Letter to the editor: Science in particular benefits from freedom of speech


I would like to help solve the “gender education crisis” in our schools. Our youngest school children are being taught nonsense about sex and gender by well-meaning but confused gender-missionaries. The antidote to this problem is freedom of speech. Scientists have discovered many amazing things in the last 100 years. We have an opportunity to learn what these great researchers revealed, and then to freely teach those secrets about reality to our children. We could all be standing on the shoulders of giants. All we have to do is crack open a genetics textbook, read what it says, and share it with the educators. Why don’t we? What are we afraid of? 

Two scientists, a male and a female, discovered sex chromosomes around 1905. Over this last century, non-scientists (philosophers, artists, politicians, historians) have been working hard to catch up, to understand the differences between “chromosome-sex” and “gender.” This struggle is now a bit easier thanks to today’s widespread use of the computer. Sex is hardware. Gender is software. Sex is nature. Gender is nurture. Sex is physical reality. Gender is a belief about the self. 

Sex chromosomes are scientifically measurable and provable. Gender, on the other hand, is generated by the brain and experienced privately, like a religious faith. Sex is experienced publicly. Gender is experienced personally. Sex, as part of physical reality, limits what you can do. Gender, like a religious conviction, determines what you decide to try. Your body makes you want things generally, but your brain makes you attempt very specific behaviors.

There is a “rainbow” of genders for the same reason there is more than one religion, and more than one political party, and more than one economic theory. Some people prefer Coke over Pepsi. Some people read horoscopes instead of the weather forecast. 

What does this all have to do with freedom of speech? Our founders were arrogant enough to overthrow England, but also wise enough to understand that they didn’t know everything. The founders decided to protect not just religious beliefs but the ability to express all beliefs without government interference. Today, our country protects the spread of all kinds of poisonous nonsense. Fortunately, thanks to our founders, we can freely denounce and expose many of these untruths. Science in particular benefits from freedom of speech. When our schoolteachers get confused and use the word “sex” when they mean “gender,” we can share facts about chromosomes. When our politicians need to learn about biology and brain science before creating laws, we can gift them a textbook. When our poets say some nonsense about “sex as metaphor,” we can laugh, poke fun, and deny them money. When historians claim that sex is a social construct, we can politely point out that reality was here first, and society much, much later.

David Norris,