In New Zealand, ‘Transgender’ Wins Weightlifting Contest, River Becomes Person

If biological sex is meaningless, then rivers might be citizens. Whee!

By William M Briggs Published on March 23, 2017

Is it strange that, in a country where a woman pretending to be a man wins a weightlifting contest, the government would declare a river to be a person?

Wait. It might have been a man pretending to be a woman. You can never tell in these “transgender” stories which part of Reality has been affronted.

What we do know is that the New Zealand Herald reported that a “transgender” person named Hubbard won a weightlifting competition. Hubbard beat the second-place finisher by hoisting about 40 additional pounds.

Maybe this was a man pretending to be a woman. In that case, then a man lifted more weight than a woman. So Dog-Bites-Man. Or it was a woman pretending to be a man. In that case it must have been a woman juiced on various drugs, like anabolic steroids and testosterone, to make her competitive with real men. And that makes it a story of performance-enhancing illegal drug use.

Both stories are depressing.

As What Gender Does the River Identify?

So is the story that New Zealand’s Parliament has recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person. Yes, the river, also called Te Awa Tupua, is to be treated the same as hot dog hawkers and college professors. According to BioEdge:

Riverine personhood is an untested concept in a Western legal system. According to the government, Te Awa Tupua will now have its own legal personality with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. Lawyers say that the river cannot vote and cannot be charged with homicide if people drown in it. But it will have to pay taxes, if liable. The gender of the river is unspecified at the moment.

How this riverine person will pay taxes is something to be watched. Maybe in the spirit of Finders-Keepers, the river will offer up rings and other jewelry lost by actual people while swimming. But will swimming even be allowed? Unless you’re still preborn, you can’t swim in an actual person. May you swim in a riverine person? 

That brings up the natural question: How will we know Mr. β€” or Ms.? β€” Whanganui’s opinion about swimming? We don’t even know his or her preferred “gender.” Obviously, like in Hubbard’s case, people are free to call themselves whatever “gender” they wish. Thinking anything else is rank bigotry. But we at least have the advantage of asking Hubbard’s opinion whether she is a he or he is a she, or whatever. We can assume that Whanganui gurgles, as all rivers do, but who speaks River? Who can tell us Whanganui’s preferred gender?

We’ll have to rely on hydromancy. That’s the “method of divination by means of water, including the color, ebb and flow, or ripples produced by pebbles dropped in a pool.” Or in this case, dropped in a river.

Hydromancy requires a hydromancer. That’s an actual human person who can interpret the wiggles and waves of (Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Mx.) Whanganui into human commands and desires. Since New Zealand’s Parliament says that these human-like desires exist, they’re going to have to fund the position of Official Hydromancer (which, in a way, they are).

The river gets rights but has no duties. It can commit homicide but can’t be held accountable. This leniency will encourage bad behavior, like flooding.

The person-river also now has rights.

One politician said, “The river itself has the right itself not to be polluted. It has the right not to be degraded. It has the right not to be overdrawn before it can replenish itself.”

So Rivers Have Rights. Do They Have Duties?

These are fine rights, sure to swell in number as time passes, as all rights do. But it does seem unfair that the river gets only rights but has no duties. It can commit homicide but can’t be held accountable for it? Wait and see: this leniency will encourage bad behavior, like flooding. Don’t anger Whanganui!

There are, of course, deep tangled sensitive politics behind New Zealand’s move to call a river not a river but a man (or woman). Yet these motivations, weighty as they are, fail to explain the full enthusiasm of the Parliament for its ruling. For instance, the government could have ceded control of the river or applied vast quantities of money to those who hold the river sacred. Instead, they insisted that all of New Zealand call the river a person.

Or it could have agreed that those who wanted could call the river a person. Instead, it gave freedom to those who wanted to follow Reality to call the river a river.

Yet if a man can call himself a woman (or vice versa) and expect all must agree with his choice of “gender,” it follows that a river can be a man and that all must agree that a river is a man.

Or a woman.

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