I wish you wouldn’t attribute things to me in freakin’ quotation marks that are not things I have actually said, or thought, or meant.
it’s weird to me that you’re reading e.g. Jordan Peterson asking people to please not attack him or make him say words that he doesn’t want to as “evil conservatives attack trans people for no reason.”
That would certainly be weird, if there were any truth to it. But literally nothing in those quotation marks is my opinion. I don’t think Jordan Peterson is evil, I don’t think that refusing to refer to trans people using the pronouns they find appropriate is “attacking” them (though I do think it’s bloody rude), and I don’t think he was doing it “for no reason” (though I don’t find his reasons at all convincing).
More to the point, regardless of what I think, I didn’t say any of that or anything like any of that. Here, by way of reminder, is everything I said about Jordan Peterson.
If you’re not Canadian (as I’m not), you are most likely to have heard of C-16 because of the opposition of Jordan Peterson, also a social conservative.
That’s it. And it’s a matter of readily verifiable fact that Jordan Peterson did express opposition to C-16. So how do you get from there to “evil conservatives attack trans people for no reason”? I guess it’s because I said that “progressives are trying to make life easier for trans people, and conservatives are opposing them at every turn” and I cited Jordan Peterson’s opposition to C-16 as one example. But, again, I never said “evil”, or “attack trans people”, or “for no reason”, and if you take those bits out you get something like “conservatives oppose progressives’ attempts to make life easier for trans people” … which, so far as I can see, is simply a plain statement of fact. Again, if you disagree, show me how the examples I gave aren’t representative.
I think you may have slightly misunderstood the Red Skull thing (but it’s also very possible that I have), but in any case I don’t know what it has to do with anything here. If Marvel Comics did something stupid or evil, is that supposed to have any implications at all for whether social conservatism is wise or foolish?
it’d make sense to not also use phrases like “TERFS” and “CIS SCUM”
Might well do (though TERF seems to me to be pretty much flatly descriptive; if it’s a slur, it’s only because many people don’t like the actual thing that it refers to), but what’s the relevance here? Is calling people all-caps CIS SCUM a thing that progressives commonly do? (Not that I’ve seen.) Is it a thing I’ve been doing? (Nope; I’m cis myself and have no interest in calling anyone scum.) I’ll gladly agree that some trans people have been extremely horrible to some cis people, and I think that’s very bad and I wish they wouldn’t do it. (The same is true if you replace “trans people” and “cis people” with pretty much any other two groups of people.) But what does that have to do with (a) whether social conservatism is a good thing or (b) any of the things you said in the OP?
Meanwhile, JP has said that he calls people by their preferred pronouns as long as they ask politely. What’s wrong with that?
Nothing’s wrong with that. But (1) it doesn’t seem to be exactly true and (2) obviously no one is saying “Jordan Peterson is terrible because he is willing to use people’s preferred pronouns if they ask nicely”. On 1, see e.g. this video clip where he’s asked what he would do in that situation; what he actually says is that (a) he will use pronouns that match “the persona that they’re projecting publicly” but (b) he will not in general use neopronouns like “xe” because “actually the most likely outcome” is that the request is “just a narcissistic power play”. On 2, all I actually said about him is that he opposed bill C-16, which (as I said above) is simply a matter of fact. Maybe his reasons are good, maybe not (I tend to think not, as you probably already guessed) but that he opposed it shouldn’t be controversial.
I strongly encourage you to at least entertain the idea that I mean exactly what I say, no more and no less.
I wasn’t trying to suggest otherwise. Having a pre-written bottom line isn’t a matter of secret agendas or not meaning what you say; it’s a matter of having already made your mind up about something and then making whatever argument seems like it leads to that conclusion. Dishonesty isn’t usually involved. And no, it’s not “the culture war” making me suspect a pre-written bottom line; I explained exactly what it was that made me suspect that, and you completely ignored what I said about that. (Which of course you’re fully entitled to do, but it’s a bit galling that you then make up a completely different explanation for my saying what I did.)
Also, when it comes to entertaining the idea that one’s interlocutor means only what they say, may I gently request that you extend me the same courtesy? Thank you.
You mentioned Jordan Peterson in the list of… conservatives opposing progressives’ attempts to make trans people’s lives easier. Which sounds connotationally quite unfair to me, because although you could make the argument that is it the “attempt to make trans people’s lives easier” that he opposes, the actual thing he opposes is making a violation of a social norm (shared only by a part of society, possibly a very small part) an offense punishable in theory by jail.
As an illustration—exaggerated to make a point—imagine that I propose a law that your property should be confiscated and distributed to black people living in your neighborhood. Technically, my law is “an attempt to make black people’s lives easier”, because, of course, giving anyone some extra money makes their life somewhat easier. And your objection to that law would, technically, be “opposing the attempt to make black people’s lives easier”. Yet you probably agree that if someone composed a list of people opposing the attempts to make black people’s lives easier and put you in a prominent position in that list, that would be quite unfair.
That is, we should make a distinction between “someone opposes X (as a terminal value)”, and “someone opposes Y (which is advertised as a way to support X), for reasons in principle unrelated to X”. Peterson opposes compelled speech in general. Using someone’s preferred pronouns under threat of legal sanction is (arguably non-central) example of compelled speech. I believe that a person who spent a large part of their life studying totalitarian regimes should be trusted when they say that opposition to practices associated with totalitarian regimes is their true objection.
For the record, it is also my position that people should be nice to each other, but laws that make it a punishable offense to be rude are wrong. Especially wrong, when the law is not formulated universally as “no one is allowed to be rude to anyone” but rather applies only to being rude towards a selected group of people. -- If you propose a law that it is illegal to be rude to anyone, I will think that you are a crazy extremist, but I am willing to consider your proposal charitably. If you propose a law that it is only illegal to be rude to priests, then fuck no. If you propose a law that it is only illegal to be rude to politicians, then fuck no. If you propose a law that it is only illegal to be rude to trans people, then fuck no. -- Not because I hate trans people, not because I want to make their lives difficult, but precisely because I am deeply egalitarian and in principle oppose all laws that make people unequal. (But also because I think that making rudeness literally illegal is going too far.)
I concede that it’s possible that Jordan Peterson’s objections were purely 100% about compelled speech, and didn’t arise from any particular wish to behave in ways that trans people find unpleasant. My own impression is that other things he’s said—e.g., that people wanting to be referred to with neopronouns like “xe” are usually making a “narcissistic power grab”—make that a bit difficult to believe.
I do, in fact, share Peterson’s objections to compelled speech, and if I thought he was right that the bill he was complaining about proposed to make it a crime not to use the pronouns someone says you should use for them, then I would agree that he was right to complain about that. My impression—though I am neither a Canadian nor a lawyer—is that in fact that isn’t true, and I would bet heavily that since the bill passed the number of people convicted of a crime on account of their pronoun use is zero.
that people wanting to be referred to with neopronouns like “xe” are usually making a “narcissistic power grab”
Frankly, I can imagine someone having a “I wish I had a male/femaly body” dysphoria, but not someone having a “I wish people called me xe” dysphoria in similar sense. So, from my perspective, gender dysphoria is a legitimate thing, made up pronouns are not.
I mean, without Twitter, the number of people feeling they were born in a wrong body would be about the same, but the number of people using “xe” would be much smaller.
Unless you are Finnish or Hungarian, the pronouns are “he” and “she”, choose one. Anything else is a jargon no one outside your group is obliged to use. (It would be like, dunno, a Less Wrong user asking people to call Less Wrong users “sane” and everyone else “insane”, because we like it so.)
Would you also refuse to use religious or aristocratic titles from other groups?
Ha, good point! I once met a queen and I addressed her “Your Majesty”. My only excuse is that these rules are older than both of us, so it’s not like I was obeying her recent whim inspired by Twitter.
Last time I met a priest, I called him by his first name, because he was my former classmate. I don’t remember talking to a priest before that. My guess is that if I met a priest today, I would likely call him “father X”, simply because that’s how he would likely be introduced to me.
To me, religious and aristocratic titles are “job names”, kinda like calling people “professor” or “general”. And they are supposed to imply higher status… at least in eyes of those who respect the job. (Also, they are not pronouns, so the usage is a bit different. In the previous paragraphs I have described the queen as “her” and the priest as “him”.)
Oh, for sure dysphoria is not the kind of thing that can specifically make someone need to be called “xe”. I think it can specifically make someone find it upsetting to be referred to with specifically-male or specifically-female pronouns, though, and my sense is that Jordan Peterson isn’t any happier being asked to refer to someone as “they” than as “xe”.
If both “he” and “she” give someone feelings of dysphoria, then I think it’s rude to require that they pick one of those. Singular “they” works pretty well, it has a long history of use in English, and it seems churlish to insist on giving a particular gender to someone who doesn’t feel like either is right for them.
(In some quarters it is claimed that calling someone “they” whose chosen pronoun is “xe” or vice versa is misgendering them, which seems to me just plain wrong. I can imagine a world where we have different standardized neopronouns for different nontraditional gender identities, and in that world maybe it would be so, but we are not in that world. If someone picks a particular set of neopronouns and considers it abusive to be referred to by other pronouns that have essentially the same meaning as theirs, I think that’s mostly their problem. I don’t think that’s at all common, though.)
 This is sometimes overstated. There aren’t a lot of examples until very recently of “they” being used to refer to a known person of known gender. But there are plenty of examples, including plenty from prestigious authors, of “they” being used when a single person is meant.