Right Demands Respect for Intolerance in Jenner Controversy

I have lots of friends who are black, says the racist.  I hate the sin not the sinner, says the anti-gay bigot.  “I don’t want to be anything but respectful toward transgender people,” says Fox News analyst Howard Kurtz.  Yet, since “some Americans don’t feel comfortable” with Bruce Jenner’s sexual transformation into Caitlyn Jenner the rest of us must treat with equal “dignity and respect” their view that Jenner is “part of the culture wars” redefining relations between the sexes and sexual identity itself.

If it's one thing right wingers seem to hate most of all it's being held accountable for their thoughts, words and deeds.

By demanding we give equal time and respect to "differing" right wing points of view, I suppose Kurtz had in mind tweets like this one from Ben Shapiro, author of The People v. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration: “If you are cheering rather than praying for a man who has mutilated himself due to mental illness, you are part of the problem.”

There was also this tweet from Breibart's Editor-at-large: “Ask any of the straight male press members and politicians calling Jenner a woman if they would now date him.”

That for Kurtz counts as a different “point of view” the rest of us are duty-bound to extend the respect it deserves.

Liberals might think they are just making way for other people.  But conservatives like Shapiro are convinced that liberals are embarked on a coordinated crusade of “massive government intervention” that aims for the wholesale “re-education of children” and is now using Jenner as the unwitting “tool” of their sinister “quest for redefinition of gender.”

Equating Jenner’s journey with a bi-polar, suicidal grandfather who once thought his radio was talking to him, is what counts as compassion with Shapiro, who believes “nothing would have been crueler to my grandfather (and presumably for Jenner) than had society told him that his delusions were correct….and that it was the stereotypes of the world inducing his paranoia.”

Those who support the former Olympic champion’s efforts to find his true self form part of what Shapiro calls “the anti-science left.”

“It's cruel to allow a mentally ill person to exploit himself in public,” as Shapiro says Vanity Fair has done with its flattering 22-page cover profile of Jenner, or as the White House did when President Obama praised Jenner for bravely sharing his story with Diane Sawyer.

But the political left is happy to inflict the cruelties of compassion and welcoming open-mindedness on innocent victims like Jenner, says Shapiro, so as to “perpetuate the pseudo-scientific nonsense” that “all disparities between male and female can be attributed to societal biases.”

Exhaling the hot air of pomposity so characteristic of those on the right, National Review writer David French dismisses the transgender “movement” as the product of an “elite culture” which forms but “one small branch of the immense, self-regarding tree of the sexual revolution” that is a close first cousin of such “cultural catastrophes as no-fault divorce and abortion on demand.”

Assuming god-like powers of omnipotence – another classic right wing trait which conservatives claim they deserve from their prodigious knowledge of the Bible – French, a lawyer!, confidently declares that the only thing radical or revolutionary about Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn “is the harm to his body, inflicted in a desperate quest to be something that he’s most assuredly not: a woman.”

Conservatives like Shapiro and French can’t even describe the details of the “culture war” accurately as they heap acrimony on the “anti-scientific” left. 

It’s not that liberals believe all disparities between the sexes are socially derivative and therefore “arbitrary,” because they don’t. Liberals are merely more open than right wing conservatives seem to be to the scientific possibility that a disconnect can occur between a person’s authentic and genetically determined sexual identity and the physical body that identity happened to be accidentally poured into.

It’s not enough that people of a liberal bent of mind question their preconceptions, put their “prejudices” aside or swallow their reservations and misgivings so as to make room for people who don’t fit conventional standards of what is “normal.”

To those of a right wing bent of mind, anyone who would accept or approve the journey Jenner is on can never just be a nice person making others who are different from them feel welcome. Instead, those “on the Left” must always be advancing some perfidious “agenda,” no doubt because “conspiracy” sounds a whole lot more sinister than “charity” and “compassion.”

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Comment by alsoknownas on June 4, 2015 at 10:47am

The title is great.

That's what has been happening.

Demanding intolerance from others, as if others should somehow be more willing to do that than to just go on about their own.

It's not enough to be indifferent, one has to be contrary.

Comment by JMac1949 Memories on June 4, 2015 at 11:55am

Caitlyn Jenner's journey has just begun. I hope it goes well for her.  Aside from that bigots are idiots on their face and a lot of idiots tend to be bigoted.  R&L

Comment by koshersalaami on June 4, 2015 at 11:56am
I have to wonder what they think drives someone like Jenner to go through a sex change operation. Are they under the impression that someone makes such a decision lightly or arbitrarily? It's kind of a big deal.

Do they think this is, I don't know, curable? Do they have any evidence from psychiatric professionals that this is pathology?

And the standard should be whether a particular male would date her? When did attractiveness become a standard for gender?
You're right. This is about an attempt to enforce intolerance. And why?

Same reason as intolerance for homosexuality: the gross-out factor, masquerading shamefully as morality.
Comment by nerd cred on June 4, 2015 at 9:32pm

Somehow, the grater tendency to fear in the brain function of conservatives has to be involved here. Fear of change? Of difference? Of what's "not me"? Don't know and probably didn't express it well but I think it's there. Maybe also a deficiency in moral or ethical reasoning - demanding strict rules to determine their own sense of right and wrong, down to, ala the Duggars, that women should have curly hair, because they are lost without an external authority.

And the misconception they seem to have that "freedom of speech" = "freedom from criticism."

Comment by Rosigami on June 4, 2015 at 11:48pm

Thanks JMac for pointing this post out- I am glad I didn't miss it. The feed runs fast some days!

Transgender people like Jenner have already come a long way down a hard road before even getting to the point where they ready to inform those around them about how they identify. As the mother of a transgender person who is learning to make his way in the world, I am personally invested in supporting the process, not just because I love my child, but because it is right and natural for each of us to live our lives within our own definition of our gender. The Right scares me, as it seems they want to impose their misguided beliefs on everyone. Why can't folks just quietly accept transgender etc without comment? Accept all people as who they say they are. I think it's about the Right's preoccupation with the private lives of those they see as morally inferior or even mentally ill. Shame on them.  It's nobody's business who anyone has sex with or how they do it. 

Comment by Claudia Darling on June 5, 2015 at 5:01am
This is a well-thought-out post.
Comment by Ted Frier on June 5, 2015 at 5:39am

Thanks so much everyone for your comments, and especially you Rosigami for sharing your personal story.  I have to admit I have a very hard time getting my head around people who call other people "hypocrites" and "intolerant" for criticizing those whose conception of religious faith and "traditional values" compels them to stigmatize others as sinful or morally deranged just because they are different or because they do not conform to the cultural standards right wing conservatives think are all that stand between social stability and perdition. 

You asked why some people can't simply accept others for who they are when their differences do nothing to harm them, except in their own head when they are offended by nonconformity that offends their sense of the the way things "ought to be."  David French who I quote above does a pretty good job answering that question in a section of his essay from National Review I did not quote in my own.

He says: "The one-sentence philosophical summary of the sexual revolutionary is 'My body is my business.' Yet that comes with an unspoken corollary: '“Consequences be damned.'"

French talks about preserving religious "liberty" -- namely the liberty of religiously-minded people to scold if not control the behavior of others, and then goes on to say that the correct response to those like you who think what we do with our bodies is nobody's business but our own "isn’t encapsulated by the phrase 'there oughta be a law' but rather 'there oughta be a culture.'”

No single person can change culture, he says, but each of us can do something -- and that "something” means not staying silent or acquiescing to "absurdities for the sake of temporary social (or social-media) peace" since "intimidated silence advances the cause of sexual radicalism every bit as much as enthusiastic acceptance."

"By refusing to speak, we contribute to the notion that even conservatives understand that something is wrong — something is shameful — about our own deepest beliefs." 

Those on what he calls the "intolerant Left" who "vigilantly police speech" would deny people like French their God-given right to persecute people who don't conform to their narrow and rigid standards of what is normal or right.

French is a lawyer not a doctor or scientist, yet because he is a conservative (who maybe stays at Holiday Inns) feels perfectly qualified to say "Caitlyn" Jenner isn't a woman but "a man with breast implants."

"Jenner has always been a man, and he will always be a man, says French, and "yes, he’s deeply troubled," he says. "Our hearts go out to him in his pain, but the answer is not found in radical self-regard, and it’s certainly not found in surgical mutilation. He is a man created in God’s image, yet a man experiencing deep anguish about his very creation. He needs our prayers, not our applause."

Rigid conservatism like this is doomed long-term because it is unable to evolve and adapt to an ever more diverse world -- however much right wing conservatives denounce Darwin and all his works.  But in the short run there is a lot of damage such conservatives can do, and so it is the duty of the rest of us not to sit silently on the sidelines (as French advices his own tribe) but call them out for their cruelty, even if it does mean risking the charges of "intolerance" they are sure to fling our way. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on June 5, 2015 at 7:35am

For the "right" a difference of opinion is a moral failure.  The left has to be in a godless conspiracy because the group paranoia on the right demands one.  Paranoid people believe they are persecuted because they are special.

Comment by Lyle Elmgren on June 5, 2015 at 9:16am

People find it tiresome to be attacked for their beliefs. 

Comment by Rosigami on June 5, 2015 at 10:01am

Thanks for your comments, Ted. I appreciate your thoughtful response.


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