It strikes me many journalists now all write for advocacy rather than to share objective truths or to give a balanced account of an issue so a reader can make up their own mind based on the facts at hand. It's a sad development.

Expand full comment

I'm a Seattle Times subscriber, and had been fuming about that piece since it was published. (Note that the newspaper did not open a comments section following the article. Funny, that...)

About five hours before your strong rebuttal to the Seattle Times article appeared, I wrote to Katherine Anne Long, author of that awful piece.

I, too, included a link to yesterday's SEGM post, which adds to the rapidly growing pile of evidence proving that what Katherine Anne Long considers the "mainstream" approach to pediatric gender care is anything but:


As you can imagine, I was cheering through the first several paragraphs of your justifiably heated response to Ms. Long's journalistic drive-by shooting.

But in my message to Ms. Long, I also said "Just a side note: while I agree with Abigail Shrier’s careful approach to this particular topic, we likely do not agree on much else in the political sphere." (I beg your indulgence for what follows.) Sure enough, midway through a wonderful denunciation of Ms. Long's hit piece, you veer off into making a comparison to the 2007 publication of "The Israel Lobby," the book by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt. You call them "shameless conspiracy theorists," and say they pinned blames on "Jews," and that "the Jewish community" pushed back (as if all Jews had the very same stance) - but didn't call for book banning and the like. I remember the period rather differently: a very vocal, very powerful lobby, went (technical term here) batshit crazy, because some people with stature in the US Foreign Policy "community" had dared to challenge a taboo. Former President Jimmy Carter had provoked similar ire the year before. Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted him saying that in some ways, this was worse than South Africa.

"Carter said his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" was meant to spark U.S. discussion of Israeli policies. "The hope is that my book will at least stimulate a debate, which has not existed in this country. There's never been any debate on this issue, of any significance.""


Here's Paul Findlay, 22-year moderate Republican congressman from Illinois (co-author of the War Powers Act) reflecting on his experience, in an article from October 2007:

"The pro-Israel lobby is not one organization orchestrating U.S. Middle East policy from a backroom in Washington. Nor is it entirely Jewish. It consists of scores of groups — large and small — that work at various levels. The largest, most professional, and most effective is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Many pro-Israel lobby groups belong to the Christian Right.

"The recently released book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” co-authored by distinguished professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, offers hope for constructive change. It details the damage to U.S. national interests caused by the lobby for Israel. These brave professors render a great service to America, but their theme, expressed in a published study paper a year ago, is already under heavy, vitriolic attack.

"They are unjustly accused of anti-Semitism, the ultimate instrument of intimidation employed by the lobby. A common problem: Under pressure, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs withdrew an invitation for the authors to speak about their book. Council president Marshall Bouton explained ruefully that the invitation posed “a political problem” and a need “to protect the institution” from those who would be angry if the authors appeared."


This goes on today, in full force. Criticism of Israeli policy, even when coming from Jews, is conflated with antisemitism. Dozens of US State Legislatures are being pushed to pass bills criminalizing support for BDS, the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement, a peaceful approach to ending what the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem now forthrightly declares to be an apartheid system. https://www.btselem.org/topic/apartheid Facebook censors Palestinian voices; During the Covid-19 shutdown of campuses across the country, Zoom prevents university organizations from including certain Palestinian speakers invited by professors.

“There is no law requiring Zoom to block the event featuring Leila Khaled,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “Zoom’s actions, along with its later decision to block events on censorship by Zoom, show us once again that private companies who are not bound by free speech rules often use their discretion to selectively block voices. Terms of service are then used to present one-off business decisions as nothing more than the application of their rules.”

“It’s very dangerous for a third-party private vendor to be in the position of deciding what is legitimate academic speech and what is not — it violates all of the customs and norms of the academic culture,” echoed Andrew Ross, a professor at NYU and member of the American Association of University Professors. “This should concern everyone in higher education right now.”


Do you not see the screaming parallels here? In your post today, you rightly push back at the attempt to render any real discussion of trans-related issues (it goes far beyond your book) as a "third rail" of political and social life, risking the metaphorical electrocution of anyone who dares touch it. Yet you do so by elevating the very same approach, used for decades, against anyone who takes a serious look at Israel/Palestine and US policy. This weakens the argument. Judaism is not synonymous with Zionism, let alone with the most reactionary political currents in Israel. Supporting the rights of girls and women, or speaking up for biological reality, is not transphobia.

We need the freedom to discuss all these things openly and honestly. Here's a terrific site I recommend to you for a wider view of the "lobby" matter:



Long tangent, I know, but denouncing a censorious movement, by praising another... We can push back against Seattle Times hit pieces without getting lost in yet another "third-rail" fight.

Expand full comment


Your post is too long and tedious for me to write a complete response, but here's a short list of criticisms:

1) BDS does not "criticize" Israel. Its purpose is to destroy Israel.

2) It is an established principle of U.S. constitutional law that statutes banning boycotts do not violate the First Amendment.

3) The "Israel Lobby" book was not banned; it was just attacked. That was Ms. Shrier's point; much as she hates the book, she does not want it banned. Conflating criticism of that book with attempts to censor her own book is dishonest.

4) There is no Israeli "apartheid." The assertion is ahistorical, ignorant and stupid. Given that, who cares if rises to the level of being "antisemitic"?

5) Just for your information, Zionism is very definitely part of the Jewish religion. Almost all people of Jewish ancestry who deny that are ignorant of the Jewish religion and of Jewish history. They are entitled to their ignorance and their opinions, but they are wrong.

Expand full comment

Hi Max: yes, my comment is long. Short version: Ms. Shrier wrote a great response to the Seattle Times, that could stand entirely on its own without an upside down reference to campaigns to silence discussion of a critical element of US Foreign Policy getting in the way.

My point, which took a bit of time to explain, is that critics of Israeli policy, and critics of US Policy regarding Israel, have long faced the very same attacks/silencing/loss of jobs that now rain down on the heads of anyone who, however mildly, questions/challenges/opposes gender ideology. Ms. Shrier may not have wanted Mearsheimer and Walt's book banned, but plenty of others in the (very real) Israel Lobby certainly did everything possible to render them off-limits fifteen years ago. Want to see how this happens now, to people with far less influence than those two?



As for the rest of your assertions: wrong on all points. We did not sit around the Passover table saying "Next year in a Jerusalem as Jewish as England is English." Nor did our ancestors in the centuries before late-stage European colonialism. Even then, political Zionism, in the form we know it in our lifetimes, was a minority opinion in European Jewry until after the Holocaust. I already linked the very recent B'Tselem statement on apartheid. There's this, too, even more recent:


Israeli Premiers use the term. Why can't we?


It will be a mistake to let defense of the rights of girls and women, and of biological reality, get smothered in some "right/left", "conservative/liberal" war. We can make our case, and convince people of whatever political persuasion, because our arguments are sound enough on their own.

Expand full comment

The more compact point here-- given obvious disagreement over what the books even say-- is for the middleman to stay out of the mess and just sell books to whoever wishes to read them. Let the reader decide what they mean.

Expand full comment

You seem to have lost control with your obsession about support of Israel. Your original point has been obliterated. Al Jazeera might be a more logical alternative.

Expand full comment

You seem to be making Ms. Schrier's point for her - whatever the merits of the book (I'd take a midpoint between both positions) - the correct response is to debate the merits of the ideas contained within (as you've done), not request the book be banned (as was taken with Irreversible Damage).

Expand full comment

and now we hear from the anti-Semite, Terrorist-supporter Jim

Expand full comment

Actually the gist of your comment is right, it does reflect the the times especially through the 1980's. But I am worried that the pendulum even on that phenomenon has simply flipped .. so to me, just as bad. Also, the weird refusal to allow unfethered discussions of the Isreali history and occupation was weird partly due to how rare such inhibition was in those times. Now having the some areas off-limits to even DISCUSS is the norm on every subject.

Expand full comment

It’s very easy to slur someone. Whatever the “most horrible thing you can imagine “ is, accuse them of that.

It’s very tempting to amplify a slur, too. It promotes engagement! Conflict sells copies!

Where’s journalism in all this? Reporting “the conflict”, or reporting the facts? Which would mean looking for the facts, of course.

Glad you’re out of Amazon prison. When I realised they weren’t selling it I contacted my local independent bookshop. They had it in stock & I got it the same day.

It’s really good.

Expand full comment

Amazon is selling the book. The paperback edition will be for sale at the end of June. The hardcover and Kindle editions are available right now.

Expand full comment

The political left is all excited about this new, improved form of communism sweeping the country now. Yeah, it's bad for conservatives like me. But at some points in the future, the leftists who driving this new system will themselves get caught up in the gears. Maybe it will be their white son who is fired from his job because of skin color (gee, but I'm a Progressive, you can't do that to me!) or maybe they get canceled out as this new communism spins out of control.

Expand full comment

The issue with Amazon is that it controls something close to 80% of book sales.

If it were a chain controlling even 5% of book sales, then arguments regarding censorship would be far more muted. But Amazon's market reach will likely continue to grow. If its sales reach in to the 90s percent of the market, then it could become de facto Savanarola.

Have many American companies controlled that percentage of a market without their being broken up?

Expand full comment

Control of the media is a key-level of state power. See ongoing examples of the Annihilation of Memory at this free substack: https://kathleenmccook.substack.com/p/ireland-and-british-censorship-1914

Expand full comment

Mrs. Shrier,

I'm sorry for all of the grief these militant trans activists have caused. So far I have not seen ANY reporting saying the research you shared was incorrect or that you want these girls to have anything but happy lives now and not grow up angry and resentful because they were promised an end to their mental suffering. The militants can not argue because either they never bothered reading it. 2) They know you're right and they are afraid it will lead to the idea that if teens shouldn't transition, adults should be denied those meds and surgeries as well. 3) The activists know there isn't enough research to determine why gender dysphoria occurs, with reaserarchers losing their jobs and reputations for publishing unwelcome findings (what is unwelcome switches rapidly so one may also be shamed and ruined for a previous uncontroversial paper)

4) Since there isn't any legal oppression in American law it's imperative that it seems there is not only continuing, but WORSE torment of minorities. Ask all of the recent hate crime hoaxers. Victimhood pays off.

I've been in the LGBTQ "community" since I came out at 16. I have many trans friends who are worried for these girls. Many lesbian friends said, if they had been given an option to transition as teens they would have. They didn't and they grew to accept themselves and are grateful they waited to see if the dysphoria left and though it was excruciatingly painful to turn into a woman, they now have moved past the suffering and haven't ever wished things had been different.

Keep Telling the Teuth

Expand full comment

In the same vein as this excellent post, I'm taking the liberty of linking to a video and superb editorial by Meghan Murphy, editor of Feminist Current in Canada, on the topic of the censoring of women's speech and speech in general regarding the trans issue.


Expand full comment

These comments are all inane, just like the original column. Nobody apparently has any concept of what "censorship" is. Censorship is the government preventing the publication (including print, radio, TV, etc.) of anything. None of these examples have anything to do with the government preventing anything. A private organization can publish-- or not -publish -- whatever it sees fit. That's editing, not censorship. If Amazon wants to sell -- or not sell -- certain books, it can do whichever. The issue of whether companies like Facebook or Amazon are too large and have too much influence on our lives is a different issue altogether.

Expand full comment

Amazon controls 80% of the book market. Something like 60% of Americans now get their news primarily from FaceBook. If private companies like this, through some opaque procedure of their own, can suddenly flip a switch and render a book, or a person, invisible to that large a segment of the populace, we have a problem. One can also argue, given the very tight connections between Silicon Valley social media giants - as well as major news media conglomerates - with the government, we're not looking at such a "private organizations" anymore. It's a monopoly issue, it's a speech issue, and it's a democracy issue.

Even worse - as in the case of the Seattle Times, one of the examples Ms. Shrier discusses here - is when journalists cheer and participate in these silencing campaigns. By doing so, they reveal they are in the wrong profession.

Expand full comment

'Censorship' can be accomplished by anyone - a government, a church, a corporate monopoly, etc.

Freedom of speech / Freedom of expression is a basic cultural principle of western civilisation. 'I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.' Remember that?

It's only a First Amendment violation when the government does it. It's still censorship when anyone else does it. And it's still anathema to our democratic values when anyone tries it.

Expand full comment

Censorship can be government driven, but in a democracy, it is not the only vehicle to such a conclusion. I believe the point of this article, as stated very early in it, is that the acceptance of censorship by any means has become wider in recent years. You may agree or disagree, but to comment about it not being a formal government action is disingenuous and in poor form.

Expand full comment

Sorry to offend you. Maybe you should cancel me.

Expand full comment

Can a private business decline customer ?

Expand full comment

Censorship can be done by private organizations just as by governments.

Expand full comment

Other people have already pointed out that the meaning of 'censorship' is not limited to governments - it applies to any entity that is capable of preventing people who try to publish information from getting it to the people who are interested in receiving it. Amazon, to the degree that it has such a stranglehold on the book market that publishers won't bother publishing a book if there's a realistic risk that Amazon won't sell it, is an entity whose practical powers of censorship surely *outstrip* many governments. In an ecosystem of hundreds of niche online booksellers, any one of the refusing to carry a title just means that the others can pick up the slack. When a private entity finds itself in a position to dictate what books will or won't be easily available to the public, we have a *suppression of information* problem even though it is not the government doing it. Just because Amazon may have the legal right to quash a book it doesn't like, that doesn't make it ethical to do so.

But in general, it is worth bearing in mind Scott Alexander's wise words on the distinction between actions that attempt to address someone's argument, and actions that attempt to silence it: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/12/29/the-spirit-of-the-first-amendment/

Expand full comment

I appreciate your opinion but not your emotion. Every controversial book ever written has critics that say the book should not exist. In the US, those opinions are protected by the First Amendment, as is your right to write such a book and have it published. You also have a right to criticize your critics as you have here. The problem is you have not moved the conversation about the subject any further and have, instead, been forced on a tangent that probably should have been ignored. There is no harm to you, nor is their harm to your critics.

For the record, I also have qualms about this issue, but it is not my issue to decide. I leave that to medical professionals and those seeking transition. If it turns out wrong, that's what civil suits are for.

Expand full comment

I very much appreciate Ms. Shrier's emotion, as it is emotion manifested in defense of precious values such as free expression and reasoned inquiry. Civil suits don't prevent irreparable harm to human beings; reasoned scientific inquiry does, which means that censorship kills.

Expand full comment

In summary, F Woke Journalists. In fact, M F Woke Journalist.

Expand full comment

If anyone violates the EULA (End User Licence Agreement) they acquessed to when creating a social media account they are subjected to being banned from then the platform. That is certainly not censorship.

Expand full comment

Of course that certainly is censorship. You're just saying that it is censorship you appear to approve of. In this instance, Amazon has decided the book does not violate terms governing books it chooses to sell. The journalists in question want the book censored anyway.

Expand full comment

Applying the EULA arbitrarily to only one side of the political spectrum is problematic.

Expand full comment

You sign up to "Terms of Service" or (in Amazon's case) "Conditions of Use" when you sign up for an account on a platform. Not an "End User License Agreement". And when the platform deletes or bans what you post based on its content, that's censorship.

These big platform companies who use adhesion contracts as clickthrough agreements and then ban users in bad faith or unfairly violate the law. They should be held to account for that.

Expand full comment