If you don't like it, leave

I was very surprised by a recent debate around the Catholic Church, following the death of the emeritus pope.

Thomas Osborne
Thomas Osborne
30 January 2023 Monday 17:39
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If you don't like it, leave

I was very surprised by a recent debate around the Catholic Church, following the death of the emeritus pope. Benedict XVI had opposed the female priesthood. Commenting on his legacy, some critical voices embarrassed that opposition. As expected, others defended him. So far, all good. What astonished me was that those who defended him did not do so by arguing on the merits of the matter, but by denying the right to opine on the Church to those who are not part of it.

It is not an isolated case: it responds to the same vision of society as that of those who propose the parental PIN, they get angry if we criticize a song, they defend the self-determination of sex or, in the face of any social debate, they give the same answer: that each one Do what you want. Raise your baby with breastfeeding and co-sleeping or nursery or bottle feeding, as you prefer. Whatever you are going to learn at school, choose it à la carte. If you don't like pornography, no one is forcing you to watch it. That the song that represents Spain in Eurovision is macho, what else does it matter to you? If you disagree with the Catholic Church, become an atheist, a Buddhist, whatever you want, but don't criticize, don't bother, don't try to correct us. If you don't like it, leave.

It is a very attractive answer, of course, because it settles (or seems to) very complex debates in the simplest way, and avoids (or seems to) impositions and conflicts. But if we take a closer look, we will see that it is not real.

For example: "Let each mother or father raise their baby as they want." But the law gives them 16 weeks off. After this time, what if they want to continue caring for him full time? What will they live on if they don't go back to work? And if they come back, what do they do with the baby? Are there nurseries? What time...? Legal, labor, economic factors... condition so much that in practice freedom is for those who have money.

Another, more subtle example: "Let each person decide if they are a man or a woman." Here the problem is not legislative (the trans law will allow changing the legal sex without requirements), but it is social. Our coexistence, thought, norms... are based on shared meanings: we can debate and legislate about workers or pollution, because we agree on what those words mean. If we accept that they mean what each one wants, a city council will be able to affirm that there is no pollution in their city because they define pollution in their own way, or a businesswoman can take advantage of the Workers' Statute, or two men can assure that they are part of a joint electoral candidacy because one of them, who was called Kevin, decides to call herself Emma. This is already happening.

Neoliberal ideology, individualism, vision of society as a market in which we behave as consumers... are, I suppose, the factors that are influencing us.

Add the culture of sentiment (only what I feel is valid), post-truth (if I don't like the facts, I can proclaim alternative "facts"), the model of American society, in which the most disparate groups coexist turning their backs on each other, and social networks, which lock us in a bubble, surrounded by those who think like us. Everything fosters the idea that everyone can (in the double sense of having the right and being able) to do what they want and that this is the magic formula that gives an answer to everything.

Going back to my initial example, what the Catholic Church does does not only affect Catholics, but undoubtedly has an impact on society: for example, it legitimizes the subordination of women. Can you imagine that the main religious institution in the country stipulated that gypsies cannot be priests...? It would be denounced before the courts and socially disapproved.

If we do not do it with the Church, it is because sexism is naturalized (even if we say the opposite), and it is because military power, fashionable songs, business power, children's movies, pornography... transmit the same message as the Church: women count less.

The formula "if you don't like it, go away" has a lot of abandonment of responsibility, which is incumbent on us as citizens. "Let each one do what he wants" does not avoid injustices or conflicts; all it saves is the trouble of having to think.