Josh's recent posts about monkeypox have me thinking about the dangers of being overly obsessed with "inclusion." A sizable and influential faction on the left seems to have decided that the most important thing in the world is to make sure that no one feels weird or stigmatized. That's fine in principle. We should want to be nice people.

But sometimes it really matters that someone is unusual! When I was little, there was a boy in my school who wore a bracelet to show that he was allergic to bees. It said something like, "Serious bee allergy, EpiPen in pocket." Having him wear that made his parents and the school feel okay about letting him play outside during recess. But kids being kids, he'd sometimes get made fun of for his "girly" bracelet. And yet no one, no one, suggested that every kid in school be made to wear a bee bracelet so he wouldn't feel weird. If everyone had a bee bracelet, that would entirely defeat the purpose of the kid with the actual allergy having one.

I feel like so much official messaging about monkeypox has been, "Everyone needs to wear a bee bracelet."

And that's not the only thing where people have been doing this. Talk about pronouns has taken this really weird shift lately where certain people are now advocating that EVERYONE introduce their pronouns. (I actually got berated by an activist for not including pronouns in my email signature at work. I so badly wanted to reply, "Um, this is an email. The only pronouns I'm using are 'I' and 'you.'")

But...doesn't that remove the whole point of introducing your pronouns? Like, wasn't the original purpose supposed to be a social nicety, a discreet way of signaling that you're worried about being misgendered and you want to save anyone the embarrassment of doing it?

If everyone's doing it, that signal is lost. There's no way to tell the people who really care about being misgendered from the people who are only stating their pronouns because they don't want to be perceived as a Bad Ally.

It just doesn't make sense to me. You can be sensitive and courteous and still realize that not all language can be "inclusive." Sometimes it can't be, not if the goal is to communicate necessary information to the audience that needs it.

Expand full comment

With apologies to the Barro-tariat commenting community, and I'm not sure this is exactly the right place to put this, but maybe it is useful for it to be said--

I am fairly young (in that coveted 18-49). As far as I can remember, I have never missed an election, and I have never voted for a Republican (each on the merits, not a party-line vote). I have a PhD--while I respect the trades greatly, I am bigly checking all sorts of socio-political-educational-economic boxes. Very bigger and very large than many people are saying, with tears in their eyes, very large and strong voters.

What the *fuck* does "cis" mean vis-a-vis "straight"?

All manner of personal regret to anyone who I may have offended--this is not my intent, and yet, I do ask sincerely. I can't be *that* unique, can I?

Expand full comment

Public health official wants to avoid offending to keep his job. He’s worried that some dumb group of boring and bored twenty something’s will misconstrue reporting patterns as discrimination and demand his resignation.

Expand full comment

In my opinion, there are two ways to interpret the interview with Tim Menza. One possibility is that he is just some functionary who is going through the motions and mouthing a bunch of woke-speak because he doesn't care, or is incompetent, or <put reasons here>.

Another alternative is that he knows exactly what's up, and really wants to say that this disease is almost completely confined to a particular subset of our society and is due entirely to a set of behaviors that this subset is more likely to engage in. And if he is smart and wants to keep his job, he is absolutely not going to say that. No way, no how. Some straight dude casting aspersions on the LGBTQ+ community, and calling them out for doing how they do? Come on now. That's not a thing. He would be done within the week. And if you think there is some way a cishet dude is going to be able to couch that information that wouldn't get the woke mob at his door, you just don't live in 2022.

You know what is a thing? Having somebody from the gay community provide the information. Josh Barro can talk all day long about what's up and what gay men should do to protect themselves, and nobody is going to call him out, or try to cancel him, because he is unimpeachable since he is part of the group.

So while I think Tim Menza's responses in that interview are just a bunch of useless woke word salads, and I would expect more from a health professional, I totally get it.

Expand full comment

What's fascinating about bringing "assigned male at birth" into things is it reintroduces gender essentialism but woke. The reality is monkeypox is spreading through the community of men who have sex with men. A trans gay man who has a lot of sex with other men is very likely also at an elevated risk, whereas a straight trans man having sex with women is much safer. My understanding of the evidence is there isn't a gay sex magic that makes it spread monkeypox worse, it's just that men who have sex with men tend to be more promiscuous and engage in riskier behavior. Happening to have different genitals than other men is probably not going to help anyone banging their way through the MSM community.

Expand full comment

Josh, do you think public health officials should shut down gay bath houses, sex clubs, or kink festivals? Even if your run-of-the-mill hookups are the main source of spread, it could send a message to the gay community that this is a really serious disease.

Given our recent history with COVID, it seems that the only reason they haven’t done so already is because LGBT people are considered an oppressed class. What am I missing here?

Expand full comment

This is AIDS all over again. Even today, almost no one knows that heterosexual white (seldom use IV drugs) males are not at risk for AIDS. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/ataglance.html. (This is because AIDS is spread by anal sex and IV drug use in the US).

Expand full comment

Josh, while I completely understand your frustration with the absurd messaging and that it calls into question the actual competence of these idiots, does it actually matter in this instance? You live in the gayest of gay communities. Do the at-risk people know that they are at-risk? Maybe the dual-messaging is silly and being done for dumb reasons, but not actually causing harm because the at risk populations are actually getting the right messages? (This is a sincere question, I don't know the answer).

Expand full comment