Thursday, 8/11/16

  1. Wrong side of reality
  2. Opening a strange new America
  3. Sad day for professionalism (and more)
  4. The challenge for conservative Christians
  5. The official birth of reality TV
  6. If it weren’t for double standards …

1

Despite her doctor’s assurances that insurance would pay for fertility treatment, Ms. Krupa’s provider, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, denied coverage. The company cited a state insurance mandate from 2001 that required most women under 35 — no matter their sexual orientation — to demonstrate their infertility through “two years of unprotected sexual intercourse.”

Now the Krupas [Marianne and Erin], along with two other women, are suing the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, claiming the mandate discriminates against their sexual orientation — essentially forcing infertile homosexual women to pay for costly procedures to try to become pregnant.

More:

Dr. William Ziegler, the medical director of the Reproductive Science Center of New Jersey, said the issue of insurance coverage had long weighed on the field of fertility treatment.

“I’m not sure if there was a lot of thought given to the implications of what this would cause and how many New Jerseyans it would exclude,” Dr. Ziegler said of the mandate. “It’s a double standard. It discriminates against same-sex couples because they don’t have the biological equipment to have a baby the way a heterosexual couple does.”

I’m just going to let Dr. Ziegler’s statement hang out there. Centuries from now, when historians are trying to figure out how, exactly, the most advanced nation on earth lost its mind and fell apart, Dr. Ziegler’s realization about the thoughtless bigotry grieving barren lesbians of New Jersey will be of interest.

(Rod Dreher, emphasis added)

John Zmirak does not just let Dr. Ziegler’s statement hang out there. He argues a position I increasingly embrace, well aware that some of my friends have transgressed, even as I transgressed some standards of which my elders apparently knew nothing (and so taught me nothing). To follow his core argument, background is needed:

What makes this story of interest is the weird parallels it has with a great work of Southern literature, since today’s attempt to deny the reality of sex is the mirror image of an old American heresy: making a fetish out of race. Once we made almost everything out of differences that in the end amount to nothing, and now we repent by pretending that one of life’s crucial truths is … nothing.

As a native New Yorker with neither a driver’s license nor a clue, I went down to Baton Rouge in 1986 to get a Ph.D. in English, focused on Southern literature. My first interest was in Walker Percy, but I was soon drawn also to Faulkner, and fell in love with his grandest tragedy, Absalom, Absalom!

Its hero, Thomas Sutpen, is a kind of Andrew Jackson …

In fact, the whole enterprise of the fertility industry is ugly and unnatural, regardless of who’s involved. It is no less repugnant (perhaps it is more) for a man to wish to see his wife inseminated mechanically with the sperm of another man, than for two lesbians to flip a coin and let one of them undergo a similar process. Nor is it any more moral for heterosexual couples than homosexuals to engage in IVF when it generates dozens or hundreds of “surplus” human embryos, who will live a weird eternity frozen in technological limbo, and when they see to it that “extra” siblings are “reduced” by abortion.

We are already in the land of madness and monsters, where the best interests of children come a distant third or fourth to the whims of willful adults, the profits of doctors, and a legal system completely divorced from reality in its two most important components: biology and morality.

The fertility industry, our legal system and the thundering moral chaos that reigns supreme today, have left these four women in New Jersey not much better than Thomas Sutpen: nearly bankrupt, close to despair and bereft of a human legacy. “Gender ideology” is just as false and inhuman a construct as racism ever was — a fact that our grandchildren will realize, and shake their heads at us as we do at our grandparents’ fondness for Amos and Andy.

Just as in Faulkner’s fiction, where Thomas Sutpen was ruined by pretending that race is absolute, real and decisive when it isn’t, in New Jersey these women are ruining themselves by pretending that sex and human sexuality is simply a fantasy, a “gender construction” that emerges from our wills and libidos ….

(Emphasis added)

This brings to mind words written in a much different context, “Biology is easily the most fundamental aspect of our human existence” — which multivalence is pretty much what one should expect if biology is the most fundamental aspect of our human existence.

2

How did a card-carrying member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy wind up dropping the proud label “politically incorrect”?

[T]he rise of Donald Trump has opened up a strange new America to my generation. It has shown me things about my country that I almost wish I could un-know. But, now that I know them, I am forced to acknowledge that this isn’t the ‘90s anymore, even though a Clinton is running for President.

You see, in the ‘90s, you could roll your eyes at political correctness, because only a great fool or a liberal (but I repeat myself) would take you for a racist cave troll if you weren’t politically correct …

But we are living in a brave new world. A 21st century world. A world where if you give a troll an iPhone, he’ll want a Twitter account to go with it.

You never thought you’d live to see the day when the Republican presidential candidate would fumble the easiest question in politics. If you heard the phrase “hate mail,” you would immediately think of the unhinged left, but you’d never dream that staunch conservatives like David French and Ben Shapiro would get death threats from people with an “R” on their voter registration card.

In French’s case, the vile threats and memes also extended to his adopted African daughter. And when Ben Shapiro and his wife welcomed their second child, his Twitter feed filled with people cursing the day another Jewish baby was born. What did these men do to deserve such unadulterated hate? They committed the unforgivable sin of speaking against Donald Trump.

You couldn’t have imagined that a U.S. politician on the national stage would not merely survive but thrive by pandering to such a vile crew. That he would encourage violence, demand loyalty, spread base insults. And you wouldn’t have believed that merely by criticizing such a candidate, you, too, could become “politically correct.”

Being politically incorrect used to mean something in this culture. It represented an adherence to principle and personal integrity. It represented individuality and independence of mind. How ironic that it now represents a pledge of allegiance to a man who has manifested many of the characteristics of a decadent demagogue.

(Esther O’Reilly)

3

I have suspected that the transgender and gender fluidity talk and behavior is a very dangerous fad. If you valorize something (can you said “Caitlyn Jenner”), you’re apt to see a surge of it.

Rod Dreher has a long blog that suggests in painful detail that it is faddish, though he thinks “fad” understates it, and that doctors are going along out of fear. It is a sad day for medicine when it’s professional “Do no harm” yields to a craven or mercenary “Would you like fries with your prosthetic penis?”

If the American Bar Association has its way, it will be dangerous for attorneys to take up defense of a doctor who dared to say “no.” It has willfully, after long discussion and trenchant critique from secular constitution law experts like Eugene Volokh, adopted an Orwellian Model Rule of Professional Conduct that will facilitate persecution of lawyers who recognize sexual realities that aren’t due to be in vogue again for a long time. Volokh:

Many people pointed out possible problems with this proposed rule — yet the ABA adopted it with only minor changes that do nothing to limit the rule’s effect on speech. My inference is that the ABA wants to do exactly what the text calls for: limit lawyers’ expression of viewpoints that it disapproves of. I’ll blog again shortly on other aspects of the proposal … but here I just wanted to focus on the new ABA speech code, and why state courts and state bars should resist the pressure to adopt it.

One reason to think that the Model Rule is willfully oppressive of dissent is its unprecedented and unintelligible prohibition of discrimination based on socioeconomic status, a criterion so fraught that Volokh gave it a separate blog:

All of the following, then, might well lead to discipline if the ABA adopts this rule as part of its influential Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and then states adopt it in turn:

  1. A law firm preferring more-educated employees — both as lawyers and as staffers — over less-educated ones.
  2. A law firm preferring employees who went to high-“status” institutions, such as Ivy League schools.
  3. A law firm contracting with expert witnesses and expert consultants who are especially well-educated or have had especially prestigious employment.
  4. A solo lawyer who, when considering whether to team up with another solo lawyer, preferring a wealthier would-be partner over a poorer one. (The solo might, for instance, want a partner who would have the resources to weather economic hard times and to help the firm do the same.)

[T]here’s no reason for state bars or state courts to go beyond the existing state and federal anti-discrimination categories when it comes to employment and similar matters. If state law bans, say, sexual orientation discrimination in employment generally, that would normally apply to law firms as well as to other firms. But if a state legislature chose not to ban sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status discrimination, I think that, too, should apply equally to lawyers. State bars and state courts may reasonably impose special rules on behavior in court, behavior with respect to witnesses, and the like; but I don’t think they should become employment regulators.

Yet even if state bars and courts do want to regulate employment discrimination, they should certainly not include “socioeconomic status.” To my knowledge, no state anti-discrimination law prohibits such discrimination, and there is very good reason not to prohibit it.

I’ll be retired before this ABA crap gets adopted in my home state (if it ever gets adopted), but I still care about the profession that is in my family for three generations now.

I fervently hope that this obnoxious move leads to a fresh flight of lawyers from an increasingly-evil Association, at odds with the fundamental liberties of the American Republic. I personally quit 20 or so years when they decided that “life” was not a self-evident endowment of the creator that government must respect and protect.

4

Trump chose for the ground to fight on issues where there was a broad consensus between the Republican and Democratic parties that was opposed by a large proportion of the country. For instance, on immigration, he has shown that much of the country is deeply dissatisfied with current immigration policy (which is basically just “let them all stay here if they manage to get in”). The Democratic Party favors changing the composition of the electorate in order to dilute the European Christian heritage of the United States; but the Chamber of Commerce wing of the Republican Party favors importing cheap labor for its constituency. This means that both parties are supporting a policy that artificially suppresses wages for workers born and raised in America. On the issue of foreign policy, Trump is the first and most prominent Republican (that I can think off of the top of my head, at any rate) to question all the wars we have been fighting since September 11, 2001; most mainstream Republicans were in thrall to the neoconservatives’ push for regime change across the globe, just like the Democrats’ presidential nominee is.

What confuses and frightens so many conservative Republicans about this election is that it took such a thoroughly disagreeable man as Donald Trump to attack the bipartisan consensus on so many important issues and actually restate positions that are more conservative than those of the GOP’s establishment …

[T]he real challenge for conservative Christians from this point forward is twofold. First, we must admit that we supported many Republican positions that really may not have been that conservative or that Christian, and that Trump is right in some important ways. Second, we will have to find new way to fight for conservative Christian social issues now that it is clear that the Republicans are not really willing to make them a priority and that liberals appear to have gained the upper hand for the foreseeable time to come.

(Stephen at Guildreview)

5

Where did reality TV start? A surprising, and fairly convincing, answer:

By adopting a long chronology, Isenberg brings the story of White Trash right up to the early twentieth century, and she argued that in the late twentieth century modern telemedia allowed the religiosity of poor whites to gain a platform hitherto unavailable to the white underclass. Isenberg plums the sociological depths of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, the Praise The Lord television empire, the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Isenberg makes the case that poor white religion was in most cases a scam run by charismatic conmen (and women) that only continues a pattern of historical victimization.

In the case of the Bakkers, she points out that despite living and working in North Carolina, they both hailed from the working class Upper Midwest. They moved to the South because their message would resonate amongst the larger numbers of Charismatic and Revivalist Christians in the region. The insidious nature of poor white religiosity lay in the predatory financial nature of Charismatic religiosity. The people whom the Praise the Lord Ministry conned were mainly poor whites; the majority of the program’s viewers were born-again, with less than a high school education, and were, most pitifully, unemployed. Staffers for PTL revealed that they sent appeals for money out at the beginning of the months, when many viewers received their Social Security and Welfare checks …

While PTL and the Bakkers gained an audience, they encouraged respectable white society to engage in voyeurism. In an eerily prescient analysis, Isenberg ties white trash to the rise of reality TV. Tabloid coverage of the Bakkers fall from grace, she argues, began the official birth of reality TV.

“One can directly trace the unholy line from the out-of-control Bakkers to the gawking at rural Georgia white trashdom in TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” Bakker’s perversions and the “underage beauty contestant’s shenanigans tapped into the public’s attachment to the tawdry behavior of the American underclass.”

(Dr. Miles Smith, reviewing Nancy Isenberg’s “White Trash”)

6

More than two decades after Clinton’s first inauguration, many evangelical leaders of that era have endorsed the draft-dodging, foul-mouthed, honesty-challenged womanizer named Donald Trump for president. Only a handful refuse to follow suit, including Albert Mohler, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During the Clinton years, he regularly argued in mainstream media outlets that the Arkansan was morally unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

“If I were to support, much less endorse, Donald Trump for president,” Mohler says, “I would actually have to go back and apologize to former President Bill Clinton.”

The televangelist Pat Robertson once called Clinton a “debauched, debased, and defamed” politician who turned the Oval Office into a “playpen for the sexual freedom of the poster child of the 1960s.” It’s difficult to understand how Robertson could tell Trump recently, “You inspire us all.”

(Jonathan Merritt)

If Albert Mohler has no better reason for not endorsing Trump than that doing so would make him eat crow with Clinton, that’s pretty pathetic. Better he’d say “Character mattered then and it matters now even if the unfit candidate is from my preferred party,” don’t you think? If he could endorse Trump with some plausible-but-false argument that there’s a material difference between the two situations, so that he wouldn’t have to go back and apologize, would that make it okay?

And is it really difficult to understand how Pat Robertson could say that? He’s Jim and Tammy Faye with an Ivy League law degree, fer cryin’ out loud (though he apparently flunked the bar exam)!

Merritt has a longer dubious achievement award winners.

Pro Tip to Evangelical “players”: if it doesn’t apply to your guy, it’s not a Standard; it’s a pretext.

* * * * *

“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.