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Principles and Inevitable Logic


Three items that jostled near each other in the continual stream of my information input seemed fated to join together. The first was a video ad that blurted out unbidden from an article that I was trying to read, with words pretty close to: “Don’t give me what I ask for. I’m a kid.” Clicking the mute button for the browser tab cut off the sound, but as the video rolled on silently, I saw that the advertisement was for a college savings fund.

A separate item with an obvious connection was mention of a transgender activist who has come to the logical (albeit monstrous) conclusion that doctors ought to medicate all children in order to block puberty until they are old enough to consent to sex-change operations, if they decide that’s the way they want to go.

Thus, we come across yet another example of a simple, recurring principle. Reasonable, moral people will conclude that the child in the college savings commercial was correct: It is irresponsible to trust children to make life-changing decisions based on their immediate feelings and desires. From there, however, we must make a binary choice that will lead us toward irreconcilable realities.

Either children’s inability to consent to a sex change before their bodies have made the reality manifest means we move back toward the science-based understanding that human bodies are male or female and we treat conflicting feelings as disorders to address… or it means we use science to give people the option to deny biological reality, even to the point of freezing their development until they can make the decision.

When our choices are binary and existential, they tend toward logical inevitability. The initial choice is based on a first principle that follows through all subsequent choices. A particular decision may lead to resting points at which it is possible to stop short of logical inevitability, but these will be dependent upon temporary barriers of emotion or circumstances that will require something other than logical arguments to maintain.

Whether the logical consequences of a decision are, in fact, inevitable or are only apt to create a sort of momentum, it behooves us to make decisions with a full understanding of their implications. This brings us to a third item in my recent information stream.

A group of three men in California has now produced a second child utilizing donated embryos and surrogate mothers, with the three men all listed as parents on the birth certificates. The semantics are helpful to the theme of this essay. If we’re dealing with certificates, the natural question is: What are we certifying?

Certainly, it can’t be the birth, which as a plain matter of fact involves sperm from a man and an egg from a female. If that event were the essence of the certification, it could maybe extend to another woman who carried the child, but a birth certificate conveys information about the child, as a record of how that child came to exist.

What the three men — tellingly and inaccurately referred to as a “polyamorous couple” in the article — are certifying is something much more like ownership. It is not a birth certificate, but a title of parenthood, like the title to a car. You can dislike this fact for emotional reasons (and if I were still using Twitter, the social media publisher would likely ban Dust in the Light again for suggesting it), but it is a straightforward and honest statement of reality. Acknowledged or not, it comes with an internal logic, and if widely accepted, that logic will pull toward social consequences.

If our society were progressing in a reasonable and humane way, we would recognize such problems and account for them, but radicals justifiably fear we would account for them by not going down the progressive path in the first place. The claim of the movement may be that it is searching for equality and fairness, and many of its advocates surely see that as their motivation, emotionally, but if that were truly the case, intended effects would be measured against (possibly) unintended effects.

Establishing the principle that birth is more about the parents than the child will have implications for children, just as universally blocking puberty would have implications for a generation, as does refusal to privilege biological reality. As does, to be sure, the tolerance that treats radical cultural experimentation as a respectable opinion.