George Washington on Cannibalism and Gender Identity

I saw a video on Huffington Post the other day in which the “reporters”, with camp condescension, laughed at the “ignorant” people they interviewed on the streets of L.A. who still believe that gender is binary, or has anything to do with chromosomes.

(These propagandists were not interested in the genuine – if extremely rare – medical condition called “intersex”, in which a person really is, biologically, between sexes. Their position was that gender, for each and every one of us, is a continuum.)

As their superior cackles of condescension shook my computer’s tinny speakers, I found myself wondering what would happen if you accepted these sorts of precepts at face value, and simply followed them to their natural – if herbal-infused – end.

The logical place to start was with Bendy, the name my friends and I used for our favorite teacher, who taught drama as well as a class that included logic.

I always assumed that “Bendy” was nothing more than a play on his real name, although perhaps the other kids suspected something I was too ignorant to understand at the time.

Bendy was everyone’s favorite teacher, including mine. He was, after all, so nice, and so friendly. From my current perspective I suppose I would call many of his mannerisms “effeminate” or “camp”, although at the time it just seemed fun, or maybe even childlike. He certainly didn’t act like any girl I knew, no matter where she may have been on any “spectrum”.

His teaching didn’t , by the way, affect me in a negative way, although if every teacher had been bent like Bendy I might have developed an unshakeable tendency to break out in show tunes when annoyed, rather than breaking out in these hyper-logical effusions.

Well, que sera sera….

There are certain roles in life where it’s hard to imagine someone being effective who isn’t gay. Von Steuben, the man most responsible for turning our army around during the darkest days of the Revolution acted, it seems inescapably true, about three times as gay as Bendy. His “camp” behaviour worked to his advantage. He got the troops attention, and made them so well organised that by the time he was through they almost danced.

George Washington didn’t mind von Steuben being the way he was, but, then again, no one had yet invented the idea of “gay”, or would have said he was on the feminine side of a “spectrum”. Von Steuben was the way he was, he liked what he liked, and that was that. He didn’t have a different “gender identity”.

I’ve never seen a male bee on any continuum towards being queen bee, or a female lion with a bit of a mane, or a the highest female chimpanzee higher on the social ladder than the lowest male. Different individuals act differently, just as von Steuben did. But there seems no basis in “nature” for saying they are acting a bit like the other sex. Von Steuben was, simply, von Steuben-ish.

Yet one of the most irritating arguments I often hear is based on the idea that homosexuality is “natural”, (which can be easily justified by looking at a few of our fellow species who engage in what look to us like homosexual activities – bonobos, most notably.) Therefore, the argument goes, if homosexuality is “natural”, it somehow naturally follows – to stretch the argument from the bending to the breaking point – that our society should actively encourage it.

This argument is made all the time. But does it make sense?

Some spiders eat their mates after sex. Post-coital amorocide, by this argument, is natural. Should we prosecute bakers who refuse to lace post-coital pancakes with cyanide?

Once you argue that because other animals do something we should make it illegal not to help others do it, there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason to end at any particular point.

Especially not at man’s best friend.

Yet I recently learned that the phrase “it’s a dog eat dog world” comes from the fact that, in nature (as opposed to what was once unabashedly called “civilisation”) dogs – get this – really do eat dogs.

It is a dog eat dog world, at least in “nature”.

But that doesn’t make it a good idea for Fido to eat Muffy, nor for you to eat your butcher. (Remember the case in Germany, involving Armin Meiwes, of consensual cannibalism? Why not? Dogs do it, with only one dog’s consent. It’s natural!)

My point isn’t anti-cannibalism. If there is one political pressure group I don’t want breathing down my neck, it’s the cannibals. If someone wants to eat you, and you want to be eaten, I say, go for it. If I’m going to be pure in my Libertarian beliefs, I can believe nothing less.

Yet, even if you’re cool with other people being cannibals – you’re not a cannibal-phobe, are you? – should the feds really be allowed to force someone into a reeducation camp if his nouvelle cuisine restaurant refuses to flambé a visitor’s boyfriend’s butt in an herbal-infused vinaigrette dressing?

I liked Bendy and he was surely a good influence on me. He taught me drama and logic. It would be nice if, today, there were a little more logic amidst all the drama.