it’s not as catchy as “Bias makes you stupid, ” but “Ideology makes you unethical” is just as true. However, just as bias is unavoidable, ideologies of some kind are necessary. The trick is to find one that doesn’t do more harm than good.
The diagram above was explained to me by a friend, fan and boss, the late Richard Halpern. He was a devotee of Chaos Theory, which he called his “religion.’ Life is chaos, he said, and human systems were chaotic. He likened living to a passenger plane’s journey through the endlessly unpredictable air currents and weather phenomenon in the skies. He analogized the plane’s guidance system to a linear constant through chaos, without which, Rich said, the plane would be lost. “No plane follows the charted path the whole trip, because it is constantly knocked off course, but that constant is there for the plane to return to. Ideologies are the same: you have to have that ever-present constant or be lost, with no basis for deciding where to turn, and when you’re navigating through chaos, it really doesn’t matter what it is.
This is why religion is so useful, and all mandated value systems, what Ethics Alarms defines as “morality.” Laws are mandated moral codes, You don’t have to make a million separate decisions, just one: Follow that constant! The constant can be repugnant to others or based on myth and bias, but once someone commits to it, it will do the job. This is where cults come from. This is how Amway became successful. This is why people elevate political and social goals to the point that all of their decisions about who to associate with, what to watch and read and how to align priorities are based on them. Abortion. The environment. “Social justice.”
A new book by Helen Joyce, an Irish journalist who is executive editor for events business of “The Economist,” takes on one of the weirder ideologies that has arisen in recent years, what she calls “gender-identity ideology.” It would be nice if she were a psychiatrist, or a doctor, but then those and most other professional groups in the United States have been so cowed into knee-jerk alliance with the progressive movement that any member of them daring to challenge the cant would face “cancellation.” Her book is titled “Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.” To be fair, that title could be fairly and accurately adapted to any ideology; remember that neo-conservative icon Irving Kristol (yes, Bill’s dad) famously said that a conservative was “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” (A cynic is a neo-conservative who was mugged by Iraq.)
But few ideologies have emerged so spectacular driven by Rationalization #64, “Isn’t what it is” as the topic of Joyce’s critique. She begins by stating that most people “understand the call for ‘trans rights’ to mean compassionate concessions that enable a suffering minority to live full lives, in safety and dignity.” Most people also support that view, as does Joyce. Gender-identity ideology,however, insists that everyone has a “gender identity” that only they can determine and declare, and neither science, nor biology, nor societal conventions can deny them. This is the new “transgender.” By this ideology, “people should count as men or women according to how they feel and what they declare, instead of their biology,” and to ensure this becomes a societal norm, it must be enshrined in law an enforced by social pressures.
Just because an ideology serves as a linear constant through chaos doesn’t mean that its absence of logic or reconciliation with basic human experience won’t result in terrible harm. Racism is an ideology, after all. Gender-identity ideology has sent, in Ireland, England and Canada,males convicted of violent sex crimes but who “identify” as women to women’s prisons. In England, a convicted pedophile, in jail on suspicion of stabbing a neighbor, sexually assaulted several female inmates. In one well-publicized episode in British Columbia, female beauticians had to battle a human rights complaint filed by a trans individual wanted them to wax “their” penis and testicles. Spain and Australia have launched investigations against politicians who publicly opposed the ideology. In the United States, blights on the English language like the singular “they” and “birthing persons” have produced creeping Orwellism. The progressive mob has mindlessly embraced what is logically and scientifically unsupportable, even as it condemns conservatives in other areas for not “following the science.” And, of course, anyone refusing to accept that feelings are sufficient to over-ride facts is a bigot, even when the ideology supports and encourages medical mutilation of children before they are capable of legal consent.
It is as valuable an example of how ideologies make us unethical, and how carelessly chosen and blindly followed ideologies can be destructive to whole societies. Joyce wants to at very least impose a more positive ideology on public debate over the issue, an ideology especially core to American values. She writes, “I demand the same freedom to reject and oppose gender-identity ideology, and in return gladly accept that others have the right to preach it and live by it.”