Yet again, free to be you and me

Social construction, take two: in accordance with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, Britain will now allow transsexuals to apply for substitute birth certificates showing their “new gender”. As the responsible parliamentary official explained,

“Our legislation will enable transsexual people confidently to take up those rights which have been denied to them in society … I believe it is absolutely right that the 5,000-strong transsexual community be afforded the same rights enjoyed by the other millions of us in the UK.”

Makes sense. The Englishman is allowed to be an Englishman, so why not the Englishwoman? Since there are no human realities other than technology and the individual will, it’s wrong to treat us as if we were anything but what we choose to be. Or such is the view of Rosie Winterton, and of the European Court of Human Rights. I can’t help but worry though about the ultimate political implications of saying that people are, quite literally, nothing in particular.

9 thoughts on “Yet again, free to be you and me”

  1. “I can’t help but worry
    “I can’t help but worry though about the ultimate political implications of saying that people are, quite literally, nothing in particular.”

    It’s been said before—most notably by Khieu Sampan … .

  2. I heard an Asian-American
    I heard an Asian-American activist say around 1990 that Al Gore, addressing an Asian-American group, had told them: “Electronically, we’re all the same.”

    True. But at the electronic level, we are also the same as rocks and dust.

  3. To elaborate on my last
    To elaborate on my last post, here are what just a few of the political implications were in 1975 and 1976, for those poor souls unlucky enough to be caught up in them:

    “DEATH TOLL: up to 2m people—a fifth of the Cambodian population—killed or died from starvation and disease.

    “GRAVE PITS: 5,192 mass burial sites identified to date.

    “RELIGION: Banned. Thousands of Buddhist monasteries destroyed and of 60,000 pre-war monks, only a few hundred survived.

    “EDUCATION: Teaching was banned and all schools closed. Books were burnt and those who wore glasses hunted down. All musical instruments were destroyed and banned.

    “MEDICINE: Hospitals were emptied. Only a handful of doctors survived the purge of the educated classes.”

  4. When I was a little boy in
    When I was a little boy in New York City, I vaguely recall, I heard this one-liner: “Did you hear the news? They let Eichmann go—he said he was sorry and wouldn’t do it again.”

    Khieu Sampan was Adolph Eichmann to Pol Pot’s Adolph Hitler. Read the BBC article I linked to, in my post above, and see what Khieu Sampan said about his genocide (article was published in 1999).

  5. I don’t find the Court
    I don’t find the Court asserting that people aren’t anything in particular. What I see the Court asserting is that people are something they’re not. The Court is, in other words, putting its increasingly worthless imprimatur on a lie. What it’s doing is essentially rewriting history, Orwell-style, to say that this child born a boy was in fact born a girl (or vice versa).

    It’s one thing to make the case that a post-operative transsexual has somehow changed his gender. It’s another to claim that he hasn’t. The Court is making gender not an objective matter of possessing certain sex organs and whatnot, but a subjective matter of one’s feelings and opinions. If I “feel like” a girl, then I must be one (and, further, I must always have been one). This is simply the next step in the ongoing modernist project to refashion nature “closer to the heart,” as if we are God Himself and possess the knowledge and power to define and reorganize reality. It’s the modern version of the Tower of Babel. The next step after this one will be to allow me to define my very nature. I may look and act like a human being, for example, but if I feel sufficiently like a dog, then that must be what I am, and I will presumably be able to petition the Court for an official “nature change.” History will then be rewritten to show that my mother gave birth to a puppy.

  6. The Court has asserted that
    The Court has asserted that a person is not anything in particular that he does not will himself to be. Therefore all that a person is, is an arbitrary will, which is nothing in particular.

    Liberals don’t like it that we are something that we do not will. Every one of us has flaws written into the fabric of our being, and every one of us has attributes that we did not (and would not) will upon ourselves and which make us unequal. Liberals can’t stand that, because liberals want to see humans (and most especially themselves) as like Gods in the here and now, without any need for redemtion. “Ooooh, Heaven is a place on earth” and all that. Naturally when liberals look upon traditionalists what they see is one set of wills arbitrarily attempting to place itself heirarchically over others.

    So when liberals build their tower to heaven in their immanent attempt to be like God we all find that we can’t even talk to each other about them any more. In order to fool himself about immanent ascension to Godhood man has to descend deeply into deliberate contradiction (the Lie); and there is little that can be said without qualification about the Lie beyond that it is the Lie.

    Nevertheless I think there is some use in characterizing the process objectively from the outside, and I think it is true that asserting that a human person is nothing but what he wills himself to be is the same thing as asserting that he is Nothing, without qualification.

  7. I also don’t think the
    I also don’t think the Court necessarily was asserting (or implying) that people aren’t anything in particular. The Court might never extend its ruling to protect transsexuals that wish to switch their sexes back and forth endlessly. The Court might have been trying to deal with reality in a way it thought humane. The Court, I suspect, assumed transsexuals are the result of a humane therapeutic treatment for either a physical deformity or a mental disorder. (Personally, I have doubts about the appropriateness of the treatment.)

  8. There are three principles
    There are three principles at work in the back and forth here on whether the Court was or was not asserting that a person is nothing in particular.

    One principle is the Auster Principle of Common Sense and Unprincipled Exceptions. The second is the Kalb Principle of Parasitic Liberalism. The Third is Matt’s Principle that What You Will is not necessarily What You Get.

    Of course neither the Court nor any liberal will outright say (or even outright think) that a person is nothing in particular, nor even that a person is nothing but an arbitrary will. That wouldn’t be Common Sense, and it would in any case overtly deny too many things upon which the existence of said liberal depends. Pure nihilism immediately wills itself and everything else to nonexistence as the ultimate positive good; yet despite that fact nihilism nevertheless exists. But it does not matter what our putative liberal (or Court) actually wills himself to be doing (except inasmuch as we want to understand WHY he is doing it); it matters only what he in fact *is* doing objectively. What the Court in fact *is* doing is embodying in concrete case law, over time, the fundamental principle that a human being is, equal to all other human beings, free to will himself to be whatever he wills.

    That principle reduces, without remainder or qualification, to the principle that a human being is, in particular, Nothing.


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