Recently, the University of Michigan announced a new policy allowing students to choose their own gender and "designated personal pronoun."
The school's webpage gives students several examples of pronouns they might use, but it makes sure to stipulate that a person should not be limited to those options. There are "an infinite number of pronouns," according to the academic institution that costs thousands of dollars a year to attend. "Always make sure to ask someone for their pronouns," it warns, as if pronouns are things that a person can own and distribute like business cards.
For anyone confused about how you might "ask someone for their pronouns," a similar resource from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee lays out the delicate process in detail:
Try asking: “What pronouns do you use?” or “Can you remind me what pronouns you use?” It can feel awkward at first, but it is not half as awkward as getting it wrong or making a hurtful assumption... You can [also] try something like this: “Tell us your name, where you come from, and your personal pronoun.. For example, I’m Xena, I’m from Amazon Island, and I like to be referred to with she, her, and hers pronouns. So you could say, "she went to her car" if you were talking about me.
That could be propaganda from a weird hippy cult or it could be orientation material for a mainstream American university in 2016, but I repeat myself.
There is, remember, an unlimited smorgasbord of fake genders and fake pronouns. Xena from the Amazon chose to confine herself to boring and traditional pronouns, but she could have chosen sexier options like ze, sie, ey, ve, tei, e, zed, ce, gee, lee, ky, per, hu, bun, vae, and ne. These are all pronouns recently fabricated out of whole cloth by the LGBT lobby. Incidentally, they're also the names of Teletubbies.
But an infinite number of pronouns may still be insufficient. UWM reminds us that some particularly precious snowflakes are offended by all pronouns -- even fake ones -- and so they may demand that people speak like malfunctioning robots in their presence:
"Just my name please! (Xena ate Xena’s food because Xena was hungry.) Some people prefer not to use pronouns at all, using their name as a pronoun instead."
Granted, it's a daunting task to memorize everyone's vocabulary requirements and keep track of the ever-expanding buffet of gibberish cooked up by lesbian college professors and kids on Tumblr, but we're cautioned that getting it wrong could have disastrous consequences. When we use the "wrong" pronoun (otherwise known as the right pronoun), we're not only being "disrespectful" and "hurtful," but "oppressive."
Image source: uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns
Thankfully, the University of Michigan created a helpful outline to describe exactly how to apologize should we accidentally persecute someone with an errant pronoun. It says we must first publicly correct ourselves, and then seek out the offended party and privately beseech them for mercy and forgiveness.
"Most individuals appreciate a quick apology and correction at time of the mistake. By correcting yourself, you're modeling respectful pronoun use for others. Examples:
- Publicly - "His notes... I mean, their notes are available online."
- Privately - "I used the wrong pronoun earlier, I'll do better next time."
I know what you're thinking: what if the pronouns "I" and "you" are also triggering? Perhaps it's best to avoid pronouns altogether. Maybe the apology should look like this:
This individual who is presently speaking would like to extend an apology to the individual who is being spoken to. This individual begs that individual's forgiveness and hopes that both individuals -- this one and that one, respectively -- may be able to get past these difficulties and establish a friendship based on these individuals' mutual and genderless respect and understanding.
You can never be too careful.
Of course, not everyone is on board with the campaign to make basic conversation between human beings functionally impossible. A student at UM, Grant Strobl, satirized the new system by officially recording his preferred pronoun as "His Majesty." Many people were offended, naturally, but there's nothing the university can do about it. How can they presume to delegitimize His Majesty's pronoun if His Majesty is not permitted to question someone who identifies as ze, or zir, or zizzer-zazzer-zuzz, or any other character from a Dr. Seuss book? Besides, he's royalty. I think he can do what he pleases. Long live the King.
For my part, I must give His Imperial Highness credit for mocking this baffling idiocy in exactly the right way. He managed to highlight not only the absurdity but the astonishing arrogance of this "choose your own pronoun" thing. Every pronoun on the list may as well be "His Majesty" because that's the kind of power and authority someone is claiming when they begin dictating how you must speak to them.
It's true that many people who call themselves "transgender" are more mentally ill than conceited, but the recent proliferation of "gender non-conforming" gobbledygook is, more than anything else, a symptom of my generation's staggering narcissism. We have long been told that the world revolves around us, and today we are seeing the practical effects of raising a generation on that myth.
Our steadfast belief in our own importance has brought us finally to this point, where we think we can not only reject the laws of biology and the English language, but insist that everything within earshot plays along. And not only those within earshot. Indeed, we demand that strangers refer to us in a way consistent with the fantasies we've concocted in our heads even when they aren't in our presence, which is like assigning everyone a list of adjectives that they may use to describe you when in conversation with one another. Anyone who wants to converse with us or about us must obey our arbitrary rules, like little kids who won't let you into their tree fort unless you can repeat the secret password.
It's delusional. It's childish. It's pretentious. And it's completely out of control.
That said, all of this pronoun madness does come in handy for one reason: it finally puts to bed the false notion that the progressive LGBT agenda is only about giving LGBT folks the freedom to live as they wish. It's now abundantly clear that they want to control not only how they conduct themselves, but how the rest of us speak, live, and behave. Yes, to come up with a new name for yourself, even a silly one (i.e. "Fallon Fox" or "Hannah Zoey") may exist within the realm of "living as one wishes." But it is not "living as one wishes" to demand that others participate in the fantasy by using words that aren't applicable or even real when referring to you.
It doesn't work that way. You don't get your own "preferred" pronouns for the same reason that you don't get your own preferred prepositions. These aren't subjective terms. These are classes of words that exist to convey factual information, not feelings.
You can't stand on a platform and then require everyone to vocally affirm that you are standing off the platform because "off" is your favorite preposition. It doesn't matter what preposition you prefer. You're either on or off the platform, and what I say about your relationship to the platform will depend entirely on the actual physical reality of the situation, not how you feel about that reality.
My primary responsibility -- when talking to someone else or to you -- is to convey the truth. That is literally the entire point of verbal interaction. That's why lies are such terrible things, because they deprive the people who hear them of something they are owed -- the truth -- and because they sow confusion and undermine our ability to communicate with one another.
If I say you're standing off a platform when you're actually standing on it, I've told a lie. Even if I told the lie to make you feel better, I've still lied, and lying is bad. That's why I don't want to lie, and you cannot force me to lie on your behalf. You can lie to yourself all you want, but you cannot drag me into it. You can act out your own fantasies, but you can't make me come and live in that dreamworld with you. You don't have that right.
And so it goes for pronouns. If I intentionally call a man a she, I have lied. I have conveyed something that isn't true. Despite my polite intentions, all I've done is contribute to the confusion, dishonesty, and intellectual chaos rampant in our culture.
Words have meanings. If you were to search for the word "he" in the dictionary, you would find that it is, by definition, a pronoun used to refer to a male human or animal. If you're a male human or animal, that's your pronoun. Or I should say, that's the pronoun that applies to you. You don't own it. You can't change it or reject it or outlaw it any more than you can change, reject, or outlaw gravity. It is what it is, you are what you are, and words mean what they mean. Your feelings do not come into play here at all. They have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the meanings of things.
Now, if I call a man a ze or a xu or a zir or a wu or a ca or a cat in the hat or wocket in my pocket, I've skipped right over lying and descended into utter nonsense. That I have done it at someone else's behest doesn't make it any less nonsensical. It's like seeing a crazy man on the street shouting at a stop sign and running up to participate in the argument. The man isn't less crazy just because you've plunged down the rabbit hole of insanity with him. The stop sign won't suddenly start talking now that two people are trying to coax some words out of it. The reality is still the reality.
Here's what it comes down to: I am not morally or ethically required to speak nonsense or tell lies for anyone's sake. On the contrary, my moral and ethical requirements are to do exactly the opposite. I'm supposed to tell the truth, regardless of how the truth makes you feel. And that's what I intend to do.
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