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E-Pluribus | September 28, 2022
The only thing we have to fear is . . . congressional regulation, the great woke opera, and new horizons in gender identity.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Amy O. Cooke: Fear Congressional Regulation, Not the Speech
The John Locke Foundation is a North Carolina think tank that focuses on individual liberty and limited government. Recently, its CEO, Amy Cooke, testified before a House congressional committee regarding the “importance of free and open debate in energy policy.”
The First Amendment is to the powerful what freedom is to would-be tyrants. It is a life-saving vaccine that helps shield a republic from succumbing to despots. Speaking truth to power and challenging the power structure have been crucial to every single civil rights advancement in our country.
In a recent interview, former ACLU executive director Ira Glasser warned, “For people who today claim to be passionate about social justice, to establish free speech as an enemy is suicidal.” If the First Amendment doesn’t apply to everybody, then it doesn’t apply to anybody.
The speech we dislike the most is the speech that should be most protected. That especially includes public policy debates about how to solve today’s most pressing problems. I offer these words as a foundation for my opening remarks and written testimony. Americans, including those in the energy and environmental policy space, are rightfully troubled by the growing threat that their speech will be shut down by those who sit in politically powerful positions.
[ . . . ]
As an example, let’s take the regulatory space at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. It’s the playground of corporate lawyers, unelected bureaucrats, and well-funded environmental groups. They have “stakeholder” meetings that include only themselves. Then they issue press statements slapping each other on the back for their hard work securing a “settlement” that forces ratepayers, who weren’t at the table because they aren’t “stakeholders,” to pay more for what was going to be an inferior product that could greatly impact their families and businesses. That’s why I got involved in a utility’s carbon reduction plan at the PUC. A group of small businesses felt their voice wasn’t being heard by the very commission that is supposed to represent them.
The PUC does not put out the welcome mat for new players. In fact, the barriers to entry in a regulatory proceeding are quite high including: an antiquated filing system, lack of affordable local counsel, and the need for highly skilled, and usually very expensive, expert witnesses. Even if a party is fully prepared to enter into a proceeding, intervention is largely discretionary. Only by first persuading the PUC that intervention should be permitted is a party granted an audience and a voice in the process. For the privilege of petitioning your government, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it in a meaningful way.
Read it here.
Matthew Continetti: The Woke and the Restless
Many voices are warning Republicans of the damage the MAGA wing of the Republican party is doing to the party’s standing with voters, but Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon writes at National Review that Democrats have their own problem with their radically progressive wing. The Democrats may find that voters may simply be more awake to their agenda rather than woke.
What has been called “the Great Awokening” has turned progressive activists into zealots for political correctness. They hold radical views on immigration, crime, race, and patriotism. They have embraced slogans such as “abolish ICE” and “defund the police.” They champion causes such as ending standardized tests and merit-based achievement. They infuse school curricula with critical race theory (CRT) and promote gender transitions for minors and biological males in women’s sports. Their moralistic crusade has splintered liberal newsrooms, university faculties, and Democratic think tanks. It has contributed to a collapse in trust in institutions. It’s behind the record jump in violent crime and the breakdown of the southern border.
The political effects of this radical impulse surfaced in 2020. For starters, the parties are becoming less polarized by ethnicity than by education. Over the summer, the New York Times/Siena College poll found that Democrats received more support from whites with college degrees than from Hispanic Americans. In July, my American Enterprise Institute colleague Ruy Teixeira reported that between 2012 and 2020, Democratic support among non-college minority voters fell by 19 points. Support among college white voters rose by 16 points.
[ . . . ]
Educational polarization makes Democrats more dependent on areas with high numbers of white voters with college degrees. They rely on a shrinking geographic base that consists of dense cities and inner suburbs. Consider Washington, D.C., one of the most educated cities in the country. It voted for Biden, 93 percent to 5 percent. “Biden won the presidency winning 85 percent of counties with a Whole Foods and 32 percent of counties with a Cracker Barrel — the widest gap ever,” tweeted David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter. Wasserman also observes that this summer’s string of Democratic special-election victories took place in “college-heavy enclaves” that are “not all that representative of the larger fall electorate.”
Read it all here.
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Andrew Sullivan: The Gender Identity Of ... Eunuchs
Writing at his Substack, Andrew Sullivan continues find the T in LGBT gaining more influence and growing more radical as time goes on. Sullivan says adults’ acquiescence to the feelings of the moment of even very young children that result in permanent, life-and body-altering decisions is far beyond the pale.
I read the new guidelines for trans healthcare, issued by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. These are the approved medical guidelines for sex-changes now called “gender-affirming care.”
The guidelines remove any clear lower-age limits for puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and removal of healthy organs — allowing any individual treatment at any age. A minor who, in some states, cannot legally have sex, can have breasts and womb removed, clitoris turned into a pseudo-penis, or be fully castrated. But none of this is new. What’s new is another gender identity, requiring more “gender-affirming care.”
That gender identity is a eunuch. Yes: eunuch.
[. . .]
Yes, children may identify as eunuchs, according to these experts. And a whole session at the WPATH conference this past week was devoted to the subject.
[. . .]
I cite these examples to show that the term “gender identity” is so nebulous, so completely subjective, that it can be used to describe literally anything, any perversion, any mental illness, any deranged fantasy — like South Park’s Gerald Broflovski’s compulsion to become a dolphin. And it’s being used as a construct to tell first-graders that they can identify as a tree and a fish now. In public schools. With the full backing of the president and the Democratic Party.
I’m not nut-picking. I’m using the official description of “gender identity” to show that the term itself is nut-enabling. There are no limiting principles in a truly nebulous product of postmodernism now worming its way into our legal system.
Read the whole thing.
Via the New York Times, Ethan Watters on the “recovered memory” panic of late last century:
CBS News follows up on the New York Times article on “top surgery”
And finally, an Iranian-American journalist with a striking demonstration of what the women of Iran are fighting back against: