The “What are you, nuts?” post

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The "What are you, nuts?" post

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.

Related: How To Escape The Age Of Mass Delusion

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, news and cul­ture at Fausta’s Blog.

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.

Related: How To Escape The Age Of Mass Delusion

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog