I just had two interviews over opportunities to do a PhD.
One of them - the one I really wanted to do - was doing research on the prevalence of Transsexualism, as a precursor to more work on the effect of TS on career choice.
The other was in Computer Science.
So, I made my way to the department of Gender Studies, and had a very nice interview with a very warm-hearted and genuinely helpful doctor of Arts. Transsexuality? Perfectly accepted, whether "passing", "andro" or "Oh My God A Man In A Dress".
But.... if you weren't politically Ultra Progressive, if you didn't worship the ground Monbiot deigned to walk on, and took part in the morning Voodoo ceremony sticking pins in an effigy of Karl Rove... difficult.
Then when I said I was a pragmatist, scientist and engineer by nature, interested in quantitative analysis, hard numbers wherever they could be found, evidence and proof, the scientific method, and generally of The Other Side (Her words, not mine).... then she sadly suggested that I'd probably find things too difficult. It's not that I'd just be an outsider, after all, TS women are used to that from their girlhood, but that people with power over me would misuse that power to downgrade my marks, out of the highest of motives. Nothing I could do about it.
C.P. Snow's "The Two Cultures" is alive and well here. Maybe the political views could be tolerated, but not the Rationalist philosophy.
Diversity, tolerance and so on is practiced in the faculty of Arts. You are allowed to diverge, you can be Maoist, Trostkyite or Mainstream Marxist. You can be Post-Modernist or Radical Deconstructionist. You can vote Radical Green or Socialist Workers Party. They are Fanatically tolerant of GLBT, but say you're a liberal (ie conservative in Australia) voter and worse, a Kantian Realist, and you're anathema. I think a genuine Straight mainstream Christian would be burnt at the stake. Thank God I'm an atheist (with tendencies to commit Buddhism).
I must emphasise that the professor talking to me could not have been more supportive , helpful, and generally warmhearted. She did her best to give me the best and most honest guidance she could, and I'm in her debt. She even went out of her way to search for alternatives for me, looking up names and numbers, a wonderful human being. Given the situation, her advice was exactly right, aboveboard, and rigorously ethical and intellectually honest. I wish I could have studied under her.
Perhaps I'm overstating the case. But those were the Vibes I was getting (and now, I'm able to detect such things with high accuracy, a wonder in itself). I'd be an outsider, and an allergic reaction would occur. Nobody's fault, just the way things are.
Then I went for a similar interview over at the Computer Science Department. There, they didn't care what I looked like, certainly never considered my politics, but they did care about the quality of my thought. The professional "runs I had on the board". Also my worth as an individual human being, not a cypher or representative member of any particular category.
After the interview, we had sandwiches is the Refectory with some other Profs and Admin staff, and the head of the Department stopped in to say hello and give me the once over, as we swapped lies and gossiped.
It was like.... coming home. Where I belonged.
Yes, the situation in the Faculty of Arts is exactly the opposite of what should be happening. Universities and Arts departments in particular are supposed to encourage diversity, and debate. But the situation has been like this for some time.
Fifty years ago, the intolerance was against Blacks, and Jews, and Catholics, and especially those Un-American (or in our case Un-Australian) Commies.
Now it's still against Jews (Zionazi tools of oppression etc etc) but everyone else gets a free pass. Apart from those who aren't "Progressive". And those still propagating the Chauvinist Dead White Male oppressive notion of "objective truth". Oh yes, and Christians too, they're right out.
Now I'm agin "Creation Science", "Pyramidology", and other such superstition, but Jeez Louise, if my Rationalist views are so wonderful, they should be able to stand a little competition and debate. Even by Fundies. Even by Scientologists. Heck, even by Fundamentalist Muslim Flat-Earthers. Certainly I've learned a lot from those few Ultra-Leftists like Prof Norman Geras who are true to the core of Marxism, while being willing to abandon such idiocies as the "Labour Theory of Value" and "Dictatorship of the Proletariat". I still differ from Norm on methods, but we're in agreement on the goals. I'm a Right Wing Death B*tch, a NeoCon and proud of it, but my blog has links to some very, very "Progressive" sites that happen also to be Rational and Humane. And to some people far to the Right of me, some even Fundies, but who are decent people of goodwill and humanity, even if I disagree with them on just about everything.
But those whose views won't stand up to scrutiny or rational debate have to find refuge in exclusion. It was so with the late and unlamented White Supremacists. It's the same now for those who genuinely believe that Bush is quite literally the AntiChrist.
They live in a world where everyone shares the same worldview, where the only debate consists of everyone trying to prove that they are "More Progressive than thou".
Post-Modernist philosophy sees everything as a social construct. Although there's an element of truth in this, and as someone with Buddhist tendencies, I can see that the "world as illusion" may be true at the core, everything is seen purely in terms of a personal power struggle.
The Theory of Gravity is just a male oppression foisted on the general populace in accordance with their sterile conservative world-view, and if we all wished really hard Tinkerbell would come back to life and we all could fly.
That we can't just proves that the Zionist Conspiracy that actually rules the world is too powerful at the moment.
Thus any dissent from the Democratic Majority (who are instructed by Authority what to think) has to be a personal attack, a power grab out of the basest of motives, any questioning of existing dogma is not just Heresy, but actually a manifestation of Evil. There is no room for Diversity, unless it challenges the Societal Status Quo, whereupon it becomes compulsory.
I wouldn't mind that, the toddlers can go play in their own sandbox as long as it doesn't interfere with the grownups who are trying not just to keep the world running, but understand it, and search for meaning behind it. But the trouble is, these people have carved up branches of knowledge and laid claim to them, excluding outsiders. It's because I'm not some emotionless, spiritually bereft robot that I'm complaining. Poetry, Spirituality, Sociology and "What it means to be Transsexual" are far too important issues to be assigned to those who are Anti-rational and engaged in nothing but power games.
There are some who actually do good work, despite that environment. But you have to be willing to conceal your inner self until you've accreted enough power to be invulnerable. Well, I'm sick of concealing myself. That's a price too high for me to pay, no matter what good might come out of it. "I've done my time in Hell". I'll try to be diplomatic, but I won't go along with The Majority just because to stand out is to get trodden down. My decision, and I can't complain about it. But I won't stay silent and pretend the situation doesn't exist, either.
But anyone who's ever met me knows that. Some things don't change.
Never mind, as they say in the classics, (and as the Facial Feminisation surgeon Dr Ousterhaut has proven when confronted with some very rough raw material), "This too shall Pass."