Sympathy for transgender people cannot trump objective reality.
Last week, a member of my Orthodox Jewish congregation approached me at synagogue to tell me a story. Many of the women in the congregation exercise at a females-only gym for modesty purposes. The gym is successful; its main constituency is religious women who don’t wish to be stared at by men, or to see men in various states of undress.
According to the congregation member, this month, a transgender woman — a biological male who suffers from gender dysphoria — came to the gym. This man, who retains his male biological characteristics, then entered the locker room and proceeded to disrobe. When told by management that he could use a private dressing room, he refused, announcing that he was a woman and could disrobe in front of all the other women.
The predictable result: Many of the actual biological women began cancelling their memberships. When the management asked people higher in the chain, they were simply told that to require the man to use a private dressing room or to reject his membership would subject the company to litigation and possible boycott. So the gym will simply have to lose its chief clientele because a man with a mental disorder believes he has the right to disrobe in front of women.
As it turns out, there are indeed public-policy consequences to the question of transgender pronouns. Those public-policy questions all revolve around a central issue: Can subjective perception trump objective observation? If the answer is yes, tyranny of the individual becomes the order of the day. We all must bow before the subjective wants, needs, and desires of people who require special protection from life’s realities. We must reeducate generations of people to ignore science in favor of feelings. We must strong-arm individuals into abandoning central planks of their morality in the name of sensitivity.
Meanwhile, Twitter announced this week that it would seek to ban those who “misgender” or “deadname” transgender people. In other words, if you note that Chelsea Manning or Caitlyn Jenner is a man, or if you use the names “Bradley” or “Bruce” with regard to the aforementioned transgender people, Twitter could ban you for “repeated and/or non-consensual slurs.” So you will abide by subjective self-definition, or you will be censored. Twitter recently banned a leftist feminist for merely noting that sex is biological and that men cannot become women.
It doesn’t stop there. As Walt Heyer of The Federalist reports, a Texas divorce case now pits a mother who dresses her six-year-old male child, James, as a girl and calls him “Luna” against James’s father, whom she is accusing of child abuse for refusing to treat James as a girl. Heyer reports, “She is also seeking to require him to pay for the child’s visits to a transgender-affirming therapist and transgender medical alterations, which may include hormonal sterilization starting at age eight.” James, as it turns out, prefers being called James and being treated as a boy by his father. That’s not stopping Mom. Refusing to abide by the judgment of a six-year-old — or in this case, a six-year-old’s mom — could mean losing your child in a world where we treat sex as malleable.
There are real-world consequences to the deliberate rewriting of basic biology, and the substitution of subjectivity for objectivity. It means rewriting business operation, school curricula, medical treatment standards, censorship rules, and even parenting. Sympathy for those who suffer from gender dysphoria is obviously proper — no one wants transgender people harmed or targeted. But sympathy for a mental disorder should not trump either objective reality or competing priorities based on those objective realities. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is not a story about the wonderful sensitivity of a population educated on the subjective desires of a ruler ensconced in sartorial self-definition. Falsehood crumbles in the light of day, no matter how sympathetic we are to those who wish to perpetuate it — unless force becomes the order of the day.
I just finished reading Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne tha God née Lenard Larry McKelvey the straight-shooting radio personality. I found the book raw and to the point on success and life.
Charlamagne is a stoic and a realist in a good way. Every young person needs the reality check he lays out on fame and careers.
However, he made a statement in the book which I find disturbing, “80% of white people are evil.”
Now before I respond I want to mention my past. From 1978 to 1980 I marched in thirteen civil rights marches from Boston to Raleigh.
I was seriously injured in four of those marches – I am proud to have bled for the cause.
Charlamagne people – all people – have issues. But your statement about the 80% is fueled not by logic but by your reading and praise for a hateful and vile person named Louis Farrakhan.
Black Nationalism contradicts the many good things you wrote in your book. This type of angry illogical thinking hurts African Americans.
Charlamagne I know you like straight talk so here it is. Racism for black people is not about color. I have observed that Africans’ and Caribbean black people who come to the U.S. do not suffer the same racism as African Americans. How do you explain that?
Even after decades of living in this country numerous people from the African continent and the countries of the Caribbean find great success and few racists issues.
So, the issue is in my professional opinon is cultural not based on skin color. I am a lecturer at Howard University and I have proffered this idea to the students and most agreed with me, well let me clarify, those who have grown up in upper income families agreed.
Is rampant rape the price Finnish women must pay for giving asylum to migrants? Finland, now, has become “one of the least safe countries in Europe for women,” according to Finland’s leading newspaper.
Crimes committed by asylum seekers have increased dramatically. Swedish-language asked a criminologist who says having an immigrant background doesn’t explain criminality and that the issue is more complicated than that.
Finland’s biggest daily newspaper devoted many column inches to the issue of rape. The topic of rape and violence against women has come to the forefront of discussion in Finnish media since highly-publicised incidents of rape committed by asylum seekers in recent weeks.
Only one in four rapes reported to police In the year 2000, HS displayed on a graph, 488 rapes were reported and in 2014 that number was 940 reported rapes. So far this year (from January to October) the figure stands at 864 reported rapes.
Finland is one of the top countries in the EU for incidents of violence against women. Using figures from the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, some 47 percent of women in Finland have experienced violence at some point in their lives since the age of 15.
The only other country in the EU with a higher percentage is Denmark, with 52 percent. Among the lowest percentages of violence against women were in Hungary (21 percent), Ireland (15 percent) and Austria (13 percent).
Citing Helsinki University’s Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy figures, the paper writes that incidents of reported rapes by immigrants were about eight times higher than that of native Finns.The paper also writes that the most reported rapes were committed by people from the Middle East and Northern Africa.
The evening tabloid Ilta-Sanomat featured a blazing headline on page four’s “Refugee Crisis” feature with a headline that reads: “Suspected crimes increase.”
A woman was shot and killed at St. Louis religious supplies store earlier this week because she refused her attacker’s demands to “perform deviant sexual acts on him,” authorities said Wednesday.
The alleged attacker – identified as 53-year-old Thomas Bruce – on Monday forced three women who were in the store into a back room at gunpoint and forced them to strip, detectives said in a probable cause statement. He allegedly forced two of the woman to perform sex acts on him, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Bruce allegedly tried to coerce the third woman, Jamie Schmidt, a 53-year-old married mother of three, but she refused. He then shot her in the head, the probable cause statement said. Schmidt later died at a hospital.
Bruce then fled the store, prompting a two-day manhunt that frightened the region and led some schools, churches, and businesses to close.
Bruce was arrested in his mobile home trailer park Wednesday and booked into the St. Louis County jail, The Post-Dispatch reported. He faces first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and sodomy, among other charges, prosecutors said. He is being held without bail.
Chief Jon Belmar, a 32-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police called that attack one of the worst he’d seen in his career – one that “shocked the senses.”
Authorities are working to determine why Bruce targeted the store. Investigators said he has no criminal history.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said a tip helped authorities track down Bruce.
Authorities noted similarities in the description of the Catholic Supply shooting suspect and a man wanted for the murder of two girls – aged 13 and 14 — in Delphi, Indiana last year, The Post-Dispatch reported. That case is still under investigation.
Indiana State Police have distributed a photograph and sketch of the suspect connected to the murder of two teenage girls in Delphi, Indiana last year. (Indiana State Police)
First Sgt. Jerry Holeman said the Indiana State Police is aware of the St. Louis case and has been in contact with St. Louis County authorities.
“But it is way too early to tell if this is the same” person, Holeman said.
Indiana authorities have released a photograph and sketch of the Delphi suspect.
A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the U.S. law banning female genital mutilation was unconstitutional and dismissed charges against several doctors in Michigan who carried out the procedure on underage girls as part Muslim sect’s religious practice.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Congress had no authority to enact a law that criminalizes female genital mutilation (FGM). “As despicable as [FGM] may be… [Congress] overstepped its bounds” by banning the procedure, the judge said.
The ruling came after defense lawyers challenged the 22-year-old genital mutilation law that hasn’t been used until 2017 when Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested and accused of mutilating the genitalia of young girls.
She allegedly headed a conspiracy, which lasted over 12 years and involved seven other people, and led to the mutilation of about 100 girls, according to prosecutors, as part of a religious procedure practiced by members of the Dawoodi Bohra, a Muslim sect.
While the charges of performing FGM were dropped, Nagarwala and other conspirators are still facing conspiracy and obstruction charges, according to the Detroit Free Press.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said officials are reviewing the judge’s decision and will consider appealing it.
Women’s rights groups condemned the ruling, saying it’s a setback to the rights of women in the U.S.
“It’s a giant step backward in the protection of women’s and girls’ rights,” Shelby Quast, the Americas director of Equality Now, told the newspaper. “Especially when there is a global movement to eliminate this practice.”
“It’s a giant step backward in the protection of women’s and girls’ rights … Especially when there is a global movement to eliminate this practice.”
— Shelby Quast, the Americas director of Equality Now,
She said that 23 states don’t criminal FGM, noting that “parents are aware of where there are laws against it and where there are not. And they will take advantage of that.”
Michigan state Sen. Rick Jones also slammed the ruling.
“I’m angry that the federal judge dismissed this horrific case that affected upwards of a hundred girls who were brutally victimized and attacked against their will,” he said in a statement. “This is why it was so important for Michigan to act. We set a precedent that female genital mutilation will not be tolerated here … I hope other states will follow suit.”
The case in Michigan prompted state officials to pass a state law officially banning FGM. The law carries a penalty of 15 years in prison for assisting or performing the procedure, but applies only to future instances. Nagarwala and other members of the sect were charged under an old federal law passed by Congress.
The federal law was passed in 1996 under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The federal judge ruled the banning of the procedure under the clause was unconstitutional.
“There is nothing commercial or economic about FGM,” Friedman wrote in the opinion. “[FGM] is not part of a larger market and it has no demonstrated effect on interstate commerce. The Commerce Clause does not permit Congress to regulate a crime of this nature.”
Shannon Smith, Nagarwala’s lawyer, told the Free Press that they are “unbelievably happy” after the judge’s ruling, saying “The impact is huge. It eliminates four defendants from the indictment, and it severely punctures major holes in the government’s case.”
Last Saturday night, a Fox News contributor named Kat Timpf was at a bar in Brooklyn. As she recounted the incident to National Review, a man asked her where she worked. A while later, she said, a woman began “screaming at me to get out.” Timpf walked away, but the woman followed her around the bar while other patrons laughed. Fearing physical attack, Timpf left. She told National Review and The Hill that it was the third time she has been harassed since 2017. A few months earlier, a woman yelled at her during dinner at a Manhattan restaurant. The year before, while she was about to give a speech, a man dumped water on her head.
Protests like these, that target people’s private lives, are wrong. They violate fundamental principles of civil disobedience, as understood by its most eminent practitioners and theorists. And they threaten the very norms of human decency that Trump and his supporters have done so much to erode.
Unfortunately, they seem to be spreading. The Wednesday before Timpf’s experience at the Brooklyn bar, a dozen or so protesters associated with an anti-fascist group called Smash Racism DC assembled in front of the Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s home. While some of what transpired is disputed, this much is not. The protesters chanted, among other things, “We know where you sleep at night.” One of them knocked three times on the Carlsons’ door. Carlson himself was not home, but his wife locked herself in the pantry and called 911. A protester also spray-painted an anarchist symbol on the Carlsons’ driveway. In a now-deleted tweet, Smash Racism declared that Carlson had “spread fear into our homes” and that “tonight, we remind you that you are not safe either.”
In June, roughly a dozen protesters chanted “shame” and “End family separation” at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen while she ate dinner with a companion at a Washington restaurant. Later that week, health-care protesters confronted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi after she left a movie in Tampa Bay. In August, according to the conservative activist Candace Owens, protesters began “harassing and throwing things” at her and a fellow conservative activist, Charlie Kirk, while they ate breakfast in a restaurant in Philadelphia. In September, demonstrators chanting “We believe survivors” chased Ted Cruz and his wife from an Italian restaurant near the Senate. In a recent interview, Carlson said that he can’t go to restaurants anymore because “I get yelled at” and “it just wrecks your meal.”
Conservatives, of course, aren’t the only ones who endure intimidation in their personal lives. Since Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh, harassment has forced her family to move four times, prevented her from returning to work, and required her to hire private security. In October, a Donald Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to the homes of George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Robert De Niro, along with other targets. In June, conservatives grew irate after Representative Maxine Waters told a crowd that “if you see anybody from [Trump’s] cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.” But while Waters urged progressives to intrude upon the private lives of their political opponents, she did not endorse physical attacks, something Trump has done repeatedly.
And the people who scream at Tucker Carlson or Kirstjen Nielsen or Ted Cruz have good reason to be angry. The president of the United States is a bigot. He spreads conspiracy theories; he treats the rule of law with contempt. His policies, whether in Yemen, in Puerto Rico, or on America’s southern border, leave vulnerable people brutalized or dead. Carlson, Nielsen, and Cruz are all—in different ways—Trump’s agents. Nothing they have endured remotely compares to the suffering that they have helped to inflict.
But whatever the merits of the causes they promote, they are embracing methods that are deeply corrosive. It matters how activists oppose a government. When they prevail, the approaches they embraced in opposition to power deeply shape how they exercise it themselves. And the protesters harassing prominent conservatives during their private lives have crossed a dangerous line.
The term civil disobedience was invented by Henry David Thoreau, popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, and defined—most prominently—by the philosopher John Rawls. Rawls called it the “public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies.”
The recent protests at homes, bars, and restaurants meet some aspects of Rawls’s test, but fail in one key respect. Some have violated the law, while others have skirted its boundaries. And, as Rawls demands, the recent demonstrations have also been largely nonviolent.
The problem is that they are not sufficiently “public” and “conscientious.” By public, Rawls meant that civil disobedience is a form of political argument. Normal criminals try to break the law without anyone knowing about it. People who commit civil disobedience, by contrast, publicize their infractions to dramatize the injustice they seek to change. For civil-rights activists, furtively sneaking a hamburger at a segregated lunch counter served no purpose. The point was to demand service openly, accept arrest, and thus communicate with the public. In his “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.” In so doing, they “arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice.”
There is a place for private protest. People have the right to quietly refuse to participate in actions they consider immoral—serving in war, for instance—so long as they, too, accept the consequences. Philosophers call this “conscientious objection.” By this standard, Stephanie Wilkinson, who owns the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, was entirely justified in refusing to serve White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this summer.
But the people who protested outside Carlson’s home, or hounded Nielsen and Cruz in restaurants and Timpf at a bar, were not conscientious objectors. They were not seeking to avoid being implicated in an immoral action. They were seeking to impede people whose actions they consider immoral from conducting their normal lives. Yet they fell short of meeting the standards of civil disobedience. The woman who screamed at Timpf, and the man who doused her with water, communicated no public message at all. The people who protested Carlson at his home, and Nielsen and Cruz at restaurants, did convey a message. They filmed videos and posted social-media statements that conveyed their objections to Carlson’s views on race, Nielsen’s policies towards migrants, and Cruz’s support for Kavanaugh. But they failed in another respect: By obscuring their identities, they refused to take individual responsibility for their actions. When people tried to film them, the demonstrators outside Carlson’s house covered their faces.
Protesting without revealing your identity—even after the fact—is like savaging someone in an anonymous op-ed. You can’t foster honest and meaningful communication with the society you wish to change if you don’t allow people to respond. Showing your face at a protest, like affixing your name on an op-ed, creates a measure of accountability. People think harder about their actions when they know they’ll be forced to answer for them. By protesting openly, King and his supporters took upon themselves a moral rigor that the anti-fascists of the Trump era spurn.
In addition to being insufficiently “public,” the recent protests are insufficiently “conscientious.” They don’t convey what the University of Warwick philosopher Kimberley Brownlee calls a “principled outlook.”
Part of being “conscientious” is ensuring, as much as possible, that protests occur where the injustices are perpetrated. That principle isn’t absolute. It may make sense for NFL players to take a knee before games—rather than in front of police stations—given the massive audience those games enjoy. But there’s no good argument for protesting outside Carlson’s home rather than in front of Fox News, or at a restaurant where Nielsen is eating rather than immigrant-detention centers or the Department of Homeland Security. For one thing, it clouds the message. When sexual-assault survivors descended on the Senate, they were targeting the people empowered to confirm Brett Kavanaugh in the place where they would do it. Their location highlighted their moral appeal. But Ted Cruz doesn’t confirm judges while eating dinner with his wife.
What’s more, protesting in private and semiprivate spaces increases the risk of collateral damage. It’s one thing to inconvenience and embarrass Cruz and his staffers or Carlson and his employees, who have chosen to participate in his public actions. It’s another to inconvenience and embarrass their families. The Smash Racism DC protesters didn’t even make sure Carlson would be home when they gathered outside his house. So their most immediate victim was his wife.
Most importantly, trespassing upon someone’s personal life is, by its nature, intimidating. It threatens the zone of privacy upon which people deeply rely. The protesters know that. In an essay written for ThinkProgress, one of the people at the Carlson protest, Alan Pyke, acknowledges that its point was to make Carlson and his family experience some of the fear that they help inflict upon “marginalized communities.” Pyke writes that “the point … is to unsettle and frighten—and I certainly would have been frightened had it been me in that house.”
The principle is: Turn your enemies’ misdeeds upon them; fight fire with fire. That’s a far cry from King’s insistence, in his Birmingham-jail letter, “that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” Or Gandhi’s declaration that “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” Underlying the process that King called “self-purification” is a recognition—which King may have gleaned from Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian he admired—that everyone is corrupted by self-interest and the lust for power. People aren’t as morally pure as they believe themselves to be. Acknowledging that means accepting limits on the power we assume over others. It means resisting the seductive claim that because our motives are virtuous, we can take liberties we would never grant our adversaries. Because King took pains to ensure that his methods were consistent with his goals, he didn’t have to fear that others might employ those methods as well.
There are, after all, conservatives who sincerely believe that liberals are behaving as monstrously as the Smash Racism DC protesters believe Carlson is behaving. And not all of them are bigots. In evaluating the protests against Carlson, Cruz, Nielsen, and Timpf, liberals should consider the anti-abortion movement. Americans can tolerate a society in which anti-abortionists march and pray in front of abortion clinics. We cannot tolerate a society in which they knock on the door of abortion doctors and tell their families that “we know where you sleep.” We cannot tolerate a society in which anti-abortion demonstrators make it impossible for Rachel Maddow, Elizabeth Warren, and the leaders of Planned Parenthood to go out with their families to eat. Because King sought to convince rather than intimidate, and because his methods reflected a basic respect for the humanity of his political adversaries, we can universalize his protests. We can’t universalize Smash Racism DC’s.
And if liberals and leftists are not moved by appeals to principle or pragmatism, perhaps they will listen to narrow self-interest. If anti-fascists grow accustomed to invading the personal space of Trump’s supporters, they will also invade the personal space of liberals who they do not believe are opposing Trump and his policies vehemently enough. This isn’t a hypothetical concern. In 2017, anti-fascists in Portland camped out in front of the house of Mayor Ted Wheeler, a liberal Democrat. They scattered trash on his lawn and hurled obscenities at his wife and kids. Their objection: Portland had not divested from companies that support the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Anti-fascists might object that the legitimacy of a protest cannot be evaluated in the abstract. The more extreme the injustice, the more extreme the measures that people can take to resist it. There’s something to this. Americans lionize Nelson Mandela, who endorsed armed struggle, because he argued that in apartheid South Africa—which, unlike the United States, made no pretense to racial equality in its founding documents—civil disobedience alone was not enough. Rawls himself argues in A Theory of Justice that his definition of civil disobedience applies to a “more or less democratic state” which “is well-ordered for the most part but in which some serious violations of justice nevertheless do occur.”
Is Trump’s America such a place? That question underlies the debate over the protests targeted at people like Tucker Carlson. But it’s worth remembering that King accepted the restraints of Rawlsian civil disobedience in a segregated south that was, by any reasonable measure, less just and less democratic than America is today. Gandhi did so in colonial India, where he was not even a citizen of the British empire that dominated his life. King and Gandhi’s tactics proved effective, and they shaped the political forces—the Congress Party in India; the Democratic Party in the United States—that they helped bring to power. It is in part because of them that India and the United States are multicultural democracies today.
The people protesting Trump and his allies should remember that. The methods they use now will not only prove more or less effective in checking Trump’s actions. They will help define the progressive alternatives that emerge in his wake. George Kennan once said, “There is a little bit of totalitarian buried somewhere, way down deep, in each and every one of us.” The more power we liberals amass in the years to come, the more we must remember that Kennan’s warning doesn’t only apply to Tucker Carlson. It also applies to the people standing on his lawn.
More than 30 people who experienced or knew of Nikolas Cruz’s worrying behavior didn’t report it until 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year.
Cruz’s behavior was “troubling … and in many cases it probably should have caused them to report what they heard, saw or learned,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Tuesday, according to The Sun-Sentinel. “But for a variety of reasons they did not.”
Gualtieri, who also chairs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission — which was created after the massacre at the school — disclosed the news Tuesday as the commission opened four days of hearings.
Andrew and Hunter Pollack protest the vote-counting chaos and corruption engulfing Broward County.
Cruz, the suspected shooter, reportedly engaged in questionable behavior long before the mass shooting in February — including killing animals. According to a sheriff’s office detective, Cruz once showed another student a photo of a decapitated cat.
The 19-year-old also allegedly “said he was glad they killed all those gay people” in reference to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which left 49 people dead.
Cruz also reportedly “made bad jokes about Jewish people, Nazis and Hitler and wished all Jews were dead” and said “he did not like black people and would like to shoot them.”
Days after the massacre, the FBI admitted to receiving a call about Cruz in early January. The person called their Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to express concerns about his erratic behavior and social media posts.
The FBI said in a statement at the time that “under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life” and that protocols were not followed after they received the tip.
The parents of Jaime Guttenberg, a student who was killed in the massacre, filed a lawsuit against the FBI on Tuesday because the tip wasn’t acted upon.
“Everybody failed, and this is going to be the shooting where we hold people accountable,” Guttenberg’s father, Fred, said at the hearing on Tuesday, The Miami Herald reported. “If only one person had stepped up and done their job, my daughter would be alive today.”
The Broward County sheriff said after the shooting said at least “20 calls for service” were made regarding Cruz in the last few years alone.
Gualtieri reiterated on Tuesday that if you “see something, say something.”
“It means something, and it has to be more than a phrase,” Gualtieri said. “We need it to resonate with the public because law enforcement simply cannot be everywhere at the same time, and we have to have the public’s help to effectively do our job.”
The sheriff’s detective said that while two students did report Cruz to school administrators in December 2016, they were ignored.