Roundtable Discussion: Political Correctness- Has it Gone Too Far?

A recent event sort of sets the stage and provides but one example to analyze for this discussion...

Noted women's rights and atheist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University (near Boston, MA) and was slated to appear there to accept the award and give a speech. Some backround on Ayaan Hirsi Ali here.

Brandeis U. came under pressure from Muslim student groups, etc and their sympathizers- despite her background and acheivements, Hirsi Ali was labelled "Islamophobe", etc and on April 8 Brandeis University rescinded the honorary degree.

Two opposing views on the above can be found here and here.

Political correctness- a necessary tool for a free society, or an impractical policing of language and thought that has exceeded its boundaries of usefulness, or both? Let's discuss!

Please consider purchasing a meal or a drink or a muffin or something- Panera offers the VIP for free, but requires a $50 total purchase by the entire group (which is usually a snap). We'll eat/drink/mingle 'til about 7:45pm when the discussion will start.

See you there! :)

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  • Mark T.

    An excellent read written by a Pakistani woman. The last two paragraphs are the bomb: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/04/19/comment/brandeis-university-youve-made-a-real-booboo/

    1 · May 6

    • Maude

      Upon pondering this, why would Hitchens have such an aversion to the development of the word and where it came from? Attaching the "phobe" to anything simply means that a person is in fear of that thing. For "Islamaphobe" the fear of radical Islamics is certainly a real thing whether the word has been coined or not, and regardless of who coined it. So, by Hitchens' logic, if the word was coined by pro-Islamic fascists, admitting that it exists is somehow catering to religion, or whatever. But in real life, there are an abundance of people in this country after 9/11 for example, who do indeed fear Islamists. So, by Hitchens' logic, they shoudn't feel that because the word itself was coined by pro-Islamic people? Seriously? Whether a fear exists or not depends on which people with which belief put a name to it. Come on now, Randy.

      1 · May 10

    • Randy P.

      If people actually used the word to describe a person's behavior or remarks as exhibiting fear, then I'd say your point is valid. But you know, or should know, as well as I that when that term is used to characterize a person it isn't typically used to imply that they have a fear of Islam. They use it to accuse them of having a hatred of Muslims. They use it to demonize the person. So, come on yourself Maude.

      May 10

  • Maude

    So, what's your opinion on this op-ed? Written by an, evidently rare, postgraduate female who adheres to Islam? http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/04/13071/

    1 · May 8

    • Maude

      Well, just from recall (I will have to look it up for you). my understanding is that the radical Islamic sects identify as Shia. About 10 to 15% of Muslims are Shia and 85% or more are Sunni. Not all Shias are radical, but if we say they all are, they make up only 15% of all Muslims. I concede that 15% may not qualify for a "few" but I do stick with 85% being a "vast majority."

      May 9

    • Randy P.

      Are you asserting that none of the Sunni are radical in their thinking or behavior? I am doubtful of such a claim. I will tentatively concede based on the accuracy of the numbers you provided and research that I will conduct myself that description of vast majority may apply, but I am doubtful it is 85% because I am doubtful all Sunni's as peace-loving as you seem to think they are. However, the data you offer does not dispose me think any more kindly of Islam as a religion or a belief system. I share the view expressed by Christopher Hitchens that religion poisons everything. Even the moderate form of belief is objectionable to me. I have little but contempt for all superstitious belief. Mind you, this is not contempt for the believer, but contempt for the belief. There are some believers, however, for whom I do have contempt. The fundamentalists, the Fred Phelps types in all religions, etc.

      May 9

  • Maude

    The Pakistani woman's piece Mark points to brings up another common misconception-that genital mutilation originated with Islam. It did not. There was an extensive tv program on this I remember seeing decades ago, before "Islamaphobia." It is most common in Africa now, where it developed prior to Islam as a rite of passage, not a religious practice.

    May 8

    • Randy P.

      I can't identify or name it, but there is a logical fallacy in this comment, or at least it appears there is. So if no one is condemning those tribes in Africa which engage in this practice, that somehow means we are less justified in condemning its practice among Muslims. You seem to be implying this. If you aren't then please clarify.

      May 9

    • Maude

      No, not at all. I was referring to the opinion piece Mark posted the link for-the Pakistani woman who wrote it, did so in such a way that it sounds like she believes that FGM is a practice almost unique to Islam and that Islam invented it. I was trying to point out her error, perhaps with the implication that she hasn't done her homework, which to me, renders her entire opinion and perhaps her other claims less credible, TO ME. She doesn't mention the problem in various African countries, so I was also pointing out that in her case at least, it seems odd that someone rallying against the practice only mentions the Islamic religious offenders. She's justified in condemning its use within Islam, of course.

      May 9

  • Mark T.

    For the record, what Ayaan says she would have said at Brandeis: http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304512504579493410287663906?mobile=y

    1 · May 4

    • Randy P.

      I think that in the cause of advancing the principal of free speech, and not necessarily the free speech right any particular individual, efforts should be made to hear more not less, even from people who say things that upset or offend us or that we find objectionable for some reason. I think that unless the thoughts that are going to be expressed are thought to likely fall into one of the three categories of unprotected speech, we should provide a platform for people to say what they have to say. If anyone is interested, I will be happy to articulate what those three categories of unprotected speech are. But of this I am certain: nothing Ali has said to date falls into one of these three categories. Nor was, I think, anything she was likely to say at the commencement exercise likely to have fallen into one of these three categories.

      1 · May 9

    • Randy P.

      understand that the president of Brandeis University has said that Ali is welcome to give a talk at another time on the topic of the rights of women in predominantly muslim countries. And I am glad to here they are willing to do this. But I think it was as mistake to rescind the invitation to speak at commencement. I don't care about the honorary degree.

      1 · May 9

  • Sam S.

    I think, after this meet up, the answer to, has pc gone to far is yes.

    1 · May 4

    • Mark T.

      Never executed by government perhaps, but by crazed mobs (for blasphemy and other charges) perhaps a different story?

      May 6

    • Mark T.

      Re: Alida- yes, that looks like terrorism as well on the part of the separatists.

      May 6

  • JJ

    Thought provoking...discussion went far beyond what I had expected it to.

    May 4

  • Karen

    Best EVER!

    1 · May 4

  • Marni T.

    Great meetup - we had some good debate going, but I think sometimes our own language gets in the way of true communication. Great after-meetup at Applebee's as usual. Thank you, Rafiq, for joining us once again, and for your animated comments ;)

    3 · May 4

  • Jerry C.

    I wasn't able to make this. I hope you had an engaging discussion.

    May 3

    • Alida t.

      as always, sorry you weren't there

      2 · May 4

  • Beth

    Not sure if I am going to make it :(

    May 3

  • JJ

    A few unexpected things have come up & I may not be able to make it tonight. Going to try to though!

    May 3

    • Beth

      I hope you can make it!

      May 3

    • JJ

      It'll be around 8:30/9 if I can get there. Unexpected company...

      May 3

  • Shlomoh

    Let them eat cake!

    May 3

  • Debbi

    Need to tend to other things, see ya all soon,,,

    May 3

  • Maude

    I'm tentative for everything these days, but hope I can attend because this issue caught my attention. I think this opinion piece has good points, although I don't agree with all of them. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/4/14/a-rightful-revocation/

    April 27

    • Robyn

      I skimmed the article and it seemed fair that they rescinded her honorary degree. However, I'm not sure what you're about with the whole "elite" schools vs. "cheap" (and perhaps by "cheaper" schools you mean state colleges?) deal. Having attended both types of schools, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Well, except that I am STILL paying off my student loans for one of them. Not much of a deal IMHO.

      April 29

    • Robyn

      Oh and didn't George Bush go to Yale and Harvard both?

      April 29

  • Naveen

    Brings back memories. We, among others, had to leave our home in a Muslim dominated area and move to a safer part of the city. Yep, I have Islamophobia.

    4 · April 19

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will do my best to be there, to make sure that the debate goes beyond the phony debates that monopolize the media. I don't want to put too much into writing, but suffice it to say that "Islamophobia" is a misleading concept. Hating an ideology is anyone's right, and that has no relevance to bigotry based on the excuse of one's supposed ideology. The first link demonstrates a lot of that sort of bigotry, and the man on the second link is one of the supporters of the US-supported fundamentalist preacher Fethullah Gulen. The truth is far from where both of these people stand.

    3 · April 14

    • Mark T.

      I look forward to your input, Umit! Hope you can make it.

      1 · April 14

    • Suzy W.

      Actually, I guess this is dated april 10th.

      April 14

  • Dale

    I'd post a comment about that here, but I'd be too afraid of offending someone.

    3 · April 13

  • JJ

    Debbi you took the words right out of my mouth. :]~

    1 · April 12

  • Debbi

    F#$k yeah! (so much for pc lol)

    3 · April 12

27 went

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