The Weekly Dish
The Dishcast with Andrew Sullivan
Glenn Greenwald On Facing Down Bolsonaro, Woke Journalists, Animal Torture

Glenn Greenwald On Facing Down Bolsonaro, Woke Journalists, Animal Torture

The indefatigable Greenwald needs no introduction for Dishheads. He was once a demon for the pro-war right; and now for the woke left. You can pre-order his book on Brazil under Bolsonaro, Securing Democracy, and you can donate to the animal shelter he started.

You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player above (or click the dropdown menu to add the Dishcast to your podcast feed). Read the full transcript here. To hear three excerpts from my conversation with Glenn — on the dangers of living as a gay public figure in Bolsonaro’s Brazil; on Trump’s success when it came to foreign policy; and on the ways in which elite journalists punch down with wokeness — head over to our YouTube page.

Looking back to last week, many readers enjoyed our episode with trans activist Mara Keisling:

Thanks for having the conversation with Mara and kudos to her for having a civil conversation with you. While I agreed with much of what you said, I think “trans women are women” is a much more defensible statement than you seem to believe.  You appear to push back against it because you interpret it as a factual statement about how trans women aren’t in any way different from cis women, which would indeed be false. A different way of looking at it: we should define the term “women” to encompass both cis women and trans women. Scott Alexander made this point beautifully in a post on his old blog called “The Categories Were Made For Man, Not Man For The Categories.”

As I’ve said repeatedly, I believe that trans women should be treated as women under the law and by decent human beings. But I can’t in good conscience say they are in every way indistinguishable from women, that “biological sex” is a bigoted term, and that where nudity or safety are concerned, we cannot make some small compromises.

Another reader:

Excellent podcast. I found it telling that Ms. Keisling struggled in three parts of the interview: women’s sports, religious tolerance under the proposed Equality Act, and where do we draw the line with regards to children and transgender therapy/medical procedures. These three topics are where the majority of people supportive of transgender identity often raise legitimate questions of concern, and where they’re often met with the fiercest hostility by activists. Notice how difficult it was to get a straightforward response from Ms. Keisling on these three issues, as if she were walking a tightrope above a sea of egg shells. Could it be that these areas are where much of the current transgender rights argument falls apart? 

I don’t think it falls apart as a whole. But I do think treating these legitimate, small worries as a form of “hate” is wrong, and counter-productive. In their defense, I don’t think many trans activists have ever engaged these arguments without dismissing them as bigotry, and beneath a response. They mainly chant, deploy maximal emotional blackmail, and intimidate the press, which is already on their side. When you regard debate itself as a form of white supremacy, you tend not to be very good at it.

This next reader focuses on the sports issue and illustrates why Dish readers are the absolute best:

I have been reading and listening to you since your early New Republic days but have never written to you because I felt I didn’t have enough specific knowledge to jump in. Having listened to your conversation with Mara Keisling, it is odd to me that the topic I do have specific knowledge about is women versus men in billiards, which Mara speculated about.

From 2001 to 2005, I was President of the United Poolplayers of America (UPA), the governing body of men’s professional pool in the US. During that time, I promoted the World Summit of Pool that was televised on ESPN from Grand Central Terminal in NYC. In an effort to sell more tickets, I suggested that we let the women compete as well. 

Well, the guys couldn’t have cared less. It was the women who were adamantly opposed. I had several conversations with Jeanette Lee, aka the Black Widow, the greatest American woman billiards player. She was the one who made the case that the guys have an overwhelming physical advantage. 

The advantage has nothing to do with the guys being taller, as Mara suggested. (Efren Reyes, the best poolplayer in the world, is 5’7”.) While the women are equal shot-makers and just as cool under pressure, the guys have a big advantage on the break. Because they are stronger and can generate more power, they will pocket a ball on the break more frequently, which allows them to continue shooting. In a “race to eleven”, if a woman fails to pocket a ball just one or two times less than her opponent, then that’s the whole ballgame.

Back in 2003, Jeanette actually gave me several academic studies that she had researched. Sorry to say, but Mara is just not correct when she says there aren’t real studies on the topic of the advantages that boys have in sports from an early age. All these years later I have found these articles in my file cabinet:

One of the studies, however, does make an interesting point on why girls might want to compete with boys (and presumably trans girls.) Girls who compete against boys are forced to up their games and their skills improve much more quickly.

During your discussion with Mara, she also said that people thought Martina Navratilova had an advantage because she was a lesbian. Nobody within the world of tennis thought that. They all knew she practiced almost exclusively against guys.  That, and she was the first player to hit the gym and rigorously lift weights. I’ve heard Chris Evert talk about how she was then forced to lift weights in order to keep up and that made her a much better player.

If a top women’s billiards player were to adopt Navratilova’s training regimen, no doubt they could rise to the top of the women’s rankings and perhaps give the guys a run for their money.

Another reader turns to a different sport:

I’m an avid tennis fan. Both Serena and Venus in the prime of their fitness faced an aging male tennis pro ranked 203 in the world in the twilight of his career after he had two beers. It’s a well-documented event from 1998. He absolutely destroyed them both.

One female trans tennis player ranking anywhere in the top 500 getting on the women’s tour would absolutely destroy the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). Every Grand Slam trophy, every Masters 1000 event, every Olympic match. This is proven with objective metrics of the game. Serve speed, groud-stroke speed, reflexes. There’s absolutely no argument here that gender can be mixed in tennis. I don’t know about other sports, but I’m assuming the same principle applies.

This soccer headline says it all: “Australian women’s national team lose 7-0 to team of 15-year-old boys.

The Weekly Dish
The Dishcast with Andrew Sullivan
Unafraid conversations about anything