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"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear"

George Orwell

Are the universities more afraid of the students than of being shamed in the media?

14. september 2019 - International - af Aia Fog, LL.M., chairman

However, the worst is not the institute's disproportionate focus on including cis, trans and LGBTQ people of all kinds.  It is the sad fact that they, who should be the country's top researchers and educators, continue to appear MORE intimidated by the students and their willingness to take offense than they are afraid to be shamed by adults in the media and on social platforms.

One would think that last year's embarrassing cases about people “taking offence” in the university environment would have given professors, heads of department, deans and teachers pause in order to take a look inside themselves, and step into character as the responsible adults they are supposed to be.

CBS 'ban on singing "The Danish song is a young, blond girl"; Copenhagen University's ban on dressing up as cowboys and Mexicans for drunken parties; and an associate professor of Biology who was called in for a service interview for using the wrong gender pronouns in teaching, revealed that professors are so afraid of the students that they are willing to compromise on all scientific logic, rationality and accountability in order to accommodate a group of spoiled and “offended” youth.

Deeply embarrassing cases, that rightly resulted in harsh words from the media and media opinion makers, and which raised the obvious question among many whether or not there was an adult present.

There wasn’t - and neither has there been since: Management at the Institute of Arts and Cultural Sciences at the University of Copenhagen have sent an e-mail to the institute educators and instructed them not to say "he" or "she" to their students. The Head of department Mette Sandbye has extended the instructions to Uniavisen (University magazine) and explained that there are missing guidelines as to how to avoid situations "where non-binary and trans people do not feel included ”.

Of course, one is tempted to give the following answer: The university is an educational institution that offers education and scientific research, not a kindergarten for navel gazers.  Even at its core the message is completely out to lunch – but it isn’t out to lunch for the head of the department.

However, the worst is not the institute's disproportionate focus on including cis, trans and LGBTQ people of all kinds.  It is the sad fact that they, who should be the country's top researchers and educators, continue to appear MORE intimidated by the students and their willingness to take offense than they are afraid to be shamed by adults in the media and on social platforms.  No one has, as far as I know, been open and defended these new instructions for the simple reason that they are indefensible, and because several newspapers have been out swinging a critical club over the institute's management.

And yet: In the DR's Evening Show on 9/9, many viewers had written that it was just ordinary courtesy and thoughtfulness to treat and address people as they feel they should be addressed.

There is then every reason to speculate on WHY the management of the institute for Arts and Cultural Sciences now has given yet another instruction to the teachers, as they are surely fully aware that they are guaranteed to receive yet another turn through the wringer with commensurate public attention and shaming.

There can be two explanations for this: either it is worse for the teachers at universities to be shamed by the students than it is to be shamed by both media, opinion makers…or else this particular pc culture is in the process of becoming a truth that objectively ascertainable facts such as gender, age and ethnicity are merely social constructions, and that it is an assault on the individual not to accommodate their feelings. Based on the viewer reaction on DR’s evening show this could appear to be the case. 

However, both explanations should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who cares about freedom, science, research and democratic education, because where are we heading when ignorant and uneducated youngsters can bully their way with their pseudo-offended emotions and constructed minorities rights in order to define the boundaries of behavior?

I’ll tell you where we are if this is the case: we are very far from the inclusive society the young people claim to promote, and instead we are moving out on a totalitarian slippery slope with social control, with monitoring and punishment of those who dare to say that the emperor wears no clothes.

It is a grotesque situation when experienced and educated adults, time and time again, bow down and advocate for the social-fascist dictatorship of the young that is gaining traction these years, which will then gradually begin to seep into other parts of our community.

I've said it before, and I want to reiterate: the young, ready-to-be-offended dictators, who today claim the right to dictate both professors and freedom of speech at our universities – they are the leaders of tomorrow.  If we do not put an effective halt to their delusions of scientific truths, and of their attacks on freedom of expression, then we are in for a very rough ride.