The Present Age Weekly Recap: March 11, 2022
Plus, you can now read TPA in the new Substack iOS app
Welcome to the weekly recap. In this post, I’ll be linking to my work from the week, sharing some stories from others I thought were interesting, and providing a few casual thoughts on [gestures at everything]. If you’d like to receive this weekly email ONLY, please go to your account page and under “Email notifications” uncheck every box except “TPA Weekly Recap.” If you don’t want to receive the weekly recap, leave all boxes except “TPA Weekly Recap” checked.
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Freedom Fries, Taylor Lorenz, and “Don’t Say Gay”
On Monday, I wrote a bit about the Freedom Fries-ification of the war in Ukraine. The tl;dr is that small acts of solidarity (see: a bar renaming things like the “Moscow Mule” the “Kiev Mule”) are usually harmless, but it’s important not to let it get carried away. I explain it a lot better in the piece, tbh.
And on Wednesday, I published a piece about some of the criticism that gets leveled at journalist Taylor Lorenz. While fair criticisms of her (and everyone, obviously) exist, her critics often minimize the work she does and try to frame her as some sort of creep because she writes about the intersection of tech and culture (which just so happens to often involve things like TikTok.)
Semi-related to that: Yesterday, I started writing a piece about the uptick in the use of words like “groomer” and “grooming” to describe people who accept and support LGBTQ children. It’s an old tactic, it’s a disgusting tactic, and I worry that it will also be a successful tactic.
Christina Pushaw, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, tweeted, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”
Now, let’s be clear: the bill passed by the Florida legislature is not an “anti-grooming” bill. It’s a bill that bans “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity .. in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” and allows parents to sue schools for violations. It’s extremely broad in its wording, and that’s no accident.
The bill “solves” a problem that doesn’t exist. K-3 curricula aren’t filled with lessons on LGBTQ issues. That’s just not a thing that’s happening. It’s about marginalizing LGBTQ students, teachers, and parents. Rep. Carlos Smith (D-FL) opposed the bill and tweeted this:
But I’m actually more interested in the tweets from a couple of random accounts. The first account calls him a “groomer” for opposing the bill, the second account corrects the record about what the bill actually is (“In the same way that you’re able to talk to a 1st grader about ‘mommy and daddy’ without explaining the mechanics of vaginal intercourse, some of us can reference ‘daddy and daddy’ without delving into a lecture on anal sex. Weird that you can’t.”).
Now, right there, that second account nailed it. People who have been pushing the bill are acting as though any mention of LGBTQ people is inherently obscene and about sex, but that’s simply not true. The first account then replied by… accusing the second account of being “a pedophile that wants to talk about anal sex with a 1st grader.” *sigh*
This kind of nonsense is dangerous. Earlier this week, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson called on people to physically assault teachers who talk about gender identity.
Baselessly smearing LGBTQ people and their supporters as pedophiles (or suggesting that they’re “grooming” children for sex) is an age-old tradition, especially on the right. Add in the current QAnon-believing portion of the party, and LGBTQ people will be in a lot of danger because Florida (and other states) want to pass bills solving nonexistent problems. I have a lot more to say about all of this, but the weekly recap is already running a bit long, so I’ll come back to it another time.
And now, since you may be noticing that the Taylor Lorenz article is a paid only piece…
The Present Age is a reader-supported project. From now until the end of the month, I’m offering free 90 day trials to the premium-tier newsletter content. If you like it and think it’s worth paying for, that’s great. If you don’t think it’s worth paying for, just cancel the trial before the 90 days is up. Sound good? Click this link to get it:
It’s 3/11, so here’s one of my favorite 311 songs from way back in the day: