Barbara Kay retires from the National Post
To be a good journalist, you must possess a "solid ethical core" and integrity. A good journalist must also be courageous and bold. A true journalist is one who raises the voice of the voiceless and in our so called democracy we all are almost voiceless. Good reporters must be intelligent and courageous. Courage helps them to develop a skin to deflect the inevitable criticism. They must write something that may hurt someone's prestige but not the ethics of the journalism. Intelligence is also the most important attribute a reporter could have.
Part of the job is asking tough questions and the ability to dig deeper than comfortable when deemed necessary. Personal feelings must be put aside in order to unleash the truth. Strong communication skills are necessary to interview sources and to write in-depth stories and reports. And finally, a good journalist should also have an analytical mind that allows them to base stories on fact instead of emotion. Critical thinking skills and sound judgement are crucial when it comes to reporting.
Barbara Kay was a fearless, sane voice in a mad, mad world and is to be lauded. Thank you for your tireless efforts to stand for the truth. And you are leaving at the right time. If you cannot speak the truth, what's the point? To become like the majority of reporters who bend to the "rules". The Epoch Times and so many others will allow you to be the person you are - forthright, honest and fearless. We thank you for your years of thoughtful articles and well researched pieces. And I thank you for being my mentor, advisor and my friend from the day I started ACT! For Canada in 2009.
Valerie Price/ National Director/ACT! For Canada
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM BARBARA KAY
Dear Facebook friends, and (since this is a public post) National Post readers:
It's been two decades since my first byline appeared in the Post. For a woman who already was well into middle age when her career began, the experience has been a thrill and a privilege. Perhaps more importantly, it's been lively, energizing and fun. The National Post was conceived in 1998 as a safe haven from the stale pieties that dominated (and still dominate) the legacy Canadian media. Unfortunately, the spirit now has gone out of the place. And I've decided to step away from my regular column, at least for now. I've been noticing for a while that much of the best writing about Canada is increasingly taking place on platforms that didn't exist until recently (and in some cases aren't even Canadian). Numerous international writers whom I admire have decided to find new ways to reach their audience. I will now join their ranks.
There's nothing the Canadian media loves more than stories about bitter infighting within its own ranks. And I wish I had a shocking tale of censorship or workplace bullying to supply to those media critics who trade on schadenfreude. Alas, I don't. In fact, I continue to respect and appreciate the Post editors who've worked with me over the years. But the severe pressures they now experience no longer can be compartmentalized within their managerial sphere. They have spilled out into their relationship with their columnists, spoiling the weekly rites of editorial collaboration that once were one of the great joys of this job.
Thanks to the excommunication of James Bennet and (effectively) Bari Weiss from The New York Times, the vicious hounding of Margaret Wente at Massey College, and the CBC's sadistic shaming of veteran broadcaster Wendy Mesley, the poisonous phenomenon I am describing here is by now well-known. Every editor feels like he is one Tweet away from getting mobbed and fired. And so the range of permissible opinion shrinks daily. Many columns now read as if they were stitched together from the same few dozen bromides that one is still allowed to say. In a Canadian media industry that regularly lauds itself for courageous truth-telling, the goal is now to hide one's true opinion rather than declare it.
National Post editors Matt Gurney and Rob Roberts did their best to support me in recent months, even when my columns on charged topics were delayed or spiked. Days would pass between submission and publication, during which time the column shuffled from one editor to another for review.
As recently as today, my editor assured me that my job was not at risk. But every week seems to deliver new restrictions and anxieties. And a writer shouldn't have to feel like she is imposing on her editor, or asking him to exert himself as a special favour, merely so she can give voice to mainstream principles that most Canadians believe. Even when my columns appear in the National Post without any kind of delay or objection, I feel a lingering worry that some stray word or phrase will cause an editor to suffer blowback. If I were a less experienced writer who needed the money or the exposure, these are concerns that I would accommodate. But I'm fortunate enough to not be in that position.
Since the early 2000s, journalists have anticipated the demise of their own industry. But we wrongly assumed that this decline would be driven exclusively by economic and technological factors. In recent months especially, it's become clear that ideological purges have turned a gradual retreat into what now feels like a full-on rout. This is not a case of a lack of demand: The rise of popular new online sites shows that Canadians are eager for fresh voices and good reporting. Rather, legacy outlets are collapsing from within because they've outsourced editorial direction to a vocal internal minority that systematically weaponizes social media to destroy internal workplace hierarchies, and which presents its demands in Manichean terms. During the various iterations of political correctness that appeared since the 1990s, National Post editors fought against this trend.
But as the public shaming of Rex Murphy shows, some now feel they have no choice but to throw down their weapons and sue for peace.
One piece of good advice that every young writer gets is to illustrate broad principles with specific examples. So, by way of appendix, I include the last column I submitted to the National Post, consisting of a dispassionate review of Debra Soh's new book, "The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity," which will be published next month by an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In outward respects, Soh is exactly the kind of writer whom progressives have lionized in recent years: a young woman of colour (and neuroscience PhD) who opines courageously about issues of sex and identity. Like me, she also happens to believe in concepts such as biology, sexual dimorphism, evidence-based clinical treatments, and the importance of peer-reviewed science. In a normal world, it wouldn't matter that these concepts run afoul of ideological movements that venerate the revealed truths communicated by inwardly experienced sensations of gender. But even many progressives (including those who signed the Harper's "Letter on Justice and Open Debate" this month) now publicly acknowledge that these are not normal times. And if as famous and powerful a writer as J.K. Rowling can get smeared for stating that biology is a thing, it shouldn't surprise readers to know that the submission below provided yet another occasion for Post editors to drag their feet.
We are experiencing a dark period for free thought in Canada. But extremist movements always work in cycles. And one already can hear the gears of counterrevolution grinding into motion. If my editors are amenable to it, I may choose to reappear in the pages of the Post when this movement is suitably advanced. Or not. Either way, I will find other means to get my opinions out into the world. And however I choose to do so, I've promised myself that the experience will be, at the very least, lively, energizing and fun.
LAST COLUMN CONTRIBUTED TO THE NATIONAL POST FROM BARBARA KAY, JULY 24, 2020
Most authors dedicate their books to loved ones or inspirational teachers. Debra Soh, sexologist and neuroscientist, dedicates her new book, The End of Gender: Debunking the myths about sex and identity in our society to "everyone who blocked me on Twitter."
It's a fitting tribute, since aggressive opposition to Soh's spirited defence of science against the prevailing theory-based doctrines of the trans movement has guided Soh's professional trajectory for a number of years now.
As Soh informs readers at the outset, she left her eleven-year research career in academia, because it was clear her field had been compromised by trans activism, and her freedom to explore her subject - gender, sex and sexual orientation - was continuously shrinking. Assessing the "long, ugly history between transgender activists and sexologists," she could see no foreseeable end to the tensions, and segued to a career in journalism (Playboy, the Globe and Mail, Scientific American, Quillette, and others).
From her first article, arguing against early transition for children, the mobbing began and never let up. But neither did supportive encouragement from ordinary people who find themselves baffled and disturbed by dogmas and vocabulary - "people who menstruate" - that make no sense to them, and which many women find offensive (I certainly do). Soh wrote the book for them: "to answer your questions at a time when it's next to impossible to tell apart politically motivated ideas from scientific truth."
The book is organized around a series of trans-movement assumptions Soh identifies as myths: that "biological sex is a spectrum"; that "gender is a social construct"; that "there are more than two genders"; that "sexual orientation and gender identity are unrelated"; and so forth.
It would take thousands of words to do justice to the book as a whole, as it covers such a wide gamut of trans-related issues, and each one handily. Soh's chapter on the social contagion of "rapid onset gender dysphoria" (ROGD) in teenage girls, for example, is superb. But wordage is the usual pesky constraint for columnists, so this cannot rise to the level of the review the book deserves.
Instead, I'll focus on what I find to be Soh's core message, delivered via her beautifully calm, rational and precision-guided dissection of the inherent contradictions within the movement's catechism. For many readers who have been half persuaded to acquiescence from constant exposure to the mantras Soh challenges, her exposé will fall like rain on parched earth.
According to Soh, then.
Fact: There are only two biological sexes, and they are not "assigned" at birth. Male and female gametes (eggs, sperm) determine our sex, and sex is binary, "not a spectrum." Fact: Gender, too, "both with regard to identity and expression," is biology-based and therefore binary. "It is not a social construct, nor is it divided from anatomy or sexual orientation."
Classic feminists gave us the concept of "social construction." Feminists believe gendered differences in interests, presentation and behaviours are due to patriarchy and learned behaviour. Science tells us otherwise, Soh says. Male and female brains are demonstrably different. Now, Soh says, feminist chickens are coming home to roost, because - this is a trenchant insight - "If gender is thought to be learned, masculinity will remain the gold standard and femininity will be reduced to aberrations of it."
Gender fluidity is trending briskly amongst millennials, many of whom self-identify as transgender, agender, bigender or genderqueer (which can mean just about anything). "As more people take on these labels," Soh observes, "being nonbinary has become a way to find community, a sense of belonging and acceptance."
She cites a Pew report that a third of Gen Zers and a quarter of millennials know someone who uses nonbinary pronouns like "they" as compared to a sixth of Gen Xers. (Soh's observation is backed up by a recent questionnaire out of Evergreen State College, in which a full 50 percent of students self-identify as LGBT or "questioning." )
By normalizing and banalizing the concept of gender fluidity - that is, by inviting the whimsically transient, the mentally fragile, the mentally ill, even the opportunistic and sexually predatory into a small forum traditionally reserved for those with irreversible gender dysphoria, therefore legitimately entitled to medically-aided transition - the movement has radically increased the numbers within the trans-identifying fold.
But this artificial demographic swell has come about at a huge cost to credulous children, vulnerable troubled teenagers, women athletes, and indeed, all women who are now forced to share intimate space with male bodies on the sole basis of uninterrogated gender self-identification. Soh is particularly troubled by one of the more grievous consequences of the "cultlike" trans movement's social self-promotion, namely the concomitant social demotion (tending to erasure) of gays and lesbians.
"By nonbinary activists' definition, everyone on planet earth is gender nonbinary," Soh says. The result is that merely gender-nonconforming children - effeminate boys, the great majority of whom would realize they were gay after puberty, and "butch" girls who would become lesbians - are encouraged in childhood to gravitate towards some form of trans self-identification instead of being allowed to grow into their biology-accepting, authentic sexuality. "I'm constantly amazed," Soh writes in dismay, "at the number of gay men who will publicly defend childhood transitioning when the movement is leading to the extermination of gay children."
Shouldn't we all be dismayed by the harms this movement is causing? Soh and her publishers, Simon and Shuster, have shown courage in standing firm for science and reason in the midst of a moral panic that has gripped our institutions and scattered objectivity to the four winds. For that, they merit our material and moral support.