Jonathon van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars

The abortion of JFK’s children was evil – but it’s also a tragic loss

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Did you know that John F. Kennedy had more than four children? That writers Christopher and Peter Hitchens had two other siblings? That Marilyn Monroe actually had a large number of children?

I’m not particularly fond of the argument that I’ve heard many pro-lifers use: “Abortion is wrong because of all the amazing people we’ve aborted. One of them could have had the cure to cancer!” Abortion is fundamentally wrong because it ends the life of a developing human being, whether that human being would turn out to be a drug addict or the president of the United States. However, it is an interesting thought experiment—not least of all because so many people considered heroes by the Left have aborted their children or had their children aborted.

For example, I think of liberal icon President John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy Family is probably the closest thing America had to a royal family, although revelations over the last several decades have rather firmly repudiated the idea of an impossibly happy Camelot, as historians reveal anecdote after sordid anecdote of relentless philandering. Anecdotes of President Kennedy’s devastation at the 1963 death of his two-day old son, Patrick, are well-documented. The Kennedys also lost a daughter in 1956—Arabella, as her parents intended to name her, was stillborn.

Revolutions famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different.

But stories abound of JFK’s affairs ending in abortions. Mimi Alford, a White House intern that JFK had a relationship with for over a year, reported that when she told the president she believed she was pregnant, he “took the news in his stride.” Shortly afterward, she was contacted by a White House staffer named Dave Powers, often assigned to protect the president’s reputation.

“An hour later,” Alford recalls, “Dave called the dorm and told me to call a woman who could put me in touch with a doctor in New Jersey. The intermediary was a necessary precaution, because abortion was illegal. That was pure Dave Powers: he handled the problem immediately, and with brute practicality. There was no talk about what I wanted, or how I felt, or what the medical risks might be.”

Another of JFK’s famous mistresses, Judith Campbell Exner, reported having an abortion in 1963 after becoming pregnant by the president. Not all Kennedys, it seems, end up in Washington, D.C. Some of them end up in trash cans behind seedy clinics, victims of their parents’ sexual ideology.

Another icon of the Left that comes to mind when I think of the human cost of abortion is the late author and columnist Christopher Hitchens. Fans of the Hitch are fierce in their devotion, with his brother Peter, a well-known conservative author, noting that his brother’s fans often burn with fanatical hatred against him, furious that a conservative Christian (who wrote his brilliant book The Rage Against God partially in response to his brother’s philosophically feeble atheist tome God Is Not Great) could bear the same last name as their hero. Both brothers are extraordinary writers and journalists, having collectively written dozens of books and published essays and columns in the most prestigious publications.

What many people don’t realize is that there were originally four Hitchens siblings, not two. As Christopher relates in his Vanity Fair essay “Fetal Distraction”:

I was in my early teens when my mother told me that a predecessor fetus and a successor fetus had been surgically removed, thus making me an older brother rather than a forgotten whoosh.

Christopher noted further that at least two children of his own had their lives ended by abortion, recalling sombrely that, “at least once I found myself in a clinic while ‘products of conception’ were efficiently vacuumed away. I can distinctly remember thinking, on the last such occasion, that under no persuasion of any kind would I ever allow myself to be present at such a moment again.”

Perhaps this was because Christopher Hitchens allowed himself no illusion, writing that, “Anyone who has ever seen a sonogram or spent even an hour with a textbook on embryology knows that emotions are not the deciding factor. In order to terminate a pregnancy, you have to still a heartbeat, switch off a developing brain, and, whatever the method, break some bones and rupture some organs.”

Although to my knowledge Peter Hitchens has never addressed the fact of his aborted siblings in print, on abortion he has much to say. “Those who wonder what they would have done had they lived at the time of some terrible injustice now know the answer,” he has said. “We do live in such a time. And we do nothing.”

When considering the lives and careers of the Hitchens brothers we know, we cannot help but wonder what the lives of the two that we do not would have been like.

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The list of politicians, writers, and cultural figures who have discarded their own children are myriad. Comedian Chelsea Handler has talked openly about having an abortion. Sharon Osbourne calls having an abortion at seventeen the mistake of her life. According to author Norman Mailer, the tragic Marilyn Monroe had twelve abortions by her late-twenties. Whoopi Goldberg of The View, Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy, Judy Garland of The Wizard of Oz all aborted children. Ava Gardner reportedly aborted two of Frank Sinatra’s children, while the smut-peddling rapper ‘Lil Kim aborted the Notorious B.I.G’s child, which they conceived during an affair. Famed singer Sinead O’Connor had an abortion while on tour in Minneapolis.

It’s especially bizarre, I think, when those on the Left turn out to enthusiastically celebrate any new revelation of a cultural figure having an abortion. The more they admire the person, it seems the happier they are at the “courage” of said person having had an abortion. A bit unintentionally insulting, don’t you think? I admire you so much! I’m so glad you terminated a child that might have had your talent or been a lot like you!

Revolutions, however, famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different, even though we’ve replaced guillotines with Planned Parenthood clinics. The crowds cheered both, and the similarity between a howling mob and a pro-choice rally is striking to say the least. Perhaps it is Peter Hitchens who has the best explanation: “I think that abortion is much beloved by revolutionaries,” he noted gravely, “because they always like the mob to get their hands in blood and commit some sort of crime of their own.”

Abortion is evil because it violently destroys a human being. But one of the reasons abortion is tragic is that it has robbed us of so many who might have given so much to humanity.

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Peter Hitchens: "The kinds of things that people are taught in sex education are disinhibiting things...So it's assumed that children will have underage sex or unmarried sex or promiscuous sex.' Shutterstock

Parents, don’t be fooled: The sex-ed agenda is more sinister than you know

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

It's a rare, if not historic pushback—tens of thousands of people across the Canadian province of Ontario are announcing loudly that they oppose the new sex education curriculum proposed by the province’s premier, Kathleen Wynne. Large numbers of protestors have made their voices heard in front of Wynne's office, in front of the provincial legislature at Queen's Park, and at the offices of Members of Provincial Parliament across the province. Harking from every culture and ethnic group, the protestors are demanding one thing: Let kids be kids.

The entire phenomenon is startling for a number of reasons. First of all, school systems have been implementing sex education programs that parents have disliked or outright opposed for decades now—but never has a movement of this size and tenacity congealed around opposing a curriculum and the politicians seeking to implement it, until now.

Second of all, this movement is not made up simply of the “usual suspects” - socially conservative Catholics and Protestants - but rather, includes huge numbers of Indo-Canadians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Chinese immigrants. Perhaps Wynne's sex-ed curriculum is simply the straw that broke the camel's back, one tiny step too far for tens of thousands of parents who are sick of our politics and education being dominated by discussions of sex that are often in direct conflict with the values parents seek to pass on to their children in the home.

Peter Hitchens: "We find that despite the greater and greater extent of sex education in our society...the number of people becoming pregnant when they didn't want to continues to rise and the number of people contracting sexually transmitted diseases continues to rise."

Many of those parents, of course, fundamentally oppose the idea that the school system or the State has any business imparting “education” on sexual matters and their accompanying post-modern values to their children. That is, they say, not the task of the education system. And when the government disagrees, it simply increases their suspicion that another agenda is at play—that it is not simply the mechanics of sex that the State wants to teach, but rather the idea that all sexual activity is morally permissible and that these ideas should be ingrained into children at a very young age to ensure that they stick.

Peter Hitchens, a well-known journalist, author, and cultural commentator from Great Britain, has had much to say about the idea of modern sex education in his various writings and media interviews. For more insight into how modern sex education in the West came about, I interviewed him for a one-hour special on my radio show, The Bridgehead. According to his analysis, the suspicions of many parents are absolutely correct. In his view, the entire concept fails on its own terms.

“The problem with sex education,” he told me by phone, “is that the ostensible purpose for which it is advocated turns out not to be true. I did a sort of study a few years ago of the development of sex education in my own country, and what I found is that it's been justified really since the middle part of the Second World War, when of course there were a lot of venereal diseases, on the basis that if people were better educated about it, then it would reduce the amount of sexually transmitted disease and the amount of unwanted pregnancy. And yet if you watch the figures for both sexually transmitted disease and for unwanted pregnancy, and increasingly now for abortion, we find that despite the greater and greater extent of sex education in our society, more and more frankness about sex, and more and more pornography (which is also supposed to end repression), the number of people becoming pregnant when they didn't want to continues to rise and the number of people contracting sexually transmitted diseases continues to rise.”

This is partially because, as National Post columnist George Jonas pointed out in his column, that educating young people in an activity will of course increase that activity. Thus, the risk of abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and early-age pregnancy will only go up. If sex education's intent, however, is not simply to prevent these things, but rather to re-educate, then it still can suit the purposes of the State.

“It's said,” Hitchens noted, “that Gyorgy Lukas, who was commissar for education in the short-lived Bela Kun Soviet Government in Hungary in 1918, openly said that the purpose of sex education when he introduced it then - I think he was probably the first person to do so - was to debauch the minds and morals of religiously-brought up young women particularly. It seems to me to make a certain amount of sense…because the kinds of things that people are taught in sex education are disinhibiting things. When I was in school no one ever mentioned masturbation. It would have been extremely bad manners to mention it anywhere, let alone for an adult teacher to talk to quite young children about it and about other sexual practices in class. The moment these things start being discussed, it disinhibits people, it takes restraints off them that previously were there. Now you may believe, and a lot of people do believe and have believed for many years, that these inhibitions are bad for us. That's a point of view, I don't happen to share it, and if you follow that belief as a parent, I suppose you're entitled to introduce your child to this sort of thing as early an age as you wish in a free country, but what bothers us in many cases [is that] parents don't realize what is being done in classrooms until after it's happened.”

Parents across Ontario, it seems, are discovering precisely what it is that their children are being taught and what the Government of Ontario would like to teach to their children, and are balking hard. One of the reasons is quite simple—they know that teaching children about sex without correlating value judgments is, as Hitchens pointed out to me, disinhibiting.

“Discussing these things in the way that they're discussed [makes these] things sound normal,” Hitchens pointed out. “So it's assumed that children will have underage sex or unmarried sex or promiscuous sex, and it's assumed that they will do so, and all the precautions they're supposed to take is based on this idea that this will happen. 'If you can't be good, be careful.'”

That, of course, is why our schools are so involved in handing out condoms and ensuring ready access to birth control pills—because it assumes that people, even children, are entirely incapable of abstaining from sex outside of marriage. Sex education, in essence, proceeds directly out of that assumption. And that assumption is very much promoted by our current political class.

“There is politics in sex,” says Peter Hitchens. “Much of those politics are about…the family and the State. The state is increasingly hostile to the strong family, and the strong family is sustained by lifelong marriage and by a pretty stern and puritan attitude towards sexual relations—whereas the strong state benefits in many ways, as does modern commerce and the modern employer, from weak marriages and relaxed sexual relations. There's also the point that Aldous Huxley makes, which is that we are increasingly going to embrace our own enslavement in the pursuit of pleasure, which I believe actually the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm made...that there is absolutely no congruence in human history between sexual freedom and political freedom. Slaves have always been allowed to copulate, what they haven't been allowed to do is marry.”

“And this,” Hitchens continued, “is an extremely important point. There is no necessary connection between a society which is sexually free and sexually uninhibited, and a society that is politically free and has free speech and freedom of assembly, it doesn't necessarily follow at all. So we're all doing it with a very, very profound philosophical battle about the nature of society, and it needs to be conducted in a very serious fashion. The difficulty is in finding anyone to give you a hearing.”

It's a fascinating perspective, especially coming from someone who was once a radical Trotskyist. When I pointed this out to him, Hitchens responded by noting that this is precisely the reason he is so well-versed in the way the Left thinks and does business.

“I decided to stop believing it because it seemed to me to be morally wrong and highly dangerous,” Hitchens told me. “But the great advantage which it gives me is that I know what left-wing people say and think in private when they're not trying to please people on television shows. I know just how dogged and devastating this project is, which they want, and I know that the fundamental engine of left-wing activity, really since the 1960s, has not been to seize the post office and the barracks and the railway station, it's been to seize the television station and the newspaper and the university, and to obtain victory through capturing the minds of people, and also to alter society not through the nationalizing of railways, but through the nationalizing of childhood.”

The nationalizing of childhood. A chilling idea, but one that makes much sense. Giving to the State and its education system the task of teaching children what to believe and which values to hold, and you've essentially co-opted the family structure.

“When they say children should speak for themselves,” Hitchens pointed out, “what they actually mean is that the parents should be removed from the discussion. They don't actually want them to speak for themselves, they want the children to do what they want them to do, and they know the parental home is the biggest obstacle to this thing.”

This is why many states seek to ban practices that threaten this goal, like homeschooling: “There's a certain amount of it in Britain, it's actually illegal in Germany to this day because of the National Socialist law passed under Hitler, which has never been repealed, and attempts are being made to restrict it in Britain. They're in their infancy, but they're on their way, and I think parental resistance to it on that scale is probably the only effective answer. You say, 'Alright, well if you feel that this is how you want to drive your power into my home and into my life, then I thank you very much, but I'm not going to let you. We'll educate our children at home.' And quite honestly, I don't know what your public school system is like, but if it's anything remotely like ours, it'll probably come up with a much better general education on top.”

Parental resistance is, at the end of the day, the answer to the State's attempt to educate and red-educate children. And the historic pushback of Ontario parents against Premier Kathleen Wynne's radical sex-ed curriculum is a positive step in the right direction. Protests, pressure, and eventually, homeschooling may all be necessary. But seeing huge numbers of people wake up to the reality of what the education system is attempting to do is hugely encouraging way.

As Hitchens said: “Be incredibly vigilant. [Do] not assume that these things are being passed on. A mistake I might say I made, was not to realize until quite late on, just how serious the problem was. It is very serious. Find out what they're telling the children. You'll be surprised, and not necessarily favorably, and having found out, see what you can do to make sure that you can pass on that which you inherited and which is our fundamental duty to pass on to the next generation. Because if you don't do it, nobody else will.”

NOTE: Part 2 of my analysis of sex education will be coming next week.

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Pornography is someone sexually consuming another for one-sided pleasure. That person exists only to fulfill his pleasures, his fantasies, his satisfaction. Sexual cannibalism.

Porn: sexual cannibalism

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By Jonathon van Maren

When guys have been looking at porn for a long time, it’s a tough habit to break. And when you’re an anti-porn speaker (as I am), it’s tough to figure out how to make people quit a habit that has deeply rewired their brain and reshaped their attractions, using just words. So one of the things I’ve tried to do is illustrate just how evil porn is, by calling it what it is.

Porn is, at its root, sexual cannibalism.

Think about it. Sex is supposed to be two people unashamedly giving themselves to one another in love. Sex is supposed to be all about the other person. That’s why, before our vocabulary started becoming far more crude and truncated, we used to call it “making love.” But watching pornography is the precise opposite of giving.

Pornography is someone sexually consuming another for one-sided pleasure. That person exists only to fulfill his pleasures, his fantasies, his satisfaction.

Sexual cannibalism.

That imagery becomes even more vivid when you consider that over 88% of mainstream porn films contain physical violence against women, 49% of mainstream porn films contain brutal verbal abuse towards women, and much of today’s pornography is simply glorified rape and sexual assault. There is something grotesquely cannibalistic about men arousing themselves to the physical destruction of the feminine on screen. There is something carnivorous about men watching women get violated and degraded for recreation and entertainment.

After all, carnality, cannibalism, carnivore, and carnage all have the same root word: Carnae, or flesh. Our carnality, fleshly lust, is leading directly into sexual cannibalism—and the carnage of the porn industry manifests itself in destructive or destroyed relationships, shattered marriages, twisted minds, and broken porn stars.

Those broken porn stars, of course, are simply collateral damage. They join the industry, often with high hopes, and leave angry and cynical, if not irreparably diseased and suffering from PTSD. But the sex-driven mob bays for more young girls, more flesh to consume and discard. Do we even think, I often wonder, about the humans in the pornography we watch? Does anyone ever wonder how they got there? Why they stay there? How it impacts them?

Rarely, of course. Because if we did, we’d stop watching.

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Sexual cannibalism is our culture’s addiction to the flesh of others. But as we know, cannibalism isn’t healthy. And the evidence for this is everywhere.

For example, Covenant Eyes cited in their 2014 statistics a number of conclusions about the impact of pornography reached by the Journal of Adolescent Health:

  • An exaggerated perception of sexual activity in society 
  • Diminished trust between intimate couples
  • The abandonment of the hope of sexual monogamy
  • Belief that promiscuity is the natural state
  • Belief that abstinence and sexual inactivity are unhealthy
  • Cynicism about love or the need for affection between sexual partners
  • Belief that marriage is sexually confining
  • Lack of attraction to family and child-raising

Add to that the fact that over 50% of divorce cases now involve one partner being addicted to pornography, and it seems that pornography acts towards marriage and family much as a suicide belt would. One of the more common lies is that pornography can help a marriage—a statement completely belied by every piece of available information. It reminds me of a horrifying but revealing piece published by The Guardian earlier this month, entitled “A letter to my ex-husband, who preferred porn to me:”

Porn ruined you. Ruined us. When people asked, shocked, how I could leave such a funny, clever man, father of my children – “a good earner” as my mother put it – what could I say? I said it was me. My fault. I’d changed. Only it wasn’t me. It was your love of porn that slowly diminished my love and respect for you and destroyed my self-confidence. I couldn’t tell them and I’ve never said it straight to you but you must know, you must remember those conversations. The rows…

We were about six months in when I found your stash and I picked it up smiling – “Boys will be boys” – expecting Penthouse Pets, Readers’ Wives etc but found women so mutilated by beach-ball, supersize-me, fake breasts that their eyes registered pain where their pouts pretended otherwise.

I felt it was mutilation. I wept. You shrugged off my arguments – “They get paid. It’s their choice” – and dismissed my arguments about exploitation as unchecked radical feminism…

When computers came, you got better at hiding it. You could no longer have an orgasm with me and blamed me and childbirth but I now know you had a case of the Prisoner’s Hand. Then your hints began. Could I wear more makeup? What about those white-tipped nails? Had I ever thought about breast implants? I hadn’t. Wouldn’t. …

There were words for what we did but it was never making love. ... There was never intimacy in what we did and in the end I stopped wanting sex. Not that you wanted it with me anyway.

The letter goes on much longer, a heart-breaking autopsy of a marriage destroyed by pornography. Anyone who has done any anti-porn work has spoken to wives and girlfriends, many of them appalled and upset by what they have found their husbands or boyfriends looking at, and completely at a loss as to what their reaction should be.

There is hope and healing at the end of porn addictions—if those addictions come to an end. I know of many marriages that have weathered the porn plague, and many beautiful, trusting relationships that have rooted pornography out and placed protections in place that keep it at bay. Covenant Eyes has a number of phenomenally helpful e-books addressing virtually every aspect of porn addiction and recovery, which tens of thousands of people have found to be literally life-saving.

We just need to realize that engaging pornography is essentially playing Russian roulette. As philosopher Roger Scruton said, “Those who become addicted to this 'risk-free' form of sex run a risk of another and greater kind. They risk the loss of love, in a world where only love brings happiness."

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The radical alternative to watching celebrities self-destruct for entertainment

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By Jonathon van Maren

Sometimes I wonder whether our culture watches celebrities so obsessively because we love them, or because we are instead attracted to the roller-coaster of destruction that inevitably follows. As Chris Hedges notes in Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, “The moral nihilism of celebrity culture is played out on reality television shows, most of which encourage a dark voyeurism into other people's humiliation, pain, weakness, and betrayal.” 

This was played out quite recently with the media firestorm surrounding the revelations that Josh Duggar of the reality show 19 Kids and Counting had molested a number of young girls years ago, including several of his sisters. With blood in the water, the feeding frenzy began, remaining unabated even as the Duggars came out to explain what happened in more depth. John Jalsevac of LifeSiteNews noted that the situation reminded him of what CS Lewis once wrote:

Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, 'Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that,' or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything -- God and our friends and ourselves included -- as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

And if we want to see people self-destruct and implode, examples are easy to find in a society driven by entertainment.

Take, for example, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion, the frat-house of the Sexual Revolution. Filled with beautiful women, celebrities, and luxuries of the most expensive sort, it’s the type of place envied by men the world over. On the inside, it’s a place filled with despair and devoid of any real intimacy—the headquarters of a culture that confuses pleasure with happiness. Holly Madison, once the geriatric Hefner’s number one girlfriend (there are seven), recently wrote a memoir of her time in the Playboy Mansion, detailing the manipulation they underwent, the pervasive emptiness they all felt, and how one day, she contemplated drowning herself in the bathtub to end it all. Such stories are common, if we would bother to read them and heed them.

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The juggernaut porn industry, of course, feeds on the flesh of young girls before discarding their battered bodies when they give out or their minds break. In a culture where “feminism” has supposedly triumphed but has been outstripped by our obsession with destruction, they are collateral damage in the ultimate blood sport. Porn, writes Hedges, “extinguishes the sacred and the human to worship power, control, force, and pain. It replaces empathy, eros, and compassion with the illusion that we are gods. Porn is the glittering façade, like the casinos and resorts of Las Vegas, like the rest of the fantasy that is America, of a culture seduced by death.”

Perhaps that seduction is why the only thing we enjoy as much as elevating celebrities is watching them crash, with a smug and knowing nod. We knew it was going to happen. It always does. Like Miley Cyrus’s newest magazine article, where she poses for a bizarre pornographic photo shoot, talks about how her gender and sexuality are fluid, and says she’s up for pretty much any sex act that doesn’t involve animals. From Disney child actor to another broken pop star trying to push the envelope in the porn era, where nothing is shocking and increasingly, nothing is even titillating. Too many kids, unfortunately, grew up with her. Too often, we become what we consume.

It’s why, incidentally, I don’t care for the habit many Christians have of immediately seizing on any nugget of truth that happens to proceed from the mouth of celebrity. Justin Bieber, wholesome pop star, is against abortion! And then, as we all knew he would, he began to self-destruct. We should be careful which role models we promote, since the few positive views they hold are probably going to be the least likely areas of influence. Justin Bieber, anti-abortion activist? Yeah, right.

We should be extremely careful in our consumption of entertainment—not just because of the glorified violence and artificial, hedonistic sexuality, but also because too often we simply contribute to the destruction of those who create it. Like the ancient gladiators who were uplifted one moment by crowds howling adulation, only to hear the same mobs baying for their blood a moment later, our modern celebrity culture is often as lethal to those who partake in it as it is to those of us who lethargically consume the smut it produces.

We have other options. We don’t have to participate in the vicious circle of nonstop entertainment and topsy-turvy celeb culture. At a very minimum, we don’t have to be gluttons. The unmatched literature, poetry, and art of past generations—and many beautiful contributions of this one—are at our disposal in a manner unprecedented in human history. Add to that the simple pleasures of face-to-face friendships, the beauty of outdoor adventure, and the countless opportunities our communities provide for doing good, and we have more than enough reason to stop watching the lives of others implode and find more beautiful things to do.

In his masterpiece The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom noted that, “The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency -- the belief that the here and now is all there is.” We all know, even if we have buried it deep inside ourselves, that that is not the case. And that is, at the end of the day, the best reason to disengage from much of the entertainment culture our society has created.

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Transgender? That’s so yesterday. Now, meet the ‘transabled.’

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By Jonathon van Maren

Ideas have consequences. We used to understand this.

Examples of the truth of this are everywhere. Once we accepted the premise that the pre-born child in the womb is of no value, then we saw wide-spread slaughter, regardless of whether those legislating this premise intended abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare.”

Once we accepted the premise that sex is not intended to be both unitive and procreative in its purpose, then, as one writer dryly put it, society accepted that “any orifice will do.”

Once we accepted that monogamy is outdated and unrealistic, regardless of our intentions in doing so, we soon saw - and are seeing - any number of bizarre couplings, throuplings, and polyamorous relationships validated and celebrated.

And so it is too with the idea, most recently celebrated on the cover of Vanity Fair with Bruce Jenner posing as his new alter-ego, Caitlyn Jenner, that how we feel should trump what we are.

And it is these arguments that are being used by a community that is just starting to make its voice heard: The “transabled.”

The National Post ran a feature on “transabled” people yesterday, beginning their story with a shocking account of a man who intentionally cut his right arm off. “One-Hand Jason,” as he calls himself, is apparently not the only one. From the Post:

“We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment,” says Alexandre Baril, a Quebec born academic who will present on “transability” at this week’s Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Ottawa…

“The person could want to become deaf, blind, amputee, paraplegic. It’s a really, really strong desire.”

[Within this community] Many people, like One Hand Jason, arrange “accidents” to help achieve the goal. One dropped an incredibly heavy concrete block on his legs — an attempt to injure himself so bad an amputation would be necessary. But doctors saved the leg. He limps, but it’s not the disability he wanted.

We instinctively feel that this is a form of mental illness, or some cognitive malfunction. And indeed, this is how the “transabled” were originally approached. But things are changing:

The transabled are very secretive and often keep their desires to themselves, Baldwin says. One 78-year-old man told Baldwin he’d lived with the secret for 60 years and never told his wife.

Some of his study participants do draw parallels to the experience many transgender people express of not feeling like they’re in the right body. Baldwin says this disorder is starting to be thought of as a neurological problem with the body’s mapping, rather than a mental illness.

“It’s a problem for individuals because it’s distressing. But lots of things are.” He suggests this is just another form of body diversity — like transgenderism — and amputation may help someone achieve similar goals as someone who, say, undergoes cosmetic surgery to look more like who they believe their ideal selves to be.

It should be no surprise to anyone that the language of tortured, secret desire as well as bodily autonomy and the right to self-expression are being co-opted here by yet another “community.” They feel that they are perfectly normal—that it is reality that must be bent to fit to suit their desires, regardless of how ill-fated and self-mutilating those desires might be.

But we have, to a large degree, already accepted the idea that people can use surgery to slice and snip and alter themselves into different genders, so why would we deny this community those same rights?

For those who might be angry that I would draw that connection, I have to point out that it has already been drawn:

As the public begins to embrace people who identify as transgender, the trans people within the disability movement are also seeking their due, or at very least a bit of understanding in a public that cannot fathom why anyone would want to be anything other than healthy and mobile.

And, just as those seeking to redefine marriage reacted quite angrily to those who pointed out that identical arguments could be - and already have been - used to support polygamy, transgender activists are not pleased with the fact that their logic is being applied to a community they - at least for the moment - disagree with:

But this has been met with great resistance in both the disability activist community and in transgender circles, argues Baril, a visiting scholar of feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

“They tend to see transabled people as dishonest people, people who try to steal resources from the community, people who would be disrespectful by denying or fetishizing or romanticizing disability reality,” Baril says, adding people in both transgender and disabled circles tend to make judgmental or prejudicial statements about transabled people. “Each try to distance themselves.”

Of course they do. As the sexual activists of all stripes have opened the Overton window wider and wider, they pause only to claim that the logic they use will never be co-opted by a group a bit further outside the boundaries. And yet, once those arguments are accepted, society is forced to apply them to increasingly bizarre manifestations of “self-expression.” And when it comes to the arguments that “transabled” activists are beginning to make, we have painted ourselves into a corner. After all, our society has already accepted virtually all of the premises that they will surely use to make their case.

Ideas have consequences, and those consequences impact more people than just the small minorities speaking into gigantic microphones. If self-harm, for example, were to become considered legitimate self-expression, what do we say to teenagers who engage in the same activity—especially if they say they do it because it makes them feel good? Some might scoff, and say that this is a bizarre slippery slope argument. But the same was said about euthanasia, when critics pointed out that enshrining in law the right to die because of “interminable suffering” could easily be applied to those suffering from depression—and in Belgium and the Netherlands, it already has. The originally hypothetical question of whether to send someone who is suicidal because of severe depression to an “assisted dying” facility or a suicide-watch facility is already one that is very real, and very terrifying.

We have lost the ability to trace premises to their logical conclusions. That is probably because the logical conclusions that can be drawn from much of the radical new experiments our society is embarking on seem so ludicrous. But unfortunately, those conclusions are not just fantasies created by moral panic in the deluded minds of social conservatives. They are predictions that are, one by one, turning out to be prophecies.

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a writer and pro-life speaker who has given presentations across North America on abortion and pro-life strategy.

Jonathon first got involved in the pro-life movement after viewing a graphic abortion video in 2007, which convicted him to get active. He ran Simon Fraser University Students for Life as president from 2009-2010, while speaking in both the United States and Canada on pro-life issues.

Jonathon graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. He is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

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