The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Baby Ben and the Woke Monster Under the Bed

George Orwell wrote of a fictional totalitarian state where language was controlled to change the meaning to fit a political agenda. Its purpose was to control how people think and often words were redefined to give them a meaning opposite to what they used to mean.

As it was put in Orwell’s novel, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” At the time Orwell wrote this radicalism of Nazism was defeated and the thinking of the totalitarian communists were the major threat from the Left. Times change and with them political agendas change. Today the political right is downright Orwellian, twisting language and false labelling things to control how their cult following thinks.

Political troll Ben Shapiro is on the attack against Disney because the company isn’t happy with conservative measures to restrict freedom of speech in Florida schools. The law bans individuals from discussing issues of sexual orientation. Merely mentioning that same-sex couples can legally wed could be deemed a criminal act. The law is meant to ban any topic fragile conservatives find offensive—which these days includes a lot of things.

While the Right tries to pretend this law only applies to the youngest grades, it is written in other sections with ambiguous, non-objective phrasing which allows witch hunters to sniff to their heart’s content. We should also notice that conservatives are using state law to restrict topics discussed at the university level as well! It’s not just “small children” they are going after. Shapiro falsely asserts the law, “would ban the indoctrination of small children into left-wing perspectives regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.”

He’s invoking “small children,” which I guess has to be defined as “small” so as not to confuse them with big babies, such as Shapiro. But if one of these “small children” happens to be trans Shapiro is all prepared to have hell rain down on them and shout at them gender identity doesn’t exist. I constantly see the far Right assert they are protecting children, but who will protect the kids from the far Right?

Shapiro equates discussion of a topic with indoctrination and claims any discussion is pushing “left-wing perspectives.” What are these left wing perspectives? Is it something as traditional as equality of rights before the law? Is it left wing to say government power should be reduced when it comes to policing people’s private lives? In his imagination the old classical liberal ideas of limited government and individual rights are “left-wing” and discussing topics is automatically “indoctrination.” The law he endorses to regulate the speech of others says you can’t even mention sexual orientation. Merely stating the fact that gay people exist would be a crime.

What is particular odd is conservatives have repeatedly demanded schools be used for actual indoctrination — for the pushing of theological doctrines on students by state officials.

Shapiro goes one step further and argues corporations are left leaning when they do anything depicting LGBT characters. He wants “market pushback” but corporate policies are already in line with the opinions of most Americans when it comes to equality of rights. What Shapiro means by “the market” isn’t the actual free market, it is what self-appointed gurus such as him believe, the market be damned. He wants his petty prejudices to replace the opinions of the wider society.

The Public Religion Research Institute just released their most recent opinion polls. They report:

Nearly eight in ten Americans (79%) favor laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, including 41% who strongly support them. One in five Americans (20%) oppose such laws, including just seven percent who strongly oppose them. Support for these protections has increased over the past few years, with around seven in ten Americans favoring nondiscrimination provisions in 2015 (71%), 2017 (70%), 2018 (69%), and 2019 (72%), up to 76% in 2020.

Most Democrats (89%), independents (82%), and almost two-thirds of Republicans (65%) favor nondiscrimination provisions for LGBTQ people. Since 2015, support increased nine percentage points among Democrats (78% to 89%) and independents (73% to 82%). Support among Republicans has also increased, but only by a few percentage points (61% to 65%).

Most the public doesn’t agree with the likes of Shapiro, or Kirk, or any of the other professional cry babies who supplanted intellectualism on the Right. Anyone, according to Shapiro, who thinks it’s a good thing for entertainment to reflect the diversity of a free country, is labeled a “radical activist” by him. That would mean, if Shapiro believes what he says, he thinks 80% of the public are radical activists!

Kirk sinks quickly into a major grift trying to pump people to buy “excellent products for you to use” from him. He complains, “If corporations decide to go woke, there must be competitors who assure that they will go broke.” There are plenty of people willing to turn a profit pandering to hate. Perhaps he doesn’t believe what he spews out and it’s just a way to separate the rubes from their money.

Sadly for Shapiro’s whine there are competitors and always have been. It’s just Baby Ben and his views are in the minority. They started a culture war and lost.

Most the public doesn’t see non-discrimination policies as problematic. What Shapiro calls woke, they call decency. But decency, these days, is in short supply in conservative circles.

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James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.