Image 01 Image 03

McGill student who apologized for Obama GIF now undergoing mandated sensitivity training

McGill student who apologized for Obama GIF now undergoing mandated sensitivity training

The banality of political correctness on campus.

In my post Microaggression Mania: McGill U. student leader apologizes for .gif of Obama kicking open door, I detailed the punishment and apology of McGill University student leader Brian Farnan for sending a .gif image of Obama kicking open a door.  The image was from a famous parody video on the Jay Leno show.

Farnan’s apology read, in part (emphasis added):

Oppression, as outlined in SSMU’s Equity Policy, means the exercise of power by a group of people over another group of people with specific consideration of cultural, historical and living legacies. The image in question was an extension of the cultural, historical and living legacy surrounding people of color—particularly young men—being portrayed as violent in contemporary culture and media. By using this particular image of President Obama, I unknowingly perpetuated this living legacy and subsequently allowed a medium of SSMU’s communication to become the site of a microaggression; for this, I am deeply sorry.”

Obama kick open door gif

Since my post, the issue has gone viral, with widespread reporting in the U.S. and Canada.  All of the reporting has been mocking regarding the polically correct speech policies at McGill and on other campuses, where simple humor is an offense if it subjectively offends someone.  McGill seems to be an extreme because of its policies allowing for  the student government  (the Student Society of McGill University — SSMU) to process and prosecute such complaint and impose punishment.  It has the appearance of a Lord of the Flies style oppression of those with unpopular opinions.

SSMU has issued a press statement, embedded at the bottom of the post.  The press statement says very little of substance, but apparently is SSMU’s only on-record response to the outrage. The bland language is worthy of the worst bureaucratic tendencies of the politically correct apparatus, a microcosm of the banality of political correctness.

I spoke with Farnan today about the whole incident.  He confirmed some basic details:  A complaint was filed over the .gif, the SSMU Equity Commission ruled against him, that ruling was upheld by the SSMU Legislative Council, and the apology was issued as required by SSMU.  An attempt to reverse the decision was rebuffed by the Legislative Council.

I asked Farnan if he felt forced to issue the apology.  He said that he preferred the word “mandated” over forced.  He explained that at as an officer of SSMU, he is bound by its rulings, and that if he did not obey the rulings, there would be consequences: “As a public figure I have to adopt the decision of the council.”

I asked him if the apology was “heartfelt,” and he stated that he was uncomfortable with that term in the question but that he “meant the apology.” 

One aspect of his punishment that has not receieved much attention is that Farnan has to attend sensitivity training.  That sensitivity training is held once a month each month until he leaves SSMU office in May.  The training, one session of which he already has attended, is through the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office.  There is no set amount of time for each session, and that at least one of the sessions will involve working with a professor who specializes in email communications.

I asked him if he understood why people think this whole situation is crazy, and his response was “Yup.”  I hope he doesn’t get in more trouble for that answer, such is life on McGill’s campus.

McGill SSMU Executive Response to Apology Listserv


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


“We are the Borg.” (Student Society of McGill University — SSMU) “Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”

And so where’s the ACLU on the free speech issue. Hm.

That’s what you get for not having a Constitution! Losers!

I commend him for not acting as rashly as I would have in his shoes.

oh- and PLEASE tell me he intends to create another one that doubles down on the original sentiment AND pokes fun at the thin skinned thought Nazis.

Ha. I don’t have to apologize. I think the .gif is a riot!!

F.I.R.E. needs to get involved in this one – don’t look a gif horse in the mouth.

Give that dangerous brat the Reverse Clockwork Orange treatment!

Tie him to a chair and pin open his eyelids so he can’t shut his eyes, and give him euphoria-inducing injections of Kool-Aid. Simple sensitivity training just isn’t cutting it.

Now, make sure to keep putting drops in his eyes since he can’t blink. The drops should be laced with fast-acting Vicodin to make sure he’s feeling really, really good about Hope & Change.

And the film/GIF he’s forced to watch on an endless loop?

To counter the racist image of a violent President Obama kicking his way though a doorway, (an especially nefarious subliminal brainwashing attempt), I suggest, on an endless GIF loop, he sees the opposite, true image, again and again, until his anti-patriotic dissension is broken.

The opposite of the broken-down door fallacy:

The real and honest, “Obama uses ‘smart power’ to pass through doorways” never-ending GIF. A GIF that keeps on giving.

>>”He said that he preferred the word “mandated” over forced. He explained that at as an officer of SSMU, he is bound by its rulings, and that if he did not obey the rulings,…”

So, zero moral courage. Got it.

    An important part of moral courage is picking the hill you want to defend. If he had doubled-down on his action and refused to apologize, he would be going through the want ads with a label of “Fired for racial insensitivity” on his forehead for the rest of his unemployed life. Sometimes it is far better to go through the motions with the knowledge that everybody knows just what is going on, rather than allow the hypersensitive twits the joy of their victory dance.

      You just defined exactly why he doesn’t have moral courage.

      Crawford in reply to georgfelis. | February 20, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      So long as you dedicate yourself to fighting some other fight, you will lose every battle. There is always another fight, some reason to abandon this field in favor of another one, some other day.

      And there’s always some reason why it’s a good idea. Some phrase you can use to convince yourself it’s discretion (the better part of valor!) that leads you to retreat.

      But it remains a loss. A day lost. An opportunity lost. Ground lost.

BannedbytheGuardian | February 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I remember that – Obama was weeeelly angwy with somethin & the kick was added on . I fact at the podium it is Obama who has the micro aggression. Funny thing is , who can remember why?

Farnan strikes me as a rather level-headed individual in his responses. It would seem that he is currently in a position where he cannot adequately argue his case without some potential of further action against or damage to himself. As my mother always said “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” Biding his time before a full reply might be his best bet.

Is the subtitle of this article “The banality of political correctness on campus” meant to try a comparison between this event and Hannah Arendt’s hypothesis regarding the banality of evil?

In all seriousness, can someone contact Jay Leno or someone who knows him and see if Jay won’t take out full-page newspaper ads skewering the university and its SS…something-or-other student government group until they beg for mercy?

My God, they’ve got this kid by his clean-record-and-GPA balls …

Is there anyone with media power/access out there with big balls to take on these bullies?

Too bad it wasn’t from Letterman’s show. The mother of our kid’s friend was one of the head honchos on his show some time back. I don’t know her politics, (chances are she’s a liberal), but she loves me so, if I sensed an opening, I might muster the courage to broach the subject.

Thank God it was Leno’s show.

I’m such a chicken.

I strongly resent my tax dollars being used to suppress freedom of speech at McGill and elsewhere.

If universities scoff at American rights and values, let them fund their own activities and leave the federal taxpayer out of it.

    Doug Wright Old Grouchy in reply to Estragon. | February 20, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    While I agree with your sentiments, as expressed, perhaps that statement should be reworded to reflect the fact that McGill is a Canadian Institute, albeit a North American Institute.

    But what kind of institute is McGill? That should be the question?.

So I was born in Franco’s Spain. He did a few bad things and some stupid things. The stupidest was to ban cartoon and mocking depictions of himself. The more he banned, the more people laughed. It got to a point where the censorship had to ban photographs in which he was laughing the wrong way.

But what he and other dictators like him never were able to do was to get foreigners to enforce their censorious laws. I guess that Canada has finally become the 51st state. Poor Canada.

Can we have the names of those responsible?

They need to be famous.

He lost his constitutional right to free speech following conception; reclaimed it at birth; underwent an elective abortion when it later became a burden.

Oh Canada. Your speech is not free
And at McGill they’ll sic retards on thee
And at McGill they sic retards on thee!

Progress on Campus

1950 – Stereotyped hysterical woman with attack of the vapours: “Eeek eeek! A mouse!”

2014 – Stereotyped hysterical woman with attack of the vapours: “Eeek eeek! A microaggression!”

I love Legal Insurrection and enjoy commenting on the various issues. However, I seldom visit College Insurrection because there are only so many layers of cells on my stomach walls.

I can get by with only one or two Xanax pills after reading Legal Insurrection, but would probably require a prescription for Xanax in salt lick form if I became a daily reader of College Insurrection.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Anchovy. | February 21, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Prescription pad ready here. Whaddaya need? Don’t get greedy – I’m limited on what I can prescribe in NC.

Mandatory Re-education Camp

Lets not pretend its anything other.

Lawsuit. It’s the only answer.

Y’all do understand that this Institute of Lower Learning is located north of the border in Canada.

Just doin a public service for ya.

Today it’s mandated “sensitivity training”; tomorrow it will be full metal jacket attitude adjustment. Like lemmings we continue to march toward the Liberal, Progressive, Communist cliff.

We’ll never truly reduce the instance of Microaggression until we have the courage to address it at its root cause:

NanoAggression !

Until then, we’ll just be feebly nibbling around the edges.

Mao is dead, but he lives on in academia.
What will be needed to finally kill him for good? A stake through the heart?