Free Speech

Prof. May Be Ordered to Refer to Transgender Student Using the Student's Preferred Title and Pronoun …

... or refer to all students without a title (e.g., by first name or by last name) and not use third-person pronouns to refer to them.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

So a magistrate judge concluded today in Meriwether v. Shawnee State Univ. (S.D. Ohio); the government as employer, the judge reasoned, may require its employees—including professors—to do this as part of their jobs.

I think that this is likely right, precisely because the government is acting as employer. The government is trying to make sure that its students are effectively taught; it can insist that its employees use techniques that the employer views as conducive to that, and to avoid techniques that the employer thinks will interfere with effective teaching. Indeed, I think that public universities have broad latitude under the First Amendment to tell their professors how to teach and what to teach, just as public K-12 schools do (though in practice most universities leave their professors with a great deal of discretion).

I think similar requirements imposed by the government acting as sovereign might well be unconstitutional—for instance, if the law require private employers (including private colleges) to impose similar rules on their employees (or on students or on patrons or on tenants), or risk lawsuits for tolerating a supposed "hostile public accommodations environment," "hostile educational environment," "hostile work environment," or "hostile housing environment." This case, thankfully, does not involve that, but future cases might.

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  1. Sounds about right. Of course, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

  2. As an employer, it should be constrained by the 1st Amendment. And this “student” should be put in a mental institution, not humored.

    1. As an employer, it should be constrained by the 1st Amendment. And this “student” should be put in a mental institution, not humored.

      I am continuously amazed how far so called “conservatives” will go to disparage and belittle someone who poses absolutely no threat to them. The disturbed person is you and this professor who instead of doing his job preferred to shove his “sincerely held beliefs” onto the University and its students.

      1. The threat is precisely being forced to participate in the charade with the required language.

        1. If calling people by their preferred name is oppressive to you, you are a delicate flower who should not be exposed to society.

          1. No, being forced to be complicit in a lie is oppressive.

            1. Exactly. LGBT people don’t want to lie about themselves to avoid offending the sensibilities of traditionalists.

              1. That is truly a new angle. Never heard that one before.

                Let me help you make it better. First, I think you need to drop the LGB part, because it’s only the T that is at issue, because lesbians, gay, and bis (such as they are) are already are what they are and aren’t asking us to pretend them to be what they are not.

                So, focus in on the T. They are ones who are one thing and asking, nay demanding, the rest of us pretend that they are something that they are not.

                Second, given that focus, you should only peddle it as a polite white lie, a polite fiction. For instance, if someone farts in an elevator most people would be inclined to politely ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen. Likewise, if we are told what we know is a lie, even if we may be uncomfortable with it, we all know that most of the time it’s better to go along to get along. Therefore, make the case that saying Xir or Xim just being polite, like the convention to call any woman not of matronly age “Ms.” instead of inquiring into her marriage status to more properly call her a “Miss” or a “Mrs.”

                So, if the whole “Ms” thing worked for the feminists in the 1970s, it MAY work for you, if you take this approach, like they did. I suspect it actually will work.

                Be aware, it’s just human nature to be contentious when being pushed around, as I am sure you’re aware. Mocking and condensation on your part is actually counterproductive to your long term goal of normalizing mental illness, um, I mean new norms of politeness.

                1. “First, I think you need to drop the LGB part, because it’s only the T that is at issue, because lesbians, gay, and bis (such as they are) are already are what they are and aren’t asking us to pretend them to be what they are not.”

                  No. The same people who today insist that Trans people are living a lie also insisted that LGB people were doing the same. They believed it was a curable mental illness or perversion. They insisted that they actually were not who they said they were. Polite society asked them to live a lie by remaining closeted. DADT, a policy designed to make people lie about who they are, only ended in 2010. People oppose same-sex marriage because they insist same-sex couples are lying about the nature of marriage. Politicians, religious leaders, commentators, and posters on these threads still believe that LGB people are living and a lie and would prefer them to lie about themselves for the sake of society.

                  So no, you do not get to disregard the LGB part simply because the majority of society has become accepting of these people in spite of the efforts of those same people who now insist they won’t call people by their preferred names and pronouns.

                  As to the T part, you may tell yourself you are nobly standing up for truth, but what you’re actually doing is taking a trollish glee in demeaning people when you know for sure they are trans. Because you wouldn’t insist on “the truth” when you weren’t actually sure. (Unless you’re an absolutely awful person.)

                  Ask yourself if you would do these things:

                  If you know a person you suspect is trans, who introduces themselves as Sharon, would you go out of your way to find out if their name given at birth is Sean?

                  If you find out that information, would you actually call them Sean to their face? Would you continue to refer to her as Sean to other people, even though they might have no idea who you are talking about?

                  If you never find out, would you go ahead and call them what you believe to be the “correct” pronouns and insist they are liars when they try to correct you?

                  Would you apologize upon confirmation that they are using the “correct” ones to your satisfaction?

                  Would you demand every “masculine” looking woman or “feminine” looking man tell you “the truth” when they introduce themselves? Would you say they are lying if you don’t like the answer?

                  If over email you call a Taylor, “he” when it’s actually “she” do you accept the correction or go on an investigation?

                  Let’s say you meet someone who is actually biologically intersex and refers to themselves as xim or xer. Are you going to accept that or find out the truth? Demand their karyotype? Call them something based on whatever arbitrary criteria for maleness or femaleness you have decided is relevant to the question?

                  Of course not. Because it’s not a quest for truth. You get to refer to Caitlyn Jenner as “Bruce” and He/Him because she is a high profile person you know transitioned. But the real world does not work like that. You won’t go on a quest for the truth as you believe it to be in reference to everyone you meet. You may have helped people “live a lie” without a second thought.

                  To paraphrase John Roberts: Celebrate your ability to be morally pure in your pronoun and name choices. But do not celebrate the truth. It has nothing to do with it.

                  1. So, your long commentary about the LGB part aside, you’re confirming what I just said, that *this* issue is about the T. The battles the left fought and won for the LGB are done and in the past and absent a societal reset, are the new norm. Rejoice!

                    Further, I see you’re taking my advice and making it about politeness. Bravo, I think it’s a winning argument, although ultimately a bad one for society.

                    So, to answer your hypotheticals, it depends on many things. If I am in a vulnerable position economically (where most of us are), where one internet shaming session or HR complaint away from losing a job, I’d said Caitlyn instead of Bruce or Sharon instead of Sean. Dudes would still a male, always will be at the chromosomal level, and what I would say in the privacy of my own home. That is the coercive part, the illiberality of the T, that I fear you dismiss blithely. Granted, right now a million people are laughing at their boss’s joke when it was not funny, but don’t ever kid yourself that you’re not holding a metaphorical gun to someone’s head when you mandate Sharon instead of Sean. And if a trans tricks me and I don’t know, well bravo to them. But it’s a bit like vegetarian eating a piece of meat in a soup that they didn’t know about compared to forcing them to violate their principles to eat meat a Big Mac.

                    Lastly, here’s why forcing people to be complicit in a lie is bad, and why Roberts is wrong (no surprise there, he often is). Think of it as two virtues against each other, Truth vs Tenderness. But tenderness leads to a tyranny of relativism, which lead (has lead) to the gas chambers. Let me ask you, then would you prefer that people lie to you to make you feel good, even if you were ultimately harmed by it?

                  2. Nonsense. There’s a big difference between LGB people having the attractions that they do and the idea that their relationships are actually marriages. You are conflating the two.

                  3. Not disclosing information is not the same as lying. The whole point of DADT was to avoid putting people in the position of having to falsely represent their sexual orientation in order to serve in the military.

                    As I stated below, forenames and surnames are individualized and legally changeable, so if Sean has legally changed his name to Sharon, then so be it. But if it were costless to discover the truth, I don’t see why would be it inherently awful to do so.

                  4. That was a deeply confused ramble, LTG. Here’s my exceptionally coherent disentangling of the confusion.

                    The same people who today insist that Trans people are living a lie also insisted that LGB people were doing the same. They believed it was a curable mental illness or perversion. They insisted that they actually were not who they said they were.

                    The notion that someone can be “cured” of being sexually attracted to people of the same sex does not require, and so far as I am aware has never entertained, the notion that a gay person is lying about being sexually attracted to people of the same sex. It simply postulates that such attraction is amenable to change by treatment. This is no different from claiming that someone who is blind may be enabled to see by some kind of treatment. The blindness is not denied, it is not suggested that the person is lying when they say they cannot see, merely that there is something that can be done about solving it. (I am not, btw, insisting that “curing” gays of gayness is either desirable or possible, merely that the idea that the notion contains an assumption that gay people are lying about what they find sexually attractive is bunk.)

                    People oppose same-sex marriage because they insist same-sex couples are lying about the nature of marriage.

                    “Lying” imports an unnecessarily perjorative tone. Such people merely think same-sex couples are mistaken about what “marriage” means. Of course, a la Humpty Dumpty, anyone can use a word to mean whatever they like. But then other people can do the same. And the other people who object to “same sex marriage” take the view that opposite sexes are an inherent part of the meaning of marriage, and that this has always been so, until very very recently in a particular corner of the world.

                    but what you’re actually doing is taking a trollish glee in demeaning people when you know for sure they are trans. Because you wouldn’t insist on “the truth” when you weren’t actually sure.

                    Well now. This gets to the question of what is being claimed when someone says they are trans. Is it :

                    1. that they are of a different sex to that which is biologically defined by their gonads ? or
                    2. that they feel, quite genuinely, in their heads that they have been issued with the wrong kind of body, and that their heads are telling them that their gonads (and in most cases, secondary sexual characteristics) are wrong ? or
                    3. that they would prefer to be a man (if biologically a woman) or vice versa ?
                    or some variant or combination thereof ?

                    1. is a lie (or mistake) since what sex they are is an objective question. If they have a human body and insist they are a snake, they are just wrong.
                    2. may be a lie if they are misrepresenting what their head is telling them, but there’s no reason to believe that it is a lie in all or most cases. It’s not controversial (OK it is, but only in extreme feminista-land) that sex hormones affect brain development, nor that some genes may inhibit or alter the effect of sex hormones, so it’s perfectly possible – though we don’t understand the precise pathways – for someone with male gonads, male genitals, male skeletal structure etc to have brain wiring that insists that these male features feel inappropriate and wrong, and that they ought to have female features. This brain wiring doesn’t make them a woman, but there’s no reason to believe they must be lying if they claim that’s how they feel. If a man tells you he feels he’s a snake in the wrong body, he may be telling you the truth.
                    3. Again, why would we assume some is lying when they say they’d prefer to be something they are not ? I have always had a bit of a hankering to be Bertie Wooster.

                    Obviously in all or any of these cases, an external observer who simply sees another person, dressed, does not always know whether the person is actually biologically male or female (or in extraordinarily rare cases, genuinely intersex – ie with ambiguous gonads.) Though with the great majority, even the most cursory glance resolves the question.

                    The external observer will get more information the more closely he examines the other person. The “truth” in relation to 1. (ie what biological sex the other person actually is) is determinable objectively by a third party observer with a close enough examination. The “truth” in relation to 2 and 3 is not, in the current state of brain science. External observers have only (a) the person’s self report and (b) the person’s observable behavior (which may show either corroboration or performative contradiction) to go on.

                    Let’s say you meet someone who is actually biologically intersex and refers to themselves as xim or xer. Are you going to accept that or find out the truth?

                    You got yourself into a logical twizzle there. If you stipulate that the person is “actually” intersex then the truth is already known. If what you mean is that you meet someone who says xe is intersex, then you don’t know whether they are lying (or mistaken) or not. Most of the time, out of politeness, we accept what people say about themselves as mostly true, until we have reason to believe it’s not. So if your neighbor says she works as a research chemist then you’ll probably believe her. But if you see her dancing for tips in a club, you may doubt her. Though of course she may do both.

                    But that’s all a question of personal judgement – how much you take someone at their word. If someone I met claimed to be intersex I would be strongly inclined to disbelieve them simply because intersex is very rare, and the T lobby claims as intersex all sorts of conditions that are not so. But in a particular case this assumption might be wrong, because real intersex folk do exist.

              2. LGBT people don’t want to lie about themselves to avoid offending the sensibilities of traditionalists.

                I don’t think this even quaifies as sophistry.

                  1. Seriously ?

                    Can you point us to an example of anyone, anywhere arguing that an LGBT person should not be allowed to refer to himself* however he* pleases ?

                    This is 100% about whether an LGBT person may insist, with sanctions, on how other people may refer to him*, and 0% about whether there are or should be any restrictions on how an LGBT person refers to himself*.

                    *I select these, of course, to demonstrate the absurdity of the notion that one can definitively resolve the question of how, pronounly, to refer to an LGBT person. Hypothetical people, like dead men, tell no tales.

              3. Why use the politically correct “traditionalists” when “bigots” is the better word?

                1. These “bigots” built Western civilization. You perverts just tear civilization down.

                  1. He said using devices made
                    possible by Alan Turing.

                    1. The more right-wingers cling to their bigotry, the faster their political positions will be rejected by an improving American electorate.

                      So keep it up, clingers!

            2. “being forced to be complicit in a lie is oppressive.”

              If calling people by their preferred name is oppressive to you, you are a delicate flower who should not be exposed to society.

          2. Looks like James Pollock insulted Perseus by calling Perseus a delicate snowflake instead of Perseus. Did James Pollock get permission beforehand from Perseus to use the wrong name? Was James Pollock deliberately abusive, was it a conscious choice, was it habit, or is James Pollock just a troll?

            1. “Was James Pollock deliberately abusive”

              Yes. Duh.

          3. My preferred pronoun is “Master”.

            1. Mine is “His Majesty, First of his name, Ayatollah of Rocknrolla”

          4. They should be free to call themselves whatever they want. Requiring others to do so is comparable to demanding that an atheist or a Muslim refer to Jesus as “our Lord and Savior.”

            1. So if a college professor wanted to call you “dickhead” instead of your given name when you were in college, that would be fine because requiring him to use your name rather than “dickhead” would be a violation of his rights?

              1. Unlike pronouns, forenames and surnames run the gamut (and it is not rare for them to be changed). As someone still in college, I wonder how long faculty will be allowed to use only forenames and surnames until that too is deemed to be discriminatory.

          5. “If calling people by their preferred name is oppressive to you, you are If calling people by their preferred name is oppressive to you, you are a delicate flower who should not be exposed to society.”

            Yup. And if other people referring to you by the gender they see you as is oppressive to you, you are also a delicate flower who should not be exposed to society.

            1. It’s completely normal to think that what people call you matters. Lots of precedent for that with nicknames etc. And pronouns get to personal identity.

              It’s delicate snowflake land to think what you call other people matters.

              1. Names, and nicknames, are a matter of choice (to adults).
                Pronouns are language, and in English reflect biology.

                Your made-up words are neither.

                1. Titles have meaning beyond choice, and we let people choose how what we call them.

                  If your use of pronouns for other people is deeply effecting you, you’re being a delicate snowflake.

                  1. If you cannot bear to go without forcing other people to speak words you made up, you are the one with the problem.

                    You keep trying to be insulting, but you’ve got the situation so backwards that you’re just embarrassing yourself instead.

                    1. Ride that bigotry all the way to cultural and political irrelevance in an improving (against your wishes) America!

                    2. If you keep calling someone with a PhD ‘Mr.’ after numerous reminders it’s pretty normal to see you’re purposefully being insulting.

                      Regulations that say professors shouldn’t be insulting to their students are pretty normal.

                      How is this different?

                    3. “If you keep calling someone with a PhD ‘Mr.’ after numerous reminders it’s pretty normal to see you’re purposefully being insulting.”

                      If you have a MD and insist on being called Doctor, you deserve to be insulted. If all you have is a PhD, you deserve to be laughed out of the room.

                    4. ” If all you have is a PhD, you deserve to be laughed out of the room.”

                      Going out on a limb here, but you don’t have a PhD, do you?

                    5. What about those of us that have more than one PhD?

                      Do we get to laugh at those of you that don’t?

              2. “It’s delicate snowflake land to think what you call other people matters.”
                Fine. From now on I’d like you to call me, “The man who fucked my mother.” OK, snowflake?

                Of course they both matter. A priori, if I prefer to call you one thing, and you’d prefer to be called another, the we have a simple conflict of preferences, and person doing the talking gets to decide because he’s the one doing the talking.

                Of course, you can set up hypos so that intuition goes however you want. If the 40 year old professor asks the 18 year old student in his office to call him “Jim”, but she prefers to call him “Professor Smith”, is she a snowflake? Of course what you call someone matters.

                1. Yeah, insincere hypotheticals are all you guys got.

                  1. Already refusing to use 12″ chosen pronoun? You bigot.

                  2. – “Yeah, insincere hypotheticals are all you guys got.”

                    ROFLMAO @ Sarcastr0 accusing others of insincerity.

                2. “From now on I’d like you to call me, “The man who fucked my mother.””

                  OK, motherfucker.

                  ” if I prefer to call you one thing, and you’d prefer to be called another, the we have a simple conflict of preferences, and person doing the talking gets to decide because he’s the one doing the talking. ”

                  Unless he’s being paid to do the talking, in which case the employer decides.

                  1. Still refusing to use his chosen pronoun, I see.

                    Well, since you think ‘close enough’ is good enough, I’ll just continue to use ‘he’ and ‘she’ – they’re closer ‘zir’ or ‘xir’ or whatever then you are, so obviously it meets with your approval.

      2. I didn’t realize that being able to get you fired if you don’t refer to them the right way was “absolutely no threat to you”

      3. “You must use this radically unscientific ideological newspeak, or you’re fired”

        regexp: “absolutely no threat”

      4. “No threat” in a story about a court case to try to get a professor fired. If someone wanted to get you fired that would be “no threat” to you?

        Why should anyone be concerned about these people’s comfort when they go out of their way to cause trouble?

        Act cool and easy-going, be treated like a cool, easy-going fellow. Make trouble, expect pushback.

    2. Loved your last post, Gail!

  3. Of course the “government as employer” has very wide powers to dictate what employees do on the clock.

    And this will remain the case so long as constitutional law is decided based on the actual law and not the whims of judges.

    Oops, too late.

  4. I don’t buy this. Surely there must be limits to what the employer can demand of its employees. This is not the same as forbidding a professor from calling students niggers, kikes, polacks, honkies, etc. This is requiring specific impractical speech.

    How is anyone to know what each student wants to be called this semester, this week, this day, this minute? Do students have to register their preferred pronouns? How often can they change their minds? How many choices are there? How the dickens is anyone supposed to remember all those different choices for every student in every class? What about students not in the class who are mistakenly called by the wrong pronoun? Is the professor allowed one mistake?

    There’s a reason to have a common language with common words.

    The alternative, of only using first or last names, is equally impractical. Must everyone always be referred to in the third person by name? It’s probably easier to remember than made-up arbitrary and fluid pronouns, but the conversations would sure sound weird.

    1. It’s probably easier to remember than made-up arbitrary and fluid pronouns, but the conversations would sure sound weird.

      Sounding weird is a small problem. The bigger problem is the consumption of mental bandwidth in speech production. Personal pronouns are acquired early and go deep. So you can deploy the one that fits logically without thinking at all. If you have to stop and consciously reset you’re consuming conscious bandwidth that you could otherwise be using for…..your lecture, your explanation etc.

      Chinese doesn’t used sexed pronouns for he, she, him, her etc. Mrs Moore who was born a Chinese speaker, but who has been speaking excellent English for several decades, with a vocabulary at least equal to my own, still frequently messes up the sex of pronouns in English.

      Reprogramming old speech circuits comes at a cost.

      Hence

      The government is trying to make sure that its students are effectively taught

      is an unlikely effect of requiring teachers to deploy conscious resources on intervening in their speech circuits, laid down in infancy.

      1. Chinese doesn’t used sexed pronouns for he, she, him, her etc.

        This always poses problems when one conducts depositions of Chinese speakers through an interpreter. The interpreter has to guess from context how to translate the unsexed Chinese word into a sexed English one, and some stories can get quite confusing.

    2. This is requiring specific impractical speech.

      This does not sound like a Constitutional argument.

      As to how it can be pulled off, it is odd how the people that have or anticipate practical problems are the ones against the policy in the first place…

      1. Well, there are practical problems here (and with most changes in established practice). If I like the established practice, I definitely don’t want to deal with relatively minor practical difficulties to change it. If I hate the established practice, I am willing to deal with some fairly major practical difficulties. If I don’t care about the practice, I will probably want to avoid any practical inconveniences.

        It’s not a mater of hypocrisy, it’s just a difference in weighing the significance of any difficulties in making a transition.

        1. You are exactly correct, and I did not mean to imply bad faith or hypocrisy, but rather what you explicated. But it does show that these impracticalities are far from insurmountable. And certainly not of Constitutional moment.

          1. “Insurmountable’ and “worth surmounting” are different concepts.

            I recall when Martina Navratilova starting playing tennis in the West, the umpires really struggled to get her surname right. Her surname was a five syllabler and where to put the stress was a puzzle. On one occasion (that I saw, though there may have been others) she got so annoyed she shouted her name at the umpire several times, with the correct stress, when he’d messed it up in calling the score once again. It took them about three Wimbledons before they got it consistently right. These days there’s no difficulty because Slavic names are common in the tennis world. Then, not so much.

            Now the umpires were not trying to annoy her, they were just finding it difficult. Their jobs certainly included being polite and respectful, but their main job was to umpire the game. But it was clearly very irritating for Ms N.

            Arguing that imposing X on someone because it is not “insurmountable” a weaselly argument, because it ignores the cost of compliance.

            I know you’re a lefty, and remembering that goodies have costs is difficult. But the difficulty is surely not insurmountable 🙂

        2. “there are practical problems here (and with most changes in established practice).”

          There aren’t practical problems here, or a change in established practice. On day one, class instructors go down the roster and learn what each student prefers to be called, and then uses that information through the rest of class. So, to accommodate transsexual students, you would… ask the student what they prefer to be called, and then use that information through the rest of the class.

      2. Amazingly enough, neither of your arguments has anything to do with the Constitution either. Go away until you can come back with a Constitution-related argument, you self-professed hypocrite.

        1. My argument that this isn’t of Constitutional moment is actually a Constitutional argument.

    3. “How is anyone to know what each student wants to be called this semester, this week, this day, this minute?”

      Gosh, that’s a tough one. Wait, no it isn’t. You ask them. This is also how you learn that Thomas prefers to be called “Tommy”, and Alice prefers “Jan”, because it is her middle name.

      1. And when that changes from time to time? How do students notify professors and other students? Wear signs? Berate every one who uses the newly-wrong pronoun?

        I have trouble enough remembering people’s names when there are only a few. Throw me in a party and I probably won’t remember more than a couple people’s names. Throw students and professors together, and how long does it take to remember all the names? I bet some are still wrong by the end of the semester, and then you get to start over again. Throw in a half dozen pronouns, many of which are completely new and arbitrary and customized, and expect all of them to be memorized before the first class even starts?

        You are living in some kind of weird dreamworld, buddy.

        1. Yes, the massive number of transgenders in a given classroom are unmanageable.

          Especially the secret transgenders who don’t tell anyone, but then complain about it.

          You are living in some kind of weird dreamworld, buddy.

          1. All it takes is one to complain and get you fired, you gotta admit that.

            1. I’ll know what when I see it happening in any kind of appreciable number outside the right-wing’s reactionary imagination.

              1. How many people does it take to make an example for the rest of us? *cough* Jordan Peterson *cough* Oh, and this poor guy.

                1. Canada is not America.

                2. Also that wasn’t an accident or one complaint either.

                  1. Canada and America have the same common law traditions and principles about (generally) not allowing forced speech except in certain conditions.

                    And JBP is still a prominent example of the left going after one person with all their might who resisted in order to crucify him to make an example for the rest of us. And then there is the guy in this OP.

                    Think of it this way, how many black guys getting fired for not being willing to be called “boy” is enough for it to be a problem for you, outside your fevered imagination that is?

                    1. You have a movable thesis issue here.

                      The OP is about the First Amendment. Your 11:28 am is about how it’s so easy to get fired. Your 4:08 pm is about how this one time the guy was flagrant and repeated about it in a country without the First Amendment and he made it a political issue but you only need one to show the injustice.

                      Your black guy called boy analogy is more like what JP was doing, not what was done to him.

                    2. Your black guy called boy analogy is more like what JP was doing, not what was done to him.

                      Probably unwise to discuss what JP was doing if you have no idea of the facts. Which are :

                      1. The Canadian government introduced a law applying potential civil penalties (backed up of with fines, and ultimately imprisonment) if you failed to refer to a person using their preferred pronoun

                      2. JP said he didn’t approve of the government requiring citizens to use particular words, under threat of punishment, and he wasn’t going to comply. He would choose his own words.

                      3. Activists produced the usual epithets about JP’s deep relationship with the Schicklgrubers boy, with accompanying demos, and the University of Toronto threatened him with disciplinary action…

                      4….which they eventually withdrew

                      5. Meanwhile JP repeated that he was quite happy to continue his usual practice of referring to other people, including students, on a (provisionally) respectful basis, and that he had never yet had an experience of feeling it desirable to refer to any transgender person otherwise than as they preferred. (And that is not because he’s never met any.)

                      6. But he was not willing to be compelled by the government to use words it insisted on

                      So the notion that JP goes round gratuitously insulting transgender people is erroneous. He simply reserves the right to choose his own words.

                      It is true that he is quite rude about Marxist postmodernists, but being rude about political enemies is hardly shocking, nor even slightly unusual.

                      Incidentally for those for whom Peterson is just a Schicklgruber-adjacent meme they’ve acquired from the more spittle-flecked parts of the MSM, it’s worth mentioning that his full length university lectures (all on YouTube) on Personality, and Maps of Meaning, are far more interesting than the political soundbites that are extracted from media interviews. (Though the Cathy Newman interview was pretty funny.)

                    3. I know about the case. Peterson made it a public cause, Lee.

                      Considering where he’s ended up, good luck defending his virtue and common sense.

                    4. 1. So if you know about the case what was your comment about black guys and boys about ?

                      2. Where do you imagine he’s finished up ?

            2. “All it takes is one to complain and get you fired, you gotta admit that.”

              WTF?
              Why would I gotta admit that your wild lie is anything but a wild lie?

        2. “there are practical problems here (and with most changes in established practice).”

          Via this novel invention called “speech”. They’re teaching it in colleges now.

          “I have trouble enough remembering people’s names when there are only a few.”

          Me, too. But it was part of my job, so I did it. Hint: It’s easier if you have the class roster in front of you.

          “Throw in a half dozen pronouns, many of which are completely new and arbitrary and customized”

          Or don’t. Do you see me advocating throwing in any new pronouns? No? OK, so much for THAT tangent. Want to stick to what I actually said, or just concede that you have no counterargument to it?

      2. When I first TA’d in college, I was assigned to three introductory level classes – each of 150 or so people.

        There is no way in hell I was going to learn the names and faces of 400+ people, none of whom were likely to ever take a class in my department again.

        Suggesting I should face punishment because I wouldn’t remember the correct made-up ‘pronoun’ word that person chose for this week is not a fair or reasonable action. It’s an evil bureaucrat’s version of “head I win, tails you lose”.

        1. The suggestion that “you just ask them” also fails for the simple reason that the sexed pronouns in English are the third person ones. You only use a sexed pronoun when you are referring to someone other than yourself and the person you are talking to.

          It may be that the third person is on hand to be asked about a preferred pronoun, but just as often that person will be elsewhere. You may never have met them. You may not know their name. Indeed a stock use of a third person pronoun would be “Who’s he ?”

          1. “It may be that the third person is on hand to be asked about a preferred pronoun”

            Such as on the first day of class, when the class instructor takes the roll call.

        2. The coercion is the point. The pronoun thing was just chosen to make the coercion obvious.

          How do you divide people into 2 classes and make one class eat shit? Require a change in everyday language. Hence the pronoun struggle.

          1. Yes, transgenders are another part of the secret liberal plan to oppress you by making you look like an a-hole.

            1. The pronoun requirement is, in fact, just such a plan to oppress people. If oppressing people were not the goal, then we would be talking about a pronoun request.

              Threatening people is what oppressors do. Asking people is what regular, non-totalitarians do. This is a requirement backed by threats.

              People who threaten can expect me to be an asshole to them in return. People who ask nicely can expect me to treat them nicely.

              1. The looking like an a-hole plan continues to work!

                1. Get used to it. More and more people are learning that the left are violent totalitarians and resolving to never again give these people any room to deploy their tactics.

              2. “People who threaten can expect me to be an asshole to them in return.”

                If you’re an asshole, then EVERYONE can expect you be an asshole to them. If you’re not an asshole, but you choose to act like one, the word may get out that you act like an asshole.

                Are you suggesting that people should be required to not call you an asshole?

          2. Just like with mandatory cake baking. The point is the coercion. It’s the left’s way of flexing its muscle over people it doesn’t like. Same with bans on “assault weapons” and other such nonsense.

        3. This won’t be some ambush scenario. It’s not someone keeping it secret till you get it wrong and then going HA! Gotcha!

          The fact that those against this are having to dig deep into unrealistic operations of the law is telling.

          1. Except, according to many reports, these sorts of complaints ARE out-of-nowhere complaints. In many cases, like the “sexual harassment” and “rape” claims colleges are losing so many lawsuits over, the accused may not even be told who made the complaint… or even what the complaint is!

            Sometimes it ends well, but sometimes it doesn’t.

            1. Ah yes, many reports.

              1. Well, I linked a couple of reports – NYU, UoT, UoW, Evergreen, Virginia, two stories from the UK – but Reason doesn’t like links to places like the NY Post, Washington Post, Guardian, HuffPo, so I can’t include them.

                You’re welcome to spend a few seconds with a search engine to educate yourself about the topic you are blustering about. It would be a first, but you always have the opportunity to improve yourself.

                1. I spent 10 years as a college instructor. Is that enough education about the topic I’m blustering about? Or do you know more than me about my experiences?

                  1. Are you Sarcasto now?

                    1. Not as far as I know. You know you’re posting public comments, right?

                    2. Since we’re talking about pronouns, I assumed there was a basic understanding of what the word ‘you’ meant… but it appears I was expecting too much.

        4. “Suggesting I should face punishment because I wouldn’t remember the correct made-up ‘pronoun’ word that person chose for this week is not a fair or reasonable action.”

          Who suggested that? Seems to be you.

          1. Well, let’s see…
            University of Michigan, New York University, University of California, Harvard, Wesleyen, Evergreen, Vanderbilt, West Point public schools, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ohio University, University of Minnesota, Towson, and of course, the University of Toronto – just to name a few that came up in 1 minute with a search engine.

            Every one of those schools has, or has proposed, a policy that will punish their employees (and students!) for using the wrong made-up pronoun.

            You really should try out the search engines. They’re amazing tools for learning about the world. Here, let me name a few to help you get started: Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Google.
            With tools like those, you can answer questions like yours in mere seconds. Isn’t 20th century technology wonderful?

            1. I did a search for “punishment made up pronoun university”, and all I got was a story that says the University of Minnesota won’t punish anyone for using a wrong pronoun.

              So… since you list University of Minnesota in your list, apparently you aren’t as good at the Google as you seem to think.

              1. I found a dozen more stories than you did, and you think I’m the one who isn’t good at using a search engine?

                Well, knowing that you take pride in failure does explain a lot of your posts.

    4. Is “your highness” an allowed personal pronoun choice?

      We could have fun all day long thinking up other amusing pronouns.

      I see no government agency publishing a list of acceptable pronouns, so I presume that it is open to the imagination.

    5. re: “Surely there must be limits to what the employer can demand of its employees.”

      Absolutely, those limits exist. The most important limit is “whatever you will put up with before you quit” or decline to hire in. Or more accurately, whatever enough of you consider the threshold such that your loss would cause the employer to reconsider the policy.

  5. I think similar requirements imposed by the government acting as sovereign might well be unconstitutional

    If the government is indeed acting as sovereign, then its power ought to be unlimited. In general, with explicitly stated exceptions, the government is supposed to act as the government, with limited powers, and the sovereign (the People) is supposed to act as sovereign, with unlimited powers.

    It can be helpful to keep the distinction in mind. I get that lawyers blur the distinction all the time, and refer to lawmaking and administrative power, for instance, as if they were equivalent to sovereignty. That leads to confusion which could be avoided by insisting that government and sovereignty usually not be treated as equivalent.

    Exceptions occur in cases where the sovereign has decreed instances and procedures for government to exercise sovereign power directly. Such cases include amending the Constitution, making treaties, and the “sole power” clauses delegated to various branches. Otherwise, it is almost always helpful to insist government not be thought of as sovereign, and is not free to act as if it were sovereign.

    1. Stephen:

      It’s easier to do legal reasoning if you use “sovereign” in the way the legal system uses it (which is exactly how Prof. Volokh did).

      You were propagandized by the framers. The “people” can never be sovereign, because the “people” have no monopoly of the use of force and can’t effectively command anyone to do anything. The government is sovereign, and when it acts as sovereign, it is not the “people”. It’s a separate unit which imposes its will on the people.

    2. “If the government is indeed acting as sovereign, then its power ought to be unlimited.”

      Are you familiar with the theological question of whether God can make a rock so heavy that He can’t move it? The sovereign is limited only by itself. Sovereign power in the United States derives from the Constitution, which defines a number of limitations on the government’s power. Who enforces the limits? Why, the government does.

  6. Calling Doctor Peterson! Calling Doctor Jordan B. Peterson.

  7. Can the government, acting as employer, prohibit teachers from teaching evolution, require that they teach Creationism (as scientific, non-religious fact), or prohibit professors from discussing Marxism? For that matter, could the government, acting as employer, require law professors to teach that “hate speech” is not protected by the First Amendment or even prohibit constitutional law professors from mentioning in class that the First Amendment exists? If not, why not?

    1. The First Amendment includes a right not to speak, so professors cannot be compelled to teach issues that they personally, professionally, ethically, or religiously oppose. This is the broad First Amendment protection that leads to the concept of academic freedom.

      Unless such a right would conflict with progressive values, at which point the government is an employer and compelled speech is totally fine.

      1. “The First Amendment includes a right not to speak, so professors cannot be compelled to teach issues that they personally, professionally, ethically, or religiously oppose.”

        You have the wrong amendment, it’s the Fifth that allows you to remain silent. But, when you refuse to do the job you were hired to do, you can be removed from employment.

    2. Can the government, acting as employer, prohibit teachers from teaching evolution, require that they teach Creationism….

      The government, acting as employer, does actually set curriculum requirements so…yes.

      1. Well, sometimes a different government does so, and sometimes non-governmental authorities do. (For example, ABA accreditation for law schools, and regional accreditation for universities.)

    3. “Can the government, acting as employer,” do all that stuff?

      In a word, yes. That’s not to say they should but they can. With an important qualification. The government could get into trouble if it’s efforts to constrain the speech of its employees start to impinge on the rights of its students. So the professors would have no grounds to protest your hypothetical policies but the students might.

      1. ” The government could get into trouble if it’s efforts to constrain the speech of its employees start to impinge on the rights of its students.”

        Students’ Constitutional rights get trampled rather regularly in favor of “keeping order” in the schools, so this doesn’t seem like much of a constraint.

  8. We live in an era of robots and cars. I doubt that cars know what love or the complexity of knowledge is. For example, a person must have the motivation or an inner spirit in order to receive knowledge. Educational sites https://eduzaurus.com/free-essay-samples/love/ help to get and not create. They help teach and not destroy. I love the ideas of futurists, but real models generate chaos and fear.

  9. Just call all students “it”. Solves the problem.

    1. “The government is trying to make sure that its students are effectively taught” by having them ignore biology and genetics. Sounds great!

      1. How do you teach people that reality doesn’t matter when the professors insist on making true and accurate statements?

        There’s a revolutionary truth that matters far more to them than reality.

        Totalitarians love redefining words and coercing people to use the new definitions.

    2. Me, I’d refer to everyone as “Attack Helicopter”.

    3. Toranth believes pronouns are insulting and dehumanizing, denying Toranth the individuality inherent in Toranth’s being.

      All users of pronouns to refer to Toranth should be punished.

      1. Better yet, I want to use the royal We when just referring to myself.

        1. And that includes exclusivity — anyone using “we” who is not you referring to yourself — excuse me, anyone using “we” who is not we-self when referring to we-self — hmmm, that doesn’t seem to work either.

    4. If I were in school and a professor constantly referred to me as “it,” I’d get very annoyed, very fast.

      1. So what? Unless you are one of the special people, your comfort doesn’t matter.

        The special people have a right to be catered to to facilitate their emotional wellbeing. Everyone else? You don’t matter.

        1. You choose to feel that way.

          I, like you, am afforded no special accommodations in pronouns or college admissions or whatever else has gotten your goat (note: one might argue I actually enjoy quite a few structural accommodations I don’t notice; lets not go there for now).

          I’m fine with it. You are not. The difference? You have chosen resentment and envy.

          1. Yeah, until they come for you. Do you white liberals really think you’re going to fare well in a majority Hispanic/black society, where the “others” have the political power to express their racial chauvinism?

            1. Yeah, I’ll be fine.
              Because I’m not a paranoid racist crazy person who sees nonwhites as “others”

              1. Don’t worry, because they see you as “other.”

          2. Understood. We can tell people to just accept double standards and be cool.

            1. You see it as a double standard, even though you get your preferred pronoun, marriage flavor, and whatever else by default.

              1. even though you get your preferred pronoun….. by default

                We cissies tend to get referred to by the pronouns that accord with the biological facts. But only because the vast majority of folk choose to use those pronouns. Nobody is requiring anybody to refer to me as he, him etc. If someone prefers to refer to me as she, xe, or whatever they’re not going to get disciplined at, or fired from, work. Nor are they going to be on the wrong end of a civil suit or fine. Nor even a testy op-ed.

                The same goes for species. Almost all of us get referred to, when it’s mentioned, by our preferred species designation, no doubt because that corresponds to the facts. But no one is compelling this. People just seem to stumble into it naturally.

                1. “We cissies tend to get referred to by the pronouns that accord with the biological facts”

                  Quit getting your biology out in class.

                  “If someone prefers to refer to me as she, xe, or whatever they’re not going to get disciplined at, or fired from, work.”

                  This diverges from my experience. Intentionally using a pronoun the object thereof objects to is exactly what this is about.

              2. I get zero kind or generous treatment of any sort from any official institution in society. At the very best, I sometimes get neutral treatment. It is never better. Many times it is deliberately unkind or outright hostile.

                Institutional generosity and kindness are reserved only for the special people, and favors for the powerful. Institutions view the rest of us as enemies or as cattle to be milked for funding.

      2. “If I were in school and a professor constantly referred to me as “it,” I’d get very annoyed, very fast.”

        I’d be kind of annoyed if a professor constantly referred to me as “he,” as well. How often do you use pronouns to refer to the person you are talking to, rather than about?

        1. ” How often do you use pronouns to refer to the person you are talking to, rather than about?”

          Like a lot of other things, it depends on how offensive the speaker is intending to be.

  10. So, does the argument go the other way around too then: state legislatures, acting as employers, may require that public university professors address students using pronouns conforming to their biological sex rather than self-identified gender? Can legislatures require the same of students on campus if the legislature believes that it’s necessary for students to be “effectively taught”? Then, the resulting First Amendment doctrine would be that it’s left to the whim of majorities to decide which speech may be uttered, and which speech is required to be uttered, on public university campuses. Does that seem right?

    1. I hope government isn’t too cheap to fund the re-eductation camps.

      1. They will just bill you for the cost of re-educating you.

    2. Can legislatures require the same of students on campus if the legislature believes that it’s necessary for students to be “effectively taught”?

      No.

      Students (at least in their capacity as students) are not employees of the state, and as such Garcetti does not apply at all.

  11. What about legal arguments based on religious exemption?

    1. There you’d run into “reasonable accommodation”.

  12. Shawnee State University was only founded in 1986. It exists only because the speaker of the statehouse of representatives wanted a “university” in his area. It has a 30% graduation rate in a good year.

    You would think it would have more important things to do than humoring the delusional.

    1. A conservative bemoaning the quality of an educational institution?

      That is hilarious.

      What’s the problem . . . a school doesn’t teach enough nonsense for your taste, Bob? Because of all of those elitist, reasoning, science-embracing liberals?

    2. Is it a 4 year school? If so, graduating 30% of the students every year would be a phenomenal rate.

  13. I think that this is likely right, precisely because the government is acting as employer. The government is trying to make sure that its students are effectively taught; it can insist that its employees use techniques that the employer views as conducive to that, and to avoid techniques that the employer thinks will interfere with effective teaching. Indeed, I think that public universities have broad latitude under the First Amendment to tell their professors how to teach and what to teach, just as public K-12 schools do (though in practice most universities leave their professors with a great deal of discretion).

    At heart in Garcetti v. Ceballos is the fact that the government can only speak and write through its employees. As such, it must have a general power to regulate the speech of employees, with concrete exceptions. Contrast with regulating the speech of private citizens, which it has no power to do so, except for concrete exceptions.

    A public university would lack power to regulate pronoun usage by students.

    1. “A public university would lack power to regulate pronoun usage by students.”

      Not necessarily. Pronoun usage could be limited by contract, for example.

  14. This is clearly a political test, isn’t it? It is not for effective teaching. How about if the university required the professor to adopt a marxist point of view in his teaching, as better pedagogically? What if the university required the male professors to wear dresses and female to wear pants? (this is on its way, I think). What if the university required its male professors to wear yarmulkes? What if we do discovery and find that anti-Christian and anti-conservative animus was the motive for the school policy, as is not unlikely?

    I have a friend who taught band in public school who was fired for something like this. He got no support from the union, but has begun litigation. He should win.

  15. Ah yes, another question— would you equally accept a university that fired professors who used “preferred pronouns” in their teaching or scholarly work?

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