Baby, Were You Born Fat Way?

 

My grandma was a fat woman trapped in a thin woman’s body. Or rather, she was a woman for whom thinness required more mortification of the flesh than is usual, eating like an anorexic (they do eat — sometimes) simply to get her BMI down to normal. At times, this meant weeks of her eating nothing but carrot broth. More generally, it meant cooking deliberately unpalatable food (justifying it as “healthier”) for her whole family, to discourage “overeating”. She was also a hypothyroidic woman who came of age in an era when thyroid supplementation was not widely known.

Trouble keeping weight off isn’t the only sign of an underactive thyroid. The other signs — frizzy, thinning hair, the perpetual frog in the throat, catching chills — grandma had those, too. Not that you’d know it when you met her, since she wore a wig and retained just enough foreign accent to dress up her chain-smoker’s growl (in one who never smoked) as the smoldering alto tones of another Marlene Dietrich. My grandma was an elegant lady; built like a brick house even at her thinnest, but trim and sexy, very sporty; the kind of woman who’d pester the local rowing club into admitting women in the morning, then doll herself up for the evening in a dress looking far less shabby than it really was to go out on the town, dancing and pretending to sip fancy cocktails (not really sipping them, though — calories). My grandma had an iron will, not just iron but huge, rolling and inevitable, a steamroller. Her physical beauty was a manifestation of this, winning her several proposals when she was widowed before her time. For grandma, thinness was a moral issue.

My mother, inheritor of the same complex of maladies that had dogged my grandma (including but not limited to an underactive thyroid), felt differently. Once Mom took anatomy in high school, she learned about the thyroid gland and demanded to see an endocrine specialist. Mom was tired of years of being the fat kid, tired of being judged by her own mother as immoral (a liar, a sneak, weak-willed, etc, etc) for not slimming down on ever-more-restricted diets. The spartan eating habits that had worked for my grandma clearly weren’t working for Mom. Maybe my mom’s problem was weakness of will — compared to my grandma, that is. Compared to the rest of the population, Mom was also a steamroller. Just a fatter steamroller.

***

One Mom got tested and put on thyroid supplements, she “lost weight, regained [her] hair, and perked the hell up,” just as Megan McArdle describes. In her prime, you might have mistaken Mom for Betti Page with a boob job.

It is true that once Mom had kids, her work schedule plus the general insanity of keeping a household filled with, well, us from catastrophe encouraged her to self-medicate with food and plump up again, despite thyroid supplementation. One consequence of a childhood spent being scolded for one cookie as if it were the Original Sin is that thoughts like, “Dammit, I’m an adult now, and tired, and stressed, and no-one’s here to boss me — I’ll have all the cookies I can!” might become harder to suppress. Still, one of her kids’ treasured possessions is a photo of Mom before she had us, lounging poolside, not trying, I think, to look every inch the pinup girl, but definitely succeeding. We treasure this photo because we witnessed how much our grandma morally shamed Mom for being a hopelessly fat fatty, even once Mom was a grown woman raising kids of her own, with bigger worries, frankly, than her dress size.

***

The shame my grandma rained down on the fat was both counterproductive and understandable. Counterproductive because it was obvious to everyone not my grandma that normal people could afford more luxury in their eating habits than she could without inflating like zeppelins. Understandable because she could not. She thought sustained mortification of the flesh is just what normal people had to do to look normal, just as she did. Consequently, people who failed to mortify themselves accordingly — as judged by the imperfect proxy of how much flab they carried — really were exceptional moral failures in her eyes.

Grandma not only achieved fitness despite her low metabolism but also despite considerable pain and other setbacks. Her achievements of bodily discipline in the face of those obstacles is commendable. Less commendable, though, was her failure to recognize that these were obstacles that people, quite reasonably, often won’t overcome, especially if they don’t get outside help, help like Mom got once she realized thyroids are A Thing.

***

However we are, are we “born that way”?

Retaining a residuum of choice in the face of circumstances we don’t choose means we do have some choice, but choices often come at a cost not everyone will afford. People often use, “I was born this way,” as shorthand for, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve faced more obstacles to conforming to your expectations than I could reasonably be expected to have overcome.”

@ArizonaPatriot (AP) emphasizes that the “big choices” we make in life aren’t one single choice, but the culmination of many smaller choices:

There is a “strawman” version of the “choice” hypothesis, which assumes that proponents of “choice” as causal factor believe that a person would sit down one day and decide, hey, I’m going to be a homosexual. A more sophisticated hypothesis would be that a variety of choices could lead to such an outcome. As an analogy, and certainly an imperfect one, it seems very unlikely that anyone sits down and “chooses” to be an alcoholic. But it seems plausible to me, at least, that a series of choices can be a causal factor in leading a person to alcoholism. This is perfectly consistent with the existence of other factors, including genetic and other environmental events.

As I replied, a “big choice” as AP describes it is not only a culmination of many smaller choices but of many choices made in the face of a great many things we did not, in any reasonable sense, choose.

Since we cannot change the past, our past choices, too, become part of the weight of what we can no longer choose, only amend by better choices going forward. Warnings about “the primrose path” warn us against accumulating harmful choices to begin with, but these warnings, too, cannot change the past. Moreover, which choices will prove most harmful to us, most burdensome to our future selves, often aren’t obvious at the time.

Much as we conservatives might be loath to admit it, the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character. Why did twisting my knee on some carpeting in college cause me lifelong lasting pain, while none of my underage drinking did? That I never drank very much is only a partial answer. It explains why I was less likely to be punished for drinking, not why I was also punished all out of proportion for a dumb (albeit perfectly sober!) move on some rug. Everyone has stories like this. For good or ill, these stories make up our lives.

***

When people say, “I was born that way,” they might mean it literally. They might mean some genetic or other pre-natal anomaly explains why they are the way they are. More often, I suspect, they mean it figuratively, and perhaps we should extend them the grace of taking them seriously but not literally. They may mean it’s just how life has always been for them, and that changing hasn’t been worth the effort. “Worth the effort” is obviously a subjective judgment. Some won’t change because they won’t try. Others have tried — God knows how they’ve tried — but setbacks have beaten the “try” out of them. An iron will is a remarkable quality precisely because most people don’t have it.

And even iron can be broken.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 34 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Gary McVey Contributor

    A very thoughtful post, Midge. It’s true that sometimes we should give people some benefit of the doubt for mild exaggeration–“born this way” is usually meant something closer, as you suggest, to “been this way for a long time”. Because of the occasional heat of debating the issue of choice as it applies to gays, we tend now to be strict constructionists about the phrase; it’s become a loaded term. 

    It’s also useful for us to be reminded, as we are in this post, that even hard working, generally virtuous people are subject to random luck, good and bad. “Well, why doesn’t he sell the house and move someplace where there are jobs?”–most of the time, sound and obvious advice. We like to see people solve their own problems, and we should. We should also acknowledge it’s not always as simple as it looks from the outside. 

    • #1
    • March 21, 2019, at 3:25 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  2. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    It seems that Auto Immune issues run strong on the lineage of the Lady Rattlers.

    Here’s hoping that modern medicine is continuing to ease the maladies.

    • #2
    • March 21, 2019, at 3:50 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Gary McVey Contributor

    About 20 years ago I read a column called “Physically Correct”, using the then-new term of PC and inventing a new term of scorn–“Ph.C.”–to describe the way people, especially young people, feel justified in having contempt for others who have let themselves go, who eat or drink too much, who don’t exercise enough. The columnist readily agreed that nearly all the time, Ph.C. was in fact, C–correct; we really should try to take care of ourselves. But the self-righteousness of the scorn isn’t meant to be genuinely supportive or helpful.

    • #3
    • March 21, 2019, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Shauna Hunt Member

    Thank you! 

    • #4
    • March 21, 2019, at 4:07 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):
    It seems that Auto Immune issues run strong on the lineage of the Lady Rattlers.

    We are immune to autos?!

    Score!

    • #5
    • March 21, 2019, at 8:00 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Jack Hendrix Inactive

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    • #6
    • March 21, 2019, at 10:10 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Amy Schley Moderator

    The only point I can add is that I dislike the way arguing over whether or not someone was “born that way” concedes the naturalist fallacy, that somehow what is natural cannot be bad. 

    I have a friend who has an overactive adrenal gland with a resulting exaggerated fight or flight response to stimuli. That doesn’t give him license to punch walls or people when he’s upset. Babies are born addicted to alcohol or other intoxicating drugs; that’s not an excuse to break laws so they can remain addicted. I was born with a brain that wants to kill myself, yet I think we can agree that it would be wrong for me to “be true to myself” by acting out on that impulse. 

    What is natural does not have any necessary overlap with what is good. 

    • #7
    • March 22, 2019, at 5:01 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  8. She Thatcher
    She

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    An iron will is a remarkable quality precisely because most people don’t have it.

    And even iron can be broken.

    I would say that, in many ways (and particularly as it applies to people), iron especially can be broken. My own will is much less “irony” (in one sense at least) than it was half a century ago when I thought I’d swallowed the book, and that anyone who didn’t see things my way was welcome to hit the highway. And I could recount some epic confrontations, in which it was either “me,” or “thee” and one of us ended up “broken.”

    Over time, though, the list of causes for which I’m willing to die on any particular hill has gotten shorter, and my desire to try to break others to my own still pretty strong will has largely evaporated.

    My family has known its share of the iron-willed, and I’m grateful for their lessons in forthrightness, truthfulness, and how to stand up for yourself. Too much spine-stiffening is not always a good thing though, and sometimes life is easier, and one is actually less fragile, if one can muster a little “give” in the heart, and even in the head.

    • #8
    • March 22, 2019, at 5:50 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    • #9
    • March 22, 2019, at 6:28 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  10. Judge Mental Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    Alright, Zeke! Rockin’ the shift key!

    • #10
    • March 22, 2019, at 7:43 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    Alright, Zeke! Rockin’ the shift key!

    Given the intellectual heft of Zeke’s parents, I expect and look forward to many stories of contested wills over the next decade. 

    #Beentherelivedthruit

    • #11
    • March 22, 2019, at 8:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    Alright, Zeke! Rockin’ the shift key!

    Zeke’s first love is the caps-lock key. It’s a button which lights up.

    • #12
    • March 22, 2019, at 8:29 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  13. Judge Mental Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    Alright, Zeke! Rockin’ the shift key!

    Zeke’s first love is the caps-lock key. It’s a button which lights up.

    Maybe, but you don’t get that string of Beetle Bailey profanity with a caps-lock.

    • #13
    • March 22, 2019, at 8:31 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Maybe, but you don’t get that string of Beetle Bailey profanity with a caps-lock.

    He caught Shift on the rebound.

    • #14
    • March 22, 2019, at 8:33 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Percival Thatcher

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    Alright, Zeke! Rockin’ the shift key!

    Zeke’s first love is the caps-lock key. It’s a button which lights up.

    Attaboy, Zeke! You’ll make test pilot yet!

    • #15
    • March 22, 2019, at 8:40 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Full Size Tabby Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    In other words, you’re in the “research and information gathering” phase of future writing projects. :-)

    • #16
    • March 22, 2019, at 10:21 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    @roblong – Membership Pitch – Become acquainted with and read tomorrow’s famous writers today.

    • #17
    • March 22, 2019, at 10:24 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    A very thoughtful post, Midge. It’s true that sometimes we should give people some benefit of the doubt for mild exaggeration–“born this way” is usually meant something closer, as you suggest, to “been this way for a long time”. Because of the occasional heat of debating the issue of choice as it applies to gays, we tend now to be strict constructionists about the phrase; it’s become a loaded term.

    It’s also useful for us to be reminded, as we are in this post, that even hard working, generally virtuous people are subject to random luck, good and bad. “Well, why doesn’t he sell the house and move someplace where there are jobs?”–most of the time, sound and obvious advice. We like to see people solve their own problems, and we should. We should also acknowledge it’s not always as simple as it looks from the outside.

    Gary, excellent point.

    I think that both the “born that way” argument and the “immutability” argument may be unusually widespread at the present time because of the specific legal arguments advanced in the homosexuality cases (Bowers, Romer, Lawrence, Windsor, and Obergefell). The sequence is important. 

    Even through Windsor in 2012, the principal argument was Equal Protection. The principal analogy was to racial discrimination, which raises issues of being “born that way” and immutability. The extension of the issue to marriage invoked another obvious Equal Protection analogy, to Loving v. Virginia, the case that overturned laws against interracial marriage.

    Lawrence (2003), was an exception, as it framed the issue under the Due Process Clause, with the principal argument deriving from Griswold (contraception) and the abortion cases. However, the majority opinion found the Equal Protection argument (from Romer) to be tenable, but decided to base its opinion on the Due Process clause because it wanted to clearly overrule Bowers. “Were we to hold the statute invalid under the Equal Protection Clause some might question whether a prohibition would be valid if drawn differently, say, to prohibit the conduct both between same-sex and different-sex participants.” So I don’t think that this represents a major shift away from Equal Protection as the primary basis for the argument.

    It wasn’t until Obergefell (2015) that the majority put roughly equal emphasis on the Equal Protection and Due Process arguments. Windsor was decided primarily a federalism case, with an Equal Protection component.

    My hypothesis here is simply explanatory. I’m not intending to argue the substantive issues, either morally or legally. It simply makes sense that, as the public policy issue was principally addressed by the courts in the first 20 years or so, and as the principal argument raised was Equal Protection, the “born that way” and immutability arguments were emphasized over other arguments in the public discourse.

     

    • #18
    • March 22, 2019, at 10:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Midge, great post. I want to follow up on one portion:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Much as we conservatives might be loath to admit it, the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character. Why did twisting my knee on some carpeting in college cause me lifelong lasting pain, while none of my underage drinking did? That I never drank very much is only a partial answer. It explains why I was less likely to be punished for drinking, not why I was also punished all out of proportion for a dumb (albeit perfectly sober!) move on some rug. Everyone has stories like this. For good or ill, these stories make up our lives.

    I don’t think that I’m loath to admit this at all. I completely agree that the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character, in more ways than one.

    First, I may make one bad choice that, by luck (or grace), has little or no bad consequence. Yet I may make another bad choice, perhaps less bad than the other, that turns out to have a significantly bad consequence. The difference appears to be accidental.

    Second, I may make a choice without a good understanding of what the consequences might be. In fact, we do this almost all the time. The consequences might turn out to be quite bad, or relatively harmless, due to other events that appear accidental.

    Third, I may make a choice for one reason, without understanding that it might have a bad consequence. This will appear accidental from my point of view, as I did not intend the bad consequence and did not realize that it might occur. This will not appear accidental from the point of view of someone who understood the possible bad consequence — perhaps my older and wiser parents.

    • #19
    • March 22, 2019, at 10:45 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Manny Member

    People seem to conceptualize these things as either/or. Either you’re born this way or it’s environmentally formed. But really it is interactive. Genetics limit the possibilities but there are still possibilities. 

    • #20
    • March 22, 2019, at 12:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Manny (View Comment):

    People seem to conceptualize these things as either/or. Either you’re born this way or it’s environmentally formed. But really it is interactive. Genetics limit the possibilities but there are still possibilities.

    I think that the only people who conceptualize the issue as either/or are those who believe the logically and factually flawed “born that way” and immutability syllogisms.

    I think that the only reasonable presupposition is that traits or behaviors are the consequence of both nature and nurture. It is possible that one or the other predominates in a particular circumstance, but this is an empirical issue.

    • #21
    • March 22, 2019, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Manny Member

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I think that the only people who conceptualize the issue as either/or are those who believe the logically and factually flawed “born that way” and immutability syllogisms.

    There are plenty of people who ascribe their lives to factors beyond their control from outside forces. Criminals due to a bad upbringing, poverty because economic forces, cancer because of pollution, and so on. Most people don’t look at life with a “born that way” mentality. On the contrary, most people ascribe to “the world made it come out that way” mentality. 

    • #22
    • March 22, 2019, at 2:37 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. Manny Member

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    I think that the only reasonable presupposition is that traits or behaviors are the consequence of both nature and nurture. It is possible that one or the other predominates in a particular circumstance, but this is an empirical issue.

    Well we agree there. Especially when it comes to homosexuality. ;)

    • #23
    • March 22, 2019, at 2:40 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Midge, great post. I want to follow up on one portion:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Much as we conservatives might be loath to admit it, the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character. Why did twisting my knee on some carpeting in college cause me lifelong lasting pain, while none of my underage drinking did? That I never drank very much is only a partial answer. It explains why I was less likely to be punished for drinking, not why I was also punished all out of proportion for a dumb (albeit perfectly sober!) move on some rug. Everyone has stories like this. For good or ill, these stories make up our lives.

    I don’t think that I’m loath to admit this at all. I completely agree that the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character, in more ways than one.

    First, I may make one bad choice that, by luck (or grace), has little or no bad consequence. Yet I may make another bad choice, perhaps less bad than the other, that turns out to have a significantly bad consequence. The difference appears to be accidental.

    Second, I may make a choice without a good understanding of what the consequences might be. In fact, we do this almost all the time. The consequences might turn out to be quite bad, or relatively harmless, due to other events that appear accidental.

    Third, I may make a choice for one reason, without understanding that it might have a bad consequence. This will appear accidental from my point of view, as I did not intend the bad consequence and did not realize that it might occur. This will not appear accidental from the point of view of someone who understood the possible bad consequence — perhaps my older and wiser parents.

    That is an insightful comment, but when I say stuff like “Much as we conservatives might be loath to admit it, the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character”, what I have in mind is population-wide attitudes such as these, showing conservatives’ reluctance (in a survey, at least) to admit good behavior could go unrewarded:

    A question about hard work isn’t a perfect proxy for attitudes about the role accident plays in life-choices, but it’s close.

    There are flaws in the Hidden Tribes study, no question, but also interesting nuggets like these.

    • #24
    • March 22, 2019, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    People seem to conceptualize these things as either/or. Either you’re born this way or it’s environmentally formed. But really it is interactive. Genetics limit the possibilities but there are still possibilities.

    I think that the only people who conceptualize the issue as either/or are those who believe the logically and factually flawed “born that way” and immutability syllogisms.

    I’ve been thinking about your criticism of SCOTUS using words like “immutable” in their decision. It does seem an odd word, like “intractable” might be a better choice — intractable things being hard to shape, control, or work with.

    Seems to me human sexuality is pretty intractable — and I don’t just mean that of “the freaks”, but all of ours. Difficult to control doesn’t mean impossible, obviously — my whole essay told a tale of the difference between difficult, easy, and impossible.

    Much conservative thought reminds us to work with the human nature we’ve got, rather than trying to remold society into what we wish it were. “Economy” in the religious sense means the practical, prudent handling of man’s fallen nature — that is, working with the nature we’ve got. Many churches permit remarriage after divorce as a pastoral economy — it’s understood not to be ideal, but making the best of things going forward, despite past mistakes. Deciding pastoral economies for the American people shouldn’t be SCOTUS’s job, but when they’re offered the job, they seem to take it. 

    • #25
    • March 22, 2019, at 3:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    People seem to conceptualize these things as either/or. Either you’re born this way or it’s environmentally formed. But really it is interactive. Genetics limit the possibilities but there are still possibilities.

    I think that the only people who conceptualize the issue as either/or are those who believe the logically and factually flawed “born that way” and immutability syllogisms.

    I’ve been thinking about your criticism of SCOTUS using words like “immutable” in their decision. It does seem an odd word, like “intractable” might be a better choice — intractable things being hard to shape, control, or work with.

    Seems to me human sexuality is pretty intractable — and I don’t just mean that of “the freaks”, but all of ours. Difficult to control doesn’t mean impossible, obviously — my whole essay told a tale of the difference between difficult, easy, and impossible.

    Much conservative thought reminds us to work with the human nature we’ve got, rather than trying to remold society into what we wish it were. “Economy” in the religious sense means the practical, prudent handling of man’s fallen nature — that is, working with the nature we’ve got. Many churches permit remarriage after divorce as a pastoral economy — it’s understood not to be ideal, but making the best of things going forward, despite past mistakes. Deciding pastoral economies for the American people shouldn’t be SCOTUS’s job, but when they’re offered the job, they seem to take it.

    I’m not going to comment on the intractability of homosexuality. My post #2 demonstrated substantial, actual change rates. I’m probably going to get to a follow-up on treatment issues, on which I think that the APA’s position has been astonishingly dishonest. (Guys, don’t argue it here — wait for the later post).

    In any event, there’s a big difference between impossible and intractable. It’s the difference between impossible and difficult. As Luke said: “It’s not impossible. I used to bulls-eye womp rats with my T16 back home, and they’re not much bigger than 2 meters.”

    • #26
    • March 22, 2019, at 6:32 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Midge, great post. I want to follow up on one portion:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Much as we conservatives might be loath to admit it, the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character. Why did twisting my knee on some carpeting in college cause me lifelong lasting pain, while none of my underage drinking did? That I never drank very much is only a partial answer. It explains why I was less likely to be punished for drinking, not why I was also punished all out of proportion for a dumb (albeit perfectly sober!) move on some rug. Everyone has stories like this. For good or ill, these stories make up our lives.

    I don’t think that I’m loath to admit this at all. I completely agree that the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character, in more ways than one.

    First, I may make one bad choice that, by luck (or grace), has little or no bad consequence. Yet I may make another bad choice, perhaps less bad than the other, that turns out to have a significantly bad consequence. The difference appears to be accidental.

    Second, I may make a choice without a good understanding of what the consequences might be. In fact, we do this almost all the time. The consequences might turn out to be quite bad, or relatively harmless, due to other events that appear accidental.

    Third, I may make a choice for one reason, without understanding that it might have a bad consequence. This will appear accidental from my point of view, as I did not intend the bad consequence and did not realize that it might occur. This will not appear accidental from the point of view of someone who understood the possible bad consequence — perhaps my older and wiser parents.

    That is an insightful comment, but when I say stuff like “Much as we conservatives might be loath to admit it, the consequences of our choices often have an accidental character”, what I have in mind is population-wide attitudes such as these, showing conservatives’ reluctance (in a survey, at least) to admit good behavior could go unrewarded:

    A question about hard work isn’t a perfect proxy for attitudes about the role accident plays in life-choices, but it’s close.

    There are flaws in the Hidden Tribes study, no question, but also interesting nuggets like these.

    This is a dreadful poll question. I would certainly select the right-hand option. I think it’s a pretty small group who cannot find success, but not an empty set. Imagine a blind quadriplegic with an IQ of 50.

    • #27
    • March 22, 2019, at 6:34 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    People seem to conceptualize these things as either/or. Either you’re born this way or it’s environmentally formed. But really it is interactive. Genetics limit the possibilities but there are still possibilities.

    I think that the only people who conceptualize the issue as either/or are those who believe the logically and factually flawed “born that way” and immutability syllogisms.

    I’ve been thinking about your criticism of SCOTUS using words like “immutable” in their decision. It does seem an odd word, like “intractable” might be a better choice — intractable things being hard to shape, control, or work with.

    Seems to me human sexuality is pretty intractable — and I don’t just mean that of “the freaks”, but all of ours. Difficult to control doesn’t mean impossible, obviously — my whole essay told a tale of the difference between difficult, easy, and impossible.

    Much conservative thought reminds us to work with the human nature we’ve got, rather than trying to remold society into what we wish it were. “Economy” in the religious sense means the practical, prudent handling of man’s fallen nature — that is, working with the nature we’ve got. Many churches permit remarriage after divorce as a pastoral economy — it’s understood not to be ideal, but making the best of things going forward, despite past mistakes. Deciding pastoral economies for the American people shouldn’t be SCOTUS’s job, but when they’re offered the job, they seem to take it.

    Regarding SCOTUS, if we used “intractable” as the standard in Equal Protection cases, we’d have to set loose a bunch of career criminals, including serial rapists and murderers.

    Even “immutable” doesn’t always work. We have a requirement that drivers need to be able to see. A person born blind has an immutable condition that makes it impossible for them to satisfy this requirement. Do we let them drive?

    Equal Protection is rhetorically uplifting, but quite difficult to implement.

    • #28
    • March 22, 2019, at 7:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    In any event, there’s a big difference between impossible and intractable. It’s the difference between impossible and difficult. As Luke said: “It’s not impossible. I used to bulls-eye womp rats with my T16 back home, and they’re not much bigger than 2 meters.”

    The distinction I was trying to draw between impossible and intractable was somewhat different from that between impossible and difficult. A thing might be difficult — very difficult — yet approachable with a plan. Getting a PhD in physics from a top institution is hella difficult, but for those interested, there’s a plan for how it’s done, and mentorship along the way.

    I am not sure people can plan to be not-gay.

    And being mentored to be not-gay? That has an obvious failure mode, it seems.

    Some things are possible, but we don’t know how to plan them or control them. We’ve already had jokes about immunity to autos in this thread, and, in fact, autoimmune diseases are a good example. They can go into spontaneous remission — if you’re lucky, spontaneous remission for the rest of your life. That’s possible. But you can’t plan for spontaneous remission to happen to you. It just does. If it does. An autoimmune disease is intractable, something which people who have it must plan to manage, as if it will always be there, even though it might not be.

    Why we feel the sexual attractions we feel is an intractable problem, it seems to me. We can manage our feelings, sure, but can we expect that, if we’re just clever and hardworking enough, we’ll find a way to not-have those feelings?

    Fat chance.

    Even highly undesirable feelings (suicidality, for example) are intractable. We can learn to live with feelings and plan never to act on them, but those plans aren’t foolproof, and they aim to control behavior, not feelings.

    I think chastity is a beautiful and noble thing. For those who can’t marry, that means lifelong celibacy. Noble and beautiful as it is, it’s also difficult, and those who point out many will fail have a lot of human history on their side. We can choose chastity for ourselves and encourage it among one another, but expecting it of the general populace?… If we can’t reasonably expect it of the general populace, what accommodations are in order?

    • #29
    • March 22, 2019, at 7:56 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  30. She Thatcher
    She

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Jack Hendrix (View Comment):

    Something you whipped up indeed. Nothing against Ricochet, but you ought to be writing copy like this for a proper outlet. You are brilliant, we all know that, are you writing elsewhere?

    I write elsewhere a little bit, but I’ve also got a new baby and one hellion of a toddler. Writing for pay means meeting deadlines and replying to emails with something other than “kab werjtlc;NUI&(*@# %BKj”, which is currently what my toddler is trying to tell the world!

    It’s probably the technology-driven equivalent of my granddaughter’s tear-stained note, discovered in her bedroom by her mother, the day after a verbal tussle of some magnitude, and an order to “go to your room!”

    On a damp and scrunched-up scrap of paper, in the bed, were the words (caps are part of the quote, she could barely write at the time):

    I HAV A BAD MOM. WONT LET ME DO WAT I WANT.

     

    • #30
    • March 23, 2019, at 5:37 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2