The University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been at it again. The same office that said we should stop using offensive personal pronouns like “he” and “she” in the fall recently rained a little of the Grinch spirit down on campus. And as before, UT will do nothing about it. But I understand why they won’t. In fact, maybe they can’t, at least not without some help from the legislature.
This time UT’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which I refer to as the Inclusion police, were afraid people would do Christmassy things on campus and offend those who are not of the Christmas spirit. They wanted to make sure folks on campus didn’t send invitations to parties that might contain offensive themes like “Secret Santa.”
To be charitable, perhaps the Inclusion police just wanted to shield people from thoughts of Santa because it might make them think of Christmas, which, in turn, might make them think of Christianity. After all, the Inclusion police probably think Santa is a major figure in the Christmas story found somewhere in the preamble to Second Luke. (Insert tongue in cheek.)
The Inclusion police were firm. Don’t try to “disguise” your Christmas Party!
This would all be just silliness if it weren’t so serious. The reason it is so serious is that these leaders of education do not know how to think. You really can’t think straight unless you think in terms of the law of non-contradiction. Don’t stop reading if you don’t know what this is. You apply that law every day.
The law of non-contradiction, stated philosophically, says something cannot be one thing and, at the same time and in the same relationship, be something else. Those are fancy words for saying that you can’t go up the stairs and down the stairs at the same time.
If UT had a philosophy department that wasn’t intolerant of those who believe in the law of non-contradiction (such professors would be too old-fashioned), then surely someone from that department would have told UT’s Chancellor, Jimmy Cheek, and the head of the Inclusion police that you can’t tell folks not to talk about Christmas and secret Santa parties and still include and make welcome on your campus those who do want to talk about Christmas and have secret Santa parties. Can’t do it. Impossible.
That UT’s leadership apparently doesn’t understand this is more than enough reason for legislators to demand that Cheek resign and the head of the Inclusion police be fired—not because they do embarrassing things that offend alumni and Tennesseans, but because they are not clear enough thinkers to be involved in educating others.
But here’s the downside. If the UT Board of Trustees did the right thing and fired them, then we’d probably have students holding sit-ins in the administration building, because everyone would assume that UT doesn’t care about inclusion and diversity.
So UT has created a mess by coddling a bunch of students and turning their agility-to-think button into the “off” position. And now it can’t help but step in it all the time.
To avoid student protests if UT’s Inclusion police are fired, UT is going to continue doing inane things that the public recoils at. After all, the Inclusion police have to do something if they’re going to get paid. They’ll come up with some more stuff like in the past. And UT officials will have to tromp down to the legislature every few months to apologize.
But that could stop if some legislative leaders would step in and do something to help them, such as telling Chancellor Cheek and the Inclusion police they can “voluntarily” resign or have their administration budget cut in half.
If that were to happen, then the administration might be too busy actually running the real business of UT to worry about who is being offended by whom. And there wouldn’t be any time or money for those offensive Secret Santa parties next year.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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