Discover more from PLURIBUS
E-Pluribus | July 18, 2023
Kids and gender ideology; sometimes 'helping' can hurt; and the First Amendment: who needs it?
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Erica Komisar: Gender Ideology Isn’t Kids’ Stuff
There was a time when it was common to hear that kids were being pushed to grow up too fast. For gender activists, however, at times it seems that kids just can’t grow up fast enough. Erica Komisar writes in The Wall Street Journal that children simply lack the maturity to deal with all the confusing and complex issues raised by today’s gender wars.
Children develop at their own pace. Many aren’t psychologically or emotionally ready to discuss or think about their “identity.” I have seen many young adolescents overwhelmed by the need to know “who and what I am” in a heated and socially pressured environment. I have even had teen patients tell me that “identifying as heteronormative”—yes, they’ve been trained to talk that way—is stressful in an environment that idealizes being “queer.”
Preadolescent children are only beginning to discover who they are. All children (adults too) have both masculine and feminine parts of their personalities, which they should be free to explore in play. If a girl doesn’t like wearing dresses and a boy enjoys playing with dolls, it’s cruel and destructive to lead them to believe they’re actually members of the opposite sex.
The harm to children is physical as well as psychological. Medical societies and some schools promote off-label puberty blockers and life-altering surgeries for children and adolescents diagnosed with “gender dysphoria.” Seattle schools teach fourth-graders that “some people decide, with the help of their doctor, to take medicine or hormones to change puberty on purpose to better match their gender.” Side effects of puberty blockers include mood disorders, brain swelling, seizures and cognitive impairment.
Read it all.
Colleen Eren: The Problem With Disabling
Few would question the good intentions of accommodations, regulations, and laws designed to help the disabled overcome barriers to achieve independence and success. However, Colleen Eren at Discourse Magazine argues that too much of this good thing can be harmful and counterproductive when combined with social and political trends that redefine “disabled” beyond all reasonable limits.
Over the past five years [ . . . ] my academic colleagues and I anecdotally noticed a significant increase in the frequency and type of accommodations being requested by accessibility offices. Unlike Jason’s need for a notetaker due to the physical limitations from cerebral palsy, the majority of these recent requests are almost exclusively for a burgeoning number of college students classified as having mental health issues (particularly anxiety or depression) and learning disorders or attention-deficit disorders, even when those conditions do not significantly impact a student’s life activities.
[ . . . ]
Upon further research I have found that the increase in the number and scope of accommodations is not anecdotal, nor a kind of confirmation bias. It instead reflects recent changes to the ADA Amendments Act that expand the definition of what is a disability to the point of being meaningless—changes that have opened the door to accommodations that fundamentally change course structure, content and assessments. This increase also reflects an evolving sensibility that removing obstacles and making things much easier for students is the best way to ensure equity rather than equipping the next generation with strategies and tools they need to meet challenges in a workforce—and in life—that will often not accommodate.
[ . . . ]
The new premise is that such problems don’t need to be chronic, nor do they need to severely restrict a student’s life in any meaningful way. Furthermore, the focus has shifted away from formal diagnoses, so there’s no longer any need to provide extensive evidence through medical or independent professional documentation. Disability office staff can rely on a mixture of student self-reporting and the staff’s own observations and professional judgment in determining whether a student has a disability meriting an accommodation and what that accommodation might be. At the same time, the prominent organization of disability service professionals, the Association on Higher Education and Disability, issued a guidance saying these changes were necessary to promote social justice in higher education.
Read it all here.
Subscribe for free:
Martin Gurri: The New Censorship
Author and former CIA analyst Martin Gurri writes at City Journal that the Left has come a long way on free speech and the First Amendment, but not in the right direction. Rather than push back against government censorship, Gurri says the establishment Left finds the temptation to use it to silence their enemies and critics too strong, and that it’s up to voters in 2024 to reset the nation’s course.
For today’s guardian class, Trump was the quintessential problem of democracy that could be solved only by undemocratic means. Three months after his election, he was under investigation for conspiring with Russian agents. According to journalist Jeff Gerth, half a million news stories were produced on the subject of Trump–Russia collusion—a volume that, if true, suggests a pathological level of obsessive compulsion. Failure to find guilt merely confirmed Trump’s supervillain powers. A barrage of accusations, impeachments, and indictments has targeted Trump since 2016; the thinking seems to be that, sooner or later, someone will find him guilty of something. That is probably correct.
But the establishment Left faced a second and more complex problem of democracy: how to control social media, which they believed had lifted Trump to power and might do the same for other dangerous carnivores of the Party of Lies. The new censorship began with certain dogmatic assertions heard in opaque corners of the federal bureaucracy. The key concept was “disinformation,” defined as lying deliberately to some adversary. Influence operations were conflated with attempts by foreign players to hack U.S. government information systems, such as election records; the Russians hovered like phantoms over the scene. Very quickly, telling fibs online got ratcheted into a national security crisis under the purview of Homeland Security.
[ . . . ]
The NGOs developed the umbrella conclaves where personnel from federal agencies like Homeland Security, the FBI, and State Department inducted their social-media “partners” into the mysteries of digital orthodoxy. Government instruction occurred both face-to-face and through confidential messaging channels. Among the most influential groups were the Election Integrity Partnership and the Virality Project, both spawned by the Stanford Internet Observatory, which monitored millions of posts across platforms and were responsible for two specific expansions of the field of play.
First, they dropped the pretense of protection against foreign conspirators to focus on domestic content. “Domestic threat actors,” whose fraudulent posts were considered to be an attack on “democratic institutions,” replaced the ghost-like Russians in the priorities of Homeland Security. Second, they transitioned from disinformation—that is, the fig leaf of fighting falsehood—to the censoring of uncomfortable truths. Accurate criticism of Anthony Fauci that might “exacerbate distrust,” “true stories that might fuel hesitancy” about the Covid-19 vaccine, along with heretical though feasible opinions about the Ukraine war and U.S. elections, became viewed as actionable.
Now there were good truths and bad truths. In cases like that of the Hunter Biden laptop, noble lies had to be told to solve the problems of democracy. The new censorship sidestepped the old legal niceties: warrants, judges, formal investigations. It was a bureaucratic process. As such, it was self-justified, secretive, and open-ended.
Read the whole thing.
And finally, maybe the slope really is slippery after all: