The People in Charge don't like it when you mock one of their shibboleths.
Case in point: The new college-administration fad for letting students decide what personal pronoun they'd prefer to be known by. The idea, it seems, is to appease the "gender-neutral" set: the people who want to be "zie" or "xir" instead of "he" or "she."
OK! Well, no sooner did the University of Michigan announce a new policy that would allow students to pick the pronoun of their choice than the fun began. The leader of the pack was Grant Strobl, chairman of the UM chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. He officially registered his personal pronoun as "His Majesty."
Other students followed pronominal suit, choosing such handles as "His Grace," "Her Royal Highness," and "The Exalted Reverend Doctor Architect."
We can't have that! The Michigan administration takes pronouns very seriously–and professors can get into trouble if they forget and refer to someone as "she" instead of "zie." Heat Street reports:
Preferred pronouns will appear on class rosters, and if professors accidentally use the wrong pronoun, “you can acknowledge that you made a mistake and use the correct pronoun next time,” said the university’s provost and vice president for student life in a campus-wide email announcement. It also called using preferred pronouns “one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities.”
A university spokesman tells Heat Street, “If there were a persistent pattern of ignoring a student’s preference, we would address that as a performance matter.”
And Lucy Ferriss, writer-in-residence at Trinity College and Chronicle of Higher Education language columnist is not amused, either. She has weighed in with a stern lecture for those who get a laugh out of the preferred-pronoun craze:
First, any inconvenience is slight, perhaps at the level of accommodation for visually impaired students. (I’m not naming alternate gender identity as an impairment, just talking accommodation and statistics.) Second, those who do list a pronoun other than he or she are voicing a strong preference for how they wish others to address them — a strong statement, that is, of their identity in the face of great odds. So we have a deeply desirable accommodation at little cost.
But from the backlash and the jokes, you wouldn’t think so.
Yes, how dare the little people make a joke out of something so serious as "xe" and "eirs"?
So Ferriss urges the good professors of the University of Michigan to take revenge on young Grant Strobl for daring to find something funny about the pronoun craze:
Meanwhile, I hope that Mr. Strobl gets his wish and finds himself addressed as His Majesty in every recommendation that his professors write for him to potential employers. It will be a fine joke, or something.
I think this is called punching down. But when the People in Charge don't like something, they wil do everything in their power to stamp it out.