November 27, 2012 by Nash Riggins
Conservative students at Oxford University have made the claim that they’re being persecuted, and are subsequently demanding the same level of special protections that are extended to LGBT individuals, the disabled and ethnic minorities.
Members of the university’s Conservative society – the Junior Common Room – have said that they’re “often actively isolated, personally attacked and made to feel unwelcome,” based solely upon their political views. Accordingly, Oxford’s Conservative students are now petitioning to establish a new position on the union’s Equal Opportunities Committee.
This request is offensive at best – after all, to openly align oneself with a political ideology is to expose oneself to the potential public ramifications.
Broadly speaking, in every society a university tends to serve as the regional base of discussion concerning neo-liberal ideologies. Students are young, and they aren’t making money; therefore, tax policies that favour those with money (ie “job creators”) are justifiably unattractive. Meanwhile, with regards to social reform, the students who aren’t drunk at all times are constantly immersing themselves in new ideas, and want to see those ideas thus applied to society in the name of progress. Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to strive for something different.
The Collins English Dictionary defines a Conservative as someone “favouring the preservation of established customs, values, etc, and opposing innovation”. Is this applicable to all policy decisions? In places such as the United States, without a doubt; however, in Britain this definition is most typically reserved towards legislature concerning money and a free market as opposed to social values.
Conservatives aren’t born Conservatives – they have a choice. In Oxford this may not necessarily be the case, as a vast slice of an ever-decaying British aristocracy still considers the school a breeding ground for its rich, career politicians. That being said, someone can change their political views – unlike the majority of others who claim protection under Equal Opportunities laws.
These laws are generally reserved to prevent discrimination against individuals based upon circumstances of birth, upbringing, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age or sexual preferences. In some cases, it could be justifiably argued that even this list is far too lengthy – after all, the practicing of religion tends to be a choice as well – but that’s neither here nor there.
The LGBT community didn’t choose their sexual preference. Black people didn’t choose to be black, and those suffering from a mental disability did not choose to suffer from a mental disability. Who the hell would assert otherwise? A leopard can’t change its spots, but a Conservative can. If you find this hard to believe, go and Google Michael Bloomberg. Political allegiance is a fickle thing, indeed.
More trivial still is the Conservative students’ rational for demanding protected freedoms: that they were called “haters of gays” and “rape apologists” by other students while watching the US presidential election in November.
The Conservative Party’s official platform makes a clear commitment to sexual equality and gay rights – and many top Tories have recently voiced their full support for gay marriage. If any Conservative students truly are ‘gay-bashers’, they are doing so on their own accord and are completely diverging from official party policy. This constitutes an individualistic choice that does not fall into line with the circumstances that should be protected under Equal Opportunities laws.
In short, Oxford’s Conservatives need to grow a pair and learn to fend for themselves. They have made a choice to publicly display their political beliefs in an environment in which they are most likely a social minority – and they should expect to get called a few names in the process. Are Conservatives so damn insecure about their political beliefs that a false label should bring them to their knees in tears?
Being an adult means dealing with the blows in which you’re dealt – and some of those blows are going to materialise in the form of political taunts. It’s time for Conservative students to grow up and stop moaning – because political choices are open to mockery, and the real word is going to be a hell of a lot crueller than the students union at Oxford University.