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The woke mob strikes again, with the phrase ‘sexual preference’ banned overnight. Or was it really so sudden?

Michael Rectenwald
Michael Rectenwald

is an author of ten books, including the most recent, Beyond Woke. He was Professor of Liberal Arts at NYU from 2008 through 2019. Follow him on Twitter @TheAntiPCProf

is an author of ten books, including the most recent, Beyond Woke. He was Professor of Liberal Arts at NYU from 2008 through 2019. Follow him on Twitter @TheAntiPCProf

The woke mob strikes again, with the phrase ‘sexual preference’ banned overnight. Or was it really so sudden?
It seems that the woke world uses Orwell’s 1984 as an instruction manual, as it changes word uses and meanings by the day. Now the phrase ‘sexual preference’ is out – despite its use by a leading LGBTQ magazine only weeks ago.

The list of words and phrases deemed verboten by woke totalitarians has grown, seemingly overnight. We’re now told that “sexual preference” belongs in the dustbin of history.

During the senate hearings for US Supreme Court nominee Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) scolded Justice Barrett after the nominee used the phrase “sexual preference” in answer to one of the senator’s questions. Hirono claimed that “anti-LGBTQ activists” employ the phrase to “suggest that sexual orientation is a choice,” when in reality it’s “a key part of a person’s identity.” The implication was that if Barrett did not understand that the expression is “offensive and outdated,” then she can’t possibly rule fairly in cases concerning LGBTQ persons.

Within hours, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary labeled the use of preference as “offensive” when referring to a person’s sexual orientation. The alteration was first noted by podcaster Steve Krakaur on Twitter. As Jon Levine later tweeted, the added labelling is especially surprising (to some), given that “the premiere [sic] LGBT publication in the USA,” Advocate Magazine, had used the phrase only weeks before.

The decree against the use of “sexual preference” is one in a long series of linguistic machinations designed to control thinking about topics deemed off-limits for discussion or debate in politically correct society. In this case, the language policing has to do with the question of whether or not we’re allowed to suggest, however remotely, that sexual orientation is a choice. The correct answer is that we’re not. While Harvard University has claimed that one’s gender can change from day to day, we must take it on authority that one’s sexual orientation is nevertheless fixed for all time. This is the only allowable opinion.

The diktat follows from decades of cultural and political campaigning by what is now the LGBTQ+ community. (Indeed, I wonder whether I’ve included enough capital letters in this alphabet soup, or whether LGBTTQQIAAP is now the accepted initialism for the burgeoning gender and sexual proclivities roster.) The major prong in this campaign has been that sexual orientation is inherent and cannot be changed. One is ‘born gay,’ for example, and thus cannot change one’s sexual proclivities. Therefore, punishing gays for being gay is immoral. This prong was adopted decades ago for political purposes in order to advance gay rights, including the right to marry and adopt children. These are battles gay rights advocates have, at least in the West, mostly won.

Thus, there really should be little surprise that the axiom is now being asserted as orthodoxy. What is surprising is that it took so long for the language police to catch up to settled politics and policies.

Among those unsurprised by the announcement of this particular piece of linguistic censorship must be Douglas Murray, author of The Madness of Crowds. As Murray argues in chapters entitled ‘Gay,’ ‘Women,’ ‘Race’ and ‘Trans,’ identities that were once unacceptable have become undeniable, and allowable views on matters of identity and sexual orientation have become the only allowable views–no matter how these views contradict one another. Sexual orientation is inherent, but race is ‘socially constructed,’ for example. One can choose one’s gender but cannot have a “sexual preference” for another.

Also on rt.com Merriam-Webster labels ‘sexual preference’ OFFENSIVE after uproar over LGBTQ terminology during SCOTUS confirmation hearing

Murray writes at length about how those who once faced intolerance have since become the intolerant, and how those once censored have become the most vigorous censors. On the matter of being gay, Murray, himself gay, notes that there is no settled science on whether being gay is a matter of nature or nurture, or both. We simply don’t know.

The problem, then, is not that LGTBQ+ people assert that sexual orientation is not a preference but an inborn orientation. The problem is that no one can suggest otherwise, or even investigate the question, without being scorned and cancelled. The problem is that the woke have become the very totalitarians that they claim to have once opposed.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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