After a great deal of fuss about national security and terrorism, sentence was passed and Bradley Manning, the man at the center of the storm who used a Lady Gaga CD to smuggle out classified information, announced that what he really wanted was to live as a woman.
Posting a photo wearing the least convincing wig outside of clown college, Manning announced that
Life might have been simpler for everyone if Manning had just gone straight to the bad wig. In the age of Obama, his right to pretend to be a woman would have been protected with more vigor than the lives of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
But that's not what Manning really wanted.
In 1974, Jerry Dean Michael, a mentally ill ex-con and con-artist, put on a wig and pretended to be Liz Carmichael, the widow of a NASA engineer with a car that could 70 miles to the gallon.
"I'll knock the hell out of Detroit," Michael declared, in his persona as Liz Carmichael. "I'll rule the auto industry like a queen." That last line was a joke that it took a while for anyone to get.
Liz Carmichael and his plans to rule Detroit, now a place filled with feral dogs and politicians which probably would have been better off ruled by a lunatic queen with a fiberglass car for a throne, received nearly as much attention then as Bradley Manning did now. Unfortunately Liz's car, that was going to revolutionize the automotive industry could no more run, than Michael or Bradley could become women.
Michael fled, was arrested, released on bail, fled again and was arrested living, once again, under a female name.
Outside an organic grocery store, a Free Bradley Manning rally leaflet sits next to a poster for "Let Me Die as a Woman". The movie, a 70s pseudo-documentary from the appropriately named Doris Wishman trying to branch out from her usual line of work filming nudist colonies for the discerning film buffs of Times Square, followed men who wanted to be women.
Back then that sort of thing fell into the shadow world at the edge of cities where gay bars, prostitutes and the other people falling into the hole inside social norms wound up. It held the fascination of the transgressive for those who were looking to push the boundaries of society to the edge and over it, but even they understood that it was interesting in the way that reading Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was because that what they were seeing were the results of serious psychological and social trauma.
A few weeks ago, Don Ennis, an ABC News producer who had originally announced that he now wanted to be called Dawn, let everyone know that he picked up a touch of amnesia and was no longer in touch with his female identity. With a plot line like that, Ennis should have been working on ABC's soaps, instead of its news division.
But the amnesia line worked. And everyone at work probably breathed a sigh of relief at not having to listen to Don speak in a high falsetto anymore.
A few missing brain cells and Don no longer wanted to die as Dawn, because Don was never Dawn.
What was once shocking and exploitative has become tediously prosaic. One day a balding middle aged man decides that he really is a woman, begins wearing a wig to work and all his liberal colleagues rush to learn about his new and exciting identity. But the man inside the wig hasn't left behind his old problems. So he develops amnesia and takes the wig off.
When the formerly taboo becomes the habit of boring middlebrow liberal men looking to escape their boring lives cranking out daily stories about racism for the media establishment, it says a great deal about how the formerly transgressive loses its taboo and about the resulting state of social disintegration and its accompanying absurdities.
The old idea, last current in the 70s, that gender is a construct is back in full swing. Every media outlet is now doing cheerful stories about some little boy being raised as an "Adorable Transgender Little Girl" by his Munchausen-by-proxy parents and the intolerant schools who won't let him use the wrong bathroom.
John Money, the psychologist who coined the term "Gender Role" insisting that gender transcended sex, inflicted his theories on a little boy named David Reimer, who was raised as Brenda under a regime that could be best be described as horrifying child abuse. Reimer eventually reclaimed his masculinity and told his story in a book, "As Nature Made Him"; a title that the LGBT community would today consider a hate crime.
Every news story about a boy being raised as an "adorable little girl" is the story of another David Reimer being abused by the indefatigable identity politics of the insane.
In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie made his state the second place after California to outlaw therapy that tells boys that homosexuality is not innate and that they can choose to live a normal life. Christie's cynicism was already legendary and his pandering to gay donors is unsurprising.
The testimony that convinced the New Jersey Senate to allow the gay lobby to launch another assault on the family by targeting the private relationship between parents, children and therapists included a deeply moving tale by James Goldani, a drag queen with a history of drug abuse, now calling himself Brielle, of being electroshocked at an ex-gay camp, whose horror was only slightly undermined by being derived from a Ru Paul Movie, "But I’m a Cheerleader."
That was a minor detail that no one particularly cared about. In a parade of congenital liars with mental problems claiming victimhood, what was one more absurd lie?
The idea codified by the new law is that sexual preferences are so innate that they cannot and should not be changed, but that gender is entirely mutable and should be changed by anyone who wants to.
That's not a scientific conclusion, but a political one. The goal of politicizing victimhood is to maximize minorities making it easy to become a minority, but very difficult to stop being one. What the gay rights lobby has done is "lock down" its supply of recruits from New Jersey and California. And there are a whole bunch of more states to go.
The bigger your minority group is, the more influence you have. And in the new post-everything America, you have the right to be transgender, but not ex-gay. But the gay rights lobby is not the only victim group that would like similar feudal privileges over potential members. Any group can have its identity politicized in the same way.
There are radical deaf rights activists who would like to ban Cochlear implants that allow deaf children to hear because they are an attack on "Deaf Culture". If they ever organize themselves as effectively as gay groups have, it's not too hard to envision Governor Christie signing a law that outlaws parents from curing their children's deafness because it will cut them off from Deaf Culture.
Deaf culture, like gay culture, is both recent and a construct. It's an innovation in response to a disability. A missing element. The difference is that with deaf culture the nature of the disability is obvious and the cure really works.
Identity politics is pride in victimization. It gains its entire identity from embracing dysfunction and refusing to change. But despite all the pride parades, the assertions of identity, the "Born this way" torch songs, the underlying dysfunction remains.
Bradley Manning betrayed his country for the same reason that he put on a blond wig; because he is mentally ill. It's the same reason that Jerry Dean Michael tried to pass off a toy car as the future of the automobile industry and why countless transgender con artists engage in self-destructive behavior.
Crazy people mix destructive and self-destructive behavior together into a toxic cocktail. That is about the neatest summary of the gay rights movement that there can ever be.The brave new world of identity politics is confusing mental breakdowns with identity and missing elements with culture.
With the construct of race nearing exhaustion, the miners of grievance chose to fragment gender and the family into a thousand pieces. Their triumphant progeny is Bradley Manning, a man filled with confused hatreds and no sense of direction. One of Gaga's Little Monsters, lashing out at his country from behind a blonde wig.
Our society has become a puzzle of broken pieces that don't fit, a strange mesh of identity politics, identities that can agree on the agenda of the left and little else. Under all the rainbow umbrellas are broken people struggling for relief, acting out, breaking things and breaking themselves. All the cheerful assertions that the next wave of insanity is really the next civil rights movement sound as hollow as they do in ghettos where the broken family is not an aberration, but the norm.
These are not all disparate elements. They are parts of the same problem. The family is at the center of a healthy society. When the family collapses, so does the society.
The left has turned dysfunction into its banner, it has made it seem trendy and progressive, but what it has really done is shattered the American family as badly as it shattered the Russian economy with its speculative theorizing and radical projects.
There is no path to restoring America, except through the restoration of the American family.