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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/15/20

Why "Preference" is a Dirty Word to the New Puritans

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"I do want to be clear," Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett said during her Senate confirmation hearing, "that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference."

A laudable stand, one might think. But some don't. Self-designated representatives of the LGBTQ community immediately escorted Barrett to the pillory. "I did not choose to be gay," thundered USA Today columnist Steven Petrow. "Ditto for the millions of LGBTQ people in this country who find 'sexual preference' highly charged and who were shocked by Barrett's use of the term."

Barrett quickly apologized: "I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense to the LGBTQ community."

As a member of that community, I wish she hadn't apologized.

Not just because "preference" is logically a subsidiary trait to "orientation," although that's true. If we are, as many believe, biologically hard-wired to prefer romantic and sexual relationships of certain types, well, OF COURSE we prefer such relationships to others.

Nor only because some LGBTQ persons believe that their romantic/sexual preferences are shaped by environment as well as by heredity (I'm agnostic on the subject), although that's true as well.

Barrett should not have apologized because the position implied by her use of the word "preference" is the only position compatible with the rights and freedoms most of us would want her to defend and preserve from a bench on the Supreme Court.

Attempts to erase the idea of "preference" from discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity are attempts to deny and suppress the free will, choice, and agency of the very people who constitute "the LGBTQ community."

Neither I nor my many friends in that community deserve to be treated as helpless slaves to a biological equivalent of the old religious doctrine of predestination -- "the elect" to our supporters, "the defective" to those who loathe us, powerless pawns whose thoughts and actions affect nothing.

What would the point of "LGBTQ Pride" be to a herd of mindless robots marching blindly down the Pride Day parade route in accordance with programs we own no authorship of? What rights could such machines claim to possess? Without free will, what actions of theirs could be judged?

The New Puritans of progressivism want us to think of ourselves as such robots. That would make us easier to order around for political gain. Real people with rights, reasons, and preferences -- people who choose our own relationships and craft our own personalities, of whatever type and on whatever grounds we deem important -- frighten, enrage, and confuse them. I hope Amy Coney Barrett doesn't see us the way they do.

 

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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6 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments  Post Comment


David William Pear

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I prefer blonds. I wonder if it is genetic, environmental or just my preference?

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 15, 2020 at 9:08:26 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

It could be any one, any two, or all three -- and so long as you don't force yourself on the blondes, why should it matter?

My daughter is a trans woman. Based on a number of things, I believe she was "born that way." But if she had just "decided" to be a woman, that would be fine too. I try to respect her for who she is, not based on some theory of how she came to be who she is.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 15, 2020 at 9:56:01 PM

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Who wants some authorities asking if you "prefer" to have two feet...which, after all, can help you escape after committing a crime? One can prefer to shave beards or change their hair color. No one "prefers" to be born.

This is a very odd...even silly...topic.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 16, 2020 at 3:19:17 AM

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I take objection to the use of the word "Puritanism." There is nothing like Puritanism in play and you have to be a little goofy to to incorporate it.

You are also throwing up a thought bracket when the problem is the illegitimate government exceeds the powers given it under the Constitution. The appropriate question would be "How to we return to Constitutional government and bring the usurpers to justice?" Then there is a question in "How do we improve the Constitution?" which does not get asked.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 16, 2020 at 11:32:51 AM

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I first used "Puritan" in quotes and wasted my one edit to incorrectly change it to "Puritanism." My thinking is Puritanism would see the flag as idolatry and is so extreme we don't even have memory of it.

I wanted to put up this link: .countercurrents.org/lendman220807.htm America And Venezuela: Constitutional Worlds Apart By Stephen Lendman 22 August, 2007

Submitted on Friday, Oct 16, 2020 at 12:00:29 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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The connection to Puritanism is the doctrine of predestination -- that fate or destiny or God or genetics, rather than you, control who you are, what you must do, and what you may become.

I know persons of various sexual orientations who are single or married/partnered, celibate or sexually active, engaged in various communities or loners, politically active or politically apathetic, etc. All of those things are expressions of preference and free will.

If there is no place for "preference" -- if we're all just robots grinding down a path set out for us by someone or something else, from which we have no power to deviate -- what's the purpose of having judges? To be judged implies that one has control of one's actions and makes choices TO be judged.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 16, 2020 at 12:17:00 PM

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Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

Besides the issue here of sexual orientation/preference, I think much of the idea of the US being "systemically racist" tends to take agency away from people who may come to feel that they are in the grip of forces over which they have no control.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 16, 2020 at 7:02:57 PM

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Instead of "New Puritainism" why not just call it what it is: "political correctness"? Whether we call it "preference" or "orientation" or anything else (other than something derogatory or deliberately hurtful) isn't going to affect the rights of gay people or trans people in any way. When someone tries to micromanage my language my reaction is to bristle.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 16, 2020 at 4:32:40 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Words mean things. "Political correctness" doesn't seem to mean what you think it means.

I bristle at micromanagement of my language, too. Especially when the micromanagement is poorly done.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 16, 2020 at 7:36:43 PM

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