Which, I wonder, is the greater despair of the comedian? Is it the academic, or the journalist? There’s much to be said for the academic. It takes real comic genius to write as badly as a Jacques Derrida or a Julia Kristeva, with the turgidity of a decadent schoolman and none of the precision. It takes even more to listen to it with a straight face. But my money is on the journalist.
He suspects that he’s not too smart, but he does all he can to hide it from himself. So he sucks up to academics, politicians, and scientists, a stunning array of fools and knaves. He lies with women, but not with statistics, because he doesn’t understand them well enough to be culpable. His knowledge of history, or herstory, is limited to the last three days, or whatever shows up on Real Clear Politics. He, or she, is a cute Golden Retriever, tilting her head to pick up some physics-type-thing on global warming, or some economics-type-thing on taxes.
When he, or she, confronts a girl who thinks she’s a he, then he, or she, knows just what to do. It seems a young woman who plays basketball for George Washington University has declared herself to be a man. Well, she isn’t. She’s a girl with those narrow shoulders girls have, and slender arms, and a kind of triangular face, and hair that would be nice if she didn’t shave it down to the scalp. She’s a girl. My dog Jasper, who knows “ring the bell” and “jump through the hoop,” would know that she’s a girl. But the journalist doesn’t.
The story here is that she, who is called he, and who must be obeyed in matters pronominal, is still waiting for his surgery and hormonal treatment, having delayed it a year so that he who is really she could play on the women’s basketball team. But next year he or she will have his or her amputation, followed by what is called asinocaudal surgery, meaning, roughly, “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”
The girl needs psychiatric help, but what explains the journalist? Well, perhaps I’m too quick to judge. Instead maybe I should help the journalist prepare for what is to come:
I believe that I am an aristocrat trapped in a bourgeois body. I am transclassed. I will be waiting for an infusion of lots of money into a Swiss bank account in my name. In the meantime, I wish to be referred to as “My Lord”.
I believe that I am an alien trapped in a Terran body. I am transplaneted. I will be waiting for the attachment of several limbs not known among humans. In the meantime, I wish to be referred to as “Gak Mlagax”.
I believe that I am a tomboy trapped in a man’s body. I am metasexed. I will be waiting for the injection of female sex hormones. I will still play sports, but not as well. In the meantime, I wish to be referred to as “Martina”.
I believe that I am a tree trapped in a human body. I am transkingdomed. I plan, once the summer vacation comes, to locate myself in one place and stand very, very still. In the meantime, I wish to be referred to as “Sequoia”.
I believe that I am not actually a body-soul composite dwelling in time, but instead an immaterial concept, such as “cause”. I am transentitied. I have no plans, because I do not change. In fact, I am not sure that I can validly speak of myself in the first person at all. I wish to be referred to in academic papers, as “the aforementioned proposition”.
I believe that I am a child trapped in the body of a man. I am transeval. I want my Maypo! I want my Maypo!
I believe that I am Jimmy Stewart in the body of Haystacks Calhoun. I am transfat. I am waiting for the referee to finish his beer. I want to be referred to as “The Oscar winning wrestler in this corner, weighing five hundred pounds, graduate from Princeton University”.
I believe that I am three persons, Inky, Pinky, and Stinky, trapped in one body, but not always all at once. I am transnumbered. I am waiting for two of them to leave, but I don’t know which two. In the meantime, I wish to be referred to as “he, or they, as the case may be”.
I believe that I am the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, trapped in the body of R. C. Sproul. I am transchristian. I wish to be referred to as “God’s Holy Word.”
I believe that I am but half a man. I am semigendered. I like to challenge people to fight, and then walk away. I pull the car into gas stations when I’m lost, but am too timid to ask for directions. I am waiting for somebody to take me seriously. I wish to be referred to as “he,” but I’ll understand if you don’t.
I believe that I am really a male attracted only to transgendered men occupying a female body. I am transmasculine. I am waiting for the guerilla of my dreams. I wish to be referred to as “he he he”.
I believe that I am a journalist trapped in the body of a rational creature. And this is as far as my satire can go. Malcolm Muggeridge has passed away. If only he were still with us.
Anthony Esolen is professor of English at Providence College.
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