Something creepy is going on. And I'm using the word in both its literal and figurative sense.
What's creepy is the growing intolerance; the determined efforts to narrow choices and options; the suppression of certain Constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly, by PC police and other extremists. It's a troubling mindset that's creeping into so many different arenas, fueled by ignorance and self-righteousness.
Take, for example, news that the University of Ottawa has banned yoga classes — including one offered for free to both disabled and able-bodied students. As the Ottawa Sun reports:
“Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," and which cultures those practices "are being taken from."
The centre [for Students with Disabilities] official argues since many of those cultures "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy ... we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga."
While cultural appropriation can be a real concern, this particular ban ignores the fact that Indian yogis have traveled the world teaching this discipline to non-Indians. Some Indian masters have specifically adapted yoga to Western students because they want us to practice it.
But mostly, this ban smacks of totalitarianism, with a certain select few determining what is appropriate and then imposing that belief on others, thus denying them access and reducing their choices. Worse, these busy-bodies are coming from a place of moral self-righteousness that ignores their own unconsciousness and hypocrisy.
Another example can be found in the reaction of anti-GMO groups to the AquaBounty salmon, the first GE animal approved for human consumption. As Slate journalist William Saletan noted:
In the context of GE crops, the “right to know” argument is often used simply to stigmatize the GE product. By slapping a label on the fish, anti-GMO activists can scare away all the ill-informed people who say they wouldn’t eat such a thing. In the case of GE salmon, the activists are going further. Friends of the Earth says:
To avoid confusion in the marketplace, and ensure the consumer’s right to know, we are asking grocery stores, seafood restaurants, chefs and seafood companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainably produced seafood and consumer choice by joining our Pledge for GE-Free Seafood, a commitment to not knowingly purchase or sell genetically engineered salmon or other genetically engineered seafood should it come to market.
That’s not a campaign to label the salmon. It’s a campaign to deny you access to the salmon.
Fundamentally, it's no different than the campaigns aimed at limiting access to abortion. Though most anti-GMO activists would consider themselves far too progressive to deny a woman's right to choose, they have no problem denying a consumer's right to eat. And they're just as fervent in their beliefs, and tactics, as the anti-abortion groups.
I can't help but think this growing intolerance is directly related to what one recent commenter so aptly described as “arrogant ignorance.” I see it expressed in comments that make all sorts of wild claims, followed by the challenge, “Prove I'm wrong.” These folks apparently feel no need to be informed about a topic before weighing in, and instead place the burden on others to disabuse them of their stupidity.
Sometimes, the ignorance and intolerance is due to commercial self-interests. I saw this in a recent email from anti-GMO fanatic Jeffrey Smith, who wrote:
I've been asked hundreds of times: What can I do to heal from the effects of eating GMOs?
I will host a brief conference call interviewing Dr. Zach Bush who will reveal new laboratory research showing how glyphosate--the active ingredient in Roundup and a big part of the danger from GMOs--can open the tight junctions between intestinal cells. He will also show how a supplement called RESTORE can close those junctions--or even prevent them from opening in the first place.
Now Jeffrey Smith isn't a doctor, or even a scientist. But even as he blasts the FDA for approving an “untested, unsafe” salmon, he's hawking an unregulated supplement that supposedly solves a problem he invented and promoted.
And sometimes the ignorance can be attributed to self-promotion, shoddy media practices and plain old delusional thinking. A recent case in point is The Garden Island's “much ado about nothing” article. It all started when repeat visitor Jeff Pignona wrote a letter to the editor, wondering why the sculpture of an overseer on a horse was no longer part of the sugar industry memorial by the old Koloa mill stack.
TGI then ran a story headlined “Repairs Needed” that included statements from Teddy Blake, who said he’d visited the monument just the week before and everything was in place. After claiming he was single-handedly trying to raise money for repairs, Teddy elaborates:
We can’t figure out how this came about. But the separation is natural. We’re still trying to figure out the phenomenon which caused it to pop off the concrete. And, we still need to come up with the cost of repair.
Huh? Come to find out that sculpture was never even installed. Indeed, the space has been empty for 30 years.
So WTF are TGI and Blake talking about? And why?
Those are questions we need start to asking more asking often as misinformed people attempt to impose their beliefs, world view, morality, ideology and delusions on the rest of us.