Lady Gaga recently announced that she was launching a foundation: the Born This Way Foundation. It will be dedicated to “issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development.” All of which sounds very nice. Nobody likes bullies; as a general matter, the best way to handle them is to punch them in the face. The problem, though, is obvious: the Born This Way Foundation will support the “Born This Way” ethos. That ethos actually undermines a campaign against bullying.
What exactly is the “Born This Way” ethos? Let’s take a look at Lady Gaga’s lyrics from that idiotic song – the worst message song since John Lennon’s insipid “Imagine”:
Just put your paws up
‘Cause you were born this way, baby …
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way …
Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re back, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re Orient …
No matter gay, straight, or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive …
The internal logic of the song – and the philosophy – is clear. Just as color is genetically predetermined, so is behavior. Of course we should all “put our paws up” – in essence, we’re a bunch of animals, driven by forces we don’t understand and should not be expected to control. This is dumbed-down E.O. Wilson, the Harvard sociobiologist who believes that every human action can be reduced to biology. Wilson, however, is not stupid enough to believe that biology can in any sense be called moral – it is simply biology, and morality is a gridwork laid down by genetics on top of our biological instinct in order to give order and meaning to our lives.
Lady Gaga, however, falls into the classic naturalistic fallacy, first articulated in basic fashion by David Hume, of mixing up is and ought. Just because something is biologically influenced does not mean that we ought to act that way. If it did, life would be gritty, meaningless, and short. In other words, human civilization would look a good deal like Occupy Oakland.
Lady Gaga and her ilk love this sort of logic because it absolves them of any culpability for their actions. Does Lady Gaga want to have sex with anything that moves? Well, baby, she was born that way. Does she want to promote homosexuality to pre-teens? Well, baby, she was born that way, too. Does she want to wear bizarre outfits and stomp around like a refugee from a Salvador Dali tableau vivant? You guessed it – she was born that way.
But if this is true, then we should stop campaigning against bullies because they are born that way. And those of us who are religious, whom she disdains, should be loved instead for we were born that way, too. Even E.O. Wilson believes that the religious instinct is biologically based. If sexuality is biologically based, so is belief in God – and if everything biologically based is moral, then so is bullying and homophobia. In fact, the evidence tends to show that people are born distinctly male and female, and that the liberal notion of gender malleability is scientifically nonsensical.
Lady Gaga’s campaign is a self defeating one. The truth is that “born this way” is not an argument for or against any particular behavior. As Katherine Hepburn’s Rose Sayer, a missionary, says to Humphrey Bogart’s drunken reprobate boat captain Charlie Allnut in The African Queen, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.” Moral behavior is very often about conquering the compulsion to do horrible things. If Lady Gaga wants to end bullying, she will have to dump her deterministic philosophy by the wayside.
Something tells me she won’t do that. She’s far more interested in maintaining that outlook than in actually stopping bullying and in creating the “Born This Way” generation. They are lazy, because our instincts are lazy. They are vulgar, because our instincts are vulgar. They feel they deserve things, since our biology feels that same way. Is that good for America, or for the world?
Apparently, The California Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University feel that it is. For such sophisticated players to endorse Lady Gaga’s philosophy means that they are not interested in her philosophy, but in her politics. “Born This Way” is just another shortcut to the leftist political utopia. Unfortunately for the left, any utopia built on the shaky grounds of the naturalistic fallacy is doomed to failure.
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