A true test of loyalty hinges on an invention, a piece of pure fiction. If an issue hasn’t been invented—or distorted beyond recognition—it’s a poor test of loyalty, an experiment contaminated from the start in ways that might skew the results.
There’s a Chinese expression for this: “calling a deer a horse,” derived from a famous 2,000-year-old loyalty test that exposed and thinned the Chinese court and smoothed an Imperial Chancellor’s rise:
Zhao Gao was contemplating treason but was afraid the other officials would not heed his commands, so he decided to test them first. He brought a deer and presented it to the Second Emperor but called it a horse. The Second Emperor laughed and said, “Is the chancellor perhaps mistaken, calling a deer a horse?” Then the emperor questioned those around him. Some remained silent, while some, hoping to ingratiate themselves with Zhao Gao, said it was a horse, and others said it was a deer. Zhao Gao secretly arranged for all those who said it was a deer to be brought before the law and had them executed instantly. Thereafter the officials were all terrified of Zhao Gao. Zhao Gao gained military power as a result of that.
Enforce a line like ‘transwomen are women’ and you’ll learn something about the people who repeat it—or don’t.
‘Transwomen are women’ is the perfect loyalty test because it’s a conclusion not based on observation or inquiry or even just sitting alone in a room thinking your thoughts all the way through to the end. You have to take some other route to reach such an absurd conclusion.
‘Transwomen are women’ exposes both the dissenters and those willing to go along with absurdities, whatever their reasons for doing so—and those private reasons never matter so much as the public willingness to spout and submit to absurdities.