The chair of the Columbia University department of psychiatry was suspended on Wednesday, “effective immediately,” after referring to a dark-skinned model as possibly a “freak of nature” on Twitter. NY Times
What the hell is wrong with that?
The Grand Canyon is a “freak of nature”. A peacock is a “freak of nature”. The Northern Lights are a “freak of nature”. They are beautiful and wonderful.
It is quite notable that most of the great cancellations of the “woke” era are of people who are fundamentally allied politically with those who do the cancelling. [See, most recently, Jane Campion.]
Witness poor Jeffrey Lieberman, the chair of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York. It is immediately apparent from his abject apology and self-flagellating acknowledgment that he, unlike the real enemies of racial justice, is sympathetic to the cause. I believe his sense of guilt is entirely derived from the self-righteous piety of those accusing him. He thinks he did something wrong because a bunch of puritanical zealots told him he did. He even added that he now knows that he had no idea how racist he was. The horrified expressions and vindictive passion of his accusers overwhelmed his good sense. His attackers feel righteous and holy, having once again stomped out another residue of institutional black oppression.
He absorbed a terrible insult and I dearly wish he had had the character to stand up to this bullshit and refuse to apologize or acknowledge that there was anything wrong with his tweet. Let them fire him and let it play out. It will not go well for his attackers. They will have provided Tucker Carlson with more fodder. And then sue the damned University for damages and wrongful dismissal. Let it play in a court of law: I was fired over a phrase. Let us learn what the meaning is of “freak of nature”.
What did he do? He remarked upon the surreal beauty of model Nyakim Gatwech. I’ll join him in his transgression: Ms. Gatwech is a surreal beauty of utterly remarkable skin coloring. She is unique and unusual. Yes, a “freak of nature”, like Wayne Gretzky, Einstein, and Tuesday Weld.
“Freak of nature”: that’s the phrase that set off people:
“Dark skin is normal, dark skin is just part of the normal variation of human existence,” Dr. Lett said. “Stigmatizing language has psychological impacts. It hurts people.”
Yet Ms. Gatwech herself proudly advertises her colouring as a valuable and commodifiable quality. She is paid to show her skin to the marketers of cosmetics and clothing, to photograph and broadcast. Ms. Gatwech, for your information, is cashing in on the character of her skin colour. Is there a note of hypocrisy here? Well, it’s not just a note; it’s a symphony of hypocrisy.
Dr. Lett assumes that “freak of nature” is pejorative. It is not. It is fundamentally similar to the first part of my comment, that Ms. Gatwech’s skin colouring and shape is a unique and remarkable expression of various attributes of gender, race, and heredity. Unusual. Distinctive. Uncommon. Poetically, she could be said to be a Mona Lisa, a Venus, a Madonna.
How different really is it from this more “anodyne” comment from TeenVogue?
It was then the dark skinned beauty started to build her portfolio, taking two years in New York and countless weekends during college to have photo shoots.
“Dark-skinned”? Does that phrase stigmatize Ms. Gatwech? Does it stereotype her? Does the word “beauty” sexualize her?
It is clear from the rest of Dr. Lieberman’s tweet that his comment is complimentary. He admires Ms. Gatwech’s beauty. It takes a perverse mind to construe his tweet as “stigmatizing” or “stereotyping” especially when the very attribute he is amazed by is her particularity.
Is it racist? I don’t see it. I see someone stating the obvious: Ms. Gatwech is a very unusual beauty, with extremely dark skin.
He added that he was “deeply ashamed” of his “prejudices and stereotypical assumptions.”
WTF? What prejudice? What “assumptions”? Is there something else he said that we are missing that expressed prejudice? Do the people making the accusation even know what a “stereotypical assumption” is? Where is it, in the tweet?
I cringe at Dr. Liberman’s pathetic surrender to the puritanical fanatics of this culture of victimization. You give liberals and progressives a bad name. You make some right-wing commentators sound reasonable when they decry your extremism.
As for his judges, I hope I never, ever, ever meet you.
More on the scandal from NYTimes
An Excellent Rebuke to the culture of purity and assonance.
As for Jane Campion, what she said, in accepting her award for “Best Director”, is absolutely accurate: the Williams sisters did not, like her, have to compete against men for their prizes and awards. Some critics counter that they did, indeed, play on mixed doubles teams, where they did play men. Give me a break: that’s is not remotely the same as playing one-on-one against Nadel or Djokovic, against whom neither sister would stand a chance. It is also a pity “King Richard”, the film about how they were “encouraged” to succeed by their father, never raises the issue of steroid abuse, even if to insist Serena was not using them, and that she had a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) for prednisone, prednisolone and oxycodone.
As rumors of steroid abuse swirled around the WTA in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the WTA finally took action and called for offseason steroids testing. That testing was blocked by the top three women’s tennis players at the time. Those players were Serena and Venus Williams, along with Jennifer Capriati. Bleacherreport
The claim is that these therapeutics help a sick athlete get better. But very few therapeutics actually do that. Usually, a virus runs it’s course and diminishes over time. Therapeutics merely help you feel better. And if someone was paying you millions of dollars to perform without raising questions about the integrity of your performance….