On Blacklists and Defamation

Draconian Tactics in the Era of the Medical-Industrial Complex

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

—Upton Sinclair

About one year ago, I was living in the epicentre of COVID-19 and it was quite frightening at the time since nobody knew if this virus was the plague or something far less deadly. My family and I were locked down in a tiny home in a new country where we had just moved and my daughter had a health emergency for which we rushed to the A&E amidst the newly declared pandemic. It was that afternoon when I received a slew of messages warning me that some feminists were defaming me on Twitter. I was accused of having a “sock puppet” apparently, an assertion that made me chuckle since I haven’t had time to eat more than one meal a day and have rarely slept more than five hours a night since last February. If only I had the time and luxury of wealth to spend my days trolling people on Twitter from various accounts! Alas, such are the trivial games of Twitter eliterati who have way too much time on their hands to commit to a CSI-styled Twitter gossip action, even more imagination and likely none of the concerns over their economic survivability that have most of us. 

Recently, however, we have seen a rinse and repeat of these kinds of defamatory actions on Twitter, only the accusations are far more devastating. The latest attacks were made against freelance writer, Jesse Singal whom Brianna Wu, a video game developer—among many others from the self-identified trans movement—claimed to have evidence of his “harassment” and “stalking” trans-identified people. To date, Wu has produced no evidence to back up his claims. 

These accusations came as no surprise to me since I first saw similar attacks made against Singal dating back to his Atlantic feature on trans-identified children in 2018 when Twitter exploded with similar cries in addition to thinly-veiled accusations that Singal’s article would incite the suicide of children. He was accused dozens of time of horrendous actions from threatening to out trans-identified folks to trying to use his position at his former publication to get dates with trans-identified males. Certainly, the gender debate is a hot-button topic on both sides of the aisle, but Singal has approached this topic over the years both respectfully and cautiously to get the facts down while keeping an eye open to new information, even willing to correct himself should the data change.

Between recent articles written by both Jonathan Kay and Singal himself, Singal’s name has been cleared regarding his alleged “transphobia” and “stalking.” Certainly, if journalistic queries for comment and fact-checking were the sole arbiter of stalking and harassment, then every journalist would be guilty of such offences. 

What this latest case of targeted harassment against Singal shows is how mobs enjoy drama every bit as much as those who stir its venomous cauldron. What the hordes like even more, however, are people whose livelihoods can be cut off with the simple stroke of a key. As Kay notes, Singal is “seen as a vulnerable target—because he is a freelancer whose most widely read work is commissioned at the pleasure of editors who have their own reputations to protect. And like most of these editors, Singal is sensitive to the lies that now pollute every Google search of his name…” Add to this, the fact that most every writer who has covered this topic knows that the editors in left-of-centre publications will baulk at running stories that have even a whiff of gender criticism while publications on the right will run these stories for which these writers face the risk that their writing is edited to make their articles fit into a larger right-wing platform. 

It’s easy to make accusations on social media to ramp up a given subject or hashtag as the masses demand more drama—little does it matter if the drama is half-true or not true at all. What does matter to editors is often a contradictory bottom line where publications like Pink News frequently run hatchet jobs aimed at women and writers who won’t kowtow to prescriptive political commentary. Where lies persist in pubic memory, corrections tend to be a second course of the initial drama. Who is going to remember that Singal did not stalk trans-identified people any more that people will see him as one of many victims in the transgender lobby’s takedown of dissenters, one voice at a time? 

However, I have buried the lead here for this is not the whole story. Why on earth did the journalist Michelle O'Toole/Snow send private messages explicitly blackmailing the recipients to either come clean on alleged “child abuse” from gender-critical parents or face being mentioned by name in his article on this subject he alone concocted? Then, the greater question here is why has every writer I have spoken to been harassed by this lobby for months, even years? Remember, this is the lobby which claims to be oppressed but miraculously has the clout to refuse scientific data published by major media platforms dressed up within emotional op-eds. This is the lobby that has so pressured medical institutions to amass changes to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) such that even the trans movement itself is in disagreement if “gender dysphoria” ought to be removed from this manual of mental disorders. This is the lobby which with a few emails or well-placed social media posts has managed to have academics, scientists, psychologists, parents and journalists harassed with their livelihoods frequently threatened and even abruptly terminated. For such an “oppressed” minority, this lobby wields an enormous amount of power. 

As Jennifer Bilek has demonstrated in her research on this subject, the transgender movement is a multi-billion dollar industry funded by some of the wealthiest men in the United States: Turner Broadcasting, Gilead, the Stonewall Family Foundation, Comcast NBCUniversal and many others. Bilek has exposed the links between Jon Stryker’s Arcus Foundation, Jennifer Pritzker’s Tawani, Martine Rothblatt’s United Therapeutics,  Drummond Pike, Peter Buffett’s NoVo FoundationTim GillRic Weiland’s estate, Mark Bonham and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations which has been a massive force in funding the creation of the ideology of the “transgender child.” This is only the tip of the iceberg and it beggars belief that left-leaning media has ignored the elephant in the room. Where the left examines with surgical precision the military-industrial complex, it has entirely elided the medical-industrial complex affecting the lives of children and adolescents who have been put on the path of a media-induced social contagion and the invented “gender identity” narrative. Enter the fiction of the “transgender child” stage right with numerous billionaires funding this social phenomenon.

So, it is no surprise that GLAAD created its own blacklist denouncing the actors who pose a “threat” to its organisation by pointing out childhood desistance rates as did Singal back in 2018. GLAAD claims that its Accountability Project “catalogs anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discriminatory actions of politicians, commentators, organisation heads, religious leaders, and legal figures who have used their platforms, influence and power to spread misinformation and harm LGBTQ people.” This is quite a dose of irony from an organisation which is called the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Not only did Singal’s name appear on the list along with Tucker Carlsen and many from the Trump clan, but until three days ago so too did JK Rowling’s name appear on the list. It is now mysteriously absent. And as of two days ago, almost the entire list of names is wiped off to include Singal’s. Left on GLAAD’s blacklist are Mike Pence and Donald Trump. (I was sort of hoping to find Lex Luther on the list, but a “girl” can dream.) GLAAD has noted on its site that it is going through an “internal review process,” that the published list was incomplete and that they are planning to have an “official launch” of this “collection” where one must be a paying member to see the complete list of names. Way to commercialise blacklisting while making it sound like museum curation or a new fashion line!

“Where’s the meat?”—here it is: GLAAD has been funded by the Arcus Foundation which is a key player within the larger medical-industrial complex. What’s more, is that Arcus has institutionally taken on the role of a “human rights organisation” serving as an ideological “training ground” to prepare journalists in the promotion and normalisation of body dissociation which further serves to profit the medical-industrial complex. Jon Stryker granted his foundation with $30 million from his stock in Stryker Medical Corporation. Keep in mind, dear reader, that Arcus is a self-appointed actor inserting itself as a private international philanthropic organisation into the field of medicine while influencing public policy. Arcus is not a professional scientific body working transparently, operating within a professional ethical scope that is basing decisions upon peer-reviewed research and open review processes. Instead, this foundation functions as a private lobby. 

So the larger questions that loom are the following: Why have private actors been allowed to shape public policy through the funding of medical institutions, university programs and public engagement organisations like GLAAD? Also, why are the organisations that Arcus funds like GLAAD giving media “guides” for journalists to parrot their PR spin and creating blacklists of writers who have critiqued the very troubling terrain of a lobby that is pushing, full force, for the medicalisation of children’s bodies?

Look to which companies fund GLAAD outside of Arcus and you have your answer: Gilead Sciences, Inc, Estate of Richard W. Weiland & Michael Schaefer, Pritzker Military Museum & Library. Scratch the surface of the transgender movement that has taken liberal media by storm over the past decade and you will discover Arcus and other billionaire-financed organisations that have bankrolled the academic machinery of gender ideology that has been churned out of universities at a lightning-fast pace the past twenty-five years. The creation of these ideological assembly lines has taken place primarily within American universities through the funding of academic departments and programs. Take Arcus’ financing of the Built Environment at the University of California Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design (2000) which was followed up with the Arcus Chair in Gender, Sexuality (2010) or the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College (2015). It’s no wonder that you have a slew of academics on Twitter claiming that women have penises. Give me £750,000 and I too will not only tell you that women have penises but I will throw in a finger puppet show and mime it for the person who writes out the check!

Jennifer Bilek has connected many of the dots related to the funding of this academic hogwash which is used to buttress the en masse abuse of children who are showing up at gender clinics having been convinced by their peers or from Reddit forums that they are really the opposite sex:

Pritzker sits on the leadership council of the Program of Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota, to which he also committed $6.5 million over the past decade. Among many other organizations and institutions Pritzker funds are Lurie Children’s Hospital, a medical center for gender non-conforming children, serving 400 children in Chicago; the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicagoa chair of transgender studies at the University of Victoria (the first of its kind); and the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. He also funds the American Civil Liberties Union and his family funds Planned Parenthood, two significant organizations for institutionalizing female-erasing language and support for transgender causes. Planned Parenthood also recently decided to get into the transgender medical market.

That GLAAD blacklisted Singal and JK Rowling is hardly a coincidence—it’s part of its mission in protecting its sponsors and looking out for its organisational survival. To snuff out the competition where the currency is ideology, the first targets will necessarily be those of us working in the media. In the UK, the same paradigm exists: NGOs like Gendered Intelligence, GIRES, Mermaids, Scottish Trans Alliance, TELI, TransActual, Trans Media Watch, Action for Trans Health, Press for Change, All About Trans, and TENI are given carte blanche to positive write-ups in the Guardian and Independent. Who gets smeared regularly? LGBAlliance, a relatively new organisation which focusses on the rights of gay and bisexual men and women. Saying the emperor has no clothes is no longer a fairy tale—today it’s the stuff of culture wars. 

What strikes me about these libellous attacks on writers is how the social media economy depends upon its users to do its corporate bidding—from the ramping up of fake news, the creation of false claims and defamation, to the trafficking in clicks, likes, and shares to gain more followers who likely have no time or desire to fact check. This is the capitalists’ dream to have created a product that relies upon various fictions and drama that individual users create in order to pivot from them as a means of gaining more worshippers seated in their virtual pews.

Here’s the rub for those who think Twitter care about dismantling capitalism, misogyny or the medical industry: first, Jack Dorsey fundamentally doesn’t care who is ramping up his Twitter platform—he makes money either way. Second, who needs to fact check when self-proclaimed “trans activism” chalk up easy scores from the many willing to like and retweet absolute rubbish? It’s a win-win situation for capitalism as own-goals are made in the name of a linguistic marker of belonging while putting the undesirables outside the metaphorical door. Our task as writers and readers is to keep abreast of the facts and to refuse to curry favour with those who use social media to defame or who protect their corporate sponsors invested in medicalising gender non-conformity through the blacklisting of journalists.

Lately, I’ve been watching Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings and I have been struck by how blacklisting today has not changed a bit since the 1940s and 1950s. When a person’s employment or wealth is put at risk, it is a near certainty that evidencing the totalitarian tactics of public confession, blackmail or slurs of bigotry will not emerge quickly from the streets or the Twitter-sphere. They certainly didn’t when Hollywood elites were questioned during the HUAC hearings. 

In 1947, Walt Disney not only caved to the committee questions but he had directly contributed to the witch hunt for “Commies” since unionisation began to take root in American worker culture during the 1930s. So, when the Screen Cartoonist’s Guild was created in 1937, many cartoonists at Disney’s studio signed up and joined the union which Disney cited as changing the “family atmosphere” he held dear. The animators saw another reality, however, to include “arbitrary pay scales, the short-lived profit-sharing system, management’s right to fire anyone, and discusses issues of anonymity (Walt Disney’s name was the only one allowed on the credits).” Then in 1941, Disney pivoted from a cartoonists and animators' strike at the Disney Studio taking out an ad in Variety, the industry trade magazine, declaring, “I am positively convinced that Communist agitation, leadership and activities have brought about this strike…” Disney was not alone is helping to create the fear and panic that had gripped American post-war culture (1946-1960) by caving to the HUAC investigations. Disney was in good company with Ronald ReaganElia Kazan, and many others in Hollywood. 

Normalcy was eventually restored by the sacrifices made by the “Hollywood Ten,” a group of men involved in the movie industry with a far larger story behind the HUAC dating back to the tensions between the Hollywood producers and the unions, particularly the Screen Writers Guild, from the 1930s. Their names are Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo. Each of these men was sentenced to up to a year in prison, and when this decision was later challenged, their convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court. Refusing to name and to kowtow to the HUAC interrogations eventually meant that these men and many more in Hollywood had their careers cut short as they were then blacklisted for life. Others such as Paul Robeson pushed back and infamously stated, “You Are the Un-Americans, and You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourselves.” Charlie Chaplin was also aggressively pursued by then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who was determined to have the actor deported after Modern Times, a satire of the machine age. Working with immigration services, Hoover successfully prevented Chaplin from re-entering the States after he flew to London to promote one of his films in 1952: the U.S. government revoked his re-entry permit. John Garfield was one of HUAC’s greatest victims from Hollywood as he was railroaded out of the industry and according to many, hounded quite literally to death.

What the HUAC investigations taught later generations is that people are easily malleable when it comes to protecting their livelihoods, their housing and their source of food. The tactics of bullying and blacklisting which attempt to render jobless and homeless the perceived wrongdoer are initially quite effective. The overlords who drive the transgender narrative know this best of all. Where McCarthy understood that defamation was a winning combination of propaganda even above mail order bomb shelter kits in post-war America, the movers and shakers of the medical-industrial complex today know that having Twitterati minions doing their bidding screaming out slurs at feminists and accusing journalists of inciting the murder of trans-identified folks will score them more acolytes for their religion of “gender as spirit.”

The bad news for these industries is that where social media offers a living graveyard of defamatory hoodwinking as everyone’s gang is on board with that one common enemy—that evil transphobe or that journalist who tried to fact-check a story—eventually even this foundation crumbles. The thing about social media is that people are fickle and they get bored quite easily. They are never going to be satisfied with just one false accusation. Their interest piqued in a fake claim means that after the pile-on is over, people invariably want more blood, more theatrics, more in-fighting. There is no certainty that they too will not tire of the gender wars, especially when the de-transitioning crows come home to roost.

If anything, this past year has taught us the one sure way to inform the masses that you are right and your object “guilty”—especially glued to their screens under lockdown—is either to produce more drama or, deactivate your Twitter account for a week or two. Who will remember that pile-on from yesterday when the followers of culturally-induced mythomania will lip-sync “So Long Farewell” replete with kisses and asterisk-bracketed hugs as they move on to another drama queen’s slow entrance on the virtual spiral case of pathos? When the artifice of misrepresentation appears and the truth rears its inconvenient head, people tend to move onto another subject cling to newer actors as they fall prey to their wilful amnesia of an all-obsessed and persistent social media presence. 

In “Mémorial de Sainte Hélène: Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at Saint Helena,” Napoléon Bonaparte states that “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” It’s fascinating to note how a statement uttered over 200 years ago rings true to this day as much as it falls to the whims of our cultural amnesia that moves from promoting one lie on social media to the next. For no matter how slowly or quickly the transmission of lies endures—in large part due to the technology of the printing press, the telegraph and today the internet—the public hungry for social media gladiator fights will invariably choose newer channels for gossip and fake news completely forgetting the pile-on that ended moments before. How we interact with these various forms of media interlopers is our choice and we have the agency to mute, block or ignore. These days, some of the lucky ones can even step outside for a walk and interact with actual humans in real-time.

In this dreamscape of life meets lockdown meets Hola meets the human depths of depravity, let us not be seduced by words that are meaningless unless backed up by facts. You know, not the “female penis” variety but the pedal to the metal of words, records, and documents. Let us not pretend that a one-off Twitter slam-fest followed by multiple shares means that their side has “won” a battle with the greater landscape of desperate emotions, psychological turpitude and the high-stakes medicalisation of the bodies and lives of children who are simply gender non-conforming and in most cases gay or lesbian. To quote Mr. T, “I pity the fool.”