December 18, 2014
When the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence posts a photo from a pro-gun rally from Olympia, Washington -- population about 43,000, 85% white -- what do they highlight?
That's right: "Pretty diverse crowd they brought out to the anti-background checks rally in Olympia, Washington on Saturday, huh? #TheyCanBreathe".
Apparently, if you live in an insufficiently diverse area, you need to import minorities to get the right racial mix in your rallies. Aww, who are we kidding, you need to import black people, as shown by the #TheyCanBreathe hashtag.
Here is a follow-up to this story. John McAdams is a political science professor at Marquette University. He wrote a blog post criticizing a graduate student in the philosophy department at Marquette, Cheryl Abbate, who, in her role as an instructor, bullied an undergraduate student for expressing opposition to homosexual "marriage" and homosexual parenting. In a conversation after class, she likened the student's comments to racism, told him that it was against her policy to allow such comments in her class, and invited the student to drop the class. McAdams blogged about the undergraduate student's experience and about the fact that the philosophy department and the dean brushed off the student's complaints about being "encouraged" to drop the (required) course, which he must now take with someone else. (I haven't been able to find out if the undergraduate got a full tuition refund.)
Now, get this: Guess who is being investigated for harassment? Not Cheryl Abbate, who drove a student out of class for expressing conservative opinions. Not even the student who, Cheryl Abbate and others have implied, may have inadvertently violated Marquette's Orwellian harassment policy by expressing un-PC views, but John McAdams.
December 17, 2014
Alert readers will have noticed our new contributor, whose post appears just below. We, the editors and contributors, are very happy to have Jake Freivald aboard. Jake's bio, in his own words (this will be going on his author page) says:
December 16, 2014
Good evening. As a new contributor who hasn't been introduced yet, I worry that my own content might not be to everyone's liking. Instead of providing a new post, then, I'm just going to reach into an archive of future news articles to see how things went after people adopted the enlightened attitudes of Zach Beauchamp of Vox.com, as exemplified by his article, "Should dogs be citizens? It’s not as crazy as you think."
Los Angeles, CA (Free Woods News, December 16, 2097) -- After seven years of negotiation and lawsuits, the fundamental rights of two of the world's largest sentient non-humans were recognized today by California's highest court. In two separate rulings written by Judge Harold Tung of the California Supreme Court, Anthill CA-OR2748C and the city of Los Angeles are entitled to equal protection under the law and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as "entities of special status."
A lawsuit filed by attorney Eric Lowe on behalf of "Angela", as the City of Los Angeles prefers to be called, claimed that the state was denying the city its rights to life and liberty by enforcing legal mandates that "artificially constrained city development in a non-selectively advantageous way," according to court documents. A suit filed almost simultaneously by Elise Van DeKamp claimed that the state was denying Anthill CA-OR2748C equal protection under the law by allowing developers to excise significant portions of its body -- the tunnels that compose the anthill -- to build a children's hospital.
Angela responded to news of the rulings with spontaneous parades and other activities that, though once considered human reactions separate from the city herself, are now accounted as a sign of the city's sentience. "Some people look at me as though I don't exist, and only the people who compose my body do," Angela said. "But I am an emergent phenomenon, an epiphenomenon, an entity all my own. I am not my people any more than you are your cells. The person speaking these words is driven by forces no more or less deterministic than those that control how your lips move. The people in my streets are like the endorphins in their brains, and after this ruling, we are all euphoric as one."
Angela's formal address was given through Mr. Lowe, who currently serves as her vocal organs. It was later followed by a repeated citywide chorus vocalized through many resident humans -- which Angela described as a "shout" -- of "I cheer because I'm here."
Anthill CA-OR2748C, nicknamed "Pete", has apparently formulated a statement about his ruling, but deciphering his chemical communications will take several more days, according to Jenny Alvarez, lead scientist at the Center for Aggregate Intelligence Research. "Communicating with aggregate beings is more complex than with humans," she said. "The cultures are more disparate and there's much more room for misunderstanding. We will not force Pete to work within the confines of other people's biases."
Not everyone agrees with the rulings. Chan Frederick, a lawyer for People First!, a right-wing organization that wants to recognize the rights of non-aggregate, traditional human life-forms only, is incensed. In a written response to the rulings, Mr. Frederick said, "Mr. Lowe shouldn't make the rest of us suffer just because he can't see the difference between something and parts of something." People First! intends to take the matter to the United States Supreme Court.
"This world is full of prejudice and unhealthy biases," Mr. Lowe responded, speaking on his own behalf. "The bigots are just going to have to get over it." Angela declined to comment.
December 9, 2014
Let me say at the outset that this post is not about Michael Brown and Ferguson. In fact, I consider it a complete coincidence that the grand jury deliberations concerning the death of Michael Brown happened to fall so near those on the death of Eric Garner. I have precisely zero sympathy for any violent so-called "protesters," and am furiously angry at destructive riots such as those in Ferguson, regardless of the cause or alleged cause. I also happen to think that the evidence favors Darren Wilson in the Brown case.
The Eric Garner case is far different and should be treated differently. (It's also just kind of odd that the protests concerning the Garner grand jury have been so much less destructive. I don't entirely know the reason for that. Or perhaps I've just been duped by the media into thinking the protests have been much better than the thuggish destruction in Ferguson.)
December 7, 2014
Watch this video. I won't say, "Drop whatever you are doing and watch this video." One reason not to drop everything is that a warning is in order: Though this is entirely narrated rather than dramatized, there is some very disturbing content which should not be watched with young children present. But watch it.
December 5, 2014
I sometimes read the Calvinist blog known as the Pyromaniacs. That is not by any means to say that I agree with everything there, as this very column will show. But it is sometimes entertaining Christian blogging, sometimes right on the money, and the periodic quotations from Charles Haddon Spurgeon are well-chosen and often inspiring.
Recently the subject of Protestant-Catholic co-belligerence has arisen there via, of all people, Rick Warren. The Pyros, as they are known, as fiery Protestants and apparently consider the Roman Catholic Church to be utterly apostate. This time, they were very frustrated with Rick Warren for saying some positive things about Catholicism. The video that upset Dan Phillips of Team Pyro can be found here.
November 28, 2014
A friend recently alerted me to this flap. In brief: At Marquette University, a university in the Jesuit tradition (ahem), a philosophy grad TA recently hushed up a student who advocated the traditional side on the issue of homosexual "marriage." She stated that his views were "inappropriate" and "homophobic" (of course), likened them to racist remarks (of course), and said that they constitute disallowed and offensive speech in the classroom, since some homosexual student might overhear and have his feelings hurt. She indicated that it was her policy not to allow such opinions to be expressed and suggested that he drop the course if not willing to abide by this policy. (Notice that this article from Inside Higher Ed, not a conservative source, confirms this account of what Cheryl Abbate said. Since the student recorded part of the conversation, it is difficult to deny. I hasten to add, if anyone wonders, that if the student did indeed lie initially about whether he was recording the conversation, that was wrong. He should have said, "Heck, yeah, I'm recording it. Why, are you ashamed of what you've been saying?")
You really cannot make this stuff up. Interestingly, the lefty blogger and poli. sci. professor [Correction: Philosophy professor at University of South Carolina] Justin Weinberg makes an unconvincing effort to spin this as not being about shutting up conservatives and disallowing the expression of conservative views. His first spin on the story is that the student was trying to derail discussion and that the TA was simply exercising her legitimate judgement about whom to call on and what discussions to encourage so as not to waste class time. He even goes so far as to say, in direct contradiction to what Abbate herself is recorded as having said to the student, that "the event at the center of this controversy does not appear to be one of speech being shut down because it is offensive." But then, Weinberg falls back on saying that the Marquette University harassment policy forbids the expression of traditional views of marriage and that therefore the TA had no choice but to suppress them. She was only following policy, you know!
November 27, 2014
When set in the light of the achievements of our ancestors in America, the condition to which our generations have brought the Republic is all the more stark; and what measure of thanksgiving we can offer as a country seems rather meager. We’re thankful for the good things we inherited and have since destroyed?
With real bite, the American patriot may ask if degringolade be his fate. He reflects on his ancestors: for them, the crown of liberty; for us, the yoke of its impending demise. From them, the hope of improvement; for us the despair of decline.
But when, in 1789, George Washington set down such a supplication as this:
I do recommend and assign [Thanksgiving] to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
-- when General Washington proclaimed these words throughout the land, he owed his place and station to the Providence of the Lord God no less than we do. That fact alone is cause for gratitude.
We who may be near to the end of this American experiment have greater reason to give thanks for its beginnings, than those who, near to its precarious origin, could not even say whether it would endure long enough to establish perennial Thanksgiving. The faithful son holds up the honorable memory of his greater fathers, all the more resolutely when his humility shows him how lesser he truly is.
Our fathers were greater than we: in wisdom, in piety, in patience, in courage, in fealty to the bonds of blood. And they gave thanks. This day is national, it is republican, it is democratic. In elegant genuineness of phrasing, as in Washington’s above, Americans set aside a day of thanksgiving. The whole general will of the American people swells with gratitude to God for “His kind care and protection of the people of this country,” before their day of dissolution.
Anyone who has attended a prayer meeting can attest to the fact that some of the most aggrieved, the most distressed, the most afflicted, articulate the most robust thanksgivings. Only the coldest heart is not moved by the gravely ill, the crippled, the bereaved, praising God for some good in another part of the life of the Body of Christ. Indeed, it is gratitude that distinguishes the whole religious orientation, and in a sense all our traditions are an expression of gratitude for things received, but unearned.
America is gravely ill, crippled, bereaved. But we can all give thanks for the many goods the Lord has bestowed.
Even in the midst of this present darkness, there is such bounty as man has never tasted; there is wonder and bliss at the natural beauty of the land, which even now lies unspoiled by the wrath of the Almighty; there is great store of knowledge, and freedom to use it to the betterment of our spiritual condition; there is yet much joy in fellowship, and peace from the strife and terror of the world outside; and though it is much faded and fills us with longing, there is the memory of our great and glorious past, a testament of what might be if we amend our ways and prevail upon the hearts of our brethren.
Remember the charge delivered by the prophet Jeremiah to people carried away from their home in bondage and humiliation:
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
It is with gratitude that we pray for the welfare of our cities, our states, our nation. Above all, we give thanks for that defiance of death and darkness, that treasured-up hope of final victory, which is firm foundation of all who profess Christ crucified.
November 25, 2014
As usual, Andrew McCarthy provides an erudite and level-headed response to the current goings-on in Ferguson, MO. One of the more dispiriting indications of just how far the Progressivist rot has gone is the eagerness of so many to throw aside basic civic traditions and Constitutional strictures in the name of "just doing something." Just doing something supersedes such trifling concerns as law, custom, tradition, and the basic integrity of our republican form of government. (The many unprincipled defenses of the President's recent usurpation of Congressional law-making authority are another recent case in point.) Much the same sentiments were advanced during the trial of George Zimmerman, with the ever-loathsome Michael Savage, no friend of the anti-Zimmerman lynch mob, seriously demanding on air that the mob be given "something" for their trouble, perhaps a mere manslaughter conviction.
November 18, 2014
A Swiss canton has passed a regulation that all nursing homes in its jurisdiction that accept government funding must cooperate with assisted suicide. The nursing homes must set aside a death room where suicide assisters from the ghoulish organization Exit will kill people. If anyone from the home tries to stop these assisted suicides, the patient who wants to die can complain.
Here are the rigorous (!) regulations:
The law establishes some conditions for such procedures. The disease or condition must be serious and incurable and other end-of-life options must be discussed.
Notice, if this were relevant, that "serious and incurable" doesn't even mean "fatal," much less that the person is presently dying. Not that it would be right deliberately to kill the person if he were presently dying, either, but one just gets so tired of the dishonest claims of strict regulations and restrictions after a while.
Notice, too, that there is no mention of guarding people with dementia from "choosing" this option without full understanding or under pressure. Nor is this point merely theoretical. Suicide is not illegal for dementia patients in Switzerland.
November 17, 2014
I often identify myself as an evidentialist in the realm of religious knowledge. I find, however, that there are some misconceptions floating about as to what evidentialism is or entails. Herewith, some hopefully useful clarifications.
1) Evidentialism is not the position that emotions are only for people who are stupid.
Evidentialism should not be confused with a Spock-like philosophy that feelings and emotions are to be scorned and avoided. Rather, our personal relationship with Jesus Christ should be based on facts and evidence. We can trust Jesus because we have reason to do so. This gives us the freedom to commit ourselves emotionally and psychologically to God.
The problem arises when one bases one's beliefs upon one's emotions. That ordering leaves one vulnerable to emotional and other arational appeals from other religions. It also leaves one vulnerable to losing one's faith when the emotions are no longer there. Get it in the right order, and then connect the prose and the passion. That's what Christianity is all about.
An analogy from marriage may help: We can rightly be vulnerable with our spouses because we have good reason to trust our spouses. Vulnerability and emotion are very important in a good marriage. It would, on the other hand, be extremely foolish to "gin up" trust in a spouse or prospective spouse by making oneself vulnerable and thereby prompting emotions of total commitment that have no rational basis.
November 13, 2014
I have a rather lengthy post at my personal blog in which I critique this article by Mark Regnerus.
Due to the nature of the material, comments are closed here; please do comment on the post at Extra Thoughts if you should feel so moved. I usually approve very quickly, and, as readers of that blog know, I almost always approve even critical comments. My concern is not with evading criticism of my own work but with keeping things from getting graphic. Remember, too, that it is impossible even for the blog owner to edit comments at a Google blog. It's all or nothing--publish or don't publish.
I understand from interactions I have had elsewhere that Prof. Regnerus has loyal friends. That's great, and I am entirely prepared to believe that he is a wonderful person in every way. However, special pleading simply will not do when it comes to content, and in my opinion, what he has written is open to important criticism, which is why I've bothered to criticize it.
November 10, 2014
Poland has a judge problem. Although abortion is much more restricted in Poland than it is in the U.S., a Polish judge has ordered pro-life protesters to stop saying that abortion is killing. But it gets worse. The judge has dictated language to the pro-lifers (or at least to one of the pro-lifers, Jacek Kotula) for an apology to the hospital at which they were protesting. She (the judge) tells Kotula that he must say the following:
[By] organizing pickets and manifestations in defense of unborn children, I was spreading false information about the work of the hospital Pro-Familia in Rzeszow. In particular, I was spreading information that the babies in this hospital were being killed.
November 7, 2014
If you don’t regularly read anything by the writer Alan Jacobs, you should correct that deficiency in your life by checking out his “Tumblr” (which is like a blog) here. He is a smart, generally orthodox Christian writer, who was an English professor at Wheaton College for many years and recently was hired at Baylor. He has written many books, although the only one I read was Original Sin: A Cultural History, which I found to be informative and lively throughout. In other words, if I could write half as well as Professor Jacobs, I would be a happy man.