An Ohio college professor who refused to comply with a male student’s request to be addressed as “ma’am” instead of “sir,” was ordered by the university to comply with the student’s wishes.

When a Florida middle school gym teacher refused to participate in a plan to allow a female student who identifies as a boy to use the boys’ locker room, he was threatened with transferal to another school.

As far as I know, the Ohio and Florida administrators have not yet been treated for their delusional thinking, yet their convictions do fit the standard definition of a delusion—“a false belief or wrong judgment held with conviction despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.” The bitter irony of our times is that the clear-minded professor and the intellectually honest gym teacher are more likely to be ordered into therapy than their fact-challenged bosses.

G.K. Chesterton observed that a madman is not someone who has lost his reason, but rather someone who has lost everything except his reason. A madman may reason quite logically from his premises, but if one of his premises is that he is the Emperor Napoleon, then there’s no point in trying to follow his argument. The madman, said Chesterton, has not necessarily lost the ability to think in a straight line. What he has lost is his good judgment and sense of perspective—in short, his ability to see things as they are. The self-evident or learned-by-experience truths of life that healthy people grasp elude him.

One truth that the vast majority of human beings quickly grasp is that men and women are different. Long before anyone knew anything about X and Y chromosomes, everyone understood this basic fact.

Thanks to modern science, this fact is now more solid than ever. It’s demonstrably true on the hormonal, chromosomal, and anatomical levels that men and women are different. Therefore, the idea that one becomes the opposite sex simply by wishing it so is truly a delusion. But it will seem less of one if a great many people share in the same delusion. Moreover, if those who don’t share the belief are too cowed to contest it, the delusion eventually becomes an “official” lie. You may not believe it, but if you want to keep your job and avoid a lawsuit you pretend to go along with it.

One group that seems willing to go along with the pretense is that of the Catholic bishops of Scotland. The Scottish government has accepted 33 recommendations from an LGBTI (the “I” is for “intersex”) Inclusive Education Working Group. The recommendations are meant to ensure that LGBTI inclusive education will be “embedded” in the curriculum. “Embedded”? This sounds kind of permanent. One thinks of Ben Nevis embedded unmovably in the Grampian Mountains of the Scottish Highlands; it’s there and it’s going to remain there, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Since the vast majority of Catholic schools in Scotland are state-funded and state-controlled, most of Scotland’s Catholic schools will be expected to go along with the new “embedded” curriculum. How are the bishops responding? A spokesman for the Scottish bishops had this to say:

The Catholic Church welcomes any recommendation that will help to ensure that pupils and school staff are properly equipped to challenge and eradicate prejudice-based bullying within schools and wider society in accordance with the law.

All of which sounds like a roundabout way of asking, “How high do you want us to jump?” What the bishops don’t seem to grasp is that they themselves are the object of “prejudice-based bullying.” The Scottish government obviously has a prejudice against the Catholic Church’s teachings about sex and it plans to force Catholic schools to renounce this particular teaching—if not in word, then in practice. It seems unlikely that bullying will ever be eradicated from Catholic schools in Scotland, but it seems quite possible that the Catholic faith will.

It’s ironic that here in America, the son of a Scottish woman is taking the lead in resisting the gender-fluidity madness. The Trump administration has proposed that federal agencies such as the Department of Education will “define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.”

This seems like a good start. Let’s hope that the administration succeeds in bringing a modicum of reality back to the schools and society. Otherwise, our society faces a descent into madness. I’m speaking here not of clinical forms of mental illness as defined by the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but of madness in the sense of an obsessive pursuit of an unrealistic goal without any regard for the damaging consequences.

Of course, such utopian projects need to be incubated within a totalitarian system. Why? Because only a totalitarian culture or subculture can force people to collude with obvious lies.

Take the Ohio professor: The university administration demanded, in effect, that he lie about the nature of reality. The requirement that one address a “sir” as “ma’am” is, in principle, no different than the demand that one acknowledge that two plus two equals five. As Winston Smith, the protagonist of Nineteen Eighty Four, realizes:

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.

Just as the totalitarian society can demand that one collaborate in lies, it could demand other kinds of immoral behavior in the name of the new “morality.” The Florida gym teacher refused to continue to supervise the boy’s locker room because, in the words of his counsel, “Robert will not knowingly place himself in a position to observe a minor female in the nude or otherwise in a state of undress.” For refusing to act against his conscience, the school system threatened to transfer him to another school as punishment. Yet, if he had complied with the administration’s orders and the changeable girl had a sudden change of mind about who she was, the coach could easily find himself facing charges of voyeurism. Under the new rules of the game, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

We often hear it said that we are in danger of becoming an Orwellian society, but in many respects we already are. One only has to look at the Orwellian inversions of reality that are already being enacted in our schools—and in Scotland’s schools as well.

In addition to welcoming the LGBTI’s 33 recommendations for “LGBTI Inclusive Education,” the Scottish bishops said that they hoped “that the impact of these recommendations will be positive for all…” One can imagine that when their Scottish chiefs demand that two plus two equals five be “embedded” in the curriculum, the bishops will manage to see the positive side of that equation, too.


This article originally appeared in the November 20, 2018 edition of Crisis.


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