Thursday, April 21, 2022

The New Class Chasm in the Culture Wars

A really amazing bit of reporting here, from Batya Ungar-Sargon, at RealClearPolitics:

Judging by Twitter, cable news, or our politicians, LGBTQ identity is once again at the front of the culture wars in America, which is ironic given how little debate there is among everyday Americans. A closer look at how this issue is being weaponized reveals something interesting about our current moment.

When it comes to transgender debates, leftist journalists, politicians, and activists have positioned themselves as the defenders of LGBTQ rights against a bigoted anti-gay Republican Party. But in overlaying the transgender issue with gay rights writ large, progressive activists are conflating two issues, one of which is no longer controversial. It’s a category error that allows them to posture as warriors in a war that has already been won, while what they are actually doing is waging a new war that has little purchase even on their own side.

The latest example of this is a much-discussed Washington Post article published Tuesday which doxxed the woman behind an anonymous Twitter account, @libsoftiktok. She reposts videos from TikTok of educators bragging about teaching toddlers to masturbate, or teaching 6-year-olds that doctors sometimes misgender babies, or arguing that 3-year-olds are old enough to learn about gender identity, or having a Q&A with students about coming out trans. The videos amplified by the account have made their way onto conservative media and from there into conservative legislation, which was the impetus behind the Washington Post hit piece.

“Libs of TikTok has become a powerful force online, shaping right-wing media, impacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage,” the article’s author, journalist Taylor Lorenz, tweeted.

Putting aside the shoddy ethics of doxxing a private citizen for curating already public content, the Washington Post story rather disingenuously whitewashed the actual content of the videos that @libsoftiktok posts. For example, instead of stating what was in a video featuring a woman explaining how she teaches toddlers to touch their private parts, the article only notes that @libsoftiktok called the woman in it a “predator” and that the video went on to be featured on Fox News.

There’s a tell in that obfuscation: The Washington Post probably doesn’t want to defend the “sexy summer camp” counselor teaching toddlers to masturbate, a view that few trans people would defend, so instead it resorts to calling anyone who opposes such education anti-gay. The article characterizes @libsoftiktok as “a steady stream of TikTok videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, often including incendiary framing designed to generate outrage.” Instead of telling you what’s in the videos, it tells you what @libsoftiktok says about them.

It's a cunning move, one that allows progressives like Lorenz and her readers to portray opponents of strangers teaching 3-year-olds about sexual identity as moral perverts. This brilliant subterfuge leaves the reader with the feeling that she has gotten to know a dastardly person tweeting into the ether, without ever letting on that the captions are about actual content that is often disturbing even to people on the left (hence why they won’t defend the videos).

Lorenz accuses @libsoftiktok of participating in the “groomer” discourse without ever once describing any of the videos that led the account to do so – videos even the most ardent defender of LGBT rights would be hard pressed to defend.

Interestingly, none of the people defending the doxxing of a private citizen have argued that anything @libsoftiktok has posted hasn’t been real or true. They have instead acted like the content is true – and thus must be stopped. “Libs of TikTok is basically acting as a wire service for the broader right-wing media ecosystem,” Ari Drennen, LGBTQ program director for Media Matters, told Lorenz.

In other words, the problem isn’t that the information isn’t true, but that the truth is getting out there...

Keep reading.