The Des Moines Register’s editorial board has always been on the far left end of the spectrum, sometimes to the point of crazy. Still, it’s always been consistent in defending free speech and promoting the idea that open and diverse political debate is a good thing.
Not anymore. It’s now done a complete 180.
Last week, Gov. Reynolds submitted an op-ed to the Register, responding to the editorial board’s defense of the Linn-Mar school’s policy to keep parents in the dark about their child’s decision to identify as the opposite gender. (Read the Governor’s op-ed here.)
In emails obtained by the Iowa Field Report, the Register’s opinion editor, Lucas Grundmeier, said that he’d publish the Governor’s piece, but only if the Governor agreed to “one substantive change.”
Describing the Linn-Mar gender policy, Gov. Reynolds wrote that “biological males will be allowed to share restrooms, locker rooms, and sleeping quarters on overnight trips with girls.” Grundmeier changed the phrase “biological males” to “children assigned male at birth,” and he said he would be open to other alternatives but would “not revert to the original.”
Reynolds communications director, Alex Murphy, emailed Grundmeier, asking if he considered “the statement ‘biological male’” to be “factually incorrect in that sentence.”
“No,” Grundmier said, “it is not a question of accuracy.” “While the Register is not bound by the AP stylebook, it’s at least the starting point for our handling of this and other topics where language itself is part of the political debate,” Grundmeier said. And the AP guide, he informed Reynolds’ office, “counsels against the use of such phrases as ‘biological males.’”
Grundmeier continued, acknowledging that the Register used the phrase “frequently in older stories” (Rekha Basu used “biological sex” just last year) and that USA Today also used it “a couple of months ago.” “So although there is not a prohibition,” Grundmeier wrote, “I agree with the guides that in many contexts it needlessly reduces people to their physical characteristics.”
Wow, where to begin?
On that last point, those physical characteristics are the issue here. Parents’ objections to middle school biological males sharing locker rooms with females isn’t about what pronouns a child prefers or the clothes a child wants to wear. It’s literally about the physical characteristics that are underneath those clothes.
But let’s take a step back. Regardless of whether the Register wants to use the AP’s politicized style guide for its articles, this is the opinion page. Actually, the op-ed page—you know, “opposite” of the editorial. It’s where differing viewpoints are supposed to be aired.
The Register has gone so partisan that it’s now demanding that conservative op-ed authors change factually accurate statements to cater to the editorial board’s far-left worldview. It’s censorship and a sign of how truly off the rails liberals have become.
The Register is now on record as supporting books in school libraries with graphic sexual content and pornographic images—under the theory that censorship in any form is terrible—but it will not publish an opinion piece by the Governor that uses the phrase “biological male.”
This is the same editorial board, mind you, that published an op-ed during the pandemic in which the liberal author called the Governor a liar who was going to kill people. Look, that was the guy’s opinion. It was a dumb one, but people can decide for themselves.
In what seems like an eternity ago, in 2014 the Register published an editorial in which the editorial board criticized Gov. Branstad’s anti-bullying bill because it gave schools the power to restrict student’s speech outside of school. “It would be ironic if Iowa were to pass a law allowing censorship by public school officials,” the Register wrote.
The Register isn’t the government. It’s free to choose which pieces it publishes and which ones it won’t.
But anyone with a conservative view is also free to unsubscribe from the paper (if there are any conservatives who still subscribe) and are free to go elsewhere with their opinion pieces.
Just a few weeks ago, I published an op-ed with the Register on Biden’s student loan bailout. I had hoped it would be the beginning of a fruitful dialog. Now I see that’s not possible, as this is the third time this week that we’ve heard about the Register refusing to publish a conservative’s opinion piece unless the author agreed to substantive edits that bend to the Register’s lefty political view.
Thankfully, the Governor didn’t bend. She withdrew her piece rather than agree to the censorship. I hope all conservatives will now do the same.