Tony Perkins
Image: YouTube/Fox News

Thursday, Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) reminds us of his willful ignorance regarding transgender people. Perkins writes: Mind-boggling: Prof refuses to call male student ‘ma’am,’ may get fired. The male student is a transgender woman. What is mind-boggling is Perkins’ dependence on ancient texts. His reliance causes Perkins to insist that gender is synonymous with sex. It transforms faith and religion into noxious superstition.

Wednesday I wrote about Nicholas K. Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio. Meriwether was criticized by his employer for not having the common courtesy to address a student, a transgender woman, with appropriate pronouns. Indeed, Meriwether went out of his way to express his religious disapproval.

Unsurprisingly, ADF now represents Meriwether. It strikes me that none of these Christian extremists know anything about the student. She probably has more integrity than Mr. Perkins (which is no great accomplishment) and she might be a smart, personable academic superstar. The only thing that matters to these people is that she is transgender and, supposedly, she presents a challenge to their book.

Getting back to Mr. Perkins:

Nicolas [sic] Meriwether teaches philosophy, but he might lose his job over grammar! Turns out, calling a male student “sir” puts you on the wrong side of America’s brave new battle over pronouns.

The above is just stupid. The controversy is whether or not a transgender student, Alena Bruening, is entitled to be addressed in gender-appropriate terms. The idea that this has anything to do with grammar is moronic. One has to wonder whether or not Perkins’ constituency would “amen” such idiocy.

Like a lot of educators, Meriwether assumed that biology was pretty self-explanatory. Just because a guy wants to be called a girl doesn’t mean he is one. His employers at Shawnee State University in Ohio beg to differ. When Nicolas refused to call a male student “ma’am” or “she,” he was hauled into his bosses’ office and slapped with a personnel violation. According to administrators, acknowledging someone’s biological sex with the right pronoun “creates a hostile environment.”

His employers are not alone. Medical science has overwhelmingly concluded that gender exists as a separate construct from sex. Polite society accepts the science. Most sane, rational people accept the science. Most courteous people believe that someone should be addressed as they choose to be addressed.

None of the people criticizing the university or demonstrating their disapproval of Ms. Bruening have demonstrated the least bit of empathy, let alone class or intelligence. The legal complaint claims that Ms, Bruening was very hostile to Meriwether. She asked to be referred to in female terms and Meriwether declined.

Deadnaming a transgender person or referring to them with incorrect pronouns is as odious as some of the racist or anti-Semitic terms in our collective vocabulary. Allegedly — repeat, allegedly — Bruening responded to Meriwether with “so then I am free to refer to you as a cunt.”

Alliance Defending Freedom makes a big deal over Bruening’s alleged profanity but it has nothing to do with Meriwether’s behavior. It is irrelevant because it is after the fact. It might subject Ms. Bruening to discipline if the allegation can be corroborated but it is entirely distinct from the discourtesy of a college professor towards a student who is, in effect, a customer of the university.

It is pointless to continue with Perkins’ polemic. He goes on to posture as if gender does not exist. He refuses to understand that there is little difference between the professor’s conduct and referring to me in anti-Semitic terms.

Perkins is very much like Trump. His appalling ignorance is willful. He does not understand because he does not want to understand. Trump and Perkins are both cynics. Both men are willing to assert just about anything, no matter how preposterous, if they believe that the claim serves their interests.

Mr. Perkins is greedy for money and greedy for power. His “mulligan” has permanently damaged his reputation (to the extent that a hate group leader might have a positive reputation). What should we expect from Perkins, a man with direct ties to the Ku Klux Klan?

Eventually Perkins concludes:

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has already said that the Equality Act – which would nationalize punishments like Shawnee State University’s – will be a “top priority.” “In the House,” he explained, “the majority will signal a piece of legislation is a top priority by assigning it a bill number between 1 and 10. Leader Pelosi has decided the Equality Act will get one of these priority bill numbers, indicating its importance to House Democrats.”

Aside from the willful ignorance, Mr. Perkins is thoroughly dishonest. The Equality Act cannot force people to be courteous. Nor does it punish discourtesy. The Act would have no relevance to this issue.

Perkins also knows that the Equality Act has no chance of becoming law while Republicans have a majority in the Senate and while Trump is in office. It should become law but it will not — for now. Spreading fear is very important to Tony Perkins. It is his sole motivational device which means that Perkins is intellectually impotent.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.