Wednesday, 4/29/15

  1. Is “Transgender” even a real thing?
  2. Damnum absque injuria
  3. Mansplaining “coexistence” to an enraged minority
  4. Hands on Originals did it right
  5. Mere anarchy is loosed
  6. …It only encourages them.

1

Bruce Jenner is the journalistic gift that keeps on giving.

I was queueing up at the gate at the Boston airport, preparing to board a flight out. I caught CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on the air introducing a segment with media reporter Brian Stelter, who was preparing to comment on Bruce Jenner’s interview. It was like watching a presenter for Russian state television fronting an interview with Vladimir Putin’s astrologer. Whitfield gassed on and on about Jenner’s courage. I half-expected her to ask Stelter if Jenner’s bravery was storm-the-beaches-at-Normandy courageous, or merely rush-into-a-burning-building-to-save-a-baby brave.

It was a mockery of journalism. It was sheer, unapologetic propaganda. But then, that’s exactly what you get from the mainstream media on just about any issue related to sexuality.

The rest of this Rod Dreher item wasn’t focused on Bruce Jenner, but on the current transgender madness generally, with a concluding acknowledgement that some of those who’ve undergone gender reassignment surgical and chemical sexual mutilation have deep regrets and think it’s the wrong approach for gender dysphoria. Their voices are largely unacknowledged if not suppressed.

Read it only if you’re not easily depressed. I only quoted the relatively light-hearted part. Consider following the links, too:

  • Medical transgender pioneering was a pervert-rich field.
  • Medical schools tracked long-term results and stopped doing the mutilations because they didn’t really improve things.

And keep your kids away from mainstream media. I have a young confused friend who’s totally into this gender transgressive ideology, and it’s media-fed if not media-induced.

2

A rare case of damnum absque injuria in modern sexual jurisprudence:

Beckwith says she contacted the company after being referred by a friend. They were trying to go with a train theme. Their engagement photos … were on railroad tracks. Their reception would be at an old train depot in Lawrenceville. They wanted the invitations to look like a train ticket, so she needed a company that could design and print them.

(WXIA News, Atlanta) “They” is Ms. Beckwith and her female consort.

I’d call this an unusually stark example of what’s going on in many of the florist, baker and photographer same-sex wedding demurrals. Beckwith wanted a company with the artistic skill and creativity to design a custom wedding invitation for her theme “wedding.” Then they’d print them, too.

Paige Beckwith says throughout her wedding planning process she has been open with vendors that there would be two brides on the wedding day.

She says none of the vendors seemed to care, but him.

“The owner called me back and let me know that he’s not going to print our invitations because he does not support same sex marriage,” said Beckwith.

“I kept asking him how, why, how he could do this? He just basically stood on his religious beliefs, referenced the Bible, called it a sin, and I was basically in tears saying how could you treat me this way?,” she recalled.

Just one denial out of how many? In “Bible Belt” Georgia? And one insolent heretic, who refused even a pinch of incense, reduces her to tears of rage?

I suppose the company will lose its franchise as the franchisor’s initial disclaimer of condoning discrimination falls short of mollifying the mob. The WXIA story even ends with a tacit invitation to bombard the franchisor.

In Georgia, though, there apparently will be no legal repercussions, no resurrection of involuntary servitude for the printer, no criminal charge for hurting feelings. Good for Georgia.

I suppose this derailed her whole wedding, as she wasn’t able to find a compliant printer, right? The story’s silent about that little detail.

3

At the risk of mansplaining, a few word for Ms. Beckwith from the prior story should she happen across this.

You have the good fortune of having grown up in a more-or-less free country. People who experienced same-sex attraction always had the rights to vote, to speak, to exercise their religion, to assemble, to associate with one another, to bear arms, to be tried by jury, to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and so forth.

Through most of your lifetime, and perhaps all of it, you’ve had the right in Georgia to engage in erotic pleasure with another consenting woman without threat of criminal prosecution – and had it been up to me, you’d have had that right by vote (not court decision) a decade or decades earlier. As between you and invidious governmental discrimination, I’m on your side.

You and yours have used your rights to form HRC, to use your considerable financial clout to mount a PR campaign of unprecedented power and success, and to stand now at the cusp of a likely Supreme Court recognition of a right to “marry” each other. (You’ve always had the right to marry, even if you didn’t care for the thought of sex with a man and even if you consider that right to marry a taunt.) Congratulations on your stunning successes.

I thought I should say that – before this supposed triumph once again turns to sawdust in your mouth, as have all the earlier ones. That’s mostly because of a still small voice within you saying that something’s still not quite right, despite all your rights. That voice will never go away.

But you’ll probably blame people like me for that voice – people who persist in putting marriage in scare quotes when modified by the compound adjective “same-sex.” You can suppress us. Your PR campaign and media friends can reduce our numbers. But we will always be there, alongside but distinct from that inner voice.

We may not have been born this way, but we didn’t really choose it, either. We cannot tailor our perception of reality upon demand.

Will you allow us the same rights that brought you to your moment of triumph?

Andrew Sullivan, one of you, gave this advice:

If you find someone who’s genuinely conflicted about doing something for your wedding, let them be. Find someone else. It’s a free society. Similarly about florists: if you can’t find a gay florist…? It’s not the hardest thing in the world.

4

In Kentucky, a Human Rights Commission with the backing of an ordinance overstepped constitutional bounds trying to compel services:

The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) tried to get Hands on Originals (HOO) to print some T-shirts promoting GLSO’s Lexington Pride Festival. One of the owners of Hands on Originals refused, because he disapproved of the message that it was asked to print.

Aaron Baker, on behalf of the GLSO, filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, arguing this violated the county’s “Fairness Ordinance.” …

The judge did conclude, though, that applying the ordinance to Hands on Originals’ actions violated the First Amendment:

[“T]he right of freedom of thought protected by the First Amendment against state action includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.[”] … The [Commission] attempted to distinguish [the compelled speech precedents] from the case at bar with the explanation that “In this case there was no government mandate that the Respondent (HOO) speak.”… [But i]n fact, HOO and its owners, because they refused to print the GLSO t-shirts that offended their sincerely held religious beliefs, have been punished for the exercise of their Constitutional rights to refrain from being forced to speak….

The Commission in its oral argument says it is not trying to infringe on the Constitutional Rights of HOO and its owners but is seeking only to have HOO “…treat everyone the same.” Yet, HOO has demonstrated in this record that it has done just that. It has treated homosexual and heterosexual groups the same. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, HOO declined to print at least thirteen (13) orders for message based reasons. Those print orders that were refused by HOO included shirts promoting a strip club, pens promoting a sexually explicit video, and shirts containing a violence related message.

There is further evidence in the Commission record that it is standard practice within the promotional printing industry to decline to print materials containing messages that the owners do not want to support. Nonetheless, the Commission punished HOO for declining to print messages advocating sexual activity to which HOO and its owners strongly oppose on sincerely held religious grounds.

HOO did not decline to print the t-shirts in question or work with GLSO representatives because of the sexual orientation of the representatives that communicated with HOO. It is undisputed that neither [of the] HOO representatives … knew or inquired about the sexual orientation of either GLSO representatives …. Rather, … the conversation between GLSO representative … and HOO [co-]owner [Blaine] Adamson was about GLSO’s mission and what the organization generally promoted…. HOO’s declination to print the shirts was based upon the message of GLSO and the Pride Festival and not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members….

If Massachusetts could not compel [St. Patrick’s Day] parade organizers to include a group advocating a [gay rights] message that the parade organizers did not support, [Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston (1995),] how can the LFUCG Human Rights Commission interpret the “Fairness Ordinance” to compel HOO and its owners to print a t-shirt conveying a message that HOO and its owners do not support and in fact find blasphemous? The Court holds that the Commission cannot take this action consistent with the U.S. Constitution….

This Court has undertaken review of this case based upon … the doctrine of “strict scrutiny.” … This Court does not fault the Commission in its interest in insuring citizens have equal access to services but that is not what this case is all about. There is no evidence in this record that HOO or its owners refused to print the t-shirts in question based upon the sexual orientation of GLSO or its members or representatives that contacted HOO. Rather, it is clear beyond dispute that HOO and its owners declined to print the t-shirts in question because of the MESSAGE advocating sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman. The well established Constitutional rights of HOO and its owners on this issue is well settled and requires action by this Court….

(Eugene Volokh) I added that emphasis not because it’s the most important part of the trial court’s decision, but because that kind of argument seriously needs to be smacked down: “There’s no governmental compulsion here,” the governmental commission explained in defense of its compulsion.

Euguene Volokh approves, by the way – of all the trial court reasoning so far as I can tell, not just of the RFRA analysis. It has gotten favorable comment from the Right, of course, and neutrality from Prof. Friedman, who the vast majority of the time just gives “the facts, ma’am.”

Kudos to the owner of Hands on Originals – not because he got away with something, but because he operated his business transparently, drew lines that excluded business for messages other than of the homophile sort, and didn’t even ask about the sexual orientation of the folks trying to order the shirts. Kudos to the lawyer who drew all that out and to the judge who saw some rights at issue other than the right of “gay” to trump every other consideration in the cosmos.

5

Worth noting: the Right doesn’t (quite?) have a monopoly on Christian conviction:

This morning as I was driving into Baton Rouge, I was listening to public radio, and they played a recording of MLK’s “How Long? Not Long!” speech. It is a thoroughly, dazzlingly Christian example of oratory, designed to use the concepts and the language of the Bible to speak prophetically to a Christian nation, and cause it to repent of its grievous sins against black Americans. I realized that this is impossible today, this kind of rhetoric, and this kind of appeal. We don’t share that faith anymore, and don’t share that vocabulary.

(Rod Dreher) I’m really glad he picked that example. He continues:

A contemporary MLK could not and would not speak this way, because we have lost our common faith, and commitment to an external source of moral authority. It’s like this: a professor friend at a certain college tells me that his school has a problem with sexual assault among the students. The administration is trying to figure out how to address it effectively, but the school’s leadership refuses to use the language or morality, or moral absolutes. It couches everything it says in the language of liberalism, which is to say, in consent and procedure. This does not work. This cannot constrain the desiring hearts and bodies of the students. It leaves them utterly confused, and at the mercy of their passions.

Compounding the tragedy, this is a religious school, not a secular one ….

Dreher several times Monday mused over the lack of social cohesion today, and of the lack of any cohesive “glue.” I’ve been asking the same questions for at least 15 years, thinking for a while that network TV and Public Schools were the glue that “cohered” a critical mass. But now there’s umpteen channels on cable and the Public Schools are in bad odor because of the insane emphasis on hiring administrators and imposing standardized tests so we have some data to measure.

The closest we have now may be “the shopping mall,” at least as synecdoche for consumerism. And with wealth and income stratification, I don’t think that will hold. Heck, high income people have already moved on the more exclusive commercial venues.

what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

(Yeats)

6

I’m approaching the “Don’t vote; it only encourages them” stage.

Between the party of “vote your vice” and the party of “Whoopee! Endless war everywhere!,” I’m having trouble discerning the lesser evil.

What went wrong? Seriously: what went wrong? How did we end up in this mess?

Well, I’m working on figuring that out (do you want a bibliography?).

Part of it (the part I’m working on right now, with a major blog likely in a couple of weeks) is the social construction of “secular” in the modern “versus religious” sense, “Men have forgotten God” in the deeper sense. I do mean deeper, by the way; more zealous and sincere immersion in Hal Lindsey/Tim LaHaye prophecy porn would likely make things worse in the hawkish direction. I have no idea what could possible corrupt the “vote your vice” side beyond its present wretched state, but I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.

What I have trouble accepting, as I carry a few modern genes in my atavistic body, is that nothing lasts, every fix is the seed of a new collapse, and those with a more deeply tragic sense of life are probably saner than progressives and conservatives who keep racing to the rockpile like Sisyphus.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.