It is testimony to the passion, breadth and erudition of the readership here that when I miss an ethics angle to a story, it almost always is raised, and well, by someone else. Here is a wonderful example, johnburger’s ethical objection to the instant, inaccurate and unethical recasting of Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner as female, because Jenner has adopted another gender identity more than 30 years later. I’ll have a brief note in the end,
Here is johnburger’s Comment of the Day on the post, Confused Ethics Observations On Caitlyn Jenner, Up and Down the Cognitive Dissonance Scale:
My comment may be apropos of nothing with respect to gender identity and this post, but but I find the historical revisionism currently underway with respect to Jenner’s Olympic performances. records and medals count fascinating and disturbing. Jenner’s Wikipedia page has already been changed – all pronouns refer to the feminine, with explanation that the medals and records were set prior to gender transition. GLAAD has issued a statement requiring/instructing/suggesting that male pronouns should be avoided in favor of the female/feminine. GLAAD stated, “DO avoid male pronouns and Caitlyn’s prior name, even when referring to events in her past. For example, ‘Prior to her transition, Caitlyn Jenner won the gold medal in the men’s decathlon at the Summer Olympics held in Montreal in 1976.’” Therein lies the conundrum – what does society do with Jenner’s past?
Yet, rewriting history for the sake of someone’s sensibilities seems morally and ethically wrong. Moreover, the Left’s fascination with identity politics collapses under the weight of its own inconsistencies: If Jenner was always a woman but did not have the self-awareness to know it or act upon it, then shouldn’t the records Jenner set be rewritten as well? For instance, shouldn’t Jenner’s Olympic records now be moved to the women’s slots? Shouldn’t Jenner be the 1976 Women’s Decathlon Gold Medalist and those times now set the standards for all future (as of 1976) women decathletes? What about the records set or held by heteronormative ciswomen? Should those be rewritten, too, and if those times are not better than Jenner’s times, should their records be scrubbed? If the Left’s theology/ideology were to control, i.e., that gender is irrelevant and there is no difference between men and women (because any recognition of gender differences is symptomatic of white male privilege), all are equal, then, yes, they should. Jenner’s records should now be the standards for women, as well as men. After all, the records were set when Jenner competed as a man. Yet, demanding that society acceptance of Jenner was always as woman, Jenner’s records should also be the standards for women, as well.
Ethically, the Golden Rule would apply to how society treats Jenner, and anyone else for that matter. I would agree. There is no reason or justification for humiliating Jenner. That is cruel. However, the opposite side of the Golden Rule does not necessarily apply: The demand that, not only must society accept Jenner’s transition out of charity or compassion, but that society must adopt it as its own. Society, too, must accept that Jenner is and always has been, in truth, a woman. Ian Tuttle writes an interesting piece posted on National Review Online: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/419223/who-won-bruce-jenners-oiympic-medals-ian-tuttle.
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Terrific post. There is no reason for anyone to accept GLAAD’s edict on this matter: they have an agenda and are welcome to it, but the correct agenda should be accuracy. This isn’t rocket science. President Ronald Reagan didn’t star in a movie called “Bedtime for Bonzo;” that would have been undignified. Ronald Reagan did—the actor. Ultra-liberal wacko David Brock didn’t attack Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation battles—why would he do that? No, ultra conservative wacko David Brock did, before he magically morphed into the other guy. One of these that is near and dear to my heart: W.S. Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan, wasn’t a Knight while the pair was creating the greatest musical comedies in the English language. Sullivan had been knighted by Queen Victoria in 1883, before “The Mikado,” by objective standards their finest work. The Queen was offended by Gilbert’s satire, however, so he had to wait until Edward was on the throne, and the collaboration with Sullivan long over, for his “Sir.” Does Wikipedia say that “The Mikado” was written by “Sir William S. Gilbert”? Of course not, because he wasn’t a knight then. Of course, Wikipedia, for no good reason, also omits Sullivan’s title, which makes no sense at all. I have given up on attempts to correct Wikipedia. Here’s how it should look:
And here is how we should remember Olympic medal-winner Bruce Jenner:
It’s a boy.