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Controversy at BYU - Professor and her "Trans" child.


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From the Tribune:  BYU prof becomes bullying target after mentioning her trans child in class

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Mentioning her transgender child during a class on “eternal marriage” was an authentic, vulnerable moment for Brigham Young University family life professor Sarah Coyne.

But it was hardly momentous.

After all, Coyne has described briefly her child’s years of wrestling with gender dysphoria, including suicidal thoughts and agonizing mental health issues, during this particular lecture every semester she has delivered it.

It is meant to humanize LGBTQ issues facing young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she says, while also providing the faith’s perspective about them.

I think this is an important issue.  We need to be cognizant of and compassionate about gender dysphoria and the various and serious psychiatric comorbidities that frequently go along with it.

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“It’s a beautiful class,” Coyne says. “Lots of students are hugging and crying. It feels like we are there for each other.”

The Cougar Chronicle article has a someone different tack on Prof. Coyne's presentation:

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On Thursday, March 30, a BYU professor revealed to her SFL200 “The Eternal Family” class that her eight-year-old son was “diagnosed with gender dysphoria” after taking him to a professional as he would frequently play with Barbies and dress in girls’ clothes.

According to our sources, throughout the class, Professor Sarah Coyne presented photos of her son doing such things as evidence of his gender dysphoria. Julie Jarvis, a junior at BYU, described herself as “shocked and saddened” by the class. Julie added, “As someone studying families and hoping to work with children both professionally and personally for the rest of my life, my heart went out to this little boy and all those like him whose parents are confusing them in the most destructive way.” 

Coyne concluded the class by inviting everyone to sing the children’s hymn “I’ll Walk With You” while continuing to present the slides of her young, cross-dressing son. Notably, the hymn describes a child walking with someone who feels left out as a demonstration of their Christ-like love towards others. Julie told of her confusion about the singing, and stated:

“There were students crying and hugging while I sat in shock, still trying to wrap my mind around what was so casually presented to us. Another student noticed I wasn’t singing and asked what was wrong… When I pointed out that she had, in essence, told us that her son was transgender, he was surprised. He, like so many others in the class, had been distracted by the professor’s virtue signaling and didn’t even realize what had been shown and taught to us not five minutes prior.” 

In subsequent classes, the she continued to describe herself as the parent of a “transgender child,” also referring to her son as “they.”
...
SLF200 fulfills “The Eternal Family” religious course required by BYU and is also offered as a religious elective class. The class intends to teach “The Family Proclamation,” “teachings of latter-day prophets,” and “relationship science shown to contribute to the formation of healthy marriages and families.”

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states in its General Handbook that the “intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation is biological sex at birth” and, therefore, is an eternal characteristic. Members are counseled against social transitioning, or “presenting oneself as other than his or her biological sex at birth.”

Prof. Coyne is describing her eight-year-old son as "transgender," and also as having "gender dysphoria" (the two concepts apparently do not precisely overlap).

Back to the Trib article:

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Last month, though, the description of her child made it into a critical article in a conservative off-campus newspaper, The Cougar Chronicle, which was retweeted by Utah Sen. Mike Lee on his personal Twitter account, with the remark: “Commonplace at most universities, but BYU?”

After Lee’s tweet, which attracted tens of thousands of views, Coyne became the target of online bullying and hostile emails.

Prof. Coyne should, of course, not be bullied.  But "bullying and hostile" is often an "eye of the beholder" thing.  Her actions in class while teaching at BYU are fair game for both critique and criticism.

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One commenter wrote that the headline should be “former BYU professor speaks.” Another said “send her packing.…Maybe she took too many pills while pregnant.” A third urged “purge every heretic.”

And there’s this: “The woke/Satan mind virus has been allowed to take over/infiltrate BYU.”

Lee’s office declined to comment on his tweet or remark.

I don't really agree with this.  Senator Lee's Tweet was well within the bounds of decorum and propriety, and he is not responsible for intemperate remarks by commenters.

Moreover, those intemperate remarks - assuming they were written by members of the Church - do not comport with the counsel given to us recently by Pres. Nelson in his "Peacemakers Needed" address during General Conference:

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I find myself wondering if the contaminated scalpel that landed in my arm was any more toxic than the venomous contention that infects our civic dialogue and too many personal relationships today. Civility and decency seem to have disappeared during this era of polarization and passionate disagreements.

Vulgarity, faultfinding, and evil speaking of others are all too common. Too many pundits, politicians, entertainers, and other influencers throw insults constantly. I am greatly concerned that so many people seem to believe that it is completely acceptable to condemn, malign, and vilify anyone who does not agree with them. Many seem eager to damage another’s reputation with pathetic and pithy barbs!

Anger never persuades. Hostility builds no one. Contention never leads to inspired solutions. Regrettably, we sometimes see contentious behavior even within our own ranks.
...
My dear brothers and sisters, this should not be. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be examples of how to interact with others—especially when we have differences of opinion. One of the easiest ways to identify a true follower of Jesus Christ is how compassionately that person treats other people.

The Savior made this clear in His sermons to followers in both hemispheres. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” He said. “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” And then, of course, He gave the admonition that challenges each of us: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Before His death, the Savior commanded His Twelve Apostles to love one another as He had loved them. And then He added, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire—no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.
...

The Savior’s Atonement made it possible for us to overcome all evil—including contention. Make no mistake about it: contention is evil! Jesus Christ declared that those who have “the spirit of contention” are not of Him but are “of the devil, who is the father of contention, and [the devil] stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” Those who foster contention are taking a page out of Satan’s playbook, whether they realize it or not. “No man can serve two masters.” We cannot support Satan with our verbal assaults and then think that we can still serve God.

My dear brothers and sisters, how we treat each other really matters! How we speak to and about others at home, at church, at work, and online really matters. Today, I am asking us to interact with others in a higher, holier way. Please listen carefully. “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” that we can say about another person—whether to his face or behind her back—that should be our standard of communication.

If a couple in your ward gets divorced, or a young missionary returns home early, or a teenager doubts his testimony, they do not need your judgment. They need to experience the pure love of Jesus Christ reflected in your words and actions.

If a friend on social media has strong political or social views that violate everything you believe in, an angry, cutting retort by you will not help. Building bridges of understanding will require much more of you, but that is exactly what your friend needs.

Contention drives away the Spirit—every time. Contention reinforces the false notion that confrontation is the way to resolve differences; but it never is. Contention is a choice. Peacemaking is a choice. You have your agency to choose contention or reconciliation. I urge you to choose to be a peacemaker, now and always.

Good counsel, this.  

Back to the Trib article:

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Why did something so personal become a partisan pingpong ball for a Republican U.S. senator, she wonders, especially in the wake of church President Russell M. Nelson’s General Conference call for members to be peacemakers?

“Trans kids have been villainized on a really awful level,” she says. “[Our families] have become a political story when we are just trying to live.”

This is a strange comment in a few ways:

First, the "something so personal" became something else because Professor Coyne chose to make it so.  She publicized her minor son's mental health struggles, apparently several times over ("Coyne has described briefly her child’s years of wrestling with gender dysphoria, including suicidal thoughts and agonizing mental health issues, during this particular lecture every semester she has delivered it").

Second, Senator Lee didn't "villainize" anyone, but the Trib is tying Prof. Coyne's remark to his.

Third, I'm not sure that a comment by a politician about X automatically makes X "a political story."  Senator Lee was commenting about BYU, not about any piece of legislation, nor any senatorial investigation or activity.  

Gender dysphoria is a serious mental health condition.  Fortunately, it "does not persist in most children past puberty."  Moreover:

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Childhood social transitions (name changes and presenting as the opposite sex using hairstyles and dress) were also shown to be important predictors for persistence of gender dysphoria into adolescence, especially for boys (see Figure 2). The reasons for this are currently unknown. The independent role and impact that social transitions play on persistence has never been studied. It may be that social transitions make it easier to persist in their new gender identity or conversely it may make it more difficult psychologically for the gender dysphoria to resolve and for children to desist. Long term studies are urgently needed in this area.

steensma-2013-social-trans.jpg?w=406&ssl

The latest follow-up study of boys experiencing gender dysphoria (Singh, Bradley, Zucker, 2021) shows the same result as the earlier studies:

“Of the 139 participants, 17 (12.2%) were classified as persisters and the remaining 122 (87.8%) were classified as desisters.”

CONCLUSION: Most children grow out of their gender dysphoria as they reach adolescence. Social transitions and/or puberty blockers are frequently used to ameliorate symptoms in these children. However, the long-term psychological impact of these therapeutic strategies on children is unknown. Therapeutic approaches for children with gender dysphoria are not evidence based and long-term outcome studies are urgently needed in this area.

I could see how Prof. Coyne's presentation could create confusion and controversy about this topic.  Prof. Coyne is not a passive bystander here.  She is the parent of a child with gender dysphoria.  She is pursuing (or allowing) a course of action (her son's social transition "as" a girl) that will make him more likely to "persist" in his gender dysphoric state.  She has a BS and a PhD in psychology, so she likely knows what she is doing and its ramifications for her son.  

She is apparently actively facilitating these things, and all the while publicizing what she is doing to third parties who lack her training and professional/personal experience ("Coyne concluded the class by inviting everyone to sing the children’s hymn 'I’ll Walk With You' while continuing to present the slides of her young, cross-dressing son").  Plus, our society is full to overflowing with "advocacy" for all sorts of behaviors that are both A) to be celebrated, endorsed and ratified, and B) incompatible with the doctrines, teachings, policies, etc. of the Church.  It is not - or should not be - surprising to see some of Prof. Coyne's students construing her presentation in that way (on BYU campus and during a required course, no less).

Back to the Tribune:

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Not that Coyne doesn’t have plenty of supporters. A student-led petition backing her has drawn hundreds of signatures.

To graduate, students at church-owned BYU are required to take at least one class on eternal marriage.

They can take it from either the religion department, which is mostly theological, or from the social sciences department, taught by scholars such as Coyne, who provide academic research.

In the latter case, she outlined the church’s position as spelled out in its General Handbook, as well as official statements by the faith’s leaders. She went on to highlight perspectives from various scholars.

Coyne presented data that suggests “being religious can be better for queer students than not being,” recalls George Eppel, a student in her class, “depending on how they’re received.”

The discussion then turned to specific ways Latter-day Saints could help LGBTQ members feel that they belong in the Utah-based church, the sophomore from Washington state says. “She shared local resources for queer people.”

I am curious as to what these resources were, and what these resources encourage and advocate.

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At the end of her lecture, Coyne talked about her transgender child and why Latter-day Saints need to care for these members.

The professor “has seen that need to belong in her own family,” the student says, “and the pain that comes when that hasn’t been achieved.”

I entirely agree that "Latter-day Saints need to care for these members."  But there is something of an elision here.  We don't "care" for someone with bulimia by facilitating and encouraging acting out on bulimic impulses.  We don't "care" for someone suffering from suicidal ideations by encouraging them to act on those ideations. 

It is understandable, then, that some students might think that Prof. Coyne is implying that "care" for a child coping with gender dysphoria comes in the form of allowing / facilitating / encouraging him to act on those impulses, particularly given the data showing that the vast majority of children outgrow it.  Prof. Coyne's presentation is apparently being construed by some as just such an encouragement.

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The teacher expressed her support for the church and “her love of the Savior,” Eppel says. “I don’t think anyone could doubt that she’s a dedicated believer.”

Good to hear.

I think she would have been better off at not publicizing the plight of her son, particularly in a way that can be construed as being incompatible with the teachings of the Church.

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At no point did Coyne “promote transitioning or any other practice that was contrary to what the church teaches,” it says in the supportive petition Eppel helped write, “but instead focused on the mental and emotional pain and difficulty that have come with her child’s experience.”

Hmm.  I think Prof. Coyne gave a presentation that might have been reasonably construed by some of her students as "promoting" transitioning.  I will defer to BYU's administration on that point and hope they get it right.

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That fits with the school’s guidelines, according to BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins.

“Class discussions about LGBTQ issues are accepted as long as they do not contradict church doctrine or disparage church leaders,” Jenkins writes in an email. “More generally, while our students are studying and learning at BYU, we want them to feel both the love of the Savior and the joy associated with living his commandments as part of a covenant-keeping community. Faculty have a responsibility to teach both of these messages.”

At BYU, the expectation is that everyone will “strive to clearly articulate and reinforce church positions and university policy without deriding or attacking others,” the spokesperson says, pointing to Nelson’s comments about “how to interact with others — especially when we have differences of opinion.”

If students have a complaint, Jenkins adds, “we encourage them to contact directly their professor. … If an issue cannot be resolved directly with a professor, a student may contact the academic college or department for guidance.”

In today’s highly politicized climate, she says, “when concerns do come forward, the university listens to faculty to make sure their perspective and voices are heard.”

It looks like the administration at BYU is trying to work with everyone hear.  I'm glad to hear it.

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The petition to support Coyne urges the university to “take appropriate action to better protect students and faculty who, because of their association with LGBTQ+ issues, are recipients of hate and discrimination.”

Hmm.  I'm a bit leery about this.  "{T}ake appropriate action to better protect" in an anonymous online petition kinda sorta comes across as code for "punish students who disagree with us."

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And, finally, it invites all people “to stand in solidarity” with Coyne, whom they describe as “a professor, accredited researcher and psychologist, mentor, mother, disciple of Christ, and daughter of God who is doing her best to take care of her child and her family and does not need our criticism or judgment.”

I largely agree with this, which is why I think she ought not to have injected her personal decisions regarding how she is raising her son in relation to his gender dysphoria.  She has apparently been misunderstood.

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For her part, Coyne does not want any of her supporters to attack her critics or engage in harsh exchanges.

“How are we modeling love and compassion,” she asks, “when our top officials in Utah do something like this — taking a family that has gone through so much and call open season on them?”

The Latter-day Saint prophet just gave “a whole talk on being a peacemaker,” Coyne says. That’s the gospel.

Good points, these.  I think Pres. Nelson's talk will continue to pay dividends for those who seek to listen and follow his counsel.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

 

Edited by smac97
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25 minutes ago, pogi said:

She shared something person within the confines of her classroom.  She didn't intend for her personal issue to be opened up for public comment/debate on a larger State and public level with the Senator himself taking opportunity to jab at her with his political posturing. 

Are you saying his comment wasn't about her?

Politics is about more than legislation and senatorial investigations.  This is clear political posturing.  He is rallying up support from his base as an anti-woke hero at the expense of a BYU professors family. 

 

I dunno. Mike Lee posturing? Seems awfully out of character for him. 

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44 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

When the transgender panic runs its course, I wonder what will take its place as the focus of paranoia and hatred from certain quarters. I’m sure they’ll find something. 

I’m waiting for the swing back. With religious upbringing labeled as “grooming” and baptism at age 8 or an infant as “child abuse”. And that will be a sad day. But a foreseeable future if we continue on. 
 

It’s a sad state that conservatives are pushing these days, and if I was still a member I’d hide my head in shame that Mike Lee was a member of my faith. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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1 minute ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I’m waiting for the swing back. With religious upbringing labeled as “grooming” and baptism at age 8 or an infant as “child abuse”. It’s a sad state that conservatives are pushing these days, and if I was still a member I’d hide my head in shame that Mike Lee was a member of my faith. 

I’m a member, so I understand not wanting to be associated with his embarrassing shtick. But he does not speak for me as a church member or BYU alumnus. 

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

Then some hothead runs to the conservative media and predictably we have mass calls to fire the professor, accusations of deviancy and psychopathy, and we have someone getting harassed, bullied, and threatened

Irony alert.

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

When the transgender panic runs its course, I wonder what will take its place as the focus of paranoia and hatred from certain quarters. I’m sure they’ll find something. 

If they win they will probably be emboldened and move on to all queer people in general. If not, they will try to find someone more vulnerable and less defended than transgender people. Gotta punch down.

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3 hours ago, pogi said:

She shared something person within the confines of her classroom. 

Last year Brad Wilcox was raked across the coals for comments he made during a multi-stake fireside.  I don't recall anyone saying his comments were beyond critique or criticism because he made them "in the confines" of a fireside.

She shared something personal in a public forum.  There was no reasonable expectation of privacy.

3 hours ago, pogi said:

She didn't intend for her personal issue to be opened up for public comment/debate on a larger State and public level with the Senator himself taking opportunity to jab at her with his political posturing. 

I think that is not particularly relevant.  The issue is whether she intended to publicly share private details about her son's gender dysphoria.  She did.

3 hours ago, pogi said:
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Second, Senator Lee didn't "villainize" anyone, but the Trib is tying Prof. Coyne's remark to his.

Are you saying his comment wasn't about her?

I am saying Senator Lee didn't "villainize" anyone.

3 hours ago, pogi said:

Politics is about more than legislation and senatorial investigations. 

Yes, I'm familiar with the concept.  It's so potent that it even has a Wikipedia entry about it: The personal is political

3 hours ago, pogi said:

This is clear political posturing.

Everything is "political" in some quarters, it seems.

3 hours ago, pogi said:

He is rallying up support from his base as an anti-woke hero at the expense of a BYU professors family. 

Her public comments are fair game for critique and criticism.  Like Brad Wilcox's.  Or Randy Bott's.

If she doesn't want the public discussing private matters, she should not published those matters to the public.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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8 hours ago, Hamilton Porter said:

See response from the Deznat idiots. She's "promoting an agenda."

As an off-the-cuff reaction to news items, I could see that as a not-altogether-unreasonable impression.  I don't think it is accurate or fair here, though.

Thanks,

-Smac

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4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

A lot of hemming and hawing about how bullying and the like are wrong but complete support for the rhetoric that leads to the bullying.

Nope.

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

The child is 8 years old.

And his mother is publicizing his mental health issues.  Perhaps it would be better to . . . not do that.  

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

There is no real controversy here.

Whiffs of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

The child may or may not want to transition in any way as they get older. Talking about a child crossing gender boundaries is the kind of thing that should be talked about in a class like this.

So publicly discussing the mental health issues of a specific eight-year old is okay in one public venue, but not another?

Why?

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Then some hothead runs to the conservative media and predictably we have mass calls to fire the professor, accusations of deviancy and psychopathy, and we have someone getting harassed, bullied, and threatened by the good Latter-day Saint people. Good job everyone.

"Cancel culture" is indeed not just a leftist/liberal/progressive phenomenon.

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

There isn’t some burning controversy here.

Whiffs of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

This is an excuse to light the torches over something transgender adjacent because we need to fight the great moral panic of our time. Like the other great moral panics before it (gay people, Dungeons & Dragons, interracial marriage, and the weekly satanist black masses where they eat babies) we must call it out endlessly and destroy these evils before they destroy us.

Rile up hate against he vulnerable. It is what Jesus would do. https://www.theonion.com/it-is-journalism-s-sacred-duty-to-endanger-the-lives-of-1850126997

Poisoning the well.  Ad hominem.  Vituperative accusations.  Etc.

Ho hum.

-Smac

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32 minutes ago, smac97 said:

And his mother is publicizing his mental health issues.  Perhaps it would be better to . . . not do that.  

Nice, like you how slipped in that it is a mental health problem as if that were a settled issue. Nice “poisoning the well” bit. 

Also, you are being deliberately stupid. She wasn’t publicizing it. She was sharing it in a relevant classroom setting. She didn’t intend for hate media to pick it up and scream everything in a distorted way to the whole world. I have taught classes and I don’t assume a weirdo is going to take what I said to news organizations since nothing I said was newsworthy.

36 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Whiffs of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

No.

37 minutes ago, smac97 said:

So publicly discussing the mental health issues of a specific eight-year old is okay in one public venue, but not another?

Yes!

38 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Why?

Because in one case the information is used to educate and help others and in the other to defame, intimidate, and threaten. If you can’t see the difference might I suggest working on basic empathy?

39 minutes ago, smac97 said:

"Cancel culture" is indeed not just a leftist/liberal/progressive phenomenon.

The effect has existed throughout recorded history. The cutesy term “cancel culture” is just a rebranding effort to make the targets appear sympathetic without having to address why they are being publicly shamed. Before we would say “Biggus Dorkus is being mocked, lost his job, and is being socially ostracized for saying racist things”. That makes Mr. Dorkus sound like a Dork so now they say: “Biggus Dorkus is the latest victim of cancel culture.” See, hides why they are being ostracized and implies it is a random thing.

The effect was being used to target the powerful and it wasn’t supposed to be used that way so they needed a whiny crybaby term so it sounds like people are being bullied when they say terrible things and then no one wants to be nice to them anymore.

42 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Whiffs of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

Still no. A young kid acting outside of their gender norms is not part of the latest transgender moral panic. Though you know, you may have found an even more vulnerable group to punch down against. Instead of targeting teens and young adults considering transition why not vilify small children with any bit of dysphoria? They have an even harder time fighting back. We can encourage bullying them into conformity, present them as groomers spreading their deviancy, throw the whole kitchen sink at them. I bet you could even get some parents to abuse their children themselves to ensure compliance. We just have to make it sound horrible enough and slyly insinuate that dysphoria is caused by bad parenting. It reuses that fun bit from the old homophobia panic.

Just need a quick scriptural rewrite from “Suffer the little children” to “Make the children suffer” and perfect. I expect credit for this idea. DO NOT STEAL!

48 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Poisoning the well.  Ad hominem.  Vituperative accusations.  Etc.

You’re just randomly listing fallacies at this point. I would point out that you on the other hand provided a good textbook example of “poisoning the well” above. Trust me, you are better at fallacies.

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22 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

When the transgender panic runs its course, I wonder what will take its place as the focus of paranoia and hatred from certain quarters. I’m sure they’ll find something. 

And I've got a sneaking suspicion that it will still probably involve a Kardashian. ;)

 

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I fear that we now live in a world, well more like the “Western World”. A place where most, if not all, will be forced to write, speak, or even think before they dare write or speak, even if they know it to be untrue. In short, Thy now “fear man, more than God”. So many who have incredible intelligence, well versed, and extremely qualified in their chosen professions. Most, if not all must go into the past, living out of fear, could lose a job or profession, dispute being the most qualified, for some long past tweet, or other social medium comment. Even comments so very benign, could still be their undoing. Certain phases are now so overused, they have been watered down to point that  people stop listening. Except for those who are always scanning the internet, that end up with those they dislike, to be terminated. I am not on any side, other than one, that which my calling. The calling that requires the truth to be spoken, on behalf of my Faith and my God. 

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