Monday, November 26, 2012

The Tories are being oppressed! (Not a repeat from 1776)

Members of the conservative Tory party at Oxford university are claiming to be victims of oppression and intimidation at the hands of their political opponents.  Their complaint is that they are unable to freely speak their political views without being "actively isolated, personally attacked and made to feel unwelcome."  Which, yes, that is unfortunate.  However, their claim features gems such as:

Students claimed they needed the same rights as minorities who are 'often perceived as being subject to prejudice from society.'

This makes me think your claim is bullshit.  Minorities are often perceived as being subject to prejudice because in some cases they are in fact subject to prejudice.  Your assertion of oppression doesn't become more valid because you cast doubt on other "perceived" cases--oppression isn't a game of King of the Hill where the most oppressed person wins.

Third-year student Samuel Roberts, 21, had proposed a motion calling for more protection. He told the Sunday Times: 'It made an atmosphere in which I felt uncomfortable.'

This is not an actual picture of Samuel Roberts.
While Stephanie Cherrill, the president elect of the association added: ' There has been a deterioration inn the attitude of several JCR members towards people who are right of centre.

'It is my strong belief that this poses a threat to the atmosphere of intellectual discussion as well as to the welfare of members who may feel victimised.'

Ways in which the Tories are oppressed:
  • forced to feel uncomfortable sometimes
  • occasionally openly disliked by other people
To which I would respond:

Deal with it.
To be fair, it's not impossible that Conservative/Tory views are being pushed to the side at Oxford, and that is kind of an important thing to keep an eye on, generally speaking.  However, it's hard for me to have much sympathy in this case.  The Tories are saying that others are creating an uncomfortable atmosphere for them while speakers at their political conferences say things like this:

Asked about opponents of gay marriage being described as "bigots" – on one occasion by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister – Carey said: "Let us remember the Jews in Nazi Germany. What started against them was when they started to be called names."

To clarify: Carey (who, incidentally, is the former archbishop of Canterbury) is saying that opponents of gay marriage are like the Jews in Nazi Germany, because supporters of gay marriage are calling them names.  Maybe he misspoke?

[Carey continued,] "And that was the first stage towards that totalitarian state. 

Name-calling: UNACCEPTABLE.  Implying that your political opponents are attempting to institute a gay-marrying totalitarian state, citing Nazi Germany as a specific example: OKAY. 

We have to resist them. We treasure democracy.  We treasure our Christian inheritance and we want to debate this in a fair way."

"It's totally unfair for them to call us names and refer to us as bigots, and that's not democracy!  Can anyone stop these Nazis?"

Anyway, I should note that Carey is just another Tory supporter, and not someone directly affiliated with the Oxford Tory group--that said, he's hardly an isolated example.  The British Parliament is nearing a vote on allowing gay marriage, and it appears that over 100 Tory MPs are set to stage "the biggest Tory party rebellion in modern times" in an effort to stop it from passing.  In the UK as in the United States, people have a right to whatever political views they want; that said, it seems to be the height of hypocrisy to protest an atmosphere that makes you feel uncomfortable while you support policies that create an atmosphere that makes other people uncomfortable.

Let's get back to the main article at hand here: Tories at Oxford are being made to feel uncomfortable.  What kinds of things are they doing to improve the political discourse, given that they seem so upset about the current state of affairs?

Their cause was not helped when Joe Cooke, a recent president of the Oxford Conservative Association, reportedly upset students as he arrived in a Rolls Royce wearing a silver suit and carrying a silver-topped cane.

This is an actual picture of Joe Cooke.
This is not a picture of Joe Cooke.  In fact, I don't know how this got here at all.  Huh.
Gosh, I wonder why people didn't respond well to this guy cruising up in a Rolls Royce, silver suit and cane.

Look, guys, I get that it sucks when people call you names and all--it's just hard to feel bad when your political party does the same thing, not to mention that you seem to be making no effort to avoid being mocked.  There sure do seem to be a lot of people eager to jump on the "Help! I'm being oppressed!" train at the slightest provocation, but it's tough to justify that when the ill treatment you're accusing people of is virtually identical to your party's treatment of other groups.  An atmosphere where you feel uncomfortable?  Policies that damage the welfare of some individuals?  These are things that will absolutely exist for as long as there are political issues being debated, and to pretend like your own policies are somehow not causing these things to other people is unbelievable to me.

If you feel uncomfortable when people claim that your preferred policies damage them, you can do one of three things: stop talking about politics, change your political views so that people don't feel harmed by yours, or feel uncomfortable.  I guarantee you that the gay rights advocates that your Tory party opposes feel uncomfortable a lot of the time, because a fair number of people are for some reason upset when they act like they should have the same rights as everyone else.  People disagree about the best way to improve the welfare of all individuals in a country for a lot of reasons, and that will not end.  If you want the right to tell someone else that your idea of equal rights isn't the same as theirs, you damn well better afford them that same courtesy.  If someone calls you a bigot, there's a way to approach that rationally and have a reasonable discussion about why you feel your position is not bigoted, and there's a way to respond by yelling HELP HELP OPPRESSION which accomplishes nothing but to make you look thin-skinned (and, incidentally, makes me assume that your position is based on an argument you don't want to share).  Political discussion gets heated, because it involves policies that affect millions of people for better or for worse, and shockingly not all of them agree on the best approaches.  You're going to have to deal with that.

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