Radical, Feminism Wants You Dead

Posted: Jan 21, 2008 12:00 AM

For years, I’ve argued that those who believe in the First Amendment should avoid the company of women with hyphenated names. The hyphenated name is a sure sign of feminism and, of course, feminism is a sure sign of ignorance (real or feigned) of the First Amendment.

Dr. Patricia Telles-Irvin, Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Florida (UF), recently sent an “Official Response to a recent advertisement for the movie ‘Obsession’” to students at UF. The email, which ostensibly sought to attenuate stereotypes of Muslims, instead exacerbated stereotypes of academic feminists.

The email is reproduced in its entirety with my comments interspersed where necessary:

Throughout our country, we have witnessed a rise in offensive behavior and actions taken against others, which has created greater divisiveness and misunderstandings among the various ethnic groups residing in our communities. One of these events occurred on our campus recently with the promotion of an event.

At first, I assumed Patricia was talking about The Vagina Monologues, affirmative action, the conversion of February to “Black History Month,” or, perhaps, the conversion of March to “Womyn’s Herstory Month.” But, alas, I was wrong. She meant something else.

Advertisements for the movie "Obsession" sponsored by several student organizations appeared during the past several weeks on campus bulletin boards and they illustrate the importance of balancing freedom of speech with responsibility.

Generally, when a feminist speaks of balancing “freedom of speech with responsibility,” she provides examples. Since Patricia failed to do so in her email I have supplied an example of each: According to feminists, “vagina” = responsible and, therefore, protected speech. “Partial birth abortion” = irresponsible (read: inflammatory) and, therefore, unprotected speech.

The ads, which promoted a showing of the movie on Nov. 13 and a panel discussion afterward, entitled "Radical Islam Wants You Dead," offended many Muslim students on campus. Regardless of its original intent, the language reinforced a negative stereotype, created unnecessary divisiveness and contributed to a generalization that only furthers the misunderstanding of the religion of Islam.

Feminists often chastise young women for pretending to be stupid in order to get things they want – especially from men who are threatened by assertive women. Here is an example of feminist hypocrisy on the issue. A panel discussion called “Islam Wants You Dead” would be an over-generalization, which might reinforce negative stereotypes. But, by inserting the term “radical,” the students sought to, and did, avoid over-generalizing. In other words, they intentionally let everyone know they were only talking about extremist Muslims.

By feigning illiteracy Patricia is simply trying to act as if she is stupid in order to win a debate by making sure it never occurs. No feminist is unfamiliar with the tern “radical.” Most use it to describe themselves – especially to those they seek to intimidate.

We cannot speak of rights without also addressing the responsibility associated with our actions or statements, including understanding the potential consequences. One of our roles as a learning institution is to teach our students to express themselves freely, and also in a fair and conscientious manner. In an academic setting, differences of opinions are strongly encouraged, yet such opinions must be based on accurate information when describing other members of the community.

Read the rest of Patricia’s email and be on the lookout for any evidence that the sponsors of Obsession proffered any opinions based on information that was not accurate. If she does not, then she herself has expressed an opinion not based on accurate information. Strike two on the issue of hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, in the case of the "Obsession" ads, that did not happen. I believe the groups that posted them owe the campus, and particularly campus members of the Islamic faith, an apology and a clarification.

When an agent of the government begins to ask political or religious groups to apologize for expressed opinions it is a very serious matter indeed. There is a serious danger of exerting a “chilling effect” on free expression. Why would such a dangerous request ever be made? What value is it that could possibly trump the First Amendment? Read on, please.

At the University of Florida we have embraced a set of values, one of which is diversity. Diversity is not just about having representation from various cultures on campus, it also is having each member contribute to an inclusive and safe environment and collectively enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the richness brought by such differences. The University of Florida is committed to being an institution of excellence, where all members are valued and feel safe on our campus. Our role as an institution is to create opportunities for students to learn in an open and accepting environment; one that emphasizes respect for all. Let's remember that part of our mission is to prepare each other to be effective members of a global community. With that in mind, I encourage each member of our campus community as a start to learn more about the religion of Islam and some of its tenets of peace, hard work, charity and compassion.

And, there you have it: Diversity is the value that trumps free speech. Diversity proponents realize that diversity offers a promise that all people will be comfortable. But they fail to realize that the First Amendment offers a promise that all people will be offended. Clearly, something must be sacrificed. And, increasingly, that “something” is the First Amendment.But note that the assurance of “comfort rights” was meant to add to, not replace, the representation of different cultures on campus. If Patricia is going to ask people to learn about Islam, she should have the decency to ask them to read about Christianity, too. Maybe she should encourage students to read the Koran and the Bible, though not necessarily in that order.

Finally, is it even plausible that Patricia actually believes that Muslims need unarmed feminists to make them feel safe?

There is little room for divisiveness in our world if we are to find peace and understanding among us. We all can win if we focus on greater inclusion and understanding as well as the delicate balance between our rights and responsibilities.

I would re-write the previous paragraph to say the following:

There is little room for radical feminists in our academic world if we are to find truth and create robust discourse among us. We all can win if we promote college administrators on the basis of competence and constitutional understanding instead of pretending that it is their job to create a “delicate balance” between our rights and responsibilities.