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the enforcers
Mob Awakens at Johns Hopkins

When the renowned Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Paul McHugh and Arizona State epidemiologist Lawrence Mayer published a lengthy New Atlantis essay questioning several sacred truths about gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation—including the view that sexual orientation is entirely innate and that gender reassignment surgery is the best practice for transgender individuals—they must have expected a backlash from academia’s ideological enforcers. And sure enough a backlash is brewing, with hundreds of students, faculty, and LGBT activists calling for the University to formally condemn the work of scholarship:

Nearly 700 members of the Johns Hopkins community have formally called for the Baltimore-based university and health system to distance themselves from “a misguided, misinformed attack on LGBT communities.” […]

Recently, HRC met with leadership at Johns Hopkins to express the urgency of this issue and the continued need for action. This year, for the first time, HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index will rate hospitals with a numerical score and will consider whether hospitals and health systems’ practices reflect “responsible citizenship.”  If Hopkins’ leadership ignores their community’s call to correct the record—clarifying that McHugh and Mayer’s opinions do not represent it, and that its healthcare services provided reflect the scientific consensus on LGBTQ health and well-being—its Healthcare Equality Index score will be reduced substantially.

We at Via Meadia are not experts on psychiatry or health care, so we can’t assess the validity of McHugh’s and Mayer’s reading of the empirical record. However, we are close enough observers of patterns in higher education politics that the pattern on display here (scholars express an unpopular viewpoint on a politically fraught subject, the left-of-center community erupts in outrage, petitions circulate demanding formal action from the university administration) sets off all sorts of alarm bells.

The basic gambit of the Western mode of scientific inquiry is that the competition of ideas will ultimately produce scholarly truth, or at least something close to it. This process must be decentralized and unencumbered by political dogma. For the Johns Hopkins administration to throw the weight of its authority behind one side or another in an ongoing scholarly debate in order to appease political activists would corrupt the process Jonathan Rauch has called “liberal science.” The university can help protect the integrity of academic thought by sending a strong message to the outraged petitioners that it will let its scholars’ work stand or fall on the merits.

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  • LarryD

    But it is the right wingers who are supposed to be anti-scientific and superstitious. :s

    Memo to everyone, the universe does not care. If your beliefs are cross-wise with the universe, eventually it will crush you.

    • Jim__L

      The traditional family is what it is for a reason. Sometimes it was intergenerational; but it has always been man – woman – children, because that’s how biology works.

      Institutionalizing the questioning of that basic human truth isn’t going to result in anything, other than the culture adopting it disappearing and being replaced by cultures that don’t. We’re seeing this in Europe, and to some extent America now.

      People do not pass onto their children a tendency not to have children (e.g., homosexuality). That is absurd on the face of it by a Darwinian, Creationist, or Natural Law point of view, and social “science” trying to prove otherwise is shilling for a political movement.

      This is the truth, and it is capable of taking down the entire edifice of counter-reality thought, even if only spoken in a whisper. That is why this movement is so keen to eliminate any whisper of it.

      But this world is such a chaotic place, eliminating every whisper of the truth is impossible. Their movement is doomed. The only question is, how much of Western Civilization will they take down with them?

      • TomDPerkins

        ” People do not pass onto their children a tendency not to have children (e.g., homosexuality). That is absurd on the face of it by a Darwinian, Creationist, Natural Law, scientific, or logical point of view, and social “science” trying to prove otherwise is shilling for a political movement. ”

        You are too drastically ignorant of what survival of the fittest permits and demands to have an opinion worth listening too. Any single gene or handful of genes, where those by themselves promote survival–but will with several others produce a trait which is contrary to it–will nevertheless persist–because the combination which reduces survival will be very much more rare than the lesser combination of genes which promote it.

        • CB

          Johns Hopkins has a history of this unscientific behaviour. See John Money:

          This article appears to be crying persecution where there is none… common neofascist behaviour…

          • TomDPerkins

            John Money was a very successful fraud; as with McHugh, Johns Hopkins dropped support for them when their fraud became known. It would be a bit premature for them to do so before they were known to be frauds.
            Interestingly enough, Money’s brutal mutilation and abusive treatment of David Reimer (and others) proves that gender identity is inherent to the brain and that it is formed while the fetus is in the womb–something which must be true at least in large measure for transsexualism to be “real” as a birth defect.
            It is a birth defect. McHugh is full of scat.

  • DiogenesDespairs

    It was not long ago that an issue like this and having to state a position so blindingly obvious about it would have been unimaginable.

    O tempora! O mores!

  • Passion and prejudice have always played a part in scientific inquiry, and always will.

  • Blackbeard

    Does anyone doubt the University will cave? Does anyone doubt that the two distinguished researchers who committed thoughtcrime are ruined?

    First they came for the climate scientists who disputed climate orthodoxy. “DENIER!” they cried.

    Then they came for the social scientists who disputed LGBTQ orthodoxy. “HOMOPHOBE” they cried.

    Who will they come for next? And will there be anyone left to cry?

    Another chapter in the Fall of the West.

    • Jim__L

      In the end, LGBTQWTF orthodoxy can be taken down with the least whisper of the truth. That is why they fear and hate it so much, and will go to such lengths to silence it.

      But they’re doomed in the end, because the truth is available to anyone with eyes to see.

  • JR

    I sincerely doubt most people who use the hospital to get well give a funk. Needing hospital care tends to really focus people’s minds.

  • OregonJon

    These are the very people who worship diversity until, of course, arises an opinion or action contrary to their fervently held beliefs. Then, rather than celebrating those with diverse and divergent thoughts, they throw them in the trench, soon to be covered with the hard stones of absolute conformity. And why not. Stoning is a ancient tradition, is much easier than rational argument, and burying those with whom you disagree brings the hurler great pleasure. So much pleasure it becomes self-reinforcing. Eventually reality will dig its way out, rising from the dead as the unstoppable zombie of truth and smashing those who participated. That is, until the next time.

  • Andrew Allison

    I must point out that absolutism (e.g. “the view that sexual orientation is entirely innate” or that any science is settled) has no place in social or any other science.

    • theresanursemom

      The leftists all seem to think that when their minds are settled, the science is as well. If that isn’t the height of arrogance, I don’t know what is.

      • Andrew Allison


  • I wonder how many on either side of the debate even bothered to read the report (who many erroneously refer to as a study). Remarkably few seem to have noticed that the authors explicitly state that homosexuality is not a choice, even though they conclude it isn’t entirely innate.

    The only thing that was interesting about this is how the culture wars affect science. If a study, or report, doesn’t affirm your political beliefs you must reject it out of hand and if you can’t speak to the science itself you might as well resort to ad hominem attacks. If on the other hand a study or report seems to suggest something that validates your pre-held beliefs, you will shout out from the rooftops that “science” has proven your enemies wrong while wildly exaggerating the conclusions.

    So dear Via Meadia, when you mention the left-of-center outrage you could have mentioned the triumphalism of the religious right as a result of this report and the fact that The Ethics and Public Policy Center, who is one of the partners behind the New Atlantis, is on the front lines of these culture wars. I know nothing of the science on these issues but I would as soon trust a report paid by Kellogg’s on the benefits of breakfast cereal. If the authors were interested in science more than providing fodder to the religious Right they should have published a proper review in a respected peer-reviewed journal.

    • Tom

      Translation: I dislike this article’s conclusions, people I dislike like it, so I don’t think this is *really* about academic freedom.

      • Actually I agree with the sentiment in the last two paragraphs. It’s at least partly about academic freedom and I will never join the voices trying to silence dissenting opinions. With that said, this report is highly problematic and Via Meadia would do its readers a service by pointing out some of the issues. The people shouting with glee over this report aren’t interested in the science per se, but to bash liberals.

    • Anthony

      You make a fine distinction and offer a brief but substantive rebuttal to report from your perspective which is more illustrative how I think about subject) than replying to a commentator’s reply, thanks.

  • louiseparke

    I’ve thought a lot lately about college “students”. It seems to me that they shouldn’t be called students, but perhaps “congregants”. It makes me wonder about the sixties and the role the students played in anti-war protesting etc.

  • TomDPerkins

    The fact a “mob” forms is also no comment on the validity of the target’s views. Saying he has the right enemies is no reason to support him at all.

    In point of fact, Johns Hopkins repudiated McHugh’s fraud quite a long time ago, openly saying the sole reason they do not re-open their GID clinic is that since McHugh shuttered it, other providers fully filled the need in their area. McHugh was hired to shut it down, openly avowed the goal of shutting it down with religious motivtions, and he produced an Ignoble worthy study to justify that which is replicable only in the sense that if you do the same fraud the same way, you’ll get the same result.

    • AntiLeftist

      You completely missed the substance of this article, didn’t you?

      • TomDPerkins

        No, I’m saying it is missing substance it should have.

  • Josephbleau

    Einstein, when presented with a letter signed by 100 academics who claimed him wrong, simply said in paraphrase, “Why 100? If I am wrong it takes only one to demonstrate it.” If this paper is refutable, damn well refute it or shut up. Anything else is intellectual sloth.

    • TomDPerkins

      It already exists. You look it up.

      • Tom

        How about you provide a link?

        • Observe&Report
          • Tom

            Now that’s actually useful and provides good information. Admittedly, source-wise it’s about as valid as The New Atlantis, but it actually explains why the article is questionable instead of ranting and raving.

          • TomDPerkins

            I’ve already supplied one example of his perfidy below. There is more.

            It’s not ranting or raving, just proclaiming a fact.

            And while “The Advocate” is scarcely disinterested, you;d have to prove error to have a point.

          • Tom

            I’m not defending him. I’m pointing out that just saying “He’s the literal worst” without providing evidence is dumb. If that’s defending him, I really hope you’re never on a jury for an innocent man.

          • Jim__L

            Just so you’re aware, SFGate is about the same level as the Advocate, when it comes to shilling for a particular political movement.

          • TomDPerkins

            Which would be interesting if you could show so much as one claim in that article were wrong. They are sourced, insofar as I quoted them, from court transcripts.

  • Gringao

    Trofim Lysenko gives his thumbs-up from Hell.

  • PierrePendre

    The tantrum throwers who dominate American universities are making an unanswerable case in the ongoing debate about the continuing need for professorial tenure. If scholars can no longer publish research that is not approved by the ruling coalition of leftists and sexual and cultural revolutionaries – aka the mob – tenure is redundant because everyone is marching in step in public at least. If you can’t dissent, it follows that you don’t need the protection of tenure.

  • Greg

    “And The Gods of the Copybook Headings limp up to explain it once more.”

  • ytzpzvgk

    If Baltimore PC politics manages to kill Johns Hopkins, it will be a disaster for the city. The taxes have killed all of the industry, but Hopkins avoided them with their university exemption. But if they use this “equality index” to shake down the university and favor the locals over the world-class, Nobel-grade researchers, well the school is toast. They’re already having trouble attracting undergraduates who are worried about their safety.

    • rheddles

      Hopkins hates its undergraduates, unless they are ready to enroll in graduate studies.

      • ytzpzvgk

        Perhaps they do and perhaps that was just your experience. But it’s a center of excellence and people come to Baltimore from all over the world just to go to JHU. If Baltimore ends up strangling it, then Baltimore will suffer.

        • rheddles

          It’s been true from the founding. The founders wanted a German type research university devoted to graduate school only, but the locals made them add a much resented undergraduate school.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Some people are too hasty in getting tattooed. Some people are too hasty about carrying a gun. And some people are too hasty in deciding that they are either gay or born in the wrong gender.

    • TomDPerkins

      The protocols for medical treatment preclude a hasty decision.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Perhaps so with gender reassignment surgery, but anybody can decide too soon that he or she is gay with no doctors at all.

        • Anthony

          Something I reread to make sense of yesterday’s Presidential Debate?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. In many ways we are late in awakening to some of the attitudinal trends which have been gaining steam for a long time.
            You know that one of my mental “themes” has been concern over my own perception of the corrosion and deterioration of kindness in churches. And I worry about it from the “outside”. It’s difficult to imagine how “hardened” one could become if eating a steady diet of the influences discussed in this piece.

          • Anthony

            Well said and ponder this: “…What does all this mean in 2016? It means that ‘true conservatism’ is dead because it was never alive in the first place. It was a convenient fiction, nothing more. The expected defeat of Donald Trump will not put an end to the forces that made him possible and still less those that seemed to make him necessary.” (Paul Rosenberg: From the “Old right” to the alt-right)

            And, you’re welcome.

          • TomDPerkins

            What is conservative in this country is liberty and it’s constitution, which generally preclude the means and ends the Progressives have undertaken in the last 100 years. There is nothing of the Old Right in the Alt-Right, and the odor of white Nationalism and rural/poor white crossover support for Trump! in fact has more to do with an original voter base of the Progressive (and very much Democrat) Wilson making noise instead of going along with whatever the DNC shoves down their throats.

            Trump!ism is a last vestige of the pro-Slavery Jefferson/Jackson Democrats come out to play. The Left owns them as their bones and their foundational predicates are the same as those which underlie all Progressivism and Leftism, the pollution of Enlightenment thought begun by Rousseau which he called the General Will.

            True conservatism is respect for what was best about 1775, and among some small percentage of people found solely on the “right ” is alive and well.

          • Anthony

            I excerpted Paul Rosenberg (via quote) and in context he implies that conservatism (U.S. version) as an organizing principle reinvents itself (I am sure Liberty and Constitution he has no quarrel with). In referencing quote, I have attempted to infer the sense of periodicity that some may view as U.S. conservatism (perhaps, I did it poorly).

            Progressives, Liberals, Left, Marxists, Conservatives, Reactionaries, Right, Authoritarians, etc. were not identifiers in mind when I penned the reply; though your pro Slavery Jefferson/Jackson denotation has linear history as you adduce.

            For me, Edmund Burke, Yuval Levin (and others) write to what you say is alive and well (among some).

  • Beauceron

    I think we all know what the outcome of this will be. We have seen it how many times before?

    Progressives swarm upon anyone who threatens the narrative. Everyone folds to them: academics, politicians, press, citizens. Everyone.

    Johns Hopkins will, of course, wilt under the pressure. The professors and authors of the article will lose their jobs and become pariahs. And everyone else will watch silently to what happens to them and mark it carefully– and will they remember it if they ever disagree with the narrative and keep their mouths shut.

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