The Long March of Emotional Blackmail

2023-10-23
2023-10-26: Added one new link

How the intellectual cowardice of some institutions is facilitating the spread of irrational ideology, in this case the denial of biological reality and the binarity of sex.

Sommaire en français Comment la lâcheté intellectuelle de plusieurs institutions facilite la propagation d’une idéologie irrationnelle, en l’occurrence le déni de la réalité biologique et de la binarité du sexe.

We live in a country (one of several) populated by large numbers of intellectual cowards. Cowards who capitulate to fanatics who use scurrilous accusations of bigotry in order to bully, and thus silence, anyone who might dare to question the fanatics’ nonsensical dogma. These cowards pretend to believe the nonsense, even when its absurdity is obvious, because if they dared to question it openly they would risk being “cancelled.” This situation is often called “cancel culture” although it might more accurately be called social censorship. That is to say, not censorship by the State, but by one’s peers and fellows, often via social media. Some are so extreme in their cowardice that they even deny the existence of cancel culture.

One of these nonsensical doctrines is the pseudoscientific notion that sex is not a binary biological reality. This doctrine asserts instead that sex among humans is a social construct, that it is fluid, perhaps bimodal, perhaps even completely arbitrary. One hallmark of this doctrine is use of the highly dubious expression “sex assigned at birth,” as if sex were just an arbitrary assignment. In reality, sex is of course observed, not assigned, at birth. There is no ambiguity except in a tiny proportion of exceptional cases.

We know that sex is a biological phenomenon which is strictly binary. Every human being is either female, of the sex which produces large gametes which are eggs, or male, of the sex which produces small gametes which are sperm. In those very rare cases where an individual is intersex (or hermaphroditic), displaying characteristics of both sexes, we are dealing with a combination of both sexes in a single individual—not an intermediary constituting a different sex distinct from male and female. Such an exception proves the rule, rather than contradicting it.

This pseudoscientific doctrine of non-binary sex is enforced by emotional blackmail. This is done by propagating the outrageous assumption that if one asserts that sex is binary, then one must be a bigot who would deny the existence of trans persons (i.e. those who suffer from gender dysphoria), or deny such persons protection against discrimination, or even wish them physical harm. This assumption is obviously false. There may exist persons who display such hostile attitudes, but that is certainly not generally the case for those who maintain the binarity of sex.

Thus, in today’s world, it has become dangerous to make statements based on biological reality. Emotion has become more important that truth. Someone might be offended! And unfortunately, there are far too many cowards who capitulate to that emotional blackmail.

Back in the 1960s, German Christian socialist Rudi Dutschke coined the expression The Long March through the Institutions to describe his strategy of subverting capitalism and promoting revolution by infiltrating various institutions of power, “to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the machinery.

This phenomenon has been referred to as “idea laundering” in that the academic origins of a set of bad ideas launder them, making them appear legitimate.

More recently, that toxic mixture of anti-Enlightenment ideologies which I call the post-left and which some call “wokism”—a mixture which includes a denial of sex binarity, a neoracist faction which claims to be antiracist and a few other ingredients—was born in the universities, mainly in the social sciences. Thus, it was already well integrated into some of societies’ most influential institutions. Furthermore, its basis in institutions of higher learning has lent it a credibility which it does not deserve. This phenomenon has been referred to as “idea laundering” in that the academic origins of a set of bad ideas launder them, making them appear legitimate.

Anti-Enlightenment ideologues are currently putting Dutschke’s idea into practice, marching though university departments, academic publishers, government agencies, NGOs and other entities. Of course there are differences: the post-left is not really anti-capitalist, and it proposes no specific revolutionary goals. The post-left is not Marxist, but observes a sort of lobotomized post-Marxism. Be that as it may, whether this strategy has been pursued consciously or not, it has been disturbingly successful. It is spreading from the social sciences into the formal sciences, with alarming results.

Here are three examples.

  1. Astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson conflates biological sex (which is fixed) with gender roles (which are of course socially determined and very fluid), an obvious category error. He has also taken a position against banning biological males from women’s sports and, to rationalize this view, he even draws an utterly outrageous parallel between reserving women’s sports for biological women and reserving some drinking fountains for whites only.
  2. In a 2019 blog published by Scientific American, “Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia”, author Simón(e) D Sun claims to prove that “Actual research shows that sex is anything but binary.” As for the scientific angle, the Paradox Institute has produced an excellent video, “A Response to SciAm’s ‘Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia’” which refutes Sun’s denial of binarity. However, it is obvious that the fundamental topic of the blog is not science, but rather perceived morality. The title alone shows that the real issue is dodging accusations of transphobia. The blog’s conclusion confirms this by declaring that “the science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary, transgender people are real. ” In other words, if you assert that sex is binary, then the blog’s author says you must be a bigot who denies the very existence of trans persons. Thus, you must agree with Sun or else you are horrible person. (Ironically, if sex were not binary, then transition would have little or no meaning.)
  3. Clearly, the AAA and CASCA leaderships are terrified of being accused of transphobia and they are prepared to jettison scientific fact in order to save their sorry asses.

  4. Recently the American Anthropology Association (AAA) and the Canadian Anthropology Association (CASCA) issued a joint statement entitled “No Place for Transphobia in Anthropology” concerning their decision to remove a session about the importance of biological sex from their 2023 conference program. (The statement is also available as a bilingual handout.) The statement, like Tyson, fails to distinguish between sex and gender, rejecting the idea “that sex and gender are simplistically binary.” It baldly asserts the falsehood that “There is no single biological standard by which all humans can be reliably sorted into a binary male/female sex classification.” The statement implies that recognizing the sex binary would cause harm to “already marginalized groups of people” and that “we are committed to upholding the value and dignity of transgender people.” Like the SciAm blog, the statement reveals that the real issue at hand is a moral one. It even compares gender critical scholarship to “race science.” Clearly, the AAA and CASCA leaderships are terrified of being accused of transphobia and they are prepared to jettison scientific fact in order to save their sorry asses.

In the face of emotional blackmail, it would be nice if scientists like Tyson and organizations such as SciAm, AAA and CASCA displayed a little intellectual courage, responding with a decisive NO to fashionable nonsense such as the denial of the sex binary, while simultaneously supporting proper medical care and anti-discrimination protection for trans persons.


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The Grotesque Naïveté of the “Woke”

2023-10-01

If you believe that “wokism” is a positive and progressive political movement, do you also believe that Islam is a religion of peace?

Sommaire en français Si vous croyez que le « wokisme » est un mouvement politique positif et progressiste, trouvez-vous également que l’islam est une religion de paix ?

There are people who support the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left (i.e. “wokism”) because they like the word “woke,” because they consider it to have positive connotations, such as being aware of injustices and wanting to end them.

That is like supporting Christianity because many people use the word “Christian” as a synonym for good and kind. It is like supporting the powerful Polish “Law and Justice” party—a right-wing party, very pro-Catholic—because the name includes the word “justice” and we are all in favour of that, aren’t we, in particular social justice?

How dimwitted can a person be?

Has there ever been an elected politician who did not claim to advocate freedom, in one form or another? Does that mean they are all to be trusted as proponents of freedom and are all worthy of our support? Of course not. Many of them—perhaps most—are dissembling. We need to look more closely, of course.

It takes a certain dullness of mind for a person to support a movement simply because it claims to be “woke.” The anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left is a toxic, racist and fanatical cult which has corrupted the political left. It rejects universalism and discredits the left, thus strengthening the political right. It deserves our criticism, not our endorsement.

Toxic Ideologies

The anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left, or more succinctly the post-left, involves a complex mixture of dubious ideologies. The two most important of these are Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Gender Theory.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a pseudoscience which holds that:

  • Racial identity is the most important thing about a person. Forget personality, education, personal qualities, quirks and taste. Forget all other personal attributes.
  • Racism is ominipresent, unavoidable and cannot not be present in all situations;
  • Racism occurs only in one direction, i.e. whites are racist towards non-whites. Whites are always racist and non-whites never are.
  • White people cannot understand racism and must remain silent on the issue, always deferring to non-whites.
  • Any disparity between groups, especially racial groups, must be the result of racism or similar injustice. Any other contributing factor is rejected out of hand.

Critical Race Theory is an antiracist ideology in the same way that Islam is a religion of peace.

Like many pseudosciences, religions and ideologies, CRT is non falsifiable. For example, if one believes that racism is always present in any situation, it is a simple matter to label some innocuous behaviour as racist. CRT is a generator of guilt and paranoïa. It is a great boon to the political right, because it allows the right to dismiss the antiracist movement as insane, which it obviously has become since it adopted this ideology. Critical Race Theory is an antiracist ideology in the same way that Islam is a religion of peace.

Gender Theory is a pseudoscience which holds that:

  • Sex is a social construct and thus on a continuum, when in reality sex is a biological reality and it is binary, as the only sexes are male and female.
  • There exists in each individual an innate gender identity which takes precedence over the person’s sex which is considered assigned at birth, whereas only the individual can know their gender identity.

Gender identity is like the Christian soul: an ethereal entity which is unobservable.

Social constructivism is extremely damaging, as it leads to self-identification, so that a man may simply declare himself a woman (or vice versa) and demand access to women-only spaces and events. Lesbians are vilified for rejecting the sexual advances of men who identify as women. Gender identity is like the Christian soul: an ethereal entity which is unobservable. Thus, like CRT, the existence of gender identity is an unfalsifiable hypothesis. To posit its existence is the pretense used to justify applying so-called “sex-change” procedures to minors—puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and sometimes even invasive surgeries including mastectomy and castration. When such procedures are applied to fully consenting adults, there is no problem. However, minors are too young to give informed consent to serious medical interventions whose necessity is very much in doubt.

The Best and the Worst of European Civilization

For the post-left, European culture is irremediably evil.

The Enlightenment is arguably the greatest achievement of European civilization, and that is precisely what the post-left rejects. The post-left is itself a product of European civilization, but it rejects Europeanness utterly, maintaining that everything about it is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. For the post-left, European culture is irremediably evil. The post-left—a.k.a. “wokism”—is thus arguably the worst possible product of European civilization. At its most extreme, i.e. as promoted by its most pious adherents, the post-left constitutes a masochistic, self-destructive, even suicidal (i.e. culturally suicidal) rejection of one’s own Europeanness—a.k.a. “whiteness.”


Next blog: The Long March of Emotional Blackmail

On Trans Extremism

Is Gender Theory the New Conversion Therapy?

2023-06-19
2023-06-29, addition of a link

The trans movement has been hopelessly corrupted by the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left and by Gender Theory, leading it in an extremist, irrational direction which is misogynistic and even apparently homophobic.

Sommaire en français
Ce blogue est disponible en français.
Le mouvement trans est irrémédiablement corrompu par la pseudo-gauche anti-Lumières et par la Théorie du genre, l’entraînant dans une direction extrémiste, irrationnelle et misogyne, voire apparemment homophobe.

The current situation has gone on long enough. We must speak out against the insane extremism of the trans movement.

Back in 1972, when I was living in Ottawa and very active in the gay rights organization Gays of Ottawa (which later changed its name to Lesbians and Gays of Ottawa), I met, for the first time, a person whom I knew to be trans. I received the visit of a young female to male transgender person in my apartment in Pestalozzi College. We chatted and discussed for several hours. I no longer remember his name. What I do remember, most vividly, was that the negative attitudes he had to deal with, as transgender, were very similar to those which I, as a gay man, had to face: bigotry based on sexual stereotypes about how men should behave and how women should behave, and woe unto anyone who violated those rules. Having transitioned from one gender to the other, he had violated the “gender-bar”—if I may call it that—in a radical and socially “repugnant” way. Being gay, attracted sexually to other men, I too violated that bar, although in a less visible way. I felt a strong bond of solidarity, despite the different natures of our “transgressions.”

A few years later, living in Vancouver B.C. and active in the Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE), I attended an event in Seattle held by the Union of Sexual Minorities (USM). There I witnessed a confrontation whose implications I did not fully grasp at the time but which I was convinced was significant. The event featured a trans woman speaker who, after a certain period of time living as a woman, considered herself fully a woman. However, a group of lesbians in the audience reacted angrily to this. How could someone born male and who had lived most of his life as a man claim to speak as a woman? The event moderator dismissed these concerns on the spot, declaring that the speaker’s viewpoint was a correct feminist position.

Now, half a century later, much has changed. In Canada and in many western countries, being gay is not only accepted, it is now practically in fashion and has been for several years—although draconian homophobic laws and attitudes persist in many other countries (such as some eastern European countries, Muslim-majority countries and parts of Africa). Trans persons are now similarly accepted, although more recently. But there is a problem. An enormous problem.

The Abandonment of Objectivity

In addition to a greater acceptance of sexual minorities, the 21st century has seen the spread of a bizarre political movement—which many call “wokism” but which I prefer to call the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left, because that is precisely what it is: a movement claiming to be on the political left but which has rejected the very Enlightenment ideals and values which define the political left.

This anti-Enlightenment mentality, greatly influenced by postmodernist philosophy, values personal subjectivity over objectivity, emotion over reason, and has severely distorted many social movements. One particular component of this mentality, known as Gender Theory (GT), has undermined the LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Trans) movement in particular. Starting from the observation that gender roles—the various ways in which men and women are expected to behave—are socially determined, GT has taken the irrational leap to declaring that sex itself—i.e. being male or female—is also a social construct. This conclusion is patently false, as male and female are distinct biological categories.

Flying in the face of biological reality, gender theorists claim that an individual’s sex is “assigned” at birth. But of course that is nonsense. The newborn baby’s sex is observed, not assigned. The existence of intersex individuals and the concomitant possibility of an erroneous observation—rare phenomena indeed—merely underline the binary nature of sex.

In the words of Project Nettie, a record of scientists, medics and others who assert the material reality of biological sex, “Attempts to recast biological sex as a social construct, which then becomes a matter of chosen individual identity, are wholly ideological, scientifically inaccurate and socially irresponsible.”

Disastrous Consequences

The consequences of this theory have been disastrous. The movement for trans rights once had eminently reasonable goals, such as quality medical supervision for adults suffering from gender dysphoria, helping them to transition if they give informed consent to such transition; and preventing discrimination, in housing and employment, against persons who are transitioning or have transitioned. But more recently, the most vocal trans activists have become extreme in their demands, leading to at least two major problems:

  1. Self-ID: A person is now considered to be of a certain sex on the basis a simple self-declaration. A man can become a woman (or vice versa) by simply saying so. There is no gate-keeper. This is an open door for abuse. It allows heterosexual male predators ready access to female-only spaces. It also allows mediocre male athletes to compete and win easily in women’s sports.
  2. Transitioning Minors: On the basis of so-called “gender affirming care,” teenagers are allowed to start on the path of transition—often involving puberty-blocking medication with possibly dangerous side-effects, and possibly irreversible, sometimes involving surgery which mutilates the body, including the genitals. These persons are minors, too young to give informed consent to such major procedures. Statistics show that (1) if such procedures are delayed for several years, most cases resolve themselves in time and the individual simply grows up to be a homosexual adult without gender dysphoria and (2) the probability that a minor with apparent dysphoria will commit suicide is far less that many trans activists claim.

Less serious, but highly indicative of the absurdity of GT, is the current fashion of declaring one’s pronouns. It would be useful to have a set of neuter pronouns which could be used to refer to persons who prefer not to be labelled male or female for whatever reason. (Existing English neuter pronouns “it” and “its” are inappropriate because they are insulting when applied to persons.) This would allow a person to choose one of three available sets of pronouns: male, female and neuter. However, trans extremists have gone far beyond that idea, expecting individuals to choose custom personal pronouns, which may be unique and differ from all others, and demanding that everyone use those pronouns when addressing that individual (and if they fail or refuse, they will be accused of transphobia). Forcing others to remember and use custom pronouns is narcissistic nonsense.

Men and “Non-men”

These are not the only problems. The refusal to recognize the binarity of sex leads to the erasure of women and sometimes even homosexuals. The word “woman” has begun to disappear, replaced by ridiculous expressions such as “birthing persons” or “non-men.” Incredibly, in an LGBTQ Glossary on the website of John Hopkins University, the word “lesbian” is defined as “A non-man attracted to non-men.” Furthermore, the same glossary contains no definition of the word “sex” but does indeed have an article defining the expression “Sex Assigned at Birth.”

Lesbians who are not interested in having sexual relations with trans women—i.e. biologically male—are being accused of transphobia. Whatever happened to respect for consent? Trans extremists regularly slander critics of Gender Theory in the most atrocious ways, sometimes even calling for their death (“Kill TERFs” where critics of GT are referred to as TERFs = “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists”)—in other words, advocating genocide of feminists. And yet, hypocritically, some trans extremists accuse GT critics of promoting genocide of trans persons!

The bottom line is this: trans extremism has become misogynistic and sometimes homophobic. In particular, when “gender affirming care” leads to unnecessary and invasive medical procedures, then in reality it becomes a form of conversion therapy, converting a person who would normally grow up to be homosexual into an ersatz heterosexual. This constitutes medical malpractice and medical child abuse.

This egregious malpractice, based on obvious pseudoscience, has gone on long enough. It must stop. In particular, self-identification must stop and transitioning of minors must be subjected to much stricter medical supervision and perhaps ended completely. Several European countries (e.g. Finland, Sweden, England, etc.) have already taken steps to restrict access to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries for minors.

One of the most dangerous, but unsurprising, results of trans extremism has been the strengthening of the homophobic (often religious) political right. Faced with outrageous demands which discredit the trans movement, and with it the entire LGBT movement, homophobes are greatly emboldened and empowered. Trans extremists and their allies are themselves responsible in part for the wave of anti-gay and anti-trans legislation which we see in some parts of the USA and in some other countries.

Emotivity Trumps Rationality, Slander Replaces Debate

The extreme irrationality and hysteria displayed by trans extremists and their “allies” is very reminiscent of the hysterical opposition to Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, whose supporters are often the targets of preposterous accusations of “racism” (worse than just false, also a category error) and other sins. In both cases—trans extremism and antisecularism—emotivity trumps rationality, making reasoned debate practically impossible. In both cases, defamatory accusations of various “phobias” and vacuous buzzwords such as “diversity” and “inclusion” are used to silence opposition.

Meanwhile, the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left has, also unsurprisingly, shown itself utterly incapable of nuance. Instead of supporting only those trans demands which are reasonable (such as quality medical care and non-discrimination), the so-called “woke” have gone whole hog, uncritically endorsing Gender Theory and thoroughly embracing even its most negative consequences.

We must speak out against these excesses.


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