'Malicious misgendering'? What about malicious stomping on free speech rights?
All rights, including freedom of religion, stem from freedom of speech. Without free speech, we have nothing. Zero.
In complete disregard for this basic American value, free speech is regarded by the left as an outdated concept. Mark Steyn, author of America Alone, observed that we are turning into "one vast college campus," where there is one correct view and all others are prohibited. On such a "campus," there is no room for free speech.
The latest manifestation of the left's distorted vision is the attempt to mandate the use of subjective personal pronouns. Two examples have just been exposed. The first is taking place in Fairfax, Virginia, where the school board is reviewing updated rules that could expose students to suspension or expulsion for "maliciously misgendering" their peers. In other words, if I want to be referred to as "they" instead of "he," you can be suspended if you refer to me as "he." The new rules would make "malicious deadnaming" and "malicious misgendering" of classmates a "Level 4 offense," which allows for a suspension up to five days "if frequency and intensity are present."
The second example involves three Wisconsin boys who are facing sexual harassment charges from their middle school over accusations that they used incorrect gender pronouns for a fellow student. Think about that for a minute: sexual harassment. "I thought it wasn't real," said Rosemary Rabidoux, a parent of one of the accused boys. "I thought this has got to be a gag, a joke." She insists that the use of certain pronouns and sexual harassment have nothing to do with one other.
It seems that Harvard Medical School does not agree with Mrs. Rabidoux. "When people are misgendered, they feel invalidated and unseen," the leftists at Harvard argue. "When this happens daily, it becomes a burden that can negatively impact their mental health and their ability to function in the world."
The fault in Harvard's argument is that there is no "right" that says you can demand whatever you want. If you decide tomorrow morning that you want to be referred to as "Huckleberry" instead of "he," it doesn't give you the right to demand that everyone should celebrate your decision. The Harvard folks are concerned with the mental health of those who demand to be referred to as "Huckleberry," but the university apparently has contempt for the mental health of those who are coerced to say something with which they do not agree.
Tolerance for a minority opinion should not imply that the majority must accept and celebrate that opinion. Your choice of pronouns does not take precedence over my right of free speech. We should be able to accommodate the rights of our minorities without depriving the majority of theirs. If the demands of a minority come into conflict with the rights of the majority, the majority prevails. That's how it works in a democracy. Sadly, the left is demanding that the majority should celebrate and adopt minority positions. That's called tyranny of the minority.
In a highly publicized case, University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson was attacked when he refused to use the alternative pronouns requested by trans students. Peterson was accused of violating the Ontario Human Rights Code. Some students and faculty complained that Peterson's refusal was "emotionally disturbing and painful" — disregarding the possibility that forcing everyone to abide by their rules might be emotionally painful to other people.
Peterson did not object to the trans community choosing which pronoun they prefer. He objected when they tried to force him to comply. In his view, coercing everyone to use the preferred pronouns of transgenders would be a form of compelled speech or government-mandated speech. "I'm not using the words that other people require me to use," Peterson said, "especially if they're made up by radical left-wing ideologues." He was ultimately vindicated.
A similar case arose at Shawnee State University in Ohio when it attempted to force a professor to use certain pronouns when addressing students. Philosophy professor Nicholas Meriwether refused to use the preferred pronouns of a male student who identified as female. Professor Meriwether explained that his evangelical Christian beliefs require him to refer to people according to pronouns based on biological sex. He won a $400,000 judgment against the university. The court ruled that Meriwether can't be forced to use "preferred pronouns."
The Fairfax school board and the Wisconsin middle school should take heed. Failure to do so may expose them to substantial financial penalties. Any blatant attempt to violate freedom of speech ought to be countered with overwhelming opposition.
Ed Brodow is a conservative political commentator and bestselling author of nine books including his latest, America on Its Knees: The Cost of Replacing Trump with Biden.