Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Policing Thought in the Arts World

Libby Emmons is a feminist. She is a writer. She created a theatre collective to produce a play she had written. But then, something happened on the way to the opening. Emmons wrote an article about transgenderism. She wrote it for a site called Quillette. Said article contained politically incorrect thoughts. The feminist collective she had formed rose up and expelled her. She had been ostracized and shunned.

Enforcing ideological conformity has become second nature to the New York arts crowd. Keep in mind these are radical leftists. They believe in free expression and the first amendment. Yet, if you, a member of their community, deviate from the prevailing orthodoxy, you are out. You are over. They will never speak to  you again. And they will not allow you to work on your play in the collective you founded.

What matters in these precincts of the walking brain-dead is adhering to the correct opinions-- aka orthodoxy. Given the tenets of identity politics, your identity determines the value of what you have said. It doesn’t matter what you say. What matters is who said it. If you belong to a protected victim class your views count as absolute truth. No one is allowed to dispute them. It’s not about disagreement or debate. It’s about shutting  you down… and ostracizing you from the group.

This means that those who belong to an oppressor class have no rights to their own opinions on any of the matters presented by the oppressed. Oppressors are privileged; they did not earn what they have. They must toe the party line or shut up.

Emmons explains identity politics:

In the arts community, as well as in universities, it is assumed that a specific gender, racial, sexual, or community identity determines opinions. It is widely believed that traditionally dominant identities produce opinions and ideas that must be considered suspect (i.e. those of the deplorable white women who voted for Trump), and taken with a tablespoon of salt. This is especially true when those ideas or opinions are interacting with ideas or opinions that are considered the purview of those whose identities have been historically disenfranchised. The higher up the privilege ladder you are perceived to be, the less you should have to say about any group occupying a lower rung. For example, my perceived identity as a cis straight white woman is a clear indicator that I should neither have nor express opinions about trans queer white men.

Emmons is a straight white woman. Ergo, she has no right to express an opinion about gays or about the transgendered. Thus, Emmons ran afoul of the thought police when she rejected transgendered orthodoxy.

She explains:

Women like me aren’t supposed to say that men aren’t women. We’re supposed to believe that some men are women. We’re supposed to believe that these men who really are women really believe that they are women, and that we should believe it too. Women like me are not supposed to speak about female erasure, because trans erasure is more important. Women like me aren’t supposed to express the opinion that womanhood is defined by more than mere appearances or performance. We’re supposed to defer to those men that really are women and respect their perspective of what it means to be a woman more than our own.

She finds it grotesque that a man who believes he is a woman should have the last word on what it is to be a woman. Huh? Emmons shows that this reasoning is blindingly stupid.

She continues:

Women like me are supposed to understand that we are privileged to be women in women’s bodies. Did I get that right? Privileged to be females who are perceived to be females? Is that it? Wait, privileged to be women who like being women? Maybe that’s it. We’re supposed to understand that it’s different for those who don’t like being in women’s bodies. Or who don’t like being in men’s bodies. I am supposed to understand this because I am a “cis gendered” woman.

Yet, she, a woman, has no right to offer an opinion about the transgendered:

For someone like me, who is identified as (as opposed to identifying as) a cis straight white female, to have ideas or opinions relating to trans ideology that are contrary to the progressive narrative recited by rote is already enough for me to be chastised by my community. I knew this, and I often kept quiet during conversations with others in the arts community when these topics arose. But, by espousing them in public, and then doubling down on social media, I had crossed a line drawn to keep my identity separate from certain contentious subjects.

The topic is now considered to be “settled science.” No one can debate or discuss it in polite company. Everyone is obliged to bow down to the wonders of transgenderism, even to the point, as noted a couple of days ago on this blog, to brainwashing autistic children into becoming transgendered. Transgenderism is so glorious, Emmons adds, that it’s now akin to what she aptly calls: “unicorns shitting rainbows.”

No one wants to debate trans ideology. No one wants to talk about it at all other than to say it’s literally as glorious as unicorns shitting rainbows. I explained that I have no problem with pronouns, or bathrooms, or how people want to live, but that I don’t accept the identifier of “cis gendered,” I don’t think kids should be transitioned, and I don’t believe men can change into women or vice versa. I believe being a femme man doesn’t make you female and that men should be more accepting of their femme brothers. I argued that gender is performative and sex is innate, and that gender is not the soul, living somewhere deep inside us waiting to be realized.

Imagine that... Emmons rejects the notion that children should be brainwashed into transitioning. So, she committed a thought crime. The night riders of the thought police rose up and summarily expelled from her feminist theatre group:

Because I had written about the ideas behind the social movement of individuals chemically and surgically altering their bodies so that they appear to be a member of the opposite sex, I was no longer welcome in the feminist theater company I had founded, and no longer welcome among those I had thought of as friends. Exploring a new idea in a longstanding philosophical debate regarding the interconnected nature of human mind and body was hurtful because it did not uphold the delusion that biological sex is malleable. I had committed apostasy against the new gender religion.

Can anyone say repression? True enough, Congress has not passed any law inhibiting freedom of expression. Yet, the thought police are out in force, promoting their own ideology by threat and intimidation, and ultimately by shunning anyone who would dare deviate.

Emmons concludes:

The basis of this enforcement is a kind of groupthink, derived from a politics of compassion, moral relativism, and privilege theory. Divergent opinions are not censored, they are self-censored. Artists who disagree do not speak up. To do so is to risk losing funding in an industry that relies almost entirely on philanthropic donations from organizations that routinely signal their virtue to one another, the artists they supposedly serve, and the progressive milieu at large. Artists who value their careers and industry friendships will not express views that put those things at risk. But I did. I knew what I was doing when I wrote it, although I must admit that I thought more highly of my intimate colleagues’ tolerance for controversy than was exhibited at our last meeting, or since.

As I have been wont to observe, New York is a city full of free thinkers, all of whom think exactly the same thing. And God help you if you deviate.


Anonymous said...

Everybody likes their own way best...(even if it's wrong).

MatrixTransform said...


lynney62 said...

I live in a rural town of 7000 people in central Illinois.....I feel like I'm living in a totally different country than these East coast "group thinkers"........I'm thankful for that.

Anonymous said...

These days, reasonable objections to highly controversial, politicized ideas, also including, among others, "climate change", are demonized beyond all proportion. This is indistinguishable from religious fanaticism. But proponents of religious fanaticism at least have recourse to a power outside of themselves, that is, God. The progressives, however, see themselves as the final arbiters: in their jealously of God, they take over his role. (BTW, I myself do not belong to any particular religion, and have no objection to those that do.)

Does mass hysteria account for this? Or is it possible that so many people have such a character flaw? Can it spread from person to person? But to focus all this hate onto other people just for the symbolic sake of bare few? Historians 200 years from now will look on this movement in the same way they view other crazy historical cults.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

This is what “open-minded” means in Leftist circles today.

David Foster said...

Anon 4:54PM.....Arthur Koestler's thoughts on Intellectually Closed Systems are applicable both to religious fanatics and to devoted believes in secular ideologies.

"A closed sysem has three peculiarities. Firstly, it claims to represent a truth of universal validity, capable of explaining all phenomena, and to have a cure for all that ails man. In the second place, it is a system which cannot be refuted by evidence, because all potentially damaging data are automatically processed and reinterpreted to make them fit the expected pattern. The processing is done by sophisticated methods of causistry, centered on axioms of great emotive power, and indifferent to the rules of common logic; it is a kind of Wonderland croquet, played with mobile hoops. In the third place, it is a system which invalidates criticism by shifting the argument to the subjective motivation of the critic, and deducing his motivation from the axioms of the system itself. The orthodox Freudian school in its early stages approximated a closed system; if you argued that for such and such reasons you doubted the existence of the so-called castration complex, the Freudian’s prompt answer was that your argument betrayed an unconscious resistance indicating that you ourself have a castration complex; you were caught in a vicious circle. Similarly, if you argued with a Stalinist that to make a pact with Hitler was not a nice thing to do he would explain that your bourgeois class-consciousness made you unable to understand the dialectics of history…In short, the closed system excludes the possibility of objective argument by two related proceedings: (a) facts are deprived of their value as evidence by scholastic processing; (b) objections are invalidated by shifting the argument to the personal motive behind the objection. This procedure is legitimate according to the closed system’s rules of the game which, however absurd they seem to the outsider, have a great coherence and inner consistency.
The atmosphere inside the closed system is highly charged; it is an emoional hothouse…The trained, “closed-minded” theologian, psychoanalyst, or Marxist can at any time make mincemeat of his “open-minded” adversary and thus prove the superiority of his system to the world and to himself."

Koestler was himself a former Communist.