jasonbwatson

January 22, 2015

The Weakest Link

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. As presidents (almost always) do, Obama proclaimed the state of our union to be strong. However, his address, regardless of whatever else you may think of it, also proved a prime example of the proverb about the weakest link: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, it says. If that is true–and I think we have all seen ample evidence in our lives that it is–then the state of our union is actually quite fragile. Let me tell you why.

President Obama, as he has done repeatedly throughout his administration, championed the rights of all “people groups” in his SOTU address. The “last pillar of our leadership,” Obama said, is “the example of our values.” What do those values include, according to Mr. Obama? Respecting human dignity, speaking out against “deplporable anti-Semitism,” “rejecting offensive stereotypes of Muslims,” defending free speech and advocating for political prisoners. It also includes “comdemn[ing] the persecution of women or religious minorities or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” And why do we do these things? “We do these things not only because they are the right thing to do but because, ultimately, they make us safer.”

Really? In many cases, I would say that’s true, but there is a glaring exception to Mr. Obama’s position.

He went on to state that, “As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice.” For that reason, he said, it is time to shut down the terrorist prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Keep in mind, of course, that the detainees at Gitmo are suspected or convicted terrorists.

Several paragraphs later, President Obama stated that Americans “live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper.” Then, a few lines later, “[A] better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.”

What we do not see in any of this rhetoric is any acknowledgement of the unborn. We respect human dignity, the president said, but apparently not the dignity of the unborn. We deplore anti-Semitism and reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims (as we should), but evidently we neither deplore nor reject the notion that a woman has the right to kill an unborn child in her womb. We condemn the persecution of women or religious minorities or homosexuals, but we allow and even champion the “right” of a woman to dispose of another human being if that human being’s birth or temporary occupation of a uterus is inconvenient. We are committed to justice, yet somehow that means closing a prison that houses dangerous terrorists while permitting the murder of unborn children. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters, but evidently only after they have left the womb; until then, they’re out of luck. Our “basic decency” does not include defending the right to life.

The President’s only mention of abortion was when he said this: “We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely, we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows….” Of course we can agree that is a good thing! Yet the fact that those numbers are at all-time lows (if they are; I have not checked the numbers) does not, by any means, negate or excuse the fact that we still murder a million unborn children every year. According to the Guttmacher Institute’s July 2014 fact sheet on abortion, “Half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion” and “Twenty-one percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.” This is not okay!

Just a few paragraphs from the end of his address, President Obama said, “I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your own life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances, as committed as we are to working on behalf of our own kids.” In fact, Mr. Obama is not committed to improving the life chances of children at all. He may be committed to improving the chances they have in life, and he may desire to see today’s children have wonderful opportunities during their lives, but his commitment does not begin until the child leaves the womb.

As long as abortion is legal in the United States–as long as we are willing to, as a nation, defend and embrace the “right” of a woman to kill her unborn child–the state of our union will never truly be strong. When we refuse to defend the sanctity of life, we undermine everything else we claim to stand for. The United States’ position on abortion is truly its weakest link.

September 26, 2014

Misguided

This post contains explicit content that may be offensive to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Today I came across an article posted this past Wednesday on the web site of the Washington Times entitled “Las Vegas schools consider teaching kindergartners about masturbation, homosexuality.” I read the article and found it difficult to fathom that even in Las Vegas would a school board really think it was a good idea to pursue such a course. So from there I checked the web site of the Las Vegas Fox affiliate and found that they had posted a story on Tuesday called “School district considering big changes to sex ed curriculum.” Some of the information there was quite similar to the Washington Times piece, prompting me to think either it’s true or there is still more to the story that is being overlooked because it would be less sensational. So I decided to go straight to the source, so to speak, because the Fox story mentioned the following: “Some changes the school board may consider are outlined [in] a 112-page document called Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, which was put together by a national task force of educators and health experts.” I assumed such a report would be easy to locate and I found, within just a few keystrokes, that I was right. The document is available on siecus.org, the site of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. Much to my amazement, the document has a copyright date of 2004, which caused me to think right away that either no other school district is using these recommendations or the assertions about what the curriculum would teach kindergartners was inaccurate. So I determined to find out.

Along the way, I found some interesting things, none of which were encouraging. First, this report already contained, ten years ago, guidelines for teaching adolescents that some babies are born with genitals that do not match their chromosomes, which is basically another way of saying that some people are born transgendered. This is a means of supporting the rapidly-growing transgender movement in the United States which I have addressed elsewhere. The September 2014 issue of High School Today, the publication of the National Federation of State High School Associations, includes an article entitled “Developing Policies for Transgender Students on High School Teams.” The thrust of that article can be understood with these two sentences: “It is important for policy-makers to understand that transgender girls (who were assigned a male gender at birth) are not boys. Their consistent and affirmed identity as girls is as deep-seated as the gender identity of non-transgender girls.” This is what the guidelines I read through are teaching as well.

I read on. One of the developmental messages recommended by the guidelines for children at Level 1 (which the guidelines define as middle childhood, ages 5-8) is this: “Vaginal intercourse – when a penis is placed inside a vagina – is the most common way for a sperm
and egg to join” (p. 26). While this is true, do I want it being taught to my kindergarten student? Absolutely not.

One of the developmental messages for Level 2 children in the topic of reproduction is this: “Sperm determine the biological sex of the fetus.” Sounds safe, perhaps, but notice what it is really saying–the “biological sex” means that ones gender and biological sex are not necessarily the same, which means that, again, this guideline is paving the way for teaching transgenderism to students. And while the transgender message described above was for adolescents (ages 15-18) this one is recommended for Level 2, ages 9-12. Upper elementary school, in other words.

To be fair, the guidelines include some very good points about Body Image. Level 1, for example, includes this: “All bodies are equally special, including those that are disabled.” Level 2 includes, “Most people do not look like what the media portrays as beautiful” and this: “The value of a person is not determined by his/her appearance.” “The media portrays beauty as a narrow and limited idea but beautiful people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities” is a Level 3 message (ages 12-15).

But then it gets worse, again, because the next section/topic is Sexual Orientation. The Level 1 messages include teaching that people can be attracted to people of the opposite gender or of the same gender and that homosexuals are all called gay men and lesbians. At Level 2 the guidelines expand on heterosexual and homosexual to provide instruction about bisexuals, as well as this statement: “The origin of people’s sexual orientation is not known.” Really? Quite the worldview being assumed there…but at least it is relatively vague. That changes at Level 3, when one of the messages is this: “People do not choose their sexual orientation.” Level 3 also includes this message–“Many scientific theories have concluded that sexual orientation cannot be changed by therapy or medicine”–without any inclusion of the fact that there are also scientific theories which conclude that sexual orientation indeed can be changed.

The sexual orientation discussion gets very interesting at Level 4, though. For example, one of the messages is this: “Sexual orientation is determined by a combination of a person’s attractions, fantasies, and sexual behaviors.” This is interesting because we see a progression. At Level 2 students are told we don’t know where orientation comes from. At Level 3 they are told that, wherever it comes from, it is not a choice. And now, at Level 4, they are told, “this is where it comes from.” This is, to me, evidence of the tenuousness of the position, because if there were certain of where it comes from it would make absolutely no sense to develop curriculum guidelines that include telling elementary students “we do not know something” and then simultaneously include telling high schoolers, “we do know, and here it is.” This is akin to telling elementary students “Santa Claus is real” then telling them later “actually, he’s not.” If it were accurate, this would be prescribed lying. Since it is not accurate, it is simply a program for gradually preparing students to accept something that is not true.

Interestingly, though, Level 4 also includes this message: “The understanding and identification of one’s sexual orientation may change over the course of his/her lifetime.” Really? I agree with that, but here is why it is so interesting. If the identification and understanding of one’s sexual orientation can change that means that one’s sexual orientation can change, too–which means, quite simply, that sexual orientation is a choice.

Sadly, the final message in this section for Level 4 is this: “Civil rights for gay men and lesbian women are being debated in many states and communities across the United States.” As I have explained in this space on numerous occasions, homosexuality is not a civil rights issue. By teaching students that it is, though, we would be prepping them to approve the “equal rights” that homosexuals are increasingly demanding.

Well, the guideline is 112 pages long and, as of the paragraph above, I am only through page 31, so unless I want to bore you to tears I better get to the point and tell you whether or not the guidelines really do teach kindergarten students about masturbation. After all, that was launched this quest in the first place.

Sexual Behavior is Key Concept 4 in the guidelines. The developmental messages for Topic 1, Level 1 of Key Concept 4 are only two: “Most children are curious about their bodies” and “Bodies can feel good when touched.” Both of these statements are true and do not, explicitly, teach masturbation. I still would not want the school teaching my child this, but it is not as horrific as the reports made out. So I am relaxing a bit. But then I go to the next page. Topic 2 of Concept 4 is called, simply, Masturbation, and the developmental messages for Level 1 are as follows: “(1) Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation; (2) Some boys and girls masturbate and others do not; and (3) Masturbation should be done in a private place.” So there it is. The results are unmistakable and unavoidable–these standards do, in fact, advocate teaching kindergarten students what masturbation is and where it should be done.

Oddly enough, Topic 4, on Sexual Abstinence, does not include any developmental messages for Level 1, and includes this for Level 2: “Children are not physically or emotionally ready for sexual intercourse and other sexual behaviors.” Realize, please, what that means. It means that teachers are asked to explain to children ages 5-8 what masturbation is, but are not supposed to tell them until ages 9-12 that they are not mature enough, physically or emotionally, to engage in such behavior. And this makes sense how?

The information addressed here should cause real alarm among parents. True, in this instance we’re talking about Las Vegas, but it will not stay there. This report has been out for ten years, and it is from a national organization. This is simply the beginning of the path that public schools will soon be taking if we do not take a stand and say “No, you’re not teaching that to my child.” In fact, while we cannot and should not dictate what parents teach their own children, we should take a stand and say to schools, “You’re not teaching that to any child.”

July 30, 2014

How do you feel?

Several posts ago, in an entry titled “The biggest obstacle”, I made several statements and assertions that I said I would come back to and elaborate on later. I will do that now. One of the statements I made in that post was that special rights based on gender identity is ridiculous. The reason that it is ridiculous is that there is no other area in life that I can think of where anyone is able to obtain any kind of rights based solely on how they identify themselves. The only possible exception that comes to mind would be religious affiliation, as there are sometimes rights that are associated with religious affiliation and practice. That is necessary, though, because there are no genetic connections to religion, to physical identifiers upon which anyone can be associated with a particular religion. That is because religion is necessarily a choice. That certain rights have been granted on the basis of religion is a testament to the importance that humankind as historically placed on religion and the very personal nature of religious belief. Gender is not that way, however–or at least never has been until now.

As I stated before, from the beginning of time it has been possible to determine the gender of a child within moments of birth. Indeed, for the past several decades it has been possible, thanks to advances in medical technology, to identify the gender of a child in utero. Can you imagine the way conversations may go in the future once all of this transgender mumbo jumbo takes hold? Someone will ask their pregnant acquaintance, “So are you having a boy or a girl?” “Well, the sonogram shows the baby’s sex will be female, so I am sure that is the gender that will be assigned on the birth certificate. But, of course, we will have a to wait a little while to see how she acts, what she prefers, and how she wants to identify herself before we will really know. After all, sex is purely biological but gender is really a choice.”

Since the transgender movement insists that gender is in fact the product of cultural influences and behaviors learned through human interaction the conversation above could even be more along these lines: “Well, the sonogram shows the baby’s sex will be female, so I am sure that is the gender that will be assigned on the birth certificate. But my husband and I really want a boy, so we are going to raise this child as a boy. We will give the baby a male name, decorate the room with a masculine theme, dress the baby in boy’s clothing and raise the baby to be a male. As soon as ‘he’ is old enough we will jump through all of the hoops to have ‘his’ real gender identified accordingly.”

The one opponent of the transgender movement that was actually given any print in Katy Steinmetz’s TIME article was Frank Schubert, a political organizer from California. Steinmetz quoted Schubert saying, “We introduce this concept called gender identity, and I don’t have any idea what that is. Can you claim a racial identity based on how you feel or the community that you’re growing up in? Can I claim to be African American if I feel African American?” That is a legitimate question, silly though it may sound. Just as gender has always been consist with one’s anatomy, so race has always been consist with one’s genetic make up (often visible through skin tone). If an individual wants to, for whatever reason, “identify” as a race other than that which he or she is how can we stop that from occurring if we are saying that gender is so fluid? If gender is the product of cultural influences and learned behaviors, could not race be, too?

Now, I know I am taking this to an extreme, but I think it is necessary in order to make a point. Once we begin allowing people to claim or identify anything based solely on feelings we are obliterating any possibility of maintaining boundaries of any kind based on facts. Just as the redefinition of marriage to include male-male and female-female unions necessarily flings open the door to allow any combination to be defined as marriage, so the allowance of gender to be based solely on feelings means that, necessarily, we will have to allow anyone who feels anything to claim that they are that thing. If someone feels rich can they take items they cannot really afford from the store by writing checks that will never clear because they “feel like” they have money? That’s ridiculous, you say. Whether or not someone has money is easy to determine, easily verifiable. Well, guess what? So is whether or not someone was born male or female.

This gets to the heart of what I was getting at when I wrote in “The biggest obstacle” that transgender individuals do not really want an equal place but instead want a special place based on their personal choices. Someone using the name “Eyeontheuniverse” was kind enough to comment on that post and ask me to provide an example of such a special place or unique and privileged treatment that I am asserting transgender individuals want. Sure; I’d be happy to. The right to compete on an athletic team based on one’s chosen gender, the right to use a restroom based on one’s chosen gender, or any other example of insisting on treatment based on how one feels or identifies rather than what one is is a pursuit of special and privileged treatment. If someone wants to engage in homosexual sex, that’s fine, that is his or her choice. Demanding that marriage be redefined to include homosexual unions is insisting on special and privileged treatment. If a male wants to dress and act like a female, even assume a female name or identity, then I suppose he can do that, that is his choice. But to insist that “she” be allowed to play sports based on that choice, or use a restroom based on that choice, or be referred to using pronouns based on that choice, is to demand special and privileged treatment. If transgender individuals can make up their own pronouns like “xyr” why cannot I make up my own pronouns? Henceforth, I do not wish to be referred to as “he” but rather as “ilb.” That is my choice, and I am demanding that everyone else refer to me accordingly. Those who do not shall be sued so that courts will order them to refer to me as such. And while I’m at it, I’m tired of the title “Mr.” too, so from now on it will be “Great.” Yes…instead of Mr. Watson, I shall be Great Watson. I like that much better…I think I will feel much better when addressed that way.

Pretty stupid, huh? My point exactly….

Whoever “Eyeontheuniverse” is, their comment on “The biggest obstacle” included this statement: “In all we are probably looking at 2-6% of the population who in some way have a conflict between some combination of genes, body and brain. There’s not very much you are going to do to alter this (at least historically) after a person is born. The goal is to make life for people who are outside the simple binary system as easy as possible.” Again, I do not know who this person is, but he or she apparently has greater knowledge of this situation that any other study I have been able to find, since all reports seem to indicate that 0.2% to 0.5% of the population fits into the transgender category. “Eyeontheuniverse” apparently believes it to be ten times that number. Notice the end of the comment, though. The goal is to make life for those individuals as easy as possible. Never mind the fact that in so doing we will be making life as uncomfortable and difficult as possible for the majority of the population!

Katy Steinmetz wrote in her article, “No matter their anatomy, transgender people want to live–and be identified–according to how they feel: to be able to dress and be treated like a woman or a man regardless of what their parents or delivering nurses may have assumed at birth.” This is really what is comes down to–demanding rights and treatment based solely on how one feels. I explained above what the problems are associated with that approach, but I do have to appreciate the candor of Steinmetz. At the end of the day, the homosexual movement, the transgender movement, and many other movements now in existence and yet to come, want all notions of right and wrong, black and white, left and right–in other words, any concept of absolute truth–to be eliminated and everything to be based on feelings.

Watch out anarchy…here we come.

July 23, 2014

Word Games

The TIME article by Katy Steinmetz provides an overview of the history of the transgender issue in the United States. “Modern America’s journey” with this issue, she writes, “begins after World War II with a woman named Christine Jorgensen.” Christine Jorgensen was born George, and after completing service as a soldier and being honorably discharged George sailed for Denmark with the plan of finding a surgeon who would transform George into Christine. The story became news, and Jorgensen wrote a letter that was published by the New York Daily News after it ran a story under the headline EX-GI BECOMES BLONDE BEAUTY. In the letter Jorgensen asserted, “Nature made a mistake, which I have had corrected.”

That statement contains a clear allusion to the fact that there is a denial among many in the transgender movement, and its supporters, that humans are created by God. It was “nature,” Jorgensen said, that made the mistake. When nature makes a mistake man is entitled to correct it, the reasoning goes. Interestingly, one of the arguments most often used by homosexuals and activists who support the homosexual rights movement is that homosexual individuals were “born that way” and that human laws preventing homosexual marriage or beliefs that homosexual behavior is immoral are contradicting nature (or even, some would say, the way God made them). Now transgender individuals are suggesting that they way they were born–in other words, their gender at birth–was a mistake that they need to fix. So we have one group of people arguing that they should have special rights because they were born “that way” and another group arguing that they should have special rights because the way they were born was wrong.

This is not the only instance of transgender individuals wanting to have it both ways. In 1980, seven years after the DSM removed homosexuality as a disorder, transsexualism was added. That was later given the label of gender identity disorder and then, in 2013, renamed yet again to gender dysphoria. The president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (yes, there is such an organization) celebrated the change, saying, “‘Gender identity disorder’ [implied] that your identity was wrong, that you are wrong.” Yet, according to Steinmetz, some were not in favor of removing the disorder label because without it it will likely be harder for individuals to access treatment such as hormone therapy without having to pay the entire cost themselves. After all, if it is not a disorder, it is an elective procedure.

Despite the change in the DSM, there is going to be increasing pressure for insurance companies and even government insurance to pay for sex change operations and hormone therapy. At the end of May a board within the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that sex change surgeries will be covered by Medicare. This decision came after Denee Mallon, age 74, filed a law suit to have Medicare pay for an operation changing him from male to female. Once such procedures are considered covered by Medicare it is only a matter of time before the government will also push for insurance companies to cover them, as well.

If you are not yet confused or disgusted, it gets more complicated. According to the TIME article, it is necessary, in order to really understand this issue, to see “sex and gender as two separate concepts–sex is biological, determined by a baby’s birth anatomy; gender is cultural, a set of behaviors learned through human interaction.” Oh really? That is nothing more than another attempt at redefining terms. Dictionary.com provides, as the second definition of gender, one word: sex. (The first definition refers to the various genders of nouns in many languages). If you look at Merriam-Webster.com the definition of gender is “the state of being male or female.” If you read on to the full definition of gender you find that the first definition is, again, concerned with grammar. The second definition? Again, one word: sex.

Even if we wanted to grant the notion that sex and gender are two different things, it gets even more complicated. Steinmetz goes on to write, “Sexual preferences, meanwhile, are a separate matter altogether. There is no concrete correlation between a person’s gender identity and sexual interests; a heterosexual woman, for instance, might start living as a man and still be attracted to men. One oft-cited explanation is that sexual orientation determines who you want to go to bed with and gender identity determines who you want to go to bed as.” So, just to make sure you’re keeping up, that would mean–in the scenario presented by Steinmetz–that a person born as a woman could become a transgender man and then engage in homosexual sex with a man.

Since that is so confusing, Steinmetz goes on to explain that “some trans people reject all labels, seeing gender as a spectrum rather than a two-option multiple-choice question. The word transgender, which came into wider use in the 1990s after public health officials adopted it, is often used as an umbrella term for all rejections of the norm, from cross-dressers who are generally happy in their assigned gender to transsexuals like Jorgensen.” The idea of the gender spectrum is already gaining acceptance; in February Facebook changed its male and female options for gender to include more than fifty choices. The day before Valentine’s Day ABC News reported that Facebook would not be releasing a comprehensive list of options but that ABC had identified fifty-eight options. Among the options are ten varieties of “cis.” What in the world is that? Apparently, cisgender or cissexual, which are often abbreviated as simply cis, is defined by sociologists Kristen Schilt and Laurel Westbrook as a label for “individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity.” According to Wikipedia this is to be a complement to transgender. So I suppose (assuming I understand this definition correctly) I could now identify myself as cis if I am not satisfied with just simply being male. After all, male apparently no longer tells you that I was born male, identify as male and have a male body. So how does Facebook come up with ten varieties of cis? I could choose to identify myself as cis, cis male, cis man, cisgender male or cisgender man.

Other Facebook options include gender fluid, gender nonconforming and gender variant, as well as two-spirit. I am not even going to get into what some of those mean. Just in case you cannot find your chosen gender identity in the fifty-plus options ABC identified, though, there is also the option of “other.”

As I said yesterday, this entire situation just gets messier and messier the more you try to make sense of it. And so far I’m just talking about terminology! Just wait until next time when I begin exploring what the implications of this are when actually put into day to day living.

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