We may miss the nasty vulgarities that the pivoting Donald Trump is said to be leaving behind. Now we’re stuck with the bathroom bills — and Trump’s comment that people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.” So: the mighty-handed Trump, whose wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command beats back Mexican rapists, Muslim terrorists, and black murderers, is — let’s not beat around the bysshe — shrinking like a shriveling shrinking thing before the NewYorkTimesie pushers of gender-neutral bathrooms and showers for high-school kids. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
The bathroom bills, which push back against this latest insanity, bring to mind Randall Jarrell’s quip in “Pictures from an Institution”: “You have to see it not to believe it.” What astounds is that transgender people aren’t just interested in bathrooms qua bathrooms (as they probably say in the tony gender-free aeries of progressive liberalism). What they want is to destroy convention itself. Not just marriage and family: they want to integrate — although they haven’t got around to stealing that word from the civil-rights campaigns yet — they want to integrate high-school locker rooms and showers. As almost any normal child would say, “Gross!”
Now We Can’t Even Agree on What a Man Is
Dozens of bathroom bills have been introduced into state legislatures, and the long knives of progressive liberals are starting to flash. A Kansas bill provides that “in all public schools and postsecondary educational institutions in this state, student restrooms, locker rooms and showers” — don’t skip over that too quickly: “locker rooms and showers” — “that are designated for one sex shall be used only by members of that sex.” Could you imagine, last year, having to legislate that?
Indiana is considering a bill that contains the provision: “As used in this chapter, ‘female’ means an individual who: (1) was born female at birth; or (2) has at least one (1) X chromosome and no Y chromosome. … [and] ‘male’ means an individual who: (1) was born male at birth; or (2) has at least one (1) X chromosome and at least one (1) Y chromosome.” What kind of a world do we live in where men and women have to be defined by lawyers in terms of their chromosomes? It’s a good bet the Founding Fathers never thought it would come to this.
Here’s the long knife the U.S. Civil Rights Commission flashed last week about one of these state bills: “Critically, the new legislation also forces transgender people to utilize public bathrooms and changing facilities based on the sex issued on their birth certificates [oh, the indignity], and not according to their gender identities. This jeopardizes not only the dignity, but also the actual physical safety, of transgender people whose appearances may not match societal expectations of the sex specified on their identification documents.” Who says we can’t cut the federal budget by 10 percent?
After North Carolina passed a bill last month, the Obama administration’s Department of Education publicly considered withholding some of the $4 billion in aid that goes to the state. It’s time for North Carolina, and any other state inhabited by sane people, to focus on how much of that “federal” money actually came from their own citizens.
Big corporations also threaten economic sanctions. States will have to decide whether to sell out Western Civilization for a few coins. Conservatives, often seduced by the promise of economic success, will have to decide if there are higher goals. Truly, this could be closing time for Western Civilization. Bathroom bills may be the Battle of the Morannon in the culture war.
After Civil Rights Destroyed Freedom of Association
When did this war begin — this war that has replaced freedom with compulsion (masquerading as tolerance) as the highest value in American society? Probably (HEALTH ALERT: Doctors recommend assuming the seated position before reading this sentence) in 1964, when the Civil Rights Act with the public-accommodation provision that Sen. Barry Goldwater objected to was enacted. Goldwater voted against it and argued, essentially, that Americans would lose their freedom not to associate with people they didn’t like. In the heyday of the civil-rights era, when the issue was equality for blacks, Goldwater’s was not a winning argument. Now that it is, it may be too late.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision on homosexual marriage last year, a number of states passed, or tried to pass, bills making exceptions for people with particular religious objections and exempting them from having to serve homosexuals (e.g., baking cakes for their weddings). But religion was never a sufficient reason, as those who thought it was a high-card argument discovered. The culture vandals (a.k.a. the progressive Left) don’t much care about religion. They aren’t going to let oddball religions rewrite society’s general rules so as to exempt themselves from obeying them. What, you say, Roman Catholicism (with 69 million U.S. members) is an oddball religion? Well, yes. To the culture vandals all religions are oddball.
The proper ground for allowing people not to serve homosexuals is the general (classical liberal, and First Amendment) rule of the right to associate or not to associate, not an exception to a rule of the prescriptive progressive state. It follows, therefore, that people should be free not to associate with other people for any reason, whether they’re homosexuals or Zoroastrians.
A public carrier and public accommodation exception to that rule comes from the common law. The common-law rule required that only public carriers and innkeepers accommodate all comers (or at least not unreasonably discriminate against them), because their businesses tended to be monopolies that the state had granted.
However, a coffee house was not considered an inn, and neither was a tavern or a bar or a restaurant. There is no reason in a free society to apply the public carrier and public accommodation exception in a town that has a dozen bakers. One of the 13 is likely to be willing to do whatever any customer wants. If none will, requiring the customer to bear the inconvenience of going to a neighboring town is better than violating the general right to free association.
What’s the difference between a Soviet commissar telling a citizen he can’t see a priest, and a progressive Democrat telling him he must cater a homosexual wedding? That would be a good question for a reporter to ask President Obama the next time he talks about his new pals in Cuba. Or Donald Trump, that colossal wreck of American politics, boundless and bare.