The obvious question is whether this is encouraging or depressing: does this brain-explodingly absurd story mean that The Great Stupid has finally passed over the U.S. and is reaching its ridiculous peak across the Atlantic, or is the insanity moving in the other direction?
In what may be the best examples yet of the principle “if you can hear the dog whistle, you’re the dog”—except that it involves monkeys, not dogs—the University of York removed the iconic image of the “Wise Monkeys, better known perhaps as “See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil,” from its website because somebody decided the image was racist and nobody had the courage and common sense to tell them that the theory was crackers and made the whole institution look like monkeys. The image had been used to promote an upcoming art history conference, and the organizers issued an apology rich in scholarly gibberish, saying-–don’t giggle now, these are intellectuals—
Ethics Alarms is an unabashedly U.S.-centric ethics blog, for both practical and philosophical reasons, but mostly practical: I can’t cover all the worthy ethical issues that arise in this country, much less cover the world. Obviously useful ethics problems arise outside U.S. borders, and here was one I missed until now.
Paul Grayson, a professor at Toronto’s York University, was confronted with a male student’s request for a religious accommodation in a class assignment so that he would not be required to interact with female students in his class. The professor denied the request because, he wrote, “it infringed upon women’s right to be treated with respect and as equals.” The student accepted his decision and completed the assignment, interacting with female students as the assignment required. That did not end the tale, however. The dean of York University’s faculty of arts told Grayson that the student’s request would not have a “substantial impact” on the rest of the class, and should have been accommodated. That, in turn, prompted a national debate in media, religious and educational forums. Some, citing Canada’s commitment to “pluralism,” felt that the student’s religious beliefs should have trumped the culture’s commitment to gender equality and non-discrimination. Continue reading