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The imaginary martyrdoms of the right wing: an infinite series


The New York Times has decided it needs yet another lazy reactionary writing for its op-ed page, so since Bret Stephens is already employed in that capacity the paper decided to hire Stephen’s ex-wife. This sounds like some sort of joke, but said ex-wife actually wrote a book about being married to Bret, which book was then featured subsequently on Oprah. True story.

Anyway this weird little twist of journalistic incest produced this:

Today, a number of academics, uber-progressives, transgender activists, civil liberties organizations and medical organizations are working toward an opposite end: to deny women their humanity, reducing them to a mix of body parts and gender stereotypes.

As reported by my colleague Michael Powell, even the word “women” has become verboten. Previously a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like “pregnant people,” “menstruators” and “bodies with vaginas.”

Planned Parenthood, once a stalwart defender of women’s rights, omits the word “women” from its home page. NARAL Pro-Choice America has used “birthing people” in lieu of “women.” 

I checked Planned Parenthood’s home page and you’ll be shocked to learn this isn’t true.

A huge amount of reactionary complaining about contemporary culture consists of whining about somebody somewhere using new terminology that makes reactionaries slightly uncomfortable. Note that this new terminology is inevitably:

(1) Not in common use; and

(2) Not mandatory in any sense.

But the mere existence of it is apparently simply too much to bear.


Those women who do publicly express mixed emotions or opposing views are often brutally denounced for asserting themselves. (Google the word “transgender” combined with the name Martina Navratilova, J.K. Rowling or Kathleen Stock to get a withering sense.) They risk their jobs and their personal safety. 

OK I performed my assigned task and discovered that Navratilova and Rowling are rich and famous WOMEN who remain both as rich and famous as they’ve ever been, but who have been criticized on social media for their views on transgender issues. That’s it. That’s what’s happened to them.

Stock’s case is slightly, but only slightly, more complicated, in that she quit her academic appointment last fall after a bunch of students called for her to be fired, so that she could go work for the University of Austin. I can’t find any evidence that her former institution actually took any steps to try to fire her, however, so excuse me if I personally find this level of academic martyrdom to be less than compelling.

Various people in legal academia have demanded that I be fired over the years, and indeed at one point the dean of my law school actually did attempt to fire me, so Stock’s apparently completely voluntary decision to quit her job in the face of public criticism leaves me fairly cold.

In short, academia is a land of contrasts, but getting criticized is actually part of the gig if you’re going to do the kind of work that makes some people mad.

I also learned recently that I was cancelled, repeatedly, back in high school because I was shunned by the popular crowd, although I didn’t attend four proms as I traveled my personal Via Dolorosa.

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