June 13, 2021
One sure way to lose a popularity contest is to fight for the rights of convicted sex offenders. But The National Sex Offender Registry, which was established during an era of panic over crime and child danger, has come with a host of unintended consequences. Sociologist Emily Horowitz is one of a handful of academics and researchers who speaking out against the registry, showing how it’s yet another blunt instrument of “tough on crime” 1990s legislation and ultimately does more to ruins lives than to protect kids. Emily spoke with Meghan about what led her to this work and why our assumptions about sexual predators are often wrong. She also explained some of the reasons why sexual abuse against children, and sexual violence in general, has declined over the last 30 years—for reasons having nothing to do with the registry.
Emily Horowitz is a professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of a number of articles about the harms of sex offense registries, including the book Protecting Our Kids? How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us. At St. Francis College she co-directs a program that helps those with criminal justice involvement earn college degrees and she is currently conducting research on the experiences of veterans with sex offense convictions.
June 6, 2021
Libby Emmons now works mainly as a journalist, writing articles about ideological divides in culture and politics for places like Quilllette, The Federalist and The Spectator, and serving as editor of the conservative Canadian news magazine The Post Millennial. But before she entered the sphere of public debate about the news, Libby was in the theater world, specifically the radical feminist theater community. The author of a many award-winning dramatic works, including the play How To Sell Your Gang Rape Baby For Parts, Libby was a founder of the New York downtown theater company, Puss Collective. But when she published an article about transhumanism
that made a conceptual comparison with transgenderism, she was exiled from the theater community
and began to see culture and politics in a new way.
Libby talks with Meghan about how this evolution came about and what frustrates—and inspires—her most about the current political moment. She also explains what “transhumanism” is all about. (You sort of don’t want to know. But you also want to know!)
Libby Emmons is the editor-in-chief of The Post Millennial and a senior contributor to The Federalist. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.
May 30, 2021
Buck Angel is an entrepreneur and a speaker and educator about transgender issues, particularly issues related to trans healthcare. Now in his late 50s, he transitioned from female to male in his late 20s and has more recently became a controversial figure in certain corners of the trans community. He talked with Meghan about why he’s so controversial, what it’s been like to spend decades on masculinizing hormone therapy, and why he’s worried about the number of clinicians now prescribing such therapies to young people after minimal psychological counseling.
For the record: at one point in the interview Buck mistakenly referred to the biotech entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt as Martine Rathbaum. He also suggested that Rothblatt, who is the founder of the biotech company United Therapeutics, is among the billionaire class. As of March 2021, United Therapeutics was reportedly worth $7.1 billion. Rothblatt herself, according to Forbes, is worth $390 million.
Buck Angel is an entrepreneur and educator in the area of trans male healthcare and sexual wellness. He has also been a groundbreaking figure in the porn industry, which you can learn about on his website and also in a documentary about his life, Mr. Angel, which was released in 2013 and premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival.
May 23, 2021
Jean Hanff Korelitz is the author of many novels, including You Should Have Known, which became the basis for last fall’s hit HBO limited series The Undoing, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. Her brand new novel, The Plot, is a literary suspense thriller about a struggling writer who stumbles upon what by all accounts is the greatest story ever (or in this case never) told. The problem is, it belongs to someone else. In this conversation Jean talks with Meghan about what a “story” really is and why the boundaries of ownership can get so murky. She also discusses some of her other books, two of which, 2009’s Admission and 2017’s The Devil and Webster, were set on college campuses and delve into the lives of school administrators trying to negotiate a changing world. Jean has a lot to say about the state of higher education, the state of higher culture, and how reading—and writing—has been reshaped by the constraints of the pandemic.
Jean Hanff Korelitz
is the author of nine books, most recently The Plot, just out from Macmillan’s Celadon Books. Yet another novel, The Latecomer, will be published in 2022. With her husband, the poet Paul Muldoon, Jean adapted James Joyce’s The Dead as an immersive theatrical event that was performed at New York’s s American Irish Historical Society. She is also the founder of Book The Writer
, a pop up book club enterprise that brings authors and readers together for curated book discussion groups.
May 16, 2021
You’ve probably noticed more buzz than usual lately about anti-racism training modules in schools and workplaces. Often referred to as DEI or Diversity Equity and Inclusion, this framework has turned into a big business, with concepts like “white fragility” and “black despair” sometimes weaponized in the name of fighting inequality. Amid the swirl of approaches (which are often indistinguishable from one another), a 27-year-old writer and entrepreneur named Chloé Valdary has developed an alternative model. Called The Theory of Enchantment, it model uses the arts and developmental psychology to help people of find a common humanity through a shared love of culture. In this interview, Chloé talks with Meghan about how she came up with this idea, how her own unusual family background made her resistant to essentialist identity categories, and why she thinks the frequently invoked social justice refrain “it’s not my job to educate you” is so misguided.
Chloé Valdary is the creator of Theory of Enchantment
, a framework for compassionate antiracism that she has introduced to workplaces around the world, including in South Africa, The Netherlands, Germany, and Israel. She has lectured at universities across America, including Harvard and Georgetown and she has been a Bartley fellow at the Wall Street Journal and written for that publication as well as The New York Times and elsewhere.
May 9, 2021
For most of her career, University of Sussex Professor of Philosophy Kathleen Stock was known primarily as a scholar on philosophical questions related to fiction and the concept of imagination. But in 2018, she began to speak and write about the issue of gender identity. Among her questions were why her philosophy colleagues were so reluctant to discuss something so seemingly ripe for the kind of inquiry philosophers live for. The backlash came swiftly but so did tacit messages of support and over time Kathleen has become a leading voice on gender identity theory, policy reform, and their effects on women and girls. Kathleen spoke with Meghan about this unexpected turn in her career and also the various tensions between recognizing the rights of transgender people and recognizing certain material facts. She also explained the difference between sex and gender, which, despite the ubiquity of those terms, many people remain confused about.
Kathleen Stock is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sussex in England. Her book, Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism was just published by Little Brown in the U.K. and is available everywhere on Kindle. The U.S. edition will be published on September 21, 2021.
May 2, 2021
John McWhorter teaches linguistics and music history at Columbia University, is the author of more than 20 books, a contributor to The Atlantic and the host of the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley. If you’re a fan of The Unspeakable, you may know John best from his commentary around issues of race. Since 2007, he has been in regular conversation with economist Glenn Loury on the Bloggingheads platform, where is his known as a uniquely honest voice on the complexities—and often the hypocrisies—of certain progressive antiracist orthodoxies. Last summer, he began writing a new book on this subject. The Elect: The Threat to a Progressive America from Anti-Black Antiracists is being made available in serialized form on Substack and will be published later this year. Meanwhile, yet another book, Nine Nasty Words, is out this week. Meghan spoke with John about his work over the last several years, his relationship to academia (including being raised by a leftist professor mom), and how the inspiration for The Elect came from none other than cookbook author Alison Roman.
John McWhorter teaches linguistics and music history at Columbia University. His new book about the new antiracist movement, The Elect
, is cu being rolled out on his Substack
. His book on language Nine Nasty Words, is out this week. You can find him in regular conversation with economist Glenn Loury on The Glenn Show
April 11, 2021
Jesse Singal’s new book The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills, challenges many long held assumptions about society and human behavior: for instance the myth of the super predator, the so-called “power pose,” the use of positive psychology in the military, even the concept of implicit bias. We’ve come to take these ideas as truths, but as Jesse explains, many are based on based on faulty methodology, shoddy interpretation and sometimes just wishful thinking. Jesse talks with Meghan about all of that as well as a subject that is not in the book, his research into childhood and adolescent gender dysphoria and its relationship to the recent surge in young people identifying as transgender or nonbinary. This work, despite its very careful methodology, has incurred the wrath of a certain corner of trans activism, mostly on Twitter, and he talks about why this might be and how much it should matter.
Jesse Singal is the author of the new book, The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills, just out from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He is a contributing writer to New York Magazine and has written for The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Slate and Reason, among other publications. He is the cohost, with Katie Herzog, of the Blocked and Reported podcast and writes regularly at https://jessesingal.substack.com.