Do Better, or We Will Cancel You
Reflections on Netflix, cancel culture, and the war on children
PITT provides a platform for parent voices. We are featuring this parent article, originally posted on lynnmeagher.substack.com, with permission from the author.
This week I attended a very public event in Los Angeles at the Netflix headquarters, where an employee walkout over Dave Chappelle’s comedy program “The Closer” attracted media attention and a large crowd of transgender activists and supporters.
As I scanned the crowd with my four friends, it was clear that very few of the people in attendance were Netflix employees walking out of their jobs. The activist who organized the protest was not a Netflix employee. Neither were the young people holding signs that read “Trans Lives Matter!” and “Trans Rights are Human Rights!”. Aside from the two men who showed up with large signs proclaiming, “We Love Jokes”, the crowd had a message for Netflix. The message was, do better. They demanded, quite loudly, that Netflix cancel anyone who dared to speak a message that didn’t meet with their approval. We were told that our speech, our signs, and our presence was not welcome, and that we, along with Dave Chappelle, were hateful. I was told several times to go home, and asked, “Why are you here?” I responded by asking why I should leave. Why am I not allowed to speak just as they are? What exactly did Dave say that was so hateful? He said that men cannot become women, that biology is real and cannot be changed. As far as I can tell, he certainly didn’t threaten to harm anyone. And yet his program was branded as “hate speech”, and this rally was a rally for the civil rights of trans people as a class.
I’m certainly in support of civil rights for everyone. But asserting that I disagree with someone is not a violation of anyone’s civil rights. I was told that I’m hateful. I disagree. I support the rights of everyone to fair housing, employment, and any other right that we all have. However, it’s not hateful to disagree about beliefs. It’s hateful to refuse to allow others to hold the beliefs that they have. It’s hateful to force your views on others. And it’s certainly not loving to advocate for invasive, life altering medical treatments for children and young adults that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
In my view, it’s not loving to mislead children about the reality of their bodies, chemically halt their normal natural puberty, which is an important part of human development, or place them on powerful cross sex hormones, thereby throwing healthy young people into a permanent state of endocrine imbalance. It’s not loving and kind to offer children treatments that will cause lifelong sterility before they are old enough to even know or understand the true implications. As of this moment, children and young adults are being fast tracked into these treatments, without even a careful and full assessment of their mental and physical health. Gender treatment is a false promise to these young people. Despite all the promises that are made, it’s not a cure-all, and it’s certainly not a miracle. Kids who are lonely, depressed, traumatized, or confused are not cured by puberty blockers or testosterone. They remain lonely, depressed, traumatized, or confused, but now they are also suffering from an iatrogenic hormone imbalance. We don’t know the long term effects of these treatments, and yet the placard waving, shouting crowd in front of Netflix was there to represent the transgender community as a special group of oppressed people in need of protection from comedians and people like me.
What happened yesterday in front of Netflix should concern us all. This event was covered by the national media as an event in support of trans people. In actuality, it was a straight up demand for compliance, not only from Netflix but from all of us. We are not to speak or believe or act in any way that they apostles of gender find offensive. We are to watch ourselves, check our privilege, and behave, or else. The message was clear. Do better, or we will come for you, summon crowds, make trouble, and try to make you look like transphobic bigots. We will cancel you, boycott you, and silence you, and don’t you even try to cross us. We were told that the transgender community needs special protection, and no disagreement will be tolerated. The media obediently recorded this, put it on the national news for all to see, and did their best to humiliate everyone involved.
But what does it mean to do better? Who exactly are we supposed to be better to, and what does that look like? According to Ashlee Marie Preston, the activist who organized the event, “We will not stop until those demands are met”. What demands are those? According to the protestors, Dave Chappelle’s remarks “are harming our children”.
Who is harming children? Dave Chappelle is harming children by pointing out that biology is real, and that men can’t become women? It seems to me that these are truthful statements, and in reality if those statements bother you, no one is forcing you to watch “The Closer” on Netflix. Most people would probably agree that fast tracking children and young adults into permanent and irreversible medical treatments without even careful assessment is much more harmful that a comedy special on Netflix.
In fact, even the activists agreed with me, when I asked them if they were interested in having an honest discussion about this. A woman asked me why I was there, and I asked her if she was truly open to listening to my reasons for being there. I explained to her that I’m concerned about kids being fast tracked into puberty blockers and hormones. I told her what I know about how kids are being treated, both by the therapeutic and medical community. She said that she actually agreed with me, and then told me that she’s Ashlee’s assistant. She took my email address and promised to get me in touch with Ashlee. She said that what I had to say made a lot of sense, and she had never heard this perspective before.
This movement has become so polarized and hot that it’s almost impossible to discuss. I asked the activist if she was aware that people who hold my views routinely find that even comments made to news outlet posts are removed, so that it appears we never said anything. She said she was not aware of this. I believe her.
Children are not pieces in a civil rights battle. Silencing those who speak up in defense of reality and hold that children and young people would be better served by careful, compassionate mental health treatment is not a beautiful validation of their true existence. We do need to do better. Doing better means that we stop waving pink and blue flags and start allowing the truth to come out, even if it offends the activists.