When a Man Calls Himself a Chicken

Sanity becomes arguable when insanity becomes attractive. Only a sound mind can assess an unsound mind, and the traditional assessment of insanity is that it is a tragedy. The progressive diagnosis is slightly different. Some forms of insanity pertaining to human identity are now considered wholesome and admirable. This cultural stance of endorsing people who are “questioning” or “transitioning” their very essence, however, is not a stance at all, but rather a stumbling. The less people are able to identify insanity, the less sane they are as a people. Even in these days of mass madness, however, there is still a line that can be crossed over into insanity. A man is a hero if he calls himself a woman; but if a man calls himself a chicken, he is crazy—but for how long? If a man can have the courage to be the woman he thinks he is, even without the anatomy or nature of a woman, what precisely is stopping him from having the courage to be the chicken he thinks he is?

G. K. Chesterton writes in Orthodoxy:

It is true that some speak lightly and loosely of insanity as in itself attractive. But a moment’s thought will show that if disease is beautiful, it is generally some one else’s disease… To the insane man his insanity is quite prosaic, because it is quite true. A man who thinks himself a chicken is to himself as ordinary as a chicken… In short, oddities only strike ordinary people. Oddities do not strike odd people.

 Oddities are growing more ordinary as the world grows more odd, making madness more acceptable—even admirable. People applaud those who surrender to their delusions concerning self-identity (so long as no one is hurt, which is still an objective principle, at least); but such applause is itself a denial and dismissal of reality. Even so, a man who calls himself a chicken is still a madman to modern man, which is odd given modern standards. Liberalism has already legally redefined what constitutes man, woman, human being, and a disorder. Why should it refuse anyone to be a chicken, if that is the soul they were born with? Why should anyone be discriminated against? Let such chickens have feather implants, poultry hormone pills, and beak surgeries. Let them cluck and strut and legally marry hens. Let them open a new chapter in civil rights and be trans-species with freedom and pride. Let their inner species be a truth unto themselves that no one may gainsay. Let all step aside and honor their courage.

But all this is absurd—or is it? How many things unthinkable only a few decades ago are now thought as normal? How many mental illnesses have been branded as mental health? It is already a mad, mad, mad, mad world. Why not make it a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world? It is possible that no one will notice. If the absurdities of relativism continue to be given wild praise and even wilder license, how can sanity and solidity possibly survive? In a homily for the Mass of the Election of the Roman Pontiff before the conclave where he himself was elected pope, Benedict XVI said, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists of one’s own ego and desires.” Ego and desires. If it feels good, do it. My opinion, your opinion. True for you, true for me. I was born a man, but, lo and behold, I am a woman—or a chicken, if I so determine. Be tolerant. Be accepting.

Not to simplify the matter, for it is a serious matter, but some need help changing their perspectives before changing their bodies. Doctors have identified “trans” tendencies as a mental disorder, maintaining the biological and emotional impossibility to reassign sex or psychology. To cooperate in such impossible transitions is to cooperate with disease. This position is clearer with our chicken man, but why? Though men and women are more similar to each other than men and chickens, why is the one hailed as sane and the other as insane? Only the relativism at the helm of society can account for this. Relativism is accepted as widely as it is only because it is not widely understood. There is simply an assumption that truth is a personal matter. But the mere principle of relativism that truth is relative is, by the same principle, relative, rendering the dogma of relativism anything but dogmatic. Relativism is essentially self-contradictory, but that has not stopped it from becoming the essential law of the land. Though it is possible to consider the relativism that would allow a man to be a chicken more-or-less harmless, it is impossible to ignore Pope Benedict’s warning that relativism is the greatest problem of modern times. Relativism does not bestow new freedoms. It only provides a padded cell for those who limit reality in their attempt to render it limitless.

A man is not a chicken and never will be, though he can be permitted or pushed to think he is by an ideology that robs its victims of meaning and belonging in a real world. Relativism does not encourage people to conform to truth, but to confusion. All are encouraged to discover or define themselves without the parameters of culture, society, family, religion, or even anatomy or DNA. In the case of our progressive friend who thinks himself a chicken, the more accepting his neighbors are of his insanity, the less able are they to see it as insane and the less able are they to offer the succor of sanity from not only delusion, but also from the torments of marginalization and depression. The root of the problem is a difficulty accepting reality—a reality from which many choose to escape. The road leading to sanctioned insanity is paved with the graves of suicides, which is far more tragic than any form of madness.

Benedict XVI said, “relativism, which recognizes nothing as definite, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires.” As such, relativism is an isolating force, and not the integrating, normalizing attitude it purports to be—and such isolation makes men mad and severs the ties that bind a culture. To quote Euripides, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” Without objective truth, without a moral guide, men may as well be chickens and cowards, as they scratch for sustenance in the ruins of civilization. All they will have will be themselves. Again from Orthodoxy:

[T]hen when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony. The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his own brain; his mother’s face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell. But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, “He believes in himself.”

In a trans-society of transvestite, transsexual, transgender, and even transhuman exploration and acceptance, a question worth asking is, at what point does relative reality become objective insanity? The inherent problem with carrying out an argument along these lines is that, when truth is mutable from person to person, there cannot be a universal system of logic or consistent reasoning. Truth has ceased to be the conformance of mind to reality; it is now the conformance of reality to a mind. But there are still limits to what is acceptable as truth. It is (thankfully) still possible to be a lunatic, and men who call themselves chickens would be labeled as such—but for how much longer?

Sean Fitzpatrick


Sean Fitzpatrick is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College and the Headmaster of Gregory the Great Academy. He lives in Scranton, PA with his wife and family of four.