Victimhood Invoked, Victory Lap Indulged In

TIME spoke to Gender Queer author and illustrator Maia Kobabe about eir work, the efforts to restrict access to eir writing, and what ey make of the current cultural moment.

Captain, your signal’s breaking up. I’m getting a lot of static. Must be solar flares. That, or dangerously high levels of pretension caused by the proximity of Ms Kobabe, an activist and supposedly ungendered being, complete with boutique pronouns, and TIME’s Madeleine Carlisle. Given what follows, the words “restrict access” - and the subsequent claims of persecution - may seem a tad misleading. Ms Kobabe’s book, we learn, explores,

Questions around how to introduce nonbinary pronouns to people who might not be familiar them. And also how to be a role model as a nonbinary adult, especially in a setting like a classroom.

You see, our aspiring role model has produced a book combining hardcore self-involvement with dysmorphic cartoon pornography, with the results being made available to schoolchildren, including 11-year-olds. As one might imagine, there have been some, shall we say, reservations regarding whether a book of this kind should be circulated among children without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Readers may recall scenes in which parents attempted to read aloud passages from the book among fellow adults at school board meetings, typically resulting in reprimands, the shutting off of microphones, and threats of physical removal. Apparently, “vagina slime,” fellatio and “strap-on hotness” are inappropriate topics for adult discussion, even as an attempt to specify a problem, but totally fine for kids. Who apparently need to know about the joys of masturbating while driving.

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Impermissible Notions

Or, Things That Will Not Be Tolerated On Twitter.  

The thing in question this time is a cartoon, an illustration of an idea. It was shared, briefly, yesterday by biologist and Quillette contributor Colin Wright, and was promptly censored by Twitter’s moderators. Mr Wright has apparently been suspended from said platform until a confession of hateful wrongdoing – as yet unspecified hateful wrongdoing - has been extracted. Given the cartoon’s scandalous properties, I’ll reproduce it below the fold. Do feel free to grip the arms of your chair.

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Those Critical Faculties

Come, let us dip a toe in the world of woke theatre criticism. From the pages of Intermission magazine, where the Toronto Star’s theatre critics, Aisling Murphy and Karen Fricker, applaud each other, and thereby themselves, for seeing an indigenous play and submitting to conditions on what they may say about it:

We both responded really positively to the show. But the reason we’re not writing a traditional review is because [playwright and director] Kim Harvey did not invite reviews of this Toronto premiere production of Kamloopa. This follows on from the world premiere production in 2018 in Vancouver in which she invited Indigenous women to write love letters to the show but did not invite traditional reviews.

You see, for Ms Harvey, our unflinching and very indigenous creative person, “staging theatre productions is a form of Indigenous ceremony,” and is therefore, conveniently, exempt from customary feedback, i.e., reviews of a kind that paying customers might have found useful, had they been available. And so, reviewers of pallor, should they be permitted, must first attend a circle, in which they will be told, in advance, how artful and profound the work in question is, and what they should say about it. After all, it’s so much easier on the ego, and any teetering vanity, if no acknowledgement of any shortcoming is permitted.

Despite not being brown and magical beings themselves, Ms Murphy and Ms Fricker are keen to show their approval of, and deference to, this artistic innovation:

Here, white critics were invited, but with the caveat of listening and bearing witness to Kim’s artistic philosophies first: to me, that felt not only fair but really rich. 

Bearing witness, you say. To artistic philosophies. Because you can’t just turn up with tickets in the hope of entertainment.

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No Relation

In diverse-identity news,

Ex-soldier exposed her penis and used wheelie bin as sex toy in public.

If you detect dissonance in the headline, you’re a very bad person, obviously.

Chloe Thompson, 42, was caught rubbing herself on a public wheelie bin before using a sex toy on herself in an alley in Middlesbrough, Teesside, on August 13 last year. A couple shouted at her and she ran away. On the same day, she exposed herself on the street where she lives and thrust her hips into a fence. A witness said Thompson looked at her and the group she was with “as if Thompson wanted them to notice her.” Once she was inside her house, she exposed her bum and thrust against her window.

And remember to steer clear of the words mental health issues. These are merely “challenges,” according to Judge Stephen Carroll.


In the comments, Mags highlights the woke dishonesties in the quoted paragraph: 

Chloe Thompson, 42, was caught rubbing herself himself on a public wheelie bin before using a sex toy on herself himself in an alley in Middlesbrough, Teesside, on August 13 last year. A couple shouted at her him and she he ran away. On the same day, she he exposed herself himself on the street where she he lives and thrust her his hips into a fence. A witness said Thompson looked at her and the group she was with “as if Thompson wanted them to notice her him.” Once she he was inside her his house, she he exposed her his bum and thrust against her his window.


It is faintly surreal, even setting aside the novel use of a wheelie bin. And Thompson’s history of indecency and molesting children.

I can understand the reluctance to appear indelicate or to cause needless offence, and in some situations there may be scope for polite fudging; but pretending-as-default, or worse, pretending-as-law, can lead to unhappy farce and a kind of collective derangement. And presenting the reader with an obvious distortion of reality, and seemingly an expectation that we should all pretend too, is also rather offensive.

Also, open thread.

Elsewhere (310)

Ben Sixsmith on the blurring of identity and mental illness: 

Of course, it is good to understand the choices people make. But is it always necessary to respect those choices? Some people who have sought out castration claim to be much happier and calmer for it. Yet auto-castration is well-known to be a sign of chronic paranoid schizophrenia. One study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggested that in others, the desire to castrate themselves was correlated with “abuse sustained during childhood, including parental threats of castration” and “religious condemnation of sexuality,” among other things. Would anyone insist that there are not healthier means of dealing with such traumas?

Leor Sapir on transgender swimmer Lia Thomas - and when politeness becomes unhinged: 

The Human Rights Campaign warns that “contrasting transgender people with ‘real’ or ‘biological’ men and women is a false comparison” that “can contribute to the inaccurate perception that transgender people are being deceptive or less than equal, when, in fact, they are being authentic and courageous.” This is a strawman wrapped in a non sequitur. Critics of gender self-identification do not argue that people like Thomas are “being deceptive,” but rather that they are themselves deceived. HRC’s use of “authentic” here really means “sincere”: transgender women are being sincere, not deceptive, when they say they have a strong inner sense of being a woman. But that sincerity is irrelevant unless one first assumes that what makes a belief true is the fact that it is sincerely held, rather than its correspondence to objective reality.

Emil Kirkegaard on mental health and political leanings: 

Back in May 2020, I published a paper provocatively titled Mental Illness and the Left. It was based on the common observation (stereotype!) that conservatives seem less prone to mental illness… Since my study was published, replications have come out. The fact that this replicates is not at all surprising because the samples were very large, representative, and results not p-hacked and with tiny p values. Here’s an overview of recent replications…

Statistical chomping ensues. And I’ll leave these items here for no reason whatsoever.

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Elsewhere (307)

Razib Khan reviews Charles Murray’s Facing Reality

Comfortable white people—“nice white parents” in affluent neighbourhoods who support efforts to “defund the police”—can refuse to look into the data or insist that those data are the product of racist systems and structures. They can “interrogate their privilege” and “confront their white supremacy,” or better yet, demand that others do so. But they won’t be any closer to understanding why poor African Americans and Latinos in inner-city neighbourhoods want more police officers in their neighbourhoods and not fewer, nor why poor African American parents clamour for access to strict charter schools that activists condemn for being “anti-black.” Principled ignorance might be a costless gesture for affluent progressives, but they’re heaping additional injustice onto the backs of those who can least afford the wages of social signalling.

Ben Sixsmith on when paedophilia was avant-garde: 

The German Green party was especially notable for its enablement of child abuse. As the Times of London reported in 2015, “a paedophile network was active in the Berlin branch of the Green party until the mid-1990s, with potentially hundreds of victims.” Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a leading student activist in the 1968 unrest and a prominent member of the Greens, wrote fantasies about sexual contact with children which he later awkwardly described as “irresponsible” and “a type of manifesto against the bourgeois society.” Cohn-Bendit was not, as you might assume, a hair-brained student when he wrote that filth, but 30 years old. Perhaps the bourgeois society had something — at least something — to be said for it.

Hans Bader on woke bigotry and a dishonest news media:

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Elsewhere (302)

Stanley Kurtz on tantrums, vanity, and woke pseudo-history:

[Peter] Wood gives us a portrait of 1619’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones. A woman who styles herself “the Beyoncé of journalism” acts the part of a diva, and more. Treated by the New York Times, according to Wood, as “exempt from ordinary forms of accountability,” Hannah-Jones didn’t deign to reply to even the most respectful and serious scholarly criticism of her project. She booked herself instead into speaking venues where she was greeted as hero, prophet, or genius. And of course, Hannah-Jones was showered with accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize.

Rudely putting down critics, falsely denying that she’d said things she had demonstrably said, deleting tweets that showed her in a bad light, the behavior that eventually destroyed Hannah-Jones’s credibility was in evidence well before the final collapse. And it was all encouraged by the Times, which treated Hannah-Jones with kid gloves and ignored her critics until its hand was forced. Even when Times magazine editor Jake Silverstein finally answered a critical letter from twelve historians (not the first such letter), that letter’s text was never printed in the magazine.

And Christopher F Rufo on Seattle’s ‘progressive’ alternative to policing and prison:

Though these programmes are ideologically aligned with revolutionary goals, they have failed to serve as practical replacements for the “formal justice system.” In one high-profile case, prosecutors diverted a youth offender named Diego Carballo-Oliveros into a “peace circle” programme, in which non-profit leaders burned sage, passed around a talking feather, and led Carballo-Oliveros through “months of self-reflection.” According to one corrections official, prosecutors and activists paraded Carballo-Oliveros around the city as the “shining example” of their approach. However, two weeks after completing the peace circle programme, Carballo-Oliveros and two accomplices lured a 15-year-old boy into the woods, robbed him, and slashed open his abdomen, chest, and head with a retractable knife.

You see, predatory sociopaths with histories of violence and robbery will be “liberated” by “healing circles” and “narrative storytelling.” Because, we’re assured, these things, when combined with burning sage, will “increase empathy.”

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.

Elsewhere (299)

Theodore Dalrymple on pretentious guilt and moral grandiosity: 

But posing and posturing have become a mass phenomenon, the tattooing of our time. Of nothing is this more true than contemporary Woke morality. Whereas not long ago young people of the middle classes sought to express their sympathy for the lower and supposedly oppressed orders by imitating their tattoos and way of dress, imitation being the highest form of empathy available to egotists, they now express the same desire by making Wokeness the touchstone of their morality. They think they are rebelling when, of course, they are conforming. They do not realise that it is more difficult, and more courageous, to contradict a friend than to criticise a society.

Douglas Murray on denunciation hysteria and societal malware: 

It is unsustainable that we are held hostage as a nation by a minority of fanatics, who have fanatical views that we have never voted in… You do not have to pay your tithes to Black Lives Matter; you do not have to pay your Danegeld to the latest LGBT thing. You don’t have to do any of this. […]  

I don’t care if [the media] say [Tony Abbott] is a misogynist. I don’t care if they say he’s a homophobe. I don’t care about any of it now and nor should anybody else. They’ve overused their currency. They’ve hyperinflated – we’re in Zimbabwean situation. And it’s time that we say, ‘We don’t care. Your magic spell-words don’t work anymore.’ […] By the way, it has to be said, if you are Kay Burley and watching this, I’ll play that game back to her. 2009, she throttled a female reporter round the neck until the woman was bruised. Okay? Fine, Kay Burley, want to play that game? ‘No-one should appear in a studio with Kay Burley because she’s someone who throttles women ‘til they’re bruised. And if you appear in a studio with her, you approve of the throttling of women.’

And G. Thomas Burgess on the perverse, dystopian outpourings of Ibram X. Kendi:

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Elsewhere (297)

Heather Mac Donald on post-watershed facts

YouTube’s age-restriction policy lists vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content, and portrayal of harmful or dangerous ­activities as factors that could lead to an age restriction. None of those categories has any bearing on my talk. I used federal data to show that the claim that police are wantonly killing black men is a product of selective coverage by a politicised press and an elite establishment dedicated to the idea that racism is America’s defining trait. There was nothing racy or ­incendiary about the talk — unless you find criminological ­research titillating — unlike the soft-pornographic and anarchist videos that YouTube allows on its site without age restriction.

Ms Mac Donald’s apparently scandalous video – which was promptly deleted by YouTube and only restored, for consenting adults, following appeals by the talk’s organisers - can be viewed in full here. As Larry Elder adds

Not only does [your evidence] give perspective, it’s uplifting. Isn’t it good to know that whatever is going on is nothing to do with “institutional, systemic, structural” racism? Isn’t that good news?

And not entirely unrelated, Coleman Hughes on the life and work of Thomas Sowell

Sowell has encountered countless smears, though the usual avenues of attack—accusations of racism, privilege, and all the rest—have not been available. Someone should have told Aidan Byrne, who reviewed one of Sowell’s books for the London School of Economics blog. Doubtless convinced that he was delivering a devastating blow, Byrne quipped: “easy for a rich white man to say.” It’s hard not to laugh at this hapless reviewer’s expense, but many mainstream commentators differ from Byrne only in that they usually remember to check Google Images before launching their ad hominems. The prevailing notion today is that your skin colour, your chromosomes, your sexual orientation, and other markers of identity determine how you think. And it is generally those who see themselves as the most freethinking—“woke,” while the rest of us are asleep—who apply the strictest and most backward formulas.

A selection of videos featuring Dr Sowell can be found here, here, here, and here

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.

Getting Over Herself Was Never Really An Option

The last person I had to correct for the misspelling of my name was someone from my own employer, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

So writes journalist – and, it seems, attention-seeker - Tahlea Aualiitia:  

I was invited to join a panel on representation in pop culture by the ABC News Channel earlier this month, and because the name super (the strap with my name at the bottom of the screen) was added during production, I wasn’t aware my name was spelled incorrectly until after the interview had finished and I was informed by my family and friends.

Faintly ironic, perhaps, at least if you squint. But as claims of victimhood go, and as a basis for an article on how terribly oppressed one is, it needs a little work.

Typos happen and I understand how a slip of the finger on the keyboard turned my surname from Aualiitia into Auakiitia.

Ah, forgiveness. How refreshing. An apology was forthcoming, too, so I’m sure we’re all ready to move on.

But while it was the first time I had done a TV interview, it wasn’t the first time I had seen my name spelled wrong in the media.

Scratch that. Incoming.

Just a month ago, my name was spelled incorrectly by a producer in my own department, the Asia Pacific Newsroom.

Yes, another misspelling of a phonetically unobvious Samoan name. That’s two whole times. A scarring experience, it would seem, one that “can have big impacts among communities that often don’t see themselves reflected in the media.” “I knew I had to call them out,” says Ms Aualiitia, rather proudly.

The next morning, I sent an email to my manager asking to write this piece.

Selflessly, of course, for the greater good.

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Our Betters Hold Firm

And so, Dr Louise Raw, a suitably woke BBC-employed writer and historian, denounces “virulent class prejudice” as a self-evidently bad thing, and then, in the very next tweet, is publicly amused by the thought of “rich, white, middle-aged men” being killed in disproportionate numbers, complete with smiley-winky face

Smiley winky and woke.

And when other Twitter users point out this contradiction, with varying degrees of liveliness, our woke historian and BBC employee doubles down and dismisses those objecting, en masse, as “fascists,” “neo-Nazis” and “right-wing” crayon-eaters. Presumably on grounds that no-one else, none of her enlightened leftist peers, would register a contradiction. Or anything unsavoury. 

Update, via the comments: 

It’s worth taking a moment to ponder what it must be like to inhabit a milieu in which public expressions of racial disdain are not only aired with expectations of impunity, but also as a marker of status. A way of signalling one’s social credentials and general modishness. And being so accustomed to this environment, so steeped in its values, that, when challenged, the obvious response is to construe any demurral – all of it, wholesale - as the work of “neo-Nazis.”

It’s a complicated dance. Quite a contortion.

Via [+] in the comments.

The New Hotness

In the pages of Teen Vogue.

Because masked misfit sociopaths are inspirational and totes dreamy.

According to Teen Vogue, Antifa’s behaviour, a collective Cluster-B disorder, is merely “militant self-defence.” A construal that, shall we say, bears little relationship with the videos linked above, or others in the archives. It seems we’re supposed to believe that seeking out gratuitous confrontation and gleefully threatening to kill onlookers, simply for onlooking, is the height of bravery now. And harassing and physically threatening random elderly and disabled people, for trying to use a pedestrian crossing, is totally where it’s at, cat.

It’s a “woke brand,” you see.

Update, via the comments, where Liz notes this,

In one year, Teen Vogue’s readership has nearly halved. Less than 5% of their audience consists of actual teenagers.

Then adds, rather pithily,

So what kind of creeps are reading this shit then?

Well, indeed. What kind of adult searches out a magazine with lots of sexualised content – how to masturbate, use sex toys, etc - and which is supposedly aimed at teenage girls? I doubt there’s an answer that isn’t at least somewhat unsavoury. That unhinged and heavily-airbrushed far-left politics, from Marx to Antifa, should be the new connective tissue at Teen Vogue, the obvious and complementary glue, to the extent that its editors describe their readers as “activists,” is possibly something to ponder.

Also, open thread.