Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Tolerance Vigilantes . . .


I wrote most of the following blog post almost three weeks ago. In the meantime, my computer crashed, requiring a long and laborious process of restoration, from which I was distracted by trips to Houston, Dallas, Chicago and San Diego (where I am at the moment). But the most substantial reason for the delay of this blog post is my reluctance about being drawn into the culture war trenches. For years I opted as best I could for the easy way out: declaring myself above the fray, but in the end the “neither liberal nor conservative” position is just a leaf out of Nietzsche’s “beyond good and evil” handbook on post-moral post-modernity.

In the defense of faith – and, secondarily, the defense of the cultural civilities that faith fostered – one has to take a stand, especially when the enemies of these things begin to turn the screws, as they are doing now.

A newspaper here in San Diego carried a story today that convinced me to post this blog entry. At the risk of making it the longest blog entry I have probably ever posted, here are excerpts from the California Catholic Daily story, headlined: Sex Carnival at UC Davis:

"Students looking for a good time should stop by the Quad, where Sex Fest '07 will be pleasuring participants with all kinds of sexual carnival games," said Richard Procter, writing in the University of California, Davis newspaper, California Aggie.

Activities at the May 22 event are to include condom relay races, a condom balloon toss, condom jewelry, the opportunity for photographs with Captain Condom, and an event to see who can put a condom on a wooden penis model the fastest.

"Condom jewelry is really fun,” said Sexual Health Program coordinator Arielle Fleischer. Students will be provided with unlubricated condoms, "so your hands don't get all gross!" quipped Fleischer. Students will be provided with craft materials, including sequins and glitter, with which to fashion condom earrings, bracelets, and other kitsch.

The idea isn’t being packaged as sexual infantilization -- despite the Kiddie Adventure Day Camp ambiance -- but as an initiative to promote “safe sex.” Fleischer expressed the hope that "all the games in which students interact with condoms make them more comfortable with them; we'd like to decrease the stigma associated with condoms."
Youthful idealism: Righting wrongs, and so on. Where are the list of urgent matters to be addressed on today's college campuses would you put decreasing the stigma associated with condoms? Stigma?
Among the information UC Davis students are virtually guaranteed not to receive are the findings of Dr. Miriam Grossman, a psychiatrist at UCLA Student Psychological Services. Her professional work has convinced her that the casual sexual "hook up" culture on campus is leading to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and a crippling of the ability to love, trust, or translate sexual energy into a lasting personal commitment.

"Women students especially are suffering emotional disorientation as a result of using, or being used by others in shallow relationships. This is damaging to students' self-respect, even if the sexual 'using' is agreed-upon and mutual," Grossman explained in a recent talk show on Chicago’s WGN Radio. Despite all the “fun,” she says, "we are losing the war on depression on campus.”


The Connecticut state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on April 25th that requires all hospitals — including the state's four Catholic facilities — to provide rape victims with the abortifacient drug also known as the morning after pill. The drug prevents the implantation of living embryos, and is therefore simply a chemical abortion, ending the life of a biological human being. Catholic moral theology forbids this or any other form of abortion, but the state of Connecticut has decided, based on the now normative fiction that abortion is "a woman's right," that when the choice is between the "right" to an abortion and religious freedom, religious freedom loses.

Once upon a time there was a handsome young prince. When he grew up, he began searching for a wife, but could not find a princess he wanted to marry. One day, he met another prince—and fell in love. The two men married and lived happily ever after. ... When the fairy tale—which ended with the newly married “couple” kissing—was read to Massachusetts first graders, Christian parents were outraged.
The parents sued the Lexington school district for allowing their 6-year-olds to be taught sexual morality that not only flatly contradicts the moral teaching of the parents, but that flies in the face of Judeo-Christian moral norms universally recognized just a few short years ago. Predictably, however, the federal judge in the case, Mark Wolf, dismissed the lawsuit.

So, who gets to be the arbiter of morality for 6-year-olds in Massachusetts? And to what does this moral revolution appeal for its authority? Has there been a plebiscite?

A couple doors down the hall from Mr. Johnson's classroom at Westview High School in Rancho Peñasquitos, a suburb of San Diego, a teacher has a picture of the grunge rock band Nirvana on her door. Other teachers have slogans from sports celebrities and cartoon characters. Teacher Brad Johnson has decorated his assigned homeroom with pictures of families and nature, and banners relating to American history, such as God Bless America.

That last item, the school district told Johnson in January of this year, is banned and must be removed from the classroom. Why? Because the Poway Unified School District is under the impression that any reference to "Creator," "Creation," or "God" is prohibited by law.

The following phrases struck the school board as objectionable: “In God We Trust,” the official motto of the United States; “One Nation Under God,” from the Pledge of Allegiance; “God Bless America,” a patriotic song considered to be the unofficial national anthem of the United States; “God Shed His Grace On Thee,” a line from America the Beautiful; and “All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed By Their Creator,” an excerpt from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

... Johnson points out that seven different principals, approximately 4,000 students in grades 9 - 12, and 1,000 parents have seen these banners in his classroom since 1982 with never a single complaint.

A piece of legislation that seems as wholesome as motherhood and apple pie, entitled -- Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA) -- passed the House of Representatives on May 3rd. The bill affords "sexual orientation" -- homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, cross-dressing, and so on -- special legal protection. It's sponsors argue as though, and the bill makes it seem as though, all that the bill will do is prevent unfair treatment.

In fact, however, the bill will silence those who object to homosexual acts or the moral and anthropological absurdities of transsexuality. It will criminalize the public expression of moral principles on which Christians and Jews and just about every other religion and every other culture in the history of the world have always agreed. Here is what Robert Gagnon, an acknowledged expert in this area, predicts:
Any public words against homosexual practice will be treated legally as words that incite others to violence and/or discrimination against homosexual persons, and thus subject to criminal prosecution.
The bill is supported overwhelmingly by House Democrats, and when a amendment was proposed by a Republican member declaring that nothing in the bill should be construed as an abridgment of the religious freedom of any person or group, the amendment was rejected by the majority. This is what the progressive erosion of religious liberty looks like, and those who believe it will go no further than this have not been paying attention.

Robert Gagnon:
Numerous outcomes, some that will be manifested in the very short-term and others in the long-term, will arise from giving special federal protections to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” These include:

Large fines if one owns a business and does not allow GLBT (“gay,” lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered) activists to make use of the business’s services to advance the GLBT agenda; moreover, having to pay the court costs of the government agency that prosecutes the case.

Forced indoctrination of children as young as kindergarten in the public school systems into the acceptability of homosexual and transgendered behavior and the labeling of their parents’ contrary religious views as “bigotry” and “hatred,” through required readings, “GLBT studies,” and mandatory attendance at special diversity convocations or diversity workshops; also, mandatory “sensitivity training” for all teachers on the value of sexual orientation diversity.

Home-schooled children not being allowed to receive certification if their parents do not teach a curriculum that incorporates appreciation for "sexual diversity."

Loss of federal funds, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds for student loans, for any Christian college or seminary that does not hire homosexually active teachers, or that forbids students to engage in homosexual practice, or that allows a teacher at its institution to speak against homosexual practice; ultimately, the threat of loss of accreditation for Christian colleges that do not condone homosexual behavior and transgenderism; likewise, loss of tax-exempt status for any church that promotes such teaching.

Students and employees required to get counseling for the alleged mental health condition of “homophobia” or risk expulsion.

Imposition of national gay marriage by the courts, through appeal to this newly formed federal civil liberties category of “sexual orientation.”
Lest you think Gagnon an alarmist, we have solid historical experience with this sort of legislation. For several years the California Penal Code has treated "sexual orientation" as if it were as inalterable as granite and as malleable as puddy, defining "sexual orientation" as including "bisexuality" and "gender," and defining gender this way: "a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth."

Gender stereotypes begin, by this definition, when the delivery nurse arbitrarily "assigns" the newborn a gender, relying on nothing more substantial than a quick glance at the child's genitals. How, exactly, has such foresighted legislation advanced the cause of civilization?
"California first put transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality into the 'hate crimes' section of the state's Penal Code, then applied this strange definition of 'gender' to every other part of the law," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a leading California-based pro-family organization. "Today, California has transsexual kindergarten teachers and laws threatening $150,000 in government fines against anyone who refuses to hire a man wearing women's clothing. It's all because of 'hate crimes' laws that include the phrases 'gender identity' and 'sexual orientation,' which have morphed California law into an intolerant hammer against moral citizens.
What Melanie Phillips said about European capitulation to radical Islam is true -- mutatis mutandis -- of the moral capitulation in Western society to a sexual anthropology as absurd and as sure to prove culturally fatal in the long run as jihadist fanaticism: "That noise you hear is the rumbling of an agenda that drives all before it. It is not a pretty sound."

For a sane and sober reflection on these matters, see Roger Scruton's recent piece in the London Telegraph.


Tamquam Leo Rugiens said...

Alas, Babylon! As a culture we are shambling off to Sodom and Gomorrah to be reborn in the image of we know not what, only that it will be vile.

David Nybakke said...

Dear Gil,

The post leaves me in a loss for words. Strange how just today I decided to revisit your Theology of Body tape presentation and was struck by how you described our (humanity's) current journey - going from the sacred to (ideally) the sacramental - and where we find ourselves however awash in something too secular...

We obviously need cold water thrown in our faces as we travel through this secular relativism, but we also need a good deal of Jesus of Nazareth http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Nazareth-Joseph-Ratzinger/dp/0385523416/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-2648857-3723349?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1179940559&sr=1-1 to help clarify our way to the sacramental.

I am finding Pope Benedict XVI's book wonderful and that it is one of the best guides-to-being-a-Christian book that I have ever read – full of substance and meaning. It seems to me that my only recourse to this age of relativism (that we have wondered into on our way from the sacred to sacramental) is to further immerse myself into Jesus and His Church.