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Cornell University Warns Mistletoe Isn’t ‘Inclusive’ Enough And Students Shouldn’t Use It

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Replies to: Cornell University Warns Mistletoe Isn’t ‘Inclusive’ Enough And Students Shouldn’t Use It

  • profparentprofparent 331 replies0 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited December 2015
    I completely agree with @cosar. And I would add that assessing the reliability and integrity of one's sources--not just for factual information, but also for their use of rhetoric, sensationalism, biased political "spin," cherrypicked evidence, and reputation for reliability or unreliability, etc. --is to me (and I think most people on College Cofidential) a fundamental principle of responsible scholarship that is strongly emphasized in all of the colleges we are so busy discussing. It is not merely a "cheap debating tactic."
    edited December 2015
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  • usualhopefulusualhopeful 1615 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @espenser The Daily Caller does not "accurately report how Cornell has banned mistletoe" because Cornell didn't ban anything. Perhaps you're referring to the restriction on "plan [sic] material that [has] NOT been treated with a fire retardant material." However, untreated natural-cut trees are also not permitted, so your argument that mistletoe is no more of a fire hazard than a tree makes me think you were referring to the suggestions later in the page which, to reiterate, were not bans.
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  • espenserespenser 72 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Some questions and observations:

    1. If the rules regarding mistletoe were merely suggestions, why does Cornell include them in mandatory fire safety guidelines?
    2. If you were a student, would you violate them? Or would be afraid of subjecting yourself to a disciplinary action?
    3. Is there a rational basis for these Fire Safety Guidelines to group mistletoe in a category that includes explicitly religious symbols such as Christian crosses and the Jewish Star of David? Or is Cornell engaging in the modern version of the medieval practice of counting how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
    4. How would you feel if Cornell banned the Star and Crescent of Islam at Ramadan? Would that be justified? Or would you regard it as a discriminatory practice that crushes religious diversity?
    5. Attacking the credibility of an accurate news story is a ploy that seeks to forestall debate. Indeed, it is an exclusionary rhetorical technique akin to the argumentum ad hominem.
    6. If the Daily Caller is to be excoriated for a lack of “responsible scholarship,” what media source meets that exalted standard?
    7. Is there any media outlet – whether liberal or conservative – that does not spin the news or cherry pick the facts to fit its political narrative?
    8. Granted, some media outlets spin the news more than others. But is the Daily Caller any different in this regard than the Daily Beast, the Daily Kos, or MSNBC?
    9. If not, why single out the Daily Caller as if it were somehow an outlier in this regard?
    10. Wouldn’t it be more rewarding to address the merits of this issue? After all, don’t both sides have reasonable positions to assert?

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  • RequinRequin 174 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    You know, if these things like holiday decoration and Halloween costume guidelines, 50-square-foot "free speech zones," draconian suspensions for Yik Yak tweets, and all the rest of it were reliably reported in the "reputable" outlets like the New York Times, there wouldn't be a need to cite the Daily Caller. But the fact is that for the most part, the NYT and sources like it ignore these eruptions of insanity, or give them three inches on page A24. I live in Los Angeles and the LA Times's coverage of the infant Robespierres at Occidental is pretty poor. Unless you can point to a factual inaccuracy in the stories in the Daily Caller, College Insurrection, and similar sites, it won't do for you to just look down your nose at them.
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  • usualhopefulusualhopeful 1615 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited December 2015
    @espenser

    1. They are not mandatory, they were tacked onto a fire safety memo that started with mandatory regulations. I'll admit that was definitely not the best way to do it, but the suggestions are listed under "Guidelines for Inclusive Seasonal Displays."
    2. I honestly doubt that people will be too terrified to have a star-topped tree or menorah, especially considering that "any display areas that normally are available to all campus groups shall also be available for the display of religious symbols." These things are basically only an issue if it looks like Cornell is supporting a particular religion.
    3. I don't understand the inclusion of mistletoe, unless they've actually had a problem with it being used as an excuse for mistletoe. I'll add "inclusion of mistletoe" to the list of things that Cornell could have done better, or not done.
    4. You're right, I would feel like it limits religious diversity. Luckily, Cornell hasn't banned any symbols. I imagine this display would be most common around Ramadan in "celebrative and/or educational displays utilizing religious symbols," which are 100% permitted.
    5. Yep, attacking a message for being from a certain source is a legitimate logical fallacy. However, one poster who did that has already pointed out that what they meant was the story itself wasn't legitimate because it had politically slanted writing.
    6. Yes, each article should be reviewed individually for bias, although you can usually get a pretty good idea about how biased the majority of articles will be just by knowing the source.
    7. Nope.
    8. Also nope, which is why articles from the examples you listed are frequently not suitable for citation of facts.
    9. Probably since it's the only news source involved in this discussion. If Daily Beast, the Daily Kos, or MSNBC had been cited, they would actually be relevant.
    10. Yes, but part of discussing the merits of an issue is understanding what a document actually says, rather than just what a biased article told you it says.
    edited December 2015
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  • slicedGabeslicedGabe 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I hate how political correctness is destroying our country. How far will this stuff go?
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  • usualhopefulusualhopeful 1615 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited December 2015
    The Harvard masters thing was ridiculous, but this strikes me as kind of pointless to argue all that much about. True, Cornell hasn't explained how mistletoe is not religiously inclusive, and its placement on the list is silly.

    But however poorly it was communicated, the idea behind the memo was to prevent overtly religious symbols from being placed so as to make it appear that the college is endorsing a specific religion. To me, that's not going to destroy the country.

    I guess I'm just bugged by the "PC is destroying us!" idea because it seems like 90% of the time it's used to justify racial, homophobic, and xenophobic slurs. It annoys me that a few rare examples of vocabulary restrictions (and other things, like holiday decoration guidelines) going too far are designated as "political correctness," even though political correctness is basically the idea that you should use respectful language and not slurs.
    edited December 2015
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  • slicedGabeslicedGabe 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    There's a difference between political correctness and "not using slurs". Political correctness seeks to limit free speech, and those who are PC call people racist, even when such individuals don't deserve that label. Not using slurs is just common sense; PC is antithetical to that.
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  • usualhopefulusualhopeful 1615 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Except it seems that PC is usually used as a defense for saying things that are really obviously offensive and discriminatory. No, that's not always how it's used, but it's pretty common.
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  • slicedGabeslicedGabe 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Nowadays, PC is just a way to limit free speech and insult people with differing, yet valid and nondiscriminatory opinions.
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  • Much2learnMuch2learn 4610 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I am for inclusion, but I do not see the connection between mistletoe and the christian religion. Mistletoe has no significance at all in christianity, as far as I know. It is also not used exclusively by Christians. Banning mistletoe seems extreme to me.

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  • T26E4T26E4 23243 replies1031 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @slicedgabe Maybe save your PC ammunition for something real? I my post (btw, thanks for the huge upshot in my points with so many people's votes! haha), and if you'd bothered to read the real issue vs. just buy the either the salacious title of this thread or the ridiculously slanted and overblown article, you might even come to the conclusion that this ENTIRE issue is a straw man.

    Or maybe you'd like to ignore that challenge and continue to use this as fodder for the "anti PC" watch? I dunno. Maybe that doesn't even matter to you?
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  • slicedGabeslicedGabe 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    They may not have banned mistletoe, but warning students not to use a decoration because it may not be culturally inclusive is ludicrous.
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  • T26E4T26E4 23243 replies1031 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @slicedgabe: you miss my point. This entire thing started b/c buried DEEPLY INSIDE some fire safety guidebook issued and unread by some office within a large college, were found suggestions about decorations and (to your point) an unwise/unnecessary judgment about mistletoe. Then some anti-PC guardian took that one line and ran with it -- and it got picked up by the daily caller -- and now it means what?

    Another sign of the apocalypse of Western civilization?

    Really? That's why I made my point in the first post to begin with.

    May I instead, turn you to this Washington Post article about the end of a column called "The Intersect"? It was started to debunk weekly internet hoaxes. But the author is closing shop because 1) there's a huge market of purposeful hoax writers or story exaggerators extant and 2) those who believe them and pass them along as FB memes are so entrenched in their confirmation bias worlds that they are the exact people to whom debunking evidence means nothing to them.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/12/18/what-was-fake-on-the-internet-this-week-why-this-is-the-final-column/?tid=pm_lifestyle_pop_b

    I'm clearly fighting a Quixotic battle. But in my efforts to promote rational discussion, I put my paddle in the water and still push upstream...
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  • slicedGabeslicedGabe 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Ok. I'm sure some stories are made up to create drama and increase profits - it's a very common tactic. But at the same time, some of these stories about PC culture are true, and we should still be wary of the mindset that everything is offensive and should be banned.
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  • espenserespenser 72 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Like good satire, life sometimes provides metaphors that are both funny and illuminating. Mistletoe at Cornell is one such metaphor. It represents and importantly reveals how PC culture has become a comedy of the absurd. It also signifies and convincingly discloses the hysterical efforts colleges take to infantilize their students by protecting them from imaginary harm.
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  • compmomcompmom 10763 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    This is buried in a fire safety publication for heaven's sake.
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  • usualhopefulusualhopeful 1615 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    So inside some memo that no one will actually pay attention to, someone said that mistletoe could be culturally insensitive. It was thrown in there and it's unlikely that the people writing it even thought much about what they were saying (seriously, they misspelled "plant," I don't think the author(s) cared much).

    All of the last three featured discussions have essentially been complaints about "PC culture," and I feel like only the first one was actually worth talking about.
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