Mining the culture wars for clicks

Have you seen the gender neutral Santa story? Of course you have. It’s been everywhere. The tale that 1/4 of people want a gender neutral Santa has appeared in my news feeds so often I could recite it from memory, so I will.

A new study found that 25% or 26% or 27% of people – the numbers vary from report to report – want Santa to be gender neutral.

If you’ve reported it like that, you’re on the naughty list.

The “study” was a survey by a graphic design company of a few hundred customers. Those customers of unspecified demographics were specifically asked what gender a modern Santa should be, and given the choice of male, female, or gender neutral.

This is not what you would call a reliable poll.

Nevertheless, the story is everywhere. It’s on BBC Three and in the New York Post, on and PinkNews, on Fox News and Newsweek and in the Mirror and the Daily Mail.

This kind of bullshit infests the media, and it has consequences. As Joseph Earp writes in Junkee:

Throwing out these distorted figures and studies feeds the right-wing lunatics who believe that members of the LGBTQIA community are secretly plotting to take over the culture. And it encourages a pile-on of hatred towards the community from those who consider themselves to be part of the ‘sensible centre’ (whatever that means.)

I’m not sure that Earp is right about the intent of the graphic design company, which “knowingly weaponised the ire of the mainstream media”. I suspect they just thought they were being funny and/or cute.

But there’s no doubt about the malicious intent of much of the reporting. Somehow a bullshit story about a fictional character is evidence of the evils of LGBTQ people generally and trans people in particular.

When the story reaches the likes of the Daily Mail or Breitbart, which of course it has done, it’s presented as the latest example of political correctness gone mad, of the sinister trans lobby pushing its values down ordinary god-fearing people’s throats.

This tweet is by no means unusual.

i’m all for same sex marriage, trans operations, etc,but the LGBTQ+ community is deadass starting to shove their way of life down people’s throats. equal opportunity for shows & movies is great, but not every movie needs a gay lead & Santa doesn’t need to be gender fuckin neutral

This happens time and time again. A story with little or no connection to the LGBTQ community is presented as the latest example of their unreasonable demands and used to demonise them in the media and on social media. It’s already made its way into anti-LGBTQ opinion pieces, and it’ll continue to circulate for years to come as an example of those terrible LGBTQ activists and their unreasonable demands.

Children who behave badly don’t get Christmas presents. Sadly there’s no such penalty for journalists.