Some of my blog-spirations (if I dare elevate them to that level of sagacity) come from seemingly disconnected things that somehow connect themselves inside the labyrinths of my brain. One such occurred yesterday, where several disparate topics came into confluence. A news bit about Rachel Dolezal, she of the “black” self-identification, declaring herself as bisexual; an article that asserts a disinterest in dating the transgendered is “dehumanizing” to them; a question as to whether cilantro belongs in authentic guacamole; and a reference to the Brad Pitt movie Meet Joe Black, where Anthony Hopkins offers Pitt a cold lamb sandwich with cilantro.

The link that emerged is the disparity in people’s taste for cilantro. Some like it, some (like myself) love it, and some think it tastes like soap. As it turns out, there’s a reason for that disparity, one that goes beyond simple preference or learned behavior. Some people have a “group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves.”

In other words, they were born that way.

There’s an interesting disconnect in the nature/nurture perspectives of those who elevate the concept of “self-identification” over basic biology. Sometimes, we are to accept that people can declare their gender, choosing from a list that’s gone into the triple digits and seems to grow longer every time I look. Such declarations often include orientation, and the list includes genders that are fluid to varying degrees (e.g: “Amicagender: a gender that changes depending on which friend you’re with”).

I’m all for people deciding for themselves what they feel like and who they are attracted to. That’s the libertarian way – I don’t have the ability to see inside someone’s brain pan, so I cannot rightfully pass judgment as to the legitimacy of another’s feelings, in whatever way they manifest. I can criticize behavior I consider to be un-libertarian, but such criticism is of cognition, i.e. decisions born of thought process.

Here’s the cilantro connection. You cannot simply think yourself into liking cilantro if you’re among those who taste soap when they eat it. That’s a chemical response to stimuli, not merely a product of the rational mind. Likewise, you cannot simply will yourself to be attracted to people you aren’t attracted to, whether it be because of gender, height, skin color, hair color, facial features, weight, or what have you.

Of course, it can be a bit more complex than that. People’s tastes do change over time, and some tastes can be learned. I used to drink my coffee Beastie Boys style, aka “I like my sugar with coffee and cream,” but for professional purposes I switched to straight black. It took some getting used to, but now I find coffee with milk and sugar very off-putting. Conversely, as a kid, my favorite dessert at our local Italian restaurant was a tortoni, which in their iteration was vanilla ice cream topped with toasted coconut. At some point in either my late teens or early twenties, I developed an aversion for coconut, to the point where I’d gladly see every coconut and everything that smells or tastes like coconut disappear from the planet. Point is, though, that I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t like, and while I might try to condition myself into changing my tastes, I cannot simply decide them.

Ditto for physical attractions. I have my preferences, we all do. That’s not simply me deciding on them – attraction is a chemical reaction, not the result of a thought chain. Progressives and social justice advocates should agree with this, since their concept of gender identification is purportedly born of natural predilections, including the feeling of being ‘born in the wrong body.’ After all, Lady Gaga told us we’re born this way.

This reality runs contrary to a narrative of a few years back that asserted that not being attracted to blacks was racism rather than preference, and it refutes the aforementioned assertion that a disinterest in dating transsexuals is an act of dehumanization. If physical attraction is rooted in biological factors, and not just mental gymnastics, it is itself a dehumanization to assert otherwise.

The article does allow that “[u]ltimately, each individual has the freedom to decide whom they date or are interested in dating, and thus our research does not attempt to make any statements concerning whom an individual should date or consider dating,” but it asserts that education and cultural exposure can remediate what it purports to be a problem.

There is something to that. Acceptance of “other” grows with familiarity, and just as race relations and viewpoints towards homosexuals have improved with time and the “normalizing” of interactions between people of different races and different orientations, acceptance of transgenderism will improve as people witness and interact with the transgendered on an individual basis. But, it remains that this is cognitive, whereas physical attraction is chemical, and not as subject to the “normalization” argument as the accusation of dehumanizing would imply.

We like what we like, it’s no one’s business to tell us that our likes are wrong, and we are under no obligation to adjust our likes to conform to someone else’s ideas, preferences, rules, or agenda. If you don’t like cilantro, I won’t tell you that you should.

Unfortunately, some forms of liberty and self-determination are unacceptable to a certain vocal minority. That’s the gag. If you declare correctly, then you are simply being true to yourself. If you declare incorrectly, you are choosing to be a bigot.

Those folks would do well to (re-)read Orwell’s 1984, and pay attention to the parts about wrongthink and thoughtcrime. It’s amazing that, today, in America, a nation founded on liberty, Orwell’s cautionary tale is coming true.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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