On Sunday morning, a host of pro-transgender tweeters attacked Monty Python master John Cleese for his defense of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has received death threats for her moderate stance on transgender issues. Any dissent from the woke orthodoxy on transgenderism must not be tolerated. Cleese didn’t just savage the insanity of this witch hunt, he had tremendous fun with it.
It seems the latest round of controversy came when Cleese tweeted about Claus von Stauffenberg, a German who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler because Hitler was leading Germany to disaster. Even though von Stauffenberg was right, he was considered a traitor. “People don’t like admitting they’ve been wrong,” Cleese tweeted.
To this, a pro-transgender account tweeted, “Do tell…?” with a screenshot of Cleese’s tweet about standing in solidarity with J.K. Rowling. “What would you like me to tell, Mr. Joughin?” the comic actor responded.
Many transgender activists engaged with Cleese’s response. Charlotte Volpe, a self-described social media guru, tweeted that Cleese needs to confess he was wrong for “standing in solidarity with transphobia and discrimination.”
“Yes, and torturing small animals and setting fire to babies,” the comic actor mockingly responded. “Are you psychic?”
Another pro-transgender account asked Cleese why he can’t “just let people be who they want to be?”
“Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman,” Cleese wryly responded. “Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic?”
Cleese’s response perfectly savaged the transgender orthodoxy. Many claim that society must refashion itself to accommodate or even celebrate males who identify as women and females who identify as men, but transracial identities are still very much taboo.
This one-liner frustrated transgender activist Charlotte Clymer, who touted a “vast consensus of medical and other scientific experts” in support of transgender identity and faulted Cleese for suggesting that “it’s about logic.” It is a tremendous medical scandal that transgender activists have infiltrated many medical associations and worked to promote “treatments” that many endocrinologists warn actually create a disease.
Another tweeter suggested that Cleese acknowledge Rowling’s alleged “rather indelicate statements” regarding transgender people.
“That depends who I identify with today,” he comic actor quipped.
Someone mocked Cleese by claiming a dinner party with him and Rowling “sounds like the worst dinner party ever.” To this, Cleese responded, “Who did you have dinner with recently who is talented, intelligent, well-educated and thoroughly decent?”
Another self-righteous person seemed to take the dinner party theme literally. “I make my own dinner and never invite transphobes,” Jose Pimenta claimed.
“Congratulations on being impeccable,” Cleese joked. “I can never manage it.”
A tweeter who identifies himself only as “Sam” posted screenshots of the death threats against J.K. Rowling over her statements on transgender identity. “I could do twenty pages of death threats from people who haven’t read a word she’s written on the subject and cannot give you one sentence she’s uttered that was transphobic. They want her dead anyway,” he tweeted.
John Cleese wouldn’t joke about that.
“If you can’t control your own emotions, you’re forced to control other people’s behaviour,” the actor explained. “That’s why the touchiest, most oversensitive and easily upset must not set the standard for the rest of us.”
If you can't control your own emotions, you're forced to control other people's behaviour
That's why the touchiest, most oversensitive and easily upset must not set the standard for the rest of us https://t.co/bAX5zT0ja7
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 22, 2020
Cleese went on to tell a “woke joke.”
“A production of ‘Macbeth’ may cancelled because the man playing the lead revealed that he had never actually killed anyone,” John Cleese began. “Convicted murderers are now being sought. Otherwise they will have to stage Chekhov’s Three Sisters, who will be Inuit, Thai and Samoan.”
This joke is particularly hilarious because transgender activists constantly claim that directors must use transgender actors to play transgender characters, and many movies and television shows seem so intent to include a broad racial diversity of characters that it waters down the basic premise of the story.
Others accused Cleese of debating transgender issues “where you have no dog in this fight and [are] likely to have a pretty superficial understanding of” the issues.
“Yes, my understanding is superficial,” John Cleese wryly admitted. “One thing: When a woman who was once a man is competing against women who have always been women, I think she has an advantage, because she inherited a man’s body, which is usually bigger and stronger than a woman’s.”
“Does that prove phobia?” he asked.
Yes, my understanding is superficial
One thing: When a woman who was once a man is competing against women who have always been women, I think she has an advantage, because she inherited a man's body, which is usually bigger and stronger than a woman's
Does that prove phobia? https://t.co/8x2H9zvstd
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 22, 2020
Partly due to the fact that so many medical associations have rushed to embrace transgender ideology, some argue that opponents of transgender activism must have a superficial understanding of the subject. One need not have the experience of gender dysphoria to understand that it may be dangerous to allow biological men into women’s restrooms, women’s sports, and women’s shelters, however. Common sense is enough to raise these red flags. That’s why lesbian feminists agree with conservatives in warning against radical transgender activism.
Gender dysphoria — the painful identification with the gender opposite one’s biological sex — is a real condition, but that does not mean that the solution is mainstreaming transgender identity and encouraging people to take cross-sex hormones, so-called “puberty blockers,” and to undergo surgeries that will leave their bodies permanently scarred. If a doctor were to meet a dangerously thin girl who falsely thinks she is fat and then encourage her to go on a diet, that doctor would rightly be dismissed as a quack. This is not exactly Rowling’s position, however.
Rowling is quite sensitive to the pain of people who suffer from gender dysphoria — in fact, she may be too sensitive. The author accepts that some people who suffer from gender dysphoria (the condition of identifying with the gender opposite one’s biological sex) are well served by adopting a transgender identity and even undergoing hormonal and surgical interventions. She has, however, warned that such experimental treatments may be dangerous for minors, and she has also warned that opening up women’s private spaces to biological men can have extremely negative consequences.
For many transgender activists, such positions are anathema. In fact, many activists interpret Rowling’s nuanced position as a threat of physical violence against transgender people, a kind of “hate speech” that must be silenced at all costs. John Cleese was mocking those people in his tweetstorm.
“If you can’t control your own emotions, you’re forced to control other people’s behaviour,” John Cleese warned. “That’s why the touchiest, most oversensitive and easily upset must not set the standard for the rest of us.”
That’s an important message for all of us, no matter where we stand on the political spectrum.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.