The obsession with pronouns is stripping us of our individuality
We live in identity-obsessed times. Everyone seems to be a demi-queer, pan-sapio something or other. There are so many sexual and gender identities, it’s hard to keep track. yet they are not independent of one another. Together, these identities form a group, and that group is greater than the sum of its identifiers.
Identifiers have become pretty creative, and there are myriad combinations of boy, girl, non-binary, or non-conforming, to choose from. From a relativist point of view, all of this is perfectly fine. Everyone is free to present themselves however they please. When it becomes difficult is when presenting as you choose isn’t enough, and you demand to be perceived in that specific way, as well.
“A major publication is happy to publish any old nonsense so long as it’s sufficiently woke. Social justice ideology has infected our mainstream media,” Andrew Doyle explains in a new video lecture recorded at the National Liberal Club in London on 13th October 2019.
The 25-minute video is a brilliant explainer on how satire and hoaxing work in 2019. With major platforms and publications getting woker by the minute, it’s imperative that people who haven’t succumbed to the woke moral panic to call out the many hypocrisies and incoherencies of social justice. For the few who don’t know, Andrew Doyle is the genius behind the internet’s greatest troll, Titania McGrath.
In 2019, feelings outweigh facts at every turn. And when op-eds read like fabricated drivel, it’s no wonder that the public has a hard time discerning truth from fiction. It takes comedians and satirists to point out just how insane this whole thing is. Doyle points out that “the woke are the establishment” and he couldn’t be more right. Those who are in the powerful cultural positions, in academia, media, arts, entertainment, and most importantly, advertising, are the ones with the batons and horses to push these ideas onto the public.
This is the kind of influence that matters, not politicians and legislators, but those who control the media. And they are being fooled by their own unwillingness to address their woke bias. It is this bias that veers us into the realm of complete absurdity, where people hate themselves for their skin colour, language is colonialism, words are violence, and disagreement is fascism.
“The mainstreaming of social justice is also evident in the fact that even respected, national newspapers don’t seem to understand the basic definitions of phrases like fascist, alt-right, and even far-right,” Doyle remarks. “They no longer know what these words mean, and they are just bandying them about promiscuously, which is really damaging. Now if you claim the right to define the word Nazi as just anyone who disagrees with you politically, then, of course, you can also claim that there is an epidemic of Nazism. But in doing so you are also inadvertently, acting in the interests of the worst kinds of people.”
Doyle notes that the reframing of the conversation to mark those who disagree with the mainstream social justice movement as alt-right Nazi fascists, cedes the argument in favour of free speech to those very people you are trying to silence.
The last five minutes of the speech is where Doyle truly shines. He points to three specific pieces published by major platforms. “In August of last year, The New York Times ran an anonymous letter. It was called ‘How Can I Cure My White Guilt?’ It was just signed ‘Whitey,’ and it was a person who described themselves as being riddled with shame for being white. Now the whole thing was obviously ridiculous, and obviously a hoax. So, Titania claimed that she had written it. And she provided screenshots, of the letter, on her hard drive, with the date, just to prove that she was the author.”
Doyle claims that the authorship doesn’t really matter. Maybe he wrote it, invoking the spirit of Titania, maybe he didn’t. The point is that “a major publication is happy to publish any old nonsense so long as it is sufficiently woke. The social justice ideology has infected our mainstream media. And irreparably degraded its standards.”
Finally, Doyle mentions the crown jewel of hoax columns—a breathless op-ed published by The Independent. “In February of this year, Liam Evans wrote a piece for The Independent, and he cited a number of extremely talented comedians, people like Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, Finn Taylor, and he said that their jokes about sensitive topics amounted to hate speech. He said that these kind of jokes ‘should be subject to investigation. It simply isn’t good enough for comedians to cry free speech after every hateful joke, as if the laws that govern the rest of us don’t apply to them.’”
Who is Liam Evans? Well, he’s clearly an authoritarian, censorious monster. But he’s also clearly not real. Doyle asks why The Independent would run such clearly fabricated nonsense and points to the fact that a number of prominent comedians complained to the publication. Doyle asks, “What is happening to our media? Why is a respected national newspaper publishing drivel by a writer that no one has ever heard of just because it’s pushing a woke agenda? What does that tell us? And the other question they should have been asking is why is the left publishing these kinds of censorial articles that used to grace the pages of the right-wing tabloids? And if it takes a hoaxer to provoke a little self-reflection, then surely that’s a good thing.”
“Again, I do not want to speculate as to the authorship of that article,” Doyle says. “But I will point out one thing which I do find just a little bit curious… You might be interested to note that if you take every fourth letter of every sentence, it actually spells out the phrase, ‘Titania McGrath wrote this, you gullible hacks.’”
When asked if he was indeed behind the hoax article, Andrew Doyle remained playfully cagey, telling The Post Millennial: “So many of the opinion columns in the woke press read like satire already, so in a sense I shouldn’t be surprised that such an obvious hoax would be published.”
The truth is if it weren’t for geniuses like Doyle, Gervais, Chappelle, CK, and the handful of other comedians brave enough to stand up to the woke mob, the culture wars might be a lost cause. As Doyle has pointed out numerous times, hoaxing and satirizing the woke establishment is actually punching up. Every major platform and publication is woke in 2019. Those who issue social justice diktats have all of the power and influence. Doyle’s work is vital.
News hoaxes are as old as news itself, but what news outlets can get pranked about is very revealing. In this case, media wanted to believe that a young woman hated her whiteness, that Sam Harris is a gateway drug to the alt-right, free speech doesn’t matter, and off-colour jokes must be investigated by the authorities. The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Independent wanted to believe these things. In fact, they were desperate to believe these things. That’s why they published these hoax stories. And that’s why we need to keep making fun of them.
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.
The holidays can be a tough time for lots of people, and if the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its way, they’ll be even worse. The annual family get-togethers have taken on an added significance since the beginning of the Trump presidency. No longer just times to swap recipes and pretend you have your life together, now they are stages set for activism, disagreement, and political animus.
Just in time for American Thanksgiving, the ACLU tweeted some of their favourite Thanksgiving conversation starters in a holiday tweet.
There’s this idea that the holiday table should be turned into a court, the passing of potatoes a referendum on your racist uncle, and of course, the assumption that you have a racist uncle who needs to be schooled in the proper way of thinking.
Holidays are divisive enough already without going in armed with a series of adversarial conversation starters and assumptions about how your family needs to be educated in wokeness. But in today’s political and cultural climate, we’re supposed to believe that every conversation is an opportunity to tutor the uninitiated into progressive ideology.
The American family is on a long decline. Many families are broken, blended, confusing places. If anything, the ACLU should be promoting family bonds, not ensuring strife. When we feel connected, have a safe place to land from the turmoil of the world, and can take solace in our families, life is better.
We don’t have to agree with everyone we love to love them. We don’t have to coerce our families into sharing our views. After all, no one likes to be evangelized to and the best way to change hearts and minds is through actions, not lectures. If there are true bonds of family, they don’t need to be pressed with rhetoric, and if those bonds are tenuous, strengthen them. You don’t have to fix everyone in your family, and no one likes to be criticized. Instead of starting conversations with assumptions and accusations, start with kindness.
Probably your family is already aware of these things, like trans and LGBT rights, after all, it’s in every publication, and in the Supreme Court. This objectionable ACLU family is a straw family, they don’t exist. Where is there a family who is so insular that they don’t have LGBT people in them as relatives or friends? And you might be dealing with much bigger issues than that which carries importance for legislation and federal policy.
We have prepared some alternatives to the ACLU conversation starters, The Post Millennial holiday conversation starters:
Instead of “my pronouns are … ” try “how have you been?”
Instead of bringing up hiring problems for LGBT people, ask “how many jobs are you working these days?”
Instead of “who loved Pose season two?” Ask what a person’s favourite tv show is, and talk about that.
And don’t ask people to “please pass the pie and the Equality Act,” instead ask if you can help get the desserts on the table, and maybe listen for once.
If you have political or theological disagreements with your family, what is the basis for the opposing beliefs? Why do people believe what they believe? Find that out before belittling anyone. And if you really want to promote civil liberties and charity, propose some holiday service. You and your family can team up in helping the less fortunate at this trying time of year.
The transformation of the ACLU from an essential civil liberties organization to a group of woke zombies virtue signalling social justice platitude after social justice platitude has been particularly painful to watch. While they still advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, and against the authoritarian implementation of facial recognition software, the incessant thought policing makes it hard to get behind them.
In the last few months, the ACLU has advocated for compelled speech with regard to the issue of preferred pronouns.
They’ve also lobbied on behalf of trans women who wish to compete in women’s sports. It’s an odd position for a civil liberties organization to take—to infringe upon the rights of women to have their own spaces.
When their advocacy fails, they just shout about it.
The change in their priorities and values has led long term donors to abandon their charitable giving.
The ACLU is a storied institution. But they have abandoned their promise of advocating for actual civil liberties, and they are continuing to lose the public’s confidence. It’s part of a trend really—once-respected institutions from The New York Times to the ADL have gone woke and lost the plot over the last 3-4 years. Perhaps it’s due to a panicked overcorrection for the Trump presidency; perhaps it’s just the insidiousness of woke ideology as it has spread from the universities to the larger culture.
The ACLU wants you to confront your relatives about hot button issues in culture. Authoritarians are great at dividing families. That’s how they seize power. They need anger and division. But if you really care about your family, maybe just let the conversation happen naturally, instead of enforcing talking points. Ideological diversity is a strength.
When foundations that are founded on principles switch their focus to politics, those principles get thrown under the proverbial bus. Principles are what hold up, whereas a political agenda is more concerned with achieving its ends than making sure those ends are achieved according to any standards.
Do your best to embrace the differences between you and your loved ones. Use dialogue to open your own mind, and find the places where you do agree. And for the love of God, don’t let the ACLU ruin your holidays or your relationship with your family.
In today’s world, we are increasingly pressured to censor and restrict what we say in order to avoid causing offence by voicing opinions that might be construed as “hate speech” or “intolerant.” However, hearing opinions that differ from the mainstream, whether they’re offensive or not, is necessary in order to spark debate and open discussion, especially on issues considered contentious.
Contentious issues are meant to be debated in order for one to arrive at as truthful a conclusion as possible. Dr. Jordan Peterson summed this up when he said, “in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive.”
In other words, being able to risk offence allows one of two outcomes; either one speaks an offensive, incorrect opinion and thus is given the opportunity to be corrected, or one speaks an offensive remark that delivers an uncomfortable truth.
The reason Dr. Peterson links the ability to think with the ability to speak is because speech is merely thought vocalized. Thought brought out into the open is thought that is able to face scrutiny. However, this can only happen if people don’t shut down debate and discussion by claiming something is offensive or abusive. Those who easily take offence overlook the fact that an opinion or belief that is vigorously debated is a thought that can go onto to serve the public good by either being publicly and validly discarded or publicly and validly incorporated into the collective knowledge.
Also overlooked by those who want to live under the rule that says one cannot cause offence is the impossibility of implementing such an authoritarian ambition on a large scale. While avoiding offence might be achievable when face-to-face with just one person, this is nearly impossible for those who give lectures or speeches on a contentious issue to hundreds of people at a time.
How can you possibly cover the topic without offending at least one person? The answer is, you can’t. The only way to avoid causing offence to thin-skinned audience members would be to not hold the lecture at all. That, however, would be a capitulation to erratic emotional frailties, which, in turn, would directly contribute to the end of our ability to speak freely. It is indisputable that debate and open discussion are critical because they allow both sides to hear another point of view and thus come to a balanced and well-informed conclusion; if conflict of opinion still remains after opposing views have been aired, then there is much wisdom, and civility, in both sides, simply taking the age-old stance to agree to disagree.
For my generation, perhaps the best argument for the protection of freedom of speech and expression is that it is freedom of speech that prevents socially conservative people from banding together to have the state forbid us from attending, say, a Rihanna concert or from watching Game of Thrones on the basis they feel offended by the promotion of sexual immorality or religious sacrilege. Success in this would be a direct attack on freedom of expression, in this case, artistic expression. The fact is, once an identity group takes offence over what they see as a contentious issue and then demand the state to prohibit what they deem offensive, it opens a door for all manner of moral issues to be decided upon by an entity that is as unaccountable as it is capricious. History too often has shown that those who seize control of language and the right to use it freely—especially under the guise of wielding moral justice or goodness—are those who soon use this control as leverage to take away other rights. As Philosopher Sir Roger Scruton wrote, when “the state is seen as the guardian of public morality” we give up enormous freedom because we give the state the power to, “forbid the misuse of our freedom.”
Anybody who has doubts about the danger we face over the loss of our freedom of speech only has to consider the recent attempt to silence Lindsay Shepherd, a former teacher assistant in Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. In her class, she played a video clip that featured Dr. Jordan Peterson debating with another University of Toronto professor the inherent dangers Bill C-16 presented for freedom of speech because of its legislated use of ideologically charged language, in this case, gender-neutral pronouns. Although Lindsay Shepherd had taken a neutral stance in the matter and she had presented both sides of the argument, she was dragged before a committee and accused of creating a “toxic climate” at the University for showing the clip, this despite the fact the video clip had been aired on public television and so was already in the public domain.
According to her interrogators, she had “violat[ed] the school’s Gendered and Sexual Violence policy“ and created “an unsafe learning environment for students.” Worse, she was falsely told that she had “broken the law” over a subject that, to use the predictable words of ideologues, “there is no debate.” In fact, all Shepherd had done was cause offence to a small number of people because, as part of her lesson on, ironically, “how language affects our lives,” she had dared to air a short clip of a debate that featured a contentious issue. That she was told she’d broken the law, was then subjected to little more than a kangaroo court and that this all happened on a university campus gives a clear indication that our freedom of speech is very much under threat. In the end, in this case at least, the ideologues lost, and Shepherd received an apology from Wilfrid Laurier University for the way she was treated. However, given that this incident was able to happen in the first place, it would be foolish to think that such attacks won’t continue their quest to limit our freedom both to speak and to hear differing opinions.
Dr. Peterson says that, “no one believes a world constructed through deception is preferable” and of course he’s right. But not causing offence requires a certain amount of deception because by suppressing our own beliefs and opinions, we risk parroting, under duress, the state-sanctioned beliefs and opinions of others that we believe to be lies. Those who disagree should keep in mind that there is only one way to entirely erase thoughts considered disagreeable or offensive from the minds of those who think them: “erase” the individual who holds such thoughts. This is extremely dangerous.
We should heed the wise words of Justice Julian Knowles, a British High Court judge who is currently presiding over a “hate speech” challenge in London’s High Court of Justice. In a statement addressed to the court, he said, “none of us have a right to be offended by something that they hear … freedom-of-expression laws are not there to protect statements such as “kittens are cute”… [they are there] to expose people to things that they do not want to hear.” The message, then, is to toughen up. (No offence.)