Every day, grown adults who should know better make fools of themselves and average Americans by indulging in catastrophic thinking, confessing to heinous “crimes” that amount to nothing more than doubting the Left’s increasingly “woke” orthodoxy. By doing so, these grown adults make themselves complicit in horrific attempts to demonize and erase thoughtful dissent, sometimes in a form that bears a striking resemblance to book burning.
Take the American Booksellers Association (ABA), for example. A non-profit trade association that dates back to 1900, the ABA promotes independent bookstores in the U.S., and it reportedly supports and defends free speech through a related foundation. Yet, on Wednesday, the ABA engaged in a bizarre form of self-flagellation. The organization confessed to a “serious, violent incident” that went against “everything we believe and support,” a truly “inexcusable” error.
Judging by the language the ABA employed, a reader might assume the association had accidentally sent out a poisonous spider in the mailing it sent to members in July. Or perhaps it had sent a mail bomb along with the books it routinely sends its members.
As it turns out, the infraction was far less interesting.
“An anti-trans book was included in our July mailing to members,” the ABA confessed. “This is a serious, violent incident that goes against ABA’s ends policies, values, and everything we believe and support. It is inexcusable.”
So, what was this allegedly hateful tract? This document so vile that merely sending it in the mail constitutes a “violent incident”?
Publishers Weekly‘s Alex Green identified the noxious tome: a copy of Wall Street Journal columnist Abigail Shrier’s updated book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.
Irreversible Damage is not some partisan screed. In the book, Shrier delves into the startling trend of adolescent teenage girls identifying as transgender, which a scientific study described as a “social contagion.” Shrier endorses transgender identity and even hormones and surgery for some people, but she warns against “treatments” that will leave many girls permanently scarred, noting that an increasing number of those who previously identified as transgender have de-transitioned.
Yet the ABA described the book as “violent” and proceeded to browbeat itself still further.
“We apologize to our trans members and to the trans community for this terrible incident and the pain we caused them,” the ABA’s statement continued. “We also apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community at large, and to our bookselling community.”
“Apologies are not enough. We’ve begun addressing this today and are committed to engaging in the critical dialogue needed to inform concrete steps to address the harm we caused. Those steps will be shared in the next three weeks,” the statement concluded.
ABA CEO Allison Hill released a separate statement. “This week we did horrific harm when we included an anti-trans book in ABA’s July box mailing to members. Last week, we did terrible and racist harm when featuring the bestseller Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon with the wrong cover image, conflating it with an image of the cover of a book by a different Black author, a right-wing extremist,” Hill wrote, apparently referring to Candace Owens.
“We traumatized and endangered members of the trans community. We erased Black authors, conflated Black authors, and put the authors in danger through a forced association,” Hill’s browbeating statement continued. “We further marginalized communities we want to support.”
“There is nothing that I can say that will make this right. This should not have happened,” Hill added. “These were egregious, harmful acts that caused violence and pain. One negligent, irresponsible, and racist; the other negligent, irresponsible, and transphobic. (The latter was not a free speech decision.)”
Hill concluded her statement by committing to “action” of various kinds, following ABA’s “commitment to antiracism, inclusion, representation, and equity.”
While the Blackout mix-up truly was embarrassing, this kind of exaggerated brow-beating seems more like a religious confession than a responsible public relations statement.
In fact, it seems neither the ABA nor Hill considered just how offensive it would be to condemn Shrier’s book as “violent,” traumatizing, endangering, and “harmful.” While Hill insisted that her exaggerated condemnations of Shrier’s book have nothing to do with free speech, her remarks suggest otherwise.
By condemning Shrier’s book as inherently violent, both the ABA and Hill have justified censorship of Shrier’s nuanced journalism. Nowhere has the ABA or Hill proven Shrier’s concerns false. The ABA has not presented evidence contradicting the stories of women who grew to reject their transgender identities and lament the damage they did to their own bodies.
Instead, the ABA and Hill have suggested that merely telling these stories and raising these concerns constitutes “violence” against the transgender community. Even if every single word in Shrier’s book is true, her supposedly hateful tome must not see the light of day, lest it allegedly drive a transgender person to suicide.
While conservatives may poke fun at the absurdity of wokeness, this is no laughing matter. The ABA has more than 1,700 members with stores in over 2,000 locations across the United States. Others have also cracked down on Irreversible Damage. Last year, Amazon prevented the publisher, Regnery Publishing, from paying to advertise the book on Amazon. Target briefly removed the book from its online store after an activist complained about its “transphobia.”
These attempts to “cancel” Shrier’s book do not involve claims that the author lied or misquoted the parents, detransitioners, transgender influencers, and others she extensively interviewed for her book. They also do not disprove the book’s warnings about even the least invasive kind of “treatment” for gender-confused teenage girls: chest binders (meant to hide a girl’s feminine upper-body features), which may lead to “fractured or bruised ribs, punctured or collapsed lungs, shortness of breath, back pain, and deformation of the breast tissue.” Drugs like Lupron (meant to “block” puberty) and testosterone cause more damage, and various forms of transgender surgery pose even more serious risks.
Shrier’s book raises the alarm about a serious “social contagion” that threatens the health of teenage girls, but grown adults who should know better are hyperventilating about the “violence” of Shrier’s words, apparently without bothering to read the book.