Twitter’s New Trans Speech Rules Emanate From Religious Extremism

Twitter’s New Trans Speech Rules Emanate From Religious Extremism

With a recent tweak to their terms of service, Twitter has made it quite clear it’s in the business of exiling anyone who deviates from the new political-religious orthodoxy.
Hans Fiene
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Running a social media company sounds like a terrible job. Sure, you get to be really important and make a ton of money selling users’ private information to political consulting firms and presumably underwear manufacturers, but you also have to figure out how to avoid censorship in an industry where the business model is “hand a megaphone to a bunch of froth-mouthed rage-addicts and let them spend all day screaming every demon-thought that’s ever popped in their heads.”

Such rage addicts seem more attracted to Twitter than to any other social media platform, so you might think the company would have more experience, and thus more expertise, at the delicate balancing act of defending free speech while policing vile and ugly language. However, with a recent tweak to their terms of service, Twitter has made it quite clear that it’s not in the business of creating a platform for people to exchange ideas without being cruel. Rather, it’s in the business of silencing conservative voices and exiling anyone who deviates from the new political-religious orthodoxy.

In addition to banning threats of violence and harassment, Twitter now forbids users from “misgendering” and “deadnaming.” Misgendering is what happens when you don’t use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns—for example, stating that the winner of the 1976 men’s decathlon is a he. Deadnaming is what happens when you refer to transgender people with the names they’ve discarded—for example, if you call the person who won the 1976 men’s decathlon “Bruce” instead of “Caitlyn.”

Labeling these practices verboten is a textbook example of begging the question. If Twitter wishes to argue that rejecting a person’s gender identity is an act of wanton immorality, well and good. But first Twitter must prove that humans have a gender identity, and this is not something Twitter has proven. In fact, it’s not something that Twitter can prove.

Let’s Talk Logic in a Way Even Twitter Can Understand

Gender, as we are often told, is not the same thing as sex. While biological sex and gender identity correspond for most people, trans-advocates tell us, they are not synonymous. Gender identity has nothing to do with biology. It’s not determined by genitalia or chromosomes. It can’t be observed under a microscope or mapped on the human genome because it’s not a material thing. Rather, gender identity is something that a person feels within himself, something he knows to be there, even if it can’t be seen or measured.

In other words, gender is a philosophical/religious concept like the idea of a soul. It’s not something that scientifically is. It’s something that you believe in. While people should certainly be free to believe in such philosophical/religious concepts, they shouldn’t be allowed to impose those beliefs on their neighbors.

This concept is surely something that people on the left would be able to realize if they hadn’t politicized the transgender issue. It’s not hard to see how chaotic society would become if one person could force the rest of the world to embrace every one of his metaphysical assertions and live according to his dogma.

If, for example, a man named Bill told us that a woman named Ella was his soul mate, we’d say, “That’s nice.” If, however, Bill told us that Ella married Dave and that he was planning on suing Dave for violating his civil rights via soulmate stealing, even the most progressive among us would tell him, “Dude, you can believe that she’s your soul mate. But you can’t force her and her husband to live according to that belief.”

Of Course, The First Amendment Is Implicated Here

This idea is at the heart of the First Amendment. Because Christians can make natural law arguments against slavery or abortion, they may direct their government to outlaw those sins, even though the root of their opposition comes from the Bible. If Christians wish to avoid theocratic rule, however, they may not criminalize sins that can only be seen through the light of divine revelation, such as denying the Trinity.

Likewise, we should have different expectations for organizations that identify themselves as arenas of free speech and those that don’t. We shouldn’t expect a Lutheran congregation to hand its pulpit over to an atheism apologist in the name of equal time. We should, however, expect a social media platform that boasts impartiality to make room for people of all beliefs, as long as they can express those beliefs civilly.

These same principles should apply to those who accept the tenets of Genderism. Do you believe that womanhood is defined by an inner feeling instead of an inner uterus? Fine. But you don’t know this by evidence. You know it by faith, so don’t silence those who accept a different creed.

Are you convinced that refusing to use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns or name is a form of psychological abuse that could lead to suicide? This conviction is not based on an objective reading of the evidence. It’s based on interpreting that evidence through the lens of a theology that anathematizes any suggestion that mental illness might play a bigger role than social rejection in causing the suicidal tendencies of people who want to cut off their genitals.

If you want to prove your orthodoxy by sticking with that reading of the evidence, go for it. But that’s not enough to justify exiling those who have drawn a different conclusion.

This Is Clearly Not Just About Being Nice

One might suggest that Twitter’s new changes are simply meant to ban ugly rhetoric or intentional harassment of those who identity as trans. If that’s the case, great. If some lunatic or troll tweets “What’s up, man” to Laverne Cox 40 times a day, give that unhinged jerk the boot. But don’t lump him in with those who simply assert “I don’t believe that Laverne Cox is a woman” in order to toss them both out.

The problem, however, is that Twitter has given conservatives and Christians plenty of reason to believe this is precisely the point of the new rules. As many have noted, Twitter has a history of playing Calvinball with its terms of service, interpreting its rules quite strictly whenever a conservative ruffles liberal feathers but turning all loosey-goosey whenever right-leaning folks are the targets of cruelty.

On account of this and other manifestations of Twitter’s anti-conservative bias, it’s not unreasonable to expect that Twitter will once again interpret its rules in whatever way necessary to purge irritating conservatives from the ideological playground. Likewise, it’s perfectly legitimate to interpret Twitter’s updated rule as looming authoritarianism when one considers what passes for piety in the religion of leftism.

Please Play Our Civil Rights LARP

For some time, many leftists have been driven half-mad by Selma Envy. Eager to reboot the civil rights movement and cast themselves as the saints who bravely defend the marginalized of society, leftists are quick to make victims of their gay and transgender neighbors and equally quick to make villains of the conservatives and the Christians in their midst.

Leftists also control America’s educational institutions, sources of entertainment, media, and social media platforms, which allows them to emulate the bullying tactics of those who used their political and cultural power to oppress the opponents of segregation. In other words, leftists have grown quite fond of playing both sides when they engage in civil rights movement LARPing. They want to be the heroes on the right side of history, but they also want to manifest their heroism by turning the firehoses on any uppity heretics who don’t know their place.

Require members of your Christian student group to believe Christian things and they’ll throw you off of campus or strip you of official university status. Refuse to provide flowers for a gay wedding and they’ll ruin you financially. Politely say “I am not attracted to those who have or have had a penis,” and some leftists will scream that you are responsible for every transgender suicide until you disavow both your fondness for the Bible and your aversion to male genitalia.

The Left Only Wanted Free Speech to Gain Hegemony

In all of this, modern leftists have made their position on free speech quite clear. They value it as a tool, not as an idea. Free speech is simply a means by which to acquire power. Once such people have acquired sufficient power to silence their enemies, they burn the free speech tool lest any of those wretched unbelievers use it to threaten their status or sway the members of their congregation.

For decades, especially in recent years, political and religious conservatives have witnessed liberals treating free speech in precisely this manner. Because of this, we have every reason to suspect that Twitter’s new commandments against misgendering and deadnaming are really just a recycled version of the old Babylonian trick where you deliberately design a law that is contrary to your enemy’s conscience, then punish him when he refuses to obey it.

Granted, in a world where Christians are regularly abused and murdered for their faith, being banned from Twitter barely registers on the Persecution Richter Scale. Twitter-banning is, however, a foretaste of the fight that will only grow uglier if leftists don’t turn back from the path they’re pursuing and learn to love the fools still clinging to the outdated religion they’ve long since left behind.

Hans Fiene is a Lutheran pastor in Illinois and the creator of Lutheran Satire, a series of comical videos intended to teach the Lutheran faith. Follow him on Twitter, @HansFiene.

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