The Guardian's Ideological Dead-end

Sacrificing clarity and truth on the altar of dogma

Today, The Guardian released an updated report on the controversy of a report of indecent exposure at a spa in LA. This piece contains new information that was first revealed by right-wing outlets, and serves to demonstrate how The Guardian - by doggedly pursuing a specific ideological angle and denigrating anything that does not fit - has become wedded to a pernicious false consciousness that prevented them from breaking this news themselves.

At the start of July, they reported on the protests that the incident kicked off, which they framed as triggered by hateful, baseless, viral conspiracy theories. They made completely unevidenced and partisan statements, such as:

Calls to defend “female spaces” and “women’s shelters” have become rallying cries of anti-trans groups, who have falsely suggested that trans-inclusive policies endanger cis women.

They followed up at the end of July with a piece that again stressed that the story was unconfirmed and spreading amongst right wing forums, while credulously providing links to opposition sources just as prone to spreading biased misinformation. This report suggests variously that the incident was fabricated, staged, exaggerated, or that if it even happened it was itself mere bigotry. As such, it was immediately lauded by those who felt this confirmed what they already believed to be true:

Anyone who expresses concerns about where we are or where self-id policies are leading is regarded as - either actively or unwittingly - a tool of right-wing disinformation networks. That is the only possible explanation - because the authors are on the side of “good”, so anyone else must be bad.

The Guardian here is acting not as a purveyor of balance or truth, but of equivalent, oppositional disinformation.

This continues in today's story, which - despite finally conceding that the incident occurred and that it involved a repeated sex-offender - studiously avoids using the pronouns of the male person at the heart of it, and returns focus to their initial obsession: that this propagated virally because of the far-right, proving their long-standing contention that those who are critical of self-id are at best far-right adjacent.

If you insist that everyone that disagrees with you, or questions your coverage of an issue can only be connected to or tainted with far-right disinformation networks, then you are contributing to the collapse of public dialogue. Through the evolving coverage of this story The Guardian has demonstrated exactly the insular, biased amplification of a specific POV, misinformation and groupthink that conspiracy theorists and right wing forums display. There is no difference.

No doubt they believe this is all for the greater good.

There was a story to be uncovered here, were it approached even-handedly, about eg.

  • How the original event was framed both in more negative and more positive terms by oppositional factions, amplified and exaggerated in every direction by those who wanted to use it for their own political ends.

  • How the protest was exploited by violent groups from opposite poles of the political spectrum.

  • How the real concerns of women were lost in the insistence that only these extreme positions existed, and anything else was a mere “dogwhistle” for bigotry.

  • How the purity spiral of what passes for the left in the US has been capitalised on by the far right, enabling them to seem reasonable in comparison.

  • How misinformation, and subsequent revelations of falsehood have been deliberately used to discredit those who believed or spread it.

  • How the steady dehumanisation of women as TERFs over the last few years has made them legitimate targets for physical harassment by violent men.

But The Guardian instead acted as a credulous mouthpiece for one “side”, because this is the maddening endgame of self-id: there can be no exception.

A single exception means the whole concept is fundamentally broken.

The Guardian cannot accept that it might be bad for a male, serial sex-offender to gain unchallengeable access to women and children for the purposes of exposing himself, because doing so requires admission that this person is not a woman just because they say so.

Self-id is not only for sincere, honest people, it is for liars too. Distinguishing between those means that someone’s stated gender identity can be called into question - but the only permitted arbiter of the truth of an individual’s gender identity is the individual themselves . As raised repeatedly in the objections to Scotland’s proposed GRA reform to adopt self-id:

It is unclear how it can be proven that someone has abused the process

This is an irreconcilable conflict, so any inconvenient case such as this must be reflexively denied, and people talking about it demonised in the strongest possible terms for believing such an exception could possibly exist. It does not matter how extreme the example, how obviously absurd and wrong, how demonstrable the harm - they must insist it isn't true, and that you're evil for thinking it is.

They have painted themselves into an ideological corner.

They have no choice - because if they admit you can't tell who's an opportunistic liar, then they admit that self-id is dangerous nonsense.

They would no longer be able to support the demonisation of gay and lesbian people who assert themselves to be same-sex attracted - because if someone will lie about their “gender identity” in this situation, why not others? Why not to shame and coerce lesbians into silence or into accepting abusive men as potential partners?

They would no longer be able to demand the “affirmation” of children and insistence that merely questioning their gender identity is bigotry - because if someone can lie about their gender identity, why can’t they also simply be mistaken? If you have to be able to question their identity to know if they are a liar, then why can’t you question someone to be sure they’re not mistaken? How can you tell the difference, without questioning?

The Guardian has found itself defending a sex-offender’s right to expose themselves to children, because to concede that this is wrong is to fatally undermine the certainty and fervour with which they have been pursuing the gender identity cause, and the viciousness with which anyone with a dissenting or nuanced opinion has been demonised.

At this point, the truth of the story is irrelevant, because the Guardian is now unable to report clearly what is alleged to have happened, and who is alleged to have done so, because they are ideologically incapable of doing so. Self-identified sex must be always and in every situation respected, sacrosanct, and indistinguishable from any other notion of sex, no matter the cost. They must continue to insist that there is no cost.

Meanwhile, the absolute failure of this sort of reporting to reflect anything close to reality is fodder for their ideological opponents, whose own tendency to fabricate and misinform cannot be robustly challenged because outlets like The Guardian are openly sacrificing clarity and truth on the altar of dogma.

Who benefits from this?