Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Instantaneous Emergence of a Liberal Orthodoxy on Transgender Issues--Without Discussion And Without Dissent

   There are a lot of things that are baffling and alarming about the seemingly instantaneous emergence of the new liberal orthodoxy on transgender / transexual issues. For one thing, many (though not all) parts of the new liberal orthodoxy are fairly straightforwardly and obviously false. For another, many of the arguments gestured at in support of the insta-orthodoxy presuppose or make garbled reference to philosophical views that are questionable to say the very least, and which are unlikely to be accepted by most people if made explicit independently of politically-charged issues.
   But one of the most alarming things about all this is that it all happened almost instantaneously, without discussion, imposed from "above" (if this counts as above) by academia, the media, and internet activists. Not only did it happen without discussion, discussion has been forbidden by the same groups who decreed and disseminated the orthodoxy. This would be creepy enough if there were any reason to believe that it was a one-off case. But I see no reason to think that it was, and I think there are decent reasons to believe that it won't be.
   I mean...I'm pretty sensitive to this stuff, I spend too much time on the internet, and I often at least know when an issue of this kind starts to become a matter of public interest. But I, at least, did not see the emergence of stories wrestling with questions like "are transgender women women?", or "gosh, what ought we to do about the whole bathroom thing?" (actually I did see a few of the latter...but fewer than you might think.) The first I heard of the issue was when I saw an internet lynch mob shrieking about someone at a video game company having said that he thought that women had vaginas or some such perfectly reasonable thing. That is: the orthodoxy had already been established before even I even realized that the issue was an issue. Perhaps I was just inattentive, but I doubt it.
   Furthermore, there seems to be a massive disconnect between the views of the vanguard and the views of ordinary people on these things. The latter publish story after story and column after column simply presupposing the truth of the new orthodoxy, or giving terrible arguments in support of it...while the comments sections are filled with (largely cogent) rejections of the orthodoxy. But there is almost no published dissent.
   This is a very strange situation. A poorly-justified (and, in many cases probably false) new view with important moral, metaphysical, and policy implications is promulgated, largely on the basis of bad partially-philosophical reasoning that makes use of premises promulgated by highly-politicized sectors of academia that are filled with activists. There is no real public discussion of the issues. In fact, dissent and even discussion are explicitly disallowed by the very theories--politicized, quasi-philosophical, illiberal theories poorly-understood by everyone involved. Most people aren't buying it, and for perfectly cogent reasons...but this viewpoint is represented, if at all, only in conservative media...and even the more mainstream of those are often caving. And in comments sections.
   I've been squawking about this here and there--possibly too vocally...
   But can people not find all this alarming and ominous?


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