Thursday, February 22, 2007

Perhaps it will be beaten tomorrow...

...but as of right now this is the worst article linked to on Arts and Letters Daily, ever. It is perhaps one of the worst articles ever written. Not only is it devoid of any real argument, since it's based on a false premise, but it's also completely mean-spirited. Titled "Censoring students at Oxford? That is so gay," its argument runs roughly thus: A student at Oxford complained about people in the Common Room using words like "poof" and "gay" to describe bad shots made during a pool game. The "executive" of the Junior Common Room then sent out an email that said:
‘JCR members have raised concerns after groups have been overheard in the Games Room and other communal areas of college using terms like “gay” and “poof” as joking insults. Please be aware that using language like this is unacceptable and extremely offensive, even if you are not being intentionally malicious and think you are being ironic or witty in some way. It creates an uncomfortable atmosphere in the college.’
Your basic call for politeness, right? According to the author of the aritcle, Maria Grasso, this actually constitutes "self-censoring," "enforcing an official dogma," "infantilization," a "pernicious...attempt at thought control," "intolerant censorship," and an action by the "campus thought police."

Do libertarians honestly have nothing better to do? This whole piece is absurd. First, and most importantly, there is absolutely no threat of coercion made in the email. It is an expression of concern about a way of speaking that is insulting to many people. One such person (he is named -- Andrew Godfrey) would prefer that such talking cease. Sending out an email is one way to promulgate his request for civility. Second, let's not dress this up as suppression of a deep, nuanced topic that can only be resolved by careful discussion. Grasso summons the ever-useful example of Mill's On Liberty (gag) and later argues that "prejudice – which is a more serious matter than banter around a pool table – can only be effectively challenged in open debate, through reasoned argument." She speaks reverently of the University's atmosphere of questioning, skepticism, experimentation. We're talking about the use of the adjective "gay" here. It's not questioning the divinity of Jesus, or arguing for socialism, or whatever the hell John Stuart Mill thought should be left to debate in the public sphere. It's just fucking insulting.

Grasso can't help but goad on those hand-wringing fags, though. Her final paragraph states: "The campus thought-police have no right to tell us how to think, speak or behave, and certainly not when we are just hanging out with friends and playing pool. They should bugger off and stop being so gay." Ha, you showed 'em, Maria! Maybe next time you should write an article about how outrage over "nigger" and "beaner" is just so much PC claptrap. That's the problem with these types of libertarian arguments: They don't like to hear oppressed groups asking for some respect, just asking for it, not enforcing it, and they treat them as either below contempt or an affront to freedom as we know it. They have ceased criticizing censorship (since there simply is no censorship in this case) and rather enforce their own rudeness. My guess is that Maria Grasso doesn't even have a problem with gay people. Maybe she even knows a gay person! She was just confronted with a deadline and had to throw some libertarian garbage together in time. This is basically the worst form of the South Park strategy: Make fun of people, not because they're hypocritical or power-mad or insufficiently libertarian, but actually because they're asking for respect as a minority. It's just mindboggling.

The only thing more mindboggling is that this woman found this nothing bit of fluff from Oxford and somehow made a 1200 word article out of it. And that I'm actually wasting my time commenting on it now. Watch for this strategy, though. I see it more and more and it insults my intelligence.

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Blogger Austin 5-000 said...

Agreed. The lamest aspect of this article is her citation of the following argument:
‘The word “gay” has several definitions, only one of which is “homosexual”. Others include merry, licentious and wanton. When I miss a pot at the pool table, I sometimes refer to said shot as “gay”. Obviously, I do not consider the shot in question to be homosexual. Having said that, I rarely miss, so I seldom offend the minority of pedantic, over-sensitive fools at Merton.’

Are you fucking kidding me? This is an argument that third graders have with their teachers: "Uh, yeha, Ms. Williams, I meant 'dam' as in 'Dam that river!', not 'damn!'". Bullshit. These people know what they're doing. It's not even worth arguing about.

8:05 AM  
Blogger dchan said...

Was it really necessary for her to wedge in something as self aggrandizing as "I rarely miss..."? I mean, what does that add to the article (assuming it was worth trying to add something at all).

12:05 PM  

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