Posts Tagged ‘Bill of Rights’

Transracial People Define Themselves

June 17, 2015

Define yourself, or be defined
-Cass Corridor sidewalk graffiti-

I am deeply disturbed by lack of sensitivity people have shown toward Rachel Dolezal. For those unfamiliar with her plight, Rachel Dolezal was a Spokane Washington NAACP President who considered herself to be “African-American” or “black.” Recently, it became apparent that her biological parents considered themselves to be “White,” and using reasoning derived from Public Enemy’sFear of a Black Planet” lyrics, “White man, white woman, white baby” journalists concluded that if she was born “white” she must still be “white.” Next came accusations that she was lying about her race, and that her “True race” was “white.”

The implication here is that a person can’t change his, her, or its demographic. Put another way, the paradigm at work here dictates that you’re personality must adapt to the body you were born with, and any attempt to modify your body to externalize one’s inner sense of identity is somehow phony or dishonest. Most people are comfortable in their own skin and don’t wish to change it, but that isn’t any reason to be so harsh on people who are not so fortunate.

To some extent, changing the way one looks, in ways that bypass heredity, is common and accepted. Genetics determines hair color, but people who feel they are more blond, brunet, or red head can chose to be that. Even then there is a bit of snobbishness. Ever see a blond rolling her eyes as another one passes and remark “She’s not a natural blond.” When I was first asked to fill out an application for my drivers permit I was confused, because it asked for eye color. Knowing that my eyes changed color (normally based on what I was wearing), I asked nearby people what color my eyes were. After receiving multiple answers I was tempted to write “rainbow” in on the form, but was later urged to call them “hazel” Since then I have seen people with purple and yellow eyes. There are contact lenses for that.

Switching other traits is much more controversial. This may be because they are groups that politicians like to pander to; the divide and conquer strategy of the establishment depends on a lack of mobility between demographic groups. In these united states of America collectivist politicians love the categories of “race” and sex.

Mobility between sexes has achieved an unprecedented level of acceptance. Lately there has been a lot of buzz about Decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner having sex reassignment surgery and changing her name to “Kaitlyn,” but Jenner walks a path that has been blazed and cleared by a variety of other individuals. One of those people was, the tennis player Richard Raskind. While he was successful as a man, he chose to become a woman. She went on to be the Tennis player Rene’e Richards. When Richards was first outed as being born a male, she faced criticism that was very similar in content to the rhetoric used against Rachel Dolezal now. Richards was accused of pretending to be a woman in order to get an advantage by playing against male rather than female athletes. They would say she lied about her sex. Athletic organizations banned Richards from playing her favorite game because the United States Tennis Association, established an unprecedented women-born-women policy.

Of course Richards laughed off the notion that men would be lining up for the emasculating surgery so they could play professional tennis against men. Of course transsexual and transgender people face different challenges then transracial people. [Side note: Gender is not the same thing as sex. “Masculine” and “feminine” are genders, “male” and “female” are sexes.]

One distinction is that there are structural, functional and chromosomal differences that delineate sexes (though many people are born as hermaphrodites with intermediate or combined sexual traits). Race, on the other hand is a social construct, or a look. The belief in distinct races is a myth largely promoted by the likes of eugenicists and slavery apologists, to serve their particular agendas. Modern humans don’t exist as distinct subspecies, like say wolves and coyotes. So it would seem that changing races is even easier than changing sexes. From a medical perspective this is certainly the case, but social acceptance has ironically proven more difficult.

While Richards scoffed at the idea that someone would have a sex-change simply to gain some advantage, it is possible that someone would, but so what? As a libertarian I believe in peoples right to do as they wish with their property, and the most valuable piece of physical property individuals can own is their own bodies. As a matter of enlightened self-interest, I would hope that anyone choosing to change ones physical identity to such a degree, would be doing so to be true to one’s self. However, that’s not up to me. There are other cases where people have “passed as” members of another race in order to gain an advantage. Examples include Carol Channing, and reputedly Dinah Shore. By “passing” they were able to perform in venues that were off limits to those who held onto the look that was then called “negro” or “colored.” While this is less ideal then people taking on a look that matches their sense of self, such pragmatic “passing” is still morally defensible. If it is to ones advantage to change one’s sex or race, then it seems to me the fault is in the society that makes these changes advantageous, not in the character of the person who is trying to better one’s self.

I don’t know Ms. Dolezal personally, but it is my distinct impression that she is transracial. That is to say, that she has chosen a racial identity that differs from the one that she was supposedly born with. If this is the case, then she can’t be said to have lied about her race. She simply changed her public identity to harmonize with her inner self. I have often been confused when looking at Federal forms that ask people to categorize themselves into narrow racial categories. This is probably more confusing to an educated person who knows that race is mythical then it is to a person who has been duped by racialist politicians. There it defines black as follows, “A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.” These forms also ask what one considers oneself, rather than what one is. By the aforementioned definition, any human could honestly answer “yes,” based on current paleontological and mitochondrial evidence, which shows modern humans to have a common ancestry in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dolezal’s parents showed an attitude similar to the attitudes people used to have toward members of the LGBT community.  They said, “We hope she gets the help she needs.”  The implication was that she was sick, and needed professional “help.”

There is one thing I have put on the back burner: She lied about her father. Lying is wrong and I don’t wish to defend it, but it is understandable. In an age of discrimination against transracial people, as is evidenced by the harsh rhetoric she has faced, she may have felt compelled to lie about her past. I suspect many transsexuals may hesitate to tell people they used to be a different sex, often as a matter of self-preservation. Perhaps unintentionally, Ms. Dolezal has opened the way for another wave of diversity acceptance. People who have been labeled “Oreos,” “wanabees,” and “wiggers” for instance, may soon be recognized as transracial. At least, that is, until we move past this categorical mentality altogether, and see people as individuals, and not members of politically defined categories.

NEWSPEAK BULLIES LIBERTY

January 16, 2011
[Authors note:  This column was originally published in the Michigan Libertarian.  Several readers have commented that I needed to share these thoughts with a larger readership.  Recent inappropriate reactions to the events in Arizona (which attempt to link a killers tragic behavior to non-violent expression) highlight the need for more people to read this.]
 

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. – George Orwell –

 

There is a stealth attack on our liberties and most people don’t even recognize it.  Before people are conquered by coercion and force, they must be disarmed philosophically.  Once people accept a false premise, exalted opinion makers can use that premise to promote their agenda. 

A consistent philosophy is like a sophisticated piece of architecture or a machine; without structural integrity it will collapse or fail.  Sometimes there are specific elements of a structure that are needed to support the rest.  In a building it may be a cornerstone, keystone or column.  In a machine it may be a simple pin, filter, or chip.

The distinction between violence and communication is critical to liberty and civil society.  Without it there can be no principled defense of free speech, nor can there be principled objection to violence being used in response to speech.  The statist agenda has been well served by the recent MSM fixation on so-called “cyber-bullying.”  The phrase is such a clear example of Orwellian newspeak that I would expect this to be nothing more than hyperbolae or a metaphor.  “Bullying” is a phrase that has been associated with violence.  The use of “Cyber” as a prefix is consistent with the use of certain technology.  If the terminator starts making threats and beating people up, that’s cyber-bullying, but that is not how the phrase is being used.

People are being called cyber-bullies for making unwelcome remarks about peers and colleagues on the Internet.  This wouldn’t be a matter of concern, if the word-use were understood to be metaphorical.  For example, politicians will refer to “attack ads,” with full understanding that they need not draw a gun to defend themselves.  But talk show hosts, law enforcement officials, and politicians actually believe that verbal and electronic taunting is an act of violence.

The lack of publicized dissension to this doublethink is mind numbing.  Most pre-schoolers of the prior generation had superior intellectual integrity to the opinion leaders of today.  They had a simple, though accurate phrase, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  The degree to which a person believed the phrase was the degree to which the outcome would support it; the words may be harmless, but the response one has to them may not be.

It has now become politically correct to disarm those who are most vulnerable, and convince them that they are emotionally defenseless, against criticism.  As a teacher, I have seen the so-called “anti-bullying” hype that gives the impression that the way to address criticism is to silence the critic.  Rather than learning that ideas are to be fought with better ideas, youth are learning that unwelcome criticism must be fought by silencing the critic.  Civil liberty considerations not withstanding, this is a terrible disservice to young people.  So long as someone takes ownership of his or her responses, he or she has a way to preserve his or her self-esteem amidst a surge of insults.  Without these coping tools, the object of the taunts is helplessly waiting for help from others.

This leads me to the next critical piece of the philosophy that is in danger.  The distinction between one person’s actions and those of another.  Once again, the intellectual integrity of most pre-millennial preschoolers towers above the philosophical cesspit of contemporary pundits.  The childhood wisdom would be encapsulated in a rhetorical question: “If someone dared you to jump off the bridge would you do that too?”  Back in the day this would prompt a person to reflect on the stupidity of blaming his or her actions on the fact that someone else dared him or her to do it.  These days it could be cause for prosecution. 

Nowadays, pundits will say that unwelcome words or online postings “cause” a suicide.  Remarkably, this double-think goes unchallenged.  This is one of those cases where the truth is so self-evident that explaining it becomes difficult.  The word “suicide” is reserved for killing one’s self.  By definition the killer and the victim are the same person.  To say someone else caused a suicide is to say that the act is not what it is.  This is not just a matter of minutia.  People are often put in prison or executed for killing other people.  By definition the victim causes the suicide.

The reader may choose to respond with anger and disbelief, but the fact of the matter is that suicide victims cause their own deaths.  Putting the truth plainly is not the most sensitive thing to do, but often it is the kindest thing to do.  Tragically, statists exploit the grief of suicide victims families.  Rather than guiding them to acceptance and helping them move on, suicide victims are used as poster children for laws that squelch discourse, and empower bureaucrats.  Personal tragedies, childhood crushes, and teachable moments become part of a media circus, with children playing the Orwellian character, “Boxer” in the center ring.

The immediate outcomes are personal, but the paradigm shift this facilitates is even more abominable.  If a writer is responsible for the way readers respond, then all writers are potential unwitting murderers.  This not only has the effect of incriminating the innocent, but also absolving the guilty; if the author of an email or posting can “cause” a person to kill him or her self, the author could also “cause” a person to kill someone else.  Thus a killer could use the “somebody dared me to do it” defense!

Some readers may think I am being alarmist, and that these semantic sins won’t have legal consequences.  Unfortunately, the tree of irrationality is already bearing tyrannical fruits:

  • I attended a school assembly where an FBI agent told children that he has had to arrest kids for sending unwelcome emails, and they have been taken from their parents and put in juvenile detention. Missouri has made “cyber-harassment” a Class D felony.
  • State Representative Lisa Brown supports similar legislation in the Michigan Legislature.  She supports fines for adults who make unwelcome remarks about other adults in blogs.

I have made a distinction here between words and violence, but I don’t wish to say words are of no consequence…. Just the opposite.  Words communicate ideas.  Belief in certain ideas can be lethal.  The philosophy we have, guides our response to the words we hear.

When one’s philosophy equates words with violence, one is inclined to respond with violence.  Not only does this bring greater tragedy, but it does nothing to defeat the depraved ideas.  Brute force is impotent against flawed beliefs.  The best way to defeat false beliefs is with the truth.  This is much easier said than done, but that doesn’t make it less true.  The ultimate alternative is the draconian approach of criminalizing ideas and executing heretics.  In the battle of ideas there is no substitute for philosophy.

[Republication of the unabridged article with credit to Scotty Boman is welcome]