William M. Briggs

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University of Tennessee Tells Staff & Students To Stop Using ‘He’ & ‘She’

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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville edition, has gone bat-guano bug-eyed blub-blub-blub bonkers and asked that staff and students to “stop using ‘he’ and ‘she’ – and switch to ‘xe’, ‘zir’ and ‘xyr’ instead“.

According to the Daily Mail:

The Knoxville branch of the public university, which has 27,400 students, sent a memo round to its members filled with unusual new parts of speech to avoid referring to anybody’s gender.

According to a gay rights official at the university, the new language regime will make the university ‘welcoming and inclusive’ and stop people feeling ‘marginalized’.

The university published the instructions on its website on Wednesday after they were emailed to every member of the university by the institution’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity.

The kicker is that after this asininity was published and noticed by a remnant of the sane, this happened: “Officials have since insisted the the guidelines are not compulsory and that they do not want to ‘dictate speech’.”

They surely do want to dictate speech, which is why the guidelines, which are still posted on the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion site. The person responsible for the guidelines is one Donna Braquet, who is proud of having same-sex attraction to the point where she “runs the university’s Pride Center.”

The now-suggestions say:

In the first weeks of classes, instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns. This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students. The name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses.

This practice works outside of the classroom as well. You can start meetings with requesting introductions that include names and pronouns, introduce yourself with your name and chosen pronouns, or when providing nametags, ask attendees to write in their name and pronouns.

Wait. Did she say non-binary students?

She did. That implies there are such things as binary students. Maybe the movie Tron was prescient after all.

Braquet writes as if speaking to idiots:

A few of the most common singular gender-neutral pronouns are they, them, their (used as singular), ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.

These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new. The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up.

And this: “How do you know what pronoun someone uses?…you can always politely ask. ‘Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?’ is a perfectly fine question to ask.”

Insert name. Why do I have the idea these are the very words she uses? And it’s pronouns plural, not pronoun singular. I wonder how the diverse Braquet would react if I insisted on the “pronoun” your majesty? It is my choice and how dare she question it?

Anyway, the trial balloon was shot down. According to the paper:

A statement from a university spokesman said: ‘We would like to offer clarification of the statements that have been made referring to gender-neutral language.

‘There is no mandate or official policy to use the language. The information provided in our Office of Diversity and Inclusion newsletter was offered as a resource to our campus community on inclusive practices.

‘We recognize that most people prefer to use the pronouns he and she; we do not dictate speech.’

Sounds like a close one. If nobody of sufficient authority had complained, as one state senator did, this perversion of the English language an assault on sanity might have been ensconced as official policy. And then it would have only been a matter of months until other universities followed Tennessee down the Happy Happy Trail.

Now it is perhaps only a matter of years.

37 Comments

  1. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. – Voltaire

    People like Donna Braquet should be unceasingly ridiculed.

  2. Gary,

    “People”?!?

    So presumptive!

  3. Back to the same old questions:
    Why do people pay to send their kids here?
    Why do alumni keep donating (I quite donating to my college several years back)?
    Why do people not have recall elections on legislators who give money to these colleges? (And give a raise to the one senator who stepped in.)

    What happened to students anyway? In the previous decades, the students would have laughed, put he/she signs everywhere and defied the school to try and stop them. Now there’s no rebellion. Thank goodness a senator stepped in.

    This is why Obama wants free college. Then there’s no stopping this. (What’s the politically correct term for “parents” anyway? Units that have sex and produce offspring?)

    A bit off topic, but a judge in Missoula Montana is being asked to vacate bigamy laws. To all you progressives who said that would never happen and that wasn’t the goal, sure it was. You just aren’t reading the same playbook as your puppet masters and you happily continue to believe you’re actually being protected and cherished.

  4. IRT Jim. Using “people” was rather presumptively generous, especially since I’ve now seen a photo.

  5. For some reason a line from Steely Dan comes to mind (appropriately from Reeling in the Years):
    “The things that pass for knowledge, I can’t understand”

  6. Sheri, with regard to “why do people pay to send their kids there?”…
    Because it costs less than a private university of the same academic standing, and because other state institutions of higher education have, presumably, less academic standing. The popular notion is that the higher the academic standing the better the job opportunities will be for the graduate (not necessarily true).
    There are private universities that do follow a classical prescription for education, and which are not that much more expensive than the state universities: Christendom College, St. Thomas Aquinas, Liberty University, Providence University, the various Benedictine Universities….note the common thread and also note that not all “Catholic” colleges follow this classical prescription: e.g. Georgetown, Boston College, Fordham, Marquette.

  7. Unfortunately, as there is no cure for this form of academentia we can only pity those afflicted.

  8. Bob: I guess that’s kind of my point. I thought parents used to want the best for their children. Now it seems cheap is the way to go. There’s also a belief that a college education is vital to success. Trade occupations actually may be the best way to go now.
    Georgetown was always confusing to me. At one time, I thought of it as college with high standards. No so anymore. Where can one go to college without all of this insanity included in the package?

  9. Finnish doesn’t have separate pronouns for females and males. Everyone is “hän”, “häntä”, “hänen”, no matter what the gender is.

    But like all feminists and gay rights activists everywhere, they still think we’re the worst country there is for being a woman or gay, despite all the objective statistics showing that we’re one of the top-five countries to live in if you’re one or the other or both.

  10. As I read about this Donna Braquet, I remembered I have the Shakespeare Insult Kit open on another tab. It took two seconds to find “Thou gorbellied fool-born Harpy”.

    Sums her up, I think.. Link below (I am nervous of HTML) and at the foot of the page is a link to an automatic insult generator. The Bard foresaw our problems 400 years ago.

    http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/shake_rule.html

  11. The last time someone tried to make me abuse the English language like that I used the combined pronoun of all the traditional forms: she/he/it.

  12. Sheri, the Catholic institutions I listed are traditional. There’s also St. John’s College which has no electives, a Great Books Curriculum, but is as expensive (50k/year?). There are also Canadian universities where there are options that don’t involve howing to the PC line (sp?) and with the Canadian dollar so low now, they’re relatively cheap. Also, if the USA is going to Hell in a hand basket, as it seems now, maybe it would be a good idea to send one’s children to a Canadian university and plant a toe-hold. We tried that with a grandson, but he opted for a state university which all his buddies were attending.

  13. howing should be hoeing….

  14. Bob: I’ll have to take your word for it that Georgetown University is traditional. I was going by stories in the news such as Sandra Fluke.

  15. Bob, Canadian universities are just as bad if not worse. I cannot fathom how someone who worries about SJW-infected institutions would ever get the idea that Canada was a good option, ever.

  16. Hoe the line?
    Toe the line, perhaps?

  17. Sheri,

    ” I thought parents used to want the best for their children.”

    They do, the problem is that parents who can’t actually afford to send their kids to college have been convinced that it is vital to their success. There may be better options out there, but they go for the best that they and/or their kid can afford/get enough aid for.

    As to trade schools, first you have to convince employers to stop asking for a degree, any degree for new hires.

    It’s one thing for an employer to ask for specific degrees relevant to a technical job, but I rather doubt that the person with a degree in literature or studies is going to make a better employee than someone with just a high school degree.

  18. ze, zir, xe, xem, xyr – great scrabble scores.

  19. I identify as a major deity, and have since high school.

    Seriously.

    My mother insisted that I stop answering the phone: “You have reach the residence of God.” My employers recognized the deity in me, too, as they would ask me to perform the miracles that the other employees — mere mortals — could not, for which they kindly tithed weekly.

    You may use the pronouns He, Him, His, You, Your, Yours, and please refer to me as Lord, My Lord or My Lord God. Prayer and tithing are always appreciated.

    Who says that this stuff can go too far? So long as I am worshiped and the tithing continues, I am happy.

  20. MattS: My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college. I had to it with scholarships and working. One of my sibling who dropped out of high school makes well into six digits for income while the two who went to college made no where near that. Wanting your kid to go to college–any college, not a worthwhile, useful one–is not really helping your child. I also had a coworker who quite work for two years in order to get a bachelor’s degree and advance in the work place (she had an associates). She had all the skills needed for the job, but not a bachelor’s degree. My degree had little to nothing to do with the job I had, but they wanted someone with any BS or BA degree. It made no sense, but I was working for the government, so I guess it didn’t have to. Just seems to me sending a child to a liberal indoctrination center should not be considered under any circumstances.

    I was watching the news and saw Leah Ford (Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center) talking about this gender neutral language idea. Perhaps just a coincidence, but she was sporting a “Planned Parenthood” t-shirt.

  21. … I hold my head and cry …
    (johnny cash – folsum prison)

  22. Sheri,

    “Wanting your kid to go to college–any college, not a worthwhile, useful one–is not really helping your child.”

    True, but the masses have been convinced that their kids will be complete failures without some kind of college degree, and they can’t afford to leave affordability out of the equation.

    “My degree had little to nothing to do with the job I had, but they wanted someone with any BS or BA degree. It made no sense, but I was working for the government, so I guess it didn’t have to. ”

    A lot of businesses do exactly the same thing. It’s become a standard, you can’t get a white collar job without a college degree, and what the degree is in usually doesn’t matter.

    “Ane of my sibling who dropped out of high school makes well into six digits for income while the two who went to college made no where near that. ”

    No kidding. There are plenty of millionaires and billionaires that are college dropouts who founded successful companies that won’t hire people for white collar jobs without a degree (Gates, Jobs). They’ll pass over a self taught dropout with real talent for an idiot with a degree in studies.

    I agree that it’s insane, but if you want to stop it, you’ll have to work on both ends of the problem.

  23. “with a degree in studies. ” > with a degree in (insert identity group) studies.

  24. Sheri, Georgetown is not, but maybe was traditional (as a Jesuit institution).
    It’s St. John’s (Annapolis and Santa Fe) that are traditional…follow the Great Books curriculum.

    Senghendrake (interesting moniker!)
    I’ll take your word for the politically correct excesses of Canadian Universities. Although when I visited the University of Toronto two summers ago with my grandson, it seemed not too experimental or PC, nor did the curricula that I looked at online. Goodness knows the Canadians have led the way in hushing up anti-Muslim talk (witness the suits against Mark Steyn).

  25. yes, DAV, toe the line it is… the synapses are getting further and further apart every year.
    However, hoe the line does give a nice image that seems to fit…. Poor agricultural worker, xer or xe, cultivating political correctness

  26. Bob: Our (Zhour?) centre in Canada is your left in the US. Our left is socialist. Our Universities have been dominated by the left for decades so I’m afraid Canadian universities can provide no respite from political correctness. Even the hard sciences are dominated by politically correct lefty profs who have nursed at the public teat their whole lives.

    Sheri: What happens in Canada is people go to University to get a degree. Upon graduation they find they can’t get a job. They go back to community college (not quite the same as a US community college) which has the mandate to provide a specific education to fill current workplace needs at about a third to a quarter of the cost. The “slow” kids go to community college right out of high school and end up with a 2 to 4 year work place advantage with far less student debt. They often end up as boss to the “smart” kids who went to university. The lifetime income differential is often never made up by the “smart” kids. Community colleges usually experience less political correctness because a larger percentage of the student population is focussed on getting a job when they graduate.

  27. MattS- Agreed. Parents and students and businesses all need to understand that a college degree is not the end-all for career paths. It is ridiculous when self-made billionaires demand degrees for all their employees. Currently, the USA could use more trade school graduates instead of MBAs.

  28. Bob, the U of T is actually among the worst (not the worst, York or maybe U of Ottawa might take the cake). It’s infamous for being THE centre of feminazism. Digging around in YouTube with keywords related to that subject should prove educational, pardon the pun. As an alumnus myself, I can confirm that it is exactly as PC as you would expect from a university located in a city like Toronto. A year or so ago the Student Union tried to reorganize student representation so that it rested on ethnic and sexual identities (rather than colleges/departments), with one conspicuous omission: no representative for white males. So no, it’s a typical university. Part of what the neoreactionaries call “The Cathedral”.

  29. If they want gender-neutral pronouns there’s always the neuter pronouns. After all, being gender-neutral is their function. True, it’s been considered rude for a long time to use them of people but only because using neutral language about people implies that they are objects. But that must be true of the U of T’s alternatives too.

  30. Senghendrake, thanks for the enlightening remarks about U of T. I’m glad that he went to Penn State (even though it supported Michael Mann) instead. Given what you say about U of T, what is happening to the Catholic College, St. Michael’s, in this atmosphere?

  31. @ Rich

    Actually in everyday speech Finns use neuter pronouns about each other.

    People using the correct form “hän” (he/she) in speech do sound a bit… awkward. The more relaxed sounding form “se” (it) is what is commonly used.

    So a phrase like “Lisa is my friend. It came by my house yesterday.” would sound perfectly valid in Finnish.

  32. Bob: I actually had most of my classes at St. Mike’s. It was a mix (which by U of T standards meant it was ultra un-PC). It depended on the department. Medieval Studies was alright, Celtic Studies had its fair share of hippy neo-pagan LARPing nutcases.

    St. Mike’s was actually were I first heard of Thomism, although it was presented terribly (“everything has a cause/temporal series” and from a less sympathetic prof “if it was correct, we’d all be theists- we aren’t, so it must be wrong”) and I remained a right-liberal agnostic for years afterwords. There were a few unabashedly Catholic and Thomist professors, one of whom shocked me – at the time a lapsed secular “protestant”- once by declaring that everything went to s**t at the Reformation. Funny, here I am, seven or more years later, agreeing with him after all.

  33. *where, not “were”

  34. I wonder how they would deal with the Spanish language given the fact that nearly all nouns are assigned a particular gender type.

  35. Will: I don’t know about Spanish, but I can speak for French and say that one of my SJW French sociolinguistics profs (actually, my only one) happily explained that since there is a difference between sex (biological) and gender (choice/identification), having gendered nouns wasn’t a big deal. Of course, I’ve seen other francophone SJWs freak out about it and try to re-write the language, but it hasn’t caught on and remains in the fringes of weirdo-ville. For now.

  36. your majesty

    Heh, glad to see I’m not the only one. For several years I’ve been joking (?) that my pronouns are “Your Grace” and “His Grace”.

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