The West is involved in a culture war that will determine the direction of modern civilization for decades. From the struggle against Islamic extremism to the definition of masculinity to the redefinition of science fiction in literature, there is no element of daily life that isn’t under assault by ideologues intent on upending our common culture, and when they can’t effect this change through persuasive argument, they move to legislation. Failing that, they resort to financial bullying and the politics of personal destruction. I have been personally involved in this conflict since I was kicked off the writing staff of Ginger Nuts of Horror by site owner Jim Mcleod for expressing opinions in my own space that are shared by millions and millions and millions of other people.
The newest front in the culture war is the colloquially-termed “North Carolina bathroom bill.” On February 23, 2016, the Charlotte, North Carolina city council voted to expand legal protections for gay, lesbian, and transgendered people, effectively allowing men to use women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, and other private areas if those men identify as women. (Women who identify as men could likewise use men’s private areas for their private functions.) A month later, North Carolina’s governor signed a law (the so-called “bathroom bill”) that blocks the February 23 law and mandates that a man born as a man use the private areas set aside for men, not women, and vice-versa.
Once this law was passed, PayPal withdrew its investment from the state of North Carolina, saying, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.” In reply, North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor said, “If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it.” (This statement is deliberately similar in construction to the gun control arguments claiming that if outlawing a certain type of firearm saves the life of one child, it’s worth it.) Congressman Robert Pittenger of North Carolina’s 9th district had a more scathing reaction to PayPal’s decision: “PayPal does business in 25 countries where homosexual behavior is illegal, including 5 countries where the penalty is death, yet they object to the North Carolina legislature overturning a misguided ordinance about letting men in to the women’s bathroom? Perhaps PayPal would like to try and clarify this seemingly very hypocritical position.”
More recently, Bruce Springsteen canceled a planned concert in North Carolina, saying, “To my mind, [the bathroom bill is] an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” Many other organizations have followed suit.
Let’s make a few things clear:
- Believing that one has been born with the wrong genitalia is a form of mental illness.
- Mental illness should be remedied with compassion, medical care, and therapy. Psychologists help people suffering from depression, schizophrenia, and emotional trauma in ways that have been proven to work. Not all the time, because individuals differ, but modern medicine has a pretty good track record.
- Supporting the delusion that one has been born with the wrong genitalia through hormone replacement and surgical mutilation is an appalling crime, one that does a horrible disservice to the suffering patient and merely serves to reinforce his delusion. Dressing and acting as someone of the opposite sex is one thing. Using scalpels and chemicals to craft a disturbing facade is quite another.
- Surgery and hormones don’t make a man into a woman or a woman into a man. If you were born a man, you’re a man. Thinking, believing, and feeling otherwise doesn’t alter that fact.
- Most of us don’t care what you believe yourself to be, but when you force your worldview upon us by, for example, deliberately using the wrong bathroom, you’ve involved us in your decision-making, and we have the right to protest.
- Believing as I do isn’t bigotry or hatred. Nor is it patronizing to feel compassion for the mentally ill, no matter how celebrated that mental illness has become.
- I am not the only person who believes these things.
We’ve now reached a point in the culture war where if you take the perfectly natural position that men should use men’s private areas for private functions and not women’s private areas for private functions, performers like Bruce Springsteen will not perform for you and companies like PayPal won’t do business with you.
(I know that more enlightened countries in Europe don’t have private areas segregated by sex, which is fine for them. We have our own customs in America, and we typically have good reasons for upholding those customs.)
What Springsteen and PayPal and Disney and the NBA and many, many other artists and companies have forgotten is that their financial bullying tactics only work if we let them. They’ve decided that shifting our common culture toward the celebration of mental illness rather than the treatment of it is more important than doing business. That’s immoral. It’s disgusting. And it’s time we fought back.
Fighting back includes not patronizing their businesses. Not listening to their music. Not watching their shows. Yes, it’s massively difficult to avoid Disney, especially if you have children. I like Star Wars and superhero movies, too. We tend to live on autopilot, especially these days, and we’re bombarded with so much conflict that there’s a natural inclination to want to just turn it all off and escape. But they won’t let us. They won’t just shut up and sing. It wasn’t enough to insert themselves into the public discourse (see the Dixie Chicks). Now our entertainers and business associates seek to alter the political process: agree with us or suffer the consequences. You can’t be in the audience if you have the wrong opinions.
What’s more important: your values or your TV shows? We used to have both. Now we can’t. Now the kinds of people who typically deride religion preach to us from pulpits of unearned moral superiority. Who the hell is Bruce Springsteen to lecture you on anything? How dare he?
The sidelines have been erased. You’re in the fight whether you want to be or not. You were just living your life up to this point, minding your own business, and then bam: your well-considered opinions and ethics have been instantly transformed into bigotry by moral imbeciles. Doesn’t that make you angry? We used to ignore leftist Hollywood show business stupidity and hope it would go away, but that hasn’t worked. Bullies don’t just walk away when you ignore them. They get in your face until you submit.
So what do you do with a bully? You hit him. Not once, not twice, but so many times that he gets frightened thinking about messing with you again. That’s what we have to do with Springsteen and his fellow travelers. We have to hit them where it really hurts: the wallet. We have to show them that we contemn them as much as they scorn us, that we won’t do business with people who tell us we’re backwards, hateful rubes because we happen to disagree. Fuck me? No, fuck YOU. Without us, you’re nothing. Without you, we just change the channel.
Make sure they know that you won’t stand for their bullying, and do so in public. You’ll get support. You will, but you have to have the nards to actually stand up and do it. You’ve got at least one friend who agrees with you, right? And that friend probably has another friend. And so on. This won’t happen without you. This is your fight now, so you might as well get in there and start throwing some punches. It’s easier when you have help.
Do you really want some has-been numbskull like Bruce Springsteen telling you what to do? Really? How long are you prepared to let some stupid rock star lecture you before you tell him to go to Hell?
Update: Author, (former?) Springsteen fan, and blogger Daniella Bova also weighed in.