Saturday, October 29, 2016

Can We Regulate Speech? Really?

I'm quite impressed with the attention this university professor, Jordan Peterson, has been receiving for his defiant stance against proposed regulation for a smorgasbord of alternative gender pronouns. It's him (him), a guy who looks like a younger David Byrne of the Talking Heads, versus proponents of social justice.

Social justice has its grand ideals, but I find that ideals always remain such. An ideal is a vision, an expectation of something that doesn't align with reality. Social justice has a noble aim, but it over-reaches itself so ludicrously. There is no amount of perfection attainable when you're referring to the species of humans, just based on their very nature alone.

I haven't watched the man's videos, but I have seen enough of the debate. I completely understand where he's coming from and why, and I feel an almost disgusted shock when I hear the other side accuse him of "abusing" and "attacking" others merely for not labeling them as they prefer to be labelled, whether the situation in the moment actually requires it or doesn't.

They say that inventing this whole new list of z-words will accommodate those who are non-binary and eliminate divides between these people and everyone else - as well as lower or ease the likelihood of violence towards such groups.

I don't understand how that brings people closer together and eliminates violence. To me it sounds more like it would escalate it and widen people via their differing, actively promoted identities.

Regarding death threats and violence, perpetrators of such heinous acts should be dealt with. That is a reactionary approach, yes. But this proactive approach is too far-reaching. You just can't regulate what people say at all times. If you start classifying everything as hate speech, people start wondering what they're allowed to even think because everything they say is apparently offensive. Someone says "she" instead of "ze" or "zur" or whatever it is, and suddenly the person - that shameful abuser - is fined. Being this proactive is the same, to me, as an anti-graffiti bylaw requiring you to move your entire shed inwards from your back fence, beyond the reach of aerosol paint cans, and if you leave it there and it gets graffitied, you get fined. Never mind the artists out there running around tagging sheds, having your shed away from the fence lowers its visibility and discourages the taggers. What if they see the shed regardless and hop over the fence? Doesn't matter, even if there are virtually no graffiti epidemics in your area to begin with. Your shed must be moved - no, we're not paying to use heavy machinery, it's at your expense.

The professor was defiant in abiding by that proposed regulation, but he did not say "I will never use those pronouns;" he said he'd have a discussion with the student. That sounds reasonable. Having a blanket law imposed? That's ludicrous because you can't categorize everyone, specifically or by new blanket terms like 'ze,' etc.

People can laugh at Peterson's ideas that this is all led by left-wingers. But he's really just warning people early about how life can change over time into the future if we go in this idealistic direction. It may not be a slippery slope yet (I disagree) but it can quickly become one. Having the government regulate language to this degree eventually leads to other things traditionally considered free to being regulated (you cannot possibly please everyone, yet social justice aims to), until we end up turning into categories, rather than humans, in a dystopian system. I don't want to be known by name, gender, sexual orientation, skin tone, and many other things, and therefore classified into a group. I don't want to be referred to that way. I want to be an individual who reveals what he wants to you at his own discretion and freedom, and be able to choose how I paint myself independent of classification by a system or others.

Language has to evolve naturally; it was once not considered dishonourable to use racial slurs, and now it is generally agreed that it is. That didn't change because a law was imposed right away; it evolved over change of social opinion as it took its course. There are harassment laws against such slurs now but they never really need to be used.

That's how things should work - people choose what they want, but they don't have the entitlement to force others or everyone to verbally recognize them singularly, merely because they're in some way different, obviously or beneath the surface. If one wants to be recognized otherwise, we can choose to politely try to accommodate them or be lazy and disregard the request. At the same time, discrimination should be considered when someone says something negative or defaming to someone - how is using the wrong pronoun defaming and verbal violence? Is it irreversibly damaging to a person's psyche to be called 'he' when he feels more like neither her nor she? I highly doubt that, unless they are unbelievably narcissistic and full of self-entitlement, to feel special and set apart as such. Is it irreversibly damaging to be physically assaulted and told one doesn't matter or is disgusting constantly because he doesn't identify as either male or female? Absolutely. But how one is referred to? What an unusual way to try to fix the problem, however big or small, of gender discrimination. Someone physically assaults a non-binary person. Okay, let's refer to that person with new pronoun - that'll stop the assaults and make them feel relevant, even if they already were relevant just by living and existing. People who think they are special than everyone else (and I am not referring to any community or group, but any one person in general) are always the loudest speakers.

It seems like just a new way to promote who is who obviously, limiting their entire self to just their special identity and nothing else, and therefore making that who even more visible to the sad demons that discriminate or target them. I don't care what gender you are or what pronoun you use. I care about who you are underneath - what interests you, what makes you tick. Why should I consciously have to consider gender at all, and focus on such a limiting, narrow aspect of someone?

Everyone has a legal given name; why not just call people by their name? Gender pronouns are probably way more often indirectly used to refer to someone who isn't there or part of the conversation. Is it that huge of a deal? Geez.

Red Cloud
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