Today we reproduce an important article by Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In the 1960s Johns Hopkins pioneered "sex reassignment surgery", but after Dr McHugh arrived there they reviewed the programme and found that the psycho-social adjustment of those who had the surgery was no better than those who did not. So they stopped doing these operations.
At least those experiments were done on adults. Now, children are being set on the path of "sex change" with counselling and then puberty blocking drugs. Dr Mc Hugh reminds us that the victims of this madness extend beyond the children themselves:
I am ever trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real. I do so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla—enhanced now by Bruce Jenner’s celebrity and Annie Leibovitz’s photography—stand many victims. Think, for example, of the parents whom no one—not doctors, schools, nor even churches—will help to rescue their children from these strange notions of being transgendered and the problematic lives these notions herald. These youngsters now far outnumber the Bruce Jenner type of transgender.
We have already recommended this article on our Facebook page, but if you haven't read it, please do. In a world where mental health professionals collectively seem to have lost their wits (and many teachers and clerics with them), Dr McHugh's is a rare voice for sanity.
"The Pope! How many divisions has he got?" Stalin once sneered. None, of course, but nowadays the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics doesn't have any either. So it seems wise not to underestimate the influence of the Pope, however battered his Church might appear to be.
To my amazement, long before the publication of the new eco-encyclical of Pope Francis, the media is queuing up to praise it. For instance, the British columnist George Monbiot, whose impeccably progressive credentials are beyond dispute, writes in The Guardian:
Pope Francis, a man with whom I disagree profoundly on matters such as equal marriage and contraception, reminds us that the living world provides not only material goods and tangible services, but is also essential to other aspects of our wellbeing. And you don’t have to believe in God to endorse that view.
At the beginning of Syria's brutal civil war, about 10 percent of the population was Christian. Now hundreds of thousands have fled from the fighting and the fanatics of ISIS who are slaughtering and enslaving captured Christians. What is the West doing to stop the increasingly rapid erosion of Christianity in the Middle East, asks the Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo in an article below.
Sleepy schoolchildren may remember the Magna Carta as a document which, as the famous parody 1066 And All That asserts, “was invented by the Barons on a desert island in the Thames called Ganymede” and was “the chief cause of Democracy in England, and thus a Good Thing for everyone (except the Common People)”.
This year, however, is a moment to dust off the history books. It marks the 800th anniversary of this icon of Anglophone culture, which even President Obama has acclaimed as “a framework for constitutional democracies throughout the world”. We are celebrating with a series of articles explaining how it helped to shape the way we think about politics and human rights.
Courtrooms, I suppose, have long been places where ingenious interpretations of the law are tested against its plain meaning. Lawyers representing Lucretia Seales, a New Zealand woman who died last week as a result of brain cancer, earlier asked the High Court here whether her doctor would be assisting her to commit suicide (a crime) if he/she administered a lethal does to Ms Seales. Would not the doctor rather be “facilitating aid in dying”? The difference?
Stranger than that was the claim that the law forbidding such killing is inconsistent with two NZ Bill of Rights Act provisions, one of them the “right not to be deprived of life”. Ms Seales explained this conundrum by saying that she would consider taking her life earlier than she otherwise would if her general practitioner could lawfully assist her to die. The judge rejected this by some complicated legal argument and, thank God, the poor lady died peacefully the next day in a hospice.
But for contorted, revisionist legal arguments it’s hard to beat the same-sex marriage court cases, including the current US Supreme Court case, which Robert Reilly reviews today in an impassioned, if not exasperated appeal for a return to vigorous moral reasoning by states seeking to preserve the plain meaning of marriage. It’s a great weekend read.
The movement for universal and unanimous transgender acceptance has made tremendous strides in the past couple of weeks. it may be just a fad, but the "coming out" of Bruce Jenner as Caitlyn Jenner has had a huge impact. In this respect, it's interesting to read what Nuriddeen Knight, an African-American woman, has to say about the logic of this obsession.
But what if it were really possible for me to become white or for Pecola to acquire blue eyes? Would that be the end of the story—the happily ever after? Would changing our physical appearance magically erase all our issues of self-esteem and self-worth? No, of course not. The eyes and the skin color were never the problem: racism and abuse were. We would only be putting a Band-Aid on the real issue...
But what if, instead of wanting to be white, I wanted to be a man? What if, instead of crying to my parents that I was really a white person, I told them that I was really a man and that I desperately wanted to change my body to match my mind? If, in this scenario, you think that my parents should applaud my courage, accept my new gender identity, and run to the nearest surgeon, please ask yourself: “Why?”
It's a very insightful analysis of a troubling issue.
According to a recent Pew poll of American voters, about 72% believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage is inevitable. Inevitability, however, is no guarantee that a policy is the best policy, or a wise policy or a moral policy. A belief in inevitability has fostered ideas like eugenics, Nazism, Communism, starvation through over-population and paisley bell bottom pants. None of them seem inevitable any more. Same-sex marriage is so flawed that it will vanish, too. See the article below for another perspective on the US Supreme Court's upcoming decision.
In the "Nice Work If You Can Get It" department, I have added working on a troll farm. In our Connecting blog, Denyse O'Leary describes the shadowy work of Russians who write misleading, hostile, scabrous, defamatory and mendacious posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Much of their work is devoted to supporting the Kremlin's view of the war in Ukraine. But in their spare time, they create fake explosions or incidents of police brutality in the US. Very creative.
The New York Times says that "by working every day to spread Kremlin propaganda, the paid trolls have made it impossible for the normal Internet user to separate truth from fiction". That rang bells for me. While the twitterati in the US and other English-speaking countries might not be paid, they do work very successfully to promote causes like #marriagequality and #CallMeCaitlyn. But, as in Russia, we are none the wiser about the truth.
If you are one of those people who doesn't get their housework done in a timely fashion, watch the video, The 7-Minute Miracle, on our front page. Cleaning crews for the Shinkansen bullett trains that leave Tokyo daily have just 7 minutes to clean and tidy each car, each doing about 20 cars per shift. They are, indeed, a miracle of speed and efficiency, though their average age is 52. At the end, they line up on the platform and bow -- it's been a privilege to work with such diligence. Be inspired!
In what seems a very significant move, the New York Times this week published a short documentary film and accompanying story acknowledging that the infamous "popualtion bomb" never actually went off and that we are now facing a completely different spectre: population ageing and implosion. As always, for better or worse, the Times did it in style. And it's definitely for the better this time. Watch the 12-minute video, which is embedded in my story. I think you will be impressed.