Electric Monks and the 100 Meters

Growing up in England in the late seventies, I was addicted to a BBC Radio series called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I would nervously tune my scratchy AM receiver to what I hoped was the right wavelength, only to be filled with excitement and relief as I heard announcer John Marsh recite, over the opening notes of Bernie Leadon’s Journey of the Sorcerer, the show’s title in a cadence I can mimic to this day. The show, written by Cambridge graduate and ex-bodyguard Douglas Adams, took the listener on a surreal journey across the universe, encountering a staggering series of strange creations and a great deal of sly, artful humor.

After writing perhaps too many sequels to The Hitchhiker’s Guide, Adams went on to pen another book called Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency in which he introduced a character called the Electric Monk:

The Electric Monk was a labor-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.

Adams, a devout atheist, discussed the monk with fellow non-believer Richard Dawkins in an episode of the British arts review, The South Bank Show. The pair observed how for some believers, the more ridiculous an idea, the more it demonstrated one’s commitment to one’s faith. The early Christian author Tertullian, noted Dawkins, exclaimed that he held to certain ideas precisely because they were absurd (“Credo quia absurdum!”) while Sir Thomas Browne sought out more and more difficult beliefs so as to test and establish his faith. While something of a caricature, this does make sense: It takes no effort to believe that which is obvious, and only by believing that for which there is no proof can one show true commitment.

All of which brings us to this week’s news:

On Monday, when Connecticut had its State Open track and field championships at Willow Brook Park, one person broke the State Open records for girls in both the 100 and 200-meter runs. That person was a biological boy. Terry Miller of Bulkeley, a transgender, won the events. In the 100 meter dash, the runner-up was Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell, also a transgender.

For the girls who were pushed down the field by these impostors, this was not merely a matter of wounded pride. This was a qualifying event for the New England Championships, and at least two girls lost their chance to attend because they were displaced by athletes who had no business taking part in the race. Worse, valuable scholarships could now be out of reach for those who failed to make the cut, putting at risk entire athletic and academic careers. Karissa Niehoff, an administrator for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, admitted with some understatement that the “optic isn’t good” but added helpfully that in the end “we really do have to look at the bigger issues”.

If you ever find yourself wondering how Ms. Niehoff and her ilk can allow such travesties, remember that they are just living by their own perverse version of Tertullian’s maxim: They allow these things to happen precisely because doing so demonstrates the depth of their faith in the progressive agenda. The distinction, of course, is that while his and Sir Thomas Browne’s quests for extreme ideas might have been laughable, they were in the end only deceiving themselves. Those who sacrifice the future of female athletes on the altar of their own virtue signaling have no such defense, and deserve to be judged far more harshly.

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