Letter to the Editor
To the Editor:
I am not a follower of Ben Shapiro, but after having carefully reviewed his presention of the transgender issue (here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXCGYROH1EA, starting at approximately 19:00) during his recent appearance at YU, I would like to briefly speak to the condemnatory letter from YU faculty.
Whether or not one agrees that transgenderism reflects mental illness (such was the position of the American Psychiatric Association until 2013), why is Mr. Shapiro not entitled to express his opinion on the matter in the context of open political discourse? Mr. Shapiro’s addressing a transgender biological male debate opponent who identified as a woman as “Sir” was in the course of an ideological debate about transgenderism; it was not an insult hurled at a passerby, but was an ideological statement in a spirited debate on the topic. Mr. Shapiro’s remarks in the presentation at YU did not approach the level of personal vitriol as described by the faculty letter, but were a candid exercise of free speech on an ideological issue. Readers should please listen themselves. The faculty letter’s depiction of Mr. Shapiro’s remarks was exaggerated and conflated personal interactions with ideological debate, and constituted a form of censorship.
More importantly, although the Torah of course requires our interpersonal conduct to be respectful and sensitive, there is an elephant in the room: Halacha expressly forbids the type of intimacy and so many other actions and attitudes associated with transgenderism (such as cross-dressing and all acts of same-sex sensual affection -- not to mention the Torah’s value statement about same-sex intimacy). Were the faculty letter to have acknowledged this, yet stated that Mr. Shapiro should have expressed his views in a softer tone, it would be understandable. However, referring to one’s stance on transgenderism as part of a spectrum of “diverse viewpoints,” failing to acknowledge the Torah’s controlling position on the matter, is not acceptable.