Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Axis of Queers

Reading the Western Herald's front page Thursday was a surreal experience. The article in Monday's Herald, "Queer students say harassment has increased", has spurred controversy on campus.

The front page features an article about the controversy created by the previous article in the Herald. It seems that not everyone is cool with the q-word. The article quotes several people who were offended, including those who send this letter to the editor that appeared inside the paper. It offers a helpful guide to the proper newspeak, which will probably be out of date by the time you read it.

While some members do value the term "queer," it is still not universally accepted, even within the LBGT community. It is strongly urged that the term be avoided, unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way. In the case of the Nov. 26 article, that is exactly what the Western Herald was doing.

The term "queer" is not the only controversial term surrounding the LBGT community. The term "homosexual" has been adopted by anti-gay extremists to suggest that lesbians and gay men are diseased or psychologically disordered. Please use "lesbian" or "gay man" to describe people attracted to members of the same sex.

Try to avoid labeling an activity, emotion or relationship "gay," "lesbian," or "bisexual," unless you would call the same activity, emotion or relationship "straight." For example, instead of a "homosexual relationship," use "relationship"; instead of "homosexual couple" use "couple."

There is no single lesbian, gay or bisexual lifestyle. Instead of referring to something as a "gay lifestyle," please use lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

If that's not enough, the Herald also contains an editorial about the controversy. They offer this explanation.

This was, indeed, a choice made by the editors of the Herald. It was not a casual decision. The primary drive behind the use of the word was inclusiveness.
Mission accomplished!

But that's not all. Both the Western Student Association and the administration have jumped into action. The President of Outspoken introduced a resolution in the WSA "focusing on education and awareness concerning violence against lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender students".

Under questioning, she admitted that the "20 to 25" incidents of "verbal and physical attacks" include one exactly one alleged physical attack. She further admitted that she has no actual evidence that this alleged attack has anything to do with the victim being any of the above. It still isn't clear what constitutes "verbal assault", but it appears to be simply criticism.

Needless to say, the WSA passed the resolution. Only one courageous senator voted against it.

But that's still not all. Western's administration tripped all over itself rushing to fight this non-existent wave of hate crimes. The Office of Institutional Equity and LBGT Student Services office have rushed to offer their services.

The article helpfully points out that:

According to the Student Code, students have the right to free inquiry, expression and association. Students should be free from discrimination and harassment based on race, sex, sexual orientation, age, color, national origin, religion, disability, marital status or family status.
So it's still OK to discriminate against and harass Republicans.

This article also helps to explain the origins of the original article.

Discussions of harassment at OUTspoken meetings and numerous unreported incidents on and off campus were cause to bring the recent events to the university's attention, seeking action, OUTspoken President Maggie Walters said.

"We know that things are going on because students are mentioning them at OUTspoken meetings," Walters said.
So this whole controversy started because people were whining about perceived slights, somebody decided to contact the Herald, and they wrote a story about it. Ironically, given the controversy and the circulation of the Herald, the biggest perpetrator of "verbal assault" and "harassment" on campus is Outspoken.

In case you lost count, that's five pieces in the Herald on the same subject on the same day. (In other front page news, the WSA debated what a fine is.)

On the off chance that it slipped your mind for a moment, Western Michigan University has over a hundred academic majors and hundreds of faculty members conducting groundbreaking research. Apparently, none of that was as newsworthy as the fifth piece on the 'queer' controversy.

Don't the Western Herald, WSA, Outspoken, and the above-mentioned university offices have anything better to do? Isn't there any real news on campus? These groups are pathetic. To be inclusive, just calls them the axis of queers.


Meg said...

that was a great article about the definition of a fine!

Dan Roth said...

Wow. So many thoughts. So much anger and disappointment. First off, did that letter seriously get printed??? Here's a couple grammar and word lessons I think some WMU students could use more:

I before E except after C

There is the spelling for "Over there"

Their is the spelling for "Their car is blue."

They're is the spelling for "They're five cards."

(trust me, I've seen these simple mistakes in enough of my classes by my peers).

"The term 'homosexual' has been adopted by anti-gay extremists to suggest that lesbians and gay men are diseased or psychologically disordered." Are you kidding me? Apparently eventually we'll reach a point where anything gay related will have to be called "The orientation formally known as gay" because all words will have been adopted by anti-gay extremists and they've been forced to move to an unpronouncable symbol. And I hate how we're told to assume that homosexuality isn't a disorder of some sort when there's no proof to back that up.

Also, what happened to us in the WSA? Before we would have hijacked that resolution to the point where it killed it or at least helped us. We would have made amendments to include any sort of violence against anyone.

Who was the one senator who voted against this stupid piece of fluff? I want to buy him/her a Mountain Dew for stepping up to the plate.

Finally, look up queer in the dictionary. Better yet, I'll do it for you. "strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different"

Why do I feel like I got out of Western just in the nick of time?