The Made You Look Media company had decreed that to view their latest offering at the Roxy Theatre, the “general admission price of $10 (would) be doubled to $20 for all white cisgender (a pejorative for someone whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex) males.”
Some labelled this a clumsy marketing ploy, a hoax to boost the visibility of an obscure film in a shabby venue.
But organizers insisted it was a legitimate way to get the “highest earning group in Canada” to subsidize the tickets of those without the same purchasing power.
To say that this discrimination backfired would be an understatement.
Some critics pointed out that Asians were in fact a more prosperous demographic and others wondered why the higher disposable income of gay males wasn’t factored into the equation. Less restrained voices called the move “pandering to smug self-righteous bigots … and self-deprecating cucks.”
After enduring a wave of social media outrage that included threats of human rights complaints, the company’s public relations manager, Sid Mohammed, emerged with a piece of verbal sleight of hand, saying, “We have lowered the price for white cisgendered able-bodied males to $15. Everyone else will pay a discounted price of $10.”
Whether this was a canny (or maladroit) public relations exercise or a sincere attempt to “make the community a better place,” it was nonetheless a manoeuvre that had nothing to do with justice and everything to do with identity politics.
Those on the extreme right and left in North America now demand that their fellow citizens be judged (as Martin Luther King lamented) not on their character but on the colour of their skin. Or their gender. Or their bedroom practices. Or their religion. Or their place of origin.
New moral hierarchies are erected: the ‘privileged’ are to be brought low and the ‘oppressed’ are to be raised high. Hiring decisions are made not on the quality of the applicant but whether he or she can offer the firm the correct facial pigment or sex organ. Admission to some universities’ faculties of education now depends on being able to tick a box that indicates race, disability, gender or sexual orientation, despite the fact there are no studies showing that these are factors in producing effective teachers.
This isn’t a time in world history for Canadians to be segregating each other, or rushing to put themselves and their neighbours into hyphenated categories. We don’t have to look very far south to see the unhappy results that occur in a country when politicians and activists attempt to play social groups against each other.
Rather, we need to find ways to be reconciled, to co-operate and to flourish in one wonderful multicultural nation where no one – even at the box office – gets to decide your worth as a human being.
Gerry Bowler is a senior fellow at the think-tank Frontier Centre for Public Policy.