Friday, October 19, 2012

Freedom With Their Exception


Doesn't matter what you see
Or into it what you read
You can do it your own way
If it's done just how I say

Metallica-- Eye of the Beholder

It never ceases to amaze the speed with which progressives are so willing to toss our most basic constitutional rights in pursuit of a political goal.

Case in point:  David Moon of Maryland Juice’s argument supporting the suspension of Angela McCaskill, Gallaudet University’s associate provost for diversity and inclusion.  Gallaudet suspended McCaskill after she refused to issue an apology for signing a petition putting Maryland's same sex marriage law on the ballot.


THE FREE SPEECH ARGUMENT IS NOT SO CLEAR: McCaskill is now suing Gallaudet and hiding behind free speech principles, while some of the politicians and groups pushing for Maryland marriage equality (aka a "Vote for" Question 6) have been quick to condemn the University's actions. I completely understand the strategy behind why pro-civil rights forces are trying to be "politically correct" about this matter. But since I first heard about this story, I've been very skeptical about the claims that free speech rights are at stake or that they are even at the center of this controversy. To be very clear, I am a huge civil libertarian, but I must point out that McCaskill was not a line-cook at Gallaudet. Her job was to promote a climate of "diversity and inclusion" for young minds, and so it seems to me that there is a strong argument that she voluntarily undermined her ability to carry out her specific job duties.  And the truth is, whether or not McCaskill has indeed crippled her ability to do her job is a matter best decided by the Gallaudet community….

Moon also included guest commentary from and individual who holds so dearly the courage of their convictions that they couldn’t attach their name to their words.

Dr. McCaskill isn't just a garden variety employee making widgets. She is an adult with professional responsibility to advocate and protect students who feel harmed or who have been harmed because of their difference. This isn't really an issue of free speech as is so carelessly asserted… Gallaudet is absolutely correct to consider whether McCaskill's private behavior compromises her ability to do her job. Since she must not only be an advocate & protector, she must be credible as an advocate and protector….

And here we have the central conceit of “diversity.” It is a construct where everyone looks different but must think alike.  Diversity as Moon and most progressives conceive it, is inclusion of everything they agree with and exclusion of thought they dislike.  What does it say about the “climate of diversity and inclusion” in a particular community that sets to bedwetting over the fact that someone expressed a politically incorrect opinion?

For the left, “diversity” has become short hand for “all good things,” which allows them use the term as a cudgel against those who think differently.  As Jonah Goldberg put it in his latest book Tyranny of Clich├ęs: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.

But at a much deeper level diversity is about power. It is a way to give permanent license to social engineers.  If you make diversity a compelling state interest or social imperative, someone has to decide what does or does not count as beneficial diversity…

And as Goldberg correctly notes in the video below “They have an obviously pinched notion of what diversity means.  Diversity is to help the people we want to help and hurt the people we want to hurt… It’s not a celebration of diversity qua diversity, it’s a celebration of our power to pick and choose winners and losers as we see fit.”





Quite obviously the social engineers at Gallaudet—and Moon—do not value diversity of thought or religious conviction.  They view McCaskill’s job description as enforcer of the rules of their power system.  This is the essence of repressive tolerance.

And contrary to their claim, this issue is all about free speech.  

Moon highlights this line from Gallaudet’s credo:

We will especially discourage behaviors and attitudes that disrespect the diversity of individuals and groups for any reason including religion, race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, hearing status, or language and communication preference.

No intellectually honest person can construe McCaskill exercising her right to sign a petition as “disrespectful,” unless of course, one’s conception of diversity is a one- way street.

However, for the sake of argument let’s grant Moon his interpretation that McCaskill’s petition signature is a violation the Gallaudet credo. What about the university’s EEO/Non-Discrimination policy—conveniently listed right above the credo?

Gallaudet University is an equal opportunity employer/educational institution and does not discriminate on the basis of race, hearing status, disability, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, covered veterans status, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, place of business or residence, pregnancy, childbirth, or any other unlawful basis.
McCaskill signed the petition at her church service after a sermon from her pastor on gay marriage.  This puts Gallaudet squarely between its credo and its EEO policy.  How can Gallaudet sanction McCaskill for violating its credo, by discriminating against her on the basis of her religion?  

McCaskill must feel a bit like Rubashov in Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.

Moon argues that this is a matter for the Gallaudet community to decide, and his anonymous compatriot urges the students to organize against McCaskill.  To be sure, Gallaudet would be well within its legal rights as a private employer to maintain the suspension or fire McCaskill.

However, the administration and the students would do well to remember that they are punishing the school’s chief diversity officer for expressing an opinion they dislike.

Where’s the diversity in that?

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