In a USA Today op-ed, former Republican turned confused former Republican, Tom Nichols, asks a snarky, yet very real question of the Democrats: Are you trying to lose?
When we watched CNN’s LGBTQ town hall for the Democratic candidates Thursday, we had very different reactions. This is the event, you remember, where former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas said he’d punish religious institutions for refusing gay marriage, and where Sen. Kamala Harris of California started by informing us of her pronouns, and then host Chris Cuomo, after a mild and dopey joke, had to go on Twitter the next day and apologize for making light of it. This is where Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts fielded a question about traditional marriage with a sneering, smug insinuation that the only people who would ask her about that are men who can’t find a woman.
You thought it was great. You saw a ringing defense of LGBTQ rights and a reaffirmation of what Democrats stand for.
I saw it and thought: Are these people insane? Are they trying to lose the election?
It’s not that gay rights don’t matter, or being homophobic. It’s that LGBTQ people comprise, maybe, 5% of Americans, leaving 95% of Americans to wonder why this was worthy of its own town hall, and why the candidates can’t be for gay rights without having to attack people who are straight. As Nichols said, there are a great many people who have nothing against gay people at all. You’re gay? Great. That’s nice. You be who you are. Yay.
But that’s as far as it goes. If your point is that we need to reinvent the world to indulge the most childish affections of a vast minority of the population, it’s an issue. Then came International Pronoun Day.
International Pronouns Day is observed on Oct. 16 to “make respecting, sharing and educating about personal pronouns commonplace.” Gender identity and expression are central to the way we see ourselves and engage in our surroundings.
If pronouns are “central” to your world, you need a bigger world. Putting aside linguistic conventions, the ridiculousness of walking around telling people your pronouns and the sheer childishness of this affectation, it’s one thing to let it go as a matter of courtesy. If someone insists on using peculiar pronouns in order to assert their identity, why be rude? There’s no shortage of silly demands made on the vast majority of people to accommodate the gibberish rationales to make the disaffected feel as if they can dictate your speech to make themselves the center of the universe.
“When you’re at a party, or any other social event, with friends or professional colleagues, even just asking a simple question: ‘What pronouns do you use?’ or ‘What pronouns can I use for you?’ It almost seems like a taboo,” Kutney said. “And it’s really a simple question, it’s really not anything taboo at all. It’s quite normal considering we use pronouns all the time. It’s a cultural thing that we’re all trying to get used to.”
Normalizing this question makes it easier for the transgender and non-binary people in your life — your friends, family members, classmates, co-workers or other community members — to share their full selves with the world, knowing you have their backs. Ana Flores, HRC’s senior manager of inclusion, education and engagement, said that asking about pronouns goes a long way to a transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming person.
Whatever. But it’s not just a matter of courtesy to the unduly passionate, but a demonstration of allyship.
Pronouns are also an important way to show you’re an ally. For HRC’s Executive Board Relations Coordinator Bonnie Casillas, sharing her pronouns is an extension of her allyship for the LGBTQ community.
“As a straight, cis woman of color, pronouns matter because it gives room for everyone to present themselves authentically. Saying my pronouns aloud or simply including them on my email signature is also an easy way to tell people that they are welcomed and respected. This is just one of the little ways I use my privilege every day,” she said.
This is where it shifts from being a matter of courtesy, childish indulgence, to pushing its way into a mandate for the masses. After all, you don’t want to be homophobic or transphobic, obviously, and complete acceptance of LGBTQ rights isn’t sufficient to prove your allyship anymore. If you don’t join the pronoun club, you’re no ally. And if you’re no ally, you’re a hater.
This is the prelude to the next “Dear Colleague” letter, the one from the next administration’s Department of Education, Department of Justice, informing colleges that failure to police use of preferred pronouns constitutes sexual harassment and must be stopped. Professors will be fired for misgendering their students. Students will be suspended, even expelled, for not using the pronouns demanded of them.
Colleges are the hothouses where these flowers of inanity bloom, both because the young are impressionable and malleable, and they’re easily beaten down by passionate bureaucrats who can impose their will be unilateral fiat. And the woke will inherit the campus, with bias response teams showing up at your kids’ dorms should they use “he” instead of “they” or, dare I say it, “xe.”
And what started as a childish indulgence could end up destroying a student’s future. From there, it’s merely a baby step to morph into the usual assortment of outlandish complaints like “abuse.”
— Julie Cooke (@DCCJulieCooke) October 16, 2019
And if it’s abuse, it must be ended, since abuse is bad and can’t possibly be tolerated.
The argument over pronouns is a silly one, as Nichols says, the sort of thing that drives the vast majority of people to wonder what sort of idiocy has seized hold of seemingly intelligent adults. But then using the wrong pronoun ultimately ends up putting you on the Group W bench, this is how it happened.