Not long ago, I was talking to a university-based research scientist in New York City about a particular project he’s working on. It was interesting stuff, and I said that his research might have fascinating implications for broader society in light of the radical and relatively swift changes in social norms around sex, marriage, and gender. Ever thought about exploring that? I asked.
The scientist said he wouldn’t even begin to think about it. In his work, he stays far away from anything related to race, sex, and gender, unless it can’t be avoided, and even then he treads very, very carefully. Too risky politically. You never know where the land mines are hidden. You could say something you think is entirely uncontroversial and scientifically neutral, but if someone decides to make trouble for you, and call you a racist, homophobe, transphobe, or whatever, it can ruin your academic career.
The Social Justice Warriors have done their work well. Especially in New York City.
Eugene Volokh reports that in NYC, the Human Rights Commission advises that you can be fined if you don’t refer to someone by the name and crackpot pronoun (“ze,” “hir”) that they prefer. How can you avoid trouble under the NYC Human Rights Law? Says the Commission:
Covered entities may avoid violations of the NYCHRL by creating a policy of asking everyone what their preferred gender pronoun is so that no individual is singled out for such questions and by updating their systems to allow all individuals to self-identify their names and genders. They should not limit the options for identification to male and female only.
Oh for freak’s sake. Volokh is not having it:
So people can basically force us — on pain of massive legal liability — to say what they want us to say, whether or not we want to endorse the political message associated with that term, and whether or not we think it’s a lie.
We have to use “ze,” a made-up word that carries an obvious political connotation (endorsement of the “non-binary” view of gender). We have to call people “him” and “her” even if we believe that people’s genders are determined by their biological sex and not by their self-perceptions — perceptions that, by the way, can rapidly change, for those who are “gender-fluid” — and that using terms tied to self-perception is basically a lie. (I myself am not sure whether people who are anatomically male, for example, but perceive themselves as female should be viewed as men or women; perhaps one day I’ll be persuaded that they should be viewed as women; my objection is to being forced to express that view.) We can’t be required to even display a license plate that says “Live Free or Die” on our car, if we object to the message; that’s what the court held in Wooley v. Maynard (1978). But New York is requiring people to actually say words that convey a message of approval of the view that gender is a matter of self-perception rather than anatomy, and that, as to “ze,” were deliberately created to convey that a message.
It’s much worse. If the patron of an establishment doesn’t comply with the law, the owner has to throw the patron out, on pain of having to pay a fine. And, according to the Commission’s guidance, it “can impose civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.”
They could ruin you if you failed to understand this bizarre gender babble, and apply it correctly.
Seriously, how does a business owner operate under these conditions, even a business owner who wants to do the right thing? Read Volokh’s entire piece to get a full appreciation of how lunatic this thing is.
Could you imagine being a business owner in NYC under this fanaticism? “Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue,” said Robespierre. So it is with the Gender Robespierres. First they make us all lose our minds and our integrity by acquiescing in their bizarre fantasies, and then, if we don’t, they make us lose our livelihoods. (But not our heads; be thankful for small mercies.)
Volokh points out that this is not likely to remain in New York City, either. Think about that. Three of the scariest words in the English language are “Human Rights Commission.”
You know, liberal friends, next time you want to complain about how conservatives are the ones waging culture war, I want you to think about this.