Editor’s note: This commentary is by John Klar, a Republican candidate running for governor in 2020. He is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and a former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.
Having launched a political campaign in which I called for civility and a focus on a fiscal crisis and opioid scourge rather than social issues, Democrats promptly scoured my dozens of articles to discredit me based on a social issue completely unrelated to preserving schools, funding teachers’ pensions, or helping people to free themselves of addiction. I am concerned that my grandchildren still have a place to live in 10 years in Vermont, given how quickly our state is deteriorating economically. So I must respond to this social issue — though I really would rather have the Legislature and media discuss the very complex and daunting problems that also deserve our attention.
Who really cares about our young children? In a recent article on transgender surgeries, I raised alarms about the future impact for a young child who has his or her genitals irrevocably altered, or is provided long-term hormone therapy. Seven Days reports:
The Vermont Democratic Party denounced [Klar’s] ‘archaic stances’ and further called his positions evidence of the ‘growing decay within the Vermont Republican Party.’
‘Mr. Klar and his divisive, close-minded, and downright disgusting rhetoric has no place in our public discourse,’ party spokesperson R. Christopher Di Mezzo said in a statement. ‘His voice is not one to be celebrated, rather, his place in our politics should be scrutinized from every angle.’
Dear reader, I think you just read some official “downright disgusting rhetoric” from the Democratic Party. I ask you to judge for yourself.
I spent years as a pro bono juvenile court attorney in Willimantic, Connecticut, and Rockville, Connecticut. My mother worked as a Connecticut state social worker for 16 years, investigating child abuse. As an attorney I was frequently appointed for young children, and I saw parents who could not quit drinking even to regain custody of their children, or who were incarcerated for long periods. As a divorce attorney I was often disturbed at the impact on children. As a child of parents who divorced when I was young, I had experienced it first hand.
My “archaic stance” is that adults should be held responsible for their conduct toward children. Since I actually do care very much for children’s well-being, I am even willing to write boldly about subjects that concern them — even if it means being attacked by snobs who in their arrogance perceive that their beliefs are paramount, that I cannot have an opinion that challenges those beliefs, and that medical personnel who differ must be ignored as similarly “archaic” and “closed-minded.”
That word archaic is perhaps a compliment, if it is the alternative to a “progressive” experiment on young children. I find it “downright disgusting” that the Democrats seek to divert public attention away from my alarms about underfunded pensions, closing rural schools, unconstitutional carbon taxes, and novel initiatives in the opioid crisis. Those are not at all archaic — I propose to make Vermont a leader nationally in compassionately weaning people off medically-assisted treatment. It is downright disgusting that these fellow citizens (Vermonters?) would resort to defamatory mischaracterizations of a gubernatorial candidate’s writings to divert us from addressing those important goals. I wonder whether most Vermonters can see through their libelous intentions.
In France, there is no minimum age of consent for sex. Forcible rape is illegal, but if a 50-year-old seduces a 10-year-old, it is not generally criminal. America has always taken a different (archaic?) tack — statutory rape. This imposes criminal sanctions on those who have sex with a person under a certain age (usually 16), regardless of whether it was consensual and regardless of whether the perpetrator knew the true age of the victim. Our laws regard a child of such young age as lacking the capacity to make such a decision. We have seen this affirmed in the media very strongly in the #metoo movement. Such young people are always considered victims.
I have defended a number of statutory rape cases. If the perpetrator could simply say “I didn’t know she/he was under 16” and escape liability, such cases would be very difficult to prosecute — this is why the burden is on the actor to be absolutely certain, or beware.
Are Vermont’s enlightened Democrats who attack me absolutely certain that what they see as so enlightened and progressive for young children will do them no harm, that a 13-year-old can formulate the decision to surgically alter their gender, take hormones, and freeze their eggs or sperm for future “family planning”? Am I really such a horrid scoundrel for insisting on an answer to that question?
I have studied this issue extensively. I have known many transgender adults, including a longtime neighbor back in the 1990s. Am I hateful if I ask whether these Vermont children may one day have a change of mind? Studies show they often do — after all, many 20-year-olds often regret impulsive tattoos. Where will the Democratic Party and VTDigger political columnist Jon Margolis be when those children’s lives are irrevocably altered and they suffer a life of remorse and trauma?
Medical literature suggests gender dysphoria is likely caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which are also strongly linked to substance abuse disorder. But that would mean they are not “born that way,” however convenient that trite diagnosis might be for the self-enlightened ones.
Psychologically indistinguishable from gender dysphoria is species dysphoria, in which the sufferer believes that they are an animal (or elf) trapped in a human body. I must balk at thinking someone is born with an inner elf, or any other fictitious mythical creature — I mean, how does one even know how to surgically alter them? Tolkien is not the sole resource to borrow from. ( I am not scoffing at the mentally ill — I am scoffing at Democrats devoid of the critical thinking skills involved in such a common sense reflection.)
I have represented many people who are mentally ill, including murderers, schizophrenics, and others. I have great compassion for them. If I call them mentally ill does that mean I don’t care about them?
Already our society is granting our youth trans-species status (please examine the penguin video in the link). Shall Vermont extend species surgeries and hormones to help young children who legally cannot consent to sex become other species? If so, that is downright disgusting. If not, will R. Christopher Di Mezzo please explain to us why it is OK to provide surgeries for gender dysphoria but not species dysphoria? Am I not allowed to raise the question?
Jon Margolis tried a similar defamatory slur against me in VTDigger the same day. (Mind you, he had to go vtdigging to find this stuff — this was not discussed in our interview, or in the Agripublicanweb site which outlines a policy list for numerous candidates, not just John Klar).
Klar has some other problems. Though he painted himself as a rational centrist in a Friday interview, some of what he has written show signs of the kind of social issue zealotry he said he wanted to avoid.
In an April article for the conservative True North Reports he likened abortion to infanticide. A September article he wrote for True North Reports bore the headline ‘Transgender surgery is the lobotomy of the 21st century.’ The article compared transgender people to drug addicts and to people suffering from ‘delusions of grandeur.’
A substantial chunk of Republican primary voters in Vermont are likely to recoil from that kind of talk.
Mr. Margolis’ flimsy histrionics reveal just how determined these social-issue zealots are to bury our Agripublican policy proposals. His is a mischaracterization of my writing — please read the piece. “Progressives” use social issues to exert power over us and steal our tax dollars.
I work with “substance abusers” — I never call them “drug addicts” in the article. I work with substance abuse sufferers because I care about people, and my article raises very legitimate mental health questions. Will these surgeries offered at public expense at UVM one day be ceased, like lobotomies and eugenics? Perhaps Jon and R. Christopher have prophetic abilities I lack. But they say I “have problems” in asking these questions. I think their positions are demonstrably problematic.
This is America. We are charged to respect other people’s views even when we disagree, and not demonize them when they are sincerely asking legitimate questions. People who challenged lobotomies were similarly vilified — physicians would visit a hospital and perform dozens or more lobotomies on mentally ill or depressed patients, generally with no informed consent, and if anyone dared question or criticized, there would have been a Margolis or DiMezzo there to rebuke them for their “archaic” ignorance. Those drooling, anxious, or brain-dead patients eventually got relief — because someone cared.
The same applied for forced sterilizations. In Buck v Bell, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of these barbaric practices. Oliver Wendell Holmes infamously intoned: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” It would have been viewed as archaic to object — modern man was so enlightened in 1927.
Some things never change. I write about these issues because I do care about children. The article cited by Margolis regarding abortions is about the very real impacts on health care workers of performing them — how archaic of me. I hope you will read that one too, since the liberals would seek to divert you there rather than have you see what the Legislature is doing to your wallets, your schools, and your tax bill.
I don’t think “a substantial chunk of Republican primary voters in Vermont are likely to recoil from that kind of talk.” I think it is merely Jon’s hope that a substantial number of people will condemn me based on his empty mischaracterization and character attack, without actually examining the issues, and that they will not weigh the economic crisis we face. But since he and the Democrats and Seven Days all have elevated this discussion above the one that dozens of candidates are requesting of voters, I truly hope that “substantial numbers of tolerant Vermonters” of any political view who care about children might be willing to have that talk that we have never had, while our tax dollars are spent on these “procedures.” The children offered this kind of weighty decision do not have anyone advocating against it.
I welcome Vermonters to follow the Democrats’ advice, and “closely scrutinize” my “closed-minded” articles. As to the “evidence of the “growing decay within the Vermont [Democratic] Party,” one need look no further than the quotes above. I think these people use our children as political pawns as well as experiments.