That Man May Revel in His Freedom of Speech

Glenn Ricketts

That title is deliberately ornery, but I had to do it after reading this press release from FIRE (there they are again, intrepidly fighting the good fight). Every time you think we’ve hit bottom in the ongoing Orwellian follies of campus sexaul harassment codes, some new development pops up to prove that the limit of absurdity hasn’t yet been reached.

Take due note of what earned CSU-Chico FIRE’s “Speech Code of the Year”
distinction, happliy rescinded after much-deserved public ridicule. Pre-revision, Chico’s code held that the use in classroom lectures of traditional masculine/inclusive words such as “he,” “his” or “man” constituted sexual harassment, since they perpetuated sexual stereotypes, etc., etc. Well, that’s a point of view, although I’ll date myself by noting that I grew up hearing nothing other than such language and had no difficulty distinguishing “man” as male from “man” as humanity, as with any other homonyms familiar to native speakers. Ah, but we live in very different times now, don’t we?

Anyway, I’m very glad that these idiotic statutes have been withdrawn, but I’m still adjusting to the fact that someone really did draft and impose them, folks who, I imagine, don’t laugh very much or take kindly to criticism of their efforts. Such humorless grim enforcers seem never to rest, and we can only be grateful for FIRE’s equally tireless vigilance on behalf of free speech on public campuses.

In the meantime, I invite all readers to MAN UP: I make a special point of using masculine inclusives much more than I ever did in the past, simply because I’m affronted by the people who keep telling me not to. Go ahead, it’s fun to watch ‘em sputter.

If only the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges were still with us: they had a distinct way of dealing with academic stuffed shirts.

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