Eccentricity Should Never be Free

“Today, we show millions of transgender and nonbinary Americans that we see them, they belong, and that they should be treated with dignity and respect.  Their courage has given countless others strength, but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves.  Every American deserves that freedom.” 

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. “A Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility” (March 30, 2023)

“It seems to me that to publish opinions upon morals, politics, and religion is an act as important as any which any man can possibly do; that to attack opinions on which the framework of society rests is a procedure which both is and ought to be dangerous.”

James Fitzjames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873)

Everyone should have to be brave just to be themselves because that which one truly is is that for which one is prepared to suffer, to fight, and perhaps to die.  Everything else is just gratuitous oddity, attention-seeking eccentricity, or social subversion for the fun of it.  The transgender movement is at war with conventional sexual opinions and these opinions are certainly part of “the framework of society.”   Such a war “ought to be dangerous” and the renegades who fight such a war “should have to be brave.”  Otherwise such a war will be launched for frivolous reasons, and will be won by fantasists, flibbertigibbets, and frauds.

If you do not have the courage of your convictions, your convictions are really affectations.  Whatever you may think of heretics, heretics who went to the stake really believed in their heresy.  Whatever you may think of dissidents, dissidents who went to the gulag were not frivolous or frauds.  I believe there are limits to the price society may charge its eccentrics for their eccentricity, but believe even more strongly that eccentricity should never be free.

Coming directly on the heels of the Nashville Massacre, President Biden’s “Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility” sets a new standard for liberal gaucherie.  What sort of a man can lament a fictional “epidemic of violence against transgender women and girls” four days after an bloodbath of violence by a transgender woman?  I suppose it is the sort of man who can excuse the murderess and blame the victims by alluding to “the tremendous strain that discrimination, bullying, and harassment can put on transgender children.”

In his odious Proclamation our odious President tells us that “transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul.”  This is followed by maudlin flapdoodle about their simple desire to “live openly and honestly.”  Well, Mr. President, which is it?  For the two are most definitely not the same.  Do transgender Americans wish to be left in peace, or do they wish to shape our Nation’s soul?  If the later, they must expect resistance from those who do not wish to be shaped.

It was the radical iconoclast John Stewart Mill who first argued that freaks must be treated as holy cows in a democracy, must be permitted to wander, to shit, and to cause mayhem wherever they please.  Mill’s argument is that democracy will be saved from static conformity by the example of these holy-cow freaks, and that for this reason their “mere refusal to bend the knee to custom is itself a service.”  Thus, “transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul” because their refusal to bend the knee to sexual custom inspires other Americans to question and perhaps discard those customs.  That is their “service,” or what might also be called their function.

Here is the full passage from Mill:

“When the opinions of masses of merely average men are becoming the dominant power, the counterpose and corrective to that tendency would be . . . . that exceptional individuals, instead of being deterred, should be encouraged in acting differently from the mass . . . . In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service.  Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric.”**

Far from making eccentrics pay a price for their eccentricity, democracy—liberal democracy—must reward its eccentrics by treating them as holy cows.  The answer to this absurd proposition is give by James Fitzjames Stephen in his great rejoinder to Mill’s pernicious philosophy.

“If this advice were followed, we should have as many little oddities in manner and behavior as we have people who wish to pass for men of genius.  Eccentricity is far more often a mark of weakness than a mark of strength.  Weakness wishes, as a rule, to attract attention by trifling distinctions, and strength wishes to avoid it.  Originality consists in thinking for yourself, not in thinking differently from other people.”***

In other words, if a nation follows Mill’s advice and treats its freaks as holy cows, that nation’s soul will be shaped by fantasists, flibbertigibbets, and frauds.

We have taken Mill’s advice.  This nation’s soul has been so shaped.  Go read the Proclamation if you doubt what I say.

*) James Fitzjames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (New York: Holt and Williams, 1873), p. 77.
**) John Stewart Mill, On Liberty, second ed. (London: John Parker and Son, 1859), p. 120.
***) Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, p. 48.

13 thoughts on “Eccentricity Should Never be Free

  1. transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul

    Yes but if I’ve learned anything from the trannys its that the soul can identify differently from how the nation “presents”. America is transgender–visibly a tyranny, but self identifies as a moderate liberal democracy.

    • You might say that America is like a son that wears more and more lipstick and mascara, and that conservative Americans are like the father of that son, who refuses to see what is happening. Ot they tell themselves it is just a phase.

  2. I think the point is that eccentricity of itself is neither a virtue nor a vice because it is relative to convention and not to the good per se. It’s foolish to suppose, like the leftists do, that eccentricity of itself should guarantee a high status. And yet the Pharisees were also in the wrong.

    • Much eccentricity is harmless. Much eccentricity makes life more amusing, both for the eccentric and the people who smile at his eccentricities. It is mildly eccentric for a man to wear a bow tie, but it certainly does no harm and may provide some innocent pleasure. This stops being harmless when the bow-tie-wearer becomes overly proud of his bow tie wearing. Long-haired men often become overly proud of their long hair when short hair is in fashion. I think we can all sense the difference between a simple eccentric and an eccentric snob, and that we tend to like the former and dislike the later.

      I think sexual eccentricity should be tolerated so long as it accepts the label (and stingy) of sexual eccentricity. Reproduction of the species is important so alternative sexualities are not just like bow ties. No one knows how much alternative sexuality you will get if you lower social cost of alternative sexualities to zero.

  3. I think the slippery slope is more of a greasy pole. There are a handful of great civilizations in recorded history and tens of thousands of fellah peoples living among ruins, primitive pre-cultures that never made it out of the gate and cultures cut short of attaining civilization by various historical circumstances. The work of civilizing is perhaps largely a work of suppressing counter-civilizational eccentricities, often ruthlessly, as well as suppressing appropriately the all-too-human tendencies like sloth, lust, vengeance.

    High civilizations bear much more resemblance to each other than to any savage society or than any savage society bears to another. Monarchy, monagamy and monotheism are the tendency (not strictly, of course, because their spirits are different) of most all “Golden Ages,” while savages might experiment with every form of eccentricity imaginable. It is also interesting to think how civilizational declines have all tended to similar eccentricities: eunuchs, homosexuality, democracy and women’s liberation have been noted, but, say, polygamy is far more rarely seen.

    For the savage (and now for our savaging, anti-civilizational progressives), eccentricity is magical. “Trans folx” are the shamans of the magical world of relativism, shadow and light blended, one thing becomes another according only to the human will. The tabu, what breaks the spell, is pointing out the true name: “you will never be a woman.” Of course, not every eccentricity is tolerated, either by savages or progressives. The eccentric makes an excellent scapegoat, so when bad times come both the Shaman and the speaker of the tabu are liable to be up on the altar.

    The moderate liberal and lolbertarian delusion is that civilization is the natural mode of man, requiring only to live-and-let-live. Both the really intelligent, honest progressive (e.g. Rousseau, Marx) and the reactionary knows savagery, which is an unprincipled live-and-let-live-unless-the-crops-fail, is the low-energy state, the tendency of entropic forces.

  4. In most societies or institutions, social pressure to conform is strong and people tend to be reluctant to voice any doubts or misgivings they may have; outward conformity often masks private dissent and this reticence, in turn, contributes to and reinforces the social pressure to conform. Thus, there can appear to be widespread popular support for options that would be defeated in a secret ballot. This is known in the jargon as “preference falsification.”

    When circumstances combine to relax that pressure, it can initiate a “preference cascade,” as dissenters realise they are not singular in their views and more and more people feel free to express their previously unvoiced dissent.

    Now, fear changes sides. Not only are opponents of the status quo emboldened to speak out, but genuine supporters of it start pretending that they support the change, too.

    This theory of Kuran’s is a useful tool (to be employed with caution, of course) for analysing what appear on the surface to be sudden and dramatic shifts in public opinion.

    • Maybe the shift in the popular mood between Palm Sunday and Good Friday was a special sort of preference cascade. The people of Jerusalem were suddenly gripped by fear they had rather let themselves go on Palm Sunday. Time to make if perfectly clear we are on the side of the (fallen) angles.

      • It is also possible to understand the different opinions of the crowd on Palm Sunday and of the crowd on Good Friday as reflective of different sects in Second Temple Judaism, which were bitterly at odds with each other. “The Jews” in the NT is often code for the scribes and Pharisees. The Hebrews who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem as their King might have come from the parties excluded from the commanding heights of Hebrew society – the Essenes, Zealots, Galileans, and so forth – while the mob that brayed for crucifixion might have consisted largely of the adherents of the Establishment Party – the scribes and Pharisees. On this interpretation, “the Jews” on Good Friday and in the Sanhedrin on Maundy Thursday understood themselves to be putting down a rebellion dangerous to their interests – which they identified with the interests of the Hebrews in general.

  5. Sometimes, the shift in opinion develops over time.

    “Many who before regarded legislation on the subject as chimerical, will now fancy that it is only dangerous, or perhaps not more than difficult. And so in time it will come to be looked on as among the things possible, then among the things probable;—and so at last it will be ranged in the list of those few measures which the country requires as being absolutely needed. That is the way in which public opinion is made.”

    “It is no loss of time,” said Phineas, “to have taken the first great step in making it.”

    “The first great step was taken long ago,” said Mr. Monk,—”taken by men who were looked upon as revolutionary demagogues, almost as traitors, because they took it. But it is a great thing to take any step that leads us onwards.” – Phineas Finn, Anthony Trollope (1868)

  6. Pingback: A Stampede of Holy Cows – The Orthosphere


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