Thursday, May 24, 2018

Telling the Truth

Among the relatively few rules necessary for civilization is honoring truth. That means respecting the truth, telling the truth as clearly and accurately as we can perceive it. Truth is good; truth is moral.

There’s another moral imperative that we treat other human beings with dignity and respect. I think we can agree with that. We honor God, life, family, property, and truth. So that comes under life specifically, but also under God, our creator, and family, which gives life and passes along morals such as respecting one another.

A social argument these days is about what is required of respect. We make sure no human beings are considered less than human, subject to the whims of some superior class. We are all equal before the law. That is a founding principle of this nation—perhaps the first nation on earth founded on such an idea.

But the argument is that, if you don’t go along with everything a particular minority group insists on, you are denigrating them. This includes when you refuse to lie for them.

So the dilemma for moral people is: honor truth, or honor individuals by going along with their lie?

Transgender activists protest near the White House in
Washington, D.C., February 22, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
image found at National Review

I’m talking specifically here about the transgender debate, although the social war is larger than that. But this is instructive about the larger social war as well.

There’s been a debate going on recently at National Review. J. J. McCullough recommends a compromise: He “requires sacrifice on the part of progressives, who are currently overplaying their hand in an effort to strong-arm sweeping social change as a flex of their power.” Note that is what progressives must do, formerly called liberals or leftists—which on the Spherical Model is pro-savagery, poverty, and tyranny.

Of conservatives (the pro-civilization, prosperity, and freedom crowd), he requires “broad tolerance for the reality that transgender men and women exist, and are entitled to basic human dignity, just like everyone else.”

Michael Brendan Dougherty responds to McCullough’s suggested compromise:

The demand to acknowledge someone’s “existence” is a slippery bit of a double-talk. I would be an idiot to deny McCullough’s existence. But if he said that he were a Camaroonian, rather than a Canadian, would it be his existence that I denied by contradicting him?
Dougherty adds the question, “But are we allowed to tell the truth?”

David French adds further commentary concerning that question about whether we’re allowed to tell the truth:

Increasingly, the answer is no. J.J. compares the modern dispute over transgenderism to current and recent fights over homosexuality. The comparison is instructive, but not in the way that he hopes. There has been no “compromise” over homosexuality. Instead, we’re locked in brutal legal fights over whether Christian bakers and florists can be compelled to use their artistic talents to celebrate gay weddings. Christian colleges have had to fend off challenges to their accreditation and funding (and the Obama administration raised the possibility of challenging their tax exemptions) for simply upholding basic standards of Christian sexual morality. And in California, the new sexual orthodoxy now threatens even the sale of books that deliver a disfavored message not just on sexual orientation but also on sexual conduct.
Along that tangent, I just saw a new video with Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist, telling the story of her persecution—not for refusing service to anyone, including the homosexual man at the heart of the case, who had been a long-time customer and friend—but for declining to use her artistic skills for an event that celebrated something against her faith. She couldn’t use her skills—which God gave her—in service of something against God’s will. Worth watching.

Back to that compromise discussion. David French concludes with this:

Treating every single human being with dignity and respect means not just defending their constitutional liberties and showing them basic human kindness, it also means telling the truth—even when the truth is hard. Any compromise that requires conservatives to grant the other side’s false and harmful premise is no compromise at all.
The uncompromising Dr. Jordan Peterson, who has been embroiled in this debate, for standing up and stating truth, has a full chapter on truth in his book 12Rules for Life. Rule 8 is “Tell the Truth, or at Least Don’t Lie.” In it he says,
image from Amazon

Taking the easy way out or telling the truth—those are not merely two different choices. They are different pathways through life. They are utterly different ways of existing.
When confronted with the choice to use the pronouns the government requires--which are lies, and are linguistically unnatural--or suffer the consequences, he chose to suffer the consequences. Because it's a way of life to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

For him, this is a free speech issue. It just happens to pertain to the transgender issue. As he points out, we don’t use a particular pronoun to imbue a person with respect; we use a pronoun to identify a person we may not know anything about beyond the visible details. “He did it,” does not imply, “That-person-I-know-so-well-that-I-have-ascertained-that-person’s-chosen-gender-identity did it.” It, rather, implies, “That-male-appearing-person-whose-name-I-might-not-even-know did it.”

What a transgender person who requires a different gender pronoun—or an entirely new made-up but unhelpful-for-identification-purposes pronoun—is requiring is mind-reading. You, the person who may have never interacted with them before, are supposed to use a pronoun in reference to them that you have no way of knowing is their preference. Dr. Peterson has found that the vast majority of transgender persons who have responded in comments support him and do not prefer the weird made-up pronouns.

So what the offended persons are requiring is special consideration, far above and beyond what any of us have the ability to offer one another. They’ve got a lot of nerve. In their interactions with me and with you, what have they done to deserve our submission to the loss of useful pronouns, just because they say they are offended by standard usage? What about how offensive it is to call us offensive for simply using language that has a purpose and works? Should we be pilloried while they are not? We use pronouns when we don't know someone; these people are demanding a special pronoun even when we don't know them. What have they done to earn that special treatment from people with whom they don't even have a relationship?

So, Dr. Peterson tells the truth. He gets attacked for that, quite a lot. But he also gets the respectful attention that allows him to share a great many truths. Probably a good outcome. Telling the truth wins.

Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatrics, put out a short video in December 2017 (full video below) talking about what happens when you deal with the truth and when you don’t.  She offers one case from a number of years ago:

I had one little boy, a patient we’ll call Andy. Between the ages of 3and 5 he increasingly played with girls and stereotypical girl toys, and started saying he was a girl. I referred the parents and Andy to a therapist. Sometimes mental illness of a parent or abuse of the child are factors. But more commonly, the child has misperceived family dynamics and internalized a false belief. In the middle of one session, Andy put down the toy truck, and held onto the Barbie, and said, “Mommy and Daddy, you don’t love me when I’m a boy.” What the therapist learned is that when Andy was 3, his sister with special needs was born. She required significantly more of his parents’ care and attention. Andy misperceived this as, “Mommy and Daddy love girls. If I want them to love me again, I have to be a girl.” With family therapy, Andy got better.
Today, doctors would insist that the parents alter the world to support Andy in his delusion, and give him puberty blockers—which, when used in adults for prostate or gynecological problems, are known to lead to memory loss, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers, and emotional problems such as the one the experts claim to be preventing.

Additionally, doctors might offer surgical interventions such as a double mastectomy or penis removal.

While gender dysphoria is a treatable mental illness, and in many cases disappears by puberty or adulthood even without therapy, the current “treatment” is to permanently disfigure and sterilize—not so that a woman can become a man, or that a man can become a woman, but so that they can impersonate what they are not.

Asking the world to lie for them, and to them, is not going to change reality. Telling them the truth, while also being respectful of their worth as human beings, might actually help far more. 

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