The Folly of Going Too Far

The Promised Land is a symbolic dream and nothing more. Its satisfactions are beyond the reach of both individuals and society, irrespective of whether the tools used to attain happiness are politics, religion, science, economics, or philosophy. The supreme, contemporary irony, though, is that, while we’re living in an overtly moral age, it’s a fundamental, but often overlooked side of human nature to disturb our own and other people’s peace.

All of us, to our shame, are guilty of naively or even deliberately choosing the wrong path. We do it continually throughout our lives. Dostoevsky said that if all human desire was indulged, we would still, through a quirk of psychology, destroy everything that makes our lives happy and meaningful. Eden, Jannah, Nirvana, the prelapsarian state of nature, the perfect world of the future, the false gods and snake oil of communism, feminism, socialism, fascism or environmentalism, (our wildest, febrile imaginings, in other words) are permanently outside — except in brief moments of pleasure or contentment — the horizon of tangible, durable and concrete human experience. Like Moses, then, we see the Promised Land, but it always remains tantalisingly beyond our reach. In the end, we take, if we’re wise and humble, the simple joys, and are grateful.

What, you say, does the above deep and perhaps meaningless passage have to do with anything? Apart from a general observation, not much. But it does refer obliquely to the most monumental strategic blunder of modern times, which will probably take decades to undo. After centuries of stigmatisation and discrimination, homosexual people, or, in broader terms, the non-heterosexual minority, had not only seen the Promised Land from a distance, but had walked through its shady bowers, sunlit mountains and watered oases. A rejected community had reached their desired destination and were enjoying the fruits of both their exhaustive labours and their most pristine dreams. Everyone, or at least most people in Western liberal democracies, were happy. Suddenly nobody cared about other people’s sexuality.

And then, like Icarus flying too close to the sun, extremists within the movement pushed everything too far. It wasn’t enough for gay marriage to be normalised, or for good-natured tolerance of different lifestyle choices to be accepted. A suite of radical claims was put before a confused public and no debate or dissent was allowed. Men were now women and women were men, and not in the ‘let us be kind to John or Jane type of way – sure what harm could it do?’ No, a man with an actual penis and testicles and the full physiology of an adult male was now a woman with all the rights and privileges traditionally reserved for females, and any argument to the contrary was ‘transphobia’, a sin for which the only just response was to be cast into the deepest realms of hell; either that, or have your life destroyed by being cancelled socially or professionally. In other words, the purest form of bullying behaviour, a prima facie example that would sit easily in even the most enlightened psychological textbook, was being weaponised to further an ideological agenda, and by the people who shout the loudest about ‘being kind’.

The amount of anti-free speech, anti- democratic, anti-live-and-let-live ideological impositions on everyday people’s lives is extraordinary – and just as chilling in their implications. No institution has been left unmolested by what is a fusion of postmodernism, critical theory, feminism, the myth of the Noble Savage, Cultural Marxism and Queer Theory, and it’s presented to an ignorant and easily fooled public as simply being nice. It is now considered ‘hate speech’ to practice any form of religion that does not celebrate the idea that there are seventy-two genders. Science, the most accurate way of measuring the world, is being destroyed because its results often don’t conform to transgender ideology. Politics, long an arena in liberal democracies of civilised disagreement and discussion, has been co-opted into a simplistic site of black-and-white thinking, where morality, hence scapegoating, around transgender issues is the norm. Academia, and education in general, is no longer concerned with a search for truth or where intellectual gadflies have a home: conform to the ideology or forget about your career. The media, once proud of its role as the Fourth Estate, is now the official arm of an ideology that brooks no dissent. David Hume’s distinction of what is and what ought to be has been utterly extinguished. We live in a world of establishment-sponsored propaganda, and woe betide anyone who dissents from its strictures.

It didn’t need to be this way. Most people have ideas about themselves and opinions of other people that would, if they were relentlessly articulated, cause society to frown in consternation at their peculiarities. We overlook each other’s idiosyncrasies because we’re all guilty of wrongthink to some extent. What we have not done, until now, at least in liberal democracies, is force people to recognise other people’s opinions, truth claims, or psychological views of the world as absolutely sound. Disagreement has traditionally been encouraged because humility in the face of the complexity of the world is a more rational response than strict adherence to any ideology. In other words, you do your thing and I’ll do mine. And once we’re not physically harming one another or stealing property, then everything is allowed, including passionate disagreement.

This humane quintessence of civilisation is now under threat, and the danger of this situation is that the entire edifice of gay rights is also under threat. This is the disastrous outcome of not accepting reality, but instead searching for Utopia, and, like Procrustes and his bed, making society conform to an ideological vision of the world. As Newton said, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This dictum is as true in relation to social norms as it is to physics. Islamic fundamentalism, chauvinistic nationalism, and, to put it bluntly, the less intellectually developed regions of the world are inherently anti-homosexual and don’t need any encouragement to return to benighted forms of anti-gay discrimination. There are hundreds of millions of people with these attitudes. The only thing that’s stopping their worldwide negative encroachment into the lives of gay people is the political, economic and military power of the liberal democratic West – and the only thing holding the West’s political values together is an adherence to political liberty. Break this bond and everything, no matter how dreadful, is possible. This is exactly what is happening now with the imposition of transgender ideology across the institutions of free and open democracies. People are prepared to accept other people’s idiosyncrasies only when the courtesy is reciprocal; and this openness to other people’s idiosyncrasies has been broken by the extremists of the transgender movement, with the support of a whole raft of LGBTQ+ organisations. Never has the idea of playing with fire been more apposite, and the consequences more potentially lethal.

The leaders of gay rights organisations around the world need to become less ideological and more practical in their approach to what can be achieved politically and socially in relation to homosexual rights. Do not push transgender ideology so far that the tolerant majority, who are happy their gay brothers and sisters are now living dignified and socially accepted lives in open relationships, become disenchanted because their own beliefs have been proscribed by an intolerant minority. The Promised Land, remember, is almost always an illusion, or, to say it in more prosaic terms, utopias can never live up to the hype. Don’t kill the golden goose for an ideological chimera. Or, to continue the mythological, fairytale and biblical allusions, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Bismarck said that ‘politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the next best’. This wisdom is something everyone should know. Transgender ideology is incoherent as a philosophy, and impossible, over the long term, as politics. Another quotation, this time from Rochefoucauld, which should be the slogan of every human rights movement: ‘don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good’. You’ve walked through a less than perfect Promised Land. That should be enough. It is the daily reality, in myriad ways, for everybody.

10 thoughts on “The Folly of Going Too Far

  • Dallas Beaufort says:

    Governments and media created conflicts abound, as their use of hate over shadows the dissection of loves many elements. Education misses its virtuous calling to do no harm. Why does conflict drive the discourse? Market share? I have observed the word hate permeate families for at least the last 4 decades Slip, Slop Slap.

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    There is a current cartoon on the Net about modern dating opening lines, with Male asking Female “Have you always been a woman?”
    In the 1970s a young Irish lady phoned Sydney talkback radio on St Patrick’s Day.
    “You’ve been telling Irish jokes, so please let me comment.” “Sure, what do you want to say, lady?” “I have a question – how do you make an Irish lass pregnant?” “I don’t know. How do you make an Irish lass pregnant?” “Ah!” she said with sweet innocence “and you think the Irish are stupid?” (True story).
    So, we have a racist and a sexist joke. By now I am old enough to have seen times when these were normal for fun-loving people, which was most of us. There were times when fun racist jokes crushed pretences and helped cement diverse communities. Few, if any, were harmed.
    I’d rather go back 40 years than to exist today when the vacant class has morphed into the dictatorial class, a class that has nothing to offer but negativism with threats. What good can arise under this social stupidity? I suspect that most Aussies still love the humour of Barry Humphries. If you do, just say so with examples, for that quiet resistance will eventually win.
    Those seeking to silence you have no strong weapons. If you are worried about social media comments, stop using social media. It is not compulsory. It does not replace prior ways to communicate. Let dumb folk play their dumb games.
    And don’t forget to thank Quadrant for exposing the silly walks people. Geoff S

  • Daffy says:

    @ Geoff.
    Maybe I’m behind the times, but I came across the slang that people of (a certain) non-anglo-celtic ethnicities apply to indigenous anglo-celtic Australians: ‘Skippies’. Being one, I love it. That particular ethnicity is now thereby fully Oz, able to ‘take the piss’ out of others with amusing aplomb. And more power the them on that basis!

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    Daffy, to minimise speculation,,several generations have passed since both parents’ forebears arrived in this lovely country. I often took the P, from those deserving,from Prime Ministers down. Aspired to title “larrikin” – a strange mix for a hard scientist. Geoff S

  • padraic says:

    Declan, you have summed up the situation in the following statement – “No institution has been left unmolested by what is a fusion of postmodernism, critical theory, feminism, the myth of the Noble Savage, Cultural Marxism and Queer Theory, and it’s presented to an ignorant and easily fooled public as simply being nice.” Geoff Sherrington’s comment is also pertinent to how to handle this tripe and reminded me of once when I was at a student function in London where a young African law student explained what the “Noble Savage” meant. According to his view there were two types of savages – the Noble and the Screaming – with the Noble being those who did as they were told and the Screaming variety were those who did not. Could you imagine that conversation being tolerated in today’s universities?

    Also, “being nice” only goes one way. When a plebiscite was held on gay marriage and a majority supported it, the Coalition government went ahead and legislated it. Compare that to the 1978 plebiscite in Canberra under Federal Labor when the question was whether the good burghers down there in the ACT wanted a State Government type of government or the existing arrangement where the place was run by the Federal Government. The result was a resounding “No” with 63.75% voting for the existing arrangements and 5.72% supporting a Local Municipal Government form of administration on top of the existing system. Of course Labor, being so democratic, went ahead and gave them the micky mouse polity they now have.


    We’ve given the wicked permission to invent more darkness for the rest of us.

  • padraic says:

    Clarification of the earlier comment re A C T self government. It was the Coalition under Malcolm Fraser who initiated the plebiscite in 1978 and honoured it by doing nothing but in 1988 under Labor lit was passed into law.

  • call it out says:

    I think “Drag Queens” have been at the pointy end of campaigning for sexual liberty for some time, and now are idolised. But ,as well as offensive, they have become stale and uninteresting. Though they are being used to indoctrinate our very young children. Every parent should fight that.

    Of course, Dame Edna was a different story..funny and clever, and harmless.

    • mrsfarley2001 says:

      All in this household are absolutely fed up to the back teeth with so-called “drag queens”. If they are the subject/protagonist of any program that falls broadly or specifically under the heading of “entertainment” we just switch off. Same with the rest of the alphabet soup brigade. Even the ads. Sound is muted or the channel changed. The remote is certainly getting a workout. Hope that Stephen Fry syndrome will soon occur: over-exposition.

  • Sanchismo says:

    Never in the transexual rights debate have I noticed any reflection of traditional conceptions of the greatest common good. The claimed rights of a tiny minority (transsexuals) are demanded to trump the rights of biological women. How on earth has this become progressive ideology? Surely it is because ideas about the greatest common good are anathema to identity politics.

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