Pronouns and self-effacing “aw shucks!” claims of senior citizen inability to grasp how today’s brilliant young people employ pronouns “to demonstrate respect, acceptance and inclusivity” is not remotely the issue in altering longstanding cultural protocols for terms of address in public schools. People in positions of power and authority enforcing ideologically premised speech codes or, worse, public-school policies employing “social and emotional” pressure to persuade adherence to speech codes are the hallmarks of state despotism. That any such speech code would be discussed, considered, or promoted in public schools should give pause to every American citizen. Those who dismiss the consequences of coercive speech codes as trivial are naïve, foolish, or malevolent. Nothing is more corrosive to freedom than coerced speech.
The purpose of education is to teach students to develop the critical thinking skills needed to investigate and more clearly understand reality. Many classes in Coronado’s public schools claim to employ Socratic Seminars to this end. The philosophical approach to learning methodically examines reality and, by using reason, asks questions to understand why things are the way they are. The philosophical approach is the pursuit of truth leading to the love of wisdom. The finest schools in history have all venerated the unconstrained search for truth. Conversely, ideological education insists students fit reality into various preconceived, unexamined, foundational premises. Where ideology rules, pursuit of truth will always be constrained. Ideology first ignores reality and later redefines it. Two trademark “tells” of ideology are: 1) coercion and suppression of speech through the corruption of language, setting politically correct limits on permissible or polite language; and 2) the stubborn refusal to accept any truth claims contrary to the ideologue’s foundational premises. For ideologues, intellectual coherence is meaningless. Where ideology reigns, incoherence does not indicate an imperfect or distorted intellect. Thus are American citizens treated to the theater of the absurd, when a capable, articulate person nominated for perhaps the most intellectually and linguistically demanding position in our Judiciary, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, is so culturally coerced as to claim a lack of capacity to state a definition of the word “woman.”
Those in authority demanding or inferring new “social and emotional” etiquette compels use of gendered pronouns contrary to the immutable physical reality of the human person being addressed will create intellectually incoherent students; young people fearful of speaking the truth because they “might offend” someone they perceive to have positional or cultural power and the inclination to use that power to damage their prospects for educational and/or career success. To be concise, it will produce a generation of young people who are intellectual cowards. Those threatening punitive action or employing social coercion against students to force the use of feminine pronouns for men, or one of the new, bizarre grammatical figures of address (and vice versa for women), are engaged in a purposeful effort to strip the words “man” and “woman” of orthodox meaning. When words cease to have culturally coherent meanings, reasoning becomes impossible. Abraham Lincoln once illustrated the stupidity of this and the peril it poses to sound reasoning when he rhetorically asked, “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don’t make it a leg.” Surprise, surprise, reality is reality.
Coercion of students to address a man as they, or her, or as ze, zim, zer WILL NOT change reality. Coercion WILL convince some very young children to disengage early in life from the pursuit of truth. Coercion WILL change the young people “taught” thereby to become intellectual cowards who have been inculcated in their schools to believe that intellectual courage is only for losers. Warning: those who disengage from the pursuit of truth will never cultivate a coherent, rich, mature and deeply rooted understanding of reality or develop the wisdom necessary to prosper materially or thrive spiritually in life.
VOL. 112, NO. 38 - Sept. 21, 2022