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Home/Rod Dreher/The Whale And The Net

The Whale And The Net

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CNN tells us the story of three heroes of the Sexual Revolution:

Meet Ian Jenkins and his partners, Alan and Jeremy.

They’re a “throuple”: a committed polyamorous relationship involving three people.
And after a complicated and expensive court battle to all become legal parents, the trio are raising two toddlers in Southern California — and proving how families come in all forms.
They’re part of a unique and very modern family that includes three dads, two surrogates and one egg donor. In a new book, “Three Dads and a Baby,” Jenkins chronicles their search for potential egg donors and a surrogate, and a fight to change a medical and legal system geared toward heterosexual couples.
The three men have all been together for more than eight years. Jenkins says they fought to get all three of their names listed on the birth certificates to protect their parental rights and the rights of their children. The process was emotionally grueling.
“But we are hopeful that other people benefit from the experience we had,” he told CNN in a recent interview, “and that it’s easier, less expensive and less stressful for them.”
It’s a long story, but there is not a single line in it about the ramifications, legally, morally, and otherwise, of this. It’s all about how love wins. Seriously, this is how CNN ends the piece:
If he were to send a message to his teenage self, Jenkins says, he’d tell himself that life gets better.
That however hopeless things may seem as a young gay man struggling to fit in, the world is changing. And that he’ll someday find more love under one roof than he ever imagined.
The problem my pastor friend faces is how to counsel parents of teenage girls who will not drink anything before going to school lest they have to use the bathrooms that, thanks to the stroke of President Biden’s pen, are now open to teenage boys who think—or claim—to have been born in the wrong bodies. It seems that anxiety and physical discomfort caused by the new bathroom policy will now be the new normal for young high school girls. Trans activists like to use the language of “safety” as a way of playing to the aesthetics of our therapeutic culture and delegitimizing their critics. Well, these biological women no longer feel safe. Their spaces, like their gender, have been stolen from them by men and for men. They now feel themselves to be in such danger that they cannot even hydrate before school lest they have to use the restroom during the day. America has had a number of presidents whose appetites meant that they arguably posed a danger to many women who crossed their physical paths; but the current president has out-performed them all. His policies have made him a danger to all women everywhere, even in high school restrooms.
A librarian who reads this blog sent me this shot he took from a new board book for little kids, We Are Little Feminists Families. This is a pregnant transman:
You know that there are pretty much no guardrails left, right? Nothing short of a violent collapse is going to stop any of this. These people — we the people — destroy. If you read the CNN story, you’ll see that it involves technology, the contractualization of childbearing, and further abuse to the icon of mother and father — all of this to make some rich gay men happy. We are living out Justice Kennedy’s words: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
I don’t want to defend a country and a society that calls this stuff good. If this is the point that liberal democracy has brought us to, what’s the point? Look at this. Our soldiers have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years. We have lost 2,300 US service members fighting, in part, to turn one of the most primitive countries in the world into a non-patriarchal democracy. And we have spent a fortune to impose our ideology on these unwilling people.

Read that whole Hanania Twitter thread; it’s infuriating. Maybe if we bombed them some more, and tripled our budget, we could convince Afghan women to become transmen so they too could be patriarchs.

My colleague Micah Meadowcroft has a powerful piece up on the site, urging conservatives to stop acting surprised by any of this anymore. He writes, in part:

The first step to recovery is to stop acting surprised. It’s past time for conservatives to admit that they are powerless, or at least that power is being wielded against them with little regard for what they thought were the rules. Our lives have become unmanageable because they are managed for us, by unelected bureaucrats in leviathan government agencies and the terms of services offices of corporate behemoths. We are in an abnormal situation, and your precious norms (and norms are indeed precious to those who share them) have been dumped and replaced. The powerful are happy to invite you to adopt the new norms, all of them; but if, nevertheless, you persist in resisting a few, have the self-respect to stop being shocked when you are treated as an enemy.

Stop acting surprised when Ryan T. Anderson’s careful and painfully polite book, When Harry Became Sally, which warns of the damage experiments in gender ideology are doing to children, is banned from Amazon. They kicked a president off their platforms, so don’t act confused when you find yourself off them, too. The laws have changed with or without Congress’s help for a long time. I use “acting” with regards to surprise on purpose, to give you the benefit of the doubt; perhaps you are not foolish, and deep down you knew this moment had arrived and was a long-time coming, but you think there’s a moral victory to be won with loud complaints and protest. Surely you can prick their conscience!

Or maybe you think there is a public out there watching, to which you can appeal with your feigned surprise? Perhaps there is a We greater than us that can restore sanity if only it is awakened to the danger? Do you hear yourself? “We the People” is us. The public is at the same mercy of the media, has the same task of sifting through propaganda and information and digital noise as you do. The public is you. The line between the conditioned and conditioners runs through every human heart.

So forget the court of public opinion, or of history and its flexible arc, and look for the other people who are no longer surprised. It’s time to ask yourself: Upon whom does responsibility for our world-embracing system fall? No matter how much our technical artifice improves, or how automatic things seem, there is still someone behind the curtain. Are you resigned to be ruled by people who deny what they do is governing, who claim they are only making sure that you are absolutely free? For what are you free?

You should be free for God, and doing His will give your life to His care. Consider now, your unsurprise at the banning of the Anderson book. You had to fake it. Transgenderism cannot be touched; not a child anymore, you don’t need to burn yourself to know what’s too hot for hands. You’re too prudent to call Rachel Dick in print. Ask yourself, and be honest, are you a coward?

It’s past time to pray for courage. The politics of virtue must be replaced by virtuous human beings. We must be willing to give up the comforts to which we have been made accustomed. May God remove my many defects, and give me the character necessary for the times. Ours is a constitutional republic, a politics of norms. If the norms are gone, or changed and as-yet unshared, then what we are has been attacked. The battle is already joined outside the Constitution and what we call the law; the algorithms and the moderators know this. Do you?

Read it all. 

Where is the leadership on the Right? Where is the followership? Don’t mention Trump to me — he changed next to nothing. It’s not like all of this rottenness began on January 20, when Biden became president. I’m grateful for the judges, mostly, but we are all sitting here watching the media and corporate oligarchs beginning effectively to ban books that challenge the Narrative, and watching the pioneering in custom and law of “throuples” legally parenting children, and watching little bitty children propagandized in libraries to watch a maimed woman with a beard who calls herself a man passed off as Pregnant Dad. And we just let it all pass.

What do I do about it? I write angry, despairing blog posts. I don’t know what else I can do. I’m feeling quite powerless and futile. I’m feeling about the country the way many of my Catholic friends are feeling about their Church: like the decadence is so deep, and the leadership class so rotten, that there’s nothing to do but burrow in and build shelters for my family and my friends, so we can withstand the coming collapse, and preserve enough of what’s good to seed the rebirth.

This despair feels wrong. I’m a Christian; I’m supposed to hope. And I do have hope, in that I believe God will not abandon us. But we as a people have abandoned Him, that much is certain. And hope that’s not based on a realistic assessment of where we are is Pollyanna optimism.

I have been living in a weird neutral space between those who want to defend liberal democracy, and those who have no faith in it anymore. I am afraid of what would replace it being tyrannical. In a country in which social and religious conservatives are a minority, if we lose the First Amendment, what will protect us?

But look at what is happening to us now, within liberal democracy: decadence of the sort that is going to be very hard to recover from. At least I can’t see how we recover from it. I think of John Adams’s words:

We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition, Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Our Constitution is the framework for liberal democracy. We are now a people who believes it is just and right to put girls in the position of not drinking water before school, so they don’t get stuck in the bathroom with boys who claim to be girls. We are now a people who call throuples who contract to manufacture babies from womb-renters “dads.” We are now a people who produce and stock on children’s library shelves picture books that show little kids freaks like that pregnant transman, and call it good and normal.

And we are supposed to be proud of all this? To be confident in the future of a country like this? To send our sons and daughters to die for this?

I don’t want to be in this slough of despond. I don’t want to be in the position of feeling a sense of responsibility to talk my 17 year old son, a good and strong kid who wants to go into the military, out of doing what was once a noble and selfless thing, because I don’t want him to be sent to die in some future Afghanistan in an attempt to turn those people into what we have become.

What does it mean to be a patriot these days, when your country’s leadership class attacks what is Good, and trains the people to call Evil Good? Seriously. You tell me.

I’m going to be traveling for most of the day on Tuesday, so please be patient with my approving comments.

UPDATE: Good morning. Yeah, I know, I can be almost comically dour when I post late at night … but seriously, there are no guardrails left, are there? At least none that you have reason to suspect are made of something other than balsa wood.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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