The social justice people are always on the side of compassion and ‘victim’s rights,’ so objecting to anything they do makes you instantly a perpetrator. The thing is if you replace compassion with resentment, then you understand the authoritarian left. There is resentment, fundamentally. – Dr. Jordan Peterson
I had planned on another topic for the day but a debate on twitter caught my attention. And my initially one-sided participation.
David French had written what I found to be an articulate and thoughtful article in response to twitter outrage over an earlier article on Chelsea Manning – the trans soldier pardoned by Obama. French’s first piece, titled Chelsea Manning’s Release is Nothing to Celebrate, took issue with the release of Manning. I agree with French’s position. But that wasn’t what sparked the outraged responses. It was French’s refusal to use the pronoun “her” when describing Chelsea Manning – previously Bradley Manning – in his initial article.
And the backlash was fierce.
So fierce that French wrote a second – even better – article in response to the backlash called Chelsea Manning and the Problem with Pronouns. I suggest that you read this second article before proceeding, as it directly pertains to what transpired today on twitter.
What follows is the twitter discussion between French and Greenwald – with an occasional tweet made by myself. There were many other responses from third parties but I have left these out for brevity. To be very clear, at no point in the initial conversation did either French or Greenwald respond to my tweets. Odds are they never even saw them. But that didn’t make the whole conversation any less illustrative.
This was the initial tweet – the opening salvo – from Greenwald:
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 20, 2017
I took issue with Greenwald’s position:
— Jeff Carlson, CFA (@jefcap64) May 20, 2017
French’s response to Greenwald:
The beauty of adoption is a bond that exists apart from biological birth. I don’t lie and tell my daughter that her mom gave birth to her. https://t.co/oBB8S0ac1b
— David French (@DavidAFrench) May 20, 2017
Rather than continue with large block tweets – and in deference to my lack of technical twitter skills – I will turn the rest of the conversation into a sequential transcript:
GG: My husband & I are completing our adoption process now & the idea that someone would try to impose biological definitions on it is so ugly.
DF: Who is doing that?
GG: Do you introduce your kids as your “children,” or always explain they’re adopted? Would you regard it as wrong if [I] refused to recognize it?
DF: It is true that she is my adopted child. It is false that a man can become a woman. Those are two entirely different things.
GG: I don’t want to make it personal by framing this about you, but I don’t understand how you override biology in one case but not the other.
DF: We didn’t override biology, and we never claimed that we did. Her birth mother will always be her birth mother.
GG: Everything you’re saying to justify adoptive parents calling their kids “my children” applies to trans people. Everything.
Me: Emotional manipulation meant to stifle views you do not want to be expressed. Trans is a self-applied label.
GG: So someone unrelated to you can become your “child” despite biology, but a person can’t transition despite “biology”? Total double standard.
Me: Trans is biologically incorrect and a self-applied label. If David’s child chose to be called adopted that would be biologically correct.
DF: I’m arguing that the words man and woman have meaning based on sex, not a concept called “gender identity” and that meaning endures.
DF: You can label my relationship to my daughter however you like. But at no point do I say anything but the truth about who she is.
DF: For example, if you said, “you must say she was always your kid and your wife gave birth to her or you’re an ass” that would be wrong.
DF: Finally, I’m totally fine with you calling me an adoptive parent. That’s true. It signals a process. Calling a man a woman is false.
GG: Also, many adoptive parents just introduce their kids as “my children,” often without narrating the adoption. Are they lying, in your view?
DF: A trans person isn’t “lying” when they use opposite sex pronouns. They believe it to be true. I do not. I speak according to what I believe.
DF: The question is whether a person can say what they believe. If you truly believe I’m not my daughter’s dad then you can and should say so.
DF: Moreover I would utterly oppose a law mandating penalties if someone called my daughter something other than my child.
With hindsight, I should have been more polite – and more eloquent. I often struggle within the character limitations imposed by twitter. But I meant what I initially tweeted to Greenwald. He took an eloquently stated position by French and attempted to twist it into something else entirely. He emotionally armed his argument as a means to stifle French’s words – his position – his belief.
I also meant what I said about their respective positions on free speech. But Greenwald did not see it that way. As I was composing this piece, I did become involved in the conversation – through a tweet from Greenwald in response to my “free speech” tweet:
GG: Why would you make that up? You completely fabricated that. I don’t advocate any punishments or laws of compulsion for this.
Me: You stretched a position emotionally to tell French why he could not have the position he had. Ur first tweet seemed meant to shame.
Me: Ur logic also faulty. Trans is a self-applied label not a biological fact. It is French’s right not to accept what he sees as a non-truth.
Me: You tried to silence that view. Adopted daughter is factually and biologically correct. But initially it is NOT a self-applied label.
GG: The world’s worst idiots are those who can’t distinguish between “criticizing a view” and “trying to censor a view.”
Me: Do u consider criticizing as interchangeable with shaming? Because it sure looked to me as if u were trying to use shame to stifle opinions.
And that is where it ended. Twitter really sucks for debates.
What’s transpiring within these conversations runs far deeper than differing positions on gender status or acceptance of trans-people’s positions on self-identity (Honestly, I have no idea if I am phrasing that correctly).
Personally, I could care less what people do – and identify as – so long as it doesn’t hurt others. But I do care about the defense of free speech. And I hate Political Correctness – and its application in stifling free speech. I’ve written about the subject before.
The initial tweet by Greenwald is a classic response meant to shame French for holding his opinion. People often confuse guilt with shame. Guilt lets you know you did something wrong. Shame is different. Shame means you are wrong:
@DavidAFrench also bravely walk up to adoptive parents & tell them their kids aren’t *really* their “children”?”
It was the twitter equivalent of “have you stopped beating your wife”. But French held his ground – and kept his discussion eloquent and calm. I admired that. A bit less so for Greenwald. His next tweet:
“My husband & I are completing our adoption process now & the idea that someone would try to impose biological definitions on it is so ugly.”
Shaming coupled with classification – and layered with resentment. Greenwald took French’s unrelated position and extended it into his pending adoption of a child. He tried to make French a perpetrator.
What Greenwald inexplicably seemed to be missing was the simple premise – the entire point – of French’s second article.
“But when your definition of manners requires that I verbally consent to a fundamentally false and important premise, then I dissent. You cannot use my manners to win your culture war. I will speak respectfully, I will never use a pronoun with the intent of causing harm, and if I encounter a person in obvious emotional distress I will choose my words very carefully. But I will not say what I do not believe.”…
…”In the secular faith of the illiberal Left, pronoun mandates have become the equivalent of blasphemy codes. On this most contentious of issues, one must use approved language and protect the most delicate of sensibilities. It’s bad enough to see this mindset work itself through Twitter or in shouted arguments on the quad. When it makes its way into law, then intolerance moves from irritation into censorship. It’s identity politics as oppression, and it’s infecting American debate. May it not corrupt American law.”
Well said Mr. French.
Just as people have a personal choice over how to identify, we all have freedom to decide how to think and feel – and what to believe.
And we have a duty as citizens to protect our national laws.
A central tenet of Globalism is the concept of “global rule of law,” under which nation-states cede judicial authority to supranational courts. Globalism promotes globally centralized control of laws, foreign policy and monetary policy. Unlike our Republic, Globalism inherently blends rule of law with rule of man. Globalism comes into existence through the ownership of laws. And through the ownership of law, Globalism gains ownership of nations.
And Political Correctness is Globalism’s favored tool.
Used with a certain willful innocence, being Politically Correct means avoiding offense – or any disadvantage – to members of differing social groups. While that may be the reason put forth, it most certainly is not the goal.
Political Correctness has everything to do with stymieing freedom of speech – and ultimately freedom of thought. Political Correctness is about political goals.
It’s the forceful application of whatever belief furthers a political agenda. Any ideology that advances the cause is Politically Correct – because it works. There is no search for factual correctness – there is only the search for whatever achieves the goal. This implies that Truth is lost in favor of that goal.
In this way, truth has been pulled from itself and is no longer a vehicle for honest discourse. The intent is control.
And this is exactly what Greenwald was attempting with his very public tweet to David French. I am sure Greenwald would disagree – well actually he did disagree – nevertheless that is what he did. He attempted to use public shame as a means for both invalidating and changing French’s opinion.
And he did it with emotion rather than logic. To paraphrase Dr. Peterson, Greenwald weaponized compassion.
Being trans-whatever does not change your biology. That is a hard yet simple fact. Chromosomally you are the same as before. At the same time, you have complete freedom to choose your identity. But you don’t have the right to force that identity or choice on others – to force them to believe what they hold to be false. You don’t have the right to enforce your beliefs into other people’s belief systems.
And just as you don’t have the right to tell others how to think, others don’t have the right to prevent you in your choices. Or treat you unfairly as a result of them.
This conversation was not about being trans or identifying as trans – nor was it about adoption. It was about control. Control of what one can say, think and believe.
In its first step, Political Correctness is used to stifle free speech by arguing that certain groups are harmed by saying, doing or believing something. It labels certain things as being incapable of being said. Once these labels are accepted the second step is deployed. Invalidation. When society’s perceptions are subtly shifted to form an unspoken agreement around a topic then a “rational consensus” has been formed. If one speaks against this new “rational consensus” that individual violates the precept. Their argument is invalidated. More importantly, their future arguments are now invalidated.
This process is circular. When you label someone you simplify them. You render all their other thoughts and viewpoints as meaningless. You invalidate them. And by achieving the second step in Political Correctness one is led back to the first.
Political Correctness wants to destroy institutions but build up groups. It claims to free the individual but destroys the individual in collective thought – and ultimately destroys the groups themselves.
Unsurprisingly, those supportive of Mr. Greenwald did not see the exchange as anything resembling an attack on free speech. I know – I heard from plenty of them. And I’m pretty sure Mr. Greenwald never thought this out in such a stark fashion. But that’s the nefarious collective-thought, group-think aspect to Political Correctness.
And it’s exactly what Mr. Greenwald tried to do – even if he wasn’t aware of it.