The Cry of the Bigot

Hmph, yet again I find myself late to the party. Shiv has an excellent article up on Jesse Singal.
Back when Singal first started cluelessly meandering into trans issues, virtually every trans feminist academic I read approached him with kiddie gloves. Julia Serano gave an interview with him to help orient his slant on a Ken Zucker piece in relation to empirical evidence–he declined to use any of the information she provided. Same thing with Parker Molloy, who goes to great lengths to avoid calling Singal transphobic despite his omission of Molloy’s attempt to introduce the evidence to him. A blogger by the pseudonym of Cerberus has meticulously documented Singal’s foray into trans issues, and spends several years trying to patiently explain the sheer amount of denialism necessary to maintain the opinions Singal defends.
The chain of causality is a bit convoluted. Rebecca Tuvel wrote a clueless article comparing “transracialism” to gender identity. Some academics popped up to say “you missed the boat, and here’s why.”[2] Singal responded with, in part:
This is a witch hunt. There has simply been an explosive amount of misinformation circulating online about what is and isn’t in Tuvel’s article, which few of her most vociferous critics appear to have even skimmed, based on their inability to accurately describe its contents.
Yeeeah. There’s meatier arguments within Singal’s article, but the histrionics are well out of line. Myers noticed this too, but I want to highlight the hyperbole as a warning flag.
[9:35] HARRIS: The purpose of the podcast was to set the record straight, because I find the dishonesty and hypocrisy and moral cowardice of Murray’s critics shocking, and the fact that I was taken in by this defamation of him and effectively became part of a silent mob that was just watching what amounted to a modern witch-burning, that was intolerable to me. So it is with real pleasure (and some trepidation) that I bring you a very controversial conversation, on points about which there is virtually no scientific controversy. […]

In thinking about the frenzied monstering of me on Freethought Blogs over the past few weeks, I realized I must have been laboring under a misapprehension all the time I was there. I thought it was a network that was partly about thinking – thinking as such, thinking as a value, thinking as a goal and a pursuit and a method. I knew it was about other things too, of course, especially secularism and atheism and also progressive causes, but I did think it put the “thought” part front and center. […]

I think Freethought Blogs the network has taken a hard turn to anti-intellectualism for the sake of absolutist political commitment. I think political commitments need to be accompanied by thinking.

Benson in particular makes a fine example of this, as not only has she endorsed describing any pushback against transphobia as “witch hunts,” she’s also mocked people for playing the “witch hunt” card and hosted a co-blogger who speaks out against actual witch hunts. It’s amazing to watch the ease with which she pulls out hyperbole right to this day, to paint herself as the victim of a vast conspiracy of the blind.

One of the things I loathe most about the “SHUN HER NOW” school of non-thought is the way it forbids all that and insists that thinking has to be replaced with formulas and that the formulas have to be repeated exactly or dire punishment will follow. In short I loathe the banning of thought and probing and questions. I think I knew I couldn’t stay at FTB any longer when the goons started mocking me for daring to say it made a difference whether we were talking about ontology or politics. Fucking hell, if we can’t make distinctions as basic as that how can we think at all?

Back in the day, I pointed out this feeds “into the heightened emotions and paranoia Benson needs to keep other people (and perhaps herself) from looking at the evidence.” It is the cry of the bigot: hyperbolic and emotionally charged, so as to drive out self-reflection and critical thought. Watch for it.