A news report out of Minnesota indicates that the University of Minnesota is on the verge of getting into the language policing business. According to the report:
The U is considering a new “gender identity” policy that would assure transgender men and women, as well as others, the right to use whatever pronoun they wish on campus — whether it’s he, she, “ze” or something else.
And everyone from professors to classmates would be expected to call them by the right words or risk potential disciplinary action, up to firing or expulsion.
I do not want to go on at length about the utter absurdity of such policies. What I want to do is make one observation on how coercion and falsework work together, particularly in the context of language.
If something is naturally or innately true, it does not need a law to make it true. The law may come to a truth’s defense as a reflection of what is true and to ensure such truth is normatively promulgated, but law does not create truth. For example, observing that a particular runner has insanely good talent at the marathon needs no law to make that observation true. It simply is. There has never been a law, and nor should there be, that requires calling a boy a “boy.” Why? Because observing a true state of affairs is naturally occuring.
This is not true of the gender revolution and the ever-expansive vocabulary attending it. The gender revolution requires policing language in order to enforce a contrived falsehood. If a man insists he is a woman, he will want all available mechanisms at his disposal to enforce such a reality. And that means the law.
How can something that is not true gain purchase in a society? By using the lever of government power to enforce a newly discovered orthodoxy and to penalize those who choose to simply defy the new orthodoxy by insisting on naming reality as it is—like refusing to call a man who thinks of himself as female a “woman.” He is not a woman. He never will be. A falsehood can only gain a foothold when some adjudicating authority works to penalize those who insist on an otherwise natural truth.
This is why, at root, the gender revolution is not simply authoritarian. There is a totalitarian impulse behind it. As Robbie George once noted in a tweet:
Ordinary authoritarians are content to forbid people from speaking truths. Totalitarians insist on forcing people to speak untruths.
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) August 2, 2017