What Lia Thomas and Covid have in common
Denying biological reality rarely ends well
A few weeks ago this email rolled in. The writer is a graduate school professor who has been on Team Reality from the start.
About half the class laughed out loud.
All but the most blinkered among us know that our public discourse is bizarre and broken. To state simple, obvious truths is to risk job loss - as well banishment from the digital town squares that are our most crucial spaces for conversation, debate, and political organizing.
Anyone with eyes can see that Lia Thomas is biologically male.
She may think of herself as female, she may wish to identify as female, we may all agree to accept her wishes because doing so is simpler than not doing so for both her and for us, but Lia Thomas is biologically male.
I am Photoshopped, hear me roar:
Here’s something the media does its best not to report. Thomas is swimming significantly more slowly now than she did three years ago as Will Thomas. If she reached those times - times she set as a good but not great male college swimmer - she would be the fastest female swimmer in the world by far.
This is not evidence Thomas’s testosterone blockers are “working.” This is evidence that women and men are not the same. (It may also be evidence that Thomas is now sandbagging, deliberately slowing her times because she is now aware that if she wins by too much she’ll create a backlash.)
This is an absurd form of competition. A demonstrably superior athlete is being handicapped with powerful drugs to keep the illusion of fair play.
But what’s doubly absurd is that EVERYONE KNOWS THE TRUTH. (With the exception of a handful of very loud ideologues and the bluechecks whose careers depend on the delicate denial of reality.)
One day the left will have to explain how sex - chromosomally immutable sex - is a matter of personal choice, but race - which is FAR murkier biologically and culturally - is fixed at birth. Which is to say nobody would be telling Will Thomas how wonderful he was if he’d decided three years ago to let the world know he now identified as African-American and intended to darken his skin so we could all play along too.
But that day is not yet here. Today to state these simple truths is to be branded a “transphobe.” Only people like me - people without jobs or social media accounts to lose - can say them.
And for the best part of two years, to state the simple truth that Covid poses almost no risk to any non-elderly adult in even decent physical condition was to be branded a “Covid denier.”
Even now, to point out that the mRNA vaccines do nothing to prevent Covid infection and transmission is nearly verboten, unless the words “but they do a great job of preventing severe illness and death” are immediately attached. (No. They don’t. If they did the course of the last 15 months would have been very different, and 90-plus percent of the people who die of Covid in Britain would not be vaccinated.)
But after two years, everyone knows the truth. Ask a roomful of students if they trust public health authorities, and they laugh.
Laughter is a cathartic response to the absurdities of the lies we face. But laughter is not enough. Laughter is the safe out. It allows the lies to remain overtly unchallenged.
We must challenge them. We must resist the efforts to rewrite history that is barely history at all, that in some cases is less than a year old. Or else we will truly be living in the world Orwell described in 1984:
History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains.
And, more pithily:
The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.
Don’t just laugh at the lies.
Stand for the truth.