06 April 2006

The Last Refuge of Idiots

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

I am, of course, referring to college newspaper opinion pages. Now don't get me wrong; I have nothing against opinion columnists. Heck, I was one once upon a time. But that doesn't change the fact that most college opinion pages are comprised of 99% pure dreck.
Case in point. Not only is this column poorly written and rambling, but it also mindlessly spews a tepid college-liberal party line with a lack of actual thought that is quite prodigious. The last few paragraphs are especially stellar:

No matter who you are or what you do within the confines of your own home, when the rights of one are violated, the rights of everyone are. Whether it’s trangender individuals not being able to get a job in San Francisco, or your classmate facing persecution for being gay, no one should lose a job or a friend because of the choices made in the bedroom.

The good news is that we can change minds and attitudes in a very grass roots sort of way: By listening and accepting all. We must work to protect our sexual freedom and accept those who have different sexual orientations from our own.

With enough time and tolerance, the front-page story — in any city — won’t ever be about suffering for your sexual orientation or gender identity again.

Newsflash to Columnist Hagen: gender identity isn't about sexual behavior. It's about personal identification. If you identify as transgendered, you're making a claim about a fundamental part of your personality. It's not just a weekend kinkshow; it affects literally every area of life.
Furthermore, your proposed course of action is stupid and ineffective. If oppression could be overcome in your "very grass roots sort of way," guess what? The Civil Rights movement wouldn't have been necessary. It takes considerably more than individual acceptance to change social norms.
The story that Hagen refers to in this column, by the way, uses as its chief source a survey of self-selected people who claimed to have been discriminated against as a result of their gender orientation. Nothing could possibly be wrong with that methodology.
What's more, even if there is a significant amount of "discrimination" against TG job seekers, there's not really a good way to tell why, exactly, the discrimination happens. The truth is that, because of their uncertainty about sexual identification, a lot of TG folks are going to be bringing baggage with them that some employers might not see as assets in a potential employee... to say nothing of the possibility of the company insurance program having to cover TG operations. There are a lot of real-world factors here that Hagen doesn't begin to address or even acknowledge.
There's a lot more to say about what's wrong with this column, but I don't have the time, and I think I'm giving myself an ulcer.