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On Virtue Signalling

On Virtue Signalling

I know this is somewhat perverse, but whenever I receive an email from someone who insists on putting “preferred pronouns” after their name (Alice Jones [her, she]) in my reply I write: Alan Weiss (The Prince/Your Eminence).

Do people expect that I’m going to make note of everyone’s preferred pronouns and make sure I consult my list before using a pronoun pertaining to them? Nor will I use the horrid “they” to indicate a single individual. Not long ago I was told that “They wanted to change the time frame.”

“All of them?!” I asked, amazed. No, it was just one person of 24 who used the pronoun “they” which was used to describe her.

I believe all of this is simply “virtue signaling,” like the local theater that makes a stage announcement before its performances that we need to be mindful and thankful that this land once belonged to indigenous people and that “most of our good fortune” comes from the slave trade.

Show me diverse actors, board members, staff, donors, and audiences and I’d be far more impressed than listening to your virtue signaling. Brown University, that bastion of progressive thinking, actually had a dispute with Native Americans here about land they claimed to have purchased (for an anthropological center, no less) which indigenous peoples claimed was theirs. The university finally conceded by assigning them land they owned elsewhere. But they fought it for quite a while.

I’m waiting for Brown, which talks of “holiday trees” and won’t speak of Columbus at all, to rename the Fourth of July. Maybe “the day between the third and fifth.”


Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 1

  • Duke Merhavy

    July 3, 2022


    You almost always make me smile, but this time you made me also jump up and down of joy! This is a great piece and I loved every word of it, especially the “Prince/Your Eminence” part. Sorry, but I have to steal this comeback (or maybe I will make one of my own along the same vein). This is good stuff!

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