The Lavatory as Laboratory

I have always supported the right of all people to be who they are without a political or legal war against them — provided they aren’t harming anyone else. That said, I can understand how the fight over transgender people in public bathrooms can make even the most tolerant person think twice about how this might affect others, especially women and children. Over at The Catholic Herald, I write about how and why this battle in the culture war is now pitting the Left against itself, instead of the usual Left vs. Right skirmish:

There’s a big difference between an abstract question – “Should transgender women be allowed in female bathrooms?’ – and a concrete scenario: that is, being a female, walking into a bathroom and having a deep-voiced person with the wrong anatomy follow you in. The first is a moral debate that costs you nothing to have; the second is a very real circumstance with which you or your children may have to contend. And when liberals finally do contend with it, even they start to question their own wisdom.

Often you’ll find that liberals act very conservative when no one is watching.


How The Need for Validation Took Over Our Culture

A month or so ago, Ace at Ace of Spades HQ drew attention to this Reddit comment in which a former “social-justice warrior” (SJW) describes how he fled from the lunacy of identity politics.

One of this young man’s thoughts — his description of how he initially fell into the SJW mindset — jumped out at me:

I was depressed at the time, and being applauded for being progressive definitely was an ego boost. Fighting people I perceived as bigoted made me feel better about myself. My SJW tendencies were based mostly out of self loathing — I felt weird, like an outcast, had never had a girlfriend, hated myself, and thought that I was fixing myself by jumping deep into feminism.

What struck me was this young man’s need to be applauded by his peers. Of course, in itself, this is not surprising: it is not a new thing to crave validation from other people, especially from one’s peer group. It wasn’t just that he was seeking approval from others, however; it was that he absolutely needed this approval to survive. He needed it in two respects. First, he would feel miserable and alienated without it. Second, since his social circle was defined solely by groupthink, there was no way to be a part of that culture without the constant approval of others within the culture. (more…)

In Which I Criticize Gender-Based Publishing

Writing at PJ Media, I have criticized the decision of a small British publishing house to publish only women writers for the year 2018. I argue from both an economic and moral standpoint:

The implicit admission is that the publisher does not, on average, find the women writers who send them their manuscripts to be as good as the men: if it did, there would be no need for this pledge, as the proportion of women writers in its output would already be higher than it is, if not as high as it would be if the company adopted a women-only policy. In promising to publish only women under these special circumstances, the publisher is demonstrating that it would not do so under normal circumstances.

One could argue in return that the problem is a general lack of submissions from women writers, not just lower rates of acceptance. Still, unless every woman who submits a manuscript is accepted automatically, this excuse doesn’t hold: And Other Stories is normally willing to reject women writers, even when they submit at much lower rates than men.


There is no way to disprove the theory of “structural discrimination”: the alleged oppression has been moved to a level of abstraction that shields it from all empirical evidence. Thus there is no way of knowing when the “oppression” has been eradicated. What exclusionary measure, then, would not be permissible during the never-ending struggle? Once you submit to the basic logic, it’s hard to resist the more creative applications of it. What if many companies in many sectors began pledging to hire only women for a year? What if, to correct perceived “structural” imbalances in healthcare outcomes, a clinic decided it would accept only patients of a particular racial or ethnic group? And what if this were a matter of law and public policy, rather than of private enterprise? How could a supporter of gender-based publishing possibly oppose these measures, if their purpose is to correct structural injustice? It isn’t surprising that those who believe in collective victimhood also believe in collective punishment.

The Labour Party Lost Because It’s Divisive (Literally)

The Labour Party should ditch identity politics, a left-leaning blogger has written. I think about Labour’s problems, and those of left-wing parties in general, at PJ Media:

Everyone has a preferred way of explaining or dealing with the results. If you’re Russell Brand, Britain’s Che Guevara in leather pants, you run away like a dejected teenager once you discover how many of “the people” disagree with you. If you’re former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, you mutter haughtily about “self-deluded” voters.

And that’s part of the problem, if not the entire thing. Left-wing parties slice up the population, appoint themselves surrogates of certain segments of it, and, without consulting anybody, convince themselves they know what’s best for every member of the coalition. Then, when people don’t vote the way they want, or say the things they’re supposed to say, the party denigrates the population as dupes and bigots and turncoats.