Skip to content

Is telling the truth now safe only in fiction?

I was struck by the recent brouhaha over J. K. Rowling’s comments about transsexuality and female identity.  I won’t repeat all the details here, but those who didn’t follow the controversy can find the details in these articles:

J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues

J.K. Rowling slammed for defending concept of biological sex

Eddie Redmayne speaks out against JK Rowling’s trans tweets

The crazy thing is, from a medical and scientific perspective, Ms. Rowling was and is absolutely correct.  One’s sex is defined by one’s chromosomes.  If you have XX chromosomes, you’re female;  if you have XY chromosomes, you’re male.  With the vanishingly small exception of those who are intersex, that describes 99%+ of the human race.  It’s a fact.  It’s reality.  It’s medically incontrovertible.  Yet, one finds alleged “stars” proclaiming that “Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid” – in defiance of medical and scientific reality.

Matt Taibbi points out that US journalism appears to have fallen into the same trap.  Political correctness and “wokeness” appear to have trumped facts and reality.

It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.

The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.

They’ve conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it’s established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud to a data scientist fired from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones!

Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who’d made politically “problematic” editorial or social media decisions.

. . .

All these episodes sent a signal to everyone in a business already shedding jobs at an extraordinary rate that failure to toe certain editorial lines can and will result in the loss of your job. Perhaps additionally, you could face a public shaming campaign in which you will be denounced as a racist and rendered unemployable … However, because it is politically untenable to discuss this in ways that do not suggest support, reporters have been twisting themselves into knots. We are seeing headlines previously imaginable only in The Onion, e.g., “27 police officers injured during largely peaceful anti-racism protests in London.”

Even people who try to keep up with protest goals find themselves denounced the moment they fail to submit to some new tenet of ever-evolving doctrine, via a surprisingly consistent stream of retorts: f*** you, shut up, send money, do better, check yourself, I’m tired and racist … In a business where the first job requirement was once the willingness to ask tough questions, we’ve become afraid to ask obvious ones … The media in the last four years has devolved into a succession of moral manias … It’s been learned in these episodes we may freely misreport reality, so long as the political goal is righteous.

. . .

The traditional view of the press was never based on some contrived, mathematical notion of “balance,” i.e. five paragraphs of Republicans for every five paragraphs of Democrats. The ideal instead was that we showed you everything we could see, good and bad, ugly and not, trusting that a better-informed public would make better decisions. This vision of media stressed accuracy, truth, and trust in the reader’s judgment as the routes to positive social change … People depend on us to tell them what we see, not what we think. What good are we if we’re afraid to do it?

There’s much more at the link.  Recommended reading.

Matt Taibbi’s comments can equally well be applied to books and their authors.  It begins to appear as if telling the truth is only acceptable – and that only barely so – in a fictional setting.  If our protagonists hold views that are outside the politically correct mainstream, our work is unlikely to ever be acceptable to mainstream publishing in its present state.  They’re infested with and infected by the politically correct, like a severe plague of progressive fleas that’s caused the literary equivalent of seborrheic dermatitis.  We’ll have to publish our books ourselves, for want of any outlet that prizes and values truth and objectivity.

The question is, how long will we be able to do even that?  Amazon has censored several books already, refusing to offer them for sale (or withdrawing them from sale) because they were perceived as too “extreme”.  Constitutional guarantees of free speech (such as they are) do not apply to a private e-commerce platform.  Will this become even more oppressive in future?  My bet is that it will.  We’d better begin planning our response now, before events force one upon us.

 

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aimee Morgan #

    We cannot tell you the truth, or if we do we must dance around the actual words to avoid stepping on that invisible (and constantly moving) spot on the kitchen floor.

    Also, why don’t you trust us anymore?

    June 26, 2020
    • Shorter J.K. Rowling: “I have found the invisible spot, and I am now dancing on it. Rudely. With both fingers fully extended. I am a billionaire authoress, and I care not a single damn what any of you delicate snowflakes think. Please feel free to push off at your earliest convenience.”

      I like to stand on the spot and stamp my feet, personally. Just grind ’em in there.

      June 26, 2020
      • Four (I think) authors also represented by her agency demanded that the agency make a statement that JKR was wrong and hurtful to the LGBTetc. crowd or they would leave the agency. The agency said buh-bye.

        June 26, 2020
        • Funny how money still talks, even though everyone is in high dudgeon pretending otherwise.

          June 26, 2020
          • Harry #

            Meh, 95% of those “in a high dudgeon” think they are listening to the money…

            June 27, 2020
        • To JKR, or those 4 idiots? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. JKR made us millionaires. Those 4, not much. You four are DISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS-MISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSED.

          June 27, 2020
          • Yeah, to those four. They weren’t gonna risk JKR going to another agency…

            June 27, 2020
  2. — The crazy thing is, from a medical and scientific perspective, Ms. Rowling was and is absolutely correct. One’s sex is defined by one’s chromosomes. If you have XX chromosomes, you’re female; if you have XY chromosomes, you’re male. With the vanishingly small exception of those who are intersex, that describes 99%+ of the human race. It’s a fact. It’s reality. —

    All incontrovertibly true…but irrelevant to those who have decided that they have the right and the power to create their own reality. And having said that, allow me to present a sidelight.

    I have two transwoman friends. They’re both decent sorts, not SJWs, nor evangelists for transgenderism, nor fomenters of any sort of madness. They’re simply biological men who decided that they wanted to live as women. They “present” as women, both in appearance and in behavior. In consequence, those around them treat them as they would treat biological women. If that were the extent of the phenomenon of transgenderism, I doubt society at large would have much of a problem with it.

    But of course, that turns out not to be the case. Human Resources departments across the nation have seen to that. And it will eventuate either in a large-scale departure from traditional employment as ever more sane people decide they can’t abide the HR viragoes’ insistence upon “re-educating” us unreconstructed ones, or in the abolition of HR departments generally. Makes me glad I’m retired, frankly.

    June 26, 2020
    • Synova #

      Just a few years ago Rowling’s opinions would have been seen as radically pro-transgender. The only “there” she seems unwilling to go is to refuse traumatized female rape victims any sense of safety from male bodies.

      June 26, 2020
  3. Side note: the simultaneously hilarious and terrifying thing about the JKR tempest in a teapot is that Tumblr fandom (which, while often providing fantastic analyses of storyteing tropes, characterization, and continuity nods, is also a toxic dumpster fire for the same reasons that it provides the aforementioned goodies) isn’t trying to cancel her for tweeting something that was actually anti-trans or actually being anti-trans.

    No, they’re trying to cancel her for responding to a headline reading, in part, “people who menstruate” with “there’s already a word for ‘people who menstruate’: women.”

    Now, in some ways I’m enjoying the schadenfreude as Tumblr fandom goes through the angst of discovering that an author they like isn’t in complete lockstep with them on one issue, and Rowling discovering that the monster she helped create is trying to devour her. However, this whole mess further underscores something we here already knew: you are not safe unless you give the extremists everything they want, or you just tell them to go jump in a lake. You cannot negotiate with Left Tumblr/Twitter.

    June 26, 2020
    • Exactly. The only way to win is to refuse to play the game.

      June 26, 2020
  4. Margaret Ball #

    What makes you think it’s safe in fiction?

    June 26, 2020
    • This is why I am “Edward Thomas” in my Amazon Kindle thing. Nom de plume is the way to go. I am not about to make an easy target for the idiots.

      Because I don’t have a million bucks to spend on a security team like J.K. Rowling does.

      June 26, 2020
  5. I offer for your edification the following: https://twitter.com/ACLU/status/1275585932482220032

    “When we say abortion access for all, we mean EVERYONE who can get pregnant, not just women.”

    Now, one might be excused for thinking that was a gag written by the Babylon Bee. Because its just that absurd. But no, that was really the ACLU.

    This is them telling you there are five lights, just to see if you’ll say it.

    And for the record: housing biological men in battered women’s shelters, letting boys use the girl’s change room, men in the women’s bathroom etc., I’m against it.

    I’m not going to bother at this point to say why, because it doesn’t matter why. It never did matter. This is about them thinking they have the power to make me say men are women.

    They don’t have that power. Yet.

    June 26, 2020
  6. We’ll have to start an electronic version of samizdat.

    June 26, 2020
  7. Mary #

    “Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

    ― Theodore Dalrymple

    Hmm. Though one starts to wonder about “small.”

    June 27, 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: