Last Spring, the Hollywood actress Charlize Theron was asked about her adopted boy, Jackson, who had been spotted wearing girl’s dresses. Theron brusquely replied to the reporter, “I thought she was a boy…until she looked at me when she was three years old and said: ‘I am not a boy!’” Not one to argue with her toddler, Theron insisted that it’s “not for me to decide.” Instead, the adopted mother of two insisted that it’s her job “to celebrate them and to love them and to make sure that they have everything they need in order to be what they want to be.”
Last week, this story resurfaced in a Candace Owens interview with television host Mario Lopez, who recently had his third child. Owens asked Lopez about this trend of Hollywood parents like Theron who encourage their children to determine for themselves whether they are boys or girls.
“Look, I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids obviously and I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong but at the same time, my God, if you’re 3 years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make this determination then, well, OK, then you’re going to a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be … It’s sort of alarming and my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on.”
“When you’re a kid … you don’t know anything about sexuality yet. You’re just a kid.”
Later in the interview Lopez added, “kids should be kids” but “you gotta be the adult in the situation.” Very sensibly, he reflected on how the formative years of childhood require parental guidance and patience before “making these declarations” about sex and gender. It’s not something that should be decided by the dictates of a toddler at the age of three. Lopez was implicitly recognizing that biological sex is something intractable that should form how children understand themselves as the boys or girls that they are. Until a cultural minute ago, that was parental commonsense in nurturing an imaginative child’s sense for reality.
Yet what once counted as common sense now breaks all the rules of wokeness, and incurs the wrath of the cancel culture. So naturally, LGBT activist groups such as GLAAD and PFLAG were stoking the progressive fires to get Lopez fired. An ACLU staff attorney wrote for NBC that Lopez’s remarks “were not just stupid but dangerous,” accusing Lopez of fanning the flames of bigotry and hatred towards trans kids who might commit suicide if they hear such things.
Perhaps such children feel hopelessness because they have looked to adults to help them understand the limits of reality — and all of the adults have failed them. Instead, they find themselves caught in the tyranny of the absolute right to self-determination. They look for parental wisdom, yet find themselves surrounded by those who follow that self-consuming logic of Justice Kennedy which leaves everyone alone to define their “own concept of existence.”
You need a special kind of catechesis to support that fiction, and sadly, we have plenty of directors of the new religious education. The cancel-culture pressure placed on Lopez was severe, and the demand for his repentance absolute. With his job and reputation on the line, it’s easy to understand why he caved to the pressure.
Yet how Lopez caved was equally telling. He performed the rite of contrition perfectly. Not only did he apologize for his “ignorant and insensitive” comments about parenting and gender identity, but he bowed in obeisance to the Pride Flag:
“I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself. Moving forward I will be more informed and thoughtful.”
This very public act of contrition sounds structurally familiar. “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You…who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve…to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life.” Lopez must not only say that he is sorry. He must profess his love. He must declare that he is “an ardent supporter” of the five-lettered god, and he must “use this opportunity” to do penance and amend his life to “be more informed and thoughtful.” The religious poignancy of Lopez’s apology is uncanny and almost automatic now — rote.
It is, in fact, a sort of parody of Christianity. It performs rites that beat the breast, and demand tears of repentance. Yet since it is a religion which calls evil good, and considers common sense to be dangerous, it offers no redemption for children or adults. It only drags people down deeper into the despairing loneliness of self-consumption — the will willing nothing but itself.
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