Let's Be Inclusive? Let's Not!
by Erin Stewart (Brantford, Ontario)
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms explicitly states that we all have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Although this is a very well-known fact nationwide, there are so many things going on around this country without much resistance, which unequivocally deny people these rights.
I am a nineteen year old University student in Ontario. When I first entered university almost two years ago, I could not believe the gross attempt made by staff, faculty and student leaders alike to monitor speech, expression of beliefs and simple human freedoms. On our campus, there is a policy, referred to as the Inclusive Language Policy and is emphasized within residence on campus and by our student government. In a nutshell, inclusive language means that using words such as lame, retarded, gay or gypped is frowned upon and that we are supposed to refer to our boyfriends or girlfriends as our partners.
Using inclusive language may appear to have good intentions: to make sure that everyone feels included and no one feels uncomfortable or offended. These things are all things that I, myself, would love to see around my campus and my country. However, the message that comes out of this policy is to monitor what you like to say or what you believe in so that you don't offend anyone else. Policies such as the inclusive language policy are based on fear of taking a stance. Fear based principals are destined to fail.
Fortunately, we presently live in a free country that allows us freedom of expression and freedom of speech. People need to use it more often. Believe something! Say what you believe and stand firm on its principles.
Toronto Sun columnist Michael Coren recently, in his column titled Tis the time to judge, wrote: If you tell lies you're a liar. If you steal you're a thief. If you betray your spouse you're an adulterer. If you use drugs for fun you're pathetic. If you believe in unjust wars you're a coward and a bully. If you support abortion you believe in killing unborn children. If you're indifferent to the poor and the Third World you're a selfish wretch. Still there? Doesn't matter. Any attempt to legitimize what is by nature illegitimate does not make us a more fair society but merely a less honest one.
Those may be harsh words but if someone wants to challenge those beliefs, they have that right. If someone doesn't believe the same thing as you and wants to conduct themselves in a different manner than you, they also have that right. But that doesn't mean that I am going to willingly suspend my right to freedom.
Not only does our school's inclusive language policy limit the freedoms that we have been given as Canadians, it is also something that has never been challenged or questioned, and for the most part, students simply conform to it, thinking they have no other option, or, what might be even worse, thinking that they cannot possibly voice against it. Students are never asked how they feel about the policy and never take the voice that they have been given.
Let me say this so that all can hear
the inclusive language policy offends me! Truth in our society is becoming diluted. No one has a backbone anymore. Everyone walks on egg shells and censors their opinions, speech and beliefs in order to attempt to conform to society's regulations that something may offend a certain minority.
In addition to this, the inclusive language policy isn't even actually inclusive because it actually offends me when every other word out of someone's mouth is profanity. I'm quite sure that when I hear the name Jesus Christ
it's not often quoting scripture. These things are rarely mentioned when inclusive language is presented my school, and I may not like it, but I have respect that those people are free to conduct themselves in that manner.
There are many things in society right now that I do not believe in or support. However, more than my disbelief in these issues is my belief in freedom and equality for everyone
including the majority! If we as a society continue to dilute our beliefs, we are going to go back to an era where no one was allowed to hold or express an opinion and everyone conforms to a set group of standards. Canada has come to far to return to that era! It's not fair to vilify someone for being different, but it's also not fair to attempt to make everyone act the same. God did not create us all the same for a reason. He was definitely on to something, but unfortunately it is an idea that the rest of society is having trouble grasping. Do not allow Canada to become a lukewarm society! We were given rights for a reason and we need to use them. Stand for something, say what you believe and don't let policies such as this shake your views or dilute your beliefs!