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Cancel Culture: University of Victoria Disciplines Professor for Reading Slur from English Literature

The "offensive" literary story in question

The University of Victoria in British Columbia is embroiled in a scandal over the use of a racial slur in a classroom. The horror! A student was subjected to a slur from a professor in an institute of higher learning? Well, not exactly. What happened, and be prepared to be triggered, is this: a professor read a passage from an old English book with the word “nigger” in it. That’s it. That’s the entire scandal. A man read aloud from a book in a university. Formerly a serious university, the University of Victoria’s administration and a large proportion of its professors have become entirely beholden to the dominant radical Left ideology. By the time I arrived for my BA at UVic, I found a university which had long since abandoned serious scholarship and the cultivation of free thinking and instead become a sort of activist base camp, attempting to mold the minds of students to accept globalist ideological precepts. Dissent, even the appearance of dissent, was not tolerated; hence the current scandal.

The professor in question is Joel Hawkes, sessional lecturer in the English Department. He received a BA from Manchester, an MA from Glasgow, and a PhD from Bristol. His profile describes him as “a scholar of Modernist literature” whose “research is cross-period and interdisciplinary, drawing from anthropology, performance studies, and sociology”. By most accounts, he is a great professor who cares about the education of his students. On, he has a 4.7/5 score based on 27 ratings. Students found him to be an easygoing, enjoyable teacher:

Joel’s classes are engaging and to the point. He is very approachable and [is willing] to help when appropriate. I highly recommend him for anyone who wants to take English 135!

This is a great intro class with a lot of guidance and instruction which is incredibly helpful. The material Hawkes chose was engaging and varied. He provides a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the work, the writers, and the discussion. He is prepared to assist in your success.

He’s not an easy marker, but if you put some time into your work you’ll finish with a solid grade. Amazing lectures and explanations!

Professor Hawkes went to work on Monday, September 13th, to teach his English 436 (British Modern Fiction) class. He started to read a passage from a short story the class was studying, “An Outpost of Progress” by Joseph Conrad, written in 1896. Conrad was a Polish-British writer who, despite not speaking English fluently until his twenties, is regarded as one of the greatest authors to ever write in our language. In any case, he came to the word “nigger”, and that was where a black student interrupted the reading.

According to an Instagram post from Black Vancouver, a radical ethnic grievance page, the black student told Professor Hawkes that he “does not need to say that word in order to make his point”. Professor Hawkes replied that he “thought it would be appropriate to show the brutality” of the time. After that the black student in question claims that “paintings of slave ships in flames were shown in the classroom with dismembered slaves scattered all around and all of the (non-black) students discussing how interesting this piece of work is. I had to get up and leave.”

After a bit of research, I concluded that the painting in question is The Slave Ship by J. M. W. Turner. First exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1840, this beautiful and jarring painting was the one that caused the student to leave. It’s certainly disturbing, as any great piece of art that deals with death or disaster is, but obviously Professor Hawkes wasn’t being a racist for showing the picture. And of course, the other students in the class weren’t being racist to comment on this historical painting.

Why JMW Turner's 'The Slave Ship' still resonates today ...

The Slave Ship by J. M. W. Turner

So, we can all agree that nothing racist or even out of the ordinary happened, right? Any normal Canadian who hears this story will understand that Professor Hawkes was teaching about English literature and showing historical paintings, and while doing so he happened to read a word that was in common use at the time that the book was written.

Unfortunately, the academics in charge of our universities are not normal, well-adjusted people. They are subversive activists with an anti-Canadian, anti-white, anti-Christian ideology whose goal is to devalue and erase the great literary and intellectual achievements of Western Civilization in the name of “diversity” and “tolerance”.

The only rational way of handling this affair would have been to dismiss the student’s ideologically motivated outburst of ethnic grievance and officially endorse academic freedom. Instead, the University of Victoria did the opposite. They released a statement denouncing Hawkes:

UVic does not condone the use of racial slurs or any form of racism, no matter the setting. We recognize, as a part of a system rooted in colonialism, the continued violence and marginalization inflicted on Black, Indigenous, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ2S+ communities.

We have been following up on the recent incident and have engaged in important and ongoing discussions with affected individuals. Although we can’t comment publicly on human resources or labour relations matters for legal reasons, we want to assure you that this incident is being addressed in a meaningful way.

We are also exploring what can be done more systemically across our university.

How should the average Canadian decipher this inane statement full of cultural Marxist buzzwords? In the first paragraph, they claim that Canadian universities, including UVic, are rooted in a system of racism and should thus be hyper-aware of allegations of discrimination. This is because the official line in today’s universities is that, because Canada was founded by explorers and settlers from Europe and has historically sought to maintain a Christian European character, the Canadian nation-state is illegitimate and should continuously ask forgiveness from and give reparations to aboriginal and immigrant groups for its mere existence.

Joseph Conrad Biography - Childhood, Life Achievements ...

Joseph Conrad wrote novels that “depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of what he saw as an impassive, inscrutable universe”

In the second paragraph, by consulting “affected individuals”, UVic presumably means the one student in a class of 50 who was offended by an old book and an English painting. After this, they chillingly explain that there is something happening to do with “human resources or labour relations matters” that they can’t comment on. What could this possibly mean other than that Professor Hawkes is being disciplined by H.R? Let that sink in. An academic reads from a book in class and gets disciplined for racism after his university publicly condemns him. In the last line about exploring what they can do “systemically”, UVic means that they will be investigating what institutional changes they can make to further limit academic freedom and reduce the European content of the school curriculum.

The hysteria doesn’t stop there. Karen Johnston, associate director of public affairs at the university, apologized to the class “where the unacceptable racial slur and a triggering image was used in the context of the literature being studied”. Then the Chair of the UVic English Department released an official statement vowing that they will ensure “such incidents never occur again”:

The Department of English in no way condones or promotes racist language or racist behavior. The Chair of English deeply regrets that the use of racist language occurred in one of our classes, and is taking measures to ensure that such incidents never occur again. While the English department is signed on to take the university’s Anti-Racism Awareness workshop this fall, recent events clearly show we need to do more. Discussions are underway about workshops in which we can establish best practices for teaching disturbing and potentially triggering materials. As well, we are continuing with the substantial curriculum revision that reflects our support of the university’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism. The events of last week, and discussion on social media over the weekend, remind us how important this work is and that we must act quickly. I will be working closely with colleagues and the Dean to achieve demonstrable changes that support our individual and departmental commitments and responsibilities.

To comment on just one aspect of this deranged statement, of course by “curriculum revisions”, what they mean is something similar to the actions of 30 schools in Ontario which removed 4700 “racist” books from school libraries and destroyed all of them, going so far as to literally burn some of them. In addition to condemnations from the University of Victoria and the English Department, Hawkes was forced to issue a groveling, North Korea style apology.

So, this is where the universities are these days. This isn’t “goofy social justice”; there is nothing silly about this at all. Academic freedom has been extinguished in Canada, with professors being persecuted for reading great historical novels and showing European paintings. There is an all-out assault being waged on our Western Civilization’s literature: the works of Farley Mowat, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mark Twain, Margaret Mitchell, J.M Barrie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harper Lee, and all other great European authors are being removed from schools. These books, the heights of the achievement and passion of the Western mind, are being replaced with “anti-racist” ethnic grievance trash by Ibram X Kendi and Robin Diangelo. How can the trajectory of censorship and brainwashing we’re on end up with anything other than the total loss of our Western culture? What is a civilization if you take away the knowledge of the great books and art it created? Would you rather your kids read Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain or How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi?

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The new “anti-racist” literature: not quite on par with Homer’s Odyssey

For patriots who have some thoughts about academic freedom and Western literature in Canada and how UVic is cracking down on free speech, there are a couple of ways to let them know:

Email: (The university suggested that the UVic community contact this email about the terrible racist act of reading old European books)

Email: (UVic English Department)

Email: (UVic Equity and Human Rights Office)


  • Riley Donovan

    Founder of Dominion Review (, the home of distinctively Canadian, authentically conservative content. Follow me on Twitter: @mythoscanada

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