Friday, February 26, 2021

Briefly Noted: Professions In A Woke Society

Red State today picks up a story from the Daily Wire about an education major at SUNY. Here's the Red State link:

'A Man is a Man and a Woman is a Woman': Student Suspended for Violating Students' Dignity 'Til He Completes a 'Remediation Plan'

Here's the full statement that the young man made on Instagram:

“Hey, everybody. I’m gonna double down on this point right now. I wanna make myself very clear, so hear what I’m saying. A man is a man. A woman is a woman. A man is not a woman, and a woman is not a man. A man cannot become a woman, and a woman cannot become a man. If I’m a man and I think I’m a woman, I’m still a man. If I’m a woman who thinks I’m a man, I’m still a woman. Regardless of what you feel on the inside, [it’s] irrelevant to your biological status. It doesn’t change the biology. The biology is very clear. It’s very, very, very clear. And it’s binary and easy. You fall into either Man or Woman. And if you’re intersex, you either become a man or woman eventually. And that is such a small…group of people that it makes no sense to justify that as statistically significant and apply that to our definition of gender. It wouldn’t make any sense.”

According to the Daily Wire:

A New York university has suspended an education student from mandatory teaching programs for posting Instagram videos expressing conservative ideology.

State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo sent an email to education student Owen Stevens placing him on suspension from his field teaching programs after his peers uncovered videos of him preaching conservative dogma. 

To me that's a flag, and a warning sign about the serious flaws in the classical liberal or libertarian ideology that underlies much of the 'conservative' movement. Many conservatives are unable to actually think or, at least, to express their ideas outside the framework of an essentially subjectivist worldview as enshrined for them in the idea of "natural rights." It goes like this: Everyone is "entitled" to their own opinion. In other words, there's no right and/or wrong, so can't we just get along? Liberals have an answer for that question. It goes like this: We're right and you're wrong; we'll get along once you go along.

Men being men and women being women is neither an 'ideology' nor a 'dogma.' The tradition of Christian intellectualism--'tradition' meaning, handed down through the centuries, is quite capable of addressing such issues in purely intellectual terms on the basis of realist philosophical principles. That was lost with the breakdown of the Christian intellectual tradition under the pressure of Nominalist thought. The classical liberal framework within which so many conservatives live is, on principle, unable to address these issues except as essentially subjective 'dogmas' or ideologies.'

Be it noted. There is nothing in either article to indicate that the student in question considered that he was expressing either an 'ideology' or a 'dogma'. As I read his statements, he considered that he was expressing the facts of human nature and of the real world. I very much suspect that he would have applied the labels 'ideology' and 'dogma' to his persecutors.

The officials at SUNY had a ready answer for the student, and they were framed in typical legal fashion, which are largely unassailable in America. According to the Daily Wire, the Dean of the Education School wrote:

“You continue to maintain, ‘I do not recognize the gender that they claim to be if they are not biologically that gender,’” the Dean said. “This public position is in conflict with the Dignity for All Students Act requiring teachers to maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional well-being of all students.”

In other words, the student is in violation of democratically promulgated laws, passed by and signed into law by the elected representatives of the State of New York. Fair is fair. He should abide by those laws, rather than irritate others with his purely personal opinions--right? As it is, the student is refusing to participate in "remediation":

Included in the [remediation] requirements: removing his inflammatory videos, pulling back on his social media presence, and — in the words of the Wire — “attending school-sanctioned training.”

The kid’s refusing to comply.

In an email to Owen, the Dean of the School of Education sounded off:

“After review of all available materials, I find that, based on your continued public stance and social media presence, you do not consistently demonstrate behaviors required by the Conceptual Framework of the School of Education.”

The president of the university and assorted spokespeople weighed in as well:

“Yesterday, I was made aware of a current student’s Instagram posts pertaining to transgender people,” the university’s president wrote. “I want to take this opportunity to publicly restate my deep personal commitment to promoting social justice.”

In the same email, the president insinuated that the school would like to take action against Stevens, though it cannot infringe on his First Amendment rights.

“There are clear legal limitations to what a public university can do in response to objectionable speech,” the president wrote. “As a result, there are few tools at our disposal to reduce the pain that such speech may cause.”

In a statement to The Daily Wire, a SUNY Geneseo spokeswoman said that the school does not believe that it is infringing on any student’s right to free speech.

“Although we cannot comment on any particular student, SUNY Geneseo respects every student’s right to freedom of speech and expression,” the spokeswoman said. “By choosing to enter into certain professional fields, students agree to abide by the professional standards of their chosen field. At times, these professional standards dictate that students act and behave in certain ways that may differ from their personal predilections.”

So, again, the university takes the high legal and constitutional ground--in a classical liberal/conservative world. Everyone has a 'right' to say what they want in an individual capacity without the interference of government institutions--including government universities. Everyone is 'entitled' to their "personal predilections." OTOH, nobody has a 'right' to express their "personal predilections" in every setting, and professions may specify standards of conduct for their field.

Conservatives will lose these battles if they continue to play by that set of rules. It will always be a matter of degree, and the progs are past masters at the gradual pushing of envelopes--by degrees. A far better approach would be to argue that there is an establishment of religion issue involved. That argument, too, is constitutionally complicated, but it does get closer to the heart of the matter. There are fundamental philosophical issues behind these disagreements, and we'd better face up to that. Conservatives will lose until they get in touch with those fundamental philosophical principles and present them coherently. This all gets to the very foundations of organized society and governance. It's all up for grabs.

But here's the point of my title, about professions in a woke society. Obviously the unexpressed but very real intent of passing laws like Dignity for All Students Act is precisely to drive normals out of the educational profession. The result will be that the teaching profession will end up being exclusively staffed by people who will toe the woke line. Court challenges will have little effect because enforcement will become impossible as long as people continue to elect representatives who back woke standards.

Of course, the unionization of teachers is an assist in this direction. However, the same is already becoming true in all professions, through their professional associations. As those associations come to be dominated--as most already are--woke activists, they will find ways to promulgate "professional standards" that will override "personal predilections"--forcing persons of conscience either to resign from the profession or allow their consciences to be raped. The same is already being enforced through "workplace rules." Normals need to vote, but further: they need to evangelize.


  1. Kudos to the kid for standing up to the fascists.

    There’s another way to describe these “57 gender varieties” tripe:

    Mental illness.


  2. The problem I have is that without classical liberal thought, especially Locke’s notion on private property, I do not see our nation coming together.

    A prior concept was that government was not of the people or for the people, but for itself. That concept exists to this day and appears to be forcibly wining the argument in America.

    Are we throwing out the baby with the bath water in this regard?

  3. I urge that "As those associations come to be dominated--as most already are--woke activists...." become
    "As those associations come to be dominated BY--as most already are--woke activists....".

    When the SUNY brass say
    “This public position is in conflict with the Dignity for All Students Act requiring teachers to maintain a classroom environment *protecting* the mental and emotional *well-being* of all students,” I can see a challenge on Equal Protection grounds, seeing as this effort to *protect* the mental and emotional *well-being* of certain students, obviously comes at the "expense" of tyrannizing other students.

  4. O/T, perhaps of interest to some…the schedule for the CPAC today through Sunday. President Trump’s appearance Sunday afternoon will be the main event...

  5. This is so messed up on so many levels.

    @Bebe; if CPAC doesn't come up with something to address the education side of this liberal thinking... God help us.

  6. Durham resigns effective 28 Feb.


  7. Mark - first, many thanks to you for the personal sacrifices you make in writing on these topics, to share your own insight and to also highlight other's writings on essential topics, which you then also unpack for us to consider and think further; second, do you mind unpacking further the concept you reference above ("A far better approach would be to argue that there is an establishment of religion issue involved. That argument, too, is constitutionally complicated, but it does get closer to the heart of the matter."). How would you have counselled him, say if he was your child, or maybe better, if you were that student wishing to make a similar point, what would be your approach, using the constitutional POV and/or freedom of religion approach?
    thanks in advance -
    Tom fr Atlanta

    1. Tom, that's tough. As a practical matter--and, after all, we need to live our lives--I would recommend my child or student to seek alternative ways to make a living as a teacher, alternatives that might not require the type of credentialing that teaching in government schools requires. And, of course, seek out others who are like minded and try to build alternative institutions. There was a time not that long ago when the Catholic Church offered that alternative--to all comers, not just to Catholics--on a country wide basis. That has gone by the boards to a distressing extent, and the same is true of many other alternatives. We're trying to rebuild from the rubble of civilization.

  8. What you are saying is very true, but if it is a matter of religious philosophy, isn't that ideology and dogma? It just seems so futile--I am looking for a solution in my own life, as it is a very real problem.

    1. OK, you've put me on the spot. I'll try to offer a response in a new post. Let me say here briefly that we face here a problem of language, which is simply our usual way of expressing things.

      Typically, people understand philosophy and ideology, for example, to be synonymous terms. I do not. I take philosophy to refer to the effort to base insight into reality on the most broadly based and self evident principles. Principles--understood in this Aristotelian and Thomist sense--are explicitly NOT mere postulates or assumptions, as they are taken to be in modern thought: ideologies.

      To fully appreciate the difference it's best to dive in to the study of first, self evident, principles so as to experience the difference in these approaches to reality.

      It's true, of course, that our Declaration of Independence also refers to "truths" that are "self evident." But these are words, and men who speak words of this sort have various motivations. It's necessary to carefully question what these men actually mean by such words. My contention is that men who are immersed in the viewpoint of Classical liberalism--whether they call themselves conservative or libertarian or even liberal--come in two main varieties: 1) those who, behind the language of truth and self evidence in fact regard truth and self evidence to be essentially relative, conventional or contractual in a given society, and 2) those who do wish to hold to self evident truths in the full meaning--of objective grasp of reality--but who are unversed in the philosophical principles that would allow them to consciously articulate their convictions. This second group is most likely the largest, but is afflicted with self doubt due to societal pressures.

      Stay tuned. I'll try to offer some practical recommendations.

    2. Des that loosely divide conservative from liberal? I am wondering how my thinking is so different from everyone around me... our brains just process information differently.

    3. No, it's not a matter of brain processes. The problem is simply that humans are disposed to rationalize as true what is convenient or pleasing to them at any given time. Going along to get along isn't a matter of our brains processing information differently. History is full of examples, especially in extreme situations, of how this slippery slide works.