The Volunteer Auxiliary Thought Police

That’s what Steve Sailer calls them, only they aren’t volunteers anymore. They are asking to be paid.

Who are they? Members of Politically Approved Minority Groups who offer to read novels in manuscript to identify any non-conforming elements. Sailer starts with an article in Slate:

Is My Novel Offensive?

How “sensitivity readers” are changing the publishing ecosystem—and raising new questions about what makes a great book.

These advising angels—part fact-checkers, part cultural ambassadors—are new additions to the book publishing ecosystem. Either hired by individual authors or by publishing houses, sensitivity readers are members of a minority group tasked specifically with examining manuscripts for hurtful, inaccurate, or inappropriate depictions of that group.

Sailer goes on a quest to learn whether being a twin–the subject of a novel discussed in the Slate story–constitutes Approved Minority Status:

The sensitivity auditing of this young adult novel about twins raises a question: are twins considered a minority group worthy of sensitivity concerns? Or are twins, like left-handed catchers and albinos, not worthy of minority status? If not, why not?

The answer seems to be No. Along the way he provides examples of some “sensitivity readers” who have described their qualifications in a sensitivity reader database. This one suffers from a number of “minority” statuses, most of which probably have never occurred to you:

LGBTQ+ — especially non-binary genders, grey-/demi-/pan-/asexuality and grey-/demi-/pan-/aromanticism. Mental Health — personality disorders (especially, but not limited to, cluster B); being a queer person with a diagnosis; depression; self harm; anxiety (including panic attacks); suicidal thoughts; dissociation and depersonalisation; living on mood stabilisers. Other — unhealthy and abusive relationships (esp. non-romantic/non-sexual ones), with focus on either the abused or the abused; disordered eating (without an ED diagnosis); womb twin survivor (being an only child; knowing/feeling a twin should’ve existed); migraines, sunlight sensitivity, insomnia; polyamory; working in the Arts as a queer person with a MH diagnosis; other correlations of the aforementioned things.

Sailer comments:

So being a twin is not an identity politics category. But not being a twin can make you a “womb twin survivor.”

Here is another “sensitivity reader”:

I am Black (with Irish and Cherokee thrown in), autistic, aromantic, noetisexual, demisexual/asexual, Integrated Radical Non-Monogamist, Relationship Anarchist, autodidact, relationship fluid, disabled, single parent, in poverty, kinky switch/Dom/me, assigned female at birth, synesthetic, intersex, genderqueer, Army brat, survivor of several forms of abuse, left-handed, singleish, and pansexual. My disabilities and health conditions consist of endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, fibromyalgia, eczema, secondary anxiety and depression. I’ve had several major surgeries, survived more rapes than I can count, and narrowly escaped stalkers, domestic violence, and murderers. I’ve been writing cuil fiction, my invented intersectional queer and polya genre, for nearly 20 years. I am also a not-quite widow.

What is a “not-quite widow”? I have no idea.

These people are, by their own description, more or less crazy. Yet authors and publishers seek them out (and perhaps pay them) to critique novels. Major elements of our society have gone mad; the problem is that they insist on taking the rest of us around the bend with them, and we don’t want to go. This dynamic explains much of our 21st century public life, and it largely accounts for the fact that Donald Trump is our president.

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