JK Rowling and the Death of Competence
The internet is, objectively, one of the greatest resources of the modern digital age. Conversely, our culture’s practically unlimited access to knowledge has some counter-intuitive drawbacks. Information runs wild in digital spaces like Twitter, Reddit, and other such online forums, with seemingly factual claims made often without any accountability. American news tends to make their own rules, with Fox’s lawyers winning a defamation suit in 2020 on behalf of Tucker Carlson that effectively ruled that, due to his apparent lack of credibility, anything he said should not be considered fact-based. This is despite the fact that the man is literally broadcast on one of the most popular news channels in America and frequently spouts off hateful rhetoric as if it’s a widely known truth. It doesn’t matter that your average Fox News viewer believes him intrinsically: U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil effectively ruled that if you’re dumb enough to believe Carlson’s lies, that’s on you.
The problem is that Tucker Carlson, nor his viewers, live in a vacuum. There are real-life consequences to attacking marginalized communities without any repercussions. Freedom of speech is one thing, but stating that trans-related healthcare allows people to “basically molest and abuse children” incites a kind of hatred and violence that can’t be easily taken back. Claiming that trans kids undergo “genital mutilation and chemical castration” is not only demonstrably false, it’s the kind of rhetoric that gets trans people killed. Even if Carlson himself doesn’t intend to drive into a pride parade with his Ford F150, he is reaching people who may intend to do just that.
We live in an age in which everyone is a critic and a great many people seem to think that their internet connection constitutes a Ph.D., PsyD, MD or other form of doctorate degree in a given subject. More often than not, those with the strongest opinions have no actual background in the subject they claim to have spent extensive research on — much like Tucker Carlson and JK Rowling. “Research,” we often find in these contexts, refers Google searching in favor of one’s confirmation biases, with many bigots, in particular, referring to roundly debunked and outdated experts…