It emerged this week that diversity-obsessed students at Canterbury Christ Church University are alarmed the students’ union should have used a trio of white men to promote an early sale of summer ball tickets.
Apparently, so upset are they that they plan a “no fun night out for me” boycott of the annual end-of-year marathon bender.
So just how did the SU damage some students’ sensibilities? It released the names of three performers booked for the evening as a way of driving up advance ticket sales.
They were rapper Professor Green, a character called Super Hans from tv comedy Peep Show and Mullally, a musician not to be confused with former England fast bowler Alan Mullally.
That the three people chosen to promote the ball are white men is evidence that “women and black people don’t sell”, according to one student.
Naomi Campbell doesn’t sell. Samuel L Jackson doesn’t sell. Nor does Idris Elba. Or Angelina Jolie. According to this particular student’s logic, if any of the aforementioned quartet had been booked by the SU, it wouldn’t have used any of them to promote the party.
This demonstrates why the type of thinking is so poisonous. Firstly, it imputes the most despicable motives to the minds of organisers by suggesting – perhaps even stating – that they are applying racist and sexist judgments upon which famous names to exploit for their marketing purposes.
Secondly, it implies that only physical characteristics matter – not a performer’s talent, fame or selling power. It tells entertainers from minority backgrounds that their value to the profession is solely by dint of what the accident of birth has physically bestowed upon them – rather than what they have achieved through effort and skill.
In the real world away from the Canterbury Christ Church University campus, people engaged in business do not think like this. They are consumed with ensuring the time and effort they have invested in their enterprises leads to success.
A realistic explanation, therefore, is that the trio of names chosen by the SU to promote the ball are in truth a commercial decision.
Moreover, the organiser of the ball is a students’ union, one of the most laughably politically correct institutions known to mankind. There is absolutely no way it is dismissing performers on the basis that they are black or women.
But the mentality of the complaining Christ Church students reveals what happens when you don’t see humanity as a whole, when you throw up lines dividing people from one another.
What’s not clear is why the Christ Church students have only picked two characteristics – race and gender – to make their case for under-representation. Why not the disabled? Or what about faith? Class? Height? Weight? Education?
Or what about age? The over-60s do not appear to be represented by the line-up. Perhaps the cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, 78, could be wheeled out in a dickie bow to the get the sweaty throng pumped up with tales of japes in the Test Match Special commentary box.
All we’ve really learned this week is the capacity for identity to politics to perpetuate bitterness, enmity and resentment.
Canterbury Christ Church University’s summer ball is a party featuring top acts – not some joyless exercise in social engineering.
Why not just enjoy it.