Canadian academic refuses to use capital letters because they represent "power structures that oppress" AND I HAVE QUESTIONS.

Sep 4th

Our friends in Canada have once again demonstrated their global leadership in cultural demolition and self-hatred by pursuing the decolonization of basic grammar.

My apologies, permit me to correct that so that I may "reject the symbols of hierarchy wherever they are found" by not using capital letters except to "acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition."

our friends in canada have once again demonstrated their global leadership in cultural demolition by pursuing the decolonization of basic grammar.

I feel less hierarchical already!

The directive to do away with upper case letters and make the Shift key obsolete comes from Dr. Linda Manyguns of Mount Royal University in Calgary Canada who announced her intention in a...

Shoot, this is more difficult than I thought it would be.

i meant, "dr. linda manyguns of mount royal university in calgary, canada" who announced her intention in a tweet:

dr. linda manyguns joins the lowercase movement to reject the symbols of hierarchy wherever they are found and will not use capital letters except to acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition.

Now that I'm thinking about it, since Manyguns (Best. Name. Ever., btw) is an indigenous person whom I am recognizing, I feel like it's okay to use capitalization for this piece. Besides, the grammar crimes I would have to commit to adhere to the diktats of the "lower case movement" could quite possibly drive our ever-diligent proofreader and all-around Not The Bee correcter-in-chief @SDH insane.

Also, there is no such thing as a "lower case movement" outside of Dr. Manyguns' fevered imagination.

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but all I could find when I searched for the term was an article about the young'uns ditching auto caps when texting from a couple years ago and a Wikipedia entry on a kind of minimalist music. When I placed quotes around the term using Google, the world's preeminent search engine and likely sympathetic ally to anything that sows racial division among its users, all I get are links to the same story I'm covering here. I'm sure there is a "movement" of sorts within academic indigenization and decolonization circles (there has to be!) that is just waiting to break out into the mainstream but it's not quite there yet.

Oh, and yes, that's her title, she was hired back in April of this year for a position that Mount Royal University fabricated out of thin air in a release that suspiciously appeared to fully embrace the symbols of hierarchy with its colonialist use of offensive capital letters:

Dr. Linda ManyGuns, PhD, will become the associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal starting May 1, 2021. In this new position, ManyGuns will be the senior Indigenous leader at the University, providing vision, strategy, leadership and direction to advance indigenization and decolonization commitments.

She does claim to be following in others footsteps.

we join leaders like e. e. cummings, bell hooks, and peter kulchyski, who reject the symbols of hierarchy wherever they are found and do not use capital letters except to acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition.

Really?

Let's take a look, shall we? I know, no other news source seems to have thought it important enough to bother checking, you know, "facts," but we like to be thorough here.

First up, e. e. cummings.

Cummings's name is often styled "e.e. cummings" in the mistaken belief that the poet legally changed his name to lowercase letters only. Cummings used capital letters only irregularly in his verse and did not object when publishers began lowercasing his name, but he himself capitalized his name in his signature and in the title pages of original editions of his books.

His style was broadly eclectic and didn't seem to have anything to do with acknowledging indigenous struggles. The notion that he wrote only in lower case is a myth.

Well it turns out that this whole lowercase name business is actually a myth. Norman Friedman, a literature scholar, dispels the apocryphal wisdom that the poet only wrote in lowercase letters.

He varied text alignments, spaced lines irregularly, and used nontraditional capitalization to emphasize particular words and phrases, but it does not appear he was taking some coordinated and deliberate stand against oppressive power struggles by abandoning capital letters.

Okay, how about bell hooks?

As a writer, she chose the pseudonym bell hooks in tribute to her mother and great-grandmother. She decided not to capitalize her new name to place focus on her work rather than her name, on her ideas rather than her personality.

Oddly absent is any discussion about hierarchies.

More oddly is the not-at-all absent use of capital letters in her work. This is the introduction from her 2012 book (the most recent I could find), Writing Beyond Race:

My goodness, perhaps Manyguns should reach out to hooks and alert her to her unintentional embrace of colonialist hierarchies.

Last but not least, there's peter kulchyski.

my refusal of capital letters as in part a refusal of grammatically inscribed hierarchies,

She finally seemed to have gotten a hit here, but kulchyski is, much like herself, an obscure native studies professor from Canada, specifically at the University of Manitoba and I'm sorry, but if you can fit your entire movement into a Mazda MX-5, you don't have a movement. At best, you have a dinner date.

Still, she clearly did not make up the whole thing by herself or even together with kulchyski given that she can barely put together a coherent thought. This is the headline to the piece announcing her decision to "join the 'movement' that does not capitalize."

lower case as Indigenous 'eventing' support resistance

That's not a headline. That's a word jumble.

Incidentally, the institutional commitment to the lower case movement seems to be superficial at best.

The University of Manitoba does not seem to have fully embraced kulchyski's refusal of grammatically inscribed hierarchies.

And neither, really, has Manyguns' Mount Royal University. Other than tweets specifically addressing indigenous peoples and decolonization, MRU seems content to go with traditional hierarchies of capitalization.

Why, it's almost as if they are using Manyguns as a prop to bolster their diversity, equity, and inclusion bona fides and aren't remotely serious about doing anything regarding the infantile noises emanating from Manyguns' office.

The bottom line is this: Striking a blow against colonialist hegemony by rejecting upper case letters is not a remotely serious undertaking. It's juvenile, a product of a simple mind unworthy of employment at an institution with pretensions to higher learning and all of it is enabled by her feckless enablers in the administration.

And yet we are told we all must pretend to think otherwise lest we be accused of being haters.

I guess I'm a hater.

I'm a hater of nonsense.


P.S. While you're here you should check out our latest video: "Culture warrior Barack Obama is back with more fake outrage" 👇

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