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Is the woke reign of terror coming to an end?

Ani O'Brien on Musk's acquisition of Twitter, Ron De Santis vs Disney, British Health Secretary Sajid Javid on gender treatments for children, and how all of this effects New Zealand.
Ani O'Brien
Editor - Digital, Contributing Writer
April 26th, 2022

OPINION: The howls of protest can be heard reverberating around the echo chambers of the internet as the world’s second richest man confirmed his purchase of Twitter this morning. Reports from inside the company tell of chaotic discontent as those who have until now been tasked with censoring and banishing the Wrongthinkers™ from the site realise that their reign of terror may be coming to an end.

To paraphrase a tweet I read this morning: Twitter under Elon Musk will not be perfect and will no doubt come with its own issues, however, in my opinion, it is preferable to Twitter under the ideological San Fran stasi. If Musk remains committed to the free speech values he has thus far espoused we will be in a much better place.

The rapid Twitter takeover that began with 9% ownership and a refusal to take up a seat on the board and ended with a US$44 billion buy-out, is far from the only significant battleground currently active in the Culture Wars. It seems that the Right, as well as anti-woke Liberals, have finally awakened from their slumber and realised that one must fight fire with fire. This has resulted in the first signs that Woke Inc may be on shaky ground. 

In order to combat Wokeism, however, the Right have had to, as the Left did long ago, compromise on some of their most deeply held beliefs. Staunch conservatives in the US have defended this on the grounds that "the end justifies the means" and that this is simply what needs to be done to reach an equilibrium at which point BAU can resume. 

As they say, “all is fair in love and war”.

The most striking example of this is the moves being made in Florida against corporate woke giant Disney. Governor Ron De Santis has declared that he represents the people of Florida and is not beholden to any corporation and as such he has thrown his weight behind a bill that strips Disney of its special status in Florida and will result in the loss of tax breaks.

The action comes off the back of the contentious Parental Rights in Education bill in which De Santis and his colleagues legislated banning gender identity (and anything remotely sexual) from being included in classroom instruction for students from kindergarten to grade three (about 8 or 9 years old). There is nothing in the bill that prevents a teacher from referring to their same-sex partner as a heterosexual teacher might refer to their husband or wife. Despite this, Democrats and their surrogates have dubbed the bill the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Disney has been vocal in their opposition to the bill.

This has all resulted in the Left decrying the removal of tax breaks of one of America’s largest corporations and supporting corporate influence in politics and, on the other hand, the Right meddling in corporate business and effectively increasing taxes on a corporation. Everything is upside down.

Across the Atlantic, in Great Britain, the Government has announced that they are launching a review into what immediate changes can be made to gender treatment services for children in England. According to The Times Health Secretary Sajid Javid has compared the political sensitivities over gender dysphoria to the claims of racism that accompanied revelations of grooming of children in Rotherham.

This marks a significant turning point in the Gender Wars as feminists raising concerns about this issue have been roundly attacked by the media and political class up to this point. Claims that so-called ‘puberty blockers’ are reversible (as our Government contends) have been widely debunked in Britain and throughout Europe. Worryingly, in New Zealand we are inevitably several years behind and this will mean that as other countries backtrack and halt harmful treatments, we will continue ploughing onwards.

Our backwardness is exacerbated by the homogeneousness of our media industry and its tendency to adopt blanket ideological editorial positions on issues like gender/sex, climate change, and race relations. In the USA, UK, and Australia, for example, their more diverse media landscape has allowed Culture Wars issues to begin to be worked through - albeit sometimes in an ugly fashion. Our mainstream media is in lock-step to such a degree that the journalists who work for one company could easily work for any of the others. Viewpoint diversity is virtually non-existent.

So while the battle heats up elsewhere around the world and corporations learn the hard way that while “going woke” may not make them actually broke, it will hit them in the pocket, New Zealand continues drifting towards more cancellations and wokeness. A Utopia for the woke scolds of New Zealand Twitter and a nightmare for the rest of us.

Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, as well as the various political battles waging, are definitely significant points in the history of the Culture Wars and there are no doubt interesting times ahead. However, for us down here in little old New Zealand the woke reign of terror is far from over and unless we learn from the mistakes of the countries “we would compare ourselves to”, to borrow the Prime Minister’s phrase, things will get worse before they get better. 


Ani is a writer, political commentator, and the Editor of Digital for The Platform.