Two weeks into the Biden Administration, we’ve seen a resurgence of some of the stentorian progressive agenda. One example can be found in the response to Saturday Night Live’s jokes as reported by NBC Out, the LGBT… division of NBC News:
There are some things that people aren’t supposed to joke about, and transgenderism is one of them. (The joke, by the way, was about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tuck”.)
It’s not that SNL is seen as a bastion of right-wing views; in fact, during the four years of the Trump Administration it was revitalized, garnering regular approval for its parodies of Republican inanity and overreach. This was a marked change from the first four years of Obama, where the President’s questionable choices were often given a pass from the comedy writers. By 2014, the bias was so prominent that when SNL hammered the President in a skit the results were widely disseminated:
It’s worth noting that the criticism of dependence upon Executive Orders to circumvent Congress were a timely warning of what might happen if future Presidents viewed Obama’s actions as precedent, and were therefore serving one of the most valuable roles of political humor.
Still, the point is that under Biden things are drifting back to normal… or, more accurately, the omnipresent abnormal which was in place prior to Trump. In the absence of the daily offenses by the sitting President, activists are again using the media to press about their chosen causes, warning of incipient doom should one concern or another not be addressed in the way they wish.
I admit, I’m not thrilled by this. I’ll use this focus on transphobia to illustrate why.
I feel that a man is a man and a woman is a woman, genetically. I don’t give much of a damn beyond that, other than to say that I feel no obligation to be attracted to men, nor do I feel unusual in not being so. I also don’t give a damn if men or women sleep together or are in committed relationships that are recognized by the state. I don’t care if people dress in clothes which are designed for the opposite sex. I don’t care if I share a bathroom with someone who’s dressed oddly.
I do believe that many trans people suffer from body dysmorphia and related issues, believing that they were born into or otherwise occupy the wrong body. That’s a mental health issue, and something that deserves sympathy, not humiliation. It’s also going to require different responses on a case-by-case basis: some people will be helped by counselling them on underlying issues while others will be helped by medical aids (whether surgical, chemical or both.)
I don’t view it as something to celebrate any more than I agree with mockery and derision. In my view, it’s just a part of a personal experience, similar to being left-handed or gay. But because there have been attacks on people purely because of their transgenderism, a counterassault has been declared. Meanwhile, as mentioned before… I just don’t care, beyond wanting people to be left alone to live their lives peacefully. Self-determination is the big issue for me, not gender identity.
My view is not widely held, but I stand ready to defend and discuss it, which is what I’d hope to find from people holding contrary views. Not gainsaying, not demonization, but a thoughtful effort to address our differences.
The problem with shutting down humor is that it eliminates necessary conversation, while the problem with letting humor run free is that it can be used as a weapon to isolate and brutalize. The answer, in my view, is not regulating humor but demanding civility. If we remain in a team mentality, with every issue defined through stark opposition, solutions aren’t going to be found.