Students suspended from Canadian high school for arguing against wearing rainbow poppy
Note: The follow-up story, including exclusive comment from one of the girls suspended, can be found here.
The 17-year-old cousin of a former Conservative MP hopeful in the 2019 federal election and her friend have been suspended from Stonewall Collegiate for distributing a poster explaining her rejection of the idea of wearing a rainbow poppy.
Cyara Bird of the Little Black River First Nation, who was on the ballot for the Churchill-Keewatinook Aski riding of northern Manitoba this past election, took to Twitter tonight to express her anger after learning her cousin and another student had both been suspended for “hate speech” after rejecting the idea that rainbow poppies should replace the traditional red-and-black ones worn during their school’s Remembrance Day performance.
The young woman, who is half African-Canadian, asked instead to wear the red-and-black poppy traditional to the festivities, finding the rainbow poppy “disrespectful” to the World War 2 veterans in her family. Upon expressing her opinion, she and another student who shared her sentiment were sent to the principal’s office. According to Bird, the girl’s parents were not notified until after the suspension was applied.
Bird also posted a message from her cousin’s father which read that the young woman had attempted to record the school administrators admonishing her using her cellphone, but that they noticed and confiscated her phone in response.
Speaking to The Post Millennial, Bird said her cousin, Natalie, had attempted to record the suspension orders in her voice memos application, wanting to show her parents what was happening. When the principal saw, her cellphone was “snatched away” and she was told there would be “consequences” if she posted about the suspension on social media or went to the press.
Natalie will not be allowed to return to school until after Remembrance Day.
Bird believes the suspension is unjust, and will negatively impact her cousin’s self-esteem.
“At 17, you are growing into yourself, you are learning to speak out against things you think are wrong.” she says, “What kind of message does this send to a young woman? That they are not supposed to speak out against something they disagree with.”
Rainbow poppies were introduced as a concept in 2016 by some LGBT groups in a push they say is to honour LGBT veterans, but it has caused controversy amongst those who say it is unnecessary, with the red poppy honouring all veterans regardless of sexuality.
Bird, whose grandfather is a World War 2 veteran, expressed frustration at the entire ordeal. “The pride we have because of our grandfather fighting in World War 2 is strong. We all wear poppies. [Natalie] was not opposing wearing one—she just did not want to wear one she felt was disrespectful to the veterans.”
The Post Millennial has reached out to Stonewall Collegiate for confirmation but has not heard back by the time of publication.
Update: The Post Millennial attempted to reach out to Stonewall Collegiate Thursday morning for comment, but was told they would not provide comments to media, aggressively advising us to “Google” the number for the Superintendent before hanging up. The Interlake School Board Superintendent did not return calls, but a statement issued on the Board’s twitter read that no staff member “mandated” a student wear a rainbow poppy.
They did not comment on the suspensions, or whether a student was suspended for voicing an opinion which rejected the rainbow poppy as a symbol, as in the case of Natalie. On November 8th, Cyara Bird issued a statement on her Twitter addressing the viral fallout from the coverage of her initial tweets, apologizing that her “words were misconstrued.”
Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify that the student was suspended for distributing a poster that detailed her reasons for rejecting the rainbow poppy. The title has also been amended to make it clearer that the two students were suspended for arguing against the idea of wearing rainbow poppies.
Actor Laurence Fox says that “the wokist is a fundamentally racist bunch.” On BBC’s Question Time, he said that the backlash against Meghan Markle was not racist, and called a woman of colour racist for suggesting that his identity means he can’t discern racism.
“The problem we’ve got with this is that Meghan has agreed to be Harry’s wife,” a woman spoke up from the audience, “and the press has torn her to pieces, and let’s be really clear about what this is, let’s call it by its name: it’s racism.”
He decried her view, saying “It’s not racism, we’re the most tolerant lovely country in Europe.”
“Says a white privileged man,” she shot back.
“It’s so easy to throw the charge of racism at everybody,” Fox replied, “and it’s really starting to get boring.”
“What worries me about your comment,” she said, “is you’re a white privileged male.” A round of audience boos rose up.
Fox was clearly annoyed by her comment. “I can’t help what I am, I was born like this,” he said, “it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist. You’re being racist.”
For this, he was skewered in the press and received death threats. Even after “Equity’s minority ethnic members committee… called on fellow actors to ‘unequivocally denounce’ Laurence Fox for comments he made during an appearance on BBC1’s Question Time,” author Shappi Khorsandi spoke against that denunciation.
And Fox wouldn’t back down. Instead, he took to the airwaves with Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio’s Breakfast Show this morning to expand upon his views.
It was in talking with Hartley-Brewer that he said “I think there’s racism everywhere but I don’t think we’re a systemically racist country. I don’t see a lot of racism, but then I’m a straight white male.” He went on to say that “identity politics is fundamentally racist as well,” because “it’s about silencing opinion,” and “seeing colour everywhere.”
Fox gave voice to what many people have been thinking, that the language of racism and accusations of bias have jumped the shark. Racism had been a charge that could only be levelled by minority racial groups against dominant racial groups. It was a scourge that needed to be rooted out at the highest levels of power to prevent systemic inequity. This project was undertaken by Civil Rights activists, and that work has continued in all of us. As Fox notes, there is still racism.
But the way to fix that racism is not by categorizing everyone into their own little identity boxes and determining what they are allowed to say or think based on the rights and privileges of that identity. The thing to do is to treat everyone like a human being, capable of having their own thoughts and ideas. People must look for the best in one another, not the worst, and not seek out every opportunity to be offended.
Calling someone a privileged white male, said Fox, is a way of “silencing opinion,” saying “you’re not allowed an opinion, mate, you’re white.” Fox has had enough of it, as have so many people.
There are no identity factors that make someone a bad person. Identity factors, such as race, sex, ethnicity, or sexual orientation should not have value judgements associated with them. For one hot minute, we used to know this. The goal was to look at each other and not parse up individuals into their requisite labels, to not use a person’s external characteristics to determine the worth of their ideas or their rights under the law.
That all turned around with concepts like “valuing differences,” wherein we were supposed to look at the ways in which we were different first, dissect and acknowledge those, before seeking for the ways in which we were the same. How much better it is to find kinship with one another first, before sorting all the ways in which we are different.
Fox’s perspective on racism and identity will most likely continue to be discredited because his identity factors are deemed more essential than his actual perspective. His views are taken with large grains of white cis het male privileged salt. But it’s time to start realizing that the brilliant Civil Rights movement, which told us not to judge someone on the basis of their physical characteristics, has been co-opted by haters who would have us do that very same thing. It doesn’t matter who is being boxed by immutable identity factors and judged by them, it matters that it’s being done at all, and it must stop.
Students can now get paid to snitch on their peers at the University of Sheffield. The students will earn £9.34/hour to be “race equality champions,” and their training for the work will include teaching them how to “lead healthy conversations” on racism, microaggressions, and how to deal with those peers who commit infractions. Hours range from two to nine hours per week, like any part-time work-study job. But Sheffield University’s foray into “snitch culture” sounds alarm bells.
Following a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that cautioned about the “common occurrence” of racism for some students on campus, the University decided to combat the problem by weaponizing other students. Twenty, lucky kids will get this job, and it’s probable that plenty more would have done it for free, as have their authoritarian forebears.
This new job, such as it is, is rightfully being hailed as completely authoritarian and crazy. Anyone who has studied 20th-century history knows that the worst dictators and totalitarians of that era counted on citizens to report on one another, under threat of punishment if they did not.
Citizens in the Soviet Union, Germany, China, Spain, and other nations with brutal, paranoid leaders impressed upon their citizens how important it was that they rat out their friends, family, and co-workers.
Now that trend has some to the ultimate allied nation, the U.K. The students who take these jobs will undoubtedly think they are doing the right thing in carrying out their duties. But in trying to overcome racism, they are dividing them further.
Part of the job description is for students to call out their peers for microaggressions.
If a fellow student says to another “Stop making everything a race issue,” that’s considered a microaggression and is a reason for reporting under this new plan. If a student says “Why are you searching for things to be offended about?” That’s considered “not okay,” and that peer must be punished. The question “Where are you really from?” is apparently out of bounds, and other geographical infractions like “I don’t want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It’s nowhere near where I’m from” is a reason to call out a kid for being racist.
Students complained about the microaggression of “Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like,” which would be pretty annoying for the kid who got that wrong, but is it a reason to be reported?
The University of Sheffield claims that they are just “opening up a conversation” by paying students “to help their peers understand racism and its impact.” In 2018, the University suffered some racially motivated incidents, with racial slurs found written on a whiteboard, and slurs yelled at games.
Of course, there’s no place for racism on campuses, but the way to root it out is through education and conversation, not monetized McCarthyism. Call-out culture, snitch culture, and the reframing of the conversation around how to control our thoughts does not alleviate racism; it buries it where it can fester.
Fighting racism is a positive project, but it’s not done through dividing us, through pitting peers against each other, but through a culture of egalitarianism and equality. Knowing that we are different is not as important as recognizing all the ways in which we are the same.
The result of the constant barrage of trans ideology and inclusion is that the media talks about periods way more than they used to. Once the purview of women’s medical journals and whispers, the state of modern menstruation has taken up lots of pixel space, but only in the context of trans men’s experience with it. The new claim is that periods are more painful for female-bodied trans men than they are for female-bodied female persons because, in addition to the physical discomfort, they experience mental anguish as well.
A new report by NBC News speaks to the conundrum of women who believe they are men but are still saddled with women’s reproductive systems. In addition to not wanting to deal with menstruation, trans men find it troubling to use tampons and pads in men’s public bathrooms. There’s concern about the sound of the packaging, where to wash hands, and where to dispose of the used materials. While an easy solution would be to use the women’s bathroom, this, too would be a problem for trans men who would be viewed as men, not women. No matter where they use the washroom, there are problems.
Kenny Ethan Jones, a transgender model and activist, found that having his period after his transition was remarkably difficult, and wanted to speak out to help others who experience the same problem. He told NBC “I didn’t believe that having periods would be a part of my lived experience. I felt isolated; everything about periods was tailored to girls, yet me, a boy, was experiencing this and nothing in the world documented that.”
It’s interesting how much more dialogue there is about periods now that people who present as men are having them. Period products are changing to be more accommodating to people who don’t like pink, and products are being made available in more locations. What’s missed in all this inclusivity is that there are loads of women who loathe the pink buttercup infantile quality of women’s menstrual products. But companies never asked or cared to find this out, so women had no choice but to buy the overly girly products for a condition that feels anything but feminine.
Jones notes that trans and gender non conforming people can feel alienated by the menstrual products currently available on drug store shelves. And while this is undoubtedly true, it’s also true for most women. No woman likes buying menstrual products. Walking up to the register and proclaiming that you are now or will soon be bleeding feels humiliating. The same is true for use of public washrooms. No one wants to be heard ripping the plastic off a tampon or caught red-handed at the sink. It’s embarrassing all around, not just for women who have beards. But it’s only since women with facial hair and six-packs started talking about it that anyone is the least bit concerned about how uncomfortable this is.
With an interest in normalizing menstruation for trans men, Jones helmed an advertising campaign in 2018 for Pink Parcel, a subscription service for period products. In doing so, he said that “During my transition I did have to deal with experiencing periods each month and many of the negative stereotypes that can come along with it. Assuming periods are inhibiting to people tends to perpetuate period shame even more, and makes people even more reluctant to talk about them.” Jones had attended an all-girls school, came out as trans at 14, started socially transitioning at 16 by shaving his head and changing his name, and began hormone treatment at 17.
His outspoken words on periods and their discomfort, however, apply equally to trans men and to women, because despite the rhetoric saying that periods are so much worse for those who present as men and don’t want them, periods are literally just as awful for everybody who has them, because no one actually wants to experience them. The division between trans men and women with regard to period pain, body dysphoria, and the difficulty in dealing with the logistics of it is entirely arbitrary. All this language does is isolate women into a category where it’s assumed that they like all the weird things that happen to their bodies, simply because they know they are things that are supposed to happen to healthy bodies.
Women and trans men are not different when it comes to experiencing menstruation, and all this division does is box women in cutesy pink packaging of acceptance. Separating trans men who bleed from women who bleed reinforces gender stereotypes, and while trans men may feel lifted by new period products with trucks and rifles on them instead of bows and duckies, this does nothing but further ghettoize women who accept the inevitability of their femaleness.
A miracle is happening. 2020 might go down as the year that woke culture died. Numerous celebrities emerged in the final inning of 2019 to fly the flag of common sense. Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, and JK Rowling found support among the masses, and now we can add the great novelist Stephen King to that list.
Explaining his Oscar-nomination votes, King tweeted: “As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue—as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway—did not come up. That said, I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”
A powerful figure like Stephen King expressing this universal truth about art and artists is a game-changer. King’s statement is in direct contrast to comedian Issa Rae, who quipped “congratulations to those men,” after announcing the all-male noms in the best director category.
Art matters more than the artists: it places beauty over identity. We ended up in this mess because identity politics has been grafted over everything we do. We began to regress as a culture when we rejected the notion of separating the art from the artist. We lost our way when we placed platitudes above originality and competence. We came to believe that it doesn’t matter if a song, painting, or film is great, but whether the work of art was produced by a non-binary, latinx, disabled activist.
The idea was that diversity itself was its own reward, overshadowing objective considerations like merit, technical skill, or quality. In order to elevate diversity over other considerations, objectivity was relabeled as prejudiced in and of itself. Through the perpetuation of the concept of unconscious bias, there was no way a person could make an objective judgement about a piece of art without first questioning whether their view was inherently racist, ableist, homophobic, misogynistic, or bias.
This left us afraid of our own judgements, not only to express them, but to make them at all. Replies to King’s comment called his view “white supremacist,” because that’s where we have landed: a white man’s objective view is considered racist if he chooses the work of white men over women’s work, or the work of other races and ethnicities. The assumption is that, whether intentionally or not, he’s racist.
We started rewarding artists for what they are instead of what they do, and artists responded by creating boring work about identity instead of work truly from their heart. That’s how we ended up with so much truly mediocre content and artists who place more value in their identity and diversity virtue than truth, beauty, and honesty. There is no magic answer that will a) eliminate all prejudice and b) ensure that the objective best always comes out on top. We have to be open-minded when making judgements, consider multiple perspectives, and make a decision given all the factors.
A tragic irony of identity politics is how it has led to instant dehumanization and erasure of those who are perceived to be the wrong kind of people. Yesterday, actor Vince Vaughn suffered a potentially major blow to his career simply because he was spotted talking to the American president. That’s all. We have no idea what he said. Just a Twitter clip of a smile, some banter and a handshake, and his career is in jeopardy. Maybe the wokesters would have preferred if Vaughn was rude, or punched him or something.
Perhaps King has taken note of how the woke world treats people like shit while claiming to be empathetic and forward-thinking, or has noticed that great art and decent people have been consistently smeared as “hateful” or “white supremacist” in the name of progress.
The recent fake controversy over the movie Joker exemplifies this. For months, media fretted over the film’s perceived message of “white supremacy,” worried that movie theatres across the nation would be shot up by crazed incels. It didn’t happen, and Joker leads all movies with Oscar eleven nominations– unless all Oscar voters are white supremacists.
Ricky Gervais was threatened with being banned from hosting The Golden Globes, after being deemed hateful and transphobic for Twitter comments. The Globes didn’t cave, valuing ratings over woke points, and the result was perhaps the most hilarious hosting gig of all time. This is what happens when you don’t capitulate. You win. Everyone wins.
Stephen King’s vital endorsement of art for art’s sake will make waves and change minds. Like Gervais and JK Rowling, he’s too big to fail. We should be grateful that he spoke up, and let it give others courage to speak their mind, too. Woke culture has a stranglehold on our media, culture, and corporations, but as the revenues plummet, the boring work goes unrewarded, and the public begins to wake from wokeness, things are beginning to change. Woke culture is losing. Let’s finish it off.