The Problem with Preferred Pronouns

Recently, there has been a movement to pass legislation that would, by law, require businesses to refer to people by their “preferred pronoun”. In fact, a law like this has already passed in the state of New York. In fact, in New York, if a business doesn’t refer to someone by their “preferred pronoun”, they can be subject to fines up to $250,000. In other words, if you don’t use words that the government requires, they will punish you. Severely.

Among the social justice warrior community, there is a sentiment that all gender and gender roles are constructs of society. In fact, some even claim that gender doesn’t exist at all. My question for those “warriors”, then, is this: if gender doesn’t exist, how is it possible that someone can be born into a male body with a female mind or identity? The groups that push for legally enforced speech-censorship are looking for one thing: control. Yes, transgender folk have been unjustly discriminated against for far too long. However, this movement has gone too far.

As a Libertarian, the thought of government telling me what I must say is deeply disturbing. It’s one thing if the government tells you what you can’t say (i.e. yelling “fire” in a theater), but when the government mandates what we must say, we should all be extremely concerned. Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, is an outspoken critic of the social justice warrior/government censorship movement. He has refused to use “preferred pronouns” when their use is mandated by law, and as a result, he has been accused of hate speech and violating the Ontario Human Rights Code. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, refusing to say a government-mandated made-up word like “zir” will put you in the same category as Holocaust deniers. Essentially, you are being forced to recognize something that you may or may not agree with. As Eugene Volokh said in his Washington Post article, “Feel uncomfortable about being forced to use terms that express social status views (“Milord”) or religious views (“Your Holiness”) that you may not endorse? Well, you should feel uncomfortable about people being forced to use “ze,” which expresses a view about gender that they might not endorse.” And people are surprised why Donald Trump’s anti-PC rhetoric propelled him to victory in the US election.

Although the “slippery slope” argument is rather cliche, it’s hard not to apply that logic to this phenomenon. Once the government starts telling us what we must say, there is no going back (which is why I’m against the Pledge of Allegiance being required in schools). It’s only a matter of time before this movement gets completely out of control.