There is what I call the turnpike effect: You get on the turnpike and it looks like yours is the only car on the turnpike, but five minutes later thousands of cars are buzzing all around you.
The last few weeks have had that effect on me. I normally focus on news from Latin America (which are usually grim), and rarely on non-political U.S. news, so it’s not like there aren’t enough crazy news to go around. It’s just that I don’t pay attention to them. However, now is the “What are you, nuts?” time.
In the past couple of weeks three stories have been high enough on the news cycle that I have decided to lump in the “What are you, nuts?” category:
1. Jenner, whether you go by Caitlyn or Bruce, is as much of a woman as I.
2. Rachel Dolezal is more black than Justice Clarence Thomas.
3. It was OK to allow the Clinton jail escapees wear street clothes.
On item #1, old news by now, but I am sympathetic to Jenner, and pray that the Lord help him find peace. However, the cold fact remains that a person with the Y chromosome who sires six children and retains all of his original factory-installed equipment is not a woman, no matter that the person has a glamour cover on Vanity Fair wearing thousands of dollars’ worth of make-up, hair, and clothes. It’s one thing for Jenner to decide to undergo a costly and most painful transition to live as a woman; it’s another thing altogether to insist that we all regard it as an accomplished biological fact.
On item #2, again, Dolezal’s may choose to live as a person of any race. However, Dolezal’s background by now shows a long history of lies (even a lawsuit), which point, at best, to the possibility of a mental disorder. The implication that she’s “more black” than Justice Thomas, who grew up in the segregated South, firmly deserves a place in the “What are you, nuts?” file.
Then there are Matt and Sweat (you couldn’t come up with a better-named duo if you tried), the two escapees who are still at large. In spite of their violent antecedents dating back to adolescence, the two were granted prison privileges that included the benefit of wearing street clothes. Yes,
I know the argument for allowing a man like that to benefit from the usual rewards for good behavior in prison. It goes like this: he’s there for life, or at least many many many years, and there needs to be some possibility of rewards for his cooperation or he’s going to make the place miserable the whole time. Having no rewards at all increases his dangerousness because he has nothing to lose by acting just as bad as he can, and nothing to gain by acting better.
But street clothes? “What are you, nuts?”
And let’s add one to the list, while we’re at it: Donald Trump is a Republican. “What are you, nuts?”
To paraphrase Pete, there’s a right to self-delusion; there’s also a right to not play along.
There remains one sobering fact, above all:
Above all, the fixation on Caitlyn Jenner and Flozell of Spokane at a time when Chinese hackers are stealing state secrets with impunity; when the Chinese, Iranians, and Russians are laughing at our military; when our economy is being sustained only by massive Government borrowing (that can go on forever, right?) shows that, as a culture, we no longer care about Serious Things. We have lost sight of what matters, and instead are locked into a cycle of self-validation through self-gratification and fixation on frivolous identity culture.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.