All inclusive, or bland?

By | 2013/04/07

“Community”, Greendale Human

In the TV series, “Community“, the local community college, Greendale, tries to come up with the perfect mascot. However, attempting to be all-inclusive, and in no way favourable towards any one ethnicity or gender, they create the simultaneously bland and creepy “Greendale Human”.

To me, this is a pertinent response to “political correctness gone mad” … the notion that everything we do, every group we form, every action we take, must be all-inclusive and cater to everyone. On a similar vein, Futurama mocked the notion of perfect neutrality with:


Perhaps most powerful of all was Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s short story, Harrison Bergeron, where America had enshrined perfect equality for all citizens, resulting the formation of the Handicapper General’s office.

There’s a certain emotional appeal to being all-inclusive. There’s a certain logic, too – until you scratch the surface. Ultimately, there’s a distinct need for common sense to be applied.

Being “all inclusive” is something we strive for in terms of race, beliefs, gender and sexuality, but there are limits. For instance, when I tried to setup a “second class citizens” website aiming at helping to get the message across that being denied the right to marry leaves many gays and lesbians feeling ostracised and second-class within society, someone tried to take me to task for not being inclusive enough – not catering to Aboriginals, Immigrants and other ostracised groups within the community. They all deserve attention, but a focus by individuals on one particular group is hardly tantamount to betraying others.

Some social justice warriors argue that gay mens community groups should open their membership towards women. On the surface, that might sound like it’s an attempt to be inclusive, and non-discriminatory. Yet, in such a situation, where a community group is founded to offer support and socialisation outlets to a particular segment of people, where they can feel completely at ease and mingle with like-minded people, the act of including others outside that original charter can be equally discriminatory.

Some would argue that a gay men’s organisation that chooses to not allow women to join is no different from a “gentlemen’s club” that only allowed caucasians to join, and at a surface level, they might be right. Yet, those caucasians-only clubs of the previous century existed to fuel the bigotry. A gay men’s organisation that chooses to only allow men to join (or indeed, only allows gay men to join) isn’t necessarily predicated on an assumption that women are inferior or in any way to be looked down upon, but simply on the basis that a little separation from time to time, and a focus on specific needs, is actually healthy.

By comparison, there seems to be no accepted arguments bandied around that women’s-only gyms should open their doors to men – even gay men, who are unlikely to ogle women in the gym. You don’t see court cases declaring that Fernwood, for instance, is guilty of sexual discrimination based on only allowing women members.

I’m yet to see an argument that golf clubs should be more inclusive to lovers of other sports and cater to cricketers and basketball players who would like to play their preferred games on the grounds of the golf course. Extrapolating to the ridiculous, I’m yet to see an argument that a System Administrators Guild should allow bikini models to join, and I’m yet to see an argument that the Australian Medical Association should allow plumbers to join.

The most dangerous thing about the bleating of social justice warriors is that on the surface, what they’re suggesting sounds sensible. Yet, there’s a gulf of difference between surface sensibility and practical usefulness.

“All inclusiveness” on the surface seems logical, but if the net result of some group being “all inclusive” is that it’s utterly indistinguishable from the “not group”, then there’s no purpose to it existing at all.