Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is the truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.
It is one thing for universities to enshrine George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four within their curriculums; it is another for those institutions to act out the novel. As reported in The Australian on Tuesday.
The University of NSW now requires students to complete a “gendered misconduct” course.
The module is mandatory for those students elected as executives of the university’s 300 clubs. Failure by an executive to complete the course can result in the club’s disaffiliation. The module offers true/false responses to statements such as “Your gender is assigned based on your biology and your sex is assumed from your gender.” Respond in the affirmative and the student will be told that proposition is “false”. It is irrelevant whether (trigger warning) he or she is a first year undergraduate or is embarking on a PhD in biology.
Why has it come to this? Because many of those nominally in charge of universities are, despite possessing gifted minds, intellectual eunuchs when it comes to asserting their authority. These days the noisy ideologues dominate. They regard principles such as the objective pursuit of truth as anathema. For them, reality is defined by the orthodoxy of cultural Marxism. Those students who want to argue, for example, that ovaries maketh the woman will still be allowed to do so — that is, in the university’s room 101. Chromosome is the new ‘c’ word.
In defending the university’s module, a spokeswoman stated the module had been introduced following “complaints about micro-aggressions”. Naturally. I mean it makes perfect sense to have your curriculum dictated by some screeching rainbow activist, and it would be churlish of me to suggest the university administrators who agreed to this have a ticker the size of a pea.
Equally inane was the spokeswoman’s defence of the module on the grounds the question was based on the “Australian Human Rights Commission definition”. If universities are going to regard that body of censorious Pharisees as the source of incontrovertible truths, then we may as well throw our lot in with the climate change doomsayers and hope the end comes soon.
But what of the spokeswoman’s explanation that “students could progress and complete the module without answering ‘false’ by “persistently” clicking ‘true’ until the slide progressed”? Please God, I thought for the sake of our children’s future, let this be subterfuge for a highly sophisticated psychological experiment to determine how long on average it takes an unwitting subject to lose it and throw a keyboard through the window.
Only three months ago the chair of Universities Australia, professor Margaret Gardener, questioned the need for the federal government’s review into freedom of speech on campus. “Australian universities teach students how to think, not what to think,” she claimed, “and we teach them to engage both with ideas they agree with and those they don’t agree with”. How does that sit with UNSW’s “computer says ‘no’” methodology, professor?
The brainchild behind this amateurish and infantile method of trying to indoctrinate students is UNSW’s Gendered Violence Research Network. Inquisitive students might ask administrators how this passive-aggressive method of instruction can be reconciled with the university’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy, which expressly enshrines the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 19 of that document provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
There is also the university’s code of conduct, which specifies that the institution will provide students with the opportunity to “study in an academic environment which fosters student participation in debate and in which students can freely express alternative points of view”. To compel students to undergo these modules while deliberately frustrating their attempts to provide logical answers is a wilful disregard of these principles by the university, as well as an abuse of academic authority. How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?
Scroll through the university’s HR web page and you will find an entire glossary devoted to gender gibberish. Did you know, for instance, that ‘Brotherboys’ and ‘Sistergirls’ are terms for indigenous transgender men and women respectively? Then there’s ‘Bigender’ people, who “may experience two gender identities at the same time or at different times”. Why stop at two? “Typically bi-gender identities are man and woman,” the guide continues, “but may also include non-binary identities”.
If that gender-bender does not flummox you, the expanding definition of “misgendering’’ will. You probably thought this vernacular faux-pas applied solely to cases of using a male or female pronoun that did not match that person’s gender identity. If so you are so un-woke.
“For people with intersex variations, this may include a presumption that they have a non-binary gender identity, just as much as an assumption that they are a man, or a woman,” the guide says. In other words, the plural pronoun ‘they’, the use of which was modified to include reference to a gender-neutral individual, is now potentially offensive to a person who has a combination of male and female genetic features, as is presuming a male or female pronoun. For pity’s sake, please end this byzantine imbecility.
If American campuses are any indication, the situation here will only worsen. At Washington University in St Louis, staff are told to “ask everyone to share pronouns” when introducing themselves at meetings. Students are asked to do the same as a substitute for calling the roll. Preferred pronouns are included in signature blocks, and they are also listed on nametags as well as office nameplates. The guide even recommends dispensing with pronouns altogether on request. For example, “Chris is going to Chris’s house. I want to go to Chris’s house with Chris.” I want out of this Newspeak lunacy.
In 2016 the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota recommended all students and staff undergo mandatory training for the purpose of countering “heteronormativity and uncertainty”. The report also recommended a “visible security presence on campus, particularly in perceived masculine spaces”. What next, all male students to undergo a compulsory orchidectomy?
Last year Virginia’s West Point School board terminated the employment of French teacher Peter Vlaming, who on religious grounds had refused to use male pronouns to refer to a transgender student. Vlaming had even proposed as a conciliatory measure referring to the student’s new name instead of the chosen pronoun, but even that did not prevent his dismissal.
Not all these American developments are so depressing. Consider the case of Pennsylvania State University English professor Christopher Reed. Last year complaints of misgendering were made against him, one of which was his alleged detailing on syllabus the superseded name of transgender author Jack (formerly Judith) Halberstam. Reed, who himself is gay and specialises in queer theory, cites academic freedom as a defence for his refusal to conform with enforced gender vernacular.
The only pronouns an individual can claim ownership to are “I” and “me”, he writes convincingly. “Second and third person pronouns are other people’s utterances.” Ultimately, he says, the overriding of long-established grammatical constructions is not about addressing misgendering. Rather, it exists primarily for the purpose of investing power in those to “correct” transgressors. Like any militant ideology, its adherents are invigorated not by winning hearts and minds but by seeing others acquiesce in their demands.
As for the Australian students forced to undergo these demeaning modules, I pose the following scenario: At a compulsory induction session you a told by the convenor, an obnoxious and aggressive activist, that gender is a social construct and has no correlation with biology. This person also informs you this assertion is an incontestable fact, and that disputing it amounts to hate speech and the oppression of an entire community. How would you respond?
A 100 per cent mark would be awarded to the student inspired by the example of American brigadier-general Anthony McAuliffe, the hero of WWII’s Battle of the Bulge. Threatened with encirclement by an overwhelming enemy force at Bastogne, Belgium, the acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division was presented with an ultimatum he surrender. His succinct reply to the Germans should also be the standard riposte to the aggressors of the gender wars. “Nuts”.
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