• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Abigail Shrier: The Consequence Of Censorship

January 2021

The real consequence of censorship, of the quiet, though deliberate concealment of an uncomfortable truth, or the heavy-handed bludgeoning of an invidious opinion, is, more often than not, unintended.

Instead of achieving the suppression of the scandalous work against which it’s been employed, or limiting the reach and influence of the perspective for which it clearly hasn’t any tolerance, censorship usually falls far short of its aim. Indeed, so short does it fall, that the contrary effect is often invited, and nearly always arrives. The relationship is, in a word, both inevitable and inverted, and the phenomenon is an interesting one to behold.

The further a work’s concealment and suppression is pursued, the wider its popularity and fame expands. The more vehemently its author’s character is abused and her motives distorted, the more sympathy and latitude she’s granted. The more refractory the censor stands in his decision to shield from the public’s view the novelty of her work, the less controllably the lower class’ curiosity simmers. While he tries to lessen that type of thinking by which ideological temperatures are raised, and difficult questions provoked, they begin to boil.

The more the censor tries to darken those contents to which none but he is deemed privy, of which none but he can be judge, the brighter the light of inquiry will shine forth on its truth, and the greater the number of people who will flock to seat themselves in the warmth of its heat.

In most cases, or at least those to which our recent history can point, the censor fails to catch the object by which his enmity was provoked, it being, remarkably, the far nimbler of the two. Ideas, as they turn out, are rather evasive things. They’re lithe, wriggling creatures onto which none can hold, while he who seeks their destruction is a different beast.

Ponderous, hidebound, illiberal, and dumb, he’s suspicious of every novelty, and intolerant of all diversity. Yet at times, he can be enflamed with bursts of energy and torrents of zeal by which his lumbering heft is hastened toward its goal.

But should he, like the dog and the car after which he gives so relentless a chase, succeed in catching the shiny jewel of his pursuit, and touch with tongue outstretched the distant bone by which so many canine teeth are tempted, its retention is never so secure.

Having now touched the object by which his censorious efforts were once aroused, he’ll be met with a larger difficulty still: to persist in holding beneath his thumb, or, as is the case, his dagger-laden paw, the book, the article, the comment, or the annoying idea atop which he wants nothing better than to force his imperious weight, and into which he’d enjoy nothing more than to thrust his flesh-cleaving teeth.

But, frustratingly, the object of his censorship won’t sit still. With a shake of its hips, and a turn of its feet, and a vigorous thrust of its indomitable spirit, it quickly dances out of his grip, and declares itself forevermore, free. It won’t submit to the censor, for it knows not how.

I think about this peculiar dance, this frightful game of attack and chase, as I return to my bookshelf Abigail Shrier’s recent work, Irreversible Damage. Normally, this isn’t the kind of book for which I’d willingly pay, about whose contents I’d feel the slightest bit curious, of which I’d care, frankly, to be the owner. Had it made an earlier appearance at the local library to which, as though a religious, hebdomadal hajj, I go every Monday night, and had not the leviathan sellers of such things (namely, Target and Amazon) threatened its removal from their stores and sites, I probably wouldn’t have completed the purchase.

But, as you might’ve guessed, I did. Out of disgust for those by whom she was so rudely censored, and with support for a writer who’ll dare swim against the tide, I enthusiastically purchased Shrier’s work. And now I can say, having completed it, Shrier’s book is one by which, to my continued surprise and satisfaction, a reader will be both unnerved and captivated, startled and enlightened.

With extraordinary insight, laudable boldness, and unexpected empathy, Shrier writes in her book about the strange issue of our time, an issue from which only an exiguous number of people appear to suffer, over which a stridently vocal group of activists clamor, to whom our progressive political class grants every thinkable concession. This issue, of course, is the phenomenon, or craze—to use Shrier’s term—of transgenderism. It’s a word that’s only recently entered the modern, woke lexicon with which we, speakers of English and believers in biology, are only slowly developing fluency. Yet it’s one with which we might do well to become more familiar, as it commands an ever-increasing hold on our attention, and purchase in our politics.

I tend not to regard the perversions of one’s mind an issue about which I, as a free individual wishing myself, as I do others, a life unmolested and unbothered, ought to be concerned. The endless range of sexual identities by which one’s mind might be clouded, and the social pressures to which she’s nearly defenseless to succumb, warrant only my sympathy, never my intervention. Such, generally speaking, was my position on the “transgender issue”, as it’s recently come to be known, until I began noticing some disconcerting events upon which, with great perspicacity, Shrier dauntlessly touches.

In some countries, by the edicts of laws and, more importantly, the muscle of the regime by which they’re enforced, one mustn’t deviate, even unintentionally, from using a person’s “preferred” pronoun. That, for those unacquainted with the idea, is the chosen word by which a person would like, henceforth, to be called, to which her biology (of which we’re now compelled to take no notice) might loudly object. In repudiation of nature—Mother to us all and guide to a balanced life—from whom, in search of tranquility and happiness, we’d do well never to stray, we’re told to disregard Her mandate and embrace the whim of another. To fail to do so would be not only tasteless, but criminal, as is the case.

There are, shockingly, still more phenomena on which to comment, of which Shrier makes a reader aware. Some places of high culture and medical institutions of great merit are advancing the idea that the birth certificate, that first official document by which one’s entrance into the world is marked, should be unblemished by the detestable designation of “sex”. Not wanting to preordain one’s life or complicate the hypothetical, future struggle by which she’ll be vexed, many want this important part of a birth certificate to be expunged. Much as Anabaptists subject not their infants to the early ablutions of the Roman Church, and await their members to choose for themselves a sacrament improved by its acceptance in a state of reason, a baby, perforce, has no ability to agree to the “given” sex with which she’s so hastily stamped. Let lapse a decade, and let her make the decision then.

Most disconcerting of all, we see the phenomenon of transgender women (that is, biological males) tossing their hats into the arena of sports with the sincere intention of competing with their fellow gals. This, obviously, creates a warped scenario by which the transgender women are greatly advantaged, and the biologicwomen with whom they “compete”, largely overwhelmed and, as scoreboards make clear, consistently defeated. How is the natural woman, fit, focused, and twenty years of age, truly expected to compete with her transgender opponent, a being in a state of medical metamorphosis through whom, whether she liked it or not, well-neigh two decades of erection-inducing, beard-growing, muscle-rippling testosterone has already flowed?

Are we supposed to applaud his (or her) accomplishments when they come at the former’s expense, and crown as deserving his disproportionate brawn and the dubious effort through which it was channeled? Are we to subject our young women and girls to the embarrassment and futility of racing, fighting, defending against, or attempting to score on those who play on the “transitioning” team, a clearly superior side to which, thanks to the cruelty of their feminine genes, the “natal” ladies will forever be unequal?

The same people who’d prefer you not to read Shrier’s book—those of the Progressive ilk by whom, to the realization of that aim, our brave authoress has been personally attacked and professionally censored—would wish you not to think about these things. Never mind those nasty questions listed above, by which the conscience is burdened and Leftist outrage enflamed. They ascend not to the heights of polite conversation and genteel inquiry. Indeed, they are, in some way, an expression of or an invitation to “violence”.

It’s for this very reason that I now commit myself to thinking about them all the more, despite my natural disinclination to do so. The censorship of Shrier’s work has only further piqued one reader’s interest, and provoked him to part with the contents of an otherwise unforthcoming wallet. Contrary to its intention, it’s sure to do to others precisely what it did to me. That, I think, is the real consequence of censorship, at least when it occurs in a nation Constitutionally accustomed to being free.

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