|Monuments to Our Folly: Choosing Your Gender and a Bathroom Based on Feelings|
by Brian Fahling - (AgapePress)
December 13, 2006
Category: Social Issues
|HERE IS GROUND for declaring that modern man has become a moral idiot," wrote Richard M. Weaver in his classic work, Ideas Have Consequences. The year was 1948 and Weaver was offering his diagnosis of a world where classical values had been abandoned. The process of abandonment, Weaver believed, could be traced to the loss of belief in universals. The result of this loss, he argued, had led to the belief that man is the measure of all things.|
It is worth noting that Weaver arrived at his diagnosis at a time when classical values still had luster in the public square, if not in private behavior, and open rejection of them was met with community disapprobation, not applause.
It is doubtful, then, that Weaver could have imagined we would be caught in a riptide of moral relativism where marriage has been redefined to include same-sex coupling; or where New York City's Board of Health would consider adopting a rule that will permit people to change the sex on their birth certificate if they provide affidavits from health professionals explaining why they should be considered to be a gender different than that determined by their chromosomes at conception; or where New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority would agree to let people define their own gender when deciding whether to use the men's or women's bathrooms.
These recent examples of social and moral iconoclasm suggest that if modern man was a moral idiot, post-modern man has lost his mind and morals altogether; and with Weaver, "we are justified in saying of our time: If you seek the monument to our folly, look about you .... Everywhere occur symptoms of mass psychosis."
Courts have been the beachheads for this cultural and moral iconoclasm, i.e., relativism, where classical values have been toppled like dominoes. When man is made the measure of all things, differences are magnified and community is dissipated -- objective order is replaced by sentimentality. The courts, under the rubric of "rights," have removed us from a world where rights arise out of what we hold in common and placed us in a world where rights are determined by how we feel.
Emancipating individuals from an objective order, and hence, the community, has consequences. As philosopher Philippe Bénéton puts it, we have "detached rights from nature, thus [leaving them] without any anchor." Bénéton goes on to note that rights, once detached from an objective order "multiply and proliferate in a chaotic profusion. As objects of rights proliferate, so do the subjects claiming these rights, and for the same reason: emptied of all human substance, human rights are detached from man as man. Rights become particular; they no longer belong to humanity as such but only to certain people."
Philosopher Chantal Delsol echoes both Weaver and Bénéton: "To break with the notion of objective good, which specifically characterizes modernity, allows the rise of a good defined by each individual within the sovereignty of his own conscience .... Seeking the good while remaining indifferent to truth gives rise to a morality of sentimentality."
Universals do not exist for post-modern man because, for him, reality is not objective; reality is determined and created within the sphere of his own mind and desires. And, as Delsol observes, "reason is cut off from life; it no longer has anything to say about ways of life. The vital questions, then, are reduced to matters of opinion, and all opinions are equal. Man is liberated from every norm and every model; he no longer forms part of an order that transcends him."
Public policy and law, driven by a morality of sentimentality, are now fashioned to accommodate the most extreme case rather than to reflect what is normative; to confirm this we need look no further than rules and court opinions that have given us homosexual marriage, the "right" to change your gender on your birth certificate, and the option of deciding whether you feel like a male or female before selecting which bathroom you will use.
Weaver was right -- ideas do have consequences. Universals have been vanquished by the sovereignty of individual conscience.
Look about you; everywhere occur symptoms of mass psychosis.
Brian Fahling is senior trial attorney for the American Family Association's Center for Law & Policy.
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