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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Adventures in diversity training

The smiley face of political indoctrination

Screenshot of harassment seminar
Screenshot of harassment seminar (cropped)

T his week I finally took our university's required annual diversity training seminar. The list of required ‘training’ seminars keeps getting longer: this year we also have the sexual harassment training, the animal care training, the gas cylinder safety training, the chemical safety training, the customer service training, the recognizing alcohol and drug abuse training, the workplace violence training, the radioactive user training, the radioactive authorized user training (which is different), the hazardous waste training, the federal compliance training, the EPA/OSHA training, and the IT security awareness training.

This, I'm beginning to understand, is life at the university. Everyone else seems to be used to it. I seem to be the only one who thinks maybe they're overdoing it. Everyone else sits up front, paying attention and laughing at the dumb jokes, but more and more often I find myself in the back row sleeping.

That's on top of all the annual forms we have to fill out: the vaccination forms, the allergy forms, and the aerosol can collection forms, the permission to request the purchase of computer equipment request form, the product for reuse inventory form, the chemical inventory form, the animal protocol renewal forms ... and that's just the ones I can remember.

It seems that, for whatever reason, we need more indoctrination and more rules than ever. Granted, they're making the films more entertaining these days: they're not as good as those filmstrips we had in the '60s like Death on the Highway, Signal 30, and that movie with all the unfortunate Corvairs in it, but the format is similar: they all start out with ambulances and people crying because they weren't careful enough with driving defensively or being sufficiently tolerant of the government-designated protected groups or whatever. Then we get to hear all the new rules.

But there's a new trend here: no longer are these training sessions about telling us how to avoid getting killed by exploding Ford Pintos or flying radioactive beakers of death, but how we must behave toward each other. There's a hidden subtext here: how we act can and must be dictated to us by our rulers. The effect of all the ridiculous rules and farcical forms is to impress upon us that permission is required before doing anything.

You might think the rules were made up by lawyers, and that might be true, but lawyers are merely agents of government once removed.

Screenshot of harassment seminar
Screenshot of harassment seminar (cropped)

Now, I'm not going to get all Alex Jonesy here, but there's clearly a political aspect to it. I haven't met any actual conservatives or libertarians here yet, but all the liberals honestly believe that political correctness—which is really what these videos are about, though they try to hide it—is nothing more than people just being ‘nice’ to each other. If you try to explain that it's a stealth version of behavior control, they just scoff.

These people honestly believe that if a man thinks he's a woman or vice versa, or if someone thinks that words are a form of violence, it's wrong to disagree with them. This relativism is not supported by any actual philosophy; it's just a naive, almost pollyannaish belief that saying nice things makes the world nice and saying something negative makes one a bad person. Everything is wonderful, or it would be if we all believed as they do. If only we would just stop complaining and let the government handle everything, there would be universal peace and happiness.

In their eyes it is emotions, not principles, that determine right and wrong.

Their boundless faith in government shouldn't be surprising; they all depend on its largesse for career survival. Much of their time is spent trying to siphon money from the government or staying in the good graces of the administrators, who hold the power these days on campus.

Those inclined to see this as mere corruption left long ago. The ones who remain have accepted that government funding, a complex system of bribes, rules and threats, is part of the new order of things. To assuage their consciences they convince themselves that the ends—giving them a sinecure and a platform—justify the means.

The price of all this is their intellectual integrity: they become, as David Boaz called them, court intellectuals who maintain their sinecure and their funding only so long as they support its ideology. To maintain the cognitive dissonance that this produces they must be unwilling to engage with challenging ideas. Ideas and debate not only threaten the fantasy that they are rebels and independent thinkers; they also disrupt the harmony of the collective. In their eyes it has become emotions, not principles, that determine right and wrong. As the sexual harassment video noted, this is also how the law is written.

It is a formula for creeping tyranny: they will do almost anything to avoid considering the possibility that their freedom, and our civilization, are threatened. Yet just north of us, the cold, snowy, windswept province of Ontario, Canada has passed a law saying that “a parent's failure to recognize and support a child's gender self-identification is a form of child abuse, and a child in these circumstances should be removed from the situation and placed into protection.” Religious or philosophical views of the parents are no longer relevant.

Regardless of your position on the basic sexual issue, this is scary. The implication is that if a child decides he or she would rather be a member of the opposite sex, the government will perform a sex change operation on him or her; if the parents oppose it, the children are taken away. Translation: the government owns you and your children and you have no right to resist.

The Complacent Ones will no doubt tell you what happens in Canada can never happen here. Just think only good thoughts; say only nice things. Everything must be upbeat, no problems may be discussed. Unfortunately, this is magical thinking: problems don't disappear if you hide from them. They're just left unsolved.

PC is like a boa constrictor: at first, it may feel like a reassuring embrace, but by the time it starts to be uncomfortable it's too late. Pretending that something isn't a problem only delays the recognition until it reaches the point where the government is taking your children away and you cannot stop it.

And maybe that's the point: they don't really want to stop it, but they also won't admit that the reason they want to be controlled is that they want to control everyone else. After all, to a tyrant, tyranny is perfect freedom. But a tyranny always evolves until there is only be one person who is free.

And if anybody asks, that's what I learned from that one little four-hour set of training videos.

created jun 24, 2017; last edited jun 30 2017, 6:06 am

See also

Argumentation in the Internet-driven world
Let the bastards get their nose under the tent on just one issue you don't care much about, and the next thing you know there's no freedom of speech at all.

On the Internet, no one can tell whether you're a dolphin or a porpoise
Name and address
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