Saturday, February 21, 2015
Speaking of Herods, let's speak of the bigots ...
Inspired by the Pope, the pond would like to sneak a Sunday meditation in on a Saturday.
The Pope's recently been caught rocking the boat by comparing the argument for transgender rights to nuclear weapons.
Oh sure, he walks and talks like a liberal every so often, but then comes this:
... he then says that every historical period has "Herods" that "destroy, that plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation."
"Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings," he continues. "Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation."
"With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator," the pope says. "The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate."
"God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth," Francis says. "The design of the Creator is written in nature."
Let's ignore the scientific illiteracy involved in the notion that nuclear explosions are somehow unnatural.
Let's not get bogged down in the business of nuclear fusion v. nuclear fission (Greg Hunt the first term here), let's jut note that without some decent ongoing nuclear explosions, there wouldn't be much going on in the sun, and there'd be bugger all intelligent life down here on earth.
Instead let's just note the way prejudice, and bigotry saturates the words of the ostensibly liberal pope when it comes to the matter of TG folk.
It's not an unusual prejudice. It fills the hearts of fundamentalist Islamics, Daesh, the Taliban, fundamentalist Jews, and other fundamentalist bigots like Brendan "Mr. moral superiority" O'Neill. All consorting with the Pope ...
It doesn't have to be this way.
The pond recently read a nice review by Alex Ross of a book by Robert Beachy, "Gay Berlin", which luckily for the moment is outside the paywall at The New Yorker here, and which looks at the way Germany was the font for tolerance and gay rights, a hundred years and more ago, before the Nazis struck.
Ross concludes his piece this way:
I closed “Gay Berlin” with a deepened fondness for Hirschfeld, that prolix and imprecise thinker who liked to pose in a white lab coat and acquired the nickname Aunt Magnesia. The good doctor had a vision that went far beyond the victory of gay rights, narrowly defined; he preached the gorgeousness of difference, of deviations from the norm. From the beginning, he insisted on the idiosyncrasy of sexual identity, resisting any attempt to press men and women into fixed categories. To Hirschfeld, gender was an unstable, fluctuating entity; the male and the female were “abstractions, invented extremes.” He once calculated that there were 43,046,721 possible combinations of sexual characteristics, then indicated that the number was probably too small. He remains ahead of his time.
In the usual way at the time, as the Nazis swept to power and swept away the supposedly decadent Weimar republic, it ended in tears for Hirschfeld, and for those masculinists who decided to side with the Nazis:
Nazism brought Berlin’s gay idyll to a swift, savage end. Hirschfeld had left Germany in 1930, to undertake a worldwide lecture tour; wisely, he never returned. In May, 1933, a little more than three months after Hitler became Reich Chancellor, the Institute for Sexual Science was ransacked, and much of its library went up in flames during Joseph Goebbels’s infamous book-burning in the Opernplatz. Röhm, who became less indispensable once Hitler took power, was slaughtered in 1934, during the Night of the Long Knives, the first great orgy of Nazi bloodlust. Hirschfeld, who had watched the destruction of his life’s work on a newsreel in Paris, died the next year. Brand somehow survived until 1945, when he fell victim to Allied bombs. Vestiges of Paragraph 175 lingered in the German legal code until 1994. (See Ross's piece for the context).
And yet long before the current Pope, Hirschfeld had insights better than either Freud or the drivel Francis offers to his faithful followers:
Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee probably could not have existed without Meerscheidt-Hüllessem’s tacit approval. (The commissioner was invited to the organization’s first meeting, although he probably did not attend.) Hirschfeld, who was born in 1868, a year after Ulrichs’s speech in Munich, began his radical activities in 1896, publishing a pamphlet titled “Sappho and Socrates,” which told of the suicide of a gay man who felt coerced into marriage. The next year, Hirschfeld launched the Committee, and soon afterward reprinted Ulrichs’s writings. Building on Ulrichs’s insight that same-sex desire was a congenital trait, Hirschfeld developed a minutely variegated conception of human sexuality, with a spectrum of “sexual intermediaries” appearing between the poles of the purely male and the purely female. He felt certain that if homosexuality were understood as a biological inevitability then the prejudice against it would disappear. “Through Science to Justice” was his group’s motto.
Beachy is candid about Hirschfeld’s limitations. His scientific work blended research and advocacy to an uncomfortable degree, and some of his confederates employed suspect methodologies. (One associate’s study of male prostitution in Berlin involved sleeping with at least one hustler.) But Hirschfeld’s knowledge of sexuality was vast, and Beachy has several incisive pages comparing him favorably to Sigmund Freud, whose influence was, of course, far greater. Freud rejected the congenital hypothesis, believing homosexuality to be a mutation of childhood development. Although Freud professed sympathy for gay people, American psychoanalysts later fostered the destructive notion that homosexuality could be cured through therapy. Freud was grandly systematic in his thinking; Hirschfeld was messily empirical. The latter got closer to the intricate reality of human sexuality.
But why would anyone expect a celibate Pope to get close to the intricate reality of human sexuality, as opposed to the recycling of standard bits of bigotry and prejudice?
Which brings the pond back to the morally superior Brendan O'Neill yet again.
Here's O'Neill in full bigot mode back in September 2013 with Trans activists really need to lighten up:
Why are transsexual activists so sensitive to criticism? This is a serious question, not an insult. There must be some reason why the trans community, as it calls itself, is worse at taking criticism or tolerating insulting commentary than, say, the Christian community or the butch lesbian community, both of which also get flak on the internet and elsewhere but don’t tend to respond to it in the way trans types do.
Over the past fortnight we’ve had loads of histrionics from trans activists.
Yes, because ruining nature and creation in the way an atomic bomb ruined Hiroshima and Nagasaki is just a form of pleasantry and an engaging philosophical discussion.
Now the pond doesn't usually break Godwin's Law lightly, but isn't it remarkable how all these fundamentalists end up like the Nazis devising concentration camps for the misfits ...
O'Neill, like the Taliban and Daesh and the Pope, is deeply transphobic, as he makes clear in his final par:
I think it reflects the fundamental flimsiness of the trans identity, the fragility of this so-called community. Transsexuals’ hopping-mad reaction to any perceived slight doesn’t confirm that they are a well-organised, increasingly cocky gang holding the world to ransom, as some have claimed. Rather it reveals the opposite - that this is a ‘community’ so sadly uncertain of its own claims, so instinctively aware of the largely phoney nature of its arguments, that it must protect itself from any form of public ridicule or questioning lest its facade be knocked down.
Now the pond has a number of friends in the TG community.
There's no point in arguing with the likes of O'Neill, who betrays his fundamentalism at every turn.
His similarity to the terrorists he purports to disdain is remarkable, especially when it comes to any alternative view of the world that might be embodied in flexible notions of human sexuality ... in much the same way as some theologians have difficulty understanding that God, in Her infinite wisdom and before disappearing from the universe, might have allowed homosexuality, bisexuality, hermaphroditism, and many other forms of sexuality to enter nature ...
No, all that can be said in relation to the bigots, is fuck the Pope, fuck the Taliban, fuck Daesh. And, it should go without saying, fuck Brendan O'Neill. But the pond is inclined to say it all the same, in a cheerful way, and with vigorous hand gestures ...
In Berlin, there's a tribute to Hirschfeld in the Tiergarten, and one to the homosexuals who fell victim to the Nazis.
It's an odd construction - which was opened in 2008, as recorded in Der Spiegel here - and it was built solidly, no doubt because the authorities would be vandalised, which it was, as recorded here.
A simple kiss could get you into trouble ... and it still could in many parts of the world.
The monument has thus far survived the vandals, and so still stands as a reminder of the bigotry of all fundamentalists ... though hopefully a nuclear blast won't be needed these days to shake them loose from their prejudices and hate speech ... though maybe nuking Brendan O'Neill wouldn't be such a bad thing after all ...
(Below: the monuments in the Tiergarten).
Posted by dorothy parker at 2/21/2015 01:06:00 PM