Five years ago, one of the most unintentionally hilarious things I ever saw manifested itself in New York City. Park Slope, Brooklyn, is ground zero for progressive bourgeois SWPLdom. Here’s how New York magazine characterized the controversy:

A few weeks ago, a member of the Park Slope Parents e-mail forum who’d encountered a stray piece of winterwear in the neighborhood posted a notice to the group titled “Found: boy’s hat.” … [S]ubscriber “Lisa” went public with her problems regarding the gender-specifying description of the hat. Wondering how such a categorization would feel to a spiky-hat-wearing girl, Lisa wrote, “It’s innocent little comments like this that I find the most hurtful.” A third member responded soon after, saying such political correctness drove her “up the wall,” and a heated discussion ensued. Lisa’s supporters questioned their opponents’ commitment to “the free interchange of ideas and questions” … while an opposing faction expressed facetious dismay that the original poster, who had described the hat as likely belonging to “an older child,” was not more considerate toward “younger children who happen to have large heads.” … [O]ne poster questioned the use of “hat,” asking if the object might be more sensitively labeled a “soft, porous bowl.”

Amusing, right? You have no idea what a cultural-anthropological freakshow this turned out to be. Gawker collected the e-mails and posted them here. For example:

I appreciated Lisa’s email very much and I am glad she wrote it. I imagine it has nothing to do with some rigid standard of “PC” which led her to post her response.

I know that many people like to think they are beyond these issues and that sexism doesn’t apply to them, but truthfully it is alive and well. “Rambuctious” girls are still “punished” for the same actions which for “active” boys are not. Boys are still noted more for their math skills, even when there are girls in the same class who are equally skilled. I’ve witnessed it first hand. The emphasis on how a girl should look and dress and act is much stronger than it was when I was a kid, and frankly it’s very oppressive to a girl who doesn’t fit or want to fit “the mold.”

A follow-up:

Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 11:51:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Found: boy’s hat

I used the term ‘boy’s hat’ as a department store indicator to help parents identify whether it might belong to them…Is every context saturated by gender politics – even a lost hat?

Why do we all jump to conclusions about each other’s motives? Recently, I bought my three yeat old nephew pink Dora flip flops because he loved them. Did I tell him I was buying him girl shoes? No. My son Jake nurses his baby doll every night.

And then it really gets good. Seriously, it’s a complete SWPL freakshow. Read the whole thing, and marvel. 

Why do I bring this up?

Because all I wanted to do was to read the comments thread in the Gawker blind item today about which Hollywood star married a trannie. Surely that’s not too much to ask. Right? Well, you’re not going to find it in that thread, because everybody is too busy fighting over the proper p.c. terminology to describe men who think they’re women and who may or may not lop off their wing-wangs. Finally some gay guy flips:

Oh God please shut up! I’m so sick of this militant bullshit with the trans community, where everything your allies do and say is seen as an attack because of your own psychotic paranoia about the rest of the gay community. Don’t you have better things to worry about, like ENDA, instead of completely going off on benign language being used by a member of the “g” in LGBT? You guys are constantly whining about nothing on every friggin’ gay website I visit and doing it in a really nasty way (of course when people respond to your bitchiness with more nastiness you cry about how gays are bigots, which I’m sure you’ll be doing in a few minutes here). And now here we go on Gawker as well. Please go. Away.
And … they’re off! The hathos level has a long way to go before reaching Park Slope Boy’s Hat levels, but I am hopeful!