Monday, April 10, 2017

Ruined By “Diversity”

     There aren’t many social influences more pervasive – or more destructive – than the contemporary nattering about the importance of “diversity.” My Gentle Readers are probably saying to themselves that “You don’t need to write another word about it, Fran; we already know where you stand.” But the relentlessness of the caricatures of right-wing opinion demands that we who know better do something to counteract them.

     I hope you’ve got your seat belts buckled, because there are a few sharp curves ahead. You see, this won’t be a political diatribe. It’s about fiction.

     When I write fiction, I often force myself to write about situations that make me a few cases, very uncomfortable. I think of it as a tactic through which I can extend my horizons, make emotional contact with persons whose like I’d probably never meet. For example, consider margin-of-the-Marquee Character Rusty McGill in On Broken Wings. Rusty is a homosexual. He’s AWOL from the U.S. Army. He’s been recruited to a violent biker gang. Eventually he becomes the leader of a mini-gang of his own. Yet he’s not a villain, in the strict sense. Indeed, he’s something of a hero, particularly for the way he stands up to Marquee antagonist Tiny.

     Rusty wasn’t patterned after anyone I’ve known. He was purely a construct of my imagination. Yet he struck me as one of the most interesting characters I’ve created. He still does. And he was indispensable to the emotional landscape of the book.

     Does that mean that I would approve of Rusty’s decisions and actions were I to meet him in real life? What’s the superlative of “Shit, no!” -- ?

     Much more recently, I wrote a short story that redeploys characters from two other short pieces, albeit with a different slant. I was pleased with it, but not all those who read it have approved of it. One castigated me for my “appropriation” of the subject of transgenderism. She took particular exception to this snippet:

     Pat Costigan was striding away with their orders when Rowenna turned to Holly and said “Will you or shall I?”
     “Hm? Will you or shall I do what?”
     Rowenna elbowed her. “Tell them, of course!”
     “Oh.” Holly cringed. “You go ahead.”
     Rowenna grinned naughtily, turned to the others, and poked a thumb at Holly. “Our sort of bird.”
     Four eyes widened in synchrony. “Really?” Celia said.
     Holly nodded. “Not quite, but close. I was originally Horace. I went for the externally visible changes, but up to now I’ve kept my original, uh...”
     “Wedding tackle,” Juliette supplied.
     “Coupling gear,” Celia added.
     “Croquet set,” Rowenna said.
     Holly grinned. “Well, yes, that. I can’t say why.”

     And a little later:

     Celia shook her head. “Two Brit futas–one natural, one Miss Clairol, though only her hairdresser knows for sure–had to cross the ocean and settle in the armpit of New York for their ‘meet cute.’ Don’t use this as the starting point for a novel, Holly. It’s way too implausible.”

     That caused me to remember when long, long ago, in a place far away...all right, so it was the suburbs of Dallas...a friend called to tell me that two lesbian friends of hers had condemned On Broken Wings for daring to make a bisexual woman prominent in its Supporting Cast.

     Apparently the most “diverse” among us don’t care to have disapproved types such as myself writing about them – sympathetically or otherwise.

     This morning, Stephanie the Right Geek soliloquizes about “diversity” in fiction. The points I consider most significant are right up front:

     We are not hostile to "diversity." If you actually take the time to read the authors we anti-establishment types enjoy, you will find that "straight white men in rocket ships" is not really an accurate description of their work. These books abound with characters of color, strong female characters, queer characters, etc.

     We are hostile to a particular ideology that wears the innocuous ideal of "diversity" as a skin suit while preaching something else entirely. Said ideology refuses to acknowledge that we are individuals, preferring instead to carve us up into superficial collectives that share disadvantage -- or that share "privilege." Said ideology then attempts, in top-down fashion, to redistribute prestige to those collectives who, its adherents feel, have been especially victimized by "the system" and to shame and suppress those collectives who, in these adherents' estimation, are to blame for the suffering of the former.

     All impeccably correct. Ever since becoming friendly with a couple of transwomen, I’ve made a point of soliciting fiction recommendations from them...and what do you know! We find the same sorts of stories appealing, regardless of the sexes, races, orientations, politics, or what-have-you of the characters.

     Yes, some of the stuff those transwomen have commended to my attention has featured transgendered characters...and in a couple of egregious cases, both the commender and I have disapproved of particular bits of stories we’ve generally enjoyed. Here’s an example: the involuntarily transgendered narrator is coping with the enmity of a few regular girls:

     Grasping me by the shoulders, Julia looked me squarely in the eye with a serious and commanding expression. “You can do this, and more importantly you want to do this. Don’t let a bunch of right-wing, religious morons tell you what you can or can’t do or what you do or don’t want. This is your life and they don’t have any right to tell you how to live it.”

     [From Prom Changed Everything]

     Mind you, the hostility toward the narrator was not coupled to religious belief or political convictions. It arose from the knowledge that narrator Erika, who was about to audition for her high school’s cheerleading squad, is a transgirl. Perhaps the author thought that would be “obvious.” Yet he very nearly ruined an otherwise nicely done piece of fiction with that snippet, and I’m minded to tell him so.

     Bigotry, the sin about which the Left prattles so relentlessly, is mainly a characteristic of atheists and persons on the political Left. Yet they continue to portray it as a fault of the religious and the political Right – and of course, one for which they’re blameless.

     Among phenomena I would dislike more strongly than the evil of political coercion is one that has not yet occurred: what C. S. Lewis forecast in The Abolition of Man:

     It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science has given them, But that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called ‘Man's power over Nature’ must always and essentially be. No doubt, the picture could be modified by public ownership of raw materials and factories and public control of scientific research. But unless we have a world state this will still mean the power of one nation over others. And even within the world state or the nation it will mean (in principle) the power of majorities over minorities, and (in the concrete) of a government over the people. And all long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones.

     Once genetic engineering technology is sufficiently advanced, whichever generation achieves it – Let’s call it Generation N – will have absolute and irresistible power over Generation N+1 and all subsequent generations. I wrote about this fairly recently, and ever since it’s assumed a growing fraction of my thoughts. That that power could, and probably would, be used for good purposes as well as for bad ones is undeniable. But consider the prospects for the elimination of diversity, especially when coupled to the concurrently growing technologies of conditioning and public-sentiment control.

     The Left is fully on board with this. It doesn’t trouble them in the slightest. After all, it means that homosexuals would be able to have guaranteed-homosexual children. The deaf would be able to have guaranteed-deaf children. Women who hate and fear men would be able to have guaranteed female children...and quite possibly, those children would hate and fear men straight the womb. And of course, we shouldn’t overlook the possibility of genetically engineered slaves, especially slaves with purpose-built bodies good for one and only one thing.

     Imagine if not merely your body but your mind as well were a slave to your genes – i.e., that you were unable, for genetic reasons, to entertain certain ideas. What do you think the Left would do with such a power?

     Yes, you may well shudder.

     I could go on about this. At times I do. I dislike persons who judge, when the Redeemer Himself has told us not to do so:

     Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? [Matthew 7:1-4]

     I might disapprove; I might deplore. Indeed, I often do – but I strive to refrain from condemning. Granted, I don’t always succeed, but ideals can be like that. It pains me greatly to see otherwise worthy fiction veer off into the weeds for political reasons. It’s an irony beyond my powers of description that those who most frequently commit that sin award themselves the palm of virtue for “diversity” when in point of fact, they parade their intolerance -- their undisguised bigotry -- in the very words for which they preen themselves.

     Yes, Innocents is steadily taking shape, and yes, it will address at least two of the subjects mentioned above. Watch for it.


Unknown said...

Yes, I will watch for "Innocents" but as for this posting, I see no way to comment on anything in it; fiction, left or otherwise. It's kinda like a slot machine with no yank handle. I could put in my two cents, but what then? Probably the machine would fall over on me. I will bide my time/replies/reposts, etc until you have another great post where worthwhile ideas stick out all over it. Until then God bless your hands that mete out the words...

Amy Bowersox said...

Well, of course, I'm not going to argue in favor of diversity for diversity's sake. If some characters in fiction are LGBT, that's fine, because some people are LGBT. But that doesn't mean that every piece of fiction has to feature them, any more than you'd expect everyone you encounter daily to be LGBT. And you shouldn't have to be LGBT to write about such characters, any more than you should have to be from a planet orbiting 40 Eridani A to write about Star Trek's Vulcans.

I'm not interested in being either one faction's punching bag or another faction's token victim group. I'm mostly just interested in living my life as a woman and minding my own business. I am, however, interested in helping out my fellow transgender people as they make their own journeys...but don't think that means I want to see more people become transgender. First, I don't really think that's possible; you either are trans or you aren't, there's no real "becoming" to it. Second, even if it were possible, I wouldn't wish it on anyone else; the road we travel can be a difficult and perilous one. If you're cis, be thankful you don't have to deal with what we do!

(It could always be worse, though...I could have been born in a Muslim country...)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Amy, I knew if I just stayed out of it, some one would come along and arrange the words in the proper order to handle this essay of Sir Porretto's today. I agree with 97% of your comment, however the three percent would just be a guy's take on it, and I'm definitely one of those. Be Blessed...

Amy Bowersox said...

You are clearly a perceptive individual, Jack. You probably, as I do, look to fiction to escape from politics, rather than to have them forced down your throat. The best writers, like Mr. Heinlein and Our Gracious Host, get their message across without being heavy-handed, and while still remembering that their primary purpose is to entertain. This is also a guiding principle for the so-called "Human Wave" authors, such as Sarah Hoyt and those in her circle.

Christian Mountaineer said...

I would argue the point that we certainly are allowed to judge. Just include the next verse in Matthew 7. We are not permitted to be a hypocritical judge. There are other passages also. Our Lord spoke again concerning judgment in John7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." Here he is clearly telling us that we have a right to judge, but it must be the right kind of judgment. We have a saying that we should not judge a book by its cover. We cannot judge a man’s heart or his motives unless by some means that is revealed. But we can judge sinful behavior.