David Thompson offers a whole year’s worth of reasons intelligent, rational people despair of the very concept of “human” “progress” as nothing more than a laughable conceit.
The year began with a tale of oysters and college lesbianism, via Bon Appétit magazine, in which Brooklynite pronoun-stipulator Isha Maratha was keen to overshare. For Ms Maratha, “My first time eating an oyster was an act of queer intimacy.” Indeed, we were told by an obliging editor, “The act of eating an oyster uniquely and intimately expresses her queerness.” And so, we were regaled, at length, with descriptions of mollusc-gobbling, stolen glances, and lemon wedges being squeezed. “There is something uniquely unspoken,” we learned, “between the eater and the eaten.”
We also pondered mass fare-dodging, now at record levels, and its progressive defenders – including those employed to maintain public transport – and whose pre-emptive disapproval of anyone noticing such crimes was remarkable in its vehemence and uniformity. The effects on social trust of a large and growing minority disregarding the law and norms of behaviour, and doing so with a learned impunity, is apparently something one shouldn’t – and mustn’t – register or explore. Because, in the progressive world, noticing habitual and brazen thievery is much worse than indulging in it. And obviously racist.
And we visited the pages of Scientific American, where wokeness is ascendant and thinking simply isn’t done. In particular, an “important analysis” piece in which we were urged – by Tracie Canada, a “socio-cultural anthropologist” at Duke University – to fret about “the violence Black men experience in [American] football,” and in which we were told that the physicality of the sport “disproportionately affects black men.” This was framed to imply, but never establish, some systemic racial wrongdoing – “anti-Black practices” that are “inescapable” – rather than, say, being an unremarkable reflection of the sport’s demographics, in which, at professional levels, black players are a majority. Or to put it another, no less scientific, way – the risk of injury while playing a contact sport disproportionately affects those who actually play it. When this rather glaring logical error was pointed out by readers, the magazine’s editor-in-chief promptly accused said readers of “systemic racism.”
In February, we encountered a suboptimal substitute teacher named Lydia Lamere – formerly Christopher Lamere – who spent lesson time directing students to his overtly sexual TikTok account, and conscripting middle-school children into his cross-dressing psychodrama. When not discussing “kink” and preferred sexual positions with other people’s eleven-year-old children, Mr Lamere found time to tells us, “I’m not a predator, I’m just a woman who happens to be super tall and hot.”
Matters academic cropped up again via an eye-widening overview of racial “equity” policies in various schools and institutions, where expectations of competence are deemed racist and terribly problematic. In New York City, for instance, thanks to “disparate impact” policies, firefighters are no longer expected to be able to read the instructions on their own firefighting equipment. Likewise, in scrupulously progressive Ontario, it is now illegal to use a maths test to determine whether maths teachers actually possess the knowledge that they are being paid to convey in class. Such is the world of triumphant wokeness, in which “suspending proficiency requirements” – and denouncing diligence and competence as “white supremacy,” a wickedness to be shunned – will somehow “benefit” the children on whom these things are imposed.
We also marvelled at a contrived and unconvincing display of forgiveness by Guardian contributor Anna Spargo-Ryan, whose home was invaded in the night by a gang of sociopaths armed with carving knives. It turns out that when being robbed by habitual predators, the progressive thing to do is to sympathise with the creatures breaking into one’s home and driving off with one’s stuff in one’s own car. Ms Spargo-Ryan was hailed by her peers as a “beautiful person” for gushing with pretentious sympathy for her assailants and for wishing to see the burglars spared the normal corrective consequences, presumably so that they might go on to burgle the homes of others, including her neighbours. Which of course they were busy doing. Though it occurs to me that a person breaking into someone’s home in the middle of the night and stealing their possessions is sending a pretty strong signal about how much concern, or how little, the rest of us should have for that person’s wellbeing.
The Pronoun Game, so very much in fashion, cropped up in March, along with a demand that employers accommodate the made-up identities of insufferable narcissists. Even when those made-up identities can change several times a day, with such changes being signalled via colour-coded pronoun bracelets, pronoun earrings, and other pronoun-stipulating accessories. Accessories that all colleagues would be expected to monitor closely, lest “misgendering” ensue, followed by a visit to Human Resources. A scenario that inspired the question of exactly how much farce in the workplace might be considered excessive.
Thanks to Oxford University’s Department of Biology, we beheld some ostentatious fretting about the “numerous negative consequences” of obscure Latin names that almost no-one knows about. According to Assistant Professor of Conservation Science Ricardo Rocha, some “1,565 species of bird, reptiles, amphibians and mammals” are named after “white, male Europeans from the 19th and 20th centuries,” which is apparently a very bad thing. What with all that whiteness and maleness, you see. This legacy of legwork and exploration is, we’re to believe, oppressing the people of Zimbabwe and Botswana, for whom the Latin textbook names of lizards and beetles are foremost in their minds. We were also assured that would-be botanists and biologists are in some way being psychologically injured by the existence of this Latin taxonomy, and by the fact that much of the “flora of New Caledonia” is “named after a man.”
Read on for the rest of it, there’s lots more yet to come, alas.