Opinion: Clarion Call

Comedy, tragedy and diversity — here at the base of the slope

Clarion Call No. 246

When people talk of a slippery slope with regard to the issue of same-sex marriage, leftists will be (as leftists always are) inclined to dismiss them. But perhaps they should listen, and thereby avoid the painful experiences of some fellow leftists who are discovering — too late — that there was a slippery slope with bean-counting for diversity.

We were all warned about it, but the diversityniks urged us off the firm foundation of treating others as equals regardless of race, sex, creed, &c., in favor of their new method of enumerating people by category. Once we listened to them, we found ourselves on a cartoonishly wild plunge, zipping through admissions preferences, sensitivity training, the new segregation of campus centers for gender or ethnic groups, special orientation and commencement ceremonies for differing groups according to race or even sexual preference, the dangerously tone-deaf language police, and others even more humorless. Now we find ourselves at this absurd nadir, whose landscape is far removed from the verdant panorama of brotherhood we were promised by the diversityniks.

Not that we weren’t warned about the folly of policies that seek to divide and subdivide people into categories. How, we were asked, can a policy of overt division bring unity? The diversity movement was supposed to promote social harmony, but instead it has furthered racialist thinking, heightened identity-group balkanization, increased resentment, and nurtured a preposterous touchiness and sensitivity to perceived slights. It has also fostered a new generation ever seeking newer ways to divide people.

Especially apropos of that last consequence, however, we’re also seeing some results that, when observed from the sidelines, are downright hilarious. Because the new diversity extremists are now protesting each other when they fail to recognize the most recently identified groups of the exponentially expanding diversity pantheon. It’s a practice you might call More-Sensitive-Than-Thou.

For example, this past Christmas the Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis School of Law installed a holiday diversity tree, resembling a Christmas tree but decorated with folded fans made of world maps and festooned with lights and globe ornaments. University officials told idsnews.com Dec. 5, 2003, that the tree was intended to convey the “diversity and the identification of people everywhere.” In short, the tree made it patently clear it celebrated the diversity of everyone in the whole wide world. Nevertheless, some students complained that the tree made them feel excluded (the story does not say whether the complaining students hailed from Roswell, N.M., or points farther north), and they forced the university to remove it.

At the University of Oregon, organizers of a production of “The Vagina Monologues” (to say the least, it’s one of the diversityniks’ proudest productions) were reduced to tears when other women protested their event for not being diverse enough. One protester said the production, a series of vignettes in which different women’s vaginas “tell” their (diverse) stories, failed to create “a safe and welcoming environment for “underrepresented” people because women “of a variety of skin colors, body sizes, abilities and gender expressions” were not cast.

Distraught organizers held a forum to address the problems. “Forum participants debated racism, sexuality, weight, definitions of feminism, age and inclusivity in the production,” reported the Oregon Daily Emerald Feb. 17. Turns out the women who responded to the casting call were insufficiently diverse. That fact did not exculpate the organizers, of course; after all, they “could have done more outreach to get more types of women to try out” and had “more kinds of women involved in producing the play.”

Further south on the West Coast, new San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom hadn’t even completed his inaugural before running afoul the new diversity extremists. At issue was an essay written for his inaugural. The essay, entitled “San Francisco, City and The World,” was intended, according to the San Francisco Chronicle Jan. 14, to chart “the evolving ethnic diversity of San Francisco. But it failed by not including the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender community” and “also neglected to include Japanese Americans and the labor movement.”

Naturally, the omissions weren’t intentional, as defenders of the essay tried to explain (when not splitting hairs over what constitutes an ethnicity). Concerning this “evolving” diversity, Supervisor Tom Ammiano, one of the offended as well as a failed candidate for mayor, tut-tutted “when we’re being inclusive, we have to be inclusive.”

Ay, there’s the rub. For the San Francisco Chronicle has also reported (Feb. 8) that “all bets are off” in trying to “delineate every conceivable stop on the [‘LGBT’] identity spectrum.” Here are some of the new “sexual identities” listed: “genderqueer,” “trannydyke,” “pansexual,” “boi,” “heteroflexible,” “FTM,” “MTF,” boydyke,” “trannyboy,” “trannyfag,” “multigendered,” “polygendered,” “queerboi,” “transboi,” “transguy,” “transman,” “half-dyke,” “bi-dyke,” “trisexual,” “omnisexual,” and “multisexual.”

“The language thing is tricky,” deadpanned Thom Lynch, identified as the director of the soon-to-be-protested San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center. “I feel sorry for straight people.”

So where to next? Have we finally reached the bottom of the slope? If so, that can be comforting in a way; as the saying goes, you can’t fall off the floor.

If not, be prepared. More balkanization will mean even more hypersensitive souls going bonkers. The streets of America will sound like a perpetually looping Howard Dean stump speech in surround sound. My advice: Stock up on aspirin and try to enjoy the evolving diversity of human comedies. Plus on est de fous, plus on rit (“The more fools, the more fun”).