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I Think Therefore I Really Am…

Rene DescartesIt’s time to modify Descartes’s famous line I think therefore I am.  It should now read I think I am, therefore I am.  The original is no longer relevant, because if thinking was a condition of existence, there would not be many people left in our part of the world.

Typical women in prison

Proof can be found on the front page of the National Post of October 24th, 2017.  “Women’s prison left to cope after getting male inmate who identifies as female.”  A fully functional, unaltered male, in a living unit with eleven (other) women.  She thinks she is a woman, therefore she is a woman.

Another story on the same page of the newspaper discusses an acupuncturist who posed as a neurosurgeon.  The article is vague on whether he actually thought he was a neurosurgeon, or was just pretending, like a cross-dressing man pretending to be a woman.  One of the “doctor’s” victims reported him to the College of Physicians and Surgeons. “The (regulators) knew about it and did nothing,” he said.  Perhaps the College felt it would be offensive to challenge the acupuncturist/ neurosurgeon’s identity.

Comparing the two articles it seems that the newspaper accepts the prisoner’s identity as a woman, but refuses the “doctor’s.”  This is inconsistent, probably hypocritical.  Gender is much more innate, more immutable than profession.  If someone identifies as a surgeon, a lawyer, an accountant, why do they have less rights than someone who, through no fault of his/her own, was born with male DNA?

I Think Therefore I’m Not

It’s true that an untrained neurosurgeon can cause grievous harm.  The article about the acupuncturist who worked as a surgeon discusses a three-hundred thousand dollar payment awarded to a victim.  But is harm just a matter of scale?  Is there harm in letting transgender men, “transitioning” women, into a ladies’ locker room?  What about a white civil rights activist who thinks she’s black?  Fake Indians?  Or even smaller in scale, what happens when a former man takes part in a women’s athletic competition, overwhelming the competition with size, strength and speed?  Women (from birth), who could be athletic stars lose out to the (former) men.  Or what about women who just don’t like men gawking at them in the ladies’ room?

Former man, racing women

I Think Therefore I Clean

A man becoming a women isn’t limited to post-modern industrialized civilization.  Among hunter-gatherer cultures, at the behest of the spirits a man could undergo a shamanic transformation and become a woman.  Most often though, all this meant was wearing a woman’s hairstyle, sometimes even donning women’s clothes.  Rarely, there were men who were considered fully transformed.  These latter kept their male names and their male physique as they tended house, cleaning, carrying out all the domestic duties of a wife.  In the novel Quantum Cannibals (remember, this website is about the novel ), a bellicose man is a rapist and a loving mother.

Chukchi family, depicted by Louis Choris

I Think Therefore I’m Silent

One had to be a powerful shaman to fully (so to speak) change gender, so the ongoing ridicule was done in whispers.  The threat of harm was too strong.  If one wants to go against a transformed man in a contemporary post-modern high-tech Western society, it’s also best to speak in whispers, or not say anything at all.  If word gets out that you think a man becoming a woman (or woman becoming a man) is perverse, that such transformations are absurd, you will be scorned as trans-phobic, perhaps as a racist or Nazi (though none of those appellations make sense).  The spirits will apply their power through social media to attack you.

In California you can be prosecuted for using a male pronoun for someone who thinks they are female.  “I think I am, therefore…” you better accept it, no matter how ludicrous it may be.  The spirits, perhaps demons have subjugated reality.  An acupuncturist does surgery.  A computer scientist is an influential health and nutrition author, though her information is all wrong.  A billionaire drama teacher is Prime Minister of Canada.  A man walks into the women’s bathroom, and nobody says a word.

I Think Therefore I Speak

If we want reality to prevail over the spirits, maybe it’s time we start thinking.

 

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Dangerous Religion

Dangerous Classification

Classification can help you sort things out, make informed decisions.  If someone was to threaten you with a gun, it would be helpful to know whether it was an assault rifle or a Nerf gun (soft foam bullets).

Nerf assault rifle

Dangerous weapon?

Sometimes classification can be used to obscure, to prevent the making of informed decisions.  The Obama administration classified the Fort Hood massacre of 2009 as workplace violence, even though the perpetrator had been in touch with Al Qaida just before.  The death of a teenager throwing Molotov cocktails at civilians was classified as “tragic.”

There is a debate going on whether the Ottawa shooter at the Parliament Buildings was driven by a dangerous religion or mental illness.  The classification of his motives is a meaningless discussion.  He was a terrorist.

The Hanging Original art by Esti Mayer

The Hanging
Original art by Esti Mayer

Another example of misleading classification is the concept of “religion.”  It has countless definitions; some positive, many pejorative.  They reflect the many different  aspects of life it contends with, from environmentalism to disease, from meditation to massacres.  Is a belief system that has no compunction about slaughtering non-believers in the same category as one that says life is sacred?  In the same category as a system that declares all humans have a right to religious freedom?   While Christian and Jewish fundamentalists may at times be annoying, they threaten no one’s life in the name of God.  Does anyone fear a pious Hindu?

A religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful , pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a  general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.”
– Clifford Geertz

When we bring Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, shamanism, animism, etc. all into one big category, religion, it says they are all similar.

Dangerous Assumption

They’re not.  A mosque is not a church, which is not a synagogue, which is not an ashram.  Their symbols are different, their beliefs are different, but most importantly, their actions based on those symbols and beliefs are different.  If we assume that leaders from all religions promote peace and kindness, like Pope John Paul II, or the Dalai Lama we will be unable to respond when they act otherwise.

Dangerous Religion

ottawa-suspected-shooter

Homicidal terrorist

When homicidal youth flock to only one particular system of beliefs and symbols, that system deserves its own, unique classification.  When the historical death toll of that system dwarfs all the others put together, we can’t say it’s like Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or any of the others.  It’s not.

 

 

 

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