Will the Rising Tide of Nuttiness Come My Way?

Back when school was real life, my phone rang.

“I need you to send Manuel Perez to the front office.”

“Wrong room. I don’t have a Manuel Perez.”

“This is your precalc class?”


“Manuel Perez.”

“No. I have a Sophie Perez.”


“That’s Manuel.”

My turn to pause. I looked at the phone. Looked at Sophie, in the front group of desks, working diligently: an extremely cute, mildly butch, openly lesbian girl I’ve taught in four separate classes. As reference only, without disdain, much more this than this or this.

“Oh. I didn’t know Sophie was calling herself Manuel these days.”

The voice grew, if possible, even sterner at the multiple gender transgressions in my last sentence. “Perhaps Manuel didn’t feel comfortable sharing his identity with you.”

I paused long enough to be rude, thinking bad thoughts. “I’ll send her.”

Hung up. Turned.

Algebra 2 and geometry students hold their breath when the phone rings. If I send a student to the front office, there’s always someone willing to scream “BUSTED!” Precalc students, less likely to be in trouble, tend to ignore the phone. But this call had gone on long enough to gather some casual interest up front.



“Something you aren’t telling me?

“Huh? Oh, I went to senior cut day.”

“No. Mrs. Silveria in front says you’re Manuel.”

“Oh. Yeah, sometimes.  Some places.”

“Am I supposed to be calling you Manuel?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“Do you want me to call you Manuel?”

“No, man, I’ve had you since sophomore year. Call me Sophie.”

“Okay, but the thought control police are yelling at me and you need to keep me up on current events. Anyway, they want some dude called Manuel in the front office.”

Sophie jaunted out.

I looked at Consuela, one of Sophie’s closest friends, also a four time student. “She’s been Manuel for a while–well, he’s been Manuel. You know.”

“It’s hard to say this…correctly, but has anyone told her she’s going to score way more chicks as a girl than as a guy?”

The class broke up laughing. Understand, most of these kids knew that Sophie was also calling herself Manuel. Little bastards never thought to tell me.

“I mean. She’s short! Adorable! She’s had girlfriends all through school! Is she planning on dating straight chicks? They like tall guys, normally. It just seems, I don’t know, a counterproductive mating strategy.”


I very wisely began my blog and twitter account in anonymous mode. Recently, Phillippe Lemoine chastised all pseudonymous personalities for not living our real identities online, arguing that “if you want to change people’s minds, you really should consider writing under your real name”, and that there’s no real excuse for the cowardice of a pseudonym. Unsurprisingly, I had some thoughts about that, which you can read in our conversation at the link.

The anecdote above, I related in a  conversation Toad and I had about how the bell will toll for all of us one day, signalling the death of our intellectual independence as we pledge fealty to whatever gods our corporate and governmental overlords deem the victor, or the most fearsome source of lawsuits.

To integrate the two conversations:  I’m not terribly concerned about the lunatics demanding fealty.  I am not normally a sunny person, so my belief that schools would not have fallen whole hog into the crap festival of posturing going on should have some value. Had school been open during this insanity, we teachers would not have been forced into kneeling, feet washing, or even posting some meaningless sign in our classrooms. Is my belief. Our school and district haven’t sent out more than two carefully worded emails, one each from principal and superintendent, bewailing the riots and promising some sort of discussion at a future date.

I am quite afraid of being outed as Ed and then fired and cancelled and probably stripped of a pension. Hell, maybe not even outed as Ed–the wrong person could learn I voted for Trump, and it’s game over. The idea that I should post under my own name is….insulting in its grotesque stupidity. Who the hell do you people think you are, I say as respectfully as possible, to Philippe to Jonah Goldberg to Tim Carney to Charles Murray to all the other people who think the eggnuts trolling them on twitter are the same as eight years of blogging and tweeting under the same identity.  Razib Khan might have a job at a university, but he lost out on a part-time gig at the Times, and that was three or four years ago. But to Philippe, hey, Razib still has a job so it’s all good. Jason Richwine is still employed, David Shor still has a job after his company threw him to the wolves. So this is all evidence that people like me shouldn’t worry.

Nuts to that. (Is “Bugger that for a lark” the same thing or does it carry a different semantic overtone? I remember DEATH saying that in Reaper Man and it’s always stuck with me.)

So leave aside the horror of being outed and cancelled. I’m talking here about having my Ed Realist identity secure and still getting fired. Assume I’d win a lawsuit in the event I was fired for voting for Trump. What erroneous comment could result in my undoing without appeal?

Back in the 90s and oughts, it was all about the holy trinity: race, gender, and gay rights. At the time, race was my big offender–not because I’m a racist, because I’m not, but because I was opposed to affirmative action and ascribed to the Voldemort View. My sins regarding gender are many and varied, but since I’ve never had the power or the inclination to harass women and support early term abortion rights, I’ve always been solid. Cleanest of all, pristine in fact, was my general support for gay rights, although I would have withheld marriage bennies from them because they’re too expensive. But then, I’d ban straight marriages from them, too–women can earn their own money, dammit. (See what I mean about the gender stuff?).

Today, it’s a different story. Certainly I sin on IQ, but I would never mention these beliefs in school. I’m actually more in favor of affirmative action (with a basement) than I was back then, simply because a decade of familiarity with Asian test prep tends to alter your thinking. I’m more likely to offend people with my comments on Asians than on blacks–but then, most Asians agree with me about my thoughts on Asians, so they’d be unlikely to agitate much.

My views on gender rights and gay rights haven’t changed. Alas, the entire issue of gender rights and gay rights have altered beyond all recognition. For example, even though I loathe radical feminists, I’m completely sympathetic with TERFs. And while I was totally on the right side of god with gay rights, I can’t tell if transgender insanity counts as gay rights or gender rights.

Whatever the ultimate category is, as the story above shows, it’s transgender issues that are most likely to get me fired. I’d like to think I could distinguish between someone who was experimenting and cool with it and a student who was genuinely fraught and go running to the authorities screaming. But bottom line, wrong comment to wrong student, and I’m toast.

Which is odd, from my perspective, and evidence again of how completely things have changed. My opposition to gay marriage was largely theoretical. I didn’t really think, as conservatives did, that knocking down gay marriage would result in insane demands for people to choose whatever the hell behavior they want under any gender they want to label it. They were right, and the awareness that such a bizarre concern could come true has utterly changed my thinking.

I have a friend who agrees with me, but whenever he discusses it, even if we’re the only two in the room, he lowers his voice because he’s afraid someone will hear.

I was worried about this before the Supreme Court went insane and declared that transgenders are a protected category.  It’s even more insulting and degrading if Gorsuch and Roberts came to this conclusion because they are planning on striking down affirmative action for African Americans. It’s so typical, really, that they’d privilege the mentally ill over the descendants of slavery, typical that they’d screw over the average citizen who has normal views on gender and sex just so they could be sure that more whites and Asians get into Harvard. (Typical, too, that the Supreme Court wouldn’t give a shit about how this affects public schools. Left or right, the Court hates public schools.)

You can see, can’t you, the irony. If it’s any consolation, if you’d asked affirmative action opponent me back in the 90s if I’d trade affirmative action for giving Bruce Jenner the right to use the women’s bathroom, I’d have said hell, no, let blacks and Hispanics get in with lower test scores. If my opinions have altered slightly with time, my priorities stay constant.


About educationrealist

30 responses to “Will the Rising Tide of Nuttiness Come My Way?

  • Link

    Two things: Look no further than what’s occurring with Scott Alexander for why pseudonyms may be useful or appropriate. Context sensitive situations, oh my! https://slatestarcodex.com

    I would argue that meaningful change may come more quickly with some skin in the game, but again, context. The debate isn’t over (except maybe for the authors in the Twitter thread).

    The other: I’m afraid there’s a lot more we disagree on than I originally thought, but as it relates to affirmative action, I do agree in this way: it’s a bit silly to think promoting a minority-minority number of people to higher education (etc.) will resolve the systemic issues that cause a poverty and its consequences that affect the majority of those minorities. It’s a weird salve.

    • educationrealist

      I don’t want affirmative action. I’m just less outraged by it than I used to be. College is just a joke and they’ve so devalued it that they almost don’t need AA anymore.

    • educationrealist

      I don’t want affirmative action. I’m just less outraged by it than I used to be. College is just a joke and they’ve so devalued it that they almost don’t need AA anymore.

      Scott Alexander’s case is weird, in that he let people know his name. I tell people who I am, but not without explicitly asking that they not release information. I’ve also, probably because I’m not as important, haven’t had to deal with people hating me.

      • Mark Roulo

        “Scott Alexander’s case is weird, in that he let people know his name.”

        Scott’s “mistake” was in failing to anticipate that someone with a large audience (in his case, the New York Times, but it could have been many others) was willing to (a) find out his real name [not hard], and (b) publish it.

        If some random blogger had chosen to publish his name it probably would not have mattered because random bloggers don’t have the audience that the NYT does.

        If he had anticipated this (or even prepared for it) then he could have not posted the posts that he’s concerned about. In short, he could have self-censored. But his popularity grew slowly and at the beginning the NYT would not have cared about him. Today they do, but there wasn’t a clear line that he crossed to become interesting.

        So he didn’t self-censor and then a publisher with a large audience became interested in him. Ooops. But in some sense only ooops in hindsight. Who would have guessed five years ago that the NYT would want to write a piece on his blog AND insist on publishing his name as part of the piece?

        It is clear to me that the NYT does not HAVE to publish his name as part of an article, so this is a choice that the NYT is making. I tend towards paranoia, so I wonder if this decision is directed at others who choose not so self-censor: Don’t publish wrong-think, or this can happen to you, too! I dunno.

  • Nikolai Vladivostok

    Previously, we could stay under the radar by keeping our mouths shut at work. These days we are getting closer to the point where we must repeat untruths or do things we don’t want to do, to keep our jobs. Call a boy a girl, kneel, repeat a mantra etc. And it will not be a one off – once we’ve proven that we are broken, it will become routine.

    I saw this coming and it was one reason I quit the rat race. We keep waiting for the pendulum to swing back, but it might not do so until there is a catastrophe.

    Just a thought, you might want to lock some of your Voldemortian content. As for avoiding pronoun tripwires, who knows. We are in uncharted waters.

  • psansonetti79

    Scotts blog was legitimately amazing.
    Dudes a Jewish , rationalist, psychiatrist, in San francisco, who has dated trans women, whos main crime is that he steel manned certain right wing positions in an effort to be rigorous , to the best of my knowledge. If they will come for him , they willl come for just about anyone.He even yried to divorce himself from political extremism by creating a reddit group called ” the motte”, where those of us more comfortable in the left a d rightwing fever swamps could argue with each other( truly one of not the greatest area on the internet for intelligent political debate) If he had worse sins against the cathedral, somebody please let me know. I was pretty intimate with his blog but not perfectly.

    Ms E.R.? what about the facts ,as they pertain to Aff Action, as it pertains to the “mismatch problem”?
    (sorry the wording of this is so atrocious)

    sending blacks and browns to schools they arent academically qualified for makes them approximately half as likely to graduate.
    aff action seems to me to be much more about making liberals happy/ feel their college is diverse, and harming whites( not that i want more whites going to college) than about helping POCs,.

    When we have at least 20 years of good data that a program meant to help POCs actually does the opposite ,and despite that there is really not much of a motivation to change it, im inclined to believe that its stated intended purpose, is not its true intended purpose.



    i cant seem to find it now, but audacious epigone at unz.com had a blog post a few years back showing support for affirmative action, among different groups, and suppport, after they were asked again if they supported it, even if it hurt whites, and among everybody except jews, including blacks ,support went down ,when asked ” do you support AA even if it hurts whites?” among jews, support actually went up by 15 points or so if memory serves.

    they should have asked , do you support it ,even if it has been shown to hurt POCs also.


    • educationrealist

      My whole blog explains why my position on AA has softened. Although I said with a basement. I’m given that I think about this a lot, why would you think I hadn’t considered all the points you bring up, which are pretty typical?

  • jb

    My mother taught high school, and she had tenure, which, as I understood it at the time, meant it would have been very difficult to fire her for anything short of a criminal offense. (You know, teacher’s unions and all). She retired around 1990 though, and things have probably changed. So what is the situation with tenure these days? Do you have it? Would it do you any good?

    • psansonetti79

      its been awhile but i believe diane ravitch in the book ” left back” stated that tenure served a legitimate purpose, because for years republican and Democratic administrations would come in after winnjng an election ,and clean house of abyone from the opposing party, much too the detriment of the children, so in my mostly uninformed opinion it serves a legitimate purpose.

      I seriously doubt that with how powerful teachers unions are in this country, thsg anything material has changed.

      Google “helen rhee dc schools” and see what that particular teachers union in DC did to the force of nature that is Helen Rhee, and thats with DC public schools being some of the countries most expensive and simultaneously worst schools.
      That was when i realized reform was pretty much impossible.

      Thst being said while im pretty sure most teachers Nationwide have tenure, i have no dohbt in most districts if they did anything sufficiently” voldemortian” the district would just make their life so miserable ,that most peoole would end up quitting on their own.

      for an example look up the bret Weinstein affair at evergreen college in 2016/ 2017.

      my two cents anyway

      Be well

    • educationrealist

      I do have tenure, although it took me three jobs to get it. However, teachers who are strippers get fired in a minute. That teacher who talked trash about her students got fired in a year. A teacher who voted Trump, talks about IQ, and opposes immigration? Easy to argue that students’ knowledge of teachers opinion is damaging

  • renato

    > I didn’t really think, as conservatives did, that knocking down gay marriage would result in insane demands for people to choose whatever the hell behavior they want under any gender they want to label it. They were right, and the awareness that such a bizarre concern could come true has utterly changed my thinking.

    Has that specific argument been raised at that time?
    I’m not from the US, and the closest i’ve heard of it was the strawman argument that after legalizing gay marriage the next ones were pedophilia and zoofillia.
    Without a clear wording that there would be a transgender agenda being discussed next, it sounds like a generic prediction that things would be worse, and than it just pick what bothers people now to fulfill their prophecy (i apologize in advance if there was really a clear warning about that).
    [Thinking a bit more, i remember that i only heard the argument that the gender roles would be relaxed associated with feminism, but not gay causes]

    I’m also skeptical of this narrative because the timing is very different in other countries.
    Some countries had already legalized gay marriage before the US, but they didn’t have a expressive trans movement at the time it was being decided in the US as is the trans movement now.
    Other countries legalized it later, but the trans issues appeared almost at the same time as in the US, following the trend there, instead of being the next item in the LGBT agenda after getting the marriage.

    Another point that make me suspicious of that argument is that here, at least, the trans issues are raised more by feminism than by the LGBT groups (but this might be an artifact in my perception).
    And all of them seem to be strengthen by the internet having a deeper penetration and allowing smaller minorities to getting together.

    In the end, it seems to me that it would happen anyway, if not the same as what we have now, at least something close (maybe another symptom of the recent political polarization, but not a cause of it).

  • Jay

    You should probably get rid of the “articles” links on the right bar, under the circumstances.

  • Yancey Ward

    I have always used my real, and pretty unique, name online. Were I not retired, I would be reconsidering that choice in today’s environment.

    There certainly would be an increased strength in numbers were it a general practice for right-leaning provocative bloggers/commenters with other professional careers to stand tall in non-anonymity, but there is the first mover problem that can’t be easily solved. I think what is going to be needed is a scorched-earth, civil lawsuit assault at all levels to push back hard against the deplatforming, the firing, and the increasing legal persecutions. This requires some deep pockets to step up and fund such legal actions- something the progressives do very well, but the right does very poorly. Without this, it will eventually turn to actual violent retaliation- think “postal worker” x 1000. If you ruin people’s lives- without legal recourse, and over a difference of opinions- expect to get shot walking down the street at some point.

  • Chester Draws

    “Bugger that for a lark”

    Where I am from, it’s much more commonly “bugger that for a game of soldiers”. But I suppose most Americans would find that beyond strange. (It’s funny listening to American actors pretend to be British on TV — the words are right, and the intonations completely wrong.)

    I won’t use my real name online. It’s not my politics, as such, because where I am from taking a conservative position is not a problem in schools — I actually wear my “Trump 2020” socks to work sometimes to wind up a couple of my woke colleagues.

    But I have no interest in my students reading my opinions about anything online and then having to waste teaching time in class debating them. We also have an election coming up, about the same time as the US, and I don’t have any interest losing class time discussing it, so I act largely uninterested in politics to the kids.

    It’s sad that people with perfectly reasonable opinions about trans-gender rights feel frightened to say them in US schools. I have, when pressed, given mine to students despite it being not the “correct” opinion at the moment (i.e. a person is born male or female, and remains that way for life. If they wish to be treated as the other, then out of politeness I will treat them as such. I believe that they should not be discriminated against, or suffer any hardship. But they should get no unwarranted benefits, such as playing sport in their new gender, by the same token).

    The line about people being politer when they use their real names doesn’t ring true for me. I’m pretty blunt online, but then I’m very blunt in real life. I have zero interest in flame wars with strangers though, and won’t engage in them regardless.

    • educationrealist

      “(It’s funny listening to American actors pretend to be British on TV — the words are right, and the intonations completely wrong”

      One of the reasons that British and Aussie actors can work over here while we Americans can’t over there is that we’re much more forgiving about accents.

      I wouldn’t let my students know that. It might get back to my transgender students, and not only would that be a lawsuit, I’m just not sure I want kids to hear that. I won’t give validation, but I won’t potentially harm them with my opinion. Not unless they ask directly.

      • Chester Draws

        Ah, you’re already succumbing to the woke

        “I won’t potentially harm them with my opinion”

        I won’t harm people either, but I don’t think giving an honest opinion should ever be considered harmful. We are raising students who think what they are doing has no consequences in the future, because we won’t warn them about where they are going and what others actually think (because the truly woke are a tiny minority).

        There’s people at my work who are young earth creationists, and those that believe that gay people can be cured. I would be offended if those people were not honest to me about it — regardless that I think they are utterly wrong. Their opinions simply cannot hurt me, and they should be free to express them.

        I have people at work who are onboard with the whole woke thing. Why do they not get to censor their opinions? I find much of what they say similarly stupid, and just as liable to be harmful (as in, harmful in practice, as a result of stupid policy decisions).

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  • annla

    I also immediately loved “bugger this for a lark” when I listened to the recorded book on a road trip. Was so happy when the line popped back up in the TV series. Use it in class sometimes.

    I am very much not a Trump voter. But there are Trump-voting teachers who openly talk about it in my urban, less than 3% white, HS.

  • Jen

    Your “role of intelligence in modern society” link is broken!

  • Mark Roulo

    “They keep on moving the link.”

    The link could be migratory.

    Like coconuts …

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    […] Earlier today, I visited “educationrealist” (Ed) and found a post on issues on my own mind: Will the Rising Tide of Nuttiness Come My Way?. […]

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