by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In response to Iowa’s recent legislation banning males from participating on female sports teams, a March 3 artucle at CNN accused Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds of using “transphobic language to justify the need for the ban.” After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order rightly labeling the genital mutilation of minors as “child abuse” and urging such abuse to be reported, a Feb. 26 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times described the move as a “toxic cocktail of ‘what about the children?’ hand-wringing, unregenerate transphobia and MAGA-friendly demonizing of medical expertise.”
MSNBC talking head Joy Reid brought far-left Democrats on her show on Feb. 22 to call homophobic and transphobic Florida’s bill banning public schools from teaching “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” to kindergarteners through 3rd-graders.
It’s a common tactic from those on the left: accuse their political and ideological opponents of suffering from various phobias or disorders, whether it be homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, or “Asian phobia.” It’s a clever rhetorical move: if your opponent’s opinions are not motivated by reason and argument, but irrational fear, then you don’t need to acknowledge or refute those opinions.
In this game, the problem isn’t the argument, but the person, who is caricatured as bigoted, racist, or sexist. And if your interlocutor is that irredeemably evil, the solution isn’t to debate such a person, but to ridicule and silence him.
Of course, this is not arguing in good faith. It is instead one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book: the ad hominem, in which one party seeks to delegitimize the other (and his position) by attacking him. But there’s also a deep irony that this tactic is so frequently employed by leftists, for it is many left-wing policies that promote and engender various psychological maladies.