As a writer, I have a reverence for the English language — indeed, for language in general. Whether written or spoken, the intent of language is simple: communication. Without it, we’d still be living in caves — or worse, we may have died out as a species like the Neanderthals.
But there is a movement afoot to flip the notion of language as a means of communications and turn it into a weapon of political correctness. The goal is not to enlighten, but to deliberately obscure meaning in order to accommodate insane ideas.
Perhaps the craziest use of language is to obscure the simple, biological fact that there are two and only two real genders. “Gender neutral” pronouns are all the rage on college campuses as students are encouraged to reject the two-gender reality and substitute an amorphous mess of made-up definitions of gender that are entirely up to an individual to concoct.
Gender-neutral pronouns like ze and xyr have pulled the University of Tennessee into the national spotlight and the crosshairs of legislators, but the school is far from a radical outlier.
Instead, it is one of many colleges across the country that is looking for ways to accommodate students who don’t identify as strictly male or female. Steps taken recently at Vanderbilt University, Harvard University and the University of California system, among others, represent a more aggressive push for gender-neutral pronouns than the column posted last week on Tennessee’s website. That post explained the use of gender-neutral pronouns and encouraged students and professors to discuss them.
At Vanderbilt in Nashville, a more familiar gender-neutral pronoun was added to the student handbook in August. Variations are used as single-person pronouns alongside forms of he and she. A statement in the handbook said the addition was made in an effort to create “a community that is welcoming and inclusive to individuals of all gender identities and expressions.”
Student leaders at Vanderbilt also are working with administrators to allow students to indicate the pronouns they use on class rosters and housing assignments.
MTSU spokesman Jimmy Hart said the university added the glossary as a resource for students, not a policy, echoing UT’s response to its own web post in which Pride Center Director Donna Braquet suggested students and professors should ask each other what pronouns they use, including gender-neutral options like ze or xe.
Despite UT’s insistence that the post was not meant to become a mandatory directive, Republican lawmakers have reacted with outrage. State Sen. Bo Watson said the pronouns were a “ridiculous suggestion” and called for legislators to investigate the post.
Rather than elicit outrage, this saddens me beyond measure. To abuse language in this fashion — to advance false theories and insane practices — should concern anyone who respects the ability of language to bridge the gaps of understanding. Frankly, I don’t care if some poor, deluded kid thinks he/she is a different gender than what their biology says. The fact that they don’t recognize the damage they are doing to themselves and the art of communication doesn’t obviate the need to fight this assault on common sense and communication.
What’s interesting is that some of those women who think they are a different gender than female will make damn sure to check the box “Female” when applying for an affirmative-action scholarship or loan. After all, political correctness can take you only so far in life.