Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Debate: Trans kids, drag queens and Trump/Hunter indictments with Emily Jashinsky

Episode 129 with Emily Jashinsky

Jun 23, 2023

This week saw several anti-trans laws passed in red states struck down by Federal judges who found that the laws were a violation of constitutional rights. One in Arkansas which sought to deny gender affirming care to trans kids and one in Florida which sought to prevent Medicaid being used for such care. In response, we thought we’d do something a little different bringing on Federalist writer and Counterpoints host Emily Jashinsky to debate these topics and more with us. We get into everything from drag queen story hours to Target and Bud Light boycotts to Trump’s indictments and the right’s sudden concern for two tier systems of justice. We appreciated the exchange with Emily and hope you will too!


In addition, we tackled a huge question of principles and strategy this week: when is debate a productive way to engage political opponents? The case we’re looking at is the recent Twitter altercation between scientist Peter Hotez and podcaster Joe Rogan over a proposed vaccine debate — and we’re using its lessons to reflect on the matter of when we can and should accept big debate platforms, and when bad-faith opponents make this tactic a waste of time.

Think back just a few years and you’ll remember liberal outcry over Sanders appearing on Fox News: He’s legitimizing right-wing media! He’s shepherding the left into conservative circles! But many, ourselves included, saw the value in Sanders making his anti-Trumpian case for social and economic justice, and against a corrupt political establishment, in a way that did anything but solidify the conservatism of Fox’s base. Watching Bernie offer the antidote to right-wing populism on one of its biggest platforms reminded us that engaging political opponents, meeting their base where they’re at, offers us more airtime and a new arena to make our case for our politics.

But, as you’ll hear in this episode, we think this kind of engagement holds both benefits and drawbacks for a Left seeking to combat conservative political ideology. When, then, do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits? In conversation with this week’s guest, we lay out our case for a nuanced approach to debate. When it comes to deeply unpopular fringe opinions, for example, spending time and energy in dialogue with opponents feels like a waste: we’re not here to take down Flat Earthers. But when, as Krystal puts it, “the cat’s out of the bag” — when the view we want to refute has a prominent, active base of supporters, and when we believe its impact is widely felt and holds significance for everyday life — we want to confront our adversaries head-on. For our full thoughts, and Emily’s response, check out the episode, which we hope you’ll enjoy. You can listen to it tomorrow as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, and more.

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