Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bigot Watch - Argument By Assertion and Syllogism

In the last couple of weeks, the story of Steve/Susan Stanton has been in the news.

The short synopsis is that Steve Stanton has been a long time employee of the City of Largo Fl. Recently, Steve announced plans to transition to live as Susan and was promptly terminated by the city executive who decided, apparently, that being transgender was the equivalent of a lobotomy that would render Susan unable to carry out her job.

Of course, most of this is coming from the same kind of religiously-inspired ignorance that spawns legislation like Bill 208 in Alberta.

I went digging around the dark side of the blogosphere, taking a look at what some of the wingnuts were saying about transsexualism in general, and it's not a pleasant picture to look at. Perhaps because they got bored trashing Gays and Lesbians, but the nuttier clowns have started going after transsexuals as well - smearing them in all sorts of nasty ways.

I'll start off with "Americans For Truth", who posted this screed about Julie Nemecek.

If your first concern is protecting the welfare of teenage college students, the only good and noble reaction is to be firmly critical of the bizarre political agenda embodied by Mr. Nemecek’s demands and immovably intolerant of the threat that harmful agenda poses to young people.


First of all, Julie Nemecek has been living as Julie for over a year before she was fired. The author is being deliberately disrespectful of Julie's status by referring to her as "Mr.". This is a classic attack that the religious right have adopted - attacking the person by disrespecting them personally.

The second part is the immediate assertion that a transitioning transsexual is a "threat" somehow. Of course, they don't define what the threat is, and I must confess I find it pretty hard to imagine how someone transitioning between genders is a "threat" to anybody.

"Good and noble" justifies firing someone because you do not understand them? The insanity goes further, claiming:

The bleeding heart “tolerance” crowd insists that Spring Arbor must surrender its allegedly antiquated Christian values and instead concede to, thus giving formal recognition and legitimacy to, the demands of one emotionally disturbed employee’s obvious mental illness.


Ummm...last I checked, Christian scripture is amazingly silent about transsexuals - probably because the concept of a medically assisted gender transition didn't exist until the mid-20th century AD! As for it being a "mental illness", I think you would find most mental health professionals would see it quite differently (at least those who practice in the areas of gender and sexuality that have made a serious study of the topic!).

I won't even begin to address the myriad misconceptions that AFTAH's articles work from - I could write an entire book on the subject, and that's with my relatively limited knowledge and a bit of research.

Perhaps most laughable is this article which attempts to link transgender identity to "paganism" (without even defining what paganism they are referring to), in an effort to show how it is "unchristian". Considering how much of "christian ritual" is directly lifted from, or lain over, pagan traditions that were predominant in the late Roman Empire, I'm amazed at the utter dishonesty of these accusations.

Fundamentally, there are so many bad assumptions in this article that any conclusions drawn by it fall into the category of syllogistic error. More or less, the author seems to argue that because sexuality was richly reflected in pre-christian religious ritual, essentially any "sexual variance" is clearly "pagan", and therefore "anti-christian".

The syllogism goes like this:

Assertion: Pagan ritual included sex.
Assertion: Christian ritual excludes sex.
Assertion: Gays, Lesbians and transgender people are "sexually variant" in the behaviour.
Assertion: Paganism is anti-Christian

Therefore: GLBT people are pagan
Therefore: Being part of the GLBT community is anti-Christian.

Not a lot different from:

Assertion: Ghandi was an Indian
Assertion: Indians are men
Assertion: Beethoven was a man

Therefore: Beethoven was an Indian.
*** Which is obviously so incorrect as to be bad comedy.

The conclusions these twits draw are astonishing in their stupidity. Frankly, any argument that starts from a false assumption is guaranteed to be incorrect. LaBarbera continues to repeat and demonstrate this with his insane postings.

It seems to me that many of these so-called "christians" have forgotten the underlying ethos of even the Old Testament - namely the notion of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". I wonder if they have really thought about that.

(Of course, more cynically, it's really all about power, and these clods are like the schoolyard goons I remember from Junior High - all about beating everyone around them into submission)

12 comments:

Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss said...

As a transgender college professor, I think the welfare of teenage college students is well served by having them learn about how to live in an increasingly diverse world.

Grog said...

Dr. Weiss:

Agreed - little is to be gained by perpetuating ignorance and stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

There are several factual errors/misrepresentations in your post.

First, it's not "disrespectful" to refer to Nemecek as "Mr." -- it's simply factual. He was born with a Y chromosome and a penis -- he's male, even if he takes female hormones, grows out his hair and nails, wears a dress, gets silicone implants and has his genitals surgically removed. (If he were a female, he wouldn't have to do all that.) He is mentally ill, deluded, deliberately living against the obvious. (And I'm not sure our culture isn't essentially mentally ill, too, since many fail to recognize his condition as aberrant.)

The school kept this professor on the payroll for a period, trying to work with him to bring him back in line with school policy which is based on church/Bible teaching. He refused and was subsequently terminated.

This is not a public or secular school -- it's a private CHRISTIAN school and is entitled (given that we, so far, still enjoy a constitutional right to freedom of religion in this country) to practice its stated faith, including the use of church discipline. You are arguing for a constitutional right to inflict approval of homosexuality, bisexuality, or "GID" on a church which believes those behaviors to be sinful -- you are advocating a right which does not exist and cannot co-exist with the right to freedom of religion.

The Bible is not "amazingly silent" on the issue of cross-dressing and mutilating one's anatomy with the objective of emulating the opposite sex (Deut 22:5 for starters, but much more). You are simply ignorant of its content and I hope you will remedy that condition by finding a Bible and reading it.

Grog said...

First, it's not "disrespectful" to refer to Nemecek as "Mr." -- it's simply factual.

Julie Nemecek is living as a woman, I would no more refer to her as "Mr." than I would a divorced woman as "Mrs." - neither is reflective of their current social status.

I, for one, do not have the luxury of doing a chromosome check of every person I meet. If they present as a woman to me, I treat them as such - that includes my writing. (Oddly, I believe that the Associated Press Style Guide makes a similar recommendation when writing about transgender people)

He is mentally ill, deluded, deliberately living against the obvious.

I'll take up the rest of your assertions in another post...because there's assumptions in your "facts" that need more space than is practical for comments.

Anonymous said...

I don't make decisions about moral issues based on the Associated Press Style Guide -- I make them based upon the Bible. God made them male and female. Maybe you see a woman, but I see a man wearing makeup and a dress and with a serious mental illness that has a devastating impact on his own soul, his wife/marriage, his family, his ability to function at work, etc. It's tragically sad.

Anonymous said...

If someone 'presents' as Napolean Bonaparte, should we all pretend too?

Grog said...

I don't make decisions about moral issues based on the Associated Press Style Guide

So, that justifies AFTAH being deliberately disrespectful to Ms. Nemecek how?

God made them male and female.

And intersex - they do happen quite regularly in the population.

but I see a man wearing makeup and a dress and with a serious mental illness

You've probably never even realized it when you have encountered TS people. If you actually know Ms. Nemecek in her past life, you'd recognize her perhaps, but beyond situations like that few people have a clue when they encounter a transsexual. (especially post transition).

As for the issue of "mental illness", I've addressed that in detail here

devastating impact on his own soul, his wife/marriage, his family, his ability to function at work, etc.

You have no idea what the impact of not transitioning is for a transsexual - don't presume to know how their friends, family and colleagues cope. (Most do so quite well, thank you very much - unless their minds are calcified beyond redemption by a lack of use)

Anon #2 quips:

If someone 'presents' as Napolean Bonaparte, should we all pretend too?

There's a big difference between a delusional person and a transsexual. Go study some psychology.

Anonymous said...

From Anon #1:

Why do you assume that I (or anyone that disagrees with you) live under a rock and have never encountered a "transgender" person? Trust me, I have seen plenty of "trans" people over my lifetime and it'nearly always quite obvious -- men with adam's apples and stubble growing through their makeup, buying women's size 11 shoes are kind of hard to miss. I've even seen "trans" prostitutes in SF -- what a sad sight and what a horrendous, dangerous life (loneliness, drug abuse, poverty, beatings, etc.) -- and that's the nightmare being commended to a confused teenager by activists in youth centers across the country -- APPALLING.

The famous James Boylan's wife was on TV many times when he "came out" publically and it was painfully obvious that she was in great distress. The Nemeceks have posted a video online and she admits also to having a very hard time "adjusting." How self-centered to think such a shocking revelation would not shake a family to the core.

Your answer to Anon #2 is really the crux of our disagreement:

"There's a big difference between a delusional person and a transsexual."

So you say. ***I say there is no difference at all, except that one thinks he is a woman and the other thinks he's Elvis Presley. Both are deluded.***

(Anytime this topic is discussed, "your side" tosses out genetic anomalies as if that has a thing to do with middle aged married MEN, who are clearly MEN, suddenly deciding that they're "really" women. Even a person with a genetic defect is either male or female, not some mutant intersex being. That big rabbit trail has nothing to do with the likes of Boylan, Nemecek, Stanton, etc.)

Grog said...

>have never encountered a "transgender" person

I didn't say you hadn't met a transgender person, I said you hadn't met/known any real life TRANSSEXUALS. There's a difference between a transsexual and a cross-dresser.

And the reason I say that you haven't met or known any is that few who have are as quick and willing to condemn those people as you seem to be.

***I say there is no difference at all, except that one thinks he is a woman and the other thinks he's Elvis Presley. Both are deluded.***

As I said to Anon #2 - go learn a bit about the psychology involved, and then come back and tell me that transsexuals fit the clinical definition of delusional.

As for "my side" raising intersex people in this conversation - it boils down to this: If physiological differences can be so dramatic between individuals, who's to say that psychological attributes cannot be similarly diverse?

In other words - quit condemning someone for being honest with themselves, and get on with your own life.

Anonymous said...

I'm not condemning anyone (I don't have that authority or power). I speak only what the Bible has to say about the depraved behavior/deluded thinking of homosexuals, bisexuals, and "transgendered" people (just as I would speak what the Bible says of other sins which will result in the same end if a person persists in them without repentance).

You, on the other hand, are doing people a grave harm by encouraging them in sinful, immoral acts that will result in:
- physical harm (disfiguring their bodies),
- emotional confusion and pain (for themselves and their families)
- the condemnation of their souls (not by me, but by God who calls what they are doing "detestable").

Definition of delusional -- a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self ... that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary

I'm not Elvis and Boylan/ Nemecek/ Stanton (with Y chromosome, penises, and biological children born of their wives, all proving their masculinity) are NOT woman.

I'm not impressed with the psychology industry -- homosexuality was removed as a mental health disorder only after homosexuals stealthily infiltrated the leadership of APA (read some "gay" history if you think I'm delusional). Most secular psychologists counsel people to think more of themselves than of what is objectively right (because they don't acknowledge right/wrong) or of those to whom they made commitments before God. Nor do I respect those medical doctors who violate their own ethics (do no harm) by removing healthy body parts.

So we'll see how it all works out: You trust in men's "modern" ideas (the same all-wise men who can't cure diabetes or cancer), I'll trust in God's Word, and we'll see in the end which of us put his money on the right number. Remember, we're both betting our lives on the outcome.

Grog said...

Dear Anonymous:

You claim "I'm not condemning anyone"

Really? - you've repeatedly stated:

1) That transsexuals are deluded

2) That they engage in sinful, immoral acts

3) Like the author I was originally critiquing, you insist on putting words in quotes (e.g. "trans") as if to sneer at it in writing.

4) You state: depraved behavior/deluded thinking of homosexuals, bisexuals, and "transgendered" people

Sounds like condemnation to me. I don't care if you derive your condemnation from 2000+ year old scrolls or your fetid imagination. Take some ownership for your actions.

Definition of delusional -- a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self ... that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary

Oddly, most transsexuals are decidedly NOT in that psychotic state you describe. There is no denial of their reality prior to transition. There is no misunderstanding involved in that regard. The diagnostic criteria are quite clear in excluding people who are delusional.

Most secular psychologists counsel people to think more of themselves than of what is objectively right ... or of those to whom they made commitments before God.

Statement #1 - not everybody believes in a God per se.

Statement #2 - not everybody who does believe in a God sees it the same way you do.

Statement #3 - Your statements on psychotherapy demonstrate that you have little or no clue about what goes on in a therapist's office. (Especially not where transsexuals are concerned)

Nor do I respect those medical doctors who violate their own ethics (do no harm) by removing healthy body parts.

The fact that you are focused on the surgical aspects of gender transition demonstrates, once again, how little you really know about the journey a transsexual undertakes.

Perhaps equally disappointing is how quick you are to judge that journey in your ignorance of it.

Anonymous said...

I read this and also your new post. Let's end it at this: We cannot both be right.

am confident in God's Word and therefore I warn you: A day is coming when we both will face the God that you do not believe in -- the one who has revealed His will in the pages of the Bible. As for me, I have hope -- I enjoy an expectation based on God's promise, not on my performance -- that I will be saved from eternal condemnation (which based on my record, I would deserve) because I have confessed the name of Jesus, I have acknowledged as evil my sins and my life has been transformed, and I have been baptized so that my own wicked sins are washed clean in Jesus Christ.

You and many of your readers are unrepentant, embracing behavior that your Creator has told you is detestable. That is not my judgment, but His. If I hated you, I'd let you face that day without a warning. But I would wish hell upon no man.

The Bible says "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." So I urge you to consider: What if you are wrong?