Staying Out of Traps

We – by which I mean sane people – are often surprised by a media stunt or sensation. It will be on some matter we considered too trivial, or absurd, to merit our attention.

But suddenly the ranks of the liberal intelligentsia have formed into a battle group, and are demanding the surrender of some received public position, that had been undisturbed for many centuries, or millennia. Soon they are drafting laws to clinch their victory in the courts – or even if they have no victory in the courts – the sane are told to be quiet.

There are so many examples of this, especially in America, that I would not wish to waste my space making lists. Let me illustrate with just the story of the “trans-sexual” athletes who are sweeping up awards in women’s swimming meets.

The idea that biological males should be allowed to contest what was reserved to biological females seemed, at first, to require a smile and a giggle, not a counter-demonstration.

But the “trans-women” win so easily, that we might add (sotto voce) that men can do anything better than women, including being women. Make this remark in the presence of a transhuman, however, and it probably will not share the joke.

“Woke” or “leftist” thinking may not have even a trace of sanity for support, but can draw on powerful emotional resources nonetheless.

This is the secret of our most successful progressive politicians. They know not to waste time making coherent arguments, for a sympathetic audience will not understand them. What wins is the fashionable slogan, and the closer it comes to being self-contradictory, the more it is “cool.”

Can men choose to be women, and vice versa? Note, my specification of choice. There are genuinely inter-sexual people, or as they used to be called, hermaphrodites (I include only people, and exclude the tunicates, pulmonates, opisthobranches, earthworms, and slugs). Our “boths” defeat traditional medical “gender” assignments by having both XY and XX chromosomes, and perhaps, both sets of gonads.

Frankly, it would be easier to have been born into one of the species that is intersex by nature, for one would (when nature is kind) find other intersexuals to copulate with. One could have an active sex life with neither “woke” nor “trans” commitments.

I think it tragic, in a loosely Aristotelian sense, when defenders of “civilization as we have known it” resort to religious arguments on this. They are unnecessary, and the resort is a defeat.


Or rather, this would appear to be the case, short-term. But I think it would be unwise to make a defense, particularly a violent one. The proposition, that “gender” is something that we choose, will blow over, and the gust that blows it comes from elsewhere.

That God made man and woman, fine, but that is another question. The controversy is that God exists, and could make anything. On that, I vote a Yes, but men and women were not so subtle as this. They are before our eyes, and for that matter our nostrils. Yes, God created, but what He created in this world can be seen (eventually).

If you are human, and are afflicted with “gender dysphoria,” whether or not the world sympathizes, you are in for a rough ride. For instance, a high proportion of these dysphorics attempt suicide at some points (I don’t trust official numbers, but they are many times the average for other groups). One may feel sorry for them, but one would be mad to embrace them as heroes/heroines.

The point is that sex (“gender” to the vocabularists) is among the several things that were not only on government forms, but also exist in fact. By analogy, I also cannot exchange my race, creed, or color. I was born with them. My age is non-negotiable. I could lie, but it could be discovered. I might go as far as to say my talents and abilities are beyond negotiation, and subject to demonstration (like sex) – but most identifiers come with birth.

If I claimed to be “perfect,” by any imaginable standard, I would likewise be lying – quite ridiculously. For here the confusion is over the categories to include, and what “perfection” means. There is no way home to reality.

Marxism, for instance, is deeply crazy, and well beyond any conventional notion of what could be rationally analyzed. It is no wonder that every political venture into Marxism has ended in totalitarian dictatorship, and murderous squalor.

When I, at the outset of this column, identified opponents as “insane,” I meant the term in an objective sense. They choose, as it were, something that is not on the table, and will never be. They propose to accomplish, by force, something that cannot even be accomplished peacefully.

And when they attack Catholicism, the Christian religion, or any other, for having imposed a definition of sex that is somehow constricting and “unprogressive,” the sane must not rise to the bait.

Alas, under present circumstances, some do. It is like resistance to the “theory” of the flat earth. Those with a defective science education persist in believing that the ancients believed the world is flat, when they did not. The flat notion was launched only in the 19th century (by Washington Irving). It is unmistakably modern. It is useless to argue with it, for its proponents do not really care for the truth. They only know what they are against.

It is the same against men “dressed” (surgically, or only superficially) as women (and vice versa). The madness calls forth a madness on the other side, emotion draws out emotion, and we set up a fight between two nutjobs.

Better to restrict our defense to ridicule. And if we are arrested for ridiculing the ridiculous, take our lumps. It is just our bad luck to live in an asylum.


*Image: The Parrot-Fish by Mark Catesby, c. 1772-76 [The Royal Trust Collection]. Most species of parrotfishes are sequential hermaphrodites.

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David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: