A young man with whom I regularly correspond dropped an e-mail H-bomb on me last week. He tartly informed me that I am a political "hetero normative," guilty of seeking to impose "hetero normativity" on the rest of the planet.
The e-detonation occurred after I sent him a version of the now famous tale of the online petition to have Bert and Ernie come out of the closet and make their way directly to the altar or the courthouse or whatever organ of social inclusion is the proper venue for airing the marriage vows of Sesame Street muppets.
My respondent agreed the petition was "pretty stupid." (As a Sesame Street spokesman kindly pointed out, they are only imaginary boys.) He was adamant, however, that the very impulse to draft the petition proved the need to eradicate all forms of suffering caused by the persistent existence of hetero normatives—e.g., me.
In reply, I suggested he seek out one of the abundant evolutionary biologists at his university and ask them to address openly and honestly what would happen to the human species in the absence of hegemonic hetero normativity. But in one of those things you always think of to say after it's too late to say it, I should have said: "Or just ask your father."
Silence has broken out over the front since our exchange, but I have been mulling it over as an example of the way so many—all?—progressive ideas start out in compassion and end up in total detachment from reality.
There is no argument that what we now call the gay rights movement arose from conditions of unspeakable psychological and, yes, physical violence toward homosexuals. They were, in Christian terms, sins against justice and charity. Change had to come. It did, beginning in earnest, coincidently, at the same time Bert and Ernie and Sesame Street first aired. (Correlation is not causality.)
While those within the homosexual political sphere who organized the change deserve admiration for their superb tactical prowess, whether we agree or not with their goals, the subsequent adventure in social transformation has been paradoxically predictable and unfathomable. Anyone who has observed the process with care has been able to see each next step even while gob smacked that it is happening at all.
Yet we appear close to the point where moorings become unhinged. When phrases such as "hetero normative" make sense to highly intelligent people, we have stopped making sense. When they become a routine pejorative dropped by educated young people, we are facing the non-violent doppelganger of the devolution into social incoherence that exploded in the streets of London this summer.
As the great Mark Steyn wrote recently, the burning and looting of London was, in fact, "the logical dead end of the Nanny State" that emerged in post-war England. What began in compassion was doomed, from its beginnings, to become what we witnessed this month. From its beginnings and also by its beginnings. For its beginnings required a forgetting of how we truly began.
The Genesis narrative and the theory of evolution both agree that we began as something. And what we began as is how, collectively, we continue to regard ourselves in order to sustain ourselves.
Justice and charity demand right treatment of variants from those origins. But when we forget what we are, we begin to cease to exist. Ask an evolutionary biologist. Or your Father.