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We Must Be Nice

unisexThe new superintendent of my local independent school district unilaterally decreed a few months ago that any student with the chromosomes and the privy parts of one sex, but who “self-identifies” as one of the opposite sex, must now be given access to the bathrooms of the other sex or to single user bathrooms. Also, dress codes must be adapted for the self-identifiers, and they get to choose whether they do physical education with their own sex or the other sex. He acted, he said, to prevent bullying, and added that his decree is based on scientific evidence.

In a miraculous coincidence, only days after the superintendent’s decree, President Obama issued a similar decree for virtually every public school in the nation. Parents who fret about the unintended consequences of male sexual deviants finding their inner woman and taking their uncontrolled libidos into the bathrooms used by their daughters, if not also their locker rooms and showers, were told that they have nothing to fear but their fundamentalist fear itself.

On the legal front, the president’s decree was challenged in federal court by the State of Texas in a Ft. Worth federal district court, and a temporary injunction was issued in August against the enforcement of the decree until the matter can be fully litigated. Then, in October the Supreme Court agreed to take a case out of Virginia involving the prohibition by a local school district of a biological male from using bathrooms and locker rooms of female students. If the Supreme Court decides the case on a 4-4 basis, the lower court’s decision overturning the school district’s decision, and allowing the male student to use female facilities will stand.

The demands of the local Ft. Worth superintendent and the president for open bathrooms and locker rooms, of course, are not really about science or bullying sexually confused children. The superintendent and Obama are both doing their parts as soldiers of the progressive left to push the latest campaign to gin up yet another class of victims to fuel the left’s continuing attack on reason and natural law, and the Church. Like similar victim creations this is done with a rejection of science.

The superintendent has, in effect, decreed that biology no longer is an objective science. He has declared that one’s objective (i.e. science based) gender is an irrelevant fact in the local public schools and in our society at large. To paraphrase Humpty Dumpty’s famous declaration to Alice, science means what he says it means.

This manipulation of science by the progressive elites to impose laws and regulations on society, which they in their arrogance unilaterally decide are necessary, is very much a part of the entire progressive leftist power agenda, which is nothing less than an agenda for totalitarianism. In the end, for the hard core progressive elites neither progress nor compassion is the motivation, but the will to power. And like all totalitarians their handmaid is relativism. Truth is indeed whatever they say it is. They set the rules, and those rules can be changed as needed for power and personal benefit and pleasure.

For a few stark results of manipulated science for personal power recall the starvation of millions by Stalin and Mao by their ideologically based agricultural policies. For raw power over economic reality recall the current Venezuelan collapse brought on by the late Hugo Chavez and continued by his successor Nicolas Maduro. For even more results of millions of human beings killed by the consequences of the willfulness of relativism consider abortion.

Even though an unborn human being is an ontologically separate being with unique DNA the relativist elites can and do decide that that being’s humanity is not inherent. Whether you are a human being with the right to live is entirely dependent on what someone else “identifies” you as, using their own subjective criteria.

The current “scientific” test of humanity for the abortionists and other utilitarian relativists is this: You are not a human being unless you are fully born, which is to say that you are not human unless every cell of your body is physically outside of every infinitesimal part of your mother. Otherwise you are nothing more than the product of conception, mere medical waste.

Further, it is not just the willful killing of the unborn, and of the weak and infirm. The killing is part and parcel of the willful destruction of those institutions which protect the unborn, and the weak and infirm. Marriage is obviously the prime example.

Millennia of civil, social, legal, and religious understanding of marriage as between one man and woman, as well as the biological and psychological facts of sexual complimentarity and the requirement of a man and a woman for reproduction are deemed totally irrelevant by the liberal elites. Now, truth be damned, marriage is whatever Justice Anthony Kennedy and his fellow truth de-constructors say it is. And their idea of marriage does not include a marriage relationship requiring a stable and lasting union of one man and one woman for the creation and protection of children!

In surveying the moral desolation it is reasonable to ask about the motivation for all of this destruction? As noted, the intent of the extreme progressive left is pretty clear: They want what they want regardless of the truth of science, culture, history, or religion and regardless of the destructive consequences of their demands on our lives. The destruction of the lives of the unborn by abortion or of society itself via the destruction of marriage is of no more concern than consequences of allowing men join school girls in bathrooms and locker rooms. The destruction leads to power and pleasure.

In short, the extremists are predictable. But what about those usually reasonable people who patently against their own self-interest fall in line with the relativist elites who want to deconstruct every last ounce of truth and institutional stability? What about those seemingly normal elected officials who in office seem to fall so quickly under the spell of relativism? What of your neighbors and co-workers, or of the preacher and the congregation at the First Church of Whatever who enthusiastically support the irrational and destructive agenda of the extreme progressive left? Why do they do it?

Surely for a lot of them it is more trouble (and more dangerous) to speak the truth than to go along to get along. But for a great number they support the deconstruction of our culture because they don’t see it as a deconstruction. They just want to be fair and always nice. Every life style and every belief is equal. You’re okay; I’m okay. It will all work out. Their lives are governed by sentimentality.

But drowning reality in emotion severs thinking from objective truth and reason. Truth then becomes relative; it is only what one feels. Sadly, far too many people have emotion as their sole criterion for morality. Many universities, large corporations, government bureaucracies, and churches are sinking in this emotional quicksand.

The novelist Walker Percy famously observed that sentimentality leads to the gas chambers, and he is correct. If what governs our conduct as individuals and as a society is merely the sentimental notion of the moment then anything goes. There is no objective truth to guide us, only emotions, transient feelings.

So if a teenage boy says that he wants to be a woman and go into the girl’s locker room then we cannot deny his desires. It would not be nice or fair. Killing innocent human life in the womb is acceptable because we don’t want the mother to be uncomfortable having to give birth to and raise the child whom she does not want. Euthanasia is permissible because we do not want to seem callous to suffering. Same sex marriage between two or maybe even more than two persons is licit because we don’t want to exclude anyone from anything. In short, we kill our fellow humans and destroy our fundamental institutions to be polite. We must be nice!

The writer Flannery O’Conner also noted the destructive effects of sentimentality in our moral lives. In the March 30, 1957 issue of America she addressed the issue as a Catholic author.

If the average Catholic reader could be tracked down through the swamps of letters-to-the-editor and other places where he momentarily reveals himself, he would be found to be something of a Manichean. By separating nature and grace as much as possible, he has reduced his conception of the supernatural to pious cliché and has become able to recognize nature in literature in only two forms, the sentimental and the obscene. He would seem to prefer the former, while being more of an authority on the latter, but the similarity between the two escapes him. He forgets that sentimentality is an excess, a distortion of sentiment, usually in the direction of an overemphasis on innocence; and that innocence, whenever it is overemphasized in the ordinary human condition, tends by some natural law to become its opposite.

We lost our innocence in the fall of our first parents, and our return to it is through the redemption which was brought about by Christ’s death and by our slow participation in it. Sentimentality is a skipping of this process in its concrete reality and an early arrival at a mock state of innocence, which strongly suggests its opposite. Pornography, on the other hand, is essentially sentimental, for it leaves out the connection to sex with its hard purposes, disconnects it from its meaning in life and makes it simply and experience for its own sake.

The average person who succumbs to the desire to make everyone feels good regardless of the truth wants to recreate Eden, but at no cost! Eden was lost because of sin, and will not be regained except on the admission of that truth, and on the faithful embrace of the cross and of Him who died so that we can regain it. The sentimentally driven search for shortcuts back to the innocence of Eden by going along with perversions of the truth to get along in society is a dangerous road that dead ends at gas chambers, abortion mills, and dictatorships. Good and reasonable people should not let the local school superintendents, the Anthony Kennedys, or the Barack Obamas of the world force them down that road.


Robert J. Gieb has practiced probate law in Ft. Worth, Texas for forty years. He is local counsel for Catholics United For Life of North Texas.
  • goral

    A most excellent article. The philosophical tone is warmly welcome.