The woke totalitarian mob has come for Professor Robert George at Princeton. The offense he committed was in the form of a poll question posed via Twitter (below):
By listing or stating their "preferred pronouns" people are making sure that others know their:
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) December 15, 2020
Surely this cannot stand. What cannot stand? The question cannot stand.
Two Daily Princetonian reporters provide a sympathetic account — sympathetic to the woke mob — of the ensuing controversy:
Prominent conservative professor Robert P. George received backlash on social media last week after posting a poll that questioned pronoun usage, which multiple students who spoke to The Daily Princetonian found transphobic and invalidating of nonbinary and gender-nonconforming experiences.
George, Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, received further criticism for blocking the Twitter accounts of current and former students who condemned the poll. Some considered George’s actions hypocritical, given his vocal advocacy for free speech and the open exchange of ideas.
George pushed back on both of these sentiments, arguing that the views many students deemed bigoted ought to be respected and refuting the accusation that he blocked users who criticized his viewpoint.
With this latest dispute, the University community continues to grapple with reconciling free speech and inclusivity, particularly when those missions seem at odds.
Alluding to more than pronouns
In a Dec. 14 Twitter post, George asked his followers, who number more than 63,000, if “by listing or stating their ‘preferred pronouns’ people are making sure that others know their: sex, gender, [or] ideology.”
Much of the backlash centered around George’s assertion that pronoun use could be a matter of “ideology,” the option that over half of the poll’s 5,128 respondents chose. Multiple current and former students who replied to George described his assertion that pronoun use can be “ideological” as transphobic.
Given the professor’s past rhetoric, some students felt the poll alluded to more than pronoun usage.
In 2016, George tweeted, “There are few superstitious beliefs as absurd as the idea that a woman can be trapped in a man’s body & [vice-versa].” A year later, he wrote, “to regard a man as a woman is to misunderstand biology.”
“Pronouns are a microcosm of the large issue at hand, which is trans / nonbinary / [gender-nonconforming] acceptance,” said Griffin Brooks ’23, who described the recent poll as invalidating queer people’s identities.
Still, George stood by his views on gender and his argument that “reasonable people of goodwill” can disagree on fundamental issues of sexuality and gender identity.
“There is a temptation for people on both the right and left to suppose that no reasonable person of goodwill could possibly disagree with them or doubt the premises of their views,“ he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “Yielding to that temptation, some on the right think that anyone who disagrees with them is a libertine; some on the left think that anyone who disagrees with them is a bigot. They are equally wrong.”
In response to a supportive Twitter reply about receiving vitriol “for simply posting a poll,” George characterized the backlash as a “natural reaction” to “attack the question — and the person who dares to ask it.”
The vitriol you’re receiving for simply posting a poll is … interesting.
— Brad Martz (@Brad_Martz) December 15, 2020
While conceding that George might have intended to start a conversation, Priyanka Aiyer ’23, who publishes poetry under the name Topaz Winters, told the ‘Prince’ she felt it is “not productive to have a debate like this.”
“We’re talking about pronouns, but that’s not actually what we’re talking about. We’re really talking about the existence and the validity of people whose gender is not the same as the one they were assigned at birth,” she added.
The article goes on at excruciating length to explore the uproar. It gives short shrift to the absurdity of the uproar and the totalitarian gist of the proceedings. The point is that Professor George must be made to bow down before the strange new gods of the woke mob. He must profess his adherence to Big Nonbinary Sibling.