebook. Some have said they don’t like being told how to get to class on a public campus paid forWOZ.1 with their money. Others were pissed when campus security in 2014 started handing out tickets and fines to violators. A few joked they didn’t like the zones because they had such a fun time watching people crash into each other.

All complaints within reason. But not this next one: students’ 2-week-old Change.org petition declaring that “enforcing ‘walk only’ zones onto campus property marginalizes disabled bodies who cannot walk. This petition is in effort to make a more blanket title for these zones that encompasses the diversity of all bodies who occupy the community that is ASU.”

Nevermind the official ASU website notes “walk-only zones are not intended to limit or redirect use of mobility devices by individuals with disabilities. Learn more about ASU mobility services.”

“Change the name to ‘Pedestrian Only’ or any other inclusive title,” the petition declares.

According to a poster circulating ASU’s campus and obtained by Campus Reform, which first reported on this, “not everyone at ASU can walk, so WHY use the lingo ‘Walk Only’?”

“We don’t like creepy people policing our bodies on the way to class either…,” the poster reads.

As news of this new petition circulated within the bizzaro world of Arizona “Safe Space” State University, signers in support commented with points such as “I was on crutches for 5 weeks and felt uncomfortable when seeing this sign” and “This is necessary. Oppressive language is a microagression that needs to be addressed and is often forgotten about. Word choice is one of the easiest things to change and often one of the most powerful.”

Now, as news of this petition spread, many comments under it are laugh-out-loud funny, playfully or cleverly mocking (either quite by accident or very much on purpose) the lunacy of the petition, which has garnered a whopping 92 supporters so far.

* I understand that people with disabilities may be hurt by the use of ‘Walk only’, however, the word ‘pedestrian’ should not be used either as that word comes from the Latin word for foot.

* Isn’t having a sign written in English excluding those non-English readers, indeed illiterate people of every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender? I suggest a constant staff of interpretive dancers who can outline the proper, non-judgemental use of this path in ways that can meet the communicative needs of all people regardless of interpretive ability.

* A ‘walk-only’ zone is not only offensive to disabled people, who cannot walk, but also to people who might choose to cycle or drive because they find it more comfortable. I suggest that the path should be opened to ALL traffic, to prevent the marginalization and exclusion of people that cannot or will not walk.

*I am a Transfreight highwaysexual who identifies as a Containerkin. I need an 18 wheeler to haul me around the campus. If you oppose me, you are sexist, specieist, transphobes. You have triggered me and you should check your privilege.

And covering the petition for National Review, Katherine Timpf points out: “Funny — I spent most of last summer on crutches and I guess I forgot to call the city to tell them I was being marginalized by having to look at only able-bodied crosswalk symbols and demand that something be done. What could I have possibly been doing with my time that would have been more important than that?”

Her article prompted additional comments pointing out the lunacy of this petition, including this: “Someone should point out to these silly people that the signs themselves are also discriminatory in that they’re only for those who can see.”

Where does it ever really end?

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IMAGES: ASU screenshots

The Columbia University Marching Band is yet another entity to mock that school’s “sexual respect” program, doing so via its traditional “Orgo Night.”

“One of the Ivy League’s quirkier traditions,” Orgo Night is where the band, “playing raucously, marches into a reading room in the university’s Butler Library a minute before midnight on the night before the first final exams are held.” A couple of band members then tell a bunch of jokes to those gathered around.

The college’s controversial “respect” program has been a target of derision and amusement for months now — and the band took advantage of it.

But, natch, not everybody was amused.

The New York Times reports:

The band also made light of a recent protest by a Columbia anti-sexual assault group, No Red Tape, during which the words “Columbia Protects Rapists” was projected onto the university’s Low Library when prospective students were visiting the school.

“An army of high school creepers is now thinking, ‘Yes, I will go to Columbia after all,’” the band’s “poet laureate,” Mikhail Klimentov, a junior, said.

Ms. [Orli] Matlow noted that No Red Tape itself had mocked artwork as an inadequate option for fulfilling the sexual respect requirement.

“Unless it involves a mattress,” she added, a reference to Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia senior who, as part of her visual arts thesis, has carried a mattress with her everywhere she has gone on campus to protest the university’s handling of her claim that a fellow student raped her in her dorm room. The line drew a few boos, and then some cheers.

Ms. Sulkowicz, who figured in several other jokes about her status as a poster child for sexual assault on campus, did not attend Orgo Night. But she said in an interview that she was hurt and disappointed in the band.

“I guess they don’t really know anything about how a survivor would feel, to get totally made fun of in front of the entire school,” she said.

Amber Officer-Narvasa, a freshman and one of No Red Tape’s organizers, said she considered the jokes about Ms. Sulkowicz inexcusable.

“I was disappointed to see that once again, Orgo Night engaged in reductive and offensive ‘humor’ at the expense of those already marginalized on this campus and in society at large,” Ms. Officer-Narvasa said in an email.

Orgo Night has periodically drawn criticism from those who described the band’s humor as insensitive to women and minorities. Last semester, two students published an op-ed in the Columbia Spectator, the college newspaper, that labeled the event “an unsafe space” for students of color.

To be sure, there is plenty about which to mock Ms. Sulkowicz and the whole “sexual respect” requirement.

Band head manager Karl Wagner said, “It’s been a semester with a lot of pent-up frustration … so I think students appreciate just being able to vent and laugh about stuff.”

Very true, Mr. Wagner; however, I’m sure you know there’s a certain cadre on every college campus — including, of course, Columbia — that feels it should decide what is funny … and what’s not. Orgo Night faced a “controversy” much like yesterday’s back in December.

The tradition’s days (well, nights) may be numbered.

Read the full article.

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IMAGE: Jason Eppink/Flickr

A University of Michigan student was booted off the Residence Staff (ResStaff) for inquiring about the meaning of an acronym … and then giggling when someone offered up a joke about it.

When ResStaff members were involved in a GroupChat, “Chris” asked what the “BBW” meant in a (black female) fellow ResStaff member’s chat handle.

This query was called “inappropriate” in a subsequent disciplinary hearing.

The Michigan Review reports:

Two weeks later, after another follow-up disciplinary meeting, the student’s ResStaff contract was terminated in a letter claiming ineligibility due to a class requirement technicality that, according to the student, had been resolved more than a month prior.

But even in the termination letter, the hall directors couldn’t help but reference the incident, telling the student to learn “how to better manage your involvements and to hold yourself accountable for your actions.”

A fellow member who jokingly replied to the student’s question about the acronym with “bad baby walrus” was also called in for a disciplinary meeting, but was not let go. The student himself was also reprimanded as being “racist” for laughing at the joke.

Noticeably absent from any sort of discipline? The woman herself, who vulgarly insulted the student as “f*cking stupid and disrespectful” and threateningly vowed “If we have a problem the next time I see you, DON’T be surprised.”

Following the abrupt termination of his contract with ResStaff, the student was left without housing and has had to move back home with his parents and complete the near half hour commute to and from class every day.

“Chris” fired off an angry email about the incident, chastising ResStaff:

“(ResStaff) isn’t an inclusive place or even a welcoming place. It’s a place where you must all adopt the ‘accepted’ opinion to be included. I wouldn’t recommend joining ResStaff to anyone. Good luck to everyone. I’m sure there will be much discussion and many meetings about this email.”

Read the full article.

h/t to College Insurrection.

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The College Fix and sites like it are chock full of anecdotes about how radical progressivism is actually the very antithesis of what it purports to be: tolerant, understanding and pro-diversity.

Today’s “snowflake” college students need “safe spaces” in which to take refuge from things like “microaggressions,” and while screaming about how delightfully “tolerant” they are, the slightest bit of intellectual, academic, and even comedic discomfort will suddenly send them into a paroxysm of self-righteous indignation and hurt.

This trend has infected even the geekiest of the cultural landscape.

The Weekly Standard notes how social justice warriors — SJWs — have attempted to “cleanse” … science fiction literature:

For more than 50 years, the Hugo Awards have been handed out at the annual World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) to honor the best science fiction and fantasy writing of the previous year. But when the nominees for this year’s Hugos were announced, it touched off a firestorm unlike any in the awards’ history.

That’s because so many of this year’s nominees are perceived (not always correctly) to be conservative or libertarian. A group of right-leaning science fiction authors organized a campaign to stuff this year’s Hugo Awards ballot with writers they felt had been overlooked.

There are other science fiction awards, but the Hugos hold a special place among fans. Anyone who pays the $40 to attend Worldcon can nominate an author. The awards thus have a special legitimacy because they are seen as being selected by the most dedicated readers.

The fact that Hugos are voted on by readers means that authors and publishers have engaged in various levels of politicking over the years to try to win. Big-name writers are not above posting lists of their favorite works on their websites or popular science fiction message boards in an attempt to whip votes.

However, among certain elements of the science fiction community, there had long been a suspicion that campaigns to gather Hugo votes were more coordinated and less reflective of the fan base than they might appear.

The schism over the Hugo Awards is aesthetic as well as political. For some time now, a handful of stars in the science fiction firmament—notably popular author John Scalzi and some polarizing editors associated with Tor, arguably the most influential publisher—have been pushing to elevate the genre by embracing certain literary and political themes. Critics contend that in practice this means an overabundance of “message fiction” where, say, encounters with an alien civilization become leaden metaphors for gay rights and other politically correct themes. The fans opposed to this want science fiction to stay focused on story-telling and adventure—and they are annoyed by the attempt to banish cherished genre conventions, such as book covers with buxom babes and musclebound heroes.

The progressive faction has been much more successful of late; last year the Hugos “were swept by a younger group of women and people of color” despite their work, according to sales figures, not being read widely by the general public.

Sci-fi author Brad Torgersen says the Hugos have become “an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.”

Torgersen has assumed command of the “Sad Puppies” campaign in which conservative-leaning sci-fi writers and fans began openly clamoring for their own slate of Hugo nominees. This year the effort was quite successful; however, with such success inevitably comes the progressive backlash — the usual litany of “-isms” thrown about, in particular racism and sexism.

Torgersen, who’s married to a black woman, wasn’t even immune; a Salon and Daily Beast columnist accused his wife and (biracial) child of being a “shield” for his “latent racism.”

What SJWs wanted the first issue of  The Avengers to look like.

In addition, Entertainment Weekly used the headline “Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign.” Amazingly (and thankfully), it did offer up an eventual correction to the story noting that the Sad Puppies nominees “include[d] many women and writers of color.”

The field of comic books hasn’t been immune to this sort of nonsense, either.

Last year, writer Chuck Dixon and artist Paul Rivoche lamented in the Wall Street Journal  how “How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman”:

The industry weakened and eventually threw out the CCA, and editors began to resist hiring conservative artists. One of us, Chuck, expressed the opinion that a frank story line about AIDS was not right for comics marketed to children. His editors rejected the idea and asked him to apologize to colleagues for even expressing it. Soon enough, Chuck got less work.

The superheroes also changed. Batman became dark and ambiguous, a kind of brooding monster. Superman became less patriotic, culminating in his decision to renounce his citizenship so he wouldn’t be seen as an extension of U.S. foreign policy. A new code, less explicit but far stronger, replaced the old: a code of political correctness and moral ambiguity. If you disagreed with mostly left-leaning editors, you stayed silent.

Many of the contemporary cadre of comic book creators are brazenly open about their politics on social media, one even going so far as to tell people who disagree with him not to buy his products. This amazing … “business model” is quite head-scratching; one would think companies that rely on people to purchase their goods might have a better sense of customer service.

That is one of the more extreme examples of the open tweeting/Facebooking/Instagramming etc. by creators of the progressive politics du jour, where outright disdain and incivility directed at right-leaning fans is quite commonplace.

Marvel god-man Stan Lee would be aghast at all this if knew about it. (Maybe he is and does; however, he’s no longer in a position to do anything about it.) Fans who disagreed with anything the company did back in his day (on the old comic book letters pages) were dealt with respectfully and with the goal of maintaining fans as (paying) readers.

To be sure, one can be a progressive and a good creator whose work is purchased by conservatives. Many of comicdom’s great creators of lore were liberals, and their work remains held in high esteem by folks across the political spectrum. Big-time liberal Steve Englehart, for example, scripted some of Marvel’s greatest stories, including the Captain America “Secret Empire” tale where it is highly implied that the head of the villainous organization was none other than Richard Nixon.

A big difference today is today is that, unlike Englehart’s “Empire” yarn, writers don’t much bother with analogies or comparisons — they just use conservative politicians as the explicit, de facto bad guys with little or no discussion of the issues.

I’ve often wondered if the reason current creators act as they do is because their (print) medium is dying. Monthly sales numbers are but a fraction of what they were decades ago; dollar figures keep apace by recycling a lot of what has come before (like from Englehart’s era) via trade paperbacks and collections.

Perhaps comics haven’t seen a push-back like that of science fiction’s Sad Puppies due to this eventual demise. (Comic book movies are the real money makers now).

As the Standard’s Mark Hemingway concludes, “… the fact that the genre had previously welcomed extremes is partly what made it so wild, imaginative, and beloved. Sacrificing ideological diversity for more superficial measures of diversity isn’t a recipe for producing great writing.”

Demanding that science fiction stories contain quotas for “historically disenfranchised populations” (or something), and demanding apologies for making completely innocent queries is as stupidly “progressive” as college types mandating race/gender/diversity/tolerance workshops where “conversations” are advertised, but (liberal) lectures are the reality.

Put your actions where your words are, progressives. Embrace all diversity, which, believe it or not, means diversity of viewpoint. If you don’t, everything you touch will decay … like a cotton candy-coated, never-brushed tooth.

Dave Huber is an assistant editor of  The College Fix. (@ColossusRhodey)

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IMAGES: YouTube screencap, CultEmpire.com

The editorial board of Ohio University’s The Post is chastising the mayor of its town (Athens, Ohio) Paul Wiehl, for having the gall to suggest that people not act in a careless manner and to be aware of their surroundings … in order to help thwart sexual assault.

“[H]e seemed to place the blame on survivors of such crimes,” the Post writes.

He did?

“We can only put so many officers on the street,” Wiehl told the Post reporter. “It’s not a case of lighting; it’s not a case of behavior; it’s usually a case of a lot of people running around and not paying attention (to their surroundings) for the most part.”

To which the board responds,

We vehemently disagree with that logic.

It’s the classic “don’t walk late at night alone; it’s your fault for being dumb,” argument. We’re especially discouraged to hear that our city’s top government official harbors that opinion about a topic that is so important to many of his constituents.

No survivor of sexual assault is to blame for what happened to him or her.

Well, technically no victim of any crime is to blame for what happened to him or her. But why should people get irritated because someone offers some common sense advice like “Don’t be stupid” when you’re on your way to, say, a party?

As College Fix Editor Jennifer Kabbany wrote back in September,

As a mother of a young girl and as a former college student who attended more parties than she should have, and drank more than she should have, I can say advice I’d give my daughter when she heads off to college is: Don’t get wasted!

Now, I’d say that for any number of reasons, including health and safety. But the main reason I’d give it to her is because women are apt to make stupid decisions when they’re inebriated. Does that excuse rape or sexual assault? No. Is it advice that blames the victim? No. Is it good, honest guidance? Yes!

Jennifer notes how, just like Mayor Wiehl, the president of George Washington University and a (male) University of Arizona student newspaper writer were excoriated by feminists and ideologically rigid college students alike for daring to offer the same advice she did.

Maybe if/when one of the Post editors gets something stolen, say, from his (or her) car — because he failed to lock the doors — someone can inform him that it was rather dumb to leave the doors unlocked.

I wonder if his response will be “No victim of theft is to blame for what happened to him or her.”

Read the full editorial.

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IMAGE: Steve Garfield/Flickr

Not that this sort of stuff is really all that surprising anymore, but a teacher in Seattle, a one Moses Rifkin of University Prep, is teaching about the dreaded “white privilege” in, of all classes, physics.

Rifkin says that he “was jealous of [his] colleagues in English and History who got to talk every day in class” about society and morality, etc. Teaching at a private school “only made matters worse” for Rifkin — his students “weren’t learning about their own privilege.”

National Review Online’s Katherine Timpf reports:

During one section of the course, Rifkin’s post explains, students study black physicists. For a homework assignment, he instructs students to learn about a pre-1950s black physicist and also a modern black physicist.

Rifkin explains that he expects finding information about black physicists will be tough, which “points to the big question of this project: why is this? Why, percentage-wise, are there dramatically fewer black physicists than black Americans?”

“Is it because black students are not interested in physics? Not capable? Something else?” the homework assignment asks.

Yes — the physicist has to be black specifically and the assignment “will not cover any other minority groups that may not be as involved in science.”

“We do this because it’s a particularly illustrative example; we aren’t going to directly address other scientific minorities, and there are many: women, other races, the economically disadvantaged, the physically disabled, etc.” the course description clarifies.

Timpf notes how Rifkin wrote a guest post at fellow physics teacher John Burk’s blog. Apparently, Burk loves the “privilege” subject matter as much as Rifkin.

Oddly enough, like Rifkin (whose University Prep costs $29,500 per year at the high school level), Burk teaches at an elite private school. In fact, elite private schools appear to be the only places at which Mr. Burk has taught; previous sites of employment include Washington DC’s Sidwell Friends (where President Obama’s daughters attend), and Atlanta’s Westminster Schools.

If these gents are so acutely concerned about “white privilege,” why do they constantly surround themselves with it?

UPDATE: Timpf notes that the head of Rifkin’s school, University Prep, is “fully aware” and “supports” the teacher’s lessons on “white privilege.”

Read the full article.

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IMAGE: Elias Schewel/Flickr