I shared with my mom this conversation regarding Canada's Bill C-116. A conversation on the nature of free speech opened with a trigger warning. If I weren't already sensitized to the issue, I would have been appalled. I thank our G-d that we aren't here yet in the United States, but we're moving in this direction:
Harassment motivated by gender is a form of discrimination.…
For example, refusal to use a transgender employee’s preferred name, pronoun, or title may constitute unlawful gender-based harassment.
New York City Gender Identity/Gender Expression: Legal Enforcement Guidance Leaving aside the obvious problems—like a man deciding he's a woman to walk into a woman's shelter or locker room—I think this runs up against our First Amendment rights to free speech:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This amendment is based on the premise that the free expression of our ideas, and the give and take that follow therefrom, will give us an opportunity to challenge ourselves, to examine our thoughts and those of others, and come to a better question, maybe even approach a truth, although yours and mine might be completely different.
And sometimes a person's thoughts are given by hate. And we, as a society have chosen te protect that expression of hate as a part of our marketplace of ideas. See for instance, National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977). And on the other hand, we like to be nice, and we'd like the people around us to be nice, and most of us are, but to try to legislate niceness, or respect, or restraint of offense, just does not jive with how our system is set up.
So I thought I'd share with you my Trigger Warning:
Dear United States Citizen:
You've got no right not to be offended. If someone wants to call you or me Kike, Kraut, Yank, WASP, redneck, geezer, fag, gimp, cow, four-eyes, or even a hamster, that's his right. If he wants to call a he a she, a she a snowflake, his dog Prince William, he can do that too, at least in America. And the person who does this might be a sick, twisted, sad, excuse for a human being, but we don't jail people for that.
It's words, and words can hurt, but we're okay with that. Because at the end of the day, we trust that you will figure out that what someone else calls you means about as much about you as if they were to call you an artichoke.
It's what you call yourself, and how you live into that that counts. And if someone calls you something you don't like, it's up to you to engage him and maybe change his point of view, or to walk away, and leave him believing what he does.
And if you don't like it, you can create your own damned safe room. You can use advanced filters on your devices so that your world is one big echo chamber of your happy thoughts. You can carefully select your associates so that everyone thinks like you, and you can live out your poor, deluded life, completely oblivious of the rest of the world, if that's what you want. This is part of the promise of being an American. You may pursue your own happiness.
What you may not do is require me to think like you, however right you may think you are. This is definitely un-American. This is what our freedom of speech guarantees. Not only must I let you believe what you believe and afford you the freedom to express yourself, but you must do the same for me. I trust that engaging with other-think, we might actually grow as a human beings.
You don't have to engage, but I invite you to. Just like you don't have to listen to me and I don't have to listen to you. If I think your desire to be called ze is a symptom of an infantile impulse to try to foist your world view on me, or even if I just think it's stupid, or I think you are stupid, or deluded, I've a right to share my belief.
Might you perceive it as hostile? Sure. I might even have intended it that way. But then again, it's just a belief, and belief is protected, and what I believe is that if we just engage we'll find some way to talk so that we do respect each other, and maybe I will end up calling you ze, but don't demand it of me.
You might want to ask yourself if my calling you he or she (when you want something else) is any less hostile than, for instance, the refusal to call Donald Trump by his proper title, and then commit to creating actual connection so we don't default to hostile attitudes toward those we don't know, or yet understand.
This is of course much simpler than me demanding you refer to me as “Most Noble and Just Arbiter of all that is Good and Right in the Universe,” which is my preferred name (pronoun “Messiah” ) for purposes of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which conforms to my identity as Shotgun-kin. For the less informed out there, Otherkins are the up-and-coming protected class.
I guess all that was just a preamble to this warning:
I will speak my mind. If you are in any way a thinking person, you are highly likely to be offended. If you are not, you are likely to be even more offended.
If you are okay with that, hang around. We'll have some lively discussions, a great campaign, and we'll come out with a better world.
If not, go away, and hope you don't have to call me “President” in a few short years.
David R. Herz
Herz for President