“The Platonists tell us, that the soul, during her residence in the body, contracts many virtuous and vicious habits, so as to become a beneficent, mild, charitable, or an angry, malicious, revengeful being; a substance inflamed with lust, avarice, and pride; or, on the contrary, brightened with pure, generous, and humble dispositions: that these and the like habits of virtue and vice, growing into the very essence of the soul, survive and gather strength in her after her dissolution: that the torments of a vicious soul in a future state, arise principally from those importunate passions which are not capable of being gratified without a body; and that on the contrary, the happiness of virtuous minds very much consists in their being employed in sublime speculations, innocent diversions, sociable affections, and all the ecstasies of passion and rapture which are agreeable to reasonable natures, and of which they gained a relish in this life.”
Excerpt From: Addison, Joseph. “The Tatler: By the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq.” Oxford Text Archive, Oxford University.
Whenever the decibels of discourse rose to offending levels among our family my late father would rush to counsel, “Speak with music in your voice!” How often have I ruminated upon that edict both while my father was yet alive and afterwards! How often have I equally dismissed the recommendation! In the heat of the moment it is no small enterprise to control one’s mounting anger and to reflect it in the loudness of one’s voice and the disquiet of one’s reaction. Anger – like love – once it comes in the door, then reason goes out the window! It requires mere moments to contaminate an otherwise placid social convention with the wreckage of sudden disagreement. It matters not what motivates the contrary disposition; the remnants of divisiveness and searing regard quickly enflame the gathering and as readily reduce it to ashes.
Take the instance of the State of North Carolina for example:
The legal battle over which bathrooms transgender people can use in North Carolina turns on a deceptively simple question: Can a law, written in the heat of the civil rights movement generations ago, apply to people the drafters never intended to cover?
The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed after years of marches, beatings, sit-ins and lynchings, part of the convulsive change across the country that gave African-Americans the same rights that white citizens had to drink at water fountains, get jobs, buy homes, stay at hotels and vote. A creature of its time, the law prohibits discrimination because of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
The word sex made it into the bill at the last minute, almost accidentally. It was inserted only after the drafting and congressional hearings, when the bill went to the House floor. Representative Howard W. Smith, a Virginia Democrat who opposed the bill, introduced an amendment adding sex discrimination, prompting laughter from his colleagues, who mockingly offered other suggested additions.
Despite speculation that Mr. Smith meant to weaken support for the bill — he said his concern for women was sincere — his amendment passed, and so did the act. The rights of transgender people never came up.
This is the history that Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina turned to when he sued the Justice Department on Monday arguing that sex means biological sex, and nothing more. “The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law,” he said.
But the Justice Department said the word also covers gender identity, not just anatomy, and filed its own lawsuit charging that a North Carolina law allowing people to use only those public bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their biological sex violates both the 1964 law and a 1972 federal law barring sex discrimination in education.
While I find it impossible to imagine that any man in North Carolina would prefer to see Caitlyn Jenner in a men’s washroom instead of a women’s washroom, the answer likely lies in the fact that this is an election year. Republican Governor Pat McCrory has conducted a poll and determined that by a slim majority the North Carolina constituents support the bathroom law. North Carolina has returned to the familiar territory of the toilet to fight yet another battle of discrimination in this former slave State. Though the issue of taking water at a fountain has been put to rest, the matter of eliminating water apparently has not.
I suspect the North Carolina conservatives who support this “strict constructionist” interpretation of the law would be mortified to learn that Glendon College of York University in Toronto has student residences which are mostly co-educational including the washrooms.
The influence of Christians in this kerfuffle is not to be diminished. Gov. McCrory has characterized the opposition to the “bathroom law” as part of a radical agenda sweeping the country. Seemingly North Carolinians view this issue as elemental to the preservation of their way of life.
As usual there are myths surrounding the controversy. Most important is that although the law does affect state government-managed bathrooms, businesses and other private institutions across the state are still free to create their own bathroom policies. Meanwhile the debate has polarized opinions with some potentially catastrophic economic repercussions. One North Carolina woman commented that the social planning for corporations is frequently done years in advance of the event. If corporations continue to boycott North Carolina it will mean that the declension of tourism will echo years from now.
Duck Dynasty Commander Phil Roberston, has weighed in upon the dilemma, promoting the Christian movement to “stand tall” for religious freedom in the face of government coercion. He fears that the Godly values that propelled America to greatness are under attack by the mob mentality of political correctness and that “we’re slowly losing our soul”.
As the dust settles on this noisy disturbance and as we analyze further our fear for our daughters having to use the same bathroom as a “man”, I feel on balance we are well to keep in mind the consequences of a humble disposition and sociable affections. The American landscape is already polluted enough with insupportable differences.