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Microaggression Mania: McGill U. student leader apologizes for .gif of Obama kicking open door

Microaggression Mania: McGill U. student leader apologizes for .gif of Obama kicking open door

Says image “an extension of the … legacy surrounding people of color—particularly young men—being portrayed as violent”

“Microagression” is the latest craze in racial grievance, something we highlighted when a UCLA professor was accused of the transgression for correcting grammar on minority students’ papers.

The fake scenario of Obama kicking open a door after a press conference went viral after Jay Leno showed it on the Tonight Show.

It obviously was fake, but took on a life of its own on the internet, causing Snopes to issue a False rating and a video comparing the original and edited versions.

It also spawned a .gif of the key moment.

Obama kick open door gif

All fairly light-hearted humor.

Brian Farnan, Vice President for Internal Affairs at the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) in Canada thought it was funny too, and circulated the .gif as part of a weekly mailing.

That got him in trouble with the thought police, who filed a complaint against him with SSMU’s Equity Committee, which enforces an expansive Equity Policy banning a broad range of supposedly “oppressive” conduct.

As reported by The McGill Tribune:

On Oct. 17, Farnan sent out a weekly SSMU listerv that included a link to a .gif file of United States President Barack Obama kicking down a door, originally a clip that was manipulated and aired by The Tonight Show.

“There was a complaint issued; [and] the process was followed—the public process as equity complaints are done,” Farnan said.

According to the equity policy, a submitted complaint can undergo either an informal resolution or a formal resolution, which Farnan explained as the cause of the three-month delay between the submission of the complaint and his apology.

“When you add the informal, the formal, getting both sides to respond—each side has X amount of days—it just starts to add up,” Farnan said. “The goal is to solve it in an informal process. If it’s gone to a formal process, usually one can deduce that the informal process was not sufficient.”

Under the formal process, the complaint in question was forwarded to a SSMU equity officer, who made a recommendation upon investigation of the complaint.

“Depending on the nature and severity of the harassment, the remedies for policy violations may include, but are not limited to: letter(s) of apology, suspension of the respondent from their position within the SSMU, and […] dismissal of the respondent from their position within the SSMU,” the policy reads.

The recommendation was then brought to the confidential session of SSMU’s Dec. 5 Legislative Council meeting, where, according to the policy, it required two-thirds opposition to be overturned. Equity recommendations at this point cannot be revised.

Although the SSMU process does not appear to be public, we do know the end result, Farnan issued a public apology for engaging in microaggression (emphasis added):

“The email in question contained the phrase “Honestly midterms get out of here” followed by a URL leading to a .GIF image of President Obama violently kick a door and storming out of a room following a press conference. The inclusion of the .GIF image was intended to bring a humorous tone to the email and use President Obama’s frustration with the press conference in question to mimic the frustration students feel when confronted with midterm examinations. Despite the innocent intentions influencing my decision to use this particular image, I have come to recognize the negative implications of adding the .GIF image within this given context.


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.”

I emailed Farnan for comment and further explanation, but have not heard back.

An officer of McGill’s Post-Graduate Student Society noted how the Equity Policy and its enforcement is based on critical race theory and turns liability into a question of the subjective feelings of recipients of speech:

The actions SSMU takes in disciplining its members are always subject to legal challenge, though courts will generally not interfere if due process is followed and decisions are unbiased. But the Equity Policy inverts the burden of proof so that accusation and subjective experience becomes a valid basis of discipline and it considers matters of identity, rather than strict evidence, in determining culpability.

In this way, the policy unknowingly subscribes to the very principles of justice that would enable oppression by a majority group to thrive by renouncing rights traditionally guaranteed to defendants to prevent unjust persecutions. It is far from certain that courts would find disciplinary decisions made under the Equity Policy to be unbiased, and the very public nature of the disciplinary action taken in this case exposes the SSMU to significant liability for violating members’ Charter right to the safeguard of their reputation.

SSMU should keep its Equity Policy and further develop those elements which aim to educate and protect members, but it must scrap the disciplinary aspects of the code. Intellectual honesty requires making a distinction between theory and fact, and fundamental norms of equity require codes of discipline to be rigorous and self-consistent.

The Equity Policy at McGill is similar to the speech codes at many U.S. universities, where what matters is the subjective offense of the complainant.

This is what happens when critical race and other theories take hold, and evidence is deemed an inconvenience.

But not all offense is treated equally. Another McGill student is offended that Farnan apologized:

Brian, your GIF didn’t offend me, your apology did. I am offended that you think I’m so shallow and high-strung that I would be offended by this.

If a few people complained to you about this, you should have simply apologized only to them if you genuinely believed the GIF was offensive.

I’m offended that SSMU spent so much time reviewing this. They spent my student fees on this when they could have looked into other things that would have actually been useful to students.

By sending the second email to the McGill community, you have not only made the majority of us face palm and be ashamed of SSMU and its equity commission, but have also detracted from the true purpose of the equity council. I am forced to question SSMU’s legitimacy and objectivity.

Quite frankly, Brian, it’s going to be difficult to ever take you or the equity commission seriously after this. It is unfortunate that SSMU wasted time investigating whether or not a GIF was offensive, because there are real issues that students face.

I wonder if that second offended student can file a complaint against the Equity Committee?

(H/t to reader LocomotiveBreath1901 and Interested-Participant blog for this story)


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We’ve got to drop the pretense, and stop playing the left’s language game, and calling it “political correctness.”

Rather, it is “political oppression.”.

Acquiesing to the left’s sinister language game at this point is as stupid as it was to acquiese to their calling the right “red states,” (the long-time color of communism) and the left “blue states” (the long time color of “true-blue Americans.”)

Let the GOP have a monoloply on idiocy. But count us out.

    I would suggest that the term “political correctness” is a conservative term used to mock the left’s attempt at what your refer to as “political oppression”.

      Not exclusively. Progressive corruption… I mean political correctness has harmed people on the right, left, and middle. It may be considered a dual-edged sword, which should be wielded with care. Its underlying emotional appeals are not only extremely corrosive but volatile.

      Progressive corruption; progressive confusion; and, my favorite: progressive dysfunction. All progressive processes with a decidedly negative character.

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to | February 17, 2014 at 5:19 am

    When it’s done to a conservative, a religious person or a Republican president, it’s called satire, political humor or ‘truth to power’. We’re reminded that it’s protected speech and that we’re just being way too thin-skinned.

    This is nothing more than retooled hypocrisy, renamed and repackaged in a hard candy coating. If we don’t call BULLSH*T loudly and with certitude, the Left gets away with another unilateral change to the rules.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to | February 17, 2014 at 10:43 am

    PC means Political CORRUPTION!

    AnAmericanPatriot in reply to | February 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Everyone should email a copy of the gif to: [email protected]

I am subjectively, viscerally, spiritually, literally, micro-cosmically, global-warming-climate-changing–hope-and-changelingly-psuedoscientifically offended that anyone was subjectively offended by the ‘kick-the-door’ .gif. What more can I say. Let’s boycott all .gifs!

And, I refuse to become an Obama Mini Me.

Doug Wright Old Grouchy | February 16, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Heck, I’m extremely offended that the rumored GIF of Michelle slapping the s#%t out of her husband has yet to go viral. That said, everyone knows that Michelle is meek and mild mannered around her overbearing husband, or as she calls him (“The Lightbringer”). Also, that so many Conservatives refuse to ridicule this poor excuse of el Presidente.

My goodness, when will all this poorly thought out adoration of Obama stop? Please!

McGill U. student leader should have demonstrated some real leadership by providing the whiners, snivellers, and cry babies with specific and detailed instructions on how to pound sand. These liberal fascists will never quit until they get it shoved back into their smug faces.

Breaking news! Scientists at Tuft University today confirmed the long held theory that proximity to a magnetic pole permanently suppresses DNA that recognizes absurdities and ironic situations.

if it were me and I got a complaint filed I would have enlarged the file a lot and sent it to every single email address I could find.

You all realize that we’ve trained our Thought Crime police in our Universities and Colleges today?

As each graduating class is rolled out, you can see the effect as school principals have 5 year olds arrested for finger guns, flags are banned for being nationalistic in HOA’s and being a Republican candidate is prima facie evidence of racism and bigotry.

And it’s all centered around what they’re taught, so carefully taught in school.

And so much of it is wrong. The next generation is the one that’s going to explode.

I’m proud to say we’re oppressing our president.

These people need forced medication: a strong dose of laxatives.

Pure leftist social organization – make virtually everything illegal with interwoven networks of petty laws and regulations so nobody can move without breaking them and becoming subject to prosecution. Factor in the prosecutor’s discretion on who or whom not to go after and there you go: CONTROL. Just pick your targets, wait for the inevitable violations, and pounce on your enemies.

The IRS is doing it as we speak, using tax laws to go after political enemies.

RE: O’Blamer being violent: You know what they say, if the shoe fits …

TrooperJohnSmith | February 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Microaggression is what I feel every time I see nonsense disguised as rational thought. Back in the old days, this was called, Pissed-off.

Portraying “people of color” as violent is “microaggression”?

So when will all the black rappers apologize for their racist microaggression?

Is there no inference to be drawn from those who “play” the “knockout game”?

Donald Douglas | February 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Oh boy are we f***ed. It’s humor. Bloody humor, man.

[…] The image was actually an edited .gif, and was shown by Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” last fall. It humorously suggests that the president may be fed up with press conferences. McGill student Brian Farnan, vice president of the university’s student government, sent out an email with the .gif and the harmless caption, “Honestly midterms get out of here,” according to Legal Insurrection. […]

[…] The image was actually an edited .gif, and was shown by Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” last fall. It humorously suggests that the president may be fed up with press conferences. McGill student Brian Farnan, vice president of the university’s student government, sent out an email with the .gif and the harmless caption, “Honestly midterms get out of here,” according to Legal Insurrection. […]

From the text:
“Quite frankly, Brian, it’s going to be difficult to ever take you or the equity commission seriously after this.”

To that I say “Well done, Brian.” That commission needs to be mocked. Early. Often.

Do a million microaggressions add up to one Full one?

President Obama is a politician not a God. For the University to penalize a student for a cartoon or political parody runs contrary to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. The US is not a Police State where people in Power can hide behind their race to avoid responsibility for their policies, personal life, decisions, etc. Canada and the University extremists that FORCED the student to apologize should be ashamed.

The student should have be flogged for such insolence. Doesn’t he know that anyone criticizing our ‘Black’ President Obama is racist. In fact, all those that failed to Vote for him were racist, those that oppose his policies are racist, etc., etc., etc. Thanks to the rapid punishment of this student offender, ‘black’ liberal politicians will never again be questioned or there positions of power threatened by Humor. On Comrades!