Tuesday, October 29, 2013

When the Sex Police Come to Town

Imagine a scenario in which you've just been told that you won't be allowed to teach the course you had been hired for because you sent an email to a fellow graduate student propositioning her. What gives? Or you have been charged with creating a "chilly climate"—a vague new form of sexual harassment—because you had your students read and discuss an article about false rape claims that offended some of the women students.

Welcome to the brave new world of feminist social regulation and its sometimes extreme consequences. In the case of math teacher Michael Bullock, an off-the-cuff remark to a female student led to his suspension from the classroom and ultimate suicide.

When many of us worry about threats to freedom of expression, our primary concern is likely to be Canada's so-called Human Rights Tribunals, those quasi-judicial bodies that determine which interest- groups in our society are deserving of special protection from the frank discussion, no-holds-barred criticism, and even harsh ridicule that are a necessary part of any free society.

But assaults on freedom come from another source, one that disproportionately affects heterosexual men and is therefore widely ignored: the sexual harassment regulations of universities and workplaces, designed to protect women from unwanted or offensive sexual attention (including speech). Such regulations have transformed many workplaces into minefields of disciplinary action and public shaming.  (more...)

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