Horst D. Deckert

The Personal Really Is Political

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Our identity is more than just a series of badges we wear

“Unpopular opinion: mind your business and leave the guy alone.”

That was professor Peter Boghossian, whom you may know for his role in the “grievance studies affair” with James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose. He was offering his two cents on Twitter about a story I covered for Infowars on Saturday: the Spanish politician outed as a gross sexual deviant when videos of him eating his own feces off the floor ended up on social media.

Until March 27, when he was relieved of his duties, Daniel Gómez del Barrio was a representative of the country’s ruling left-wing Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in the council for the sleepy town of Illescas. What’s more, he was the council’s head of the local Department of Youth, Children and the Family.

Imagine that.

Spanish news website El Diario described how del Barrio “offered himself on social networks as a ‘despicable sexual slave.’” He also requested to be “humiliated and used as a urinal.”

For liberals, eating your own feces on camera is just a valid lifestyle choice like any other, and should be no bar to holding public office. pic.twitter.com/NYs7IH8EDZ

— RAW EGG NATIONALIST (@Babygravy9) April 14, 2024

Peter Boghossian seems to believe he’s in a minority when he states that what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is a matter solely for their own concern and should have no bearing on their public standing whatsoever.

Except he’s wrong. It’s not an “unpopular opinion” at all.

Truth is, the notion that sexuality, and identity more broadly, is simply a badge or series of badges we wear is one of the abiding pathologies of modern liberalism and modern life. Every aspect of our personality can simply be put on or taken off at will. Nothing stays, nothing sticks, nothing carries over from one aspect of our lives to the next.

Put it on, take it off.

You’re a “despicable sex slave” at home, and an upstanding pillar of the community, a man with the right moral instincts to protect children and families, as soon as the key turns in the door and you’re off to work.

Unless, of course, you’re one of the two congressional staffers caught having sex in the Capitol back in December, in which case you definitely take your sexual proclivities with you to work.

But that was just an aberration right?

We’ve heard this so many times before. It was precisely the language that was used in the late 1970s and early 1980s by the gay-rights movement. “What happens between two consenting adults in the bedroom is between them and them alone.”

Or, rather, what happens in the unlit rooms and strappado-chambers of the San Francisco bath-houses is between the two or 20 or 200 men involved and them alone.

Actually, most people didn’t even know what the bath-houses were or what kind of things were going on in them. It would have been better if they had. Then they’d have had a better idea of what to expect twenty, thirty or even, now, forty years down the line. Instead, heterosexual allies of the gay-rights movement thought homosexual men were campaigning for the right to be in monogamous, loving relationships—and how could anybody object to that?

If you want to know more about this clever switcheroo, I’d point you in the direction of Randy Schilts’ classic book about the early days of the AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On. Schilts, an openly gay man himself, drew huge criticism from the gay community for breaking the gay omerta on the bathhouses.

The moral of that story: Beware anybody who tells you slippery slopes aren’t real. They’re greasing the slope as they speak.

The notion of durable identity—of character, to use an old-fashioned term—has really taken a beating over the last hundred years. As well as fashionable literary and philosophical theories imported from the madrassas of Paris, home-grown notions have done their part too.

Stanley Milgram dealt a grievous blow with his famous electro-shock experiments, the results of which were published in his 1974 book Obedience to Authority. Milgram was able to persuade ordinary people to administer what they thought were fatal electric shocks to other people, simply by having people in lab-coats tell them to do so. The implication was that all it took for “nice people” to become brainless automatons that could be programmed to kill, was the presence of authority. The world was shocked, but maybe a little less shocked than it would have been had World War II not happened.

What’s interesting about the Milgram experiments isn’t necessarily that so many people could be convinced to “kill” to curry favour with authority figures, but that so many couldn’t. In actual fact, what deserves explaining in the Milgram experiments is precisely not why so many did “kill”, but why so many didn’t.

Why?

The answer is… character. People do have durable identities and personalities. They do carry themselves with them wherever they go. Yes, some people may have weak character, and bend easily when pressure is applied, but others don’t. They know who and what they are.

They know what is right and what is wrong.

This isn’t just the story of the Milgram experiments. It’s the story of the pandemic too: of all the brave people who risked their jobs and livelihoods, who risked social ostracism and were shunned by their families, who refused to be compelled to bargain with the government for their god-given rights as sovereign individuals.

It’s the story of social life, full stop.

So when someone says to me, “Mind your own business about that politician’s personal life,” I say, “No, I don’t think I will.” The personal really is political.


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