Compelling Bad Faith and Other Threats to Free Speech

It harms a person to force him to say things he doesn’t believe or punish him for saying things others wish not to hear because those actions restrict his cognitive liberty. Cognitive liberty is a right to which all are entitled, even if formally unrecognized by the global community; the entitlement to mental self-determination is the principle underpinning the free speech ethic.

Children pledging allegiance to the US flag. Was their expression of patriotism compelled?

On the other hand, it does not hurt a person to hear something he doesn’t believe or that offends his sensibilities—even if it is meant to degrade him. If he think such utterances hurt him, that’s his problem. Indeed, it is to his benefit that he hear opinions and sentiments with which he disagrees or that make him feel uncomfortable; his personal growth and development depends on it. How are we to change minds if we cannot challenge beliefs and offend sensibilities? How do we build resiliency and tolerance? How cruel it is to leave person stuck in the mud of confusion, bitter and resentful over words.

The demand that any of us speak in a manner desired by others, either by formal social control (laws, policies) or informal social control (bullying, mobbing, shaming), either intends or functions to prevent the development of mutual knowledge through the exclusion of other ways of speaking and, therefore, of thinking. An ignorant man loses opportunities for enlightenment when the arguments with which he is unfamiliar are denied him through speech codes.

Consider the arrests of republicans in Great Britain who took the opportunity of the queen’s death to persuade their fellow citizens (subjects, actually) to abandon the monarchy for a more democratic and secular form of government. Consider that Pay-Pal has shut down the accounts of Toby Young, the founder of the Free Speech Union, a non-partisan, mass-membership public interest group in the United Kingdom that stands up for the speech rights of its members, as well as the founder of The Daily Sceptic, a blog Young set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to scrutinize Britain’s lockdown. This action hurts Young for the reasons I gave in the first paragraph.  

Moreover, the acts of compelling and punishing speech forces those who would speak in a different way into bad faith; fearful of speaking in the objectionable manner, they lie, prevaricate, or fall silent (Can I Get an “Amen” to That? No, But Here’s Some Fairy Dust). Bad faith creates a deeply unjust situation in which those who disagree with the prevailing speech norms and the structures they mean to impose are enlisted in at least tacitly affirming the ideology that establishes those norms by denying or lying about beliefs that contradict the prevailing ideology.

One of the most serious abridgments of the freedom of speech is at once among the most subtle, and that’s this notion of “inclusion.” Inclusion, which in practice includes the idea of belonging, aims to ensure that every person feels safe to bring their unique selves to the endeavor at hand. Thus inclusion is in the service of establishing diversity in our institutions and organizations. It follows that speech that makes a person feel reluctant to express their unique self is exclusive. Exclusive speech must therefore be suppressed in achieving the goal of an inclusive space for diversity’s sake. The goal of inclusion may lead to bad faith, wherein a person is afraid to speak his mind for fear of sanction, which can include his own exclusion via marginalization, segregation, or termination. Is there a contradiction?

Yes, there is a contradiction. However, the contradiction is “resolved” via the deployment of a rhetoric that manufactures a theory of power that is alleged to justify suppressing the unique selves of some groups as necessary to allow members of other groups to express theirs. In other words, some speech (and therefore certain ideas and sentiments) are excluded so others may feel included.

Whose views are to be excluded and why? There’s a pattern in the West. If you are white, heterosexual, Christian, and especially male, your beliefs, opinions, and sentiments are justifiably suppressed for the sake of others. The justification comes from a supposed theory of power that imagines a world in which white, cis-gendered, heterosexual people, and some gays and lesbians, and some nonwhites—really any one who voices opinions that are contrary to the tenets of woke progressivism, are oppressors; these are opinions and sentiments that do not affirm the beliefs of those allegedly oppressed by them. Opinions and sentiments are thus assigned to the oppressor category and excluded on that basis.

For example, the desire expressed by a small minority (with a lot of allies) that people believe that males identifying as women are women seeks popular affirmation and is offered as necessary in advancing the cause of an inclusive workplace. One might think that it is fundamental to cognitive liberty for a person to reject the premise that a woman, i.e., an adult human female, a scientific designation, cannot by the other genotype, i.e., an adult human male. However, this view is portrayed as a bigoted one, one that makes individuals who wish others to participate in the illusion they wish to establish feel excluded.

Imagine being told to affirm that there is no God but Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, is His messenger. Is this a violation of your religious liberty? Obviously. Will you be accused of being an “Islamophobe” if you refuse to chant the slogan. Maybe. But you will very likely be accused of being a “transphobe” if you refuse to repeat the slogans of gender ideology. The mark of a free society is the ability to question any ideology and refuse to affirm the slogans of any doctrine without consequence. You cannot force citizens to pledge allegiance to a flag in a free republic. Really, situations should not be contrived in which this end is likely to manifest.

Then there is this absurd problem of how others will use one’s arguments, a question Helen Lewis famously put to Jordan Peterson a few years ago in an interview on British GQ in 2018 (which you can view below), is an attempt to persuade and, if the law or other authority is involved, compel self-censorship. But the notion of holding a person accountable for something somebody else says, besides resting on a fallacious premise, is profoundly illiberal. Freedom demands that each person is responsible for his of her actions and not the actions of others. The attempt to stifle speech because some might use the ideas conveyed to rationalize their behavior should be seen for what it is: a naked attempt to prevent the transmission of arguments, opinions, and sentiments that those who would presume to know better wish others not know.

Free Speech and the Woke Progressive Double Standard

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel that won the 1960 Pulitzer prize, and that I put on the reading list a judge asked me to assign a racist white juvenile who came through her court, was ranked seventh on American Library Association’s list of the most banned books as recently as 2020. Why? Because it contains the word “nigger.” Public schools in Burbank, California, banned not only To Kill a Mockingbird, but the district also banned Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Theodore Taylor’s The Cay, and Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. All books that contain the word “nigger.”

When First Lady Melania Trump sent a collection of Dr. Seuss books to schools around the nation for “National Read a Book Day,” Liz Phipps Soeiro, a school librarian at Cambridgeport Elementary School in Massachusetts, sent them back, writing in The Horn Book blog that “Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.” I feel confident that Soeiro wasn’t alone among progressive librarians in interpreting Trump’s actions as a provocation. NBC News ran a story on my birthday in 2021 explaining “Why Dr. Seuss got away with anti-Asian racism for so long”: the “reckoning has been delayed because of historically ingrained anti-Asian racism, experts say.” Experts say. Must be true then.

Pages from Dr. Seuss’ 1937 book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. NBC wants you to note that the spread “includes an image of an Asian man with yellow skin, slanted eyes and a pigtail, holding a pair of chopsticks and a bowl of rice over the text, ‘A Chinaman who eats with sticks.’” Not also that others have skin the same as the pages of the book (nobody is actually that white). Note the yellow rabbits. There do not appear to be many colors to work with. Consider that the story is told from the perspective of a child. How would a child describe the scene given the language he would have had to work with in 1937? How should Dr. Seuss have drawn the man’s eyes?

I recently wrote in Some Notes on Free Speech: “Did you know that censoring content for adults is not the same thing as censoring content for children? That’s because the body of science in child development finds that, because of variation in imagination, sense of self, and degree of maturity in the capacity for abstraction and reason, not everything from the adult world is age-appropriate and that the regulation of childhood experience is important for normal development of children into adulthood.” I wrote further in that blog, “In figuring out the world and their place in it, their role in the system of roles and statuses, children often pretend to be things they encounter in their environment. Children may obsess over certain thoughts. Children are easily influenced and manipulated.”

I did not have in mind To Kill a Mockingbird when I wrote those words. There is nothing in that book or in Huckleberry Finn that a child shouldn’t read or see. To be sure, “nigger” is widely regarded as an offensive word, but To Kill a Mockingbird, a powerful critique of racism in America’s past, affords adults an opportunity to teach children about the history of racial bigotry. Huckleberry Finn humanizes a black man when racism was a problem in America. And Dr. Seuss? There is nothing racist in And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. However, there are books aimed at children that do not intend to teach them about tolerance and equality or the joy of rhyming and cultivating a playful imagination, but rather to expose them to the adult world of sexuality. “As a general rule, no books should be censored,” I write in Some Notes on Free Speech. “However, in the case of children and material designed to sexualize them, censorship is appropriate.”

I clarify my words today to push back against the argument that the desire to censors books is mostly a right-wing desire—that whereas progressives want to band a book here and there for its racist imagery, rightly from their woke sensibilities (which are wrong from any rational standpoint), conservatives want to purge the library of materials that sexualize children or urge them to doubt their sexuality. An examination of many of the books to which parents are objecting will find explicit depictions of sex acts that are inappropriate for school age children. Where are such things in Dr. Seuss? Moreover, whereas the books progressive seek to ban are books written in opposition to a pernicious ideas, the materials over which conservatives are objection are written to promote an ideology. One would understand if progressives petitioned to have materials supplied by the neo-Nazi organization Storm Font excluded from public school libraries. But Harper Lee?

Note To Kill a Mocking Bird is next on the stack of banned books

Lethal Civilian-Police Encounters: Don’t Muddy the Waters

First time reading this from the Boston Globe: “The statistical paradox of police killings: In the numbers of fatal encounters with the cops, one kind of discrimination masks another.” Aubrey Clayton may be a good mathematician, but his appeal to Simpson’s paradox only matters if the facts are accurate—and they’re not. Clayton is off the mark in his claim concerning racial disparities in civilian-officer encounters. By a lot. Whites are far more likely to encounter police in both police-initiated (including street stops and arrests) and public-initiated contacts (whites are significantly more likely to call police to report a possible crime, for example) than are blacks.

A protester in Philadelphia wore a shirt with the names of people who died in encounters with the police.

What Clayton doesn’t talk about is that police shootings are determined not by racial bias (where is the evidence of this?) but by individual and situation factors, and these factors are more likely to be present on a proportional basis when black suspects are involved. Even then, the police kill twice as many whites as blacks on an annual basis. More than that if you count Hispanics as white, the race two-thirds of Hispanics identify as (Hispanic isn’t a racial category but an ethnic one).

Moreover, even if the facts supported Clayton’s claim, it would not follow that racial bias explained the disparity. Any claim that racial disparity is the result of racial bias must come with clear evidence of racial bias. Disparity is not prima facia evidence of bias. Ever. It’s like this claim that we need to do away with standardized testing because blacks don’t do as well as whites as a group and therefore the tests are racially bias. How about this: blacks don’t do as well as whites as a group because they are not as well prepared for the test as whites? That’s what the evidence shows. Is the lack of preparation racist? The evidence suggests that these effects are produced by class and culture, not race. So probably not. (See John McWhorter’s New York Times article “Lower Black and Latino Pass Races Don’t Make a Test Racist.“)

For the record, civilian-police encounters run in the tens of millions annually. The police kill approximately a thousand civilians a year (again, most of whom are white). The proportion of those civilians who are unarmed is around a dozen–and being unarmed does not make a person not dangerous. The fact is that the probability that a violent offender will be killed by a cop is vanishingly small. Given that the United States is the most criminally violet advanced democracy in the world, Cops show remarkable constraint in interactions with civilians.

Why I am not a socialist

“Confessions” was a word game popular in Victorian England. It involved candidly answering revealing questions that went to character. One could learn a lot about a person from reading his answers. In the spring of 1865, Karl Marx played the game (apparently he played the game often, and here we have his answers recorded). He was asked what vice he most hated. His answer: “Servility.” He was also asked his idea of misery: “To submit.”

Scene from the 1984 movie Nineteen Eighty-Four

Reflecting on Marx’s answers over coffee this morning, I realized that this is why, despite being a Marxist and very much a man of the left, I no longer consider myself a socialist: socialism has required servility and submission everywhere it has been tried (or installed, some might insist). Indeed, servility and submission seem to be intrinsic to the logic of socialism. Like Marx, I hate servility and submission.

This is why, I think, the corporate state in its overdevelopment appears more and more like a socialist state: elite control over the economy is not enough for the masters of the universe; they also must comprehensively manage the people reduced to masses, even to the extent that the masses—the proles—must think and talk in a prescribed manner. As with the Soviet Union, even telling jokes under corporate state rule risks reputational damage and loss of livelihood.

Bureaucratic collectivism demands a reduction in the capacity of people to think and speak for themselves. Bureaucratic collectivism requires that the state replace the family. In meeting the needs of the people, the corporate state, like the socialist state, tells the people what those needs are. Bureaucratic collectivism demands servility. It necessitates submission. Right or left, totalitarianism, naked or inverted, makes servants of everybody.

Today, we are witnessing a Great Convergence. The US and China, whatever condemnation a Democrat politician may cobble together in response to a questions about China’s totalitarianism (which is never really considerable, genocide and organ harvesting being an ignorable fact), are partners in organizing the world economy (a project Joe Biden spearheaded, for the record).

For my friends on the right, if you loathe socialism, then you must also loathe the corporate state. It’s the New Fascism. For my friends on the left (not the faux left of woke progressivism, but the actual leftists who still center social class in their understanding of social dynamics), I don’t believe socialism is the solution to the corporate state. I think what you see in the corporate state is what you can expect in the next failed socialist experiment. Unlike Marx, we have a record we may consult.

One might say that the Soviet Union was an exception. Oh, and China, as well. And, of course, Cuba. Etcetera. One might say, “But this time the experiment will succeed!” But it’s the same story everywhere. It never works in the end. Not for the people anyway. For them, it always manifests like the nightmare world of Orwell’s imagination (which is why, as Christopher Hitchens noted, Orwell never needed to spend much time criticizing national socialism—metaphorically criticizing Stalinism was good enough to get across the point).

I have read most of everything Marx ever wrote. I am now convinced that every instantiation of “really existing” socialism was not what Marx would have desired in a social system fit for species-being. Why? Because he most hated servility and considered the state of submission to be the most miserable state of them all. If Marx were alive today, I seriously doubt he would be a socialist. But I know I am not. Not anymore.

When asked about his maxim, Marx answered: Nihil humani a me alienum puto. Asked about his motto, he responded: De omnibus dubitandum. These responses reinforce my confidence that Marx, if he were alive today, would likely consider a different path forward from the one he offered to the world in 1848. This does not diminished his critique and his discoveries. After all, Marx (and Engels) insisted that critical political analysis must be concerned first and foremost with existing conditions in the light of history.

Elite Hankerings for Obedience

As many of you know, I am a professor at a public university. My semester begins tomorrow (I am teaching four classes this semester—I always teach four classes a semester), and that probably means my blogging will have to give way to class preparation, lecturing, mentoring students, etc. I have been thinking about organizing a series of podcasts arounds my lectures, so we will see how that goes. If this happens, I will use Freedom and Reason to notify readers. Stay tuned! In today’s blog I make a few observations about the desire of elites to control people and the way race is used to thwart class consciousness.

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My iPhone keeps asking me if I want to sign up for a surveillance program that lets me know if I’ve been exposed to coronavirus. Why would I need to be notified if somebody I know caught cold? Why would I want to embed my life in a surveillance program run by the Wisconsin Department of Health? (See Why Coronavirus and Not Other Cold Viruses? When a Virus Goes Viral.) I need that like I need a mRNA shot in my arm.

Every time I open my iPhone I have to see this on my screen.

Remember during the Bush/Cheney years the color-coded terrorism threat assessment chart? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called it the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS)—as if it were a method for alerting the public to severe weather conditions. Like the NTAS, “exposure notifications” for COVID-19 is fear mongering. This is not to suggest that Islamic terrorism is analogous to a coronavirus (or to severe weather); it’s to point out the way in which the government uses similar strategies to keep the public in a perpetual state of dread. The technocrats mean to make you afraid of a cold virus, and, for a lot of you, it worked like a charm. Still does. It’s a tactic of control. Tragically, many people like to be controlled. It keep them from having to think for themselves.

The National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Speaking of severe weather, now they’re using climate change to take away your energy and food. Perhaps you have heard (perhaps not in America where the corporate media has buried the story) that Dutch farmers have been protesting the government’s demands they reduce emissions, the resistance described by Prime Minister Mark Rutte as “willfully endangering others, damaging our infrastructure and threatening people who help with the clean-up.” The government’s is planning to cut nitrogen emissions in the agriculture industry in half by 2030. Other countries are discussing implementing similar measures. This policy will not only harm farmers, but it will hurt everybody, as everybody depends on the food farmers grow. It’s almost as if the Dutch government is trying to antagonize the public as a pretext for raising the level of authoritarian control of the population—while driving up food prices and impoverishing the masses.

To be sure, we need to be concerned about global warming, but at the expense of access to nutritious food? How much longer are folks going to do the Chicken Little? I mean, if the climate situation is as bad as they say it is, then the only way out of it is through technological development—and technological development depends on economic growth. Does starving people grow the economy?

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Things got bizarre real quick, didn’t they? Stuff like this doesn’t happen by accident. There are longer trends behind the chaos. How does it happen, for instance, that, in a country that condemns racism, it’s okay to be racist towards whites? In fact, with the possible exception of East Asians, whites are the only racial group folks are allowed to be racist towards. And not just a little bit racist.

Listen to the nonsense coming out of Bernie Sanders’ face at the top of the video. Almost everything he says is demonstrably false. I’m white. I’ve been poor. I’ve even been homeless. I’ve lived in roach-invested cramped apartments. I have gone hungry, I have even begged for money. I have been hassled by the police just for walking down the street, dragged out of a car by cops just for sitting in a car, harassed by cops in front of an arcade talking with friends just for hanging out in front of an arcade talking with friends. These cases may sound anecdotal, but they are experiences shared by millions of other white people.

Fact: there are many more poor whites than there are blacks—by tens of millions (see They Do You This Way). Fact: cops kill twice as many whites than cops kill blacks every year (see The Myth of Racist Criminal Justice Persists—at the Denial of Human Agency). Fact: black people kill more white people than white people kill black people by a lot (see Why are there so Many More White than Black Victims of Interracial Homicide?). What on earth is Sanders talking about? How can he be that out of touch with the largest segment of the working class? Isn’t he a democratic socialist? (No, he’s a progressive. That’s why he is out of touch. And that is a charitable spin on his rhetoric.)

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tells us to watch out for white people. They’re committing most of the murders in the United States, she says. Fact: black men commit most murders (and most robberies) in the United States—not proportionately, but absolutely (see The Myth of Racist Criminal Justice Persists—at the Denial of Human Agency). I won’t go through each clip in this video. It will suffice to say that the video is chockfull of anti-white racism. Watch it for yourself.

This what “anti-racism” is all about—if you haven’t figured that out yet (I’m sure many of you have but are hesitant to say so in public). Just stick “white” between “anti” and “racism” and you’ll have the complete picture. Now you know why, according to race hustlers like Ibram Xolani Kendi (deadname: Henry Rogers), non-racism equals racism. These are word tricks. They mean to confuse you. Racism is not rehearsing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of colorblindness. Racism is centering race by demanding that everybody regard everybody else in terms of racial identity and not as individuals. Racism is the reduction of people to race and treating them on that basis. Racism is saying that every white person enjoys skin color privilege and is either an oppressor or an ally. Colorblindness is the real antiracism.

There is a concerted effort by progressives to paint white people as the greatest threat to democracy and to move whites to self-loathe. Why is that? There’s a claim going around that white supremacy is the most serious problem in the United States. It’s an utterly false claim, so why do they keep saying it? You’ve surely heard that whites enjoy racial privilege. That’s a false claim, too. And that the country is plagued by systemic racism. Another false claim. What’s going on?

The extent of and expressed confidence in what are demonstrable lies tells you that the rhetoric has in back of it power and a project to transform the West by scapegoating white people—to equate western culture with whiteness and use this conflation to dismantle western civilization and that inheres in that sociocultural system: democracy, equality, individualism, liberalism, rationalism, secularism, etc. (See The Myth of White Culture.) The reason is obvious enough: elites are racializing the working class to keep to the proles politically inert (see The Elite Obsession with Race Reveals a Project to Divide the Working Class and Dismantle the American Republic). White workers are “racist” and “fascist”—they’re the “deplorables.” And the US security services—and the same is true in Great Britain—use the racialization of working people to surveil and harass them (MDM is the New WMD: DHS Issues a New NTAS Bulletin).

The horrors of western civilization. See Free Black Thought’s Six Unsettling Features of DEI in K-12

This is what the Orwellianisms—“diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” etcetera—are all about: disempowering the working class by centering race and ignoring class. The working class happens to be majority white, so by centering race, progressives make whites appear as a bunch of oppressors, with social justice representing the strategy for rectifying what is a manufactured situation, fragmenting workers along identitarian groups in the name of race and gender equity. In the end, progressives are undermining what MLK, Jr gave his life for: racial equality. It’s shameful. But it’s functional and so it continues. It continues also because it’s a quasi-religion, and giving up religion risks admitting you are duped or becoming completely lost, and these possibilities terrify the emotionally childish and psychologically insecure.

You surely will have noted that the actual source of inequality in our society, namely social class, is rarely, if ever, mentioned by progressives. Why is that? Don’t progressives like Bernie Sanders stand for the working class? Don’t we “Vote for Democrats because Democrat vote for us”? No. Progressives represent the middle class, not the working class. By “middle class,” I mean the professional-managerial strata of the corporate capitalist state. The working class is the class where most black and brown people toil alongside their white comrades. Remember when Joe Biden said “Poor kids are just as bright as white kids”? Why would he say such a thing? Because he gaffs? Because he’s a stutterer? Because in his mind—as in the minds of millions of progressives—white kids are rich kids and poor kids are the nonwhite kids. Poor white kids don’t exist. They have been erased like the white victims of police shootings (Tony Timpa Can’t Breathe).

Progressivism is an expression of the technocracy, the ideology of the professional managerial stratum: administrators, teachers, doctors, and so on. This ideology sees abstract demographic categories as tribes and selects a few amongst them to represent the rest at the table—as if once extracted from one’s class location allows them to actually do that. Indeed, they’re expected to do the opposite—represent the interests of the corporate class. This is why a black man who resists wokeness is an Uncle Tom. Remember, if you’re not voting for Joe Biden, you’re not black.

Biden giving a speech before a fascistic backdrop. The only thing added to this image is the word “obey.” Perhaps there was no need to add the word. The image screams obedience.

Have you listened to the now notorious Joe Biden September 1, 2022 speech? It’s very clear what the establishment’s position is going into the midterm elections: Republicans who agree with Biden and the Democrats—“mainstream Republicans”—are acceptable if not approved; populists pushing republicanism (note the lower case) in the face of the administrative state, patriots opposed to the managed decline of the West, to globalization, mass immigration, multiculturalism, and all the rest of it—they are “enemies of state.” Maybe they are. But what is the character of this state? That matters in deciding whether the enemies are really patriots.

Biden’s speech, bellicosely projected before a full-throated fascist aesthetic (in blood red that CNN, in a tacit admission of the mood conveyed, softened to pink), was a rebuke of liberalism and nationalism, the foundations of the American project. Biden represents the interests of the transnational corporate elite. These are not the people’s interests. Democracy in elite parlance is technocracy, the “managed democracy” of the corporate state—the “inverted totalitarianism” of the New Fascism—run by the professional-managerial class (Quotes denote the concepts of the late, great Sheldon Wolin. (See From Inverted to Naked Totalitarianism: The West in Crisis; C. Wright Mills and the New Fascism. See also Totalitarian Monopoly Capitalism: Fascism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.)

Biden’s speech was an instantiation of the project to make ordinary working class Americans out to be fascists and racists. But the reality is that Biden and his party represent the most authoritarian and illiberal force in America today: the corporate state. But he is right about the desire for a one-party state. Democrats represent the chosen party of corporate power and corporate power wants no rivals. They do mean to destroy any social movement that threatens the globalist establishment. With the rise of a populist-nationalism explicitly aimed at restoring democratic-republicanism, corporate power is desperate to derail the challenge. Not just in America. Populist-nationalism is a trans-Atlantic phenomenon. It is unfortunate that there is no organized political left to offer an alternative to the right-wing style of populist-nationalism.

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When asked about culture, history, tradition, etcetera, Martina Big told her interviewers that she’s going to have her nose worked on, too, broadened the way she perceives black noses to be. That will make her appear more black, she believes. Martina says that she likes the way black women look, so she wants to look like one. Put another way, she wants to make a costume of black woman out of her body and wear it around. Martina used to be pretty hot, to be frank about it. Now she’s hideous. I am sorry to be so blunt, but people shouldn’t do things like to their bodies and maybe shaming them will help others avoid repeating their mistake. Martina has, like a growing number of people today, turned herself into a monster. (See Disordering Bodies for Disordered Minds.)

Martina Big has disfigured herself It is difficult to look at her.

Race, if reduced to physical differences, which is what the term referred to when it appeared in the early twentieth century, based as it was on the development of the science over the previous two centuries (at least), is really about ancestry (albeit there is some genetic affinity with ordinary understanding of phenotypic constellations defined as race). To changes one’s appearance only allows the person to appear as if their ancestry is black, albeit I am not sure Martina has pulled it off; I doubt this woman has black ancestry. In other words, trans-racialism, again, if race is about physical differences, is short-circuited by the fact of genetics and inheritance. To be sure, race, like gender, is to some degree a social construction, but that does not mean it doesn’t have empirical referents. Same with gender. One can claim to be a different race or gender, but they actually can’t. The idea that we’re supposed to affirm their self-identification as another race or gender is a rather bizarre notion—and an oppressive one if the state and law is at its back (which increasingly it is).

I understand why those interviewing Martina are criticizing her, but I honestly don’t know what one means by “black culture”—and I’m a sociologist who studies these things! Culture is associated with shared space and worldview, the conditions of which are determined by a myriad of factors, none of which has anything to do with race … except if you’re a racist, then you explain culture in terms of genetics. Likewise, there’s no white culture. There’s only a culture wherein one finds may find many or few or no white people in it. Western culture is not “white.” It just happens to be the case that western culture emerged in a space where whites were the majority. Western culture does not spring from the genetics of the people who comprise its majority. Again, that is a profoundly racist idea. Western culture emerges from climatic, geographical, historical, and a myriad of other actual forces. Western chauvinists are not racist. They seek to preserve the Enlightenment and its fruits. It has nothing to do with race.

I suppose Martina can appear any way she wishes, but we must say that she is not black in the way that concept is understood. Once more: you can’t change your genetics. They’re fixed. You will always be the race you are born as, whatever you or anybody else thinks of you. You will also grow old and die some day. Life comes with brutal truths. We don’t help people by helping them avoid confronting reality.

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Speaking of drastic body alterations…

As with most Islamic-majority nations, Iran is profoundly homophobic. This deep homophobia goes hand-in-hand with that religion’s extreme patriarchal worldview. The idea that a boy could be attracted to other boys or like the things that girls like horrifies not only the elites in Iran but the Iranian population at large. Besides being shunned, homosexuality is punishable with death in Iran.

Why Iran is a hub for sex-reassignment surgery?

However, the regime has adopted the position that gay people are the opposite gender trapped in the wrong physical body. Why else would a boy find other boys sexually attractive? So the regime pushes gay people into drastically altering their body to appear as the opposite gender (what in the West is referred to as “sex reassignment surgery” or “gender affirming care,” terms that assume sex is assigned and that gender needs affirming). The regime will even pay for hormones and surgery. Many young Iranians and their parents opt for medical intervention not only to avoid being hanged from cranes in public or other serious punishments, but social pressure to be accepted in Iranian society. In other words, Iran has a project to eliminate gay and lesbian people by making them appear as the other sex. It’s a medical alternative to “pray the gay away” (since praying doesn’t work). It’s a radical form of conversion therapy.

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I am writing this blog on Labor Day. A friend on Facebook posted this as a reflection on the day:

Meme on Facebook

The meme obscures an essential point about unskilled labor. Unskilled labor exists as the result of industrial capitalism deskilling labor via breaking up the production process, deploying automation and mechanization, and the imposition of scientific management, i.e., Fordism and Taylorism. For example, weaving used to be a skill. With the advent of the power loom, the “weaver” only needed to clear the shuttle when it jammed, or manage other simple tasks, tasks that a five-year-old could do—and often did. Building a car used to be a skill, but Ford fixed it so a person had to put a nut on a bolt as the automobile rolled by. Etcetera.

The beauty of unskilled labor is that workers became interchangeable and needed little training. Skilled workers are valuable—so abstracting labor from the process and turning the worker into a cog in a vast machine transferred that value to the man who owns the machine. Unskilled workers lived in constant fear of being canned at any moment. And if a worker had his arm ripped off by a flywheel, then another worker could take his place the next day, as no skill was involved. An additional benefit was reducing the capacity of workers to think and to grasp the production process as a whole, which may raise consciousness about class exploitation.

Lesbians Don’t Like Penises, So Our Definitions Must Change

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”—John 1:1

What’s up with the struggle between trans women and TERFs? What’s a TERF? Twitter is blowing up over this as I write this blog. I’ve had these questions put to me several times now by different individuals. “Dude, you’re a sociologist. You guys do sex and gender and social movements, right? Explain this to me.” I was asked this just last night at a dinner party (of which there are no images.) Okay, I will. But reluctantly, as you will see.

I wrote most of this blog a while ago but avoided posting it because I see what happens to people who talk about gender ideology in a direct way with words that do not affirm the truth of what has become a worldview for many—not a majority—of people. But I listened yesterday to a podcast in which Brendan O’Neill interviewed satirist Andrew Doyle and the discussion has moved me to be, well, more direct.

Andrew Doyle’s new book, The New Puritans: How the Religion of Social Justice Captured the Western World, was the subject of discussion on O’Neill’s show. I have not read the book, but I have read John McWhorter’s 2021 Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America, and from the detailed interview O’Neill produced, I hear a lot of parallels.

The specific discussion point that brought me back to the draft of this blog was an email revealing Stonewall’s attempt to suppress a report about predatory males entering woman’s spaces in which an official of Stonewall branded lesbians “sexual racists” for raising concerns about being pressured into having sex with transwomen who have male genitals (and presumably even those who don’t). This was precisely the issue I raise in this blog. So here we are.

Stonewall is an activist organization in the United Kingdom describing itself as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights charity and recognized as such by the British government. It is the largest such organization in Europe. Stonewall rose to a position of policymaking power with New Labour (the takeover of labor by the professional-managerial class in association with transnational corporate power) in the latter 1990s. Its agenda was an admirable one, fighting for the equality of gays and lesbians, which was, as it was also in the United States, achieved. Seeking to keep the organization alive (you are surely familiar with the problem of bureaucratic inertia), it took up gender ideology and switched its advocacy to transgender interests. This has brought it into conflict with the interests of gays and lesbians.

I had not heard about the Stonewall email before Doyle brought it up. But I do remember hearing all my life that rude remark that all lesbians need to turn them around is some dick. I bet you’ve heard that rude remark, too. However, lesbians are women who don’t like dick—just like gays are men who don’t like pussy. And to bully lesbians into having sex with males with accusations of bigotry is quite a hateful thing to do.

It’s a lot like bullying heterosexual men into sex with transwomen by smearing them as “transphobic,” isn’t it? If a man wants to have sex with another male, whatever. I don’t care. I’m a libertarian. Why would I care? But for the same reason, if a man does not want to have sex with another male, then he shouldn’t be shamed for this. Moreover, for the same reason, I object to organizations with the state at their backs (power Stonewall enjoys) creating a climate of fear and consequence for individuals committed to their preferences when they smear them for their commitments.

As I tweeted a few hours ago, even if I disagreed with JK Rowling on the trans issue, I would have to defend her in the same way that I defend the cartoonist over Islamist threats. We have to be free to express contrary opinions without having to worry about losing anything.

We don’t have to accept the terms of gender ideology as a guide to whom we fuck or not. Nobody voted to install gender ideology as the operating system of western counties—and even if they did, it would be a tyrannical act of majoritarianism. Nor has the majority consented to this ideology (or to other woke ideologies, such as critical race theory). Doyle suggests that the public only doesn’t oppose gender ideology more vigorously because they’re scared. They see what happens to people who resist woke ideology. He has a point.

Andrew Doyle uses the West’s experience with Puritanism to expose the ideology of social justice as an illiberal assault on liberty and rights.

How could it be that lesbians could be accused of bigotry for not wanting to have sex with males to who they are by definition not attracted? The smear depends on an assumption, that identifying one’s self as a woman makes one also a female—that one literally changes their sex by saying they are of the opposite sex—and that therefore a heterosexual male can become a lesbian, a female with a penis who is attracted to women. It may be the case that this female with a penis is not attracted to other females with penis. Indeed, a true lesbian is only attracted to persons without penises. Here we find ourselves in a vast paradox. You can see it, right?

How do you get out of the paradox? Redefine the situation. Until recently, all dictionary definitions of woman went something like this: “an adult human female,” or “adult female person,” with female “denoting the sex that can bear offspring or produce eggs, distinguished biologically by the production of gametes (ova) which can be fertilized by male gametes.” Folks will tell you it’s complicated and so definitions need to change. Whenever I hear a person say this, the words of philosopher Roger Scruton echo through my skull: “Newspeak occurs whenever the primary purpose of language—which is to describe reality—is replaced by the rival purpose of asserting power over it.”

Lesbians are not necessarily queer

I have noted the act of dictionaries changing the definitions of words to align with woke political ideology (Some Sunday Thoughts: Speech, Progressivism, mRNA shots, and FBI Plots; What Lies Behind the Popular Reracialization of the Human Population?) Dictionary definitions have traditionally concerned common usages. The art of lexicography (obviously it is not a science) involves studying words and compiling these into dictionaries. Any word can be defined in a myriad of ways, so the lexicographer is interested in identifying the most common usages so that people can have reasonable certainty in what people mean by the words they use. However, and Doyle points this out in the interview, dictionary companies have changed the state of the art to produce dictionaries that change the usages of words to align with political movements, such as the movement guided by gender ideology. Dictionaries have been captured by narrow but influential political forces and no longer represent common and organic usages of those words the powerful wish to repurpose for elite social engineering.

The specific problem here is that descriptions of reality are not inclusive of those who, while not female, nonetheless want others to consider them as women and even female—and inclusivity, we are told, is a virtue we must signal. “Trans women are women” has become a common slogan used by trans activists and many queer folk. The slogan means to tell us that a woman does not need to be an adult human female or adult female person to identify as a woman. A woman can be an adult human male. She can have a male genitalia. She is what she says she is.

According to Merriam-Webster, a girl is now “a person whose gender identity is female,” but while they were busy inserting the construct of “gender identity” into the definition, they were also busy changing the definition of “female.” A female is now a person “having a gender identity that is the opposite of male,” which is, of course, a person who identifies as such. How do I know this? Because the same dictionary redefines male as a person who identifies as such, natural history notwithstanding. Hardly anybody in the world believes that this is possible. The vast majority of people use gender and sex not in the way the dictionaries would have those who look up words believe. This is a perfect an instantiation of what Orwell warned us about as one can imagine.

Why are activities and elites trying to change the usage of words? A core element of trans gender doctrine is the praxis of transgression. Transgression is the political act of questioning structures of knowledge and ways of knowing, not in a rational or scientific way, but as a means of disrupting ordinary understanding with the goal of undermining prevailing social relations and transforming society into something that fits a particular ideology.

Knowledge structures and ways of knowing are, as postmodernism and critical theory would have these, stood up by the oppressors to control others with language. Transgression is therefore a challenge to power, and part of this challenge involves changing our understanding of language so that in the shift from description to manipulation Scruton identifies, the latter becomes language’s normative function.

Orwell, from whom Scruton borrows the idea of newspeak, warns the world in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the paradigm critique of totalitarian desire and situation, that language is manipulated to serve the interests of those with the power to manipulate language in a world where this mode of social control has been normalized. The complaint of postmodernists that language is used to control people is thus the projection of a desire to use language to control people. I suppose that’s one function of language, but it’s not a very democratic or liberal one, which is to say that it promotes the opposite of what a free people would desire for the basis of social interaction.

The praxis of transgression asserts that, since language is action (the speech act), power can be reconfigured through the transformation of language and thought. This notion has a definite religious quality to it. It’s found, for example, lying at the heart of the Christian tradition. James (3:5) tells us that through the tongue is but a small organ, a small spark can set a ranging forest fire. A verse later, James tells us that words are fire—fire that burns the entire course of life (and history). Proverbs (18:21) tells its followers: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” And don’t forget the first verse in John, quoted at the outset of this blog, where he tells us: “In the beginning was the word.” It is not accidental that gender ideology, alongside critical race theory, is a religious movement fulfilling the needs of those longing for meaning in a secular world where secular institutions are being delegitimized through transgressive politics.

The doctrine of transgression is central to grasping aggressive trans activism

TERF is an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” My understanding is that this term was invented in 2008 by a radical feminist who wished to differentiate trans-inclusive radical feminists from other feminists (lesbians, primarily) who do not agree that men can be women. It has since become a smear, similar to such smears as “homophobe” and “racist” (which is not to say in those cases that there are no such persons). Proponents of gender ideology define TERFs as “cis-women who don’t believe trans people truly exist and who believe women’s rights are damaged when trans women are treated equally and with dignity.” It would be accurate to say, then, that TERFs, or gender critical feminists, do not accept the trans slogan “Trans women are women.” Does anybody deny that trans people exist? How could that be possible given the visibility of trans gender people in cultural and social life? So those smearing feminists with this term indicates something else.

The activist organization Gender Justice is the source of the definition of TERF used above. Gender Justice “envisions a world where everyone can thrive regardless of their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.” The organization works towards “dismantling legal, structural, and cultural barriers that contribute to gender inequity.” Equality for groups like Gender Justice means opening women’s spaces (such girls and women’s locker rooms) and activities (such as sports) to “male-bodied” persons. Gender Justice “work(s) to ensure that people of all genders have a meaningful right to bodily autonomy, safety, health, and opportunity.” These are the goals of Stonewall, as well.

Straight away we see the ontological problem of whether trans women are women and an epistemological fight over how we would address this problem, i.e., is reality what powerful people say it or is there any objective way of accurately ascertaining reality, e.g., science. But the struggle goes deeper than this, and it’s this practical., indeed interpersonal piece that I believe is most important for understanding why Twitter is blowing up right now over the presence of lesbians and other women attempting to assert their rights in law and policy.

Many gender critical feminists are lesbians. A lesbian is a homosexual woman, that is, a woman who is attracted to women, not men. Here men are defined as “adult human males” or “adult male persons.” Homosexuality is defined as same-sex attraction. Lesbians are therefore not attracted to those who have penises or, often, even to those who used to have penises. (Most trans women still have penises.)

This may be obvious, but a trans woman can be attracted to men or women or both, as well as to people who claim to be neither (nonbinary). According to gender ideology, if a trans woman is attracted to men, and trans woman are women, then the trans woman is heterosexual. Heterosexual men should, therefore, accept trans women in their dating circles.

If, on the other hand, a trans woman is attracted to women, and trans women are women, then the trans woman is a lesbian. The doctrine makes it possible, then, for a person, with male chromosomes, gametes, and genitalia, who is attracted to women, to identify as a lesbian if this person identifies as a woman. This shifts the meaning of lesbian from same-sex attraction to same-gender attraction, with gender becoming self-designating.

If a lesbian does not accept the trans gender slogan “Trans women are women,” then that lesbian is not interested in having a romantic or sexual encounter or relationship with trans woman, as the lesbian is homosexual (not heterosexual)—and the trans woman is not a woman. In other words, if one does not accept the alchemy of trans activism, the trans woman is either a heterosexual male attracted to women or a homosexual male attracted to men, since the character of the person’s sexual orientation is same-sex attraction.

I need to something briefly about the matter of human rights here because there is a threat to fundamental rights when ideologues wrap themselves in cloak of universal justice while advocating for privileges for specific groups to define reality in self-interested ways with the force of law or scientific authority behind them. If the idea that an individual can be any sex they claim they are is allowed to colonize science, the one objective method for determining (albeit provisionally) the truth of reality, scientists will not be able to say without consequence that sex does not change when one changes gender.

We are close to the point where rules will be instituted in scientific practice that will keep us from upholding the integrity of scientific truth—or at least the pursuit of it. The editorial board of Nature Human Behavior has published an editorial, “Science must respect the dignity and rights of all humans,” in which the idea of human rights are used to advance the political agendas of (some) groups over against the rights of individuals—for example the right of to ask and answer questions that may offend the sensibilities of others. (There is a right to offend, as I am sure you well know, but no right to not be offended in western society, despite what the British police say.)

“In this guidance, we urge authors to be respectful of the dignity and rights of the human groups they study,” goes the editorial, using language that amounts to an exercise in reification. Objectively, there are very few actual groups among humans. Identitarianism manufactures groups hand-over-fist and then picks their representatives. Watch out for politics that appeals to the dignity and rights of such groups—it’s often backed by power that punishes those who challenge the legitimacy of claims made by these groups. The alchemy here is to turn opposition to and the interrogation of ideologies into acts of harming persons. Watch out for the rhetoric of asymmetrical power for it often presumes coherent groups of persons with common interests.

The neologism “cis gendered” is quite revealing here in this regard. A cis gendered person is a person who identifies with the gender (or sex) he or she was “assigned” at birth. If you have male genitalia and identify as a male, then you are a male; if you have male genitalia and identify as a woman, then you are women—and your penis and testicles (and prostate, etc.) all become female. The person whose gender and sex match is thus made equal to the person for whom these do not align by giving the former a prefix, too (the power of words). Since, in this world view, reality depends entirely on how you define it, it’s your truth, since only you can know your “true” or “authentic” self—and those around you are obligated to affirm that truth or risk being labeled “transphobic.” In this way, ideology is conflated with supposedly actually existing reality determined by personal subjectivity and a regime that demands others affirm, if not that subjectivity, then the person’s right to it over against the rights of others—no discussion.

Since thoughts determine reality in this view of things, it follows that transphobic people can erase the existence of trans people by the power of thought. Questioning the doctrine thus becomes an act of erasure. As with Islam for the Islamist, you’re not allowed to question the doctrine because it denies the cosmology behind it. The TERF is a person—an apostate, heretic, infidel depending on where one stands in relation to the faith—with the power to erase trans people and therefore represent an existential threat to trans people. It follows that the lesbian’s existence suggests that trans women are not really women since trans women are rejected by women who are only attracted to women. A lesbian is by definition transphobic if she refuses intimacy with a trans woman—and if she doesn’t, then is she really a lesbian? See how definitions work? The accusation is a way of suppressing opposition to or even interrogating claims generated by the ideology.

Trans woman identifying as lesbian seek access to lesbian spaces as well as to lesbian bodies, spaces, and statuses and hold up this desire not only as a metric of equality but affirmation as their existence as women. Therefore lesbians who reject trans woman as romantic and sexual partners, along with women who do not want male bodies in female-only spaces, are oppressors. But from the lesbian’s standpoint, the trans woman is a man and the lesbian is not heterosexual and therefore she is not a bigot. (The same is true for women who do not want men in their spaces; are they bigots, or women who feel unsafe when men intrude into their spaces? In any case, they do not accept the slogan as the definition of the situation. And this makes them bad people.)

Words cannot erase groups of people. Only actions—real actions, not “speech acts”—can hurt people. Lesbians are not erased by trans women claiming they are gay women any more than trans women are erased by lesbians countering that trans women are males and cannot therefore be lesbians. However, lesbians may be erased as a group, in terms of their human rights, if laws and policies take up gender ideology, make it official, and impose this ideology on society at large. Gender ideologists will claim the same problem for their side. And this is why the conversation must be had—and precisely why there are those who do not wish society to have this conversation. If we do not protect and defend the right of people to challenge claims free of consequence, then no rational conversation is possible, no consensus is possible, and an ideology is imposed on others because power.

Doyle’s evoking of the Salem witch trials is a pretty apt one. Again, it’s not new. On July 13, 2020, I penned this blog: Witch Finder Boylan: Free Speech and Mass Hysteria. It concerns the attempt to cancel JK Rowling, who, it turns out, is, so far at least, uncancellable. But the attempt to scare Rowling into repentance is not the only goal of the denunciations against her. It is also the intent is to scare those who might agree with her into saying so. Doyle and O’Neill focus quite a bit on Rowling in the interview. Here’s what I wrote more than two years ago on Freedom and Reason:

“In case you haven’t been following all this, this witch Rowling apparently has the magical ability to harm people by noting that persons who menstruate have traditionally been called women. She has been speaking out for a while now about what she perceives as the cancelling of women.

“Rowling fails to chant the approved slogan, indeed appears to casts spells against it, because she is worried about the cancelling of women by defining them out of existence. Not just in rhetoric, but in law and policy and even science (according to some scientists). Rowling is not alone in this concern and is with her example producing what we call ‘mutual knowledge.’ Mutual knowledge often spells trouble for counter/movements if it catches on. 

“Rowling is a powerful witch, i.e. difficult to cancel given her status and success. She uses her position to defend the right of others who do not enjoy her level of success to be free from the cancel mob. In other words, she is the leader of a coven of young and less powerful witches. Since she cannot be canceled by destroying her career, the witch finders are trying to make an example of her in order to silence others who can be destroyed.”

This is the greater goal of any inquisition. One might say that Rowling is being scapegoated, made to be a stand-in for whatever plagues the community. It is not quite apt here given that the community that seeks to purge the evil in its mists is not really a community as such, but a small group of activists seeking to sell an ideology as the next societal operating system.

A concern here not voiced by Doyle or O’Neill is that this project has in back of it transnational corporate power (I have written extensively about this problem on Freedom and Reason). I am not convinced by Doyle’s hopeful analysis that those elites who cow before the gender ideologists do so because they, too, like the elites at Salem, are scared, and that, in some five years time, this moment will pass. How could it possible that a small minority of activists could be more scary than the communists before whom the West collectively refused to grovel? Until the deeper source of power in all this is interrogated, I worry that our return to an open liberal order will not be forthcoming. I do hope I am wrong, though. Maybe that’s the same thing.

Why Aren’t We Talking More About Social Contagion?

“Throughout history, outbreaks of social contagion have typically spread in small, close-knit groups, most commonly in schools and factories. Investigators are often able to identify an index case—the first person to exhibit symptoms—which then spreads to other group members. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, the index case is often suffering from a medical condition. There is a common saying in the social contagion literature that mass psychogenic illness is spread by sight and sound—that is, by hearing or watching others who are affected. But what would happen if outbreaks could spread over the internet and on social media sites by a virtual index case? This appears to be exactly what has happened in the current outbreak. It represents a major shift in the presentation of psychogenic illness. In the past, most episodes of mass psychogenic illness were limited to a specific location or community, but this is no longer true in the Internet Age.”

— Robert Batholomew, Psychology Today

Social contagion, or mass psychogenic illness, is the rapid spread of an irrational or pathological activity, behavior, belief, or perception in a population. Thoughts and actions can move rapidly through social networks of like-minded people or those who share similar traits, such as age, gender, and so on. Individuals calibrate their self-image to align with those with whom they identify or have an affinity; when one individual adopts a certain attitude or behavior those in her social network catch the pathogen. Girls and young women are especially susceptible to social contagion because of greater innate sociability compared to men. But men are susceptible to psychogenic illness, as well. Adolescence is a risk factor because of rapid changes in cognitive, emotional, and physiological developments occurring during puberty make a person vulnerable to suggestion. But, as we see with the COVID-19 and white guilt hysterias, people of all ages can suffer from mass psychogenic illness.

Pathogenic thoughts and behaviors spread rapidly across social networks.

We see this social phenomenon at work in the appearance of fads, or crazes, which are intense and popular albeit often short-lived enthusiasms for some activity, style, or thing. Many crazes are harmless; while they are irrational, they are not always pathological. But some crazes are pathological—they are literally crazes. For example, adolescents who learn that peers have engaged in self-harm, such as cutting, are more likely to cut themselves. We see the phenomenon in anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. Self-harm is not always a random personal event, but often a social phenomenon. The power of social forces in corrupting reason and causing self-destructive attitudes and behaviors has been known for more than a century at least (see, e.g., Émile Durkheim’s Suicide).

Those suffering from social contagion are more likely to receive a psychiatric diagnosis and treated as medical patients by a profession that doesn’t typically consider the social causes of disorders for which there is no objective physiological evidence. This is not to say that the effects of psychogenic illness are not real. Remember the Thomas Theorem: “If men define situations as real, then they are real in their consequences.” Hysteria is a crippling disorder. But it is to say that, just as placebos can make a subject feel better, medical intervention can produce in a person’s mind the belief that he is actually unwell—or confirm for him what he suspected all along.

Last fall, Robert Batholomew, a medical sociologist, penned “The Girls Who Caught Tourette’s from TikTok,” in Psychology Today. He cites several studies concerning the rise in Tourette’s syndrome, what researchers call “functional tic-like behaviors,” in users of TikTok and social media generally. Bartholomew’s article is a useful thumbnail sketch of the phenomenon and a taste of what is a vast literature on the subject. He concludes his brief with this: “In the future, we can expect more outbreaks of social contagion in which the primary vector of spread is the internet and social media.” (See also Jonathan Haidt’s writings concerning the effect of social media on the emotional and mental wellbeing of America’s youth.)

The body of scientific study one can bring to bear on this matter goes well beyond self-harm and the Tourette’s contagion. Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or, as it’s now called, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a disorder about which mental health officials are highly skeptical, is spreading across networks of social media users. One source of MPD is iatrogenic, that is caused by the therapeutic experience. When it occurs outside the therapeutic context it is often pseudogenic, its cause an invention of the subject. A young woman with a diagnosis or who imagines trauma and learned than DID can be an outcome may spread her symptoms to other women in her social circle.

Despite their being such a vast literature on the problem of social contagion, and the significance of the problem, one almost never hears about the phenomenon in the media or from policymakers or politicians. Noting the character of these exceptions is part of understanding the politics of the silence. When an individual suspects there is an organized attempt to gaslight, mob, and terrify him, authorities, professionals, and influencers are eager to portray him as a delusional paranoid and schizophrenic (see The Psychiatrization of Gangstalking). When individuals are on to something about the world that threatens power, then they’re crazy. This is how authorities and the corporate media portrayed claims made by the Black Panthers before COINTELPRO came to light (see The Black Panthers: Black Radicalism and the New Left).

However, when the person’s is actually delusional, or several people share an illusion, and these false beliefs are useful to some group with power, as profitable or enabling social control, then the pathogen is normalized or treated as unremarkable. I suspect that if the problem of social contagion ever becomes the topic of popular conversation that it will be censored and its proponents cancelled. Indeed, when the related phenomenon of mass formation psychosis drew the attention of the public thanks to Dr. Robert Malone’s appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, the corporate media launched a comprehensive delegitimization campaign before dropping the subject entirely. (See The Future of a Delusion: Mass Formation Psychosis and the Fetish of Corporate Statism.)

One of the arguments I have made (I suggested moments ago), and this explains both media silence and delegitimization campaigns, is that mass hysteria and moral panics are not always accidentally emergent but rather are manufactured for various purposes, from taking advantage of vulnerable populations (the medical-industrial complex is, after all, a profit-generating endeavor) to realizing political agendas. I discussed an example of profiting from delusions in my blog Disordering Bodies for Disordered Minds.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an instance in which profiteering from manufactured fear was functional to modern governments’s objectives to achieve greater social control over the populations they are meant to defend against subjection and tyranny. Black Lives Matter is another example of a political agenda functional to the installation and entrenchment of critical race theory and other corporate state ideologies. See Panic and Paranoia Deaden Humanity and Sabotage Its Future; By Learning to Let Go of Mass Hysteria, We Can Bring an End to the Destructive COVID-19 Panic; Sanewashing—It’s More Widespread Than You Might Think. A Fact-Proof Screen: Black Lives Matter and Hoffer’s True Believer.

In light of all this, there is good reason to be concerned that the sharply rising cases of rapid-onset gender dysphoria we see among young people, a phenomenon disproportionately affecting girls and young women, is the result of social contagion. In his article, “Why is Transgender Identity on the Rise Among Teens?,” Samuel Paul Veissière, an anthropologist and cognitive scientist at McGill University, summarizes research indicating that the rise of rapid-onset gender dysphoria “points to a complex web of social pressures, changing cultural norms, and new modes of distress and coping that warrant further investigation.” He encourages parents, educators, and clinicians to be cautious in dealing with this growing phenomenon.

Referrals to the Tavistock Gender Clinic 2009-2019. The clinic was shuttered by the NHS in summer 2022.

Gender dysphoria, previously identified in the DSM as gender identity disorder, or GID, is defined as persistent and powerful feelings of discomfort with one’s “assigned” gender or sex, or identification with another gender or sex. Gender, according to social scientists, refers to the attitudes, behaviors, and feelings that one’s culture associates with sex, which is a biological and, in mammals, an immutable reality. Gender is related to sex but is culturally and social constructed. Gender is variable across time and space. Indeed, as the ideology metastasizes, the relation of sex to gender flips so as to see gender is fixed and a priori and sex as mutable. Some individuals come to believe that they are not the gender they are and this causes significant distress. This distress is medicalized and the individual is sent to the doctor. To qualify for the disorder the subject must present with feelings that cause significant distress or impairment. There is no objective criteria for determining whether a person is suffering from dysphoria; it relies entirely on the sufferer’s subjective perception. This subjective perception is feed by an ideology asserting that the patient is the gender he thinks he is.

Unlike anorexia and other disorders, the psychiatric community is not for the most part approaching gender dysphoria with caution, nor are sociologists linking the concept of social contagion to the rapid rise of the phenomenon, but rather the push is for the Orwellian-named “gender-affirming” treatment, which may result in individuals amputating their breast or their genitals, many losing forever the enjoyments of a normal sex life and most becoming life-long medical patients. Thus what makes this particular social contagion especially dangerous is that it is backed by popular academic theory and the authority cultivated by medical professionals, and pushed by politicians and social influencers in a way other crazes are not. There is no learned theory aggressively advocating cutting or anorexia as a solution to the distress that causes individuals to take a sharp object to their forearms or emaciate themselves, yet there is one enabling self-harm as “affirming care.”

Although the role social contagion plays in rapid-onset gender dysphoria does not enjoy public awareness, there is growing concern among some political leaders and health authorities that the approach taken by medical professionals to this disorder is the wrong approach. Texas recently passed a law to protect children from medical interventions in these cases (see State Action in Texas Concerning Medical Interventions for Minors Suffering from Gender Dysphoria Explained). Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been a leader in raising awareness about the problem (see the video below). And only a few weeks ago, on the basis of a damning report concerning the treatment of children, the National Health Service of Great Britain shut down the Tavistock gender clinic, prompting writer Douglas Murray to state, “We pretend that we protect children and that we want to help them—and actually it’s not just unhelpful but actively cruel to say to a child that is confused if you feel a bit strange in your body maybe you’re of the opposite sex.”

Social contagion, or mass psychogenic illness, the rapid spread of an irrational or pathological activity, behavior, belief, or perception in a population, is something that we need to talk more about. Because of the technological leap in communication, thoughts and actions can move rapidly through networks of like-minded people or those who share similar traits, such as age, gender, and so on, and profoundly affect their choices. Although girls and young women are especially at risk, other categories of people are susceptible to psychogenic illness. Adolescence is a special risk factor because of rapid changes in cognitive, emotional, and physiological developments occurring during puberty make a person vulnerable to suggestion. Parents need to limit their children’s use of social media and pay more attention to the things going on in the lives of their kids.

Staying Focused on the Problem with Critical Race Theory

We hear a lot about these horrible conservatives—especially those deplorable MAGA types—complaining about critical race theory in our schools. Audiences are told, as if they didn’t know, that CRT is not history, etc., and therefore the complaints aren’t legitimate. Most conservatives know CRT is not about history. They’re not stupid. They can see that it’s ideology. Most conservatives don’t have a problem teaching American history—slavery, Jim Crow, all the rest of it. They have a problem with CRT. There is nothing wrong with criticizing CRT. (It’s not like criticizing Islam or gender ideology.) And they’re right to have a problem with CRT. Put into practice, CRT rationalizes unjust practices and produces unfair outcomes. Conservatives—and heterodox, i.e., actual liberals—are objecting to that and to public school curriculum based on CRT that trains children to think in terms of racial animosity and resentment.

The Supreme Court appears ready to ban or significantly modify the regime of affirmative action

The primary problem with CRT, and this is one reason we have to talk about it, concerns the colonization of law, policy, and social interaction by CRT ideas (see Critical Race Theory: A New Racism; What Critical Race Theory Is and Isn’t. Spoiler Alert: It’s Racist and Not Marxist; Crenshaw Confesses: Critical Race Theory is About Racial Reckoning; Awakening to the Problem of the Awokening: Unreasonableness and Quasi-religious Standards)—the colonization not only of government, but of corporations and religious institutions, as well. The very serious problem of the teaching of racial animosity and resentment to children, which is really what parents are complaining about, I will put to one side for now (see The Ethic of Transparency in Public Education—and the Problem of Indoctrination; Whose Spaces Are These Anyway? Political Advocacy in Public Schools; Banning CRT in Public Instruction). Today I want to focus in why CRT makes for bad law and policy.  I have discussed this before (Equity and Social Justice: Rationalizing Unjust Enrichment; Committing the Crime it Condemns; The Fight Against Compelled Speech; The Bureaucratic Tyranny of DEI; The Rules of Inclusion Represent the Totalitarian Desire to Punish Heretics and Infidels), but just in case you are new to my blog or have missed my other posts on this topic, I want to explain my objection again. It never hurts to make the same argument.

The core idea of CRT, that abstract demographic categories are real things (they’re not—they’re abstractions), and, following from that, that concrete individuals identified as members of groups are personifications of those categories, is in diametric opposition to the principles of equality before the law and equal treatment, which (rightly, as in correctly) presume not groups but individuals are the proper subject of justice. Liberties and rights are first and foremost properties of individuals, not abstract groups, most of which are socially constructed. The idea that groups have human rights has become a widespread idea. We see in the various “human rights” campaigns that advocate for this or that identity group to enjoy some privilege in society. But human rights inhere in individuals and, by their very definition, belong to each human independent of group membership apart from actual and substantial genetic differences. A German is entitled to no privileges based on his ethnicity. A Muslim is entitled to no privileges based on his faith. Only women can make a claim to unique rights, rights that are few but crucial, because women are substantially biologically different from men.

This is not a political judgment. In its treatment of concrete individuals as automatically representative of everyone who shares an identity, in its reification of race specifically, CRT is false on rational and scientific grounds—to wit, CRT commits the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, which is the error of confusing an abstraction for the concrete—that is, an idea for a thing (this is why I argue that CRT is a form of neo-Hegelianism, not neo-Marxism as conservatives and CRT advocates both claim). I will use myself as an example of the problem. I am a white man. While sex is an objective reality that differentiates males and females from each other (albeit my sex tells you very little beyond what unique rights I don’t have), my being white, a social construct, tells you nothing about me other than I am identified by a constellation of phenotypic traits. The claim that these phenotypic traits are predictive of group-level differences of behavioral proclivities, cognitive ability, or moral aptitude is not supported in the evidence—at least in a causal sense (there are cultural reasons for the differences attributed to race, which is a biological construct).

The point is that all individuals identified as members of a racial group cannot be judged—or we must say that it is wrong to do so—in terms of that identification before the law or in the operation of organizations that operate on the principle of public accommodations. To treat individuals differently on the basis of race is racist, and branding discriminatory law, policy, or action “anti-racism” does not make it less racist. Any policy that advantages or disadvantages any individual on the basis of his skin color is a racist policy—yes, affirmative action is a racist policy because it is based on the false notion that individuals are personifications of abstract racial categories and therefore enjoy benefits on that basis (i.e., privileges). In contrast, colorblindness is a just policy because it obligates those who hold an individual’s fate in their hands to treat that person as an individual and not on the basis of their presumed or announced racial identity. This is why CRT and the antiracist reject the standard of colorblindness—even branding it “racist” using the tortured logic that eliminating race-based policy advantages whites as a group, which is irrelevant in the case of race from the standpoint of rational jurisprudence (again, this is only relevant with respect to sex, a category that is being erased in law and policy across the West, replaced with the construct of “gender identity”).

Despite standing in opposition to rational jurisprudence, CRT ideas are playing a major role in changing the character of our legal system and our institutions, taking our society away from one that defends the liberties and rights of individuals, and pushing us towards a system that discriminates against individuals on the basis of race. As noted above, we are already doing this with affirmative action. With the concept of equity, we are seeing policies rolled out in health care (The Problem of Critical Race Theory in Epidemiology: An Illustration). And reparations for acts committed by people long deceased are a very really possibility (A specter is haunting America—the specter of reparations; Reparations and Blood Guilt; For the Good of Your Soul: Tribal Stigma and the God of Reparations). Many of these ideas and trends, e.g., affirmative action, precede the formal articulation of CRT in the 1990s. Indeed, in many ways, CRT is a contrived intellectual system that strives to rationalize those changes that are proving to be profoundly detrimental to individual liberty and human rights.

The Supreme Court has announced that on October 31 of this year, it will hear two cases concerning race-based affirmative action at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Race-based affirmative action allows colleges to consider a student’s race when deciding which students should be admitted. This practice has benefitted black applicants while disadvantaging whites and East Asian applicants. Lower courts have ruled in favor of Harvard and the University of North Carolina on the grounds that the programs advance what judges see as a compelling interest in promoting diversity, a major political-ideological project of elites across American institutions. Remember that the original purpose of affirmative action as a program of reparations was canceled in the 1978 Bakke decision, which held that using race as a exclusive basis for admission (the quota system) violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But there is no rational reason why any given individual’s life chances should be determined by an elite political-ideological project that works by compromising the principle of equal treatment. What’s the difference between reparations and diversity? Nothing. The rhetoric of diversity is newspeak concealing the goal of reparations. Critical race theory is designed to rationalize an elite project of racial discrimination.

Cognitive Autonomy and Our Freedom from Institutionalized Reflex

Breaking: Government officials in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 26 postponed a policy that would have required proof of vaccination for COVID-19 for all students age 12 and over for the new school year. See the story in The Defender.

On the eve of the delta variant chapter of the COVID-19 pandemic hysteria, I commented on a Twitter thread initiated by 1619 Project co-founder Nikole Hannah-Jones, in which I noted that vaccine uptake among blacks was much lower than among whites, with the implication that the draconian COVID-19 policies of progressive cities and states would disproportionately impact the freedom of black people. For some reason this was controversial.

Below you will find the thread to which I was responding. Note that it specifically cites critical race theory. My response: “Given that tens of millions of blacks don’t want the vaccine, in light of restrictions, then is even more than an analogy.” I got back this: “Besides the ludicrous point that things Black people don’t like = Jim Crow, there are only 40 million Black people in this country. So please cite your source for the tens of millions of ‘blacks’ who oppose vaccines.” Stunned by the irrelevance of Hannah-Jones’ response and her ignorance about something she should know about, I wondered out loud, “Aren’t you a journalist?”

Before I turn to the controversy (which was minor in the scheme of things but not insignificant), I want to take a moment to note why it was important to make this observation (beyond the point about the equal treatment of black people to somebody who should have immediately identified with the spirit of the observation, since critical race theory purports to put central to its logic the relative effects of law and policy and enforcement across racial groupings). The nation recently learned that the District of Columbia does not have a contingency plan for unvaccinated students, who are banned from attending schools in person this fall after the first 20 days, and the absence of a plan appears to be by design. Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who you will remember as a zealous advocate of the Black Lives Matter riots over the summer of 2020, riots that ran simultaneous with the COVID-19 pandemic, admitted during a press conference that there are no alternative options, including virtual learning. According to data supplied by the city, over 40 percent of blacks ages 12-17 are not vaccinated.

That’s what I was trying to help Hannah-Jones and her audience understand: vaccine mandates and restrictions based on vaccinated status are discriminatory since they disproportionately impact black and brown groups. Instead of acknowledging the importance of my observation to her standpoint, either Hannah-Jones or one of her fans contacted the administration of my university and complained, portraying my comment as somehow outside the scope of acceptable racial discourse. Me, a sociologist, who specializes in race and ethnicity—my observation was somehow problematic.

I won’t name any names here, because there are people involved whom I value, but, instead of educating the person who complained about freedom of speech and academic freedom and the political and intellectual autonomy of teachers and researchers in the university’s employ, the complaint was sent down the chain of command and I was asked to consider not identifying my affiliation with the university in my Twitter profile (I am almost certain the person who made this suggestion to me was instructed to make the suggestion). My response was to ask the colleague, who is also on Twitter, and politically active in Democratic Party politics, as well as the activities of organized labor, whether his university affiliation also appears in his profile. After admitting that it did, the point was taken and the matter dropped. I have been determined to not let this episode have a chilling affect on me. I have become even more prolific and aggressive on Twitter (while Twitter continues to shadow ban me).

I am sharing this here and now (it has been nearly a year since this occurred) because the double standard involved in this case should be obvious but isn’t because of the depth of self-righteousness felt by progressives and the problem is growing every worse. The certainty of truth of progressive opinion on matters is such that it renders in the minds of progressives as hardly political speech at all, whereas the opposition’s point of view, not only obviously completely wrong, but also evil from a moral standpoint, is beyond the pale and thus reflects poorly on the institution—more than this, such opinions should be exorcised from the university. Of course, what reflects badly on the institution, especially an institution that, before all others, is supposed to embrace and defend the spirit of cognitive diversity, is precisely a lack of collective self-consciousness about its double standard.

I said my case was minor but hardly insignificant. There is a real crisis in today’s university. I recently wrote about the resistance among administrators and faculty in the UW-system to perform a self-examination on the question of free speech (see Science Politics at the University of Wisconsin—Deliberate Ignorance About the State of Cognitive Liberty and Viewpoint Diversity on College Campuses). There is a history of censorship and political bullying concerning speech in the UW system. In 2017, I wrote about a case, Don’t Talk About Innate Bisexuality at UW-River Falls, in which the campus pursued a “Check Yourself” campaign, the purpose of which was to teach faculty and students proper etiquette surrounding talk about sex, race, immigration, and so on. In effect, it was a speech code designed to impose terms of political correctness by those who have appointed themselves bearers of truth on the matter.

The University of Wisconsin’s strained relationship with free speech and academic freedom is what led the free speech organization FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) to issue a rather poor report card for several of its campuses. My campus at Green Bay is festooned with yellow flags. And while explicit policy problems remain, the chilling effect of indirect public denunciation and vilification has become a growing problem. As I discuss at length in Refining the Art and Science of Propaganda in an Era of Popular Doubt and Questioning, the campus last year established as its Common Theme, “Truth: Information, Misinformation, and Democracy.” The series of events reeked of progressive angst over the rise of the popular voice and the concomitant decline in the faith in the academic priesthood, with the implication that faculty should be aware of some line established by some commissar in some high office somewhere. I reported in The Rules of Inclusion Represent the Totalitarian Desire to Punish Heretics and Infidels the scuttled survey will be supplanted by a year-long series of free speech events emphasizing civil discourse, often a euphemism for the rule of inclusion. I am watching the kick off even on Teams as I write this blog.

The next time I am asked whether I want to think about what post on social media (an implicit threat) or whether I want to conceal the identity of my employers from those who read my tweets, I have questions to ask back: Does the administration have any position on faculty extolling the virtue of critical race theory, gender theory, or queer theory? Are faculty admonished for criticizing conservative politics or Republican politicians? If this were the policy—or the instinct—administrators would have their hands full admonishing faculty. I can testify to the fact that nearly every day in the faculty suite is a hatefest with conservatives and Republicans the targets of hate. That’s fine with me. But when it comes to criticizing woke progressive ideas, then one has to worry not only about disciplinary action, but promotion, etc. I am neither a conservative or a Republican, but I have one thing in me that most of my colleagues do not: a healthy respect for cognitive liberty and the free expression opinions. My colleagues should be allowed to talk openly about most anything.

I remember faculty being extremely critical of Donald Trump for his policies regarding immigration. I authored the faculty senate resolution in support of Dreamers and that was widely praised and passed unanimously. Had the prevailing ideology been the other way around, I might have worried about whether I should have pursued that resolution. Not me personally, but others who are less obnoxious on this topic than me. As it was, I not only didn’t have to worry, I could count on accolades for having done good work on behalf of students currently in limbo (which was not my motivation). I am concerned, and so should you be, that the metric for acceptable speech would be determined based on partisan political ideology. If the speech is woke progressive, then it is acceptable. If it is populist-nationalist, classically liberally or libertarian (left or right), or orthodox Marxist, then it is problematic. It should not be this way. But it is.

I promise this will not be a digression, but what does this word “woke” mean? The question is often asked as if the word had no actual meaning, but it does. Woke means adherence to an ideology that sees contemporary society in terms of oppressive and intersecting hierarchies, and that treats concrete individuals as personifications of abstract categories with the white cis-gendered heterosexual male automatically representing the primary oppressor class—marked by numerous unearned privileges—and therefore justifiably subject to censorship and marginalization. As I will write about in my next blog (albeit on a different topic), the importance of language to the restructuring of society the woke worldview demands lies at the heart of the double standard: the university is no longer viewed as a neutral space for the rational and rigorous interrogation of ideas whatever they are, from wherever they hail, but a political vehicle to prepare through indoctrination America’s youth for incorporation into the corporate state bureaucracy.

If there is a requirement for all faculty to mark their tweets and other social media communications with a disclaimer saying they do not speak for the university or its administration, then I may not resist that—if everybody does the same. But I am not going to conceal my employer or my position. I worked goddamned hard for my PhD and to obtain tenure at a university so I could say whatever the hell needed to be said. I didn’t accidentally chose a profession where free speech is—or should be—respected. I have things to say. I expect all faculty to be treated equally with respect to politics, which means that the administration should take no position on the content of political speech and cultural and social criticism. Again, free speech is a neutral vehicle for the expression of ideas and opinions, not an identity. (See Abandoning the Principle of Individual Liberty for the Politics of Identity.)

Friday Wrap Up: Debt Forgiveness, Establishment Newspeak, the COVID-19 Pivot, and Other Things

I briefly take up five issues in this blog: partisan pandering on college debt, establishment newspeak, the COVID-19 pivot, the Islamization of the West, and Biden characterizing “MAGA” as “semi-fascist.” I will be back soon with a dedicated blog, likely on the topic of social contagion.

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Source of image:

There’s a marine on Twitter who wants to know which office he needs to go to to get his legs back. He lost them paying for college.

How much tuition could be paid with the money Biden gave the neo-Nazis in Ukraine? Has anybody run the numbers?

Biden is out of touch. Even Democrats are turning on his plan to cancel ten thousand dollars in student debt for each borrower making less than $125,000 (twenty thousand for Pell Grant recipients), a huge swatch of the indebted population (President Biden Announces Student Loan Relief for Borrowers Who Need It Most). Estimates are being widely reported indicating that American taxpayers will pay north of half a trillion dollars over the next decade to pay for what is self-evidently a cynical political move in the face of midterm elections that populist-nationalist movement is well positioned to dominate. 

The unfairness of this move betrays the claim that Democrats represent working class families. Working people who didn’t take out student loans or who have already paid off their loans (my wife and I fall in the latter group) will not benefit from the program. In fact, we will be paying to bail out those who took out loans—while many of us out here are struggling to put our own kids through college.

This move does nothing to fix the systemic problems of college financing, the consequence of, among other things, making enrollment in college available to those unprepared to undertake the rigors of academic work, many or whom will seek degrees that provide no useful employment after college, and reduction in state financing of higher education thereby shifting the burden to families and individuals.

Instead of cancelling student debt, the government should invest half a trillion dollars to reinvigorate the nation’s network of trade schools, as well as invest in infrastructure projects that use those trades to rebuild industrial capacity in America, which will provide good paying jobs for our citizens. To ensure that Americans will have those jobs, the federal government must sharply restrict immigration.

At any rate, didn’t Nancy Pelosi say presidents don’t have the power of debt forgiveness? (See “Flashback: Nancy Pelosi Said President Lacks Authority to ‘Forgive’ Student Debt,” National Review. See also Slate’s “SCOTUS Will Probably Kill Student Debt Relief.”)

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Have you heard? Pedophiles are being rebranded. They are now to be known as “MAPs,” or “minor attracted persons,” and recognized as a vulnerable and oppressed minority. Twitter has been one fire since videos of Berkeley police letting a transgender pedophile, Sophia Westfall, grooming who she believed were children (including a one-year-old) go (twice!) after being exposed in a citizen-organized sting operation led by Alex Rosen waiting at a park where children were playing. (Westfall, who identifies as a lesbian, also likes to take clandestine pictures of women in public places.)

Rosen received this picture from Sophia Westfall who believed she was giving children directions to a park to meet her. Westfall appears to have a Twitter presence under the name Phia Westfall @SophiaNOTLoren. Her page has been set to “protected.”

Berkeley police tweeted rationalizations about the incident (I am being charitable, they were demonstrable lies). I tweeted the following in response:

Now you know what the “Love is love” line on those “In this house…” yard signs means (“In this House…” The Slogans of Woke Progressivism).

This is how they do it. “They” meaning the power elite. They change the language to disrupt ordinary understanding and shift sympathies—and, since they control institutional life, they can do this (which is why they must be removed from power).

MAPs is an instantiation of Orwellian Newspeak (it joins such euphemisms as “gender-affirming care,” “top surgery,” and “bottom surgery,” i.e., non-medically necessary castration and mastectomy).

Newspeak is the fictional language of Oceania, the totalitarian superstate in Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The Party created Newspeak to bring the masses in line with the ideology of Ingsoc (Newspeak for English Socialism).

In real-life today, the Party is the constellation of cultural and political forces comprising the Establishment, which, in the United States, presents with Democrats as its most visible front. The corporate state is transnational, so there are analogs in Europe, e.g., the Labour Party of Great Britain. (This is not socialism, of course, but corporate statism. Both the US Democratic Party and the UK Labour Party are neoliberal in orientation.)

The language of woke progressivism, which guides public policy, DEI training, etc., is the prevailing Newspeak in western societies (The Bureaucratic Tyranny of DEI). This is how crackpot ideas like critical race theory and gender ideology are smuggled into popular consciousness. This is what they are teaching our children. And they will lie to your face about that. (See The Ethic of Transparency in Public Education—and the Problem of IndoctrinationIf QAnon is Not a Deep State Construct, It Certainly Functions that WayThe LGBTQ Lobby Sues Florida.)

* * *

In its pivot to blame Trump for pressuring the FDA on vaccines, the media is now admitting that vaccines are a problem. Take note of this moment. Elites are going to walk back the panic on COVID-19 and wash their hands of their responsibility in sickening and killing scores.

In the article, “Trump White House exerted pressure on FDA for Covid-19 emergency use authorizations, House report finds,” Politico is reporting, “The Trump administration pressured the FDA to authorize unproven treatments for Covid-19 and the first Covid-19 vaccines on an accelerated timeline, according to a House report released Wednesday.” This is how they will pivot on vaccines: blame Trump.

Why do they need to pivot? Haven’t you wondering when the media is going to come around and say, “What’s up with all these young healthy athletes dropping dead?” What about the vast increased in unexplained deaths in the trans-Atlantic sphere? Unexplained deaths surpassed all other causes of death in Alberta, Canada.

I wondered out loud a couple of days ago on Facebook whether elites would even attempt to pivot after they pushed mRNA so hard. They literally mocked those who refused to be injected with spike protein. They celebrated hospitalizations and deaths of the “unvaccinated,” gleefully reporting cases that put those who avoided the shot in the worst possible light while hiding the cases that contradicted the corporate state narrative. And governments mandated the damn thing. I asserted in that thread that the truth will have to be a popular truth, since elites will continue to lie. But I underestimated how clever the elite are. They do need to pivot.

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Good Lord, how did I miss this? Miley Cyrus made a big to-do about this in 2017. Brothers and sisters, you have to keep me up on what’s happening in the pop culture world. Good thing it says “diversity” and not “equality.” I mean, it could have been worse: it could have been inaccurate. (Maybe you have noticed that “diversity” and “equity” have replaced equality as the goals of a “just society,” as determined by the ruling class. Equality is such a liberal value—and liberalism is white supremacist.)

I posted this on Facebook and a friend wondered why they didn’t just come out with a new character. I explained that they needed Barbie to put on the hijab. It’s a political act by the Culture Industry—as well as a marketing strategy to bring new customers to the Barbie franchise. Folks may claim that it is only about latter, but Mattel says openly that the doll, modeled after Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, is part of its “Sheroes” series and that the doll serves as an “inspiration for countless little girls who never saw themselves represented in sports and culture.” The goal is to manufacture the perception that Muslim women do not have a presence in American society by visibly “rectifying” their “marginal status” with a doll celebrating a cultural requirement that signals subordination to a patriarchal god. (I have written quite a lot on the subject of the hijab and the problem of multiculturalism. Here’s a sampling: Squaring the Panic over Misogyny with World Hijab Day; The Democratic Party and the Doctrine of Multiculturalism.)

Another friend (whom I have known since kindergarten) remarked that he has never seen a Barbie nun. Good point. Where is Catholic Barbie? Or Pentecostal Barbie? Or Satanic Barbie? A relative then asked when transgender Barbie was coming out. I responded with:


I then shared this from my essay Disordering Bodies for Disordered Minds:

Some doctors believe persons who want to transform their bodies in disfiguring ways should be allow to do so. Such surgery is already occurring in the United States. Align Surgical Associates Inc., a medical firm based in San Francisco, endorsed by, among others, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Medical Association, and the Aesthetic Society, will perform a surgical procedure known as “nullification” on those who wish “to enjoy a relatively smooth genital area,” a “mostly unbroken transition from the abdomen down.” The firm offers this procedure for those who wish to “enjoy a body that looks closer on the outside to the way they feel on the inside.” Some people wish to have no genitals and Align Surgical Associates Inc. will make that happen. For a fee, of course. (The firm’s website has a gallery, if you are interested.) 

I learned about Hijab Barbie from a YouTuber named Persy who I discovered upon reading this tweet:

I have blogged extensively about this (see, e.g., Observations from Sweden; Sweden – Caught Between Two Irrationalisms; Avoiding Civil War in Europe; The Courage to Name the Problem). This is what I have been telling readers about this matter in a nutshell: How Islam will take over the West: progressives and social democrats of western countries invite them in—and woke feminists take the students to mosques to try on the hijab to signal their virtue.

What comes with Islamization is not only misogyny and homophobia and a sharply reduced capacity for free thought (and a profound hatred of dogs), but drastically higher crime rates and greater social disorganization. It’s bad for everybody—as every totalitarian ideology is. Let this happen and prepare for clerical fascism.

We sure do need this man right now

Ask a truthful Swede what’s in store for the rest of civilization if western nations allow this trend to continue. But recognize that a lot of Swedes are deluded by a pathological displaced humanitarianism and will deny the empirical evidence. The fact is that Sweden is very different now than it was when I first started traveling there.

I weep for the Danes and Swedes. I fear for the West. Not all cultures are adequate for the humanity of the people they colonize (Culture Matters: Western Exceptionalism and Socialist Possibility; Kenan Malik: Assimilation, Multiculturalism, and Immigration). So do borders.

* * *

“In 2020, you and 81 million Americans voted to save our democracy,” Biden told a roaring crowd. “That’s why Donald Trump isn’t just a former president. He is a defeated former president.” Was the crowd roaring? I didn’t see the speech. Biden makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t like being made to pity a man I loathe. But I can understand how CNN could describe the crowd this way given the headline of the story: “Biden criticizes ‘semi-fascism’ underpinning the ‘extreme MAGA philosophy’ in fiery return to the campaign trail.” Fiery? Biden?

Every time Biden says this all I hear is insecurity. He doesn’t really believe he won. He may not fully grasp everything that went on during 2020 (Too Soon to Call: Developments in the Improbability of a Biden Election Victory; “A republic, if you can keep it.”) , but he surely saw those huge Trump rallies and reflected on his own pathetic events those few times he poked his head up out of his basement. He can’t believe he got more votes than the wildly popular Obama or even Clinton. Of course, maybe he is that egotistical and self-deluded.

Populist-nationalism isn’t “semi-fascist.” This is absurd. This characterization is part of the elite effort to paint popular opposition to transnationalism and woke progressivism as beyond the pale (“A New Kind of American Radicalism”: The Campaign to Portray Ordinary America as Deviant and Dangerous; MDM is the New WMD: DHS Issues a New NTAS Bulletin; Liz Cheney: MAGA is Neo-Marxist). It’s projection—and distraction. The principal advocates of key elements of fascism—the corporate state, technocratic control, and identitarianism—are the Democrats and establishment Republicans (Totalitarian Monopoly Capitalism: Fascism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow; Biden’s Biofascist Regime; From Inverted to Naked Totalitarianism: The West in Crisis).

Whatever you think about “MAGA” ideology, it’s not fascist (The Social Character of the Trump Moment; The Economic Nationalism of Steven K. Bannon). These are conservatives and liberals working together to resist globalism and the managed decline of the American republic (Bridging the Left-Right Divide to Confront the New World Order). Whatever you think of Trump, he is not a fascist (Scapegoating in the Era of Inverted Totalitarianism). “MAGA” Republicans are building grassroots coalitions that emphasize popular democratic participation and action. They threaten the hold progressives and elites have on our institutions (Why I am not a Progressive). That’s the problem with them. They’re the “deplorables.”

* * *

Breaking: Kevin McCarthy is demanding Mark Zuckerberg testify before Congress following his admission on the Joe Rogan Experience that Facebook censored Hunter Biden’s laptop stories for ten days in run-up to election.

For those of you who aren’t up on this, the FBI met Facebook employees and told them Hunter Biden’s laptop was “Russian propaganda.” They knew that wasn’t true. Facebook took direction from a deep state operation to protect Joe Biden from information that would have changed the outcome of the election.

The FBI—or some group internal to it—worked for the Establishment to prevent Trump’s re-election. And they are today working to prevent Trump’s return and, more generally, stifle the populist-nationalist movement. The FBI has become the Gestapo of the Democratic Party.