Gov. Cox’s use of pronouns unnerves Fox News’ Tucker Carlson
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox spoke with students across Utah during a virtual town hall on Zoom in April 2021. Tucker Carlson at Fox News didn’t much like the governor’s kind response– particularly the pronouns — to a girl who identified as bisexual.
The leader of a Utah LGBTQ+ civil rights organization discussed what Carlson got so wrong in understanding younger Americans today.
“Spencer Cox is a former telecom executive who always seems like he’s auditioning for the title of ‘America’s guiltiest White guy.’ He’s beyond belief. In one virtual town hall with high school students last year in which Spencer Cox announced his preferred pronouns to a young girl in the audience,” Tucker Carlson said on his show Tucker Carlson Tonight on April 7, 2022.
In the town hall Gov. Cox said “Well, I thank you so much, Gabby, for that, that question, and my preferred pronouns are ‘he, him and his’ so thank you for sharing yours with me.”
Carlson’s response to the governor was “What a creepy guy! ‘My preferred pronouns are he, him, his,’ Cox tells a room full of children… Just in case you had any doubt that neoliberal interest groups control Spencer Cox’s brain. Now, you know, for certain because it’s never about gender. It’s always about obedience. Spencer Cox is obedient, if nothing else, but not obedient to his voters.”
“If you have to doctor a video to make a kind gesture to a nervous kid look bad, that says more about you than me,” Cox said in response.
What Carlson left out of his broadcast was the question Gabby asked the governor before his answer:
Reciting statistics gathered by Utah’s Student Health and Risk Prevention survey about disproportionately poor mental-health outcomes for LGBTQ+ youth, she identified herself as bisexual and asked, “What is the state’s plan to get more mental health therapists into each school?”
Welcome to the show
KSL NewsRadio Producer Caitlyn Johnston turned to Equality Utah’s Executive Director Troy Williams to learn about the importance of pronouns to a younger generation of Americans. Caitlyn shared what she learned with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic.
“Tucker is apoplectic and outraged at Governor Cox for showing kindness to kids. Wow, that’s where the culture warriors are today. Tucker seems like a very sad and a very frightened little man,” said Williams.
“But for a little context, the reason that the governor used his pronouns — and this is not something that the governor has ever done with us whenever he joined us,” Dave said. “He doesn’t introduce himself and share his pronouns. But this was a town hall and this is about a year ago, if I remember correctly… He was answering a question from a student. The student identified herself as she/her and… the way I interpreted it was that Governor Cox was kind of mirroring to–”
“–to make her feel comfortable with the use of the pronouns,” Debbie said, finishing his sentence.
Debbie turned the conversation over to Johnston and her discussion of pronouns with Williams.
Pronouns of belonging
“One of Generation Z core values is belonging. They never want anyone to feel left out or to be excluded. And one way to show friendship and allyship is by announcing pronouns. Governor Cox understands that because he has teenagers, so he’s familiar with their vernacular that they use,” Williams said.
“Is it offensive to ask them what your pronouns are or if you call someone a he when she’s a she?” Dave asked.
“It’s absolutely OK to ask,” Williams said. “We don’t have to assume anything. And so that’s how this tradition has developed: not to presume that we know.”
Williams said one of the more trickier pronouns is they/them. But he said that the pronoun duo is used in American culture all the time when the gender of a person is not clear.
“For example, if there’s an abandoned coat sitting by you, you might say, ‘Hey, someone just left their jacket. Does anyone see them?’ That’s a common way that we Americans use they/them pronouns to refer to single individuals.”
Johnston said her takeaway from the conversation with Williams is it’s about respect and being open about learning new approaches to dialogue.
“The most important thing is just be open to be educated and keep that in mind that people may be wanting to be addressed a certain way,” she said. “As long as you’re not doing something out of malice or in some sort of negative way, it’s totally OK to ask and make mistakes. It actually doesn’t need to be as big of a deal as some people presume it to be.”
Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.