A Modest Proposal

“Who are you?”

– The Caterpillar, in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland

As the American franchise of Western Civilization tumbles into the dust-bin of history, I sometimes wonder whether – were it possible – the ghosts of Jefferson, Franklin, Sam Adams, and other “Founding Fathers,” might be willing to engage in a conversation over what they helped to create. There has probably been no comparable group of such intelligent, well-educated, creative, prescient minds that has tried to design the foundations of a free and orderly political society. These men were the best for which any nation could hope. The first question I would ask of them is this: “did you truly believe that the appetites of the descendants of intelligent killer-apes could be tamed by the scribbling of words on parchment?”

Did these men – who personified that robust period of the Enlightenment – have too much faith in the capacity of humans to employ words and other abstractions to generate ideas and systems that would have the same demonstrable certitude of truth as the multiplication tables? When modern college students denounce the Enlightenment’s search for truth as a racist undertaking; when individual “liberty” is replaced by politically-created collective “entitlements;” and when the propriety of human action is governed less by respect for the principles of private property and contract, and more by adherence to ever-changing speech codes, should anything other than the unfocused madness of our present world be expected?

Time to buy old US gold coins

Historian Edward Gibbon would recognize the barbaric nature of modern America as readily as he did such forces that helped to bring down the Roman Empire. Third-world and other unstable regimes often find expression in the practice of tearing down the statues and other remnants of earlier cultures. As Karen DeCoster noted, when Confederate monument demolishers could find no such targets in Detroit, they found a bust of Christopher Columbus an acceptable substitute. In the words of a local journalist, Columbus was a figure The Wizards of Ozymand... Butler Shaffer, Butler... Best Price: $8.38 Buy New $12.33 (as of 05:45 UTC - Details) “tied to a white supremacy mind-set.” Whether the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, Grant’s Tomb, and Confederate cemeteries should also be dismantled or unearthed, remains open to question. Perhaps, in a fit of super-patriotism, the remains of British loyalist soldiers from the Revolutionary War should also be disinterred, with their bones cast into the same waters that received tea from the Boston Tea Party!

The latest cause to attract the attention of the rationally challenged is the failure of people to use the “proper” pronoun or adopted name of a transgendered person. I have had two transgender students in my classes and got along with them quite well, referring to each by their chosen first name. I did so not out of a sense that they had a “moral” right to have me do so, but out of a practice long-lost to our modern world: a simple act of courtesy. In my sense of individuality, I always asked my students to address me by my first name, not by any formal title. Those who felt uncomfortable doing so, and who insisted on formality, I told to go all the way with it and refer to me as “God” or “Yahweh.” In return, I spoke to them according to the name they preferred. I should add that, in my Property class, one transgendered student found the “self-ownership” concept particularly attractive, given its implications for being in control of all aspects of your life.

But in this age of collective identities, such personalized behavior is no longer acceptable. Whether one who is physically male, but identifies as a female, is to be referred to as a “he” or “she,” is troubling even to the most polite, sensitive person.  What words could possibly be assembled in defense of school officials punishing a six-year-old school-girl who failed to observe that a classmate had changed both his gender identity and name? To emblazon guilt upon the minds of the youngest of school-children for being unable to make such distinctions whose meanings have no relevance to them, is a cruel form of child-abuse. Is this a reflection of how school officials acquired their opinions in childhood? And what is to be said of the decision of her six-year-old friend? Was his transformation the product of careful thought on his part as to the meaning and implications of such an existential change or, like so many other “choices” youngsters appear to make, was his decision directed by parental preferences?

Never willing to pass up an opportunity to take a pin to bubbles of politically-driven nonsense, I have a proposal to offer. Because Title IX Calculated Chaos: Inst... Butler D. Shaffer, But... Best Price: $6.73 Buy New $41.95 (as of 05:30 UTC - Details) of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits “discrimination” or “participation . . . on the basis of sex” in any “program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” the government-enforced transgender movement might contain the seeds of its own destruction. Men are generally stronger and faster than women in such sports as basketball, track-and-field, swimming, and softball, recreational activities at the core of women’s collegiate athletics. What if a number of male students with good athletic skills that were, unfortunately, just below the level needed to qualify for men’s teams, saw an opportunity for success by participating in women’s sports? The transgender cause might provide an outlet for their talents. Were they to self-identify as “females,” they could try out for women’s sports teams. If the coaches, athletic directors and, ultimately, the trustees, denied them the opportunity to participate “on the basis of sex,” in any “program or activity,” such “discrimination” might be a sufficient violation of Title IX as to deprive the school of “Federal financial assistance.”

Would the university risk the loss of millions of dollars of federal funds? If the school were to acknowledge the legitimacy of transgenderism by allowing male athletes to compete as females, “women’s” sports programs would lose all meaning. Were it to deny the transgender cause in its athletic programs, it might risk being condemned by such mainstream media voices as the New York Times, CNN, or MSNBC.

Imagine how this might play out at Boll Weevil State University. A school whose name has long been absent from even the list of also-rans, and has not won a conference championship in any sport for over forty years, might find promise in this proposal. If a number of marginal male athletes could be recruited and persuaded to transgender themselves as females, the BWSU Hedgehogs might achieve overnight fame. A 6’8” basketball player named “Rocky” might change his name to “Roxanne” and lead the women’s team to a conference title. A baseball slugger with the name “Bruno” might become the “Brenda” who would power the Hedgehogs to a berth in the women’s softball College World Series. And with male shot-putters, pole vaulters, and various track stars magically transformed into females, who can deny BWSU’s potential for greatness?

The downside of all this, of course, is that talented genuine female athletes might cross this school’s name from their recruitment list, preferring to compete in a world grounded in reality rather than in fantasy and other contrived arrangements.

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