Sunday, September 28, 2014

When You Complain Loud Enough

When you complain loud enough you get attention, which is the lesson I learned after reading Science Magazine's August 15th issue. They took a bold step (bold by the world's standards) by including and responding to a complaint about the cover from a July issue. I still remember the cover which featured 3 scantily-clad women. I even remember complaining to a friend about how shocking it was for Science Magazine to use this as their cover photo. It was unclassy, and downright inappropriate. But I missed the point. It wasn't half-naked women; it was transgendered individuals - which is no more appropriate.

The article's message was essentially about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jakarta. What became controversial was the decision to use a picture of transgendered sex workers as having a high concentration of the sexually-transmitted disease (STD).

... [Insert much needed wondering HERE] ...

Ummm, yea. You might be wondering what's controversial about using a picture of transgender prostitutes as a group of people with higher HIV/AIDS contraction rates.

Well, one group was not very happy about the picture: the N.O.G.L.S.T.P., or National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals. Rochelle Diamond, the Chair of their Board of Directors, wrote Science Magazine to "register our indignation," and it is all down hill from there. She continues,

The cover, a misguided attempt to pique interest in reading the special section on HIV/AIDS, has provoked many readers, including many members of our organization, to express their dismay at Science's lack of decorum and lack of sensitivity to a much maligned and misunderstood community.

What was the "misguided attempt" that "provoked many readers"? They used a picture of transgendered people - who are prostitutes - to represent the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the region. Was Science Magazine unfair in choosing this group as an example of those with higher rates of HIV/AIDS? In the odd event that you're confused, I'll give you the correct answer: no, it isn't unfair. Transgender people have sex with more people than straight people; and prostitutes do too - is it sad that I even need to say this out loud?

But the Chairperson continues,

With one inappropriate picture, you have managed to stereotype all transgender women as sex workers and vectors of disease, as well as hyper-sexualize women of color in general.

What's amazing to me is that Ms. Diamond thinks that the cover photo did everything she said it did. There is no rational connection between this picture and communicating that ALL transgender persons have this STD AND are prostitutes. But she doesn't stop there. Someway and somehow she makes a connection with "women of color" as being "hyper-sexualize[d]." Seriously? Seriously?! What is she actually outraged about? First, she's outraged because transgender prostitutes are shown as a more common example of this STD's carriers, but then she's mad that non-white women are being misrepresented? Which group is being misrepresented by the picture, from her view? Did she miss the fact that these aren't women? They are transgender individuals! It's almost comical. It's as if she wants to be mad about as many things as she can, and cram them into a single critical letter.

We press on,

To avoid the kind of hurtful misunderstanding and atmosphere of disrespect that has been generated by this dehumanizing and insensitive decision, NOGLSTP leadership would have been happy to facilitate discussion between science and engineering leaders in the trans community and the editorial staff of Science regarding appropriate content as it relates to transgender sex workers and the struggles they face, of which HIV infection is but one.

This letter was carefully crafted to do one thing, and one thing only: to stop rational thinking. This was not an attempt to promote a meaningful dialogue. Buzz words give their agenda away loud and clear: "hurtful misunderstanding," "atmosphere of disrespect," "dehumanizing," and "insensitive decision." All of these terms were strung together because in today's politically correct society, no one wants to be accused of these things. I mean, who would? The problem is: Science Magazine rightly understood that transgender prostitutes are at a significantly higher risk of contracting AIDS than straight heterosexual couples. That's a fact; a documented fact. Saying this isn't hateful, it isn't disrespectful, it isn't dehumanizing, and it isn't insensitive. Apparently, all of the turmoil that Science Magazine brought about could have been avoided had they consulted members of the N.O.G.L.S.T.P.

Ms. Diamond concludes her article with these words:

This incident should be used as a teachable moment to correct the prejudices of those who are insufficiently familiar with LGBTQ communities and their concerns. ... The LGBTQ communities, including in particular the trans community in this instance, deserve more respect than you have offered. The ethic of science demands that we regard all minds and people equally. Prejudice has no place in our endeavors.

Gotta love the "teachable moment" phrase =). She implies that if people better understand the LGBTQ community they would, by necessity, have a positive view of alternative lifestyles. However, this is not a necessary conclusion, and one that the Christian cannot embrace for the Scripture won't allow us to.

Her discussion of equality and prejudice sounds wonderful. Really, it does. But she doesn't mean it. I seriously doubt she believes the "minds and people" who are opposed to same-sex marriage deserve to have their definition of marriage to be the legal standard. I'm also willing to bet that she isn't favoring the rights of pedophiles or incestuous couples. Yet, she gets a pass to speak about equality, and against prejudice. You know ... *some* prejudice is a good thing. I don't mean the kind of prejudice that is hateful, or looks down on others as though they are less valuable. But I am prejudiced against pedophiles. I believe children ought to be protected from adults who have sexual desires for minors. I am also prejudiced against a grandmother marrying her grandson! Or her granddaughter! Yes, I am prejudiced against some things ... and so is Ms. Diamond - at least, I assume and hope so.

"Prejudice" doesn't have to be an inherently dirty word. Really, the term means to draw a boundary: "any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable."

"Equality" is another term that is far too often tossed out there. No one in the LGBTQ movement wants equality for everyone. They want certain people to have new-found rights to redefine marriage. But they don't want everyone to have these rights. This so-called "equality" isn't genuine.

I won't cite Science Magazine's response, but needless to say they utterly capitulated. They were blindsided by the freight train of poorly constructed pseudo-arguments put forth by the Chairperson of the N.O.G.L.S.T.P. They just didn't see it coming. I don't think anyone did. I certainly didn't! But it is increasingly apparent that many members of the LGBTQ movement are sitting around waiting to be offended, and are more than willing to create a stir whenever anything related to their cause isn't painted in the best possible light. Well you know what, the average lifespan these alternative lifestyles produce is drastically less, and they do contract STD's at a much higher rate. Those aren't facts to be happy about, but they are unfortunate facts of reality.

By now, I've gotten used to being bombarded with stories about LGBTQ in the media, especially about homosexuality and same-sex "marriage." What caught me by surprise was that this time, it somehow forced its way into the scientific arena, an area that I previously assumed had little to do with these subjects. Boy was I wrong. Better run for the hills if you picture transgender prostitutes as representative of STD's!

I know, I know. This isn't a topic that creates warm and fuzzy feelings. But as Christians, this isn't something we can avoid. We simply cannot hide in our churches and pretend our world isn't undergoing a radical cultural and moral shift. We have a duty to the gospel to face the reality that the Great Awakening is in the past, and unless the sovereign Lord performs a great work in our land we will continue on the same path of destruction. Yes, I do believe God can grant our nation repentance. He has that power. I pray for that to happen.

But until (and if) that happens, the people of God must be faithful witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead, and therefore we have nothing to fear! The worst someone can do to us is strip us of worldly comforts. And the only power they have over us is what we give to them. Our Lord said this: "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28, NASB).

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