Friday, June 12, 2015

In my relentless effort to get a Mad Men angle on everything ...

... even now that the series is over and we're all supposed to stop talking about it, I was thinking about the story of the day. You know, the local NAACP leader who turns out to be a white woman pretending she is black. Along with everybody else, I've been wondering why it's just fine to appropriate someone else's gender sex and utterly wrong to appropriate their race. The argument, of course, is that transgendered people aren't appropriating anything but merely assuming their true identity. But that just moves it back one level for why couldn't there be a white or black person who really believed hat their true race was something other than the body they were born in? Once we allow the move for gender, we need a good reason if we're not going to allow it elswehere.

And that got me thinking about Don Draper having "stolen" another man's identity. As I've argued countless times, he didn't. He escaped his old identity but he hardly stole a new one. He, in fact, made rather more of the name than the dead Don Draper would have done. In any case, the point was that he didn't feel he was the man he'd been born into. And why should he be forced to accept that identity if he doesn't want it?
Ain't you heard? I'm a whore child.
Anyway, this whole question of authenticity is really a purely random thing.  That's the takeaway here.


  1. The timing of the Donezal story is almost too perfect and it is an absolute gold mine for the kind of argument you made above. (And, related, for the kind of "just let it burn down" argument that social conservatives increasingly resort to, and which I find myself espousing rather often too).
    That said, I think there's a fairly easily grasped, and not even very arcane, argument showing why people take transgenderism more seriously than transracialism, and you've basically made it yourself... "The Catholic view is that our complete self is male or female soul in a male or female body and both are created to go together."
    No one says this kind of thing about race.

    1. I agree entirely. The above post is not me stating my views so much as my jumping into the stream of an argument I do not share. The idea is that you let the logic of a certain kind of argument carry you along to see where that argument really goes. For we too often embrace arguments without being honest about where they lead. The most notable example of this sort of argument is the reductio ad absurdum but there are other possibilities. In the 1970s, for example, anti-nuclear activists argued that we had no right to saddle future generations with nuclear weapons. Some pointed out that this was to grant that people not even conceived yet, never mind just unborn, had rights.

      In all cases, the form is, if you really want to embrace [insert claim] here is what follows.

      For the record, I think transgendered people are deluding themselves. I'm willing to believe that Caitlyn Jenner really believes that he is a woman and I have no legal or even moral problem with him doing that; which is to say, I think society can absorb transgendered people without any real danger to general social order and I think real freedom has to include giving people the freedom to make bad decisions. On the other hand, I think that, as with Tom and Daisy Buchanan, really rich people like Jenner can afford to be careless about life in a way that others can't and I'm certain that a whole lot of individuals who cannot afford to be so careless will be tempted into making disastrous personal choices Jenner's example and by the support his enablers are giving him. Society won't burn down but a lot of individual lives will flame out spectacularly.