Cockburn’s old compadre, Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis, stirred up the internet mob again this week when she dared to ‘misgender’ Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine.
‘This guy is making decisions about your health,’ Ellis tweeted, presumably asking whether a man cosplaying as a woman has the rational capacity to lead a state’s coronavirus response. Tom Wolf — the Pennsylvania governor, not the late author — leaped to Levine’s defense: ‘To @JennaEllisEsq and whoever else needs to hear this: Misgendering a transgender person is hate speech and it’s unacceptable.’
Cockburn would remind Wolf that ‘hate speech’ is a highly subjective and therefore ultimately meaningless concept, but that would only distract from Ellis’s point: highlighting whether Levine is the right person to be enacting Pennsylvania’s healthcare policy.
Levine, of course, has enjoyed unconditional support from the media and politicians in the face of the evil bigots who dare question her response to the coronavirus. The stunning and brave Levine even recently called out a reporter who accidentally referred to her as ‘sir’ during a press conference. The reporter profusely apologized, but that did not spare him from online harassment and a canceled interview.
The reason Levine is only in the news when being so cruelly misgendered is because it is a convenient way to cover up the fact that her management of the pandemic has been horrific. Gov. Wolf likely knows this, and thus similarly uses the issue as a shiny object to distract from negative judgments. Talk about mau-mauing the flak catchers…
Levine does not have a medical background in pandemic response or infectious disease, and it shows. She pulled her own mother out of a nursing home before forcing other COVID patients back into them (take that, Gov. Cuomo!). The Pennsylvania health department recently limited public access to death data. Levine and Gov. Wolf have not been tested regularly for the virus despite constantly being around other officials and government staff. Pennsylvania has a coronavirus death rate (deaths divided by total cases) of 5.88 percent. Florida, which has been panned by the media, has a death rate of 1.6 percent. It’s also worth noting that two-thirds of the COVID deaths in Pennsylvania have occurred in nursing homes.
Of course, if you search for Levine and ‘Pennsylvania coronavirus response’, you won’t learn any of this. Instead, you’ll read about the dreadful, transphobic attacks that Levine has to face on a daily basis as she kills off your grandparents.
With all of this, is it any wonder why misgendering isn’t at the top of people’s list of concerns? Perhaps this is a radically chic idea — but what if Tom Wolf focused less on ‘hate speech’ and more on how his health secretary has bungled the state’s COVID response.
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