The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan — ambassador, senator and presidential advisor — once observed that “you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”
To a sober, rational individual, this seems sensible.
Implicit is an assumption — which also seems fair and reasonable — that there is something called reality, consisting of facts that exist independent of opinions, wishes or attitudes.
Detachment from reality is generally viewed as a psychological problem, and in the extreme case, mental illness.
Yet in our own country, in our public discourse, in our public policy and in our courts, there is diminishing recognition or appreciation that there is a difference between a fact and an opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court has just agreed to hear the case Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.
G.G. was born a young girl and now “identifies” as a boy and as result wants to use the boys’ restroom, rather than the girls’ restroom, at Gloucester High.
When the school received complaints from the parents of boys who use the restroom, it issued guidelines saying that, for the purpose of restroom use, your biology defines your sex, not your opinion (what now is called “gender identity”). The school provided GG separate, single-stall facilities to use.
But because this is really about politics, and not about going to the bathroom, G.G. sued the school. On G.G.’s side was the U.S. Department of Education, which issued a letter indicating that forbidding use of a bathroom to an individual who claims a certain sexual identify, regardless of what the biological facts may be, is discrimination and violation of federal law.
The position of the Gloucester County School Board was upheld in district court, but was overturned on appeal, giving G.G. the green light to use the boys’ room.
The Gloucester County School Board appealed to the Supreme Court, which now has agreed to hear the case.
This can be seen as a natural progression from the Obergefell v. Hodges case, which the Supreme Court heard last year, in which the high court redefined marriage to include individuals of the same sex.
Just as the sexual realities of individuals have moved from the realm of fact to the realm of opinion, so has the reality of what was once thought of as holy matrimony — the unique union of man and woman in marriage.
But as we drift as a society, becoming more and more detached from the discipline of reality and truth, and as what we consider truth is increasingly about opinions backed by political power, things become more and more dangerous.
Even those who help make this happen become victims of their own politics.
Peter Thiel, the homosexual billionaire, who has locked onto Donald Trump’s candidacy, spoke at the Republican convention. He said then, “When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. … Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is distraction from our real problems. Who cares?”
But being in touch with reality — knowing the difference between facts and opinion — is anything but a distraction. There is really nothing more important to us as a free society.
Thiel spoke the other day at the Press Club in Washington and complained, “The Advocate, the magazine which once praised me as a gay innovator even published an article saying that as of now I am, and I quote, ‘not a gay man,’ because I don’t agree with their politics.” Once politics makes facts and defines reality no one is safe.
The American Declaration of Independence contains the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” But what place is there for self-evident truths in a nation where going to the bathroom has become a political act?
Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Contact her at www.urbancure.org. To find out more about Star Parker and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 STAR PARKER
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