by Deion A. Kathawa
On Tuesday, the Republican-led Arkansas legislature overrode Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Monday veto of the aptly named “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act” (SAFE Act). The SAFE Act would prevent vulnerable minors from irrevocably transforming their bodies according to the dictates of an extreme ideology that sees no value, let alone the reality in, the primordial human sexual dimorphism and all that it implies and demands.
Practically, per National Public Radio, the SAFE Act “prohibits minors from receiving hormones, puberty blockers and transition-related surgeries,” and “health care providers who offered such care could lose their license to practice in the state or be vulnerable to civil litigation.”
Notice what I did not say (and in defiance of the thought police ensconced in the media-political-academic complex): that the SAFE Act bans “gender-affirming” healthcare for vulnerable minors. Because that is false. Such phrasing is nothing more than a pleasant-sounding ideological construct—a euphemism—meant to obscure a brutal reality and ensure that sane people are viewed as hateful zealots who, most importantly, lose on this issue.
George Orwell warned us about this long ago in his prescient, powerful essay, “Politics and the English Language.” It is worth quoting him at length:
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.
Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
‘While freely conceding that the Soviet régime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigours which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.’
The SAFE Act is common sense. The only way one can find it disagreeable is to deploy boatloads of euphemisms to obscure the barbarism it outlaws.
The transgenderism skirmish that broke out into the open in President Obama’s second term should be an insanely easy fight for the Republican Party to win. The Right has been thrashed mercilessly in the culture wars for decades. But at this stage in the conflict, the low-hanging fruit has all been plucked, and the Left has finally begun to overreach. It is now coming for our children in very direct, very obvious, and very harmful ways.
Which is why it is astonishing that Republican leaders such as Asa Hutchinson find it so difficult to say plainly, “It is wrong and harmful to destroy healthy sex organs and thereby to castrate healthy bodies—but especially so in the case of minors. And the government will act accordingly to prevent people from harming themselves in this specific way.”
That is a winning position, especially when we are talking about minors. In 2017, only a slim majority of American adults would support their teenage child’s request to “transition” to another gender. A massive percentage of these children will desist from their feeling that they are transgender if they are simply left alone. Thus, there is room to persuade and to shape the context in which that conversation happens with measures like Arkanasas’ new law. I might even be so bold as to say that it does not even require an argument. A simple, direct, declarative sentence like the following would do nicely: “Mutilating children—even when doctors say it is ‘necessary’—is wrong.” Done.
But, no. Instead, we are cursed to be “led” by wimps like Asa Hutchinson, someone who preens about his opposition to this “too extreme” law and then has the gall to claim the mantle of “restrained government.” (Watch his interview Tuesday night with Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Suffice to say, Hutchinson does not come out looking well.)
As if. In reality, the SAFE Act does not ban “gender-affirming” healthcare for vulnerable minors. Rather, it rightly prevents vulnerable minors from irrevocably disfiguring their bodies. That Hutchinson cannot see that and say so is deplorable and pathetic.
How in the world is it “restrained” for a government, even in the face of rosy-sounding rhetoric, to refuse to act to prevent minors who are laboring under a dangerous, faddish delusion from chemically (or otherwise) castrating and disfiguring themselves? It isn’t, of course. And a government that permits such, in truth, is worse than useless—for it is hostile to basic human dignity, natural rights, the common good, and common sense. It inexcusably licenses barbarism by omission.
The minors contemplated by the SAFE Act are indeed both vulnerable and in need of our help. What they do not need is self-destructive poison dressed up as healthcare that the SAFE Act’s opponents would offer them while Hutchinson twiddles his thumbs, doing nothing to stop the madness and cowering behind stale, stupid talking points.
New leaders, please.
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Deion A. Kathawa holds a J.D. from Notre Dame Law School and a B.A. from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. He is a proud Midwesterner and a Mt. Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness.
Photo “Asa Hutchinson and Tucker Carlson Interview” by Fox News.