Our lesson up front:
This story is only superficially about the “Drag Queen Teen Time” event in Nashua, NH. That’s the flashy, “explosive”, “children-will-see-this?!” title that distracts people from the deeper lesson.
This actually is a story about an axiom in political-economics and ethics, and it can be revealed first, with a fundamental question.
Want to know an easy way to pit people against each other?
Throw the funding and management of something into the government sphere.
Because anything placed in the hands of the state inspires people to argue with each other and fight over how resources will be used.
And even something as innocuous as a public library is an example of it.
On January 9, the city of Nashua felt rumblings of discontent over its library.
“How?” one might ask. After all, libraries are oases of learning and erudition, of relaxation, “secret gardens” where children – heck, whole “communities” – can enter a new world of reading, take flights of imaginative fancy, or learn from millennia of thinkers. How could anyone not like a public library?
Well, Kimberley Houghton, of the NH Union Leader, explained the seeming cause of the controversy on the 9th. The Nashua Library had invited a drag queen to host a “Drag Queen Teen Time” there on January 12th – which didn’t sit well with certain people in the area.
Last week, an attorney with Cornerstone Action said local taxpayers should be made aware of the events that are taking place at the library, which is funded with taxpayer money. Parents have a right to know that the library is promoting the event as family-friendly, even though the performer — during her 21-and-older shows — is highly sexual and has group members with sexually explicit names, said attorney Christopher Jay.
Okay. Jay's point probably sounds pretty dang sensible to a lot of folks, right?
Not to the Library Director, and at least one Alderman…
Alderman Tom Lopez told aldermen this week that he supports Director Jennifer McCormack’s judgement (sic) and execution in library programming.
So the issue hit bigger news outlets, including talk radio stations, and guess what? Everyone concentrated on the Drag Queen facet of the story, and they all lined up on one side or another regarding whether this publically-funded establishment should do “X” or “Y”, and whether that would be harmful for kids or helpful -- whether it was part of a liberal agenda to “make boys androgynous” (a caller to WRKO, AM 680 in Boston offered that possibility), or it was a moment to help sexually confused teens figure themselves out. Would parents be involved? How would they know? On and on the valid – and sometimes speculative – worries wound.
Not one person questioned the ethical and economic problem at the heart of this visible controversy: Government… The Tragedy of the Commons… Forced payments and a lack of private property control.
And so the event went on as scheduled, and Ryan Lessard, of the Union Leader, covered it:
‘This is not for me,’ she told a packed auditorium of about 100 people Saturday afternoon. ‘This is for the teens.’
And for the pre-teens.
Attendees represented people of all ages, from grade-school age kids who came with their parents to senior citizens. Most came in support of Toosoon, who is a married gay man and small-business owner.
Which begs the question, on a journalistic, linguistic, and biological level:
Could reporters please stop using “she” for men who are dressed as women?
Toosoon is not even transsexual. Monique Toosoon is a “Drag Queen”, the point of which has been for a man to, adopt the clothes, makeup, and affectations/mannerisms of a female, as entertainment.
He is a he, and always will be.
Additionally, for the vast, vast majority of transsexuals – unless they were born hermaphroditic or with another rare anomaly, they, too, will always be the gender they were born. Scientifically, a transsexual man does not take the pronoun “she”, and his object pronoun is not “her”. He is male. He takes a singular male pronoun, especially if he’s in the emergency room of a hospital. His chromosomes dictate this biological reality, no matter how many people would like to fantasize otherwise.
So let’s at least get that right in the report, okay?
And beyond that, why not bother explaining that the source of controversy and factional anger will remain long after the drag queen is gone?
Why not mention that the fundamental lesson, the axiomatic truth to take with us when seeing this story is that a publically funded institution immediately creates the tragedy that long as the government funds something, it’s going to pit people against each other?
Remember when Sports Illustrated put Caitlyn Jenner on its cover? The Nashua Library carried that. So opponents to sexually charged issues like the drag queen appearance could have justifiably spoken up about it.
Some conservatives complained that it was unlikely the Nashua Library would invite a conservative like Ann Coulter, or political personality like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak and support her or him with such strength. Probably true.
But that, again, misses the larger point. The point is that public funding of anything creates winners and losers – always.
The answer to this problem lies in the market, where no one is forced to pay for anything, and if people don’t like something, they can “vote” by withholding their funds and turning elsewhere.
The great French economist Frederic Bastiat understood this in the 19th Century. He wrote:
“Government is that great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”
And while some people think a library is an innocuous, traditional public institution, how about at least introducing the ethical and economic idea that we offer peace to our neighbors the less we toss things into the government realm? The less we force our neighbors to pay for the building to host a drag queen?
Freedom is such a simple thing, yet people argue about the lack of it, without even realizing why they’re arguing.
One wonders whether that was mentioned at the Nashua Library event.