As an out-of-the-closet religious person in public life, people sometimes ask me how my religion affects my politics. People who share my religious views sometimes have a hard time understanding how a person of faith can exist in an environment perceived to be hostile to faith.
People who disagree with me about particular issues sometimes try using my religious beliefs to discredit me, rather than respond to the substance of my arguments. Other people question if a religious person can uphold the principles of constitutional documents or the wishes of their constituents while also adhering to the doctrines of their religion.
Merriam Webster’s word of the year is “they,” that ubiquitous plural word that’s been turned singular, individualistic, and is a smoke signal sent up to claim special status in the gender landscape. “They” was a top look-up for the dictionary site; “the dictionary is also a primary resource for information about language itself, and the shifting use of they has been the subject of increasing study and commentary in recent years. Lookups for they increased by 313% in 2019 over the previous year.”
People just want to know what it means, and how they can and should apply it, either to themselves, or to those who request it. The pronoun has been omnipresent, on name badges, in Twitter bios, and in the continuous discourse over which pronoun should be used for whom and upon what whim.
Celebs have embraced “they” this year, staking their claim to being just a little bit different than all the other taboo-breaking popsters out there. Brit singer Sam Smith changed his pronouns to the gender-neutral “they” after doing some choreography that made him realize there was a “vivacious woman inside [their] body.”
Jonathan Van Ness, of Netflix’s hit self-improvement, show Queer Eye has determined that he is they, as has Chilling Adventures of Sabrina star Lachlan Watson. Nico Tortorella, from TV Land’s “Younger,” claims that when they met their spouse Bethany, “he was a boy and she was a girl, whatever that means… Today Bethany and [they] both identify as non-binary and prefer ‘they/them’ pronouns.”
It’s always a touching moment when a newly minted they comes out as they for the first time, before lights and cameras, with welcoming applause and accolades. It can be done in a think piece, or a quick video, or on social media. Brigette Lundy-Paine, from the show Atypical, came out via Instagram post, “where they posted a picture of their cat with the caption, “I’m non-binary, always felt a lil bit boy, lil bit girl, lil bit neither. Using they/them as of late n it feels right.”
They has come to mean so much more than “those people over there,” and is representative of an entire gendered alt lifestyle, wherein a person believes themselves to be neither male nor female, but some variation on the assembled themes.
In assigning “they” word of the year status, perhaps Merriam Webster is signalling its own intentions to go all-in on the trans trend of pronouns adoption and word transition. So far, their definition of woman is still “an adult female person,” but the jury is still out on whether the dictionary will be brought up on hate speech charges for specifying a female correlation to the word.
This is not the first time “they” has made a splash. In fact, when academics were trying to eliminate the sexism in the standard use of of “he” in academic papers, they often switched to “they,” and pluralized instead of using they as a singular.
In a statement, senior editor at Merriam Webster, Emily Brewster, said “Pronouns are among the language’s most commonly used words, and like other common words (think ‘go,’ ‘do,’ and ‘have’) they tend to be mostly ignored by dictionary users. But over the past year or so, as people have increasingly encountered the nonbinary use, we’ve seen searches for ‘they’ grow dramatically.”
The choice to give they top billing in the word of the year charts was data driven, not human decision making. They simply had more lookups. Perhaps that’s because the more it is used out of context and outside the realm of its normal definition, the more people realize that their understanding of this simple word has been compromised.
But never fear, great uneducated public! If they is confusing, if preferred gender pronouns are vexing, there are multiple guides to help you figure out how to ask what someone’s pronouns are, how not to ask, how to figure out if maybe you yourself are alt gendered.
You never know, you could be agender, androgyne, androgynous, bigender, cis, cisgender, cis female, cis male, cis man, cis woman, cisgender female, cisgender male, cisgender man, cisgender woman, female to male, ftm, gender fluid, gender nonconforming, gender questioning, gender variant, genderqueer, intersex, male to female, mtf, neither, neutrois, non-binary, other, pangender, trans, trans*, trans female, trans* female, trans male, trans* male, trans man, trans* man, trans person, trans* person, trans woman, trans* woman, transfeminine, transgender, transgender female, transgender male, transgender man, transgender person, transgender woman, transmasculine, transsexual, transsexual female, transsexual male, transsexual man, transsexual person, transsexual woman, or two-spirit.
With “they” hitting top of the charts for Merriam Webster, it’s a good indication that gender non-binary preferred pronouns are here to stay. Before next year’s International Pronoun Day on October 16th, take some time and figure out if you are they. It would be a real hate crime to find that you have been misgendering yourself, and you don’t want to be accountable for that. You, too, might be a they at heart. After all, we contain multitudes.
The NHL will be implementing new changes in order to deal with the social justice frenzy that has been going on since the firing of Don Cherry from Hockey Night in Canada. Cherry was fired on Remembrance Day for his now-infamous “you people” moment when he chastised new Canadians for not wearing the poppy.
According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, there will be mandatory counselling and training concerning anti-bullying and racism.
TSN reports that “The NHL plans to establish an anonymous hotline for players and team personnel to report inappropriate conduct; coaches and management will participate in mandatory annual training on inclusion and harassment; inappropriate conduct will result in discipline from teams, the league or both.”
At a press conference last Friday, Bettman said, “Inclusion and diversity are not simply buzz words. They are foundational principles of the NHL,” and went on to say, “Our message is unequivocal: We will not tolerate abusive behaviour of any kind.”
Shortly after Cherry’s firing, Mike Babcock was let go from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sportsnet detailed one of the major allegations against Babcock: “[Babcock] was accused of maltreating forward Mitch Marner in his rookie season by making him list the hardest working players on the team and which ones didn’t have a strong work ethic. Babcock later told the players whom Marner had listed without Marner’s knowledge.”
Bill Peters was next on the chopping block. Former player Akim Aliu made an allegation against Peters regarding racial slurs, about a decade ago, while they were both in the AHL. Peters apologized for the incident but was made to resign anyway.
Most recently, Jim Montgomery of the Dallas Stars was let go by his team citing “unprofessional conduct.” Details on the situation are scant at this point. It could be warranted or it could be an overreach.
Some of the points involved in the NHL’s new plan include:
- Incidents of unacceptable behaviour being reported immediately by teams. Otherwise the use of “severe discipline” will be used
- Immediate punishment for past, present and future incidents
- Mandatory yearly counselling for coaches and managers focusing on diversity and inclusion.
- Anonymous hotline for players
- A disciplinary council run by NHL executive vice-president Kim Davis
Bettman said that he has been given full support by the board of governors concerning the new “code of conduct.”
There aren’t any conclusive ways to measure the effectiveness of diversity and inclusivity training. Diversity and inclusion specialists advocate for ongoing training as opposed to a one time shot, to make sure that the messages are driven home over and over again. This is becoming industry standard in more places than the NHL, and while it makes for a good press release, there’s no conclusive evidence to believe that it helps. What is definitely does is put people on edge and add stress.
Severe discipline. A snitch line. Diversity training. Free-thinking, reasonable people know where this will lead.
The experts who will be brought in will be drunk on progressivism and cancel culture. And they will reframe the conversation, and the thought processes so that people will constantly try to see how they were personally wronged.
It doesn’t have to be this way, but it’s going to be. The NHL is well about to enter a grievance-fuelled McCarthyist era. The blacklists, witch hunts and virtue signalling have already begun. And it’s a damn shame.
Consent culture is touted as the antidote for rape culture. Only it’s not really the opposite or a salve, but a perpetuation of the infantilization of women. Articles abound on how rape culture is perpetuated, by parents to children, in entertainment, and by women’s fear of men. Consent culture posits that the asking of women for their permission prior to the commencement of sexual or romantic contact could remedy this. The preponderance of rhetoric around consent does not liberate women, or even give them the autonomy it seeks to, but turns romance into bureaucracy.
Consent culture seeks to redefine how we think about relationships, sex, and our own impulses. There’ve been hot takes about how it’s wrong to make little kids hug their grandparents and missives about how a yes can be retracted in medias res. On some college campuses, there’ve been directives on asking for consent during every step of a sexual encounter, while still having the conceit that if the sex is later regretted, it can be reclassed as rape, despite consent. Now we’re treated to a new kind of ask for consent, consent for sexting.
“Ask consent for all sexual encounters, yes, even sexting. I just came up with this script that you’re all welcome to borrow!”
The message is that this is how intimacy should be initiated, cordially, without nuance. Rather, a straight appeal to the logical mind is what’s required. If this is the kind of message you feel you must send to find out if a person wants to sext with you, perhaps that’s not the right person to sext with. Are we so closed with our feelings that we can’t express them except in the form of yes or no answers to direct questions? This seems like the type of question one should only ask if they’re sure of an affirmative response.
The reaction to the consent for sext script was swift and fierce. But as we try more and more to control what we say, how we say it, and the thoughts from which our expression derives, this is the direction in which we’re headed. Mediated communication, even in our most intimate moments, a script for how to talk to those we feel passionately about simply to ensure that no one is offended, are the ways we are being directed to initiate and stay in romantic relationships.
Does asking for consent in this way work? Does it achieve the goal of getting someone to read your illicit thoughts? The response to this request to sext could go one of two ways: yes, or no. If yes, the initiating sexter may imagine that this is a green light to off-screen romance, but what if the mere act of asking has an impact on the answer? Perhaps the respondent, in saying okay, is actually feeling coerced by the existence of the question into accepting the terms of this new form of contact. This script is intended for both the asker and the asked, after all.
If that’s the case, then gaining consent isn’t even a good enough measure of her willingness to sext with you. As this poster points out:
In this context, consent culture is an extension of rape culture. It’s not something that can stop women from getting into uncomfortable situations, but the first bit of pressure that leads them down the road to coercion, where every yes is more easily followed up by an additional yes. How do you tell a guy whose sexts you’ve accepted that you don’t want sex, is the question this post asks.
Both the initial script of how to ask someone to sext with you and the note about how the expression of consent is not evidence of consent assume that a woman does not know her own mind. Either she needs to be asked directly if she is interested, presumably because she has not given any indication of being intrigued by her potential suitor, or even when she affirms her intention, she is not telling the truth.
There’s this idea that we know what healthy relationships look like, and that we can engineer them, from the outset, to follow a prescribed course to attain that result. This new relationship model is in direct reaction to the old patriarchal one, where men led the family and women submitted to their husbands. That model still works for many families– are those couples doing their relationship wrong, even if those within the family are thriving?
Romance isn’t really an appeal to logic and reason. What works for one couple may not work for another. Individuals don’t come to relationships from a position of knowing what they want, how to get it, or even fully how they want to be treated. We’re all basically damaged, and the implementation of checklists into relationships makes things worse, not better. There is no script for how to communicate, despite the tweets or BuzzFeed quizzes. There is only, as always, open communication, respect, kindness, love, and honesty. Nothing else is even remotely relevant. Speak with an open and loving heart. Don’t let romance be carried off by paperwork and rules of wokeness.
Bruce Arthur, dubbed Sportswriter of the Year in 2012 by Sports Media Canada and featured in Sports Illustrated’s list of top 100 people to follow on Twitter, may sound like your average sports columnist, but there’s much more to the man than hot takes and sports. He also has a passion for hurling abuse at strong conservative women. Specifically, Candice Malcolm.
Malcolm is the founder of True North, an independent media outlet in Canada. She tweeted out a reply to Justin Ling, a man who describes himself as a “consulting killjoy,” “perpetually unemployed” and “painstakingly uninteresting.”
Ling had said in a Hill Times article that True North, the independent news outlet founded by Malcolm, was a “tiny start-up” from “worrying ends of the spectrum.”
Malcolm stood up for herself and her outlet:
And this is when Bruce Arthur showed exactly why he was voted by SI as one of the top 100 people to follow on Twitter, saying to Malcolm: “You’re garbage.”
At first, I was confused by this nasty response. But then I looked into who this guy really is. It turns out he’s the kind of guy who would imply that if you watch conservative news programs like former hockey legend Bobby Orr does, then you might be a “white supremacist.”
Slandering people and blithely calling a woman “garbage”? I think Trudeau should reconsider all of that media bailout money he’s giving the Toronto Star and Arthur.
According to today’s woke standards, Arthur—a mediocre white male—should be cancelled for typing such a reply to a female journalist. It’s the kind of thing that is condemned as “hate”—rooted in misogyny and toxic masculinity. Will that happen in this case? Of course not. You see, Malcolm is conservative and Arthur is liberal. The standards are never applied equally.
Candice Malcolm has stood up for Canadians, our freedom of speech, our servicemen and servicewomen, tackled terrorism, broken stories others only wish they could have, and has taken the Trudeau government to court for and won on behalf of freedom of the press. For a sports columnist to state that Malcolm, an obvious pillar of Canadian media is “garbage” is completely inaccurate and out of touch.
Freedom of speech belongs to everyone. That freedom should not be limited or suppressed. Arthur has the right to hurl insults at conservative women all day long if he so chooses. But it does speak to his lack of character. How we use our language is a choice we make, and this choice was, quite frankly, garbage.
Bruce, if you want to save your credibility, take the plank out of your eye before commenting on the speck you see in someone else’s. Or, just stick to the sports highlights and leave the real work to Candice Malcolm and True North.
I guarantee that Malcolm would still defend your ability to speak freely and call her names. That’s the kind of professional she is.