Make The World Go Away…

A friend of mine just sent me the following story, the headline reading “Children’s hospital launches sex change for kids program”. It seems that the Children’s Hospital Boston, a renowned pediatrics hospital, is deciding to launch “…a new program to drug children to delay puberty so they can decide whether they want a male or a female body”. The doctor in charge of this program, endocrinologist Norman Spack, “says he started the Gender Management Service Clinic because he found himself encountering 20-somethings who were ‘transgendered’ and in good shape socially, ‘but they were having trouble getting their physique to conform to their identity'”.

Its hard for me to know where to begin with this except to ask – Has the human race gone stark, raving mad?!

First of all let’s assume that I accept the insane notion that one’s “identity” can be separated from their physique/sex. I don’t accept it, but let’s pretend that I do (it is, in fact, a silly idea – your “identity” is determined by your genetic makeup not your feelings). Who in their right mind would think that a child would be emotionally or psychologically ready to “decide” whether or not they wanted to be a boy or a girl for the rest of their lives? And what about legally? I mean, children 10 to 14 years of age (the age range that best suits starting the doctor’s “treatments”) can’t enter into contracts, they can’t drink alcohol or vote, hell, they can’t even see a rated R movie without a parent, but they can decide to change their sex? But hey, at least this guy is giving these kids drugs to delay puberty so they don’t have to deal with that at the same time they’re choosing their “identity”. When my wife was pregnant with our first daughter we saw a Discovery Channel show on hermaphrodites, and on this show they had a psychologist that felt the best way to handle these people was to let them keep both organs until they were 13 or 14, and then let them decide which sex they wanted to be. I remember thinking that I was listening to possibly the dumbest person on the planet. So being a teenager, with all the raging hormones and peer pressure isn’t enough of a challenge for these kids, they also need to decide what sex they want to be for the rest of their lives after having lived all their life as both? I just realized that I’ve used the phrase, “for the rest of their lives”, twice; but I guess I’m wrong on that. In our brave new world it doesn’t really have to be that way, we can all just flip-flop back and forth as many times as we want. But I digress…one of the other decisions these 10 to 14 year-olds are supposed to face is the prospect of becoming sterile as a result of the “treatment”. The good doctor Spack says, “You have to explain to the patients that if they go ahead, they may not be able to have children. … But if you don’t start treatment, they will always have trouble fitting in.” So once again, were asking adolescents – children who we as a society deem not responsible enough to drive a car or drop out of school and enter the workforce – to make the decision that they won’t ever want to have children.

I just find it hard to believe that this idea is not only being thought of, but has actually already been put into practice. And of course after the moral indignation wears off, the sadness just hits me like a ton of bricks right between the eyes. Look at how we are failing our children. Are our future generations going to have any moral compass? Are we willing to sacrifice all of our common sense, our sense of decency or even our sense of reality at the alter of “tolerance” or what “feels” right? As a father of two healthy, beautiful and intelligent daughters it makes me weep to think of the mixed up, through-the-looking-glass maze of a world we are creating for them to navigate.

This all brings to mind a quote by Thomas Jefferson who, when he considered the failure of the Founding Fathers to address the question of slavery, had this to say: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”


Oh Yeah, These Guys Score the Chicks!

First there was this. Then there was this. And that prompted the following:

“Dude you sick mother-******* son of a ****. Batman had to watch his parents DIE in front of him. And so he got REVENGE on them by saving the lives of other people by fighting crime. He doesn’t let what happened to him happen to ANYONE else. “But this is all very easy if you have nothing but time and money at your disposal. For that matter, what kind of a man puts on a bat costume and jumps off of buildings to face guys with guns? A sick one”. And how the F*** can you call him a junkie. COMMON! He could Fu**** skydive for “excitment”. Dude, such a comment, is unacceptable because, its inhuman, and WRONG man. I’m not saying your opinion is bull****. Everyone can have an opinion, but you cannot say such things. That will be like calling the guy who beats the rapist who raped his daughter insane.”

And then my head exploded.

I don’t even know where to start with this. If you didn’t take the time to click on the links above you need to know that the first is an article entitled “Why Superman Will Always Suck”. The second is an article entitled “Rebuttal: Defender of Truth, Justice and the American Way”, which prompted the comment above. I’d like to think that both of the articles and the comment are satirical but I don’t really believe that. I think these guys have started a full-on, geekfest, Superman vs. Batman turf war. The gloves are off! It’ll be like the Sharks and the Jets, the Bloods and the Crips, East Coast vs. West Coast boyeeee! Rival factions will be tagging the local comic book store claiming it for their own.

The crazy thing about this whole situation is that these guys are speaking with a passion that is normally only found in the most zealous religious fanatics or crazed political policy wonks. These guys are going at each other like the Muslims and Christians during the Crusades over comic book superheroes! Although technically Batman isn’t a superhero since he doesn’t have any super powers; he’s just a dude dressed up in a costume that has a bunch of gadgets and knows martial arts (Oh Yeah! I went there).

Now, at this point, I need to confess that when I read the first article I noticed that I was mentally preparing rebuttal arguments for all of the guy’s points. But then I stopped, realized how geeky I was being, went on about my business, and told myself that this neeeevvver haaaappened. So I guess the scariest part of all of this for me is…there but for the grace of God go I.

Will Carter’s Head Fit Out the Door?

So Jimmy Carter is going on a trip to the Middle East and it looks like he’s going to sit down with the leader of Hamas. As my Grandfather used to say, “Well, don’t that just beat the band”.

You know, I’m getting pretty tired of Carter’s inflated sense of his own importance and the fact that much of the free world is willing to encourage his delusions of grandeur. It is shocking to me that an ex-president of the United States (granted, one of the worst in our history) would go visit the leader of a terrorist organization. What does he hope to accomplish? Is it wise to have a dialogue with an organization whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel? John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is quoted in the article as saying “When you put the prestige of a former president of the United States in a meeting with one of its terrorist leaders, you’re giving it a legitimacy and currency it never had.” I completely agree with that.

The scariest part of all of this to me is this: When we legitimize groups like Hamas that call for the destruction of Israel aren’t we tacitly legitimizing anti-Semitism? It seems like more and more people forget that what these people want is nothing short of the Holocaust all over again.

Carter’s press secretary has said that Carter would be traveling in his capacity as head of the Carter Center and not in his capacity as a former President. To which Steve Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a watchdog group said, “That’s a distinction that’s absurd.” And for me that’s putting it mildly.

To me this move by Carter is egregious, outrageous and just plain wrong. I can’t imagine what his motives are or why he would think this is a good idea. I hope that this story gets the attention it deserves from the media and I hope that enough concerned citizens express their outrage to stop it.

*Updated 04/17/2008* You can find a well written article that better articulates the problems with sitting down with Hamas here.

Into the Wild…or I’m a Dirty, Selfish, Hippie

I recently watched the movie Into the Wild and while I thought it was a good movie, in as much as it was well made and interesting, I think that the director intended for the audience to feel sympathetically toward the main character. I felt something more along the lines of contempt.

The movie is based on the real life of Christopher McCandless (There is a book by the same name that I have yet to read, but plan to). After graduating from Emory University and being accepted to Harvard Law, Chris decides to give away all his savings and possessions and live the life of a child of nature/tramp a la Henry Thoreau and Jack Kerouac. The movie follows him hiking across the country, hitching rides when he can and living a carefree life, using his new moniker “Alexander Supertramp”. Although he seems to enjoy his new freedom, no matter where he goes he cannot fully escape the trappings of civilization. And so, at some point, he makes the fateful decision that Alaska is the best place to be closest to nature away from it all. The rest of the movie mostly shows his struggle to survive the Alaskan winter with only a .22 rifle, a field guide on edible plants and a large Zip-Lock bag full of rice while living in a van (bus) down by the river. The movie is narrated by his sister, and in the rest of the film the scenes switch between him in Alaska and his family wondering what the hell has become of him.

And this brings me to the main problem I have with this guy. Now I’ll admit that I am your typical middle-class, protestant American. I believe in the American dream. I believe in contributing to society. And I’m not really one to embrace any type of “alternate lifestyle”. Having said that, if you want to give up everything you own and go get back to nature, that’s your business and more power to you; as long as you don’t become a burden to the rest of us (like the guys that climb the mountain, only to risk the lives of the rescue teams that have to come cart their asses down). But if you’re going to do that, tell the people that love you what you’re doing. McCandless had just graduated and in the last conversation he had with his parents he discussed wanting to go to Harvard law. So for the rest of his life, his parents are trying to find out what happened to him. They even go so far as to hire a private investigator. Even his sister, who claims to understand why he did what he did, was surprised that he didn’t let her know what was going on. Now, to be fair, the movie did reveal that the McCandless family was not exactly the Cleaver family and, it would be safe to say, pretty dysfunctional. But that’s really no excuse. If you want to go off the grid, great; but don’t be so selfish as to make the people who care about you waste their time, emotion, effort and money worrying about what happened to you or trying to find you.

My other problem with McCandless is that he is the typical affluent kid that gets all starry eyed from reading the Beatniks, Thoreau, Kerouac and Tolstoy only taken to the extreme. Although I guess this could actually be a pretty good cautionary tale for that type, much like the old PSA commercials. I can see it now: Black screen – “This is your brain”. Cut to the graduation scene. Fade to Black – “This is your brain on Thoreau”. Cut to McCandless emaciated and starving to death in an old bus in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Fade to black.

I read an article about McCandless and some other people that met their untimely demise in Alaska. I wish I could find the article so that I could give you the direct quote because this guy said it better than I can, but I’ll paraphrase. These guys go up there to commune with nature as if nature was an entity that we can connect with and can share our love and respect for it. What they find out is that nature is harsh, deadly, is totally indifferent to our presence and doesn’t need our reverence but demands our respect.

P.S. The soundtrack is great and features Eddie Vedder doing various acoustic stuff he wrote for the movie. Excellent.