The transgender issue seems to be all on the front pages of our local paper. It appears as if it is the only newsworthy issue to report on. I guess poor schools, crime, poverty, health care, worn roads and bridges and the ISIS genocide of Christians aren’t that important. In turn, I never thought I would see the day that belief in marriage as only between a man and a woman and the simple fact there are only two sexes as created by God would be considered “hateful” and antiquated. But that day has arrived. Add to that the frenzy over “safe zones” and the curtailment of free speech on college campuses and one can conclude we have entered a different reality in the world. It appears that certain ideological agendas have taken over the public discourse with sexual orientation capturing the headlines and nothing is considered more damaging than to disagree with the so called “enlightened view”.
After shaking my head several times at the false and bizarre claims, innuendos, and attacks against the voicing of any disagreement against the so called prevailing view I finally decided to attempt to grasp what is going on so that I can get a grip on my confusion. After much reflection, I have concluded that we are in a “perfect storm”. That is- our world and society have been thrown into a maelstrom of ideological moral transformation and it appears that education, government, and the media have bought into to it lock stock and barrel and woe to those who disagree.
The Notion of “NewRrights” for a View of Humanity
The proponents of this new progressive morality have done a masterful job of convincing a large segment of the culture, educational leaders, the judiciary and political leaders who make policy that their frame of reference is correct and on the “right side of history”. A simple way of viewing the agenda is one of the culture accepting and the government granting so called “new rights” to be promoted and in some instances require the public to accept a new ethic. However, public opinion, court rulings and government regulation do not determine the truth about rights. Our rights do not come from the whims of government, personal feelings or social trends, they come from God and the Natural Law. The mentality of this new rights movement goes against this established order.
The cultural and political movement to promote and establish the so called rights of gender identity and same-sex marriage as examples are concerns for reasons that are independent of their specific nature such as gender identity or homosexuality per se. The underlying concern we all need to be aware of is the trend to insist upon a forced acceptance, affirmation, promotion and eventual government regulation granting the new rights. The classic example is seen in the legalization of same-sex marriage. This progressive cultural and political agenda that is being applied goes way beyond a toleration to diversity with significant implications for the denial of our speech and religious freedom rights.
The Impact of Political Correctness
If there is one common denominator to the advocacy for these so called new rights it is the use of political correctness to promote a position and vilify those who disagree. Archbishop Wenski of Miami summed up the situation in a homily reported in The Catholic Register (June 19, 2016) on the Fortnight for Freedom, “Today, a regime of ‘political correctness’ wishes to impose itself on us and force us to conform ourselves, our values and our beliefs to the ascendant secularism of our time.”
Social bans on opinion are emerging into legal bans such as hate speech, discrimination laws etc. Society appears to be getting polarized between traditional values and “relativist individualism” seen in litigation, legislation and government decrees. Political correctness is the attempt to squelch dissent, discussion and logic. If one can’t debate intelligently then the attitude is to just deal with it by majority decree and eventual persecution of alternative opinions.
The most scared “right” nowadays seems to be that of “to not be offended”. Once the conversation is considered politically incorrect no more discussion is needed. Political correctness is the day to day “tool” to push forward the progressive transformation of new rights and consequent definition of the nature of the human person.
The language of political correctness is reminiscent of “newspeak” in George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 where a totalitarian government invents a new vocabulary for propaganda where good becomes bad, war is peace etc. An example is the baker in Oregon who was fined over $130,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding out of his religious conviction to not participate in what the church taught as sin. The Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian was quoted in the Oregonian (August 14, 2013) “The goal is to never shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate”. The implication is clear – if one disagrees with same sex marriage he/she has a pathology and needs therapeutic rehabilitation. This is the same mindset that justifies requiring individuals from soldiers to college students to go through mandatory sensitivity training to accept gender identity and the like.
The Distortion of the Truth
The ultimate victim of political correctness is the truth with serious implications for education and public discourse at all levels. California State University Education Professor William Joynes coined the term “defactualization” to express what is happening on our schools. Diversity, subjective opinion and feelings are being elevated to a higher level of prominence over factual truths. From a progressive framework if everything is relative and subjective then every alterative view or comment is taken personally and emotionally which leads to no objective truth being discussed – just feelings.
This relativist mindset makes for incorrect perceptions of reality and what constitutes priority rights making it impossible for society to move forward in the promotion and defense of the dignity of the human person. The extremes of denying factual truths can be seen in the acceptance of the false narratives of what it is to be considered human (transgenderism and transhumanism) to the deliberate destruction of humans (abortion, euthanasia).
A Politically Incorrect Faith
Political correctness represents a long line of progressive thought forced into social and government action to impose that view of the world. Once its acceptable to deny and distort the truth for an agenda then the door is open to attack both the freedom of speech and freedom of religion for both have the same roots. Religious freedom has always been viewed as facilitating the freedom of expression of one’s faith in the public square. However, current cultural and political climate is defining it only as just freedom of belief and worship within a church.
A subtle progression has occurred. First a tolerance to a progressive view on an issue is encouraged as the “enlightened” position that leads then to a forced acceptance and finally to a requirement to promotion and affirmation of a given view by social pressure or legal requirement. This has placed the Catholic and all Christians at odds with the culture and our government. Consequently, it is no wonder that we see the secular progressives in academia, the media, government and the courts attack the Catholic Church and other Christians who refuse to go along with their agenda. Traditional Church doctrine is at odds with this agenda and it seems, at times, that by being Catholic we are, by definition, “politically incorrect “. The implication for our faith may even go further. The Catholic League (May 27, 2015) reported that Senator Mark Rubio was quoted as saying in response to the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church may well be labeled as hate speech”.
There is an active pressure on religious freedom for a forced acceptance of politically correct viewpoints occurring in western society. Fortunately the Church has instituted efforts to confront this such as the yearly Fortnight for Freedom established in 2012 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that has several objectives to include:1) developing an awareness of what is happening with all its implications, 2) encouraging all to always speak the truth and confront the falsehoods of a progressive position, even if has been codified into law or regulation and 3) refusing to participate in the application of that position and, where possible, to work to overturn its application. One thing is certain, we, as individuals need to wake up and recognize we are in a “perfect storm” and we need to confront it.
The only way to confront political correctness is to challenge it – on the spot. We need to stand up and speak up. The question for us all is – Are we prepared to be politically incorrect and be willing to be called homophobic, transaphobic, anti-women and the multitude of other “phobic’s” if we disagree?