Former columnist Jon Caldara says he was fired from the Denver Post for stating in print that biological sex is real. The termination came after his latest article ran, about Colorado Democrats’ hidden agenda with hospital fees and mandated sex ed curriculum, and shortly on the heels of his column about the change in the Associated Press style guide to hide the reality of biological sex in language.
Caldara, who is also the president of the libertarian Independence Institute, started at The Denver Post in fall 2016, and was a weekly columnist there. He says he got plenty of what any outlet needs so much of these days: clicks.
Despite refusing to use preferred pronouns, he considers himself pro-trans, because he’s a libertarian. He thinks no one should tell him what to do, and he won’t tell anyone else what to do. He doesn’t think anyone should be able to make him say things he thinks is false, but he won’t argue against anyone else’s right to do or say as they please.
“I’m pro gay marriage, pro right to die, pro trans rights,” Caldara said in an interview. “I really believe that the individual is sovereign. But I’m also sovereign; you can’t force my speech.”
Denver Post editor Megan Schrader, whom Caldara says fired him over the phone, did not respond to a request for comment. An editor’s note confirms his termination, and took issue with the media coverage about it.
Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo wrote,
We note some media coverage of this decision has implied we do not want to run conservative columns about issues surrounding sex and gender. In fact, we ran both columns Caldara wrote on the subject, having determined they addressed a subject worthy of public discussion and debate.
That is the role of a newspaper’s editorial section. We want our pages to explore a variety of subjects and feature a variety of voices, even when some of our readers find them offensive. We believe it is both possible and desirable to write about sensitive subjects and about people with whom one disagrees using respectful language. In exercising our right to edit material submitted for publication, we make changes and suggestions to uphold that standard. We expect writers to work with us in a collaborative and professional manner as we strive toward that goal.
But that doesn’t really answer the question, instead indicating that Caldara was perhaps not collaborative, professional, and respectful. Caldara says he frequently sparred with Schrader, in what he believed were good-natured disagreements. It was after they argued over the last two columns that discussed language regarding transgender issues, Caldara says Schrader told him he would no longer be writing for The Denver Post.
“She sees the world in those progressive lenses of the oppressor and the oppressors and she wants to write that,” he said. “I didn’t get much of an explanation other than she doesn’t want to have a polarizing paper. Basically, it’s all about language usage, that it seemed insensitive or perhaps hurtful. It makes me wonder if virtue signaling is more important than what your customers want or what your stockholders want, because I was certainly bringing in the clicks.”
In his penultimate article at the Post, Caldara took the AP Style Guide to task for what he saw as politically motivated grammar choices. The AP prefers the leftist term “undocumented” to “illegal alien.” It mandates pronouns “they,” “them,” and “their” for use in the singular, and it posits that race is an irrelevant descriptor.
If he had been told beforehand that saying there are only two sexes was a fireable offense, Caldara wouldn’t have believed it, he says. But he “likely would have stayed away from the issue” if it meant he could keep his column.
The trans issue isn’t a big deal for Caldara—speech and other libertarian issues like gun rights and taxes are more what he’s interested in tackling. He wasn’t trying to make a stand on trans issues, but on speech, and to write compelling copy. He believes his editor had a different agenda.
Speech rights used to be a stronghold of leftist discourse. The idea was that everyone’s rights were protected, including views many considered abhorrent. The deal with free speech was not that only collectively agreed upon speech was permissible, but that all of it must be safeguarded or all of it was endangered.
Caldara’s views on the trans issue are about the sovereignty of the individual, but he also believes that “there are two sexes. You can’t change your genetic makeup. If you can say you’re a different sex, I should be able to say I’m ten years younger.”
Schrader’s most recent column says The Denver Post is looking for columnists. It states that “The Denver Post values having a wide variety of voices on our pages, and we are looking for both conservative and liberal writers. We do not have any type of political litmus test for our columnists — meaning they hold and express a wide variety of opinions — on a weekly basis.”