June 2013 Archives
June 3, 2013
New number of The Christendom Review
A new issue of The Christendom Review is online. Associate Editor and former W4 Contributor William Luse features a piece from 2003 titled “Dying by Degrees.” He writes: “The essays include one by undisputedly good woman, college English Professor, and irreplaceable W4 commenter Beth Impson entitled ‘Choosing His Light.’ There’s another dealing with the contraceptive mandate and religious freedom, a 2007 interview with Marion Montgomery, and a reprint of one of John Henry Newman’s great sermons.” All W4 readers are encouraged to dive in and read deeply.
June 5, 2013
A Miscellany of Science
I suppose many here have already read what follows. Nevertheless, each article in its own way merits, and more than merely merits, what my merest sketches might hopefully supply: a meager few new readers.
First is last month’s Atlantic with a lengthy treatment by Charles C. Mann of the astounding transformations in the world of fossil fuel extraction, refinement, distribution, and perpetuity. One might according to several precepts read, in bald summary, the meaning and importance of this article: the precept that moderate liberals have at last awakened to what’s going on and no longer stand athwart science and engineering and economic development; the precept that human projections and predictions are, in the industrial enterprise of the cleverest animal on this planet, the creature called man, an amusing but usually idle pastime; or merely the precept that, by golly, man is a clever creature.
Speaking of earthly creatures, who can match on the level of majesty and mystery, on the level of defiance and generosity, the elephant? It appears to me, having taken my time (read: lollygagged) through this small book of an essay by The New Atlantis Managing Editor Caitrin Nicol, that the answer to that question is None. The elephant is a source of unending fascination, ably adumbrated here. If you thought this subject could not support sixty pages of careful elaboration, you thought wrong.
June 7, 2013
Your priorities speak
Well, here's a strange tempest in a teapot. I've already had some lengthy debates about this in the semi-privacy of Facebook, and that has only moved me to blog about it more or less on the side of the student.
--Biola does appear to have lots of things that its faculty does and that the school as an institution does for the pro-life cause. That is undeniable and admirable. At the same time, it seems that Diana (the nursing student) got to her fourth year of a nursing degree at Biola without knowing about the reality of abortion. How did that happen? Also, when she set up her pro-life display, she claims that she encountered hostile students. If we assume (and I'll admit that I do assume) that this means some pro-choice students, how did that happen? Biola should be concerned that it is not succeeding in passing on the pro-life message and the truth about abortion to its students. That should be a priority for the institution, not asserting in heavy-handed fashion its authority to block the display of graphic pro-life signs on campus.
--It has been suggested to me that Diana is lying when she says that she didn't know that she wasn't allowed to display the graphic signs. Let's keep this straight. She admits that she knew she was breaking school rules by displaying the graphic poster sign the second time after having failed to negotiate permission to do so. She says only that the first time, after she got permission to set up a table with information about abortion, she was surprised to be told that she needed separate, special permission to display her signs along with the table. This is entirely plausible. Apparently she went through procedures and was given permission for the table but was then told that this permission didn't cover signs displayed at the table! That is extremely odd and inefficient and is not something Diana would have been likely to understand by the natural light. If the school is going to approve displayed content, why not approve it all at once? Why require separate approval for a table and for a sign and then play "gotcha" with a student who displays a sign at the table without getting that particular sign approved? Of course a student who has jumped through the hoops and gotten permission for a table will assume that signs on the same topic may be displayed at or near the table. If the school officials wanted to see the signs first or know more about them before approving the display, they should have asked. See the next point...
--I have now read the link here to Biola's policy about what it calls "student forums" and also the form students have to fill out. Please note that this is the very section of the handbook to which Biola itself directs attention in its response to the incident. So we might expect to find something here about having to get each and every sign you want to display approved, separately from getting approval for a table, since this was allegedly what Diana had to do. Nope. Not a word. In fact, neither link has any clear discussion of content approval, though the form has two lines for "type of event/event details." While I understand that Biola is a private organization and therefore is within its rights to exercise "prior restraint" on speech, and while I understand that it does in fact exercise this prior restraint by engaging in content pre-approval, it looks like the claim that Diana needed separate permission for a table and for a sign with the table is not supported by the school's own documentation. In other words, it looks suspiciously like such a "rule" was made up ex post facto after the administrators got complaints about her graphic anti-abortion signs and were looking for an excuse to rescind the permission which they regretted having granted for her table! If we're to talk about whose honesty is called into question by this aspect of the incident, it isn't Diana's.
Change is Possible
This news report is worthy of wider attention. The former head of the American Psychological Association has given an affidavit that he has seen and treated hundreds of homosexuals to help them reverse their condition - successfully.
Wrote Cummings, “I am … a proponent of patient self-determination. I believe and teach that gays and lesbians have the right to be affirmed in their homosexuality and also have the right to seek help in changing their sexual orientation if that is their choice.”
Cummings reports he personally treated over 2,000 people with same-sex attraction, and his staff treated an additional 16,000.
He said that homosexual patients generally sought psychological help for one of three reasons: “to come to grips with their homosexual identity, to resolve relationship issues, or to change their homosexual orientation.”
Cummings wrote that while relatively few patients opted to try and change their sexual preference, those who did were deeply unhappy with their homosexual experiences, citing issues such as “the transient nature of relationships, disgust or guilt feelings about promiscuity, fear of disease,” and “the desire to have a traditional family.”
Of those who did try to change their preference, Cummings said "hundreds" were successful, going on to lead normal heterosexual lives.
June 8, 2013
The Left Cannot Be Trusted: Part 4,567 of a Continuing Series
Contemporary leftism is Gramscian in form, but Marcusean in substance. That is, it uses its advancing control over the traditional institutions of society to repress those people most loyal to traditional social institutions as such. Intentionally "moderate," anodyne language is employed by those in positions of power, but a progressive's moderation is always contingent upon bare political necessity, progressivism having no logical stopping point. As I have said before, one of the most vexing characteristics of a rank-and-file progressive is his willingness to accept and regurgitate these lies until such time as they are no longer politically necessary, and failing even to acknowledge that this has taken place.
To take a mundane recent example, he believes on Tuesday that Barack Obama is furious about what happened at the IRS, trusting in his sincerity when he says that all Americans should be outraged, but he believes on Wednesday that the agency was guilty of nothing more than "bad customer service" and that nothing of especial political importance happened. Because we all know how furious American Presidents tend to get about the bad service and "flawed processes" of federal bureaucracies. How many angry press conferences did Bill Clinton have on the terrible service rendered by the Department of Energy? I would estimate at least fifty, but I could be mistaken. Perhaps others could correct my recollection.
June 11, 2013
On the involvement of CBR in the Biola incident
Since I wrote my first piece on this the other day, I have become aware of a little more information concerning the involvement of an organization known as CBR, the Center for Bioethical Reform, in Diana Jimenez's decision to show graphic abortion pictures on Biola's campus. The suggestion has been made in other forums that in some way the involvement of CBR excuses Biola's harsh response to Diana. I reject this conclusion and think it is worth addressing.
The original article by Jill Stanek did mention CBR's involvement. Gregg Cunningham, a 66-year-old former state representative, is the director of CBR. One of the organization's major missions appears to be showing graphic abortion pictures on college campuses, both Christian and secular, around the country.
June 15, 2013
The zero-sum game, continued
A Catholic high school fired a teacher living in a lesbian relationship when the relationship became widely known, and now the lesbian is planning to file a complaint under a city ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of so-called "sexual orientation." (By the way, if any jurisdiction in which you have any lobbying interest is considering such a law, be notified: Such laws include, either tacitly or explicitly, sexual activity in sexual orientation. The word "orientation" is a smoke screen to confuse people who feel sorry for the poor, poor homosexuals who can't help the way they feel or the way they were born or what-not. Don't be misled.)
The ordinance allows a fine and even possible jail time for those in violation.
Apparently the school was just continuing business as usual with its "discriminatory" policy, in pretty evident violation of the city ordinance. I don't know if their legal eagles hadn't told them what was up, if they intended to be engaging in civil disobedience (and in this case, good for them if they were), or if they were just hoping the issue wouldn't come up. But there you have it. They fired her, and a city official or two could go to jail for it. The ordinance has no religious exemption.
June 21, 2013
No-choice DNRs may be coming to a state near you
Wesley J. Smith has been keeping his readers updated on attempts to pass state laws authorizing doctors to put a Do Not Resuscitate order on a patient's chart without the consent of the patient or patient representative.
An attempt to pass such a law was recently averted in Texas (Smith testified against that law), but similar laws have just been passed in Maryland and Vermont. (Side point: My understanding based on this case is that no-consent DNRs could already be put on a patient's chart given the official vote of a hospital ethics committee, so I don't know for sure what the point was of the new law. Perhaps it was to allow the doctors to write the no-consent DNRs without bothering to go through the hospital death panel.)
California has a variant on this: Doctors can't write a DNR order without your consent, but if your orders, even written ones, include resuscitation, doctors are free to ignore them.
The obvious comment is "so much for choice."
June 24, 2013
Pro-Life Suites--News from the world of practical bioethics
A couple of news items from Wesley J. Smith:
In case you hadn't noticed, legalized assisted suicide is expanding. Vermont, for example, has it now. Vermont has an opt-out provision for institutions, and some are sorta kinda taking advantage of that provision. Unfortunately, to my mind, they are doing it in a half-hearted manner and are implying that they are opting out only temporarily while they contemplate how to "implement the law." Interesting phrase, isn't it? Makes it sound like they are obligated not to take advantage of the law's explicit opt-out provision. Or like they feel that way.
In related news, the Dutch are having a teeny bit of trouble finding enough doctors willing to kill Alzheimer's patients and others with dementia, and some people are getting up on their high horses to the effect that the doctors don't have the right to make up their own "legal interpretation." Actually, things are pretty horrible in Holland, but I don't think a doctor is technically required to bump off Grandma with Alzheimer's, so what's with the high horse about "making up the law"? The doctors can say no if they want. But of course that isn't enough for the culture of death. The culture of death says that death must be not only possible in theory but also available when desired. When desired by someone or other.
I hope the Vermont hospitals get a little more spine and really opt out of becoming death merchants.
June 26, 2013
Kennedy, SCOTUS Slouching Toward Gomorrah
Right at the beginning of his opinion, Kennedy says something that almost everyone would agree with, he starts out great: He says “Two women…” That’s good. After that, though, he goes downhill very, very quickly:
Two women then resident in New York were married in a lawful ceremony in Ontario, Canada, in 2007.
Well, he certainly buys into one perspective on the controversy without even a nod to the other side, right from the first sentence. “Were married”, is it? He could have chosen to use language that doesn’t assume what he is trying to prove. How about: “received the legal status of marriage from the province of Ontario”, or maybe “went through a wedding ceremony in Ontario”. Such language would leave it open whether this needs to be considered “marriage” for NY State or US federal purposes.
Kennedy cites the Obama Administration’s rationale for its change of course, in not fighting for Article 3 of DOMA in court:
the Attorney General informed Congress that “the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of scrutiny.”
This is clearly inapposite: DOMA doesn’t even speak to sexual orientation in any manner. Certainly nothing in the law speaks to or imposes a “classification” based on sexual orientation. The history of discrimination imposed on the basis of sexual orientation should have no bearing here.
June 28, 2013
Cruel, Cruel Irony
The other way this could have been titled is:
- SC Justices Found Challenged in Intellectual Honesty
Now, many people might not like the SC decisions in one respect or another, thinking that they are bad in terms of philosophy, political acumen, etc. It is another thing entirely to find them short on intellectual honesty. But let me ask you, how would you describe the following facts?
I located the following points made by a Supreme Court Justice, made before this week's DOMA decision. The following points are from the opinion of Justice S:
Petitioners... devote many pages of briefing to arguing that the term “X” should be defined with reference to the law of the State in which an Z proceeding takes place. See Brief for Petitioners 19–29; Brief for Respondent. These arguments, however, are inconsistent with our recognition in Holyfield that Congress intended the critical terms of the statute to have uniform federal definitions. See 490 U. S., at 44–45. It is therefore unsurprising, although far from unimportant, that the [rest of the court] assumes for the purposes of its analysis that Y is a [federal law] “X." [snip]
The [other side of the court] thereby transforms a statute that was intended to provide uniform federal standards for Z proceedings involving W and X into an illogical piecemeal scheme.
But it is incongruous to suppose that Congress intended a patchwork of federal and state law to apply in Z proceedings.
Would it surprise you to find that
X = "marriage"
Y = a person possibly falling under the term X
Z = federal law that defines X in a different way than state law does?
The Justice S goes on to insist on applying federal statue and its definition rather than state law and its definition.