You Can’t Own Pronouns and Cultures, So Don’t Pretend They’re Yours

Contrary to social justice radicals’ attention seeking hollers of oppression, and their palpable longing for the impalpable patriarchy to crumble, in the Western developed world we’re living with far reaching social mobility and open mindedness. And within this liberal environment, there are no stronger enclaves of freedom from persecution than university campuses—they’re oases of fairness within an ocean of tolerance. All of which makes furious on-campus calls for compulsory bias training and the like seem ever more absurd. It’s like going to the Vatican, protesting that it’s not Catholic enough, and insisting the Pope enroll on the Alpha Course.

Within our generous societies there are, though, a few mean-spirited groups. They’re attempting to disrupt the spirit of openness, and chief among them are the deeply regressive social justice warriors themselves. One way they display their misanthropy is through a sense of weird proprietorship, in which they claim ownership of things which either belong in the public realm or which demonstrably cannot be owned by anyone.

Something they’re constantly trying to put restrictions on is language itself. At the moment they’re going after pronouns, with regard to what they like to call gender neutral pronouns. One aim is to make everyone use the words they/them/their incorrectly—to refer to a single, known person. Even worse, they’re also trying to enforce the use of clumsy, made-up words, such as xe/xem/xyr, along with other similarly unfamiliar variations, to which new sets can be infinitely added.

At the University of Toronto, Professor Jordan Peterson is taking a stand against this, and in doing so drawing a line in the sand on political correctness as a whole, by refusing to be forced into hindering his own clarity of expression with agenda-driven, PC authoritarianism. During a disagreement with protesters some time ago, one of them yelled at him childishly, “those are my pronouns!”

Well here’s a little news—no, they’re not. You have a name, which is chosen, and which you can change if you wish. That belongs to you, and you will of course insist on being called by it. You can correct anyone who gets it wrong. And you’d be justified in feeling aggrieved were anyone to deliberately misname you.

But pronouns are not an individual matter, they’re linguistic tools that are beyond ownership. There’s a reason why language has evolved pronouns connected to biological sex, and not connected to internally shifting, subjective perceptions. It’s because biological sex is constant and identifiable, whereas latching pronouns onto internal feelings would render them confusingly baseless, liable to unexpected alteration, and detached from observable reality.

Essentially, they’d no longer be pronouns. State that you have a name and three personally specified pronouns, and you’re effectively saying that you have four different names, to be chosen from depending on the sentence, while it’s strictly forbidden to refer to you by actual pronouns. To insist on that would be several long, shaky bridges too far.

And then there is cultural appropriation, another example of grabby SJWs attempting to claim ownership where none exists.

Take hairstyles or ways of dressing. Wear a dashiki with your hair in cornrows, and if you’re not of a designated acceptable ethnicity then you run the risk of being tiresomely harangued by a squad of whiny victimhood fetishists. What they steadfastly refuse to understand is that once a piece of knowledge or a way of doing things is out there, it belongs to no-one. You can copy someone’s hair, copy their clothes, copy the way they speak, the way they walk, the books they read. You can copy anything you want, because when it comes to knowledge and customs—limitless, endlessly recyclable resources—the world is an all-inclusive free-for-all. And that naturally evolving and unpredictable exchange of ideas is a great thing, enabling incredible, unrestrained innovation.

This is not to say that it’s always a good thing to act that way—barge in and copy on-sight without a little prior consideration and you’re liable to make a fool of yourself. But we don’t need legislation outlawing social faux pas.

Which brings us back to Professor Peterson and gender neutral pronouns. Bill C-16, which would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, has now passed in the Canadian House of Commons, but still needs to get through the Senate. This amendment could legally compel people to mangle their own speech with artificial new pronoun codes, or else risk contravening hate speech laws. Professor Peterson’s battle against this deeply troubling piece of legislation is drawing huge support. Take a look at the clear and insightful videos on his YouTube channel to find out more about his principled defiance.

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