Raunchy gay sex columnist and sometimes political activist Dan Savage has been caught up in a perfect storm of liberal identity politics. While speaking at the University of Chicago last week, Savage used the word “tranny”–a slang term for transgender people–in the context of “reclaiming” words that might otherwise have a negative connotation.
In a perfectly ironic turn of events that followed, a self-identified transgendered student in the audience is now saying that he/she was deeply hurt by Savage’s use of the “reclaimed” slur.
The Illinois Review reports the details:
The incident occurred when, according to several sources, Savage and [the event hostess Ana Marie] Cox began discussing [Savage's] personal history as a gay man. According to a first-year student and member of the LGBTQ community who asked to be identified as Hex, Savage used the slur t—– as an example in an anecdote about reclaiming words. Cox then added, “I used to make jokes about t—-ies,” audience members recounted.
“That was one of the most hurtful parts,” Hex said, explaining the perceived insult was that Cox used the slur to refer to the group of people she joked about. “In that context, it was like being applied to all transgender people,” it said. (“It” is Hex’s chosen pronoun.)
The offended students have even started up a petition on Change.org, demanding that U of Chicago’s Institute of Politics forever ban the use of offensive language at its events.
You see, those poor sensitive students just can’t handle it.
They just can’t.
Personally, I love the irony of this situation. Dan Savage, a hero of the radical left, general in the fight to mainstream radical sexual identities in this country, is now being eaten alive by his own kind.
In a related story, RuPaul, probably the nation’s most famous transvestite pop star for the last twenty years, has been accused of transphobia because his television show uses the term “She-Mail” to describe messages from the host. Critics say they are offended because it’s a play on the term “shemale,” which, they say, is derogatory. RuPaul also has used the word “tranny” publicly.
According to Salon.com, RuPaul said “those offended by the use of the word “tranny” “are fringe people who are looking for story lines to strengthen their identity as victims.”
The tyranny of liberal identity politics has reached a tipping point, and it has now become very dangerous for public figures to say anything controversial in public. And that’s bad news for all of us who care about freedom of speech and expression–even if it might be fun to watch liberals devouring themselves over such issues. In the long run, all of us are being negatively impacted by a climate of speech control, fueled by the manufactured outrage of various groups and individuals who will not tolerate an opposing view, and will not permit others to express themselves in a way they dislike.
If you are a musician, and you dare to wear an Indian head dress as part of an artistic photo shoot, you will be blasted for cultural “appropriation.” You will be forced to apologize or risk damaging your career.
If you have a TV show, but happen to hold a conservative biblical view about homosexuality, your TV show will be cancelled. Or suspended. You will be silenced. You will be labeled a bigot. Your beliefs will be categorized as “hate.” There is an army of liberal speech-code enforcers out there monitoring the airwaves, searching the YouTube archives, looking to shut down every voice they disapprove of.
You will be forced to do things that violate your religious beliefs, if you want to keep your business. In this Brave New World of liberal fascism, you can be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding, whether you wish to do so or not. You can be forced to undergo sensitivity training to keep your job.
Any belief that is so threatened by dissenting voices that it must stamp them all out is a belief that fears close examination. The desperate attempts of the radical sexual progressives to silence all who disagree with them is a sure sign of their own insecurity–of their own moral self doubt. They fight the voices of others in an effort to silence the lingering voices of their own seared consciences.
We are at the dawn of a new age of illiberality in the West. It is not enough, any longer, to simply tolerate the beliefs and lifestyles of others. You must agree to actively participate and even celebrate the lifestyles of others. Or else they’re coming for blood.
Our culture has become a minefield of linguistic taboos. At all times, someone, somewhere is waiting to be offended. And these taboos are enforced by increasingly frightened media companies who fear boycotts and lawsuits. Liberal activists, emboldened by their success at silencing opposing viewpoints, are growing ever more tyrannical, ever more intolerant, and ever more powerful.
Tolerance is dead in this country, or almost dead. Freedom of conscience? It’s a relic of the past. We have allowed a small minority of oppressive victim hustlers to effectively neuter the First Amendment. As a result, freedom of speech is something we Americans, in truth, no longer effectively posses.
Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.
Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden