Matt Walsh’s War on Reality at Grove City College

Matt Walsh’s War on Reality at Grove City College

Even though I attended conservative Christian Grove City College for four years, I have done my best since graduating in 2018 to avoid most things conservative, most things Christian, and all things Grove City College. Likewise, although I have written blog posts criticizing the detestable views of the champion of bigotry Matt Walsh in the past, I’ve since decided that responding to him any further was below me and a waste of time. I’m giving this rule an exception today. The presence of Matt Walsh at Grove City College this past Thursday, giving his usual presentation on “The War on Reality: Why the Left Has Set Out to Redefine Life, Gender, and Marriage,” taunted me to the point that I couldn’t help but watch.

If you wish to follow along with his presentation, you can do so at this link. If in the future the link is broken or the video is gone, Google “Matt Walsh War on Reality” and you should be able to find another video of the same lecture.

There are two interesting things to note about his lecture before discussing its specific contents. Firstly, he takes an unusual position of defending the conservative view without utilizing Christian reasoning. I appreciated this, mostly because it shows that the two “sides” of this debate, as I have said before, are not atheists versus Christians but those who fight for equality versus those who fight against it.

This sentiment never showed in the Grove City community more clearly than in 2017 when students and locals peacefully protested in the town against the college hosting Mike Pence as the graduation speaker. Many students and alumni were outraged by this, as they were again this week at the presence of Matt Walsh. Just because someone is an accomplished white man does not mean he deserves anyone’s respect.

The Pence Resistance March in front of the Guthrie Theater in downtown Grove City
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The second thing that I found interesting—but not surprising—about the lecture was that it had thick misogynistic undertones. These themes are shown in Walsh’s hypothetical opponent always taking male pronouns (even when that opponent is arguing for abortion rights and would make more sense to be a woman), when he always refers to gay relationships as “two gay men,” and when he only ever gives the example of men transitioning into women, and never acknowledges the existence of transgender men. He may not have even noticed that he did this, which arguably makes it worse.

With those notes in mind, let’s jump into what he had to say! The “War on Reality” lecture consists of three sections: life, marriage, and gender. If you’re watching along, I invite you to play Fallacy Bingo with me! Some more notable fallacies in his lecture include:

  • the Gish Gallop (listing off points so quickly that your audience doesn’t even have time to consider whether they are valid)
  • the Strawman fallacy (painting your opponent’s argument as something that it is not and refuting that instead)
  • Ad hominem attacks (denouncing an argument by attacking a characteristic of the person posing that argument and not the argument itself)

and blatantly contradicting his own points. Fun!

1. The War on Women’s Rights

Matt Walsh says that the abortion argument is a simple one: it’s the argument that it is always wrong to kill innocent and defenseless human beings. After making this claim, he spends the rest of this section trying to refute the objections posed to “pro-lifers” by those whom he calls “pro-abortionists.” I wouldn’t go so far as to say that his entire argument in this section is a strawman, but he certainly is attacking some of the pro-choice arguments that I have heard the least. The “pro-abortionist” in Walsh’s mind is attempting to “dehumanize” a fetus to the point of it being only a potential person so that they can justify killing it.

Since Walsh believes that science is on his side here, then I’m surprised he is using the word “fetus” at all and not embryo, blastocyst, or even zygote, which is the stage where this “person” is no more than a fertilized ovum.

The argument that it is immoral to “kill” the cells that lead potentially to personhood is so absurd that I usually avoid it. This egg cell and this sperm cell, before they came together, were they potential people? Surely they were. Walsh argues that from the moment you were conceived, you were just as much a person as you are now and have been for your whole life. Why not go even further? Those cells existed before one fertilized the other.

There are billions of “potential people” who Walsh believe are equally as valuable as full-grown adults, inside the reproductive organs of almost everyone alive. Is it immoral to let any of these cells go to waste and not create exponentially more people? Is this why people are fervently against contraception? Do they believe it is murder? Is this why the bible warns against a man spilling his seed? Is it murder to not have sex as many times as possible when a woman is ovulating? Where does the madness end!?

Walsh acknowledges that more often than the argument of “personhood”, one hears about women’s autonomy. He brings up the famous argument by Judith Jarvis Thompson (which you would do better to just read in its entirety) which can be summed up as:

You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. . . . He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own.. . . . ‘To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.’ Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation?

Judith Jarvis Thompson, A Defense of Abortion

Thompson argues that it is not. The full paper goes into several hypotheticals, and the first one Walsh addresses is that for this situation to be parallel to pregnancy, it would have to be pregnancy by rape, as the protagonist is innocent and did nothing to purposely become bound up with this violinist. Thompson urges readers who would fall into Walsh’s camp of abortion always being murder and always being inexcusable that according to them, all fetuses have the same right to life no matter how they were conceived. One single time, at 15:22 in the video, Walsh acknowledges that one can fall pregnant by rape, but he never hints at whether he believes abortion would then be permissible.

In response to Thompson’s case, Walsh decides that for it to be analogous to pregnancy, you would be “hooked up to your own child who is sick because of something you did to him, and you don’t want to be hassled by it, so you put a pillow over his face and smother him to death.” He clearly did not read the rest of Thompson’s paper, as all of these points are granted and refuted before they even see the light of day. Ah, but that would require Walsh to devote his attention to a lowly woman for a time, and that might damage his fragile masculinity. Understandable.

Finally, Walsh thinks he is logically superior here because many of his points are reached once he has already granted his opponent their last point, and said that “even if we concede X, you are still wrong because of Y.” Well, even if Walsh demonstrated that without a doubt abortion is morally wrong, and I literally granted him every last point from A to Z, this is less important than demonstrating how to actually reduce abortions. The truth is that abortion rates—especially unsafe abortions—skyrocket when abortion is illegal and contraception is not widely available. If you want to reduce abortions, making it illegal is not the answer.

2. The War on Marriage Equality

Of the three sections of this lecture, Walsh’s argument against gay marriage is by far his weakest, which is saying a lot. His argument boils down to how he does not recognize gay marriage as legitimate marriage because there is no way to conceive children. The rebuttal to this idea is obvious. If a marriage is only legitimate if it can and does produce children, then is a straight but infertile married couple valid? What about a couple who marries after the woman has reached menopause? What about those who wish to adopt, or those who simply don’t want to have kids at all?

Unlike a lot of the points in the abortion section, Walsh doesn’t “grant” this point at all or even mention it. Luckily, a girl asks him about it in the Q&A section. Walsh gives essentially a non-answer, saying that heterosexual relationships can “in principle” bear children, so I suppose those of us who are straight and married with no desire to procreate are just included in the “legal marriage” group by luck. He also manages to insult and dehumanize dysmelia patients, or anyone who was not born with the typical two arms and two legs; he says that just as straight couples can procreate “in principle”, so do humans have two arms “in principle”. He says that if you happen to have fewer than two arms, you are still a human, but, I quote, “something went wrong there.”

Walsh wonders why people would get married if not to have kids. Apparently, people want to get married when they “love each other.” It’s not clear if he knows what this means. He allows the point that two men can love each other, but you can tell from his language that he denies the reality that homosexuality is a valid sexual orientation at all. (And he never once mentions bisexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, or anything else.)

Without granting homosexual couples the validity of being actual romantic couples, he says that sure, they can live together! But why would they need to be married? If two men (he never acknowledges the existence of lesbians) can marry, then there is no limit to who can marry whom! Ah, but Matthew, if you acknowledged that homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is a distinct sexual orientation that defines who you are sexually and romantically attracted to, then you would see that this mysterious “limit” is right there.

Walsh argues for the necessity of clear-cut, precise definitions of words when he wants them, but conveniently forgets them when they don’t work for his sad excuse for an argument.

3. The War on Gender Equality

Similarly to using fuzzy words, Walsh loves to use circular reasoning when it seems to help his case, but he will be the first to point it out when he thinks someone else is using it. When he avoided acknowledging non-heterosexual orientations, he accused “the left” of circular reasoning when answering the question “What does it mean for two people to love each other?” He now sees the same pattern when defining sex and gender. He defines a woman as “an adult female person.” Since gender (woman) and sex (female) are two distinct things, this is sensible enough. Or is it?

Walsh thinks this definition is perfectly logical, but to my knowledge he doesn’t believe in a difference between sex and gender, so by his own definition it would be circular reasoning. He then accuses “the left” of that same fallacy in defining a woman as someone who identifies as a woman. Instead, he says that “No scientific explanation has ever been offered for this, from anyone. Period. It’s not as though there was some discovery that prompted this change; it was decided on ideological and philosophical grounds that a man can be a woman if he just decides that he is one.”

He completely ignores the fact that gender dysphoria is a complex, diagnosable psychological phenomenon with its own historical, biological, and psychosocial factors and that in some cases, early brain scans can show that he brains of transgender people often show more similarities with the gender that they identify with than that of their sex assigned at birth.

He also ignores the rich history of being transgender or nonbinary in Indigenous and non-Western cultures for millennia.

Both of these arguments—the scientific and the historical—lend credibility to the concept of a non-cisgender identity being valid. But the thing is, those identities would be valid even without these two points. People’s identities aren’t up for debate. Trans people aren’t predators, and they haven’t done anything to harm people like Matt Walsh except challenge his fragile male ego just by existing. Why else do you think he cares so much?

Finally, Walsh really thinks he has achieved a “Gotcha!” moment when he tries using “leftist” logic against us. He wonders why we go through the trouble of fighting for women’s rights and equality, lamenting male privilege and 250 years of male presidents, when we do not even clearly define what it means to be a woman?

This is why. Gender itself is a social construct, and that is exactly why the traditional genders of man and woman are expressed and emphasized within society. The patriarchal structure was created by cis to oppress women (and anyone who is not cis) so that (cis) men could have more power.

Regardless, here is an easy solution: how about we treat everyone equitably: men, women, and gender nonconforming people? Walsh said in his argument against gay rights that you can only treat two groups equally if they are the same, but that defeats the entire purpose of creating a level playing field for all. Also, it’s racist.

Unfortunately for Matt Walsh’s fragile, patriarchal worldview, the only way to create a free and fair society is to give everyone—everyone of all genders and all orientations—the same basic human rights. If he thinks that this belief makes me a liberal snowflake, then let it snow.

(The segment on the legitimacy of transgender identities has been updated in 2022 to reflect my greater understanding of trans liberation and to eliminate a reliance on transmedical arguments that were present in the original post. See this post and this post for more information.)

11 thoughts on “Matt Walsh’s War on Reality at Grove City College

  • October 11, 2020 at 8:20 am

    The future is bleak for America in many ways, but this is one of the worst. Religion and racism will end whatever good things we had..whatever progress we were making. We are over the cliff when 40% of America thinks like this and supports a madman.
    I did see where an anti abortion group were ok with the use of stem cells from an aborted fetus to treat trump since he wasn’t around when the abortion about hypocrisy.

    • October 11, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      Just like Nancy Reagan was against stem cell research til she learned her beloved Ronnie and other alzheimer’s patients could get helped by it.

      Just like Dick Cheney was vehemently opposed to gay marriage, until his own daughter came out, then suddenly he’s okay with it.

      Just like Dubya was a born-again Christian against abortion, but wait, that was AFTER he got one for his girlfriend in the 70s. Maybe that one doesn’t count?

      I wonder if any of them realize their own hypocrisy in that respect, if they don’t care about that, or if they realize we’re even seeing the hypocrisy to begin with. Hmm…

    • October 11, 2020 at 9:36 pm

      Why did my comment go all the way to the top?

      Dave Daubenmire:

      “The greatest example of love is discipline,” he added later in the program. “The greatest example of love is to kill those traitors, so others learn never to do it.”

      “Why are men today [too] squeamish to go put a noose around Hillary’s neck?” Daubenmire asked. “Let’s round up that whole cabal. Let’s round ’em up. Let’s publicly execute ’em so everybody else realizes this ain’t ever going to happen again.”

      This is Christianity showing through, clearly.
      They think humanity cannot survive without a white male bigot giving directions. (White males are notorious for not seeking directions when they are lost. AmIright?

  • October 11, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    I’m afraid for America in the next couple of generations. Give it 50 years (or less) with only folks who act and believe Walsh’s way in charge and you’ll suddenly have America as one of the worst Western world economies because all our innovation will be destroyed, many young women and girls with unplanned pregnancies unable to care for their families, science and medicine will not advance, and we’ll be price-gouged to hell and back by more secular nations who put their kids energy to learning and critical thinking versus religious indoctrination and petty infighting between belief systems.

    And they’ll scratch their heads and wonder what happened, and then sit around and pray over it and rationalize that we need more harsh religious indoctrination to appease the big guy. Those goal posts are teetering over in the swamp by now, but they keep dragging them further out.

      • October 11, 2020 at 10:44 pm

        I did not mean to, and I think I did, get off the subject. This is their reality and some of them may not know ‘whereof they speak.’ It is the mechanism that they use to justify their meting out equality as though it is theirs to give. to whomsoever they find acceptable. It is the mechanism that keeps straight (?) white males at the top of the hierarchy. Homosexuality, Lesbianism, pedophilia, murder, and thievery are all ok under the skirts of Christ (or name any religion). But the honesty that compels some of us to go public, to ignore the artificial mores of religions and societies, brings the scorn and wrath of the church.

        I will always regret my lack of education, but when I see so many men and women, of all races, with the monicker Master and Doctor after their names in all the fields of learning pursue such ignoble causes as supremacy, racism, and religion, I do not feel so slighted. What good is all that education if it only leads to another age of darkness, where facts and reason are for the pyres?

        The death of Hypathia; the beginning of the dark ages.
        Hypathia was murdered by Christians. The library of Alexander was burned. The greatest collection of texts and manuscripts ever known to that time. Burned to cover the ignorance of the church leaders. The Christians were trying, at the same time, to create their New Testament. Religion thrives in ignorance.

        Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, the first president of Princeton:
        “Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”
        And Martin Luther declared ‘reason’ to be Satan’s greatest whore.

  • October 11, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    “No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.”
    -Miguel de Cervantes

    “the offspring of the mind.” What we see coming from Christian pulpits and political lecterns is the offspring of years of teaching and legislating for the take-over of our government. They teach as fact those things we know, and most of them acknowledge, are simply their ideology. The history of mankind and their own Holy Bible acknowledge that aberrations in sexual identity have been with us always. It is not an invention of the Libs.

    We are fortunate, Chatty, that we are not going to allow the Christians to oppress us as they did in the Dark ages. Right now they have the bully pulpit of the White House and the support of GOP legislators, but they are both in the minority. Mary gives them 40% which has held pretty steady for the last four years. The church has been in decline for quite a while. As we see these preachers and teachers become more and more desperate in their message, more and more people will give it up. But they will not give up easily.

    “Project Blitz is a long-range plan to bring about a Theocracy in our time. This may be the scariest thing you see or hear about from the White-Right-Christian-Nationalist.” I don’t know where I lifted that quote, but the point is if you haven’t already, you need to search Project Blitz. A fast intensive nonmilitary campaign or attack. They have a very serious plan. Matt Walsh is just one example of it.

    Dave Daubenmire, Right Wing Watch:
    There is no doubt in my mind that she is under control of very dark forces. Spiritual forces. Demonic forces. Gates of hell forces. Hillary Clinton is a child of the devil.”
    (This guy is a pastor ex-coach.)

    Concerning the Governor of Michigan in respect to her latest ordeal:
    “So what happened today? She said that there was a militia plot to kidnap her. Now, I’ve got something to say to the governor: Did you at all stop and think, what are you doing that drives middle class, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens to think about kidnapping you?”
    Rick Wiles a pastor.

    Dawkins “The God Delusion”
    “…one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”

    The church wants ignorance to be the order of the day and their believers willingly obey.

    Vote. Vote Blue.

  • October 11, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    Isn’t it telling that we have a historical period defined as “The Dark Ages” and that is due to the Christian church’s oppression of the masses?

    The Gospel Light. My, my, my.

    Let’s not go there again.

  • October 12, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    “Is it immoral to let any of these cells go to waste and not create exponentially more people? Is this why people are fervently against contraception? Do they believe it is murder? Is this why the bible warns against a man spilling his seed? Is it murder to not have sex as many times as possible when a woman is ovulating?”

    This isn’t hyperbole. This is, in all seriousness, why some traditions think male masturbation is a sin, why contraception is a sin, and why sex and childbearing is a woman’s duty: sperm that don’t fertilize an egg are murdered human beings. Of course, there are a -myriad- of problems with this theology (what do you do about nocturnal emissions, or the thousands of sperm that don’t feritilize the one egg normally present, or that 1/3 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage through no one’s fault, or that female masturbation doesn’t produce anything like wasted sperm, and so on). But they adamantly stick to their flawed theology because the primary concern isn’t the life of a potential child, but the power and authority a man has over a woman. It’s sickening.

  • October 13, 2020 at 8:31 pm

    I.. wow. There’s a lot I could say about this, but let’s just say that me and Matt wouldn’t get along well at all.


What do you think?