Stanley Fish and the Norming Norm

Who gets to define “normal”? Some in the deaf community do not want cochlear implants because giving them hearing would deny their identity. One sufferer of autism likewise wrote that the doctors searching for a cure for his condition are well nigh guilty of attempted genocide: “I speak for many when I say we are happy the way we are.”

Stanley Fish eloquently and incisively deconstructs common appeals to a norm in his New York Times blog post for June 1. I do enjoy reading him for just this skill of his.

But this is the best answer he can come to at the end of his search:

All we can be sure of is that the struggle between the impulse to normalize—to specify a center and then police deviations from it—and the impulse to repel the normalizing gaze and live securely in a community of one’s own will never be resolved.

I felt compelled to comment, arguing briefly that only God can provide a final objective standard by which to measure what humanity ought to be. It appears, however, that my comments have been disallowed by the moderator!

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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