Friday evening, local right-wing subcultural institution Jon Caldara, director of the “libertarian” Independence Institute, announced that the Denver Post has pulled the plug on Caldara’s frequently controversial opinion column. Westword’s Michael Roberts reports:
Jon Caldara, president of the libertarian Independence Institute think tank, has never pretended to be politically correct. And he says his disinterest in hewing to such standards — most recently by insisting that there are only two sexes in the context of discussions about transgender topics — resulted in the Denver Post killing the column he’s written for the broadsheet since 2016…
In retrospect, Caldara thinks the seeds for his sacking were sown by a January 3 offering in which he argued that the AP Stylebook — the Associated Press guide used by many media outlets to determine which words and phrases are appropriate or to be avoided — promotes a progressive bias.
To wit, as Caldara wrote on January 3:
The AP has updated its style to say that gender is no longer binary and thus declared a winner in this divisive debate. They ruled that, “Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex and gender.”
And as the conservative Washington Times reported this weekend, Caldara circled back for another round of distasteful transphobia Friday:
“What seemed to be the last straw for my column was my insistence that there are only two sexes and my frustration that to be inclusive of the transgendered (even that word isn’t allowed) we must lose our right to free speech,” Mr. Caldara said in a Facebook post…
He referred to his final Friday column criticizing the comprehensive sex-education bill signed last year by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, which requires school districts that offer “human sexuality instruction” to include the “health needs” of LGBT individuals.
“Democrats don’t want transparency in hospital billing and they certainly don’t want education transparency when it comes to their mandate to convince your kid that there are more than two sexes, even if it’s against your wishes,” he said in the column.
Once upon a time, Caldara and his putatively “libertarian” advocacy group prided themselves on keeping clear of the kinds of social wedge issues that limited the ability of many conservative groups to make inroads with swing voters. At its peak, the Independence Institute instead hosted a multitude of issue-specific conservative organizations in their large Uptown office known as the “Freedom Embassy.”
But for several years now, Caldara’s influence has been in decline as establishment Republicans grew tired of his antics, which frequently resulted in negative press coverage. In 2013, Caldara was nearly prosecuted for vote fraud after registering to vote in Colorado Springs despite living in Boulder. That stunt fell apart in disgrace when Caldara blamed the deadly flooding in the fall of 2013 for not moving, as he (never) intended, in order to avoid criminal charges. During the 2015 school board recall in Jefferson County, Caldara was universally slammed for ads which exploited a disabled student for misplaced sympathy.
As a columnist for the Post, Caldara was known for a particularly tasteless analogy which outraged women readers and advocates: defending the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) by likening the law to “consent” in a sexual context–suggesting that Democrats were committing something comparable to sexual assault by opposing TABOR.
But in the end, it appears that old-fashioned transphobia was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Denver Post’s editorial team. For a guy like Caldara, who has made a living out of pushing the bounds of decency in pursuit of what turned out to be an old-school wedge issue conservative agenda, this is not injustice so much as an inevitable occupational hazard.
On the bright side, once cancelled by the mainstream media there’s always InfoWars.