Monday, July 30, 2018

When Reality is Against the Law

If reality is outlawed, then only outlaws will be in touch with it. Sounds like a gag, but that thought occurred to me repeatedly while reading the excellent When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. In general I try to fight my nature and be as pessimistic as possible, but this book shows that I have room for improvement on that score.

Let's begin with a wide angle view: if we don't inhabit a common reality, then... then what? It seems to me that both a culture and a nation are rooted in the idea of a common reality -- especially the former, which is prior to the nation. Ideally a nation should share a common culture, but this is obviously not always the case.

Prior to the emergence of the modern nation state, we had empires. Empires ruled over a multitude of peoples with different conceptions of reality. They didn't particularly care what one believed, so long as one didn't threaten the authority of the state. Think of the Jews vis-a-vis the Roman Empire. They were given fairly wide latitude to live in their own reality so long as that reality was subordinate to the reality of Rome.

"Ironic" that the Author of history is a victim of history for precisely violating this principle -- for "stirring up the people" with talk of a kingdom beyond the authority of Caesar. As a result, Reality was essentially crucified by appearances. But you can't get rid of reality that easily. On the one hand,

As long as they do not take him seriously, the man who speaks the truth can live for a while in a democracy. Then, the hemlock.

But lucky for us,

The truth does not need the adherence of man in order to be certain.

More to the point, The truth does not share the defeat of its defenders. Woo hoo!

Here we see that Truth is in history, but history is not truth (Dávila x 4). Again, history crucifies Truth. Repeatedly. But Truth somehow survives. Like a resurrection or something.

Anyway, back to the main thread: most nation states are historical contingencies sprinkled with a bit of necessity. The United States was founded along opposite lines: it is expressly rooted in metaphysical necessity, AKA self-evident truths. While the US obviously has a history, its history should be a kind of temporal unfolding of its timeless first principles: an expanding empire of liberty.

For example, the civil rights movement -- back when it actually promoted civil rights -- was animated by those first principles lodged in the Declaration of Independence. Today it is rooted in the explicit denial of those same principles. How did -- does -- this happen?

It essentially happens because of complacency. For example, if crime were eliminated for a few generations, people would eventually stop locking their doors and arming themselves. Before long, criminals would thrive, and people would wonder and debate about the reasons why.

Back in 1972, President Nixon signed into law an innocuous piece of legislation called Title IX. All it said was that no US citizen "shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal assistance." Nothing in there violates our first principles, because there's nothing in the Constitution suggesting that the federal government should privilege one sex over the other.

But that was back when sex meant sex, and there were two of them. In the meantime, activists have decided that sex means gender, and there are 56 (and counting) of them. Those of us who live in the real world of the plain meaning of the law are now outlaws. Literally.

Everything changed in 2016, when the Obama administration arbitrarily decided that "sex" actually meant "gender." Therefore, Title IX entailed new crimes and regulations that no one had envisioned in 1972 -- back in pre-post-biological days, when there were two sexes.

Based upon the Obama administration's redefinition of sex -- and it's only logical, once you accept the insane premise -- health insurance polices were naturally forced to cover sex-change procedures, from hormone supplementation to body dismemberment. The military too was forced to submit to unreality. Likewise Medicare, sex-specific emergency centers, school bathrooms. "We are collaborating with madness," said psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, "rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it."

Well, it depends on what one means by "madness." Isn't one man's madness just another man's preference? In a way, yes. That is, on a purely political basis, if one is a libertarian, then it costs us nothing if our neighbor wishes to mutilate himself at his own expense. But the idea that I should be forced at gunpoint to pay for the mutilation is another matter entirely.

And on a psychological basis, there actually is -- or used to be -- such a thing as madness. As recently as the 1980s, when I was in graduate school, craziness was still a thing. But that was before the crazies took over the discipline. Now, "As of May 2017, eight states had enacted laws" that bar health-care professionals "from employing practices aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors..."

Now interestingly, the way I was trained, you never try to change anyone per se, whether the patient thinks he's a martian or a member of the opposite sex. Rather, you try to help the patient understand the reasons why he imagines something to be the case. Note that you don't need to search for reasons why someone believes something that is the case.

For example, no one needs to undergo psychoanalysis to uncover the "real" reason why he believes in gravity, or the law of non-contradiction, or that his gender just so happens to match his sex.

But "why" is the most dangerous and subversive -- but liberating -- question humans can ask, so no wonder the left always and everywhere tries to restrict or ban it. To be continued....

5 comments:

Van Harvey said...

"More to the point, The truth does not share the defeat of its defenders. Woo hoo!"

My favorite from The Aphorist

Why ask why?

"But "why" is the most dangerous and subversive -- but liberating -- question humans can ask, so no wonder the left always and everywhere tries to restrict or ban it."

julie said...

It seems to me that both a culture and a nation are rooted in the idea of a common reality -- especially the former, which is prior to the nation.

I saw somebody this weekend - forget where, maybe it was even here - observe that for common sense to exist, there must first be a common culture. Destroy the latter, and the former goes right along with it.

Van Harvey said...

Julie said "...for common sense to exist, there must first be a common culture. Destroy the latter, and the former goes right along with it."

Culture, Common Sense... or what Gramsci called the 'False Consciousness' that needed to be destroyed, so that Marxism could prevail. Depressing how many admiring pages, or rabidly frothing pages on Gramsci I had to scroll through, to find a fairly decent one on him.

Almost makes you think the long march is nearing its end.

More than any previous time, I take great comfort in the fact that I don't know nearly as much as I think I do... there's still plenty of room for surprises.

Gagdad Bob said...

I had never read any books by Robert Bork, but on impulse picked up Slouching Toward Gomorrah, and it is the best analysis I've ever read on the deep pathology of liberalism. His brain was too big for the Supreme Court.

Gagdad Bob said...

Apparently Bork was still an atheist at the time of the senate hearings, but became Catholic a few years after the publication of Slouching Toward Gomorrah.