by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Mary Harrington writes for Compact Magazine about disappointing developments in the Big Apple.
In 2006, I visited New York City for the first time. A member of the city’s cultural cognoscenti flew me over, on the strength of one blog comment I had left, to participate in a colloquium on the digital transformation of society. That experience left me with an indelible love of the Big Apple: the beating heart of intellectual life in America—and the world. It’s a sleepless, restless, questioning place, where you could find yourself bantering about metaphysics with someone over pizza at 3 a.m., then never see him again.
But New York is no longer an open space, it seems. Two decades since that first visit, I have been deplatformed, canceled because of my convictions. On April 26, the US launch of my book Femisnisn Against Progress, an event cosponsored by Compact and First Things, was scheduled to take place at the Georgia Room, a cultural venue in Manhattan. Everything had gone smoothly: The contract was signed, the deposit was sent. But then something happened: The venue—which bills itself as “inclusive”—got critical comments on social media, and suddenly called it off.
My immediate offense was a tweet criticizing child gender-reassignment surgery, an irreversible act that can permanently sterilize the patient. My criticism was strongly worded, because some things deserve to be strenuously opposed. Children who undergo gender-reassignment surgery are legally unable to consent to sex. They aren’t allowed to purchase cigarettes or alcohol. And yet in gender reassignment, their sexual organs are removed and they are prescribed powerful hormones. I described the people who engage in these operations as “butchers,” and I stand by my words.
But the venue’s objection went beyond any one tweet. It was about a broader discomfort with my insistence on the inescapable reality and political importance of the physical differences between men and women. The fact that I, a little-known British mum and writer, am considered out of bounds at a New York cultural venue is a sign that the city is losing its intellectual robustness—that New Yorkers are exchanging free debate for stifling orthodoxy.