An Urgent And Probably Futile Call For Empathy And Compassion For The Victims Of Cultural Whiplash

north-carolina-protest-transgenderIt is sobering to read  the hateful and contemptuous comments from so many of my Facebook friends about the legislators of Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi and other states that have either passed or have tried to pass laws allowing citizens to opt out of the cultural freight train that gives them the option of boarding or getting crushed. Whether these are “religious freedom” laws or “bathroom laws,” aimed at transgendered interlopers in the once orderly realm of public bathrooms, or whether they are designed to fight for the definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman,” these laws, every one of them unwise and unethical, and probably unconstitutional too, need to be regarded as the inevitable and predictable result when human beings are forced to absorb cultural shifts in a matter of years or less that properly would evolve over generations

Culture–what any society, country, region, religion, business, organization, club, family, secret society or tree house agrees over time as how they do things, think about things, what is right and what is wrong, what is remembered and what is forgotten–is a constantly evolving process. Efforts to freeze it inevitably fail, because human beings as a species can’t stop themselves from learning. Efforts to rush the installment of major changes, however, can be disastrous, even when there seems like no alternative but to rush.

Laws don’t automatically change culture. They are part of the process, both reflecting and facilitating cultural shifts, as well as institutionalizing them. They do not even mark the end of such shifts. Nobody should be surprised, angry or abusively critical when those who have been raised to believe in certain values and practices feel betrayed and mistreated, and see the need to resist when their sense of what is right is suddenly proclaimed as not only wrong but the sign of a character deficiency and a cause for denigration and disrespect.

We have seen, in the examples of slavery, women’s rights—and Prohibition, which teaches that worthy attempts at rapid cultural shifts fail horribly—that acceptance of changed societal attitudes takes not years but decades to become fully assimilated in the larger culture. Of course it does. We should expect that and understand it, and even if we are certain that the shift is away from ignorance, injustice and misconduct and toward enlightenment, fairness, equity and a better, healthier society, we should not react to those who need more convincing—or maybe just more time?–with expressions of condescension, superiority and hate.

First, this is simply the Golden Rule. Imagine an accepted “truth” that you were brought up believing, that your parents believed in and taught to you, that the entire culture around you embraced without doubt, shame or question. Then imagine that without your even noticing the evolving change, to accept that “truth” suddenly made you and people who believed as you do pariahs, and worse, the target of hostile laws as well as loud, righteous zealots determined to use the laws against you….all while the national media and internet and social media stereotyped you as a bad citizen and a cruel human being.

How would you feel?

Id feel like there was a sinister conspiracy to make me either act against my beliefs, or to make me believe something I know is wrong.

How would you react?

I’d react by fighting back, and not listening very hard to the people insulting me, my parents, my community, and perhaps my religion.

What would you do?

I’d seek out my elected officials and demand that the protect me, and what I had been raised all my life to believe was a correct and ethical view of reality.

Because these are predictable and reasonable reactions from the point of view of someone who finds themselves in this frightening position, using condescension, superiority and hate to coerce and punish those who understandably find a sudden cultural shift  bewildering and wrong is not just a Golden Rule breach. It is also dangerous and counter-productive.

It can tear the culture and society apart. We have seen it happen here before.

What is the alternative? Here are what cannot be alternatives:

…Expecting LGBT citizens to continue to submit to discrimination and to accept anything other than the full rights and respect that is the birth right of every other American.

…Sitting by as Jim Crow-like cultures are allowed to take root in whole states, forcing LGBT citizens to choose between leaving or submitting to second class status.

…Enabling, ignoring, or passively accepting  a societal structure based on biases, fears and misconceptions that we have learned are wrong, though they held the world in their grip for thousands of years.

…Rejecting fact, truth and reality because accepting them will be unpleasant, contentious and painful.

I am old enough to remember when even in the most liberal, educated and enlightened communities, being gay was regarded as a rare and ugly perversion. Gays were likely criminals; they were a danger to children, carried moral rot and disease, and were people to be shunned, avoided, mocked and isolated. This attitude had persisted essentially world-wide, unchanged for centuries. The churches supported it, no politicians had the courage to oppose it, and virtually everyone accepted that it was not only a belief fully justified by experience and facts but also a settled issue that would never change. The idea that individuals of the same-sex could marry each other—or would want to unless they were mentally damaged in some way—was unimaginable. The idea was literally a joke: comedy skits were based on it. Most people claimed they had never met a gay person…even gay people claimed this.

Now and then a celebrity or otherwise accomplished person—a Bill Tilden or an Alan Turing—would be destroyed by the revelation that he or she was gay, and this would be seen as a peculiar tragedy. As for transgender individuals, they were freaks, and that’s all they were. Christine Jorgensen was a tabloid story. Nobody, even the most compassionate people, had much compassion for her, and nobody believed that she was anything more than one in ten million, an anomaly.

And it all changed.

Good. Society is better for it, and will be much better once the shock wears off. My parents never accepted it. As intelligent and kind and well-read as they both were, they found this particular shift bewildering, and they went to their graves still believing what they and their families and their communities believed. I will say this for my father, however: he would judge every individual individually. I introduced him to many of my gay friends and colleagues in the theater world, and he genuinely admired and respected the ones he got to know.

Dad was coming around, but time ran out.

I know it is hard to resist an emotional response, especially for LGBT individuals who themselves are insulted and denigrated by those who are still in thrall to discredited beliefs about them. I can’t blame them for being angry, indignant, and impatient, but we and they will all be better off as a society if they, as well as their allies and supporters, try to maintain a civil dialogue. Boycotts, personal insults and shunning only guarantee similarly aggressive counter measures and a hardening of positions, including distrust and enmity. The obnoxious bathroom laws are a product of hysteria and panic; the “religious freedom” pro-discrimination laws are defensive and foolish, and will be overturned. The established legal process will take more time than forcing laws to be overturned using economic extortion, but time is important. Evolution takes time.

Ethics Alarms has published the abridged highlights of Clarence Darrow’s plea to an all-white jury to overcome their bigotry to find justice and mercy for his African-American clients in 1926, one of the wisest and most powerful pleas for ethical conduct that has ever been made in a courtroom or anywhere else. At the end of his summation,  Darrow was pessimistic about the short term prospects for avoiding violence and societal divisions on the way to racial justice, but offered this advice to both blacks and whites:

“I would advise toleration. I would advise understanding. I would advise all of those things which are necessary for men who live together.”

I can’t offer any better advice than that. Toleration. Understanding. Most of all, what is essential is an unwavering commitment to  communication and reason, and the rejection of  hatred, threats and coercion.

 

 

85 thoughts on “An Urgent And Probably Futile Call For Empathy And Compassion For The Victims Of Cultural Whiplash

    • You at your very best, Jack. This is in the process of being re-posted to LGBT people, papers and organizations I know of that are actively engaged in throwing the boomerangs you have clearly identified. Thank you with all my heart.

      Oh, and when you have some free time, what do you think about taking on a jot of hostage negotiation?

  1. This is why the Windsor and Obergefell cases will go down in history as more along the lines of Roe v, Wade as opposed to Brown v. Board.

    The plea is too little, too late. I think we’ve already been torn apart.

      • Perhaps the Court had no choice, but the language of the opinion is murky and unpersuasive, appealing more to emotion than precedent and stare decisis. The Court could have based its opinion on the rights of association and privacy but it didn’t. By the Court’s use of the fuzzy word ‘love’, almost anything can be declared a fundamental right. It opens the door to unintended chaos. That is my problem with the opinion.

        jvb

        • The opinion reads like a long greeting card. One of the worst opinions ever delivered by SCOTUS. That said, the dissents were also pretty bad, even if the right characterized Scalia’s and Roberts’ as “mic drop moments.”

          • With Kennedy’s opinion being devoid of logic or reasoning, Scalia really just called it for what it was:
            Nine lawyers declaring that a majority of them ruled over 320 million Americans, the votes of the people of 31 states not mattering at all.

            Windsor and Obergefell were rulings centered on the will to achieve a desired political outsome, not legal reasoning.

      • Sorry, Jack, I have to say that history doesn’t prove that out all the time. Cultures are like people: they are born in difficulty, suffer growing pains, reach their peak, and sometimes slip into a dotage before they die. Along the way they often do things that they have no right to be proud of, and find themselves later asking “what the heck were we thinking?”

        Constant war destroyed some cultures (Assyria, Persia, Revolutionary France, modern Germany) as they paid no attention to anything else and made too many enemies. Shutting out the world destroyed others (Imperial China, Tokugawa Japan, the western African empires few talk about) when distance ceased to be an effective defense. Corruption from within brought down more than a few (some of the Greek states, the Ottoman Empire, and of course the big one was Rome), when the leadership talent pool dried up and (or perhaps because) the population became lax, venal, and more interested in having a good time than doing what was needed. A few others tore themselves apart due to factionalism (Hindu and Muslim finally causing India and Pakistan to separate, Guelph and Ghibelline weakening the Holy Roman Empire, and let’s not forget the US almost breaking in 2 in 1861). Arguably a lot of these places never got better, and arguably moral corruption and a sense of “anything goes” combined with a hatred and contempt for anyone who doesn’t agree is a possible toxic stew of corruption from within and factionalism.

        It should come as no surprise that social conservativism is displeased about the Obergefell loss, and is vowing to avoid a similar loss going forward, whatever it takes. It should also come as no surprise that the political left, which sees its hold on power slipping down ticket and hanging on by a thread at the top, wants to hitch its wagon to what it hopes will be another winner to keep power. I honestly don’t think most of the political left gives a damn one way or the other about the LGBT community. They’d gladly discard them tomorrow if it meant a guaranteed four more years in power. The transparent “evolution” of the Democratic party on this issue speaks clearly to that.

        A lot of us tried civil dialogue. It’s gotten us nowhere. Now the right is, at least on this issue, in the same damn position a lot of folks of color were 60 years ago. Folks like Booker T. Washington tried to build bridges and what did they get? Re-segregation of the Federal services and a Federal blind eye turned to what was going on in the South. JFK and LBJ did finally make the Federal government get off the dime with the Civil Rights Act, but by then it was too late. MLK was a day late and a dollar short, they were going to take what they believed was theirs, and let the white man sell ashes. The rest is history. Those of us who are aligned to the right socially have been on the losing end of the stick a bit too long now, and the other side has been graceless about winning and utterly graceless when they have lost a step or two, like with Hobby Lobby. Now they want to create a perceived danger to wives and daughters, where most men, and definitely most conservative men, who believe in the traditional role of the husband as protector, provider, and absolute master of his domain, draw a hard, fast, bright line that they will do anything to enforce. What’s more, they are threatening those same people’s livelihoods with economic thuggery and bullying and clear favoring of one set of views. Maybe its going to take a few gay bookstores and bars getting their windows smashed in and a few transgender folks who go near the wrong guy’s daughter in the restroom or locker room getting beaten up or killed, but the point is going to be made. In every fight there are winners and losers, and in this case the losers don’t really have the option of going someplace else, like those in Europe once did.

        • “It should come as no surprise that social conservativism is displeased about the Obergefell loss, and is vowing to avoid a similar loss going forward, whatever it takes. It should also come as no surprise that the political left, which sees its hold on power slipping down ticket and hanging on by a thread at the top, wants to hitch its wagon to what it hopes will be another winner to keep power. I honestly don’t think most of the political left gives a damn one way or the other about the LGBT community. They’d gladly discard them tomorrow if it meant a guaranteed four more years in power. The transparent “evolution” of the Democratic party on this issue speaks clearly to that.”

          Steve — you’re wrong on this point, terribly wrong actually. I am a Democrat who used to be a Republican. I can speak for the vast majority of my friends who made the switch — we did it BECAUSE of the Republican party’s stance on gay, minority, and gender issues. If the Republicans were more progressive or heck, even libertarian on these points, you could get us back. And if the Republicans don’t evolve, and evolve quickly, they will continue to lose national elections and will only be powerful on a local level.

          • I think the term “turncoat” is what you’re looking for. I’ve known more than a few people who’ve walked away from the GOP because they weren’t happy about the social issues climate in it. They usually became cranky libertarians like Neal Boortz. Few became full-on embracers of the destructive policy choices of the Democratic party. Maybe we want the libertarians back, but I’m not so sure we want full-on turncoats back, since those who change once can change again. The GOP isn’t going anyplace, and if the Democratic Party continues to run this nation into the ground it’s they who will fail.

              • Uh huh, I didn’t leave the party, it left me. How many times have I heard that? I don’t buy it. The party, or the larger group, isn’t required to twist itself up in knots to keep the individual.

                  • Factually that does not appear completely accurate, since the Trump campaign is picking up a lot of “moderates” who DON’T want to vote hard right. The opposite is also true, the Democratic Party is split between “establishment” Clinton and “hard left” Sanders.

                    • But is Trump actually hard right? He’s tasteless, boorish right… But he doesn’t hold many of those positions that you’d expect from the people Beth is talking about.

                      The thing is, Bernie is making gains with the same group, and for the same reason… The Democratic Party moved away from it’s constituents, and these Bernie and Trump voters, I think, are motivated more by spite than by genuine interest in issues.

                      Prediction time:

                      Bernie vs. Cruz: Bernie wins
                      Bernie vs. Trump: No idea
                      Hillary Vs. Cruz: No idea.
                      Hillary Vs. Trump: Trump wins.

                      Why? Because I think that if Bernie or Trump don’t receive the nominations, then their voters will probably have more “fuck the system” common ground with their moderate appealing counterpart than with the candidate on the same side of the spectrum.

                    • No no, Trump ISN’T hard right and he’s pulling IN the people who don’t want to go hard right. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

                • That’s not fair Steve, there are positions that parties hold today that would have been anathema to the same party 200 years ago. Parties change and evolve, and people change and evolve. If your party changes and you don’t, then your party has left you.

                  I don’t think the Republican Party had many hardcore ant-gay sentiments until the gay lobby started pushing for gay marriage, and then resentment of the intrusion into religious rights spilled over into resentment of the group. I think this discussion, this change, has actually happened in my lifetime, and for the people who care about it, it’s hard to overlook.

                  • Probably true, George Bush the elder was OK with gay marriage, and Reagan was ok with people doing whatever as long as they didn’t do it in public and scare the horses. Then the MA Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage, the whole issue turned 2004 into a crimson tsunami, and you know the rest.

          • I can speak for the vast majority of my friends who made the switch — we did it BECAUSE of the Republican party’s stance on gay, minority, and gender issues.

            What stances on gay, minority, and gender issues did you find offensive?

        • All that has happened post-Obergefell is that social conservatives have petitioned their lawmakers for redress of grievances, to paraphrase the First Amendment, which was enacted about 224 years before Anthony Kennedy decreed same-sex marriage to be the law of the land.

          Somehow, they are the bad guys in this.

          I call bullcrap.

        • It’s credible to position the antiLGBT forces as victims here. All right, it’s ridiculous. That may not be as civil as possible, but ice water appears to be called for.

          How do you twist your obviously well-oiled mind in the Mobius strip to call being beaten up, killed, not hired, mocked in the popular culture, treated as a criminal for centuries, forbidden from making legal unions with the one you love, blocked from adopting children, and not feeling safe or comfortable dressing, speaking and acting—completely legally, now—as you wish, want and feel, the equivalent of

          –being required to serve gay people exactly as you would serve anyone else

          –not being able to hire LBGT individuals in jobs where sexual orientation is irrelevant, meaning almost all of them, based on your personal misunderstanding of who they are and what they do

          –not being being able to fire from civilian jobs and jettison out of military ones someone because you personally wouldn’t enjoy their sexual practices

          —not being able to actively show contempt for them by throwing gratuitous roadblocks in the way of a couple’s efforts to gain the same benefits from a state sanctioned marriage as anyone else?

          The people who are upset with the cake, photography and pizza situations are literally arguing that it is an affront to freedom of religion for people not to be able to express their disapproval of another human being by treating them like criminals, lepers and outcasts. Being told that you can’t treat people dickishly just isn’t being a victim in the same way as, for example, having your teeth beaten in by a mouth-breathing moron who calls you a queer.

          OK, I think that the cake shop is a close call, and maybe, as an expressive activity, they should be immune from “Don’t be gratuitous jerks to gays” laws, but still: how the h..sorry, being civil—is being asked to sell a cake—not give it away, but get your asking price for for it—being victimized?

          Steve, the post was about the importance of those individuals who have been truly and materially, sometime fatally victimized for thousands of years trying to be understanding and civil to people like you, or with similar biases as you. “A lot of us tried civil dialogue. It’s gotten us nowhere.” That’s actually funny. A lot more of you just discriminated, marginalized and beat up these people who wanted nothing more than to be allowed to participate in society without hurting anyone. Alan Turing may have won WW II, but because he was gay, he was ostracized and written out of history for almost 50 years. That’s being victimized.

          There is no civil way to say, “Please, understand, our religions based on texts written by people thousands of years ago who thought the world was flat and that black people were cursed, claiming they were writing for a god you don’t believe in, declared that the sexual programming you were born with was recall just your choice because you are an evil freak determined to recruit our children and you LIKE being pariahs and targets of abuse, so we are asking very nicely that you hide yourself away, and don’t annoy us good, normal people by trying to associate with us, shop in our stores, go to our churches, get the benefits of our government, or, you know, “live.”

          There is no civil way to say “we’ve hated you forever, and we would appreciate it if you accept it, because you deserve it.” The statement itself, and the belief itself, is uncivilized.

          • Maybe because it all boils down to the right to freedom of association, freedom of belief, and a few other freedoms that are more important than what you may view as right thinking. I’m perfectly ok with serving anyone who’s whatever in my diner. I’m not ok with them being obnoxious or flamboyant or making dumb comments if I have, say, a picture of some conservative politician on the wall. My place, my rules. Hiring? I really could care less if you’re kissing Jack or Jill on the weekend. I DO care if you’re going to plaster rainbow stickers all over your cubicle and push “who you are” at the expense of the other folks in the office. I don’t think gays belong in the military, but if they are going to be there, they should be out, to avoid a security risk.

            As for the marriage issues, I’ve made it clear, I don’t care about them having the same rights as anyone else. I just don’t want to be involved. In my case it’s mostly a distaste issue, and thankfully I am not in a marriage-involved business. However, in the case of some folks – florists, bakers, etc. a good or a bad May and June can make or break the whole year, and they depend on wedding business. However, some may actually believe that their religious salvation is at stake if they get involved with anything involving homosexuality.

            People get kinda funny about their eternal souls being at stake. Muslim cab drivers in the Twin Cities had a major battle with the airport there about adverse actions taken against them when they refused to transport people who were carrying alcohol or had service dogs with them, and suddenly everyone was squawking that their culture needed to be respected. Sikh officers demand the military allow beards and turbans, and suddenly the army has to allow an exception almost NEVER allowed for that reason. Heck, in India a WAR was fought when Hindu and Muslim sepoys were told A. they would have to serve overseas, which could cause them to lose their caste status, and B. they had to use cartridges greased with pig fat (considered dirty by Muslims) and cow fat (considered sacred by Hindus). I’ve been in bookstores where the Korans are locked up, with a sign that dirty unbelievers are forbidden to touch them, believers please ask for help. Amidst all this bending and twisting I don’t see a problem with Christians being able to say “no, we won’t participate in a union we believe is sinful, please go to the secular shop instead.” I also don’t see a problem with the mentally ill, because I don’t see the difference between believing you are the other gender and believing you are a unicorn, being told they need to use the toilet that matches their genitalia.

            • P.S., it’s perfectly all right to hate someone and just want him gone for any reason or no reason. It’s just a question of who do you protect from that freedom of association and for what reason.

          • Steve, the post was about the importance of those individuals who have been truly and materially, sometime fatally victimized for thousands of years trying to be understanding and civil to people like you, or with similar biases as you.

            You start from a false premise. Gay people could not have been victimized for thousands of years, merely for their sexual orientation, because the distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals was unknown until 1868.

            “The absence of legal prohibitions focusing on homosexual conduct may be explained in part by noting that according to some scholars the concept of the homosexual as a distinct category of person did not emerge until the late 19th century.” Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 568 (2003), citing J. Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality 10 (1995); J. D’Emilio & E. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America 121 (2d ed. 1997) (“The modern terms homosexuality and heterosexuality do not apply to an era that had not yet articulated these distinctions”) “[T]here is no longstanding history in this country of laws directed at homosexual conduct as a distinct matter.” id. “American laws targeting same-sex couples did not develop until the last third of the 20th century.” id. at 570

            How then, could anyone who did not know that there is such a distinction as sexual orientation, have discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation?

          • But there is a civil way to deprive people of their freedom of association, freedom of expression (to wit, compelling expression), and their right to the free exercise of religion? I don’t buy that, Jack.

            So, celebrities can cancel appearances and shows over RFRAs (exercising their freedom of association), but a Christian who owns a small business, be they a florist, baker, or photographer can’t disassociate from a same-sex wedding? Somehow, social conservatives are the villains for wanting the same right to disassociate that these celebrities are exercising? A right I don’t want to deny them, I might add.

            Do you notice the double standard, Jack? How is that ethical?

            • But there is a civil way to deprive people of their freedom of association, freedom of expression (to wit, compelling expression), and their right to the free exercise of religion? I don’t buy that, Jack.

              So, celebrities can cancel appearances and shows over RFRAs (exercising their freedom of association), but a Christian who owns a small business, be they a florist, baker, or photographer can’t disassociate from a same-sex wedding? Somehow, social conservatives are the villains for wanting the same right to disassociate that these celebrities are exercising? A right I don’t want to deny them, I might add.

              Do you notice the double standard, Jack? How is that ethical?

              I notice that you are using flawed definitions and unwarranted assumption that I have flagged many times.

              “Freedom of association” does not permit discrimination.

              “Compelling expression” does not apply to making sure a public accommodation doesn’t illegally discriminate. (Decisions against the cake maker, florist and photographer were on the basis, however arguable, that the service wasn’t expressive)

              “the same right to disassociate that these celebrities are exercising” is called “the right to be a grandstanding asshole.”

              Except that disassociating from a class of law abiding, peaceful and harmless people based on their sexual orientation rather than their public conduct is NOT “the same right to disassociate.” It’s called gratuitous and harmful discrimination, and nothing to be proud of.

          • 1) The National Review can’t be cited as authority for anything.
            2) The bathroom controversy is the bad case that makes bad everything. It is an ethics conflict—sometimes extremely small minorities should just accept that the world can’t be made comfortable for them without being made too uncomfortable for everyone else, and live with it. But the phrasing of the article’s title is silly and dishonest. Bathrooms have nothing to do with religious freedom. This is manners, mutual consideration and common sense.

            • I do agree with this comment

              Couldn’t this ideology be deemed a religion, and thus granting it special deference in the law amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause?

              After all, not all religions have fixed clergy, some holy book, or even a creator god. In fact, almost any sufficiently comprehensive, clearly elaborated belief system can be called a religion. Frankly, the proper resolution to these disputes is to declare a # of ideologies to be religions, then simply apply the Free Exercise & Establishment Clause legal principles to them. That would put all the relevant partisans on a truly equal legal footing.

              In this situation that would mean:
              1) Free Exercise: The gov’t is not allowed to BAN “transgender” or unisex bathroom rules, because it infringes upon the Free Exercise of Progressives. It becomes legally equivalent to the state banning the construction of churches.
              2) Establishment: The gov’t is not allowed to REQUIRE such facilities, as that would be ‘establishing’ Progresivism as a state religion. That would be legally equivalent to the state
              directly funding the construction of a church.

              Stupid, yes, but then this entire issue is.

                • If you don’t mind the suggestion: Robert Bellah. ‘Varieties of Civil Religion’. When I understood that America has a civil religion, and that ‘progressivism’ has a direct link to it, I was able to imagine how the erstwhile religious sensibility, when replaced by secular or non-believing attitudes, could be channeled into various forms of activism, one of them progressivism.

                  With full respect to Jack, and reading his post, he is articulating in a sense that can be noted, a statement about what seems most right in our present. It is the ‘seems’ that one has to look into, IMO.

                  The distinction I would make is that it is not so much a group of religious tenets that is being suggested (though this may be the case) but an overall, and a larger, metaphysical platform that defines what is right, and what must be accepted.

                  It is the sense of ‘inevitability’, a sense that the Cosmos is realigning itself more correctly. which informs a general attitude one notes in the present.

                  It is one thing, perhaps, to be conservative to that. That means applying some brakes. I don’t think that ‘conservative’ means a great deal anymore. It is yet another thing altogether to become radically reactionary to it, and to discover and articulate the philosophical base upon which to found that reactionary view.

                  I find that it requires a great deal of work and a certain amount of spiritual pain.

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Neelly_Bellah

                  Bellah is really the one to explain this religious progressivism a la Americaine because he articulates the radical, Marxian thrust which has come to inhabit it, to animate it to give it motive power.

                  I do not profess to have any of this all figured out – in fact it all confuses me substantially – but I think it very worthwhile to probe what lies under the surface of appearances of our present.

                  Very very weird!

                • One small additional comment: It shows itself as almost impossible to reason against a progressive zealot, and this is telling. They see what it is they hold as a value as ‘right as rain’ and as inevitable as the sunrise. They describe progressive change as ‘evolution’ and what stands against it as demonological. I am not exaggerating. The project of locating where the demons reside who are holding back human evolution and the descent of the Heavenly Kingdom to the Earth, is real. The progressivism of the moment is somehow ordained by Time itself, which is a submerged version of God.

                  I kid you not …

  2. “I am old enough to remember when even in the most liberal, educated and enlightened communities, being gay was regarded as a rare and ugly perversion. Gays were likely criminals; they were a danger to children, carried moral rot and disease, and were people to be shunned, avoided, mocked and isolated. This attitude had persisted essentially world-wide, unchanged for centuries. The churches supported it, no politicians had the courage to oppose it, and virtually everyone accepted that it was not only a belief fully justified by experience and facts but also a settled issue that would never change. The idea that individuals of the same-sex could marry each other—or would want to unless they were mentally damaged in some way—was unimaginable.”

    Jack, when I was young the mindset you described was used about “colored people.” And in the years past the bogeymen (bogey persons?) were Irish, Jews, Chinese, Native Americans. It’s very, very hard to look at one’s personal beliefs and question their validity. I still have to scrub my brain sometimes when I view the behavior of one person as stereotypical of an entire group.
    Every person is unique. That is a core religious belief; I challenge your correspondents to name a religion that doesn’t have it.

  3. A well written and argued post. I don’t totally agree with everything you stated, but I do believe that the Golden Rule should govern our actions. We teach our son that he doesn’t have to like everyone but he must be respectful and considerate. The Golden Rule should apply to all, though.

    The obnoxious vilification of religious beliefs or those who don’t embrace every new cultural paradigm is an abdication of the Golden Rule from those proponents. Black Lives Matter declares that only black lives matter when a Democratic presidential has the temerity to declare that all lives matter. A baker at Whole Foods (who apparently is a member of the LGBTABCNBCCNNMSNBCFOXNEWSCBSPBS community) is being pilloried for writing an anti-gay slur on a cake when it appears that the entire thing was concocted by the purchaser. Some idiot low level county clerk decides her religion forbids her to issue same-sex marriage licenses (it doesn’t, to be fair) and she is rip apart in the media as a throw-back to Victorian England. Those are breaches of the Golden Rule by and from the social justice warriors and should be called out as such.

    jvb

    • Whole Foods is standing behind their employee in that case and I don’t think the baker has been identified, let alone pilloried. Thank god for video cameras, they can prove that jackass lied. They’re counter suing his dumb ass for $100,000 and I desperately hope they get paid.

  4. Wow, Jack, you nailed it! Excellent post. As a young child I remember sitting in a PA church (visiting grandparents) and hearing sermons comparing beastiality to homosexuality. I remember leaning over to my grandmother asking what beastiality was and her response was: “animals….cows.” To this day that same church has never altered their views. I never thought I’d see gay rights or marriage in my lifetime. I have lost jobs because of my orientation and there were no laws in place to protect me. Many Evangelicals my family) claim that “gays make a mockery of marriage,” yet when I look at my heterosexual friends, most of them are on their 2nd or 3rd marriage. Now who is it again, that is making a mockery of marriage? Once gay marriage became legal, many people went out and got married, not because they should have, but because they could. This ultimately backfired on many and have now divorced. My mother says this world it going to pot and she doesn’t realize that being gay/lesbian/transgender isn’t a new fad, it is more about people finally being open about who they are. I worked as a bartender at a “straight” bar when I was a pup and this is where I was first introduced to many transgender customers. I have to admit, I was uncomfortable. As I got older I decided to learn a little more about what a transgender might be feeling or going through in their life. (and I’m not talking about Bruce Jenner or the Kardashians).

    I don’t think my family has ever stopped to think about all that I have endured, yet they call themselves “Christians.” Tolerance and patience is all we really can hope to have pushing forward.

    • I can’t imagine what you have had to go through, and the best I can say is persevere, and don’t let justifiable resentment rob you of what’s best about you.

      If it did nothing else (and it did a lot), being involved in theater most of my life educated me about the truth about LGBT individuals, and also gave me the blessing of wonderful friends, loving couples, and many of the kindest, smartest, most ethical and trustworthy people I have had the honor to know and work with.

      Maybe the solution is mandatory theater participation.

    • I remember when I was… God… I was probably around 13, maybe 14. I died my hair blonde, and let my roots grow out. (It was the 90’s dammit. Don’t judge me.) I walked into my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and she actually dropped a plate and said “Jeffrey! You look like a faggot!” Oh if only she knew. My heart stopped for about ten seconds, and I think more people might have noticed and connected some dots due to how absolutely mortified I was, had one of my cousins not been startled by the outburst into choking on a meatball. That was mamere though, and despite her piety, I still loved her.

      My uncle came out, and it was painful to hear the conversations when he wasn’t in the room, it gave me a road map of what to expect. I think I’m going to enjoy my closet until some of the older generation passes on. My position has always been that the dinosaurs will die out. Indelicate, but true. The older generation will leave and their kids will do better.

      • Some grandmothers are a product of their generation. I usually cut the uneducated some slack when it comes to societal issues. When I was milking cows in HS, that was an admirable job, yet when I was moonlighting as a model (was picked up by a Boston agency), I was shunned because I was putting too much focus on my looks. My thoughts were, “hey, whatever pays the bills.” (most models have a low self-esteem) And yes, they highlighted my hair for The GQ Fashion Show. When I arrived home afterwards, you would have thought I had just murdered someone in cold blood on the living room floor!

        I think being different can go deeper. Not only are we hated by our family and others, but we are brainwashed into hating ourselves. #GLM

      • I’m going to guess I have about a decade on you, since I was in my 20s in the 1990s. I also had a gay uncle, but I didn’t know about it until I was well past college, although I had suspicions. I am not sure whether my grandparents buried it out of shame or my parents did because my generation were homophobic. To my parents’ credit, they didn’t teach me homophobia, I learned it from other kids my age (“what are you? A freakin’ fudgepacker?” when your voice wavered between boyish treble and manly bass) and also from other adults like sports coaches (“faster, dammit! Don’t run like a fag!”) and scout leaders (“Be tough! Only queers break! You finish this hike or I will make you wear the pink neckerchief of shame when we get back!”) I think I might have fed it myself reading too many stories in which great heroes also had to be great heterosexual lovers and gay characters were freaks or degenerates.

        Get taught to hate when you’re young, and it’s going to be hard not to when you’re older.

          • I’m a tenor, I am well acquainted with that song, although I don’t think I’ve ever actually sung it in public.

              • At the time it was considered cutting edge, but now it’s just that. The original stories from Tales of the South Pacific were a bit more readable. The King and I is the real show where I love the music, but really can’t stand the story.

        • “Get taught to hate when you’re young, and it’s going to be hard not to when you’re older.”

          Any excuse to brag about your steadfast loyalty to hatred and spew your homophobia disguised as other people’s nastiness. It’s only hard to grow up when you can’t let go of your childhood.

  5. It’s not just the older generation. It is alive and well today. My mother (who is Jack’s age) and I got in a fight just the other day because she keeps referring to my cousin’s boyfriend as her “black boyfriend.” Apparently he doesn’t have a name. I don’t know though — perhaps my mother has evolved. He used to be the “SHINY black boyfriend.” Perhaps by next year she’ll have dropped “black,” and the following year he’ll actually have a name. And, for the record, my mother does NOT think she is a bigot. She believes that term should be reserved for people who actively discriminate, not for those who simply believe that the races should not intermingle.

    To Humble’s point, I think if I were gay I would be in the closet too. My large, extended family would not have been able to deal with it. I also would never even have considered marrying a minority, it would have been unfair to any offspring to make them deal with my family.

  6. ” I can’t blame them for being angry, indignant, and impatient, but we and they will all be better off as a society if they, as well as their allies and supporters, try to maintain a civil dialogue. Boycotts, personal insults and shunning only guarantee similarly aggressive counter measures and a hardening of positions, including distrust and enmity.”

    Very well said Jack.

    I’ve been trying to tell people this for years but people wont listen. How do you expect to change someone’s beliefs if all you do is yell at them and call them names.

  7. From the OP: “Culture–what any society, country, region, religion, business, organization, club, family, secret society or tree house agrees over time as how they do things, think about things, what is right and what is wrong, what is remembered and what is forgotten–is a constantly evolving process. Efforts to freeze it inevitably fail, because human beings as a species can’t stop themselves from learning. Efforts to rush the installment of major changes, however, can be disastrous, even when there seems like no alternative but to rush.”

    I believe that I comprehend what is said here, and I also think I understand the ideas that it is predicated on and give rise to it, and I find that I must oppose this view.

    It is true that people have the right to decide many different things. But it does not appear true that their arbitrary decisions should be seen as either good or right just because they arrive at them.

    I am not at all convinced that people generally, when left to themselves, or under the influence of excessively liberal trends, or in the absence of a demanding philosophical background, will make the right choices. Yet I understand that populism is essentially just that: people clamor for what they want, what feels right, or what feels good.

    One cannot oppose the general direction of society though. One simply has to accept that people will rush forward and institute all manner of different changes, possibly without understanding the consequences of their choices, and even those ones that appear and feel them to be ‘right’. Time will tell what the effect will be. But if it is true that ‘corruption’ is a real thing, and if people can be and are being corrupted, it seems wise to make a careful analysis of the causes. But most people really don’t care a damn to do that, as it appears to me. So, what authority to trust?

    The traits and the qualities that allowed civilization to be constructed were not those that are suggested in the OP. But what are the qualities that have allowed civilization to be constructed? That is a tough question. But it is an essential one. Sounds grandiose I guess to couch it in those terms, but the really important issues all resolve back to that issue.

    Myself, I come *here* (into the different Internet worlds and into conversations) to learn how to recognize ‘under-structuring ideas’ and to oppose the ones that do not seem solidly founded.

  8. Nota bene: I see that this post of Jack’s seems to deal exclusively with the LGBT issue. The ‘reactionary conservatism’ I speak about must respond to much more than sexual issues and changes.

  9. I can’t blame them for being angry, indignant, and impatient, but we and they will all be better off as a society if they, as well as their allies and supporters, try to maintain a civil dialogue.

    Yes, of course. And while “one can’t blame them”, guys, it doesn’t help. OK? For pragmatic reasons, you have to remain cool, calm and rational. You have to remain the soul of sweet reason, even in the face of unbearable provocation. Especially then in fact, it makes the other side look like raving loonies, and sways those who know little of the issue.

    Boycotts, personal insults and shunning only guarantee similarly aggressive counter measures and a hardening of positions, including distrust and enmity.

    Personal insults are counter-productive, looking at it from a purely pragmatic viewpoint, as well as being morally wrong. They undermine the civility and courtesy that keeps society running without clashing gears.

    Boycotts and Shunning should be used only as a last resort, and only in the most egregious cases, after reason, rationality, and all attempts at conversation have been rejected, and where literally lives are at stake.

    I contend that the NC situation is one such.

    I can’t be objective, as my hobby-horse if you like is not GLBTI, not even Trans, but Intersex rights. We are so far under the radar we’re in submarines.

    This letter has received almost no attention.

    April 17, 2016

    Pat McCrory
    Governor of North Carolina
    Dear Governor McCrory:
     
    As North Carolinians and Pediatricians with specialty training in Endocrinology, we respectfully request that you reconsider Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2).
     
    A law that defines biological sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate” is inherently flawed and potentially harmful to a group of children that we care for in our pediatric practices. As professional experts in the field of chromosomes and genital anatomy, we provide professional consultation to our colleagues on babies in whom assigning sex may not be possible at the time of birth. For example, there are babies born in whom chromosomes suggesting one sex do not match the appearance of the genitalia. This can be due to multiple biological causes such as chromosome abnormalities, abnormalities in anatomic development, environmental exposures during pregnancy, genetic mutations in the synthesis and actions of adrenal and gonadal hormones, and tumors that make sex hormones. For these children, gender assignment at birth is challenging and takes substantial time- sometimes requiring re-evaluation over months to years.  Severe hormonal imbalances at birth may also result in gender assignments at the time of the birth that may require reassignment later in life.

    Our patients already face major medical and social challenges and HB2 creates unnecessary hardship for these vulnerable youth. We respectfully ask you to repeal this hurtful bill.
     
    Respectfully,
    (list of 20 NC endocrinologists and pediatricians)

    The problem for Governor McCrory is the recent RNC resolution stating that such children do not and cannot exist. That is GOP dogma.

    It’s usual to say “look, no-one wants children to be bullied or hurt” before an appeal to find common ground.

    But that’s just not true. Some of the best-funded and most prominent people leading the charge against GLBTI people do want children they don’t see as really human to be hurt and bullied. The more honest ones, often good people in many ways, say so openly, without the usual crocodile tears and hypocrisy.

    However, if they and you think you can intimidate the human race into bowing down to your perverse agenda, you had better guess again. You cannot hide the reality of your condition and motives forever. WE are the human race and you are tolerated only to a point.

    — Steven Mark Pilling, Chair of the Harris County TX GOP, on Intersex kids.

    On this very site.

    I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex — but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

    On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.

    It is a mistake for various interfering, ignorant, and biased busybodies to try to “counsel” the other children into accepting the abnormal. It is very healthy to be able to draw the line between what is healthy and what is sick.

    Dr Joseph Berger, specialist in Psychiatry at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, elected Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is also a past Chairman of the Toronto district of the Ontario Medical Association and past President of the Ontario branch of the American Psychiatric Association. He is on record in testimony before the Canadian Senate as saying that neither Trans nor Intersex children exist, they are abnormalities and a danger to society.

    Reason doesn’t work. Facts they ignore. They have power. Attempts at conversation and dialogue are fruitless.

    The only thing they understand is coercion. It is their tool, that they wield freely. Nothing else is ever going to work, we’ve tried and tried and tried and tried everything else because coercion is always wrong. Always.

    I hope someone can show me where I’m wrong here. Show me another way. Please.

    • You’re wrong Zoe.

      You put on a calm face and then argue for laws to let fetishists and drag queen get their kicks. Things were starting to get good. A little employment non-discrimination would really be nice and some violence prevention programs. That doesn’t help dudes get their kicks though so you always bring it back to the bathrooms and pretend that there aren’t penises being exposed in women’s locker rooms thanks to you.

      People used the bathroom because they had to, because they couldn’t hold it, because it was part of the transition process and if they didn’t, the doctors would consider them unserious and unready. It wasn’t there as affirmation, an achievement to unlock as the kids say. It wasn’t on the to-do list, it certainly wasn’t part of the sexual script.

      It was what you tell people when you need a shield for the people you’re really promoting.

      Things were starting to get good. Pat Robertson of all people said transsexuals have a medical condition and have operations so just be cool. If you saw someone in the bathroom you could expect them to wash their hands and leave not hang out and primp in the mirror for a half hour. Birth certificates could be changed in most states (and I favor changing the last holdout.) Temporary passports were issued here in the US for people who needed to slip over to Thailand.

      There were hoops to jump though here and there, as is to be expected in such a big change. Those hoops are protection, They protect people from just swallowing a bunch of estrogen without a doctor’s care, they protect people from changing their bodies forever without showing they can remain mentally stable though a change. They proved to the non-transsexuals that the transsexual was taking it seriously and not just following some tumblr trend. There weren’t thousands of pre-everything transwomen talking about how their gender identity and comfort entitles them to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms despite taking not a single step to do anything, despite being completely indistinguishable form any other 25 year-old dude.

      It used to be that people who wanted to be perceived as female didn’t go around letting everyone know they have a penis, and calling people transphobic for not being interested in that penis sexually. It used to be the Dana McCallum’s of the world would be instantly denounced not only for rape but also for being obviously not trans just for being able to do that. Your arguments say Dana belongs in the locker room changing and showering a few feet away from me, or if you have any sympathy for the victim then I suppose it would be in a woman’s prison instead. Lucky them.

      I understand that straight dudes are the ones with the extra money to spare to put into activism (after paying for all the glitter and high heels), but focusing in their wants doesn’t exactly help anyone but them, it hurts the people who aren’t them since states like North Carolina quickly provide backlash.

      That backlash they you and other trans activists created also hits the 100 or so actual intersex people in North Carolina.

      Way to spoil it for the people who need it.

      • Texagg and OldBill, for what it’s worth, I find that article much more right than wrong in its description. Well written too.

        • So you’ve noticed the incredible smugness that liberals have adopted as a defense mechanism when their arguments are challenged or when they assume an issue is settled or when they make false appeals to authority or when their arguments are soundly picked apart? I’m glad you’ve noticed. Perhaps you can help curb the smugness that saturates the air. Best to start local and small scale.

        • Or the authors feels the culture war is so close to being won that victory is inevitable, so now he feels he can afford to comment negatively on the obvious.

  10. The elephant in the room in this post harks back to the old chant: “What do we want? [fill in the blank]! When do we want it? Now!” or the old come back, “If not now, when?” There’s the rub, I guess.

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