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December 16th, 2017

Insight

Cultural sensitivity complainers hit a new low

Christine M. Flowers

By Christine M. Flowers Philadelphia Daily News/(TNS)

Published Nov. 30, 2015

Growing up in a world where irony and humor are banned by governmental fiat is a dangerous thing. It turns healthy human beings into all-purpose victims. I've written about this before, like when the kids at Yale and Mizzou got their pre-Paris attack 15 minutes of fame, which, by the way, they were annoyed at losing when the grown-ups took control of the news cycle.

But really, it's the gift that keeps on giving, and since this is the week when we talk about gratitude and happiness, who am I to reject another example of millennial idiocy? Actually, that's not fair. I can't really just blame kids for being narcissistic twinkles. Someone, my generation in fact, had to raise them to be so thin-skinned that they could rent themselves out as mucous membranes.

Thank God I grew up in a time when it was OK to make good-natured fun of someone because they had a funny name, or looked a little pudgy, or sported thick glasses, or had a horrible haircut, or wore polyester, or ate a lot of garlic and smelled like it, or kept getting the Memorex Cassette ribbons tangled, or played "House of the Rising Sun" on a loop because she only knew four guitar chords. (Any similarity to persons living, dead, or writing this column are purely coincidental.)

In other words, thank God I was given the ability to distinguish between deliberate cruelty and normal cohabitation with people who don't do yoga, who couldn't distinguish it from yogurt and even if they could, would probably not associate it with genocide.

Before you turn the page because you think I've morphed into James Joyce and you don't want to follow my stream of consciousness into the sewer, let me tell you about a university in Canada where they've decided to eliminate yoga from the curriculum.

As happens a lot these days, I found out about this serendipitous example of idiocy from my friend Kaye, who has proven once and for all that I am not even a smidgen gay, because if I was, I would be Tebowing before her with an engagement ring. She posted a link on my Facebook page to an article about the University of Ottawa, where the teacher of yoga classes to predominantly disabled students was informed in an email that her services — provided on a pro bono basis — were no longer necessary.

The reason? Well, they tried to dress it up in language that did not seem as if Tina Fey had written it for a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, but the truth was fairly obvious.

"Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures they are being taken from," the email read. "Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga."

The day that yoga becomes culturally offensive is the day that Mr. Rogers becomes a metrosexual icon. In other words, anyone who has a problem with Westerners (or rather, 21st century colonialists) teaching yoga classes to disabled students — for free! — is a real pain in the Ashtanga.

This is up there with women on campus carrying around mattresses because they want the world to take their complaints about sexual abuse seriously (right, toting a Serta through the cafeteria line is exactly the way to avoid ridicule). This is up there with complaining about red Starbucks cups at Christmas. This is up there with Ivy League students being told what Halloween costumes they can wear so as not to offend indigenous zombies. This is right up there with a white guy going on a hunger strike until the University of Kansas instituted "mandatory, intense" racial re-education workshops for students (bro, look in the mirror). And yes, this is up there with allowing a same-sex couple to throw a legally-compensated hissy fit because one particular baker out of the hundreds of thousands of millions in the world would not serve up a wedding cake.

I would like to think that these things are so ridiculous that most people laugh when they hear about them, but that's not the case. In fact, if you laugh, you are accused of cultural insensitivity, racial bias, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and whatever else fits into the lexicon of the loons. And using the term "loon" will probably also open you up to attacks from mental health groups, so forget I used it please (not that I'm accusing you of having any kind of memory disorder ).

I suppose the best way to deal with this troubling inability to remove ourselves from the center of everyone else's universe is to just roll with it. That way, the agida is kept to a minimum. So from now on, I am going to put people on notice that they cannot use any words that end in "vowels" around me because I self-identify as Italian and I find that offensive. And I am going to ask them not to reference potatoes in my presence because even though I self-identify as Italian, I have ancestors who came from Ireland and the image of that grubby little tuber triggers in me the horrors of the famine. And because I'm Catholic, I will get a temporary restraining order against anyone who uses catheters, because I'm offended that the name of my faith has been appropriated by a medical product that gets stuck in someone's bladder.

Now, where did I put that mattress?

Christine M. Flowers
Philadelphia Daily News
(TNS)

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Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.

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