Running from the Facts: "Solidifying the echo-chamber" edition

Wokeness is an undisguised circle-jerk that monetizes the neuroses and sins of the affluent, and no one should be fooled into thinking it's about equality of opportunity

Today’s apparently-not-weekly “Running from the Facts” column focuses on a single story, one that typifies the misleading chum appearing in running magazines and other outlets about transgender females and DSD-X,Y athletes who identify as female. The story also captures one of the many shady journalistic practices of The New York Times: “Silent edits,” or changes to online stories made with no explanation of what was added, removed or otherwise amended.

This one was published in April 1, 2020, updated on May 29, 2020, and updated again on March 29 of this year. Other than the dates of these edits—and there may have been more—there’s no way to know without reading through each version what was changed. While this doesn’t automatically imply scurrilous intent, the NYT is among the many prominent outlets that engage in this and other practices that were unthinkable until recent years, and the NYT is not a credible news outlet anymore. Not even close.

I came across this splat of misspent words after learning that the NYT has apparently been publishing a running newsletter for some time, and that the erstwhile generator of that item, Jen A. Miller, was resigning from the role. Her successor is not Jen B. Miller but Talya Minsberg, the story’s authoress.

Like a lot of her purportedly active female peers who now hold and abuse jobs in publishing and editing, Minsberg displays no obvious signs of ever having run a meaningful step in her life, and this article should be a source of ongoing shame for Minsberg and the NYT alike. But in the age of Reddit-level publishing tactics from the top of the left-leaning media on down, an essay displaying all the integrity of a Breitbart piece about Black Lives Matter is in fact beautifully rendered for its enthusiastically blinkered audience.

Minsberg is both a capable writer and aware of the lines she’s supposed to walk with this topic, which makes her output more interesting to debunk than other material in the same vein I’ve already commented on. Perhaps this makes her wokeness more dangerous, too, but in truth, the consumers of the genre don’t really care if the sentence-level writing in what they consume is coherent or even sensible, and neither do the publishers of The New York Times. As with every movement that qualifies as a religion, it’s all about the emotional validation of saying I belong too! Stand up against bad people!

The first whiff of obvious misdirection wafts from this sentence:

Despite a movement in broader society toward endorsing transgender rights, supporters of the Idaho laws said they did not accept people identifying as anything but what was written on their birth certificates.

Apart from “a movement in broader society” carrying exactly no meaning, if Minsberg or anyone else can establish a logical link between public opinion about transgender rights and sane sports policies, fine; now we* can get rid of teaching American kids evolution and require that creationism be taught in high-school biology and geology courses. Relegating people with testes to boys’ sports teams is something that, until recently, would have been uncontroversial to the point at which anyone not agreeing would be gawked at and maybe laughed at a little nervously, as in, “What else is sloshing around in that person’s head?”

In addition, the linked story, also in the NYT, doesn’t establish anything suggested in the sentence containing the link—something Minsberg quickly establishes as an ugly pattern.

But either way, this is not an issue to be determined by referendum—and thanks largely to misinformation outlets like the NYT, the public isn’t informed enough on this or anything to offer a meaningful collective opinion anyway. After all, if no one pays attention to girls’ sports, a common Wokish lament, how could people who don’t even follow men’s sports be trusted to offer informed input on the matter of trans athletes?

The story’s flimsy mask comes off here, for those paying attention:

Some major companies with large facilities in Idaho, including Chobani and Hewlett-Packard, called on the governor, who, like the bills’ sponsors, is a Republican, to veto the bill.

The bills were signed on Monday, a day before the International Transgender Day of Visibility, and passed as Idaho recorded its largest single-day jump in coronavirus cases.

All of which has…zero bearing!

If it’s not clear to you that this is a joke piece by this point, you probably won’t grasp this even with ample prompting. Minsberg’s complete, unoriginal thesis—and the garbage above is just the start of it—is that these bills stem entirely from illiberal Republicans bent on doing any damage they can to progressives. As with all of these awful-ass stories, this completely ignores the many laments from left-of-center voices and, more importantly, legitimately female high-school athletes about this mess.

Even if you’re enough of an idiot to think those legitimately female girls are somehow wrong on principle, you can’t be enough of a sonofabitch to think their grievances should be ignored or treated as bigoted by the liberal media. Or maybe you can.

Next, we* again learn that this dispute is allegedly all about ill intent:

Those who want to limit the participation of transgender athletes have argued that transgender women have a competitive advantage because of their testosterone levels, though those levels can change in hormone treatment.

See? “Want to limit the participation” is as loaded as language gets. To the Wokish, it’s all about someone not just being hurt, but being hurt on purpose by bullies.

This is also where Minsberg expects readers to buy into the myth that if boys elect to call themselves girls, they have stepped into some kind of athletic purgatory, and no longer qualify to compete on boys’ teams. And it’s not just testosterone levels that cause problems here, but the effects of those that linger beyond puberty and physical maturation.

Also, Minsberg doesn’t mention that most of these “girls” aren’t undergoing hormone treatment at all; the NCAA requires trans girls to undergo a year of this physiological misery to become eligible, 19 states plus the District of Columbia currently let grade-school students compete as girls no matter their testosterone level, while 10 others require some treatment, 12 have a blanket ban on biological boys playing on girls’ teams, and nine presently have no official policy.

Next comes more poisoning of the dialectic well, combined with an appeal to authority.

Athletes like the Olympic marathon runner Paula Radcliffe and the tennis star Martina Navratilova have contended that athletes with higher natural levels of testosterone are able to outperform their competitors, especially in some track and field events and in weight lifting competitions. Navratilova later backed away from that view.

Minsberg deserves dubious credit for being really adept at deceptive, slimy persuasion. Having cringed at stabs at the same subject by Lindsay Crouse and other low-wattage bulbs, I perhaps too easily see mere competence as luster in this area, but Minsberg isn’t just a dirtbag; she has the chops to know how to mask it from casual readers. By portraying Navratilova as an antagonist-turned-ally, she’s trying to get you to not notice that athletes like Radcliffe and Navratilova are not the folks in charge of determining what testosterone does in the first place. And she also sneaks in the false idea that testosterone levels, and hence birth sex, are only relevant in certain sports.

Funny thing, though: Since Minsberg first wrote this, Navratilova can be said to have retreated from having backed away from her former views, meaning, she is as staunch as she ever was. Or has Minsberg not heard?

The next two paragraphs pertain to Caster Semenya, failing to identify her as intersex rather than transgender even though Minsberg later introduces the concept of “intersex.” They represent an annoying, nay, triggering collection of words, and I’m only going to quote the kernel around reach the entire sham is constructed:

She has identified as female since birth and has naturally occurring elevated levels of testosterone.

Again, Semenya has testes. There is no such thing as a naturally occurring woman with testes, apart from Semenya being a living human who applies unconventional adjectives to herself. If Lebron James started going on about his naturally occurring menstrual cramps throwing off his fourth-quarter game, it would make just as much sense—and no less.

I would never trust a journalist who does this to ever write honestly about anything, and would hire her only as a propagandist.

This section also contains links to pages that do not support anything Minsberg is trying to say, either though being independently unreliable sources or saying something different from what Minsberg thinks, or at least claims, they do. Since I glumly assume few people follow many of the outgoing links I provide, I’m guessing Minsberg believes the same of her readers, or that they’ll be as confused by unexplained study abstracts as she herself probably is. And it invokes the Michael Phelps fallacy, failing to note that nothing about Phelps’ physiology makes him—let’s think hard about this—not male.

For fuck’s sake, I ask once more, who goes into journalism to do this? Oh, but we’ll* sort that out shortly.

Minsberg then goes on describe the specific situation in Idaho, a section that can be summarized as one long complaint that kids might have to undergo physical exams rather than be taken at their word. The only reason this is being portrayed as new is the furious rush starting within the past few years to normalize a great deal of unwelcome or at least highly suspect weirdness. “Naturally,” Minsberg tries to link this process to increased abuse of transgender youth.

This piece, of course, like all of its type, doesn’t seek any input from lifelong girls—and why on Earth am I even using terms like that?—affected by these policies. You’re to believe that anyone who opposes trans girls in sports is either a right-wing conservative or someone brainwashed by their bad ideas. This is unconscionably bed reporting, and I am out of inverse superlatives to apply to it.

Linking internally to another bad NYT story, Minsberg then mixes in the popular and erroneous statistic that up to 1.7 percent of people are believed to be intersex, which is not even close to the real figure, about 1 in 5,000. But in the end, this does not contribute to the adjudication of the issue, so lying about it is only a useful tactic when you’re already lying about everything of relevance.

The piece concludes—for now, because it will probably have a fresh “Updated” date soon—with Minsberg quoting a transgender woman athlete at length painting her as someone who just wanted to play sports and not bother anyone, which I believe unquestioningly. Part of this quote is ““We don’t want to have any advantage,”  which is also probably 100 percent true but again not the point. This is not a situation in which intent matters; only biology does, which is why liberal reporters and pundits dissemble about that biology.

I've been involved with young women’s competitive running for over 35 years, from watching my schoolmates to coaching high-school teams to being an adviser to individuals. As many of these same pundits emphasize themselves, these runners face a barrage of psychological darts and can stumble into well-being-upending traps from various angles. They get thrown into uniforms that would often be the last thing they would choose on their own for that or any public situation, are forced to think about their size and weight and shape no matter how stoic a constitution they have, get conflicting and bizarre advice from even the best-intentioned coaches, and as female athletes, they rarely receive appreciation commensurate with that of their male peers no matter what they do. It can be, and often is, a great deal of fun, but it is never easy.

Any girl runner who even somewhat successfully negotiates that slippery funhouse for four-plus years, and improves throughout while being a good influence on their teammates and the school community, should not be forced to read this nonsense about confused boys feeling hurt about being "excluded" from the athletic environment they rightly hold dear. Sports teams are among the few things young girls can, to a great extent, actually create and have together; it’s actually sickening to see a bunch of self-interested adult women plodders help screw this arrangement up.

If all you had access to were articles like Milberg’s, you'd think only two kinds of high-school girls existed: Trans girls, who are brand-new girls who somehow possess lifelong, sensitive girl-feelings; and whatever we’re* calling regular girls, who in this formulation are apparently emotionless robots programmed to just accommodate all of this madness—until, that is, they pivot to stories by the same writers about how awful running is for females because everything built by whiteness and the patriarchy is oppressive.

Talya Minsberg really is a despicable journalist. She’s set loose a steamroller of lies with this story, and her punishment is being given even more of a bullhorn in the form of a newsletter gig, albeit one for sub-noobs. Hooray for groupthink! She knows she’s distorting the hell out of this story, as do those who share it and write similar stories of their own. It remains to be seen if and how public opinion starts to diverge from these echo-chamber views, because however loud and intransigent the voices advancing those views are, they still represent a rhetorical island and analytical sham simply for what they leave out, let along the smokescreens and irrelevant bits they include.

And yet for Minsberg and other high-achieving, mostly white and almost entirely female word-generators—and I have no idea how much they make through their various enterprises, but since they lie on the job, anything more than $0 means overpayment—life has become a horror show of hard-to-pin-down-blahs, a subject I will leave for an upcoming post.