According to Decimus Juvenal there were so many buffoons, fools and knaves walking the streets of Rome in his time (1st century) that it was hard not to write satires. The Greek god Momos was his divine protector. If Juvenal had the misfortune of walking the streets of Ottawa today, and above all the halls of government, or countless other cities, he certainly would feel compelled to continue his artful, irreverent, and biting commentary on society and humanity with even more conviction and gusto.
Recently, I got an email from a national columnist asking me if I remember how, about 20 or 30 years ago, we agreed that the decadence of society, or at least its public discourse, had arrived at the very bottom and could go no further. Sexual harassment policies, sexual harassment special advisors and prosecutions sprouted up in academia, government and business like toxic mushrooms after a rain. It was a time when professors could be intimidated, harassed, and investigated for two years by their administration for having called a particular student by her self-chosen moniker “Lucky Lucy” for “Lucrecia.” How wrong we were; things have become worse, much worse!
Today we teach oral sex to first graders. We propagandize that gender has nothing to do with sex, that men can be pregnant, and that heterosexual white men are by definition racists, sexists, toxic and colonialists. There is no room for personal responsibility. We replace the “dirty” word “woman” with “bodies with vaginas” (The Lancet, 2021).
Blacks are all victims deserving compensation. We have mandatory Drag Queen shows in our schools and impute hatred to dissenting parents, in order to silence them. We allow male criminals, as long as they claim that they feel like women, to use communal showers in women’s prisons, and we allow them to be ‘consultants’ in shelters for sexually abused women. We allow men to compete with women in sports where they snatch away prizes that belong to women, and for a coach to opine that these pretend-women (a.k.a transvestites) have an advantage over women costs him his job. Dogmas are not to be questioned or contradicted. The trans powerlifter Anne Andrews, well shaven for the day, just won first place in the Females Master Unequipped category.
Some jurisdictions have identified 30 and more genders and in respect of these genders have mandated 30 and more newly minted pronouns to be used in all official documents and correspondence. We allow the term and institution of marriage to be usurped by homosexual couples and grant these pairs all the privileges of married people including that of adopting children, thus, to the detriment of our children, giving the notion of marriage a fundamentally different meaning. As a result, some children are denied the right to have both a father and a mother.
In their latest editions, both Merriam-Webster and the Cambridge Dictionary have changed their definitions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ to include ‘men’ and ‘women’ respectively who ‘identify’ as ‘men’ and ‘women,’ irrespectively of what chromosomes and genitals tell us; and we simpletons believed that it meant that God created Adam and Eve as man and woman! When the most authoritative English language institutions redefine basic concepts, it is more than a linguistic change, is it a cultural change.
Another intellectual and moral malignancy of the day, for which only academic freedom and scholarship together with courageous journalism are the remedy, is the practice of quickly approving and implementing hormonal and even surgical intervention for gender confused youngsters. Irreparable harm is done by irresponsible physicians (psychologists, social workers, and diverse trans-activists) who claim to know that only medical treatment (i. e. mutilation) will prevent these children from committing suicide later. To make the outrage even more outrageous, parents are to be kept ignorant of these most intrusive interventions because parents are assumed to be reluctant to agree to them. Indeed, even as a great majority they are reticent because they love their children more than any professional.
A few decades ago my discipline and profession were guilty of other truly harmful if not monstrous innovations: Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), Repressed Memory Therapy (RMT) and Learning Disability (LD). MPD was the most absurd notion among this Triad. Every academic and professional effort - such as conferences, chairs, associations, books - was made to make its absurdity palatable to medical insurance and the public at large. Correspondingly, every intellectual effort including the courts and satire had to be mobilised to expose the inherent fallacies and ensuing injustices of these, at the time, faddish and lucrative concepts. Helpfully, all three of these pseudo-phenomena lent themselves to being satirised which is probably one reason why at least MPD and RMT by now have practically disappeared from the public eye. The notion of learning disability has proven to have the most enduring staying power, most likely due to the fact that by now too many people are employed, i. e. make their living, assessing this “disorder”, which is claimed to have nothing to do with intelligence, although measured with an intelligence test!
In Canada we have become accustomed to accept the propaganda that there are Indigenous graveyards without graves, and have even allowed, even urged, the Pope to come to Canada to do penance at these not-to-be-disturbed holy sites. Hundreds of millions dollars (5 billion in reparations for residential schools) have been provided by the federal government to substantiate these outlandish claims that hundreds of indigenous children have been murdered by Catholic nuns and secretively buried -- monies that have not yet been spent. Not to allow evidence to be produced in support of these monstrous claims clearly has its propagandistic and financial advantages. We truly have lost our heads.
Since in the 1960’s, when I was a graduate student in West-Berlin, I was a member of the Notgemeinschaft für eine freie Universität. Later in West-Germany, I joined the Bund Freiheit der Wissenschaft. After that in the United States, I became for many years a member in the National Association of Scholars, and finally in Canada, I have been among the first generation of SAFS. I have been an active member of an academic organization dedicated to the preservation of academic freedom and scholarship during my entire career and beyond. Despite many individual battles won, what do we have to show after more than half a century of arguing and persuading?
In 1969, as a doctoral candidate, I left the Freie Universität of West-Berlin, after my alma mater had become the first university in Germany to adopt the model of the Drittelparitätische Universität (later abrogated by the Bundesverfassungsgericht). According to this SPD legislation (SPD corresponds to our Liberal Party), every assembly and committee of the university had to be constituted as follows: one third of its members had to be professors, one third members of administration and maintenance, and one third students. For me this new university structure meant that I would have to submit my dissertation and defense to a tri-partite “socialist” committee, something I simply would not allow to happen.
Today in Canada we are transforming our universities and practically every other institution into bastions of DIE worship, our new religion. DIE is a university religion, perhaps the first ever, in that it has its origin in academia but then spread its toxicity to society at large. Diversity, inclusiveness, and equity (another unholy Trinity!) in Canada are imposed by the Liberal federal government and enforced with the most powerful means a democratic government has at its disposal: withdrawal of finances for unsatisfactory compliance. This pressure brings every university president (at least those that we have had) down to his knees, and it appears that no method of the authoritarian state is spared.
If a professor, who has done her research with admirable integrity, then publishes her result that indigenous children in Residential Schools were not murdered, let alone en masse, by Catholic nuns, but had succumbed above all to tuberculosis and other diseases that are rampant in closed communities, then she has to go, to hell with her tenure, to hell with all the mendacious pieties rattled off like Tibetan prayer drums by the President and every other university official. Our value system has become thoroughly corrupted and institutionalised in its perversity. The student mob has been given more power and influence than Faculty Council. Every past president of SAFS has written well reasoned, articulate replies to dozens of universities that trample on the rights of their faculty not to comply with DIE, but what have these letters and our publications accomplished?
What we are creating in Canada is an avatar of the former German tripartite university which, however, is based on different social categories. The socialist-Marxist categories have been supplanted by politically correct-woke identity principles. Intolerance and contempt for the merit principle in either system are germane to both. Revamping society (which is not part of the mandate of universities!) is more important than are academic standards and the integrity of research and teaching. If our Prime Minister had been better educated and had some understanding of academic life and purpose, we at least would have a partner in conversation and debate.
The Roman social critic Juvenal was merciless and mordant in his indignation. He was not concerned about the tone and whether or not he was helpful in persuading his critics, as one of my critics wants me to be (cf. "A Professor Emeritus Visiting the University College at Western University", SAFS Newsletter, 95, April 2023, 28f). Archilochus, an even earlier Greek satirist (7th cent. BC), was so “successful” that two of his targets hanged themselves. Obviously, satires can be more consequential than rational arguments.
How important satire is in political debate can be estimated by the fact that Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical paper, is published in around 100,000 copies per week, and Le Canard enchaîné is distributed in almost 300,000 copies per week. I suspect that every politician in France is afraid of being mocked, ridiculed, laughed at, i. e. satirized, by the caricatures and invectives of these papers. Der Eulenspiegel e. g. in Germany is published in 110,000 copies per month to terrify politicians and others.
Satires are not elements or methods of debate. Rather they are used as commentaries when rational and constructive arguments have all failed and when no “repentance” is forthcoming. When logical arguments have not found a receptive listener, then the critic talks to his sympathizers, who share his values, rather than to his adversaries, and this he can do effectively in the form of satire. Of course, every author ultimately is interested having his message reach his adversaries.
What logical and rational argument has not yet been made to persuade our extraordinarily foolish and inept federal government with its bureaucrats and our academic ideologues to change their course?
What rational arguments can still be made about our Inuit Governor General Mary Simon, whose principal qualification for her position is her race, who in Reykjavik, this admittedly expensive city, with taxpayers’ money, spends $608 for a steak, $238 for a dessert and $71,000 for limousine service for four days in a city in which everything is in short walking distance? When she travels it is with an entourage of up to 32, as if she were an Empress on a mission to impress the rest of the continent! She deserves to be reprimanded, blasted, mocked, ridiculed, satirized. On every earlier foreign trip she has misbehaved in the same outrageously corrupt manner, but due to the support of our government has not learned a lesson. After all, our Prime Minister spends $6,000 for a night in a London hotel. Lack of accountability inevitably leads to parasitism.
What rational, logical, constructive argument can still be made to counter the argument that reason, logic and evidence are manifestations of white privilege, power and oppression and are thus to be rejected? What reasonable argument can be made in the dispute between the university and its aboriginal professor? She has been hired because she is aboriginal, and once employed does not publish because doing research is not part of her culture, and the oppressor university has to honor, even “celebrate” her culture. The last arrows in our quiver rightly are mockery, laughter and indeed satire.
When satire, which has its rightful place at this juncture, reaches the heart of its target, then other psychological reactions are set in motion compared with criticism that reaches the brain. Satire would or should be biting, mordant, invective, censorious, and ideally witty and humorous. Satire preferably leads to laughter. “What we need are books that hit like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us” (Franz Kafka in a letter to Oskar Pollak, 1904).
What is the outlook for the future, after all, when even satire cannot be the final dagger in the heart of unreason and absurdity? The experiences of the last half century make me rather pessimistic. The woke religion is not a temporary fad to die in the next winter. We have tolerated, even encouraged unreason, we have bred a whole new generation of policy makers who have been trained in ‘Women studies’, ‘Gender studies’, ‘Black studies’, ‘Gay studies’, ‘Fat studies,’ ‘Decolonization studies’, ‘Diversity, inclusion and equity studies’, ‘Intersectionality studies’, ‘Disability studies’, ‘Social justice’, etc. All of these ‘studies’ are activist disciplines and have so little academic value that they should all be dried out of funding and struck from the curriculum. However, as more and more of these graduates become employed into academic and administrative positions the less there is hope for a more rational, libertarian and meritocratic future.
The Humboldtian University, dedicated to research and teaching, has by now been our model for two centuries and has the merit of having given birth to myriad after myriad advances of every conceivable kind. This most successful model is being dismantled in our presence and before our eyes.
The public university used to be secular and is becoming beholden to the woke religion;
it used to be independent from political and ideological tutorship and is increasingly dependent upon political influences, particularly by way of grants and financing of politically charged ‘studies’ and chairs;
objectivity in the pursuit of knowledge used to be the university’s ideal whereas subjectivity in the form of ‘viewpoints’ is all we can muster today;
diversity always referred to tolerance of different interpretations, not the presence of multitude of races, sexes and genders in classrooms and laboratories.
Ad usum Delphini*
Prayer and Confiteor
Forgive us because we have sinned. We have usurped aboriginal lands without having proper documentation as to our entitlement. We have created residential schools for indigenous children under the disguise of wanting to save them from utter poverty, as some so disrespectfully have said, and to feed, clothe and alphabetize them, but instead have allowed these schools to apply the same cruel pedagogical measures that were used at the time everywhere, all over the world. I remember, because post-traumatic stress disorders have a tendency to last a lifetime, how I was punished as a fourth grader, for talking too much, to stand in front of some thirty giggling girls of my age, with the face directed towards them for two hours. I have suffered ever since. Pedagogy a century ago was cruel.
We apologize for having subjected the children to the method of language learning that is widely considered the most effective and for decades the most widely applied method, i. e. total immersion. We could have been so much better making these youngsters learn English or French, but did, and still do, not know how to improve total immersion.
To our chagrin we delivered these poor children into the merciless hands of Catholic nuns who, armed with their holy vows, in the end, murdered them and clandestinely, probably at night and after evening prayers, buried them in unmarked graves where they are still reposing. Today, of course, we regret that we cannot disturb these graves to satisfy curious white and racist men without offending the spirits of these children. Graves are holy places not to be tampered with.
Please forgive us our niggardliness in offering only 35 billion dollars for “reconciliation” and especially for opening the “graves” and showing the skeletons. Why did we not allot 100 billion to alleviate the post-traumatic stress disorders of the Aboriginals? They would all feel so much better today.
It is with profound regret that I admit that the Church, Synagogue and Mosque, with bourgeois, patriarchal biology in tow, are the guiltiest culprits indoctrinating us with the fantasy that sexuality is binary and that there are “men” and “women.” Guided by the Illuminati of our time we know today better that sex and gender have nothing in common, and that the person who chooses his or her proper gender is the ultimate self-made man, our ideal. No lesser authority than the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams of Oystermouth has shown us that “Becoming transgender is a sacred journey of becoming whole: precious, honored and beloved by oneself, by the others and by God.” If all of us, bodies with a prostate and bodies with a vagina, follow this sacred script we will have the same equilibrium between the sexes that we have now because every man will be a “woman” and every woman a “man.” Society, we know, always evolves upwards.
Paul Preciado (former Beatriz Preciado), finally, because of the Church’s many sins, demands that the Notre Dame de Paris, be consecrated to the cult of the transgender: “I propose that the nation of France withdraw from the Church the guardianship of the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, and that the state transform this space into a welcoming and feminist, queer, trans and anti-racist research centre and into a centre for the fight against sexual violence” (my translation). We should have been thinking of such conversion and approved it a long time ago.
Finally, we urgently need legislation to allow rhinopreputio. The Health Services Appeal and Review Board having already ruled that penile preserving vaginoplasty must be performed when requested and paid for by OHIP, it is only fair to remove the foreskin, to attach it to the nose and to have the procedure covered by OHIP as well. Rhinopreputio would be recommended for non-binary persons with testicles, it would have great esthetic appeal and the additional benefit of reducing incidences of rhinitis.
We regret that we have always considered white cisgendered notions of reason and logic to be superior to indigenous ways of inspired knowing. Amen.
*On orders of Louis XIV, the instructor of Louis XV annotated the Latin texts to be studied by the Dauphin, by using simpler Latin and by prefacing his commentary with the words Ad usum Delphini. In this essay, the dictum means that the following Prayer is an example of what the preceding essay discusses.