The Dumbest Cover Story Ever

New York Magazine's "Freedom of Sex" is the ultimate example of the lunatic nihilism that's consumed America's intellectual class

New York Magazine has a new cover story, by the trans writer Andrea Long Chu: “The moral case for letting trans kids change their bodies.” A jeremiad in support of the idea that children must have absolute political agency, it makes the Unabomber manifesto read like a Shakespeare sonnet. The money passage:

We must be prepared to defend the idea that, in principle, everyone should have access to sex-changing medical care, regardless of age, gender identity, social environment, or psychiatric history.

A lot of the piece is standard-issue woe-is-me fuck-everything cartoon nihilism you’d hear from any laptop-class liberal arts product, arguing for a generalized smashing of the patriarchy, among other things by attacking the biological conspiracy to produce those units of material labor value known as babies. Complete abolition of norms would be an “impossible task,” Chu notes sadly, but that doesn’t preclude their “collective reimagining” by an alliance of intersectional victims working toward a Marxian paradise free of “oppressive systems,” which of course include the nuclear family. This brings us to Chu’s big clickworthy idea: child liberation. You’re Teaching ... Miriam Grossman M.D. Best Price: $5.82 Buy New $26.11 (as of 08:32 UTC - Details)

Pop quiz: which of the following passages are from Chu’s New York piece, and which are from a 2008 NAMBLA-published essay, “A Call for Social Justice”?

a) We have a responsibility because of our relative freedom of action to the ideal we espouse of complete liberation for children.

b) For now, parents must learn to treat their kids as what they are: human beings capable of freedom.

Easy, right? The New York passage is “b.” But how about:

a) Legally, children are not owned by their parents, but nonetheless are completely subject to their parent’s domination and consequently, have the status of slaves.

b) Americans tend to imagine children both as a font of pure, unadulterated humanity and as ignorant dependents incapable of rational thought or political agency.

The New York passage is still “b.” One more:

a) From an acceptance of the concept of children’s liberation it is not a large step to the acceptance of the idea of general social liberation for all people. When special cases of discrimination against children are examined, the specialness of the examples diminishes. 

b) For these people, sex itself is becoming a site of freedom. This freedom is not unprecedented… What is new is the idea that this freedom can be asserted as a universal right by a group as politically disenfranchised as the young.

It’s “b” again. Am I comparing pedophile writing to trans advocacy? I am, a little! The “kids… have a right to the hazards of their own free will” idea in Chu’s essay and the NAMBLA-endorsed “children’s liberation” concept aren’t exactly miles apart, but that’s not even the point.

No serious person bothers reading past the headlines of NAMBLA essays because we know no matter how flowery the rhetoric, the endgame is a stranger jonesing to bugger your 13-year-old. As anyone who’s raised children knows, leaving kids to “the hazards of their own free will” is a completely unworkable concept, apart from its outrageousness and moral insanity. The editors of New York should have reached the “Sorry, that’s just fucking stupid” stage one paragraph in. The American intellectual mainstream is now so infected by cowardice before academic shibboleths that it kowtows to ideas the average kindergarten teacher would flunk without a thought.

Chu won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism last year, putting her in the middle of the middle of current ideological orthodoxy. The New York essay perfectly captures the lunatic nihilism American academics have fanned into a mass movement by granting the most idiotic forms of teenage self-absorption the status of wisdom and insight. This has had disastrous consequences, both for society and its ballooning population of over-encouraged young pseudo-intellectuals like Chu. We love our kids and are appropriately fascinated by everything they do, but we don’t put their filled diapers on walls as art. That’s bad parenting, and the editors at New York are guilty of something similar when they give this piece top billing.

Kids now can go straight from the Beavis and Butthead blowing-up-frogs stage of development to college, with nothing but cheering adults and the Internet in between. They’ve read nothing, know nothing, and have been reassured the world revolves around them in the same way adults in medieval times turned child regents into egomaniacs to strengthen the tradition of divine right. Here the plan seems to be graduating waves of narcissistic ignoramuses and encouraging them to continue blowing things up, only switching out frogs for adult targets like familial love or common sense. It’s all in service of a goofball Marxian utopia students used to leave behind by freshman year, but is now an article of faith even among the tenured. Here’s Chu on reasons parents might be concerned about giving pubescent girls puberty blockers:

The specter of mass infertility cannot be underestimated. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the anti-trans movement is driven by a deep, unconscious dread that society will not have enough working female biology to support the deteriorating nuclear family — and, with it, the entire division of sex itself.

Seeking Truth in a Cou... Curtin, Edward Buy New $26.95 (as of 02:59 UTC - Details) Of course, parents who worry over fertility are driven by deep unconscious concern for the general future of demographic replacement, not because they love their own particular daughter and worry she might want to have children someday. Family after all is a material calculation! As Chu writes, sex “functions as a kind of material base, as the Marxist feminists might put it,” being a “source of labor, wealth, and power” in which the “elaborate superstructure of gender” is continually reaffirmed through the production of “assets” called children. Therefore, “if biological sex is part of a material structure of value… society has a concrete interest in any potential gains or losses,” which is why Alabama Republicans want IVF:

The recent rush on the part of the Alabama GOP to enshrine the legality of IVF treatments… is an excellent reminder that many religious conservatives support significant medical interventions in biological sex… when the payoff is a human infant.

These concepts are not hard, no matter how much post-modernist gibberish terminology you pile on to make them seem complicated. People want access to IVF treatments because they’re grownups who want to have children. They’re less excited about “significant medical interventions in biological sex” when the choice is being made by minors and enabled by activists and school officials whose collective medical and psychiatric knowledge could fit in a bee’s anus.

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