Illustration by Yuree Chang

How a Dishonest Article Hides Under the Guise of Conversation

How a disingenuous argument about preferred pronouns hides intolerance under the guise of intellectual discussion.

Pronouns: How Conservative Voices are Drowning in the Liberal Wave” is an unfounded, unethical and uninformed article. Despite being published under the guise of engaging in intellectual discussion, the article aims only to perpetuate transphobia and bigotry, and in doing so presents an argument that is completely illogical. While the article’s stated aim is to have conservative voices heard, it presents a clumsy and weakly held together argument, leaning almost entirely upon two quotations. Among the many valid criticisms of the article, a few stand out. Most notably, there is a clear overgeneralization of Muslim voices, promotion of intolerance under the pretext of free speech and a disingenuous pledge for conversation.
Before we delve into the intricacies of Nicholas Patas' sorry excuse for an article, let’s get some facts straight. On Feb. 12, an email sent by NYU announced that students now have the option of selecting their preferred pronouns on Albert.
This tool is exactly that: a tool. It is not a policy. It is not compulsory nor is it sanctionable. It is available on NYU Albert and is accessed by students across all global sites. It is a tool that students can opt-in to or simply ignore for the duration of their time at NYU. Therefore, the claim that NYU New York would be imposing a “policy” onto other NYU sites is manipulative.
Many of the author’s criticisms seem to stem from the adoption of “liberal” views. But the issue at hand is not about being liberal or conservative, it is about accepting all students and community members. Minorities are asking for the bare minimum when they request that their name be pronounced correctly, or that they should be referred to by their preferred pronouns. That is why it is irresponsible to treat the adoption of preferred pronouns as a matter of free speech. It is a matter of human decency. The "Social Justice Warrior ideology" that the author describes does not stem from NYUNY overreach. It stems from NYU’s values and efforts in trying to foster an inclusive community.
Furthermore, it is impossible to ignore deceitful claims that the quotes represent the voices of all Muslims, conservatives, Emiratis or the UAE’s values of tolerance and inclusivity. For such claims to be considered valid, the insertion of two interviews seems insufficient and unconvincing. Unfounded generalizations will always be counterproductive. It’s unethical, and it lacks honesty.
Among all the differing opinions that exist, there are two facts that are indisputable. Firstly, transgender people exist. It’s not up for debate. Secondly, the use of preferred pronouns is a necessity for the wellbeing of any transgender community. It provides them a platform where they can feel that their identities are somewhat validated.
If you want to participate, do it. If you don't, then don't. For the vast majority, it will change nothing. There are two scenarios. You either choose your cisgender pronouns and vigorously affirm your belief in them, and nothing changes for you. Or you ignore the tool completely, don't select anything, and nothing changes for you.
But for the few who are affected, it will allow them to feel much safer and included. In fact, having the option to select preferred pronouns avoids some of the problems mentioned in the article by Oscar Bray. For example, it guarantees students’ privacy, and it can prevent awkward interactions between professors and students. And it is one step forward in the fight for transgender identities to be recognized.
Intolerance in Patas’ article is disguised as an opinion, and the manipulations of reality presented by the author prove that he had no intention of a nuanced discussion. This article was written to provoke, intimidate and oppress, and we as a community cannot stand for it. In the words of Karl Popper, “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant … then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” In publishing this illogical opinion and presenting it to the student population, we run the risk of drowning out the voices of minorities, and this has never been an option for our community.
Lucas De Lellis da Silva is a Staff Writer. Email him at
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