And there you have the heart of the matter:
‘it isn’t hate to speak the truth.”
Dr. Gavin Ashenden
(the surge of the storm / Julie Cook/ 2020)
The truth isn’t always pretty but it is, in the end, still always the truth.
I just read our dear friend, Dr. Gavin Ashenden’s latest post
“Cancel culture attacks people rather than ideas”
He begins his post by examining the latest brouhaha that has engulfed the famed Harry Potter
author J.K. Rowling along with the quagmire she stepped into when she chose to defend the idea
of biological sex.
This time, Mr. Rowling’s issue is not about witchcraft and anti-Christian rhetoric
but rather it’s all about biology.
Biological sex to be specific—meaning that a male is a male and a female is a female.
It seems that that basic biology lesson is oh so passe in our current culture.
Forget that there are males and females…we are all now one big hodgepodge of this and that.
Who and what ‘this and that’ may be is totally up for grabs.
Say you are a 9-year-old little girl who decides you should be a boy.
Our current culture will say “Great!” “You may get a sex change
(even without parental consent mind you) or, if you prefer,
you can simply call yourself a boy despite being still a girl.”
“It’s all totally up to you. Forget biology!”
And tomorrow if you change your mind, no problem…except that is,
if you went through with the surgery then there’s a bit of a problem.
And yet this is not to say that there is not a tiny percentage of people who actually do
have a disorder known as gender dysphoria where they actually feel trapped in the wrong body.
But that percentage is minuscule compared to the wave of pick and choose we’re currently
In his post, the good doctor examines the bizarre growing trend against biology
along with those who still cling to the obvious notion of male and female.
Something I suspect most of us do.
A notion Ms. Rowlings opted to defend despite her being quite the feminist.
Yet it appears that even feminists are not exempt from the mob.
This current cancel culture mob has proclaimed itself to be the gatekeeper
to all things choice…and if you dare veer from their view, woe be unto you.
Dr. Ashenden explains,
“Cancel culture’ is a new phrase.
It’s only been around two or three years.
It represents something as horrible as it is dangerous.
It involves the mob closing someone down, and taking away either their freedom to speak,
their job or their place in society.
What is so odd about it is that we have become sharply concerned as a society
about hate and bullying.
You would think that if there was any consistency around,
anything that acted as a weapon for bullying and hatred would be found repulsive and rejected?
But the opposite has happened.
A lot of small vulnerable people have been ‘canceled’.
They have lost their jobs, and had their reputations as decent people trashed.
No one seems to have been willing to stand up against this politically correct bullying,
until they targeted JK Rowling.
It’s just possible she is rich enough and powerful enough and admired enough to see off
the mob, but it’s not guaranteed.
Amazon is full of fake hate reviews trying to trash her latest book and stop it being read.
But I found myself asking how we got here?
Just in case there is any chance of escaping from this cultural mob violence
in which no one is safe.
A psychologist called Jonathan Haidt found himself asking the same questions and wrote
a very perceptive book about it.
‘The Coddling of the American Mind.”
He suggested that three very well-intentioned but utterly disastrous attitudes
had been slipped into the education system in America and the anglophile world.
The first was about suffering and took the form of
‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.”
The second was about the relationship between feelings and thoughts or analysis;
and became “whatever you really feel is really true.”
The third was that the world was made up not of good and bad ideas,
but good and bad people, and you had to destroy the bad people to be made safe.
So we now have a generation who are terrified of suffering and feeling hurt in any way.
In fact Haidt felt that the constant catastrophizing in the media,
was bringing a generation close to a state of almost clinical mental illness.
One of the most powerful antidotes to depression has been found to be
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT.
At its center lies the skill of recalibrating feelings so they come second to a more
sane and well-judged mental analysis.
If that’s true, you can see what emotional paralysis we face by being unable to
discipline or re-inform raw feelings in a counseling obsessed culture where getting
in touch with feelings has become paramount, and trumps everything else.
Most mature philosophical and religious traditions recognise that it’s ideas rather
than the people who hold them, who are good or perverse.
So you fight the ideas, and try to change peoples’ minds.
But cancel culture settles very happily for destroying the people.
How do we escape these three disastrous attitudes?
We may need to find a philosophy or religious tradition with deep roots that exposes
them for dangerous charlatans they are.
If schools and universities won’t or aren’t doing it, that just leaves the churches.
It may be that the sanity of our civilisation depends on a group we have spent the last
century ridiculing; to our cost.
Naming but not shaming. Fighting back against ‘Cancel Culture’.
And so there we have it.
The cure for our ailing society and the antidote for our failing educational system…
It all goes back to the teaching of The Chruch.
Back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The very One our culture continues to attempt to cancel.
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral,
sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake
that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”