Mr. Sandor Dosman was having trouble attracting people to apply to be wait staff at his café which is located on the Wilfred Laurier University campus and, ironically it turns out as we go through the story, right next door to the Graduate Students Association (GSA). So Mr. Dosman posts this ad to Facebook in the hopes that being a little off-the-wall and making an attempt at some humour will attract more applicants.
Now, sadly, while the ad seems to have worked and he got interested students applying for the position, he soon found that he was no longer welcome on the WLU campus because he’d used the word “slave” in his ad. The GSA noticed the ad and decided to give Mr. Sandor and the Veritas café the boot based on some obscure clause in their leasing agreement over the university’s “principles”. So, Mr. Sandor was given almost zero time to get off the premises, take all of his equipment and inform the eleven students who worked for him that they were out of a job and now he is left scrambling to figure out how to recover from this mistake that he has apologized for.
Forget the idea that using the word “slave” is triggering or offensive or inappropriate is in itself ridiculous. Of course it’s absurd. But when most authoritarian-wanna bes first show up in history a lot of people regard them as absurd initially too.
What’s most striking in this story is the instantaneous expulsion and unwillingness for not only some due process, but also the inability to provide even a small measure of mercy for a man who employs fellow students and on whose livelihood depends on this business. He’s apologized. He’s acknowledged his “sin”. And yet that’s not enough.
There are two things going on her that tell a lot about what is grabbing hold at universities today across the world; narcissism and complete lack of empathy.
It’s a demonstration of narcissism, in that the GSA know it was a joke, they know he’s apologized, they know that their actions are putting fellow students out of work. They know this. And still they go ahead and prosecute their flimsy grievance. But they are so pathologically intent on flexing their muscles, showing everyone what they can do to whomever they judge unworthy, demonstrating their power, they can’t even resist for a moment to show some mercy.
And it’s a complete lack of empathy. It reminds me of the Louis CK bit on Conan O’Brien from a few years ago where he talks about kids texting and emailing each other nasty stuff because “they’re trying it out”, and whereas fifty years ago if a kid called another kid a name to their face, they’d see and hear the reaction and decide that wasn’t what they’d wanted, that didn’t make me feel as good as I thought it would. They built empathy by being actively engaged with other people, face to face. But now we’re faced with a generation of protected snowflakes, narcissists who even when confronted with the evidence of what their harsh reaction to an obvious minor infraction is going to do to real, actual, living people, they are able to dismiss it. They’ve not built the ability to empathize with “others”. And it’s something you see in the crybaby fits about Trump, and the protests against Jordan Peterson and other acts of what looks like immaturity, but it’s worse than that.