A reader recently alerted me to a piece in Slate (an online magazine) that is so bizarre you might think it is a joke, an April Fools’ Day parody, or someone illustrating absurdity by being absurd. Yet as far as I can tell, the author means every word she says.

I must say, I have never read anything stranger in my life (except perhaps for a couple of things in Mad Magazine, but they actually were parodies). If you dare to read the excerpt below, prepare for your brain to explode.

And yet nothing I have read is such a perfect example of the growing absurdity of the cultural radicals, who are increasingly losing touch with reality. So bizarre and “out there” is this article, that some of you will surely say, “Oh well, no one really takes this seriously; why give publicity to such fringe lunacy?” But if that is your view I would ask you to think again. Even a mere ten years ago most people did not think the notion of “gay marriage” would ever go anywhere. And yet what was thought by most as a fringe lunacy then is now celebrated by many and is the “law of the land” in a growing number of states.

Watch out! Things are getting dark very quickly. Make sure you have a strong stomach before you read what follows. And beware, it may be coming soon to a maternity ward near you. A piece such as this surely illustrates what St. Paul said of the unbelievers and sexually depraved of his day: they became vain in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened (Rom 1:21).

As usual the words of the author are in bold, black italics. My comments are in plain, red text.  If you have a very strong stomach and a brain that does not easily explode you can read the full piece here: Slate Magazine article

Imagine you are in recovery from labor, lying in bed, holding your infant. In your arms you cradle a stunningly beautiful, perfect little being. ["Being"? "Baby" is the usual term is it not? Consider this your first warning, dear reader.] Completely innocent and totally vulnerable, your baby [That's better.] is entirely dependent on you to make all the choices that will define their life for many years to come. [OK, here's another sign of trouble. This woman has succumbed to fearing her own philosophy. Let me state for the record that it does not pertain to the human person to "define the life" of another person. That is what God does. This is a central error of the cultural radicals. They claim the right to "define life" and the lives of others. This woman is going to go on to describe her anxiety that parents can "define the life" of their child. Again, her fear is based on a flawed and prideful notion.]

Suddenly, the doctor comes in. He looks at you sternly [Oh, please!], gloved hands reaching for your baby … “Is it really necessary?” [you ask] … The doctor flashes a paternalistic [Oh, please!] smile. “No, no … but … This is a standard practice. People just wouldn’t understand why you didn’t go along with it,” he says, casting a judgmental [Oh, please!] glance.

[Look out, here it comes!]

… The imaginary [scenario] I described above is real. Obstetricians, doctors, and midwives [Well at least it's not all stern, paternalistic, judgmental male doctors!] commit this procedure on infants every single day, in every single country … without even asking for the parents’ consent, making this practice all the more insidious. It’s called infant gender assignment: When the doctor holds your child up to the harsh light of the delivery room, looks between its legs, and declares his opinion: It’s a boy or a girl, based on nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring’s genitals. [It just gets stranger every day. Again, this piece is so insane that I was certain it had to be a joke. But it seems the "woman" (May I call "her" that without giving offense?) is quite serious.]

We tell our children, “You can be anything you want to be.” We say, “A girl can be a doctor, a boy can be a nurse,” but why in the first place must this person be a boy and that person be a girl? Your infant is an infant. [No, the sex of a baby in not incidental; it is integral; the infant IS male or IS female AND it is deeper than genitals, despite the author's flippant reductionism. The "gender"—or as most of us used to say, "sex"—of a person goes all the way down to the DNA and, I would argue, to the soul, which is the form of the body.] … As a newborn, your child’s potential is limitless [No, it isn't. Human beings are limited, contingent beings. We are not God. Here, too, the strange notions of the cultural radicals are on full display. The simple fact is that no matter how unpleasant some think it is, human beings ARE limited and thus our potential is also limited. No matter how much the author might wish to leap a tall building in a single bound or to be "genderless" (to use her term), she cannot. There are just some stubborn facts that get in the way of her pipe dream. Namely, that we are not of unlimited potential and we ARE either male or female.] The world is full of possibilities that every person deserves to be able to explore freely, receiving equal respect and human dignity while maximizing happiness through individual expression. [I wonder if our author would allow "offspring" to "explore freely" the owning of slaves, or the thrill of "maximizing happiness" through the "individual expression" of engaging in human trafficking, or leading a genocidal campaign in a foreign land. Just asking. But her vague and wide open notions here allow such a question. Surely she has some lines in mind that should not be crossed. But if she does, is she not limiting the "limitless potentials" she celebrates in every newborn?

With infant gender assignment, in a single moment your baby's life is instantly and brutally [Oh, please!] reduced from such infinite [There's that word again.]  potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished [Oh, please!]That doctor (and the power structure behind him) plays a pivotal role in imposing those limits on helpless infants, without their consent, and without your informed consent as a parent. This issue deserves serious consideration by every parent, [No, it doesn't.] because no matter what gender identity your child ultimately adopts, infant gender assignment has effects that will last through their whole life. [I would like to say that I think the author is seeking to limit my "infinite potential" by trying to coerce me into ignoring the obvious. She is  "imposing" silliness on me and then (as the cultural radicals are more than capable of doing) threatening to "severely punish" any "behavioral deviation" by me against her (and their) politically correct agenda. In other words, doesn't she want to break the very rules she announces? Does she not seek to impose an agenda on doctors and folks like me, who she says commit the crime of imposing an agenda on others?]

… Infant gender assignment might just be Russian roulette with your baby’s life. [Oh, for Heaven's sake, such over the top rhetoric! But since she raised the issue of taking life, I would like to point out that the cultural radicals are the one who have the body count—in the hundreds of millions—through their advocacy and funding of abortion, which really DOES kill babies.] 

For the sake of thy sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

79 Responses

  1. Erin Garlock says:

    While I do find the article poorly written, I do find it interesting that not one person here seems to have been able to separate the notion of gender as physiological trait from the idea that gender is not a required trait to chart our path in life.

    Saying, “Chris is a nurse” should suffice. Is it necessary to say, “Chris is a nurse, and a man”? Why are you so hung up on gender as an in-your-face label to be broadcasted wherever you go? Do you have one that likewise says you can’t do anything unless it is prefixed with your race? How about the same associated labeling that identifies your sexuality, your political affiliation, your income level, and anything else that tears down the egalitarian message of Christ – Luke 10:25-37 (The Parable of the Good Samaritan).

    “Chris, a wealthy, heterosexual, from a household of Republican, Catholic, and inter-racial parents, wants to be an astronaut.” This is the kind of message every one of these comments is pushing for. I prefer the much simpler statement that tells me only the things relevant to the conversation: “Chris wants to be an astronaut”.

    (And for the record, “Erin (me) is a technologist” is perfectly fine. If you read that and thought, “What’s _her_ problem?”, you’d be wrong. I am a man – I just happen to have an Irish name.)

    • Well it might have something to do with the fact that the sex (gender is your word) of a person is so much more basic and obvious than if they are republican or democrat or makes 50K or more. Further, while those things can change, the sex of a person does not.

      Your issue is also a red herring. Since no one here is making the point you assert, namely that sex is should be the only way some one is identified; and I and others (to my knowledge) are not “hung up” on what is simply obvious: that human beings are male or female. Further the article does not make your point either. She is denying the obvious, is nihilistic and nominalistic and outright rejects that there is a category that nature or God supplies. That is the issue. I am not the reductionist, and accepting obvious distinctions is not reductionist, as you suggest. Let the other debates about who can do what and how we more fully appreciate each other beyond mere categories continue.

      If anyone is doing what you criticize it is the cultural radicals who keep categorizing everyone obsessively as Black, White, Hispanic, rich poor, gay, straight, etc. It is they who obsessively what to reductionisticly describe themselves as LBGTQ…. and ask me to salute. They are the ones who are “in-your-face” and hung up, and I would say obsessed with being known by all this exotic labeling and who want and support the 14 different categories for “gender” at Facebook. When you say:

      “Chris, a wealthy, heterosexual, from a household of Republican, Catholic, and inter-racial parents, wants to be an astronaut.” This is the kind of message every one of these comments is pushing for.”

      No, it is just the opposite it is (you? and) the cultural radicals who want all that stuff and labeling. Frankly I’m not interested in knowing if someone is “gay” and then being asked to salute and give fawning approval. And the same for all the other dividing up (hyphenated Americanism etc) the radicals and liberals do.

      But as for sex (or “gender” as the radicals prefer) that’s pretty basic and hard to completely ignore since pronouns and whole verb forms in many languages considers and acknowledges it. It may not be important for most jobs and task, but in terms of identity, it cannot be ignored and it is silly to try and do so and blind to pretend it doesn’t exist at all and is simply a social fiction imposed. And THAT’s the issue here, not all the stuff you’re throwing on the table which is a red herring.

  2. Repent and Believe the Gospel! says:

    I love your reply Msgr., this is why your blog is AWESOME!!!!

    • Repent and Believe the Gospel! says:

      I love your reply to Erin that is.

      • JohnR says:

        I fully agree with your reply also.
        Well said Monsignor!

        • JohnR says:

          I might also add that “Erin” has always been, in my experience, a girl’s name! There are, now, many examples where parents, clearly disappointed in the gender of their child, have sought to muddy the issue by giving a name to their child which generally conveys the opposite gender. It was not until I came to live in Australia that I encountered so many girls with the name of Peter…except that their parents chose to spell the name as “Peta”. I also encountered a really funny one. A young lady I once encountered at work had the very masculine name of “Robin Hood”. Well. I ask you. What sort of parents would think that name up for their daughter! Robin Hood and his merry men are part and parcel of English folklore. Every one knows that he robbed the rich to give to the poor! Parents certainly have a lot to answer for in the choice of name for their children!

  3. Chris says:

    This article actually just takes the feminist notion that “Biology is not destiny” to its logical conclusion. It bespeaks the utter devaluation of our physicality–seemingly ironic in this era of obsession about our bodies–almost as if we are really just spirits who happen to inhabit bodies like a crab inhabits a random shell. It sounds vaguely Manichean, that old heresy that held that the body and in fact the whole physical world were evils that we must extract ourselves from…except the modern spin is that the physical world isn’t necessarily evil, merely “meaningless.”
    Well, the fact is, we ARE our bodies as well as our souls, and God not only created the physical world, but apparently esteems it greatly. Not only did Christ Himself become enfleshed, but the Church He left us is one which is intrinsically “physical” and not merely “spiritual”–the Sacraments being a prime example of how the spiritual effects He willed for us depend in their very essence on material things (Baptism is accomplished with water, the Eucharist requires bread, etc…) One can speculate that devaluing the body–even despising it–may be one outcome of rampant sexual profligacy; the promiscuous person may well seek to reassure himself by saying,”What difference does it make how many people I sleep with? It’s only my body, not the real ‘me’…”

  4. AnthonyH says:

    Before my daughter knew what being a female, and therefore in varying stages a girl, then a woman, was, she loved all that was feminine. We tried her with “non-gendered” toys (eg., lego) and she wasn’t interested. But she was interested in pretty things, and kittens and puppies; she loved other babies and young children.

    Even at birth she was potentially a biological mother since she already had all the eggs she will ever naturally produce.

    Has this limited her? Only in the same way that Usaine Bolt is “limited” to the 100 meters.

    • AnthonyH says:

      BTW – she is 5’10″, rows (Olympic style), is great at math and science,and is a fantastic writer and artist, while paying the flute and piano. so not “limited” at all.

  5. Norman says:

    Thanks for your article Monsignor! I also read the article on Slate you cited, by using the author’s logic we should also stop driving out of safety concerns. Therein lies the “cool” part of “freedom” in that it can be “dangerous”!!! *gasp*… There are wise and unwise ways to handle such aforementioned danger, and fracturing the fundamental learnings of humanity would be terribly unwise. Its unfortunate that I wasn’t that surprised to guess “probably” when I asked myself if any person had read this prior to the author posting it.

    Keep up the good work!

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