When even Kiwanis starts censoring politically incorrect thought, you know that today's McCarthyism from the Left has become woven into America's fabric.
I was invited to give a talk to the Kiwanis Club of San Francisco and asked what I wanted to talk about. I replied, "I'd like to talk about how, today, boys and men are treated unfairly relative to their merit."
The response from its program chair, who also is active in the feminist organization, Girls, Inc.: That will be acceptable only if the presentation is "positive," objective," and "non-incendiary."
I was expected to be "positive, objective, and non-incendiary" about, for example, that men die 5 1/2 years earlier than woman, and earlier of all ten of the top ten killers yet, over the last 50 years, 98% of the gender-specific medical research has been done on women? I was expected to be "positive, objective, and non-incendiary" about the fact that boys fail, drop out, and commit suicide at two to four times the rate of girls, yet most gender-specific programs are aimed at helping girls--unless you count as helping boys putting huge numbers of active boys on a Ritalin leash?
If women had been restricted to only being "positive," "objective," and "non-incendiary," the feminist movement might never have taken off. What moved women were not just academic tomes but passionate calls to action. And indeed, women were and are still allowed even praised for excesses in their calls for fair treatment for women. For example, I recall Andrea Dworkin's proclamation in her writings and speeches that all sexual intercourse is coercive and degrading to women. She wrote, for example, in her book, Intercourse, "Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women."
Not only was Dworkin not excoriated, she was given platforms for her work that 99.99% of writers can only dream of: ten books published by prestigious publishers, at least some of which were reviewed in such publications as the New York Times, plus live appearances everywhere from Duke University to The Donahue Show.
Lest you think Dworkin is an isolated example of feminist excess, consider these quotes from icons of the women's movement:
Germaine Greer: "As far as I'm concerned, men are the product of a damaged gene."
Marilyn French (author of the iconic feminist book, The Women's Room): "All men are rapists and that's all they are."
Barbara Jordan (esteemed congressperson): "I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which (sic) a man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He's just incapable of it."
And of course there are the book titles, for example, such bestsellers as, Are Men Necessary?, by New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd and Why Women Should Rule the World by former Bill Clinton press secretary and now sought-after TV talking head, Dee Dee Myers.
Of course, Kiwanis' muzzling me is, in itself, trivial. But that is just the latest in a generation of censorship that even moderate, female-friendly men's/boys advocates like me suffer whenever we dare raise a question about the current orthodoxy that women and minorities are mere victims of a racist and sexist white male hegemony.
For example, readers of this blog may recall that less than two weeks ago, in my sadness at education leaders' failure to close the black/white-Asian achievement gap and their unwillingness to state more than vague platitudes, I reposted a teacher's report of his experience in teaching a largely African-American high school.
I immediately received an inquiry from a fellow journalist who after quickly saying, "I don't want to do gotcha journalism but..." implied I was being racist in reposting it, asking me endless questions to prove I wasn't a racist. I believe I was able to assure him that my motives were benevolent and, to date, he has not published an article about me but such an interrogation--from a fellow journalist no less--certainly has a chilling effect on my willingness to post politically incorrect thoughts no matter how benevolently derived.
Among my most deeply held beliefs is that society is best when the free and open exchange of benevolently derived ideas is not only tolerated but encouraged. Today, society's major educators--the schools, colleges, and media--too often discourage that. When even Kiwanis censors politically incorrect thought, we're in trouble.