The case of Jessica Yaniv proves that compelled speech is toxic
The Post Millennial has been following the Jessica Yaniv story closely for weeks now. And we make no apologies for our repeated coverage. It is a story of a single, vexatious human rights litigant attempt to ruin the lives of more than a dozen Vancouver area estheticians—most of them women, and many of them poor immigrants working out of their own homes—by forcing them to (literally) handle her penis and testicles under the guise of trans rights.
It is also a story about policy and law because Yaniv waged her whole shakedown campaign only because Canada has rushed into a policy of unfettered gender self-identification, which allows any person reading this to demand treatment as man or woman by, in effect, snapping their fingers and declaring them so. While the vast majority of trans people in Canada apply this power of self-identification in good faith, a few do not.
Finally, it is a story—or metastory—of the rather shocking spectacle of almost the entire Canadian media ignoring the first two stories, out of a (rightful) fear that reporting it will force editors, reporters and readers alike to grapple with the implications of our current policy. And this is a discussion that, being politically incorrect, they would prefer not to have.
Last night, Jesse Brown tweeted a question as a promotional teaser for his Canadaland podcast: “The Intellectual Dark Web has a trans fetish. Why are they so obsessed?” The tweet pointed to his most recent podcast with co-host Mary Rogan which discusses the sad saga of Jessica Yaniv.
Brown, throughout the episode, seemed to go out of his way to pretend as though the Jessica Yaniv story was non-news. A sham. A complete fiction picked up by right-wing outlets only to propagate their narrative. Brown continues to put forward the idea that Jessica Yaniv is a figment of the right wing’s collectively bigoted unconscious.
The truth is far less spectacular—Jessica Yaniv is real. The implications of Yaniv’s actions have been laid bare for all to see on multiple occasions. Further, that Yaniv’s self-declared identity directly influences the way in which the mainstream media can and does cover Yaniv’s historical racism, and alleged child sex predation.
Despite being reported throughout the world, there is barely a trace of any of these developments in Canadaland’s coverage of the Yaniv story. In fact, in Canadaland’s print story about the Yaniv saga, a piece called “We Need To Talk About Jessica Yaniv,” the only hint of the women she has harassed and taken to tribunal is a nine-word sentence: “Specifically, she wanted a beautician to wax her balls.”
Canadaland reduces over a dozen mostly-immigrant women down to one for the sake of Canadaland’s progressive narrative. Perhaps trying to force one woman to handle and wax male genitals is less nefarious than demanding more than a dozen to do so. Interestingly, the word “women” does not appear once in the entire column.
Canadaland’s approach to Yaniv’s confirm the most toxic and destructive elements of intersectionality. It appears that their hands are tied when it comes to commenting fairly and appropriately on this very disturbing story because of the intersectional points that Yaniv has accumulated. A few years ago, before trans became the force of culture that it is today, the minority women would have had the intersectional upper hand. But now, because trans individuals are considered more of an oppressed minority, it is Yaniv who can play the intersectional fiddle.
When the Canadian media has spoken about Yaniv, it often has been only so it can ask: Why is anyone talking about Yaniv? The presumption is that the act of even mentioning Yaniv’s name in a journalistic context can be motivated only by transphobia. Given the number of women whom JY sought to victimize—never mind the accusations of pedophilia, stalking, doxxing and racism—it is an absurd accusation. But it is illuminating because it shows the manner by which the media will circle the wagons against not only inconvenient opinions, but inconvenient facts when it comes to this one issue.
Despite having a history of racism and xenophobia, going so far as to even call for the women of colour she is litigating against to be deported, Yaniv still receives ample protection from Canada’s woke left.
And as though being a virulent racist were not enough, Yaniv has been documented grooming and sexually communicating with girls as young as 14. Even Morgane Oger, a trans activist who is no fan of The Post Millennial, has made it clear that “the trans umbrella does not provide protection for predators.” Why can’t Brown see what’s right in front of his nose? Oger had previously supported Yaniv’s activism. She has since woken up to the truth about Yaniv and disavowed her.
In response to Brown’s tweet, Quillette editor Jonathan Kay tweeted the following: “Hi Jesse. It’s [because] a government-enforced policy of no-questions-asked gender self-identification has led directly to the demand (now before a BC tribunal) that a group of women handle a penis and testicles. To Canadaland bros who favour mandatory penis handling, I’m sure it’s no big deal.”
When an individual’s assertion of their rights actively compel another individual to do a thing to which their rights enable them to be opposed, there is a problem with the law. One person’s rights do not override another’s, and that is a key problem both with the Yaniv case and the issue that started it all, pronouns.
That a person can assert that another person must intimately touch them, and that the law can abused to try to compel that touch, brings us to the heart of why people feel so strongly about pronouns. It’s about compelled speech. It’s not acceptable to legally force people to say things. A system that enforces compelled speech leads to people abusing the system in very dangerous and harmful ways. For Yaniv, compelled speech provided a direct path forward to continue her abuse of immigrant women estheticians. It also has provided a shield from being held accountable for alleged predation of young girls in her past.
Compelled speech is one of the primary ways identity politics manifests itself in the real world. Once it becomes law, then very bad, Orwellian things start to happen. Dr. Jordan Peterson rose to prominence specifically because he warned Canadians (and those around the world) that if you allow the government to dictate what you can and cannot say, then this power will be abused to harm the average citizen.
We are witnessing Dr. Peterson’s warning come to reality in the very dangerous case of Jessica Yaniv.
I personally have no problem calling Yaniv by the pronouns she wants, as in the statement: “I believe Jessica Yaniv abused a number of underage girls. I hope that she spends a lot of time in prison.” But ask yourself this: which prison does Yaniv go to? Considering her recent history of harassing women and her alleged history of abusing girls, where will she get locked up? Men’s or Women’s? As you contemplate the appropriate answer to that question, you begin to realize precisely why compelled speech is so insidious.
So, yes. I’m happy to call Yaniv by whichever pronoun she wants. But some others aren’t. And I’m okay with that too. What I completely reject is the government forcing me or anyone else to comply with someone’s given preference.
Freedom of expression is a basic human right that is being denied to Canadians. Feminists and people with deeply held cultural and religious convictions also have the right to have their voices heard. The problem with compelling speech or action is that it prioritizes the rights of some groups over other groups, when the reality is that the upholding of rights must be on the individual level. If Jessica Yaniv has positively contributed in any way to Canadian society, it’s by confirming that this is true. Perhaps, once Yaniv is safely locked up, we should thank her.