The Structure, Also, of Social Revolutions

Have you read this book?

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions discussed the idea of paradigm shift, how science changes its theories and ideas. I’m sure there’s been a lot of different ground covered since the book came out philosophically, but the premise of Kuhn’s book comes in kind of handy for my discussion of the recent decision to stop Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Let’s talk about what a paradigm shift is in simple terms. Remember I make no claims to be a science philosopher, nor do I play one on tv. This is the undergraduate understanding of the paradigm shift.

Richard Bakker, famous anthropologist wrote a book called Dinosaur Heresies. At the time of its publication in 1985, it was widely believed that dinosaurs were wiped out by climate changes. The usual theory was that a meteor hit the earth, the dinosaurs couldn’t cope with the environmental changes, and good bye thunder lizards.

Bakker reasoned that dinosaurs had evolved into birds.

Scientists laughed at Bakker.

Lots of meteor theory scientists retired and eventually passed away. Young, hip scientists though Bakker was right. Now, the paradigm of dinosaurs becoming birds is widely accepted in the community. Many fossils seem to show this transition. Previously, these fossils were translated in different ways.


And how does this even come close to relating to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

Let me tell you about something that happened at Bryon’s high school this week. He and all the other teachers received a message on Tuesday that a young man, a self-identified transsexual, was wearing a dress to school.

The administration told the teachers that it was this young man’s right to wear a dress, and to not receive any grief about wearing the dress. It’s essentially the law. Teachers were advised to not say anything, and they were further advised that if they saw any untoward (ie discriminatory) behavior from other students toward this student, they were to also shut that down.

This would be the official Writer Tamago shout out to Jefferson High School administrators in Cedar Rapids. You guys rock. I’m glad my husband is part of your system.

Look. The new generation is coming for them. Coming for all the fundamentalists of any religion. Coming for all the people who stubbornly can’t accept love and personhood in all their forms. Coming for members of Congress who refuse to change, who would rather dig in their heels to keep their jobs, afraid of frightening the people in their constituencies that are stubborn.

It doesn’t matter. One of my fellow teachers told me about how his daughter was sitting in the office with a bunch of her office mates, who were talking down gay marriage. She said to them that their opinion didn’t matter, because her generation didn’t care about gays getting married.

What will happen when these Jefferson students, in 2030, when they are my age, are running the show? They’ll remember going to school with boys in dresses, and respecting them. They’ll be okay with the GBLT organizations in their midst. They’ll manage to get past all the biases of the past. The paradigm will shift. It’s a matter of time. This is a Good Thing.

First, ether went by the wayside. Then dinosaurs became birds. First we integrated schools racially. Next we will ask, and we will tell. Or better yet, we won’t have to be asking and telling, because it will be no big deal.

I see the future. It looks better than I thought. Maybe, there will be rocket cars after all.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “The Structure, Also, of Social Revolutions”

  1. As my stepdaughter sometimes says, “We’re just waiting for all of the old bigots to die.”

    And good on Jefferson High School. And on Iowa, for that matter. If a boy had shown up to my high school in a dress, other than for Plainsman Daze (a week of pep rallies and things that culminated in a boy in female drag and a girl in male drag being elected Mister and Miss Plainsman), at best he would have been sent home. Hopefully before anyone clobbered him.

  2. I wish I was as optimistic as you. Unfortunately, in my experience, it’s the rare moderate that really gets involved. These days it’s all polemic. While hopefully the one pole will gain weight in the future, I see enough young small minded people every day to question if it really will happen.

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