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SOTG 475 - Patriot Fire Team: Taking the Next Step

(Photo Source: Paul Markel)

So you have found a few like-minded patriots, now what do you do? In order to have an effective Patriot Fire Team, you will need to take the next step. It is not good enough to simply share the same ideas and purchasing habits.

We had to dust off out Lunatic Nation theme song, yet again. Is your Halloween costume offensive? Before you step out of your front door to engage in a little holiday fun, you might want to check a website to be sure you won’t be hurting anyone’s feelings.

During our Quiet Time Moment from SilencerShop.com, Professor Paul will refer back to Plato’s “The Republic”.  You may be shocked at how Socrates predicted the current of your nation’s military, the guardians of the State.

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From news.nationalpost.com:

Brock University students attending this year’s campus Halloween party are being encouraged to check a website to make sure their costumes are not “prohibited.”

According to a “costume protocol” developed by the student union at the St. Catharines, Ont., university, traditional or religious headdresses, such as feathered bonnets and turbans, are off-limits. So, too, are thobes — ankle-length robes worn by Arab men; makeup depicting Japanese geishas; outfits containing the Confederate flag; and costumes that depict Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender celebrity.

“If a member of your party is denied entry because of their costume, they will be escorted to a space where they can change or remove the offending item,” students are told.

Across North America, growing numbers of campuses are restricting what Halloween costumes students wear, in the name of creating an inclusive environment and paying respect to marginalized groups. The University of Florida recently issued a memo reminding students they can submit a “bias incident report” and seek counselling if they encounter an offensive costume.

But the costume-policing trend has raised concerns about overreach by institutions, and violations of free expression. Last year, when Yale University sent out a mass email about appropriate Halloween wear, Erika Christakis, a lecturer in early childhood education, wrote back wondering if administrators had lost faith in the ability of young people to “exercise self-censure, through social norming.”

“Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Christakis wrote. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”

Christakis faced enormous backlash and resigned from her teaching position.

Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor whose research focuses on freedom of expression, says while universities need to encourage open discourse, they are also places in which people live and work, and different standards of civility may be called for.

“It seems entirely appropriate for an institution to ask students to think about why they might be wearing a particular costume,” he said. “Does it involve denigrating or mocking disadvantaged groups?”

If the answer is yes, then it may be appropriate to restrict those costumes. Where universities have to be careful is imposing broad restrictions for superficial reasons, Moon said.

Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?
“The desire to maintain the institution’s public image or the goodwill of alumni or the appearance of calm and collegiality among students may lead administrators to improperly shut down or try to shut down expression that falls within the ambit of academic freedom or freedom of expression.”

Brock University’s student union developed its costume rules following outcry two years ago over a group of students who dressed in blackface as the Jamaican bobsled team.

Donning blackface is “never OK” as it normalizes “anti-black racism and systematic oppression,” some faculty members wrote on Facebook at the time.

According to the protocol, any costume that “mak(es) fun of real people, human traits or cultures” or “reduce(s) cultural differences to jokes, stereotypes or historical/cultural inaccuracies” are out of bounds.

But student union representatives acknowledge there are grey areas. If someone shows up wearing a Donald Trump mask this year, they won’t automatically be turned away, but they will most certainly be pulled aside to get a better idea of their intent, given Trump’s controversial remarks about groping women, said Laura Hughes, the Student Justice Centre supervisor.

“Of course, it’s not something we want represented in our space,” she said.

Chris Green, general manager of the student union, acknowledged it’s not an exact science and some decisions will have to be made on the fly. But “we have responsibility to make sure people are comfortable and feel safe,” he said.

McGill University’s student society was spurred to act a few years ago after complaints were received about students who showed up at a Halloween event wearing costumes with “cartoonish depictions of Mexican/Japanese/Native American cultures.”

The society started placing volunteers at the entrances to the event to vet costumes based on a colour-coded system: green meant there were no problems; red meant a costume was offensive and it had to be removed; yellow meant the costume could be problematic and there would be further discussion.

A report on the pilot project noted “some individuals took the whole process as a joke” and it was “difficult to have conversations with individuals who were drunk or aggressive.”

Erin Sobat, the student society’s vice-president of university affairs, said the protocols aren’t so rigid this year. But they are putting up posters that borrow from a campaign developed by Ohio University titled, “We’re a culture, not a costume.” The posters depict annoyed-looking young people holding images of costumes that play on racial and cultural stereotypes.

“We have a responsibility around education. We take direction from minority students,” Sobat said.

At the University of British Columbia, the campus equity office is getting ready to launch its own annual awareness campaign, “Think Before You Dress Up.”

Sara-Jane Finlay, UBC’s associate vice-president of equity and inclusion, said the goal is not to take the fun out of Halloween.

“We certainly don’t want to police people having fun,” she said. “But there are ways to have fun that are inclusive and don’t culturally appropriate someone else’s identity in a stereotyped way.”

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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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