May 2016 Archives
May 1, 2016
Practical remedies are in short supply
A staff member at a Catholic college--or, to be more precise, a college in the Jesuit tradition, which isn't necessarily the same thing as a Catholic college--has been suspended (with pay, for the moment) while her terrible speech-hate-crime is investigated.
What did she do? She had the gall to stop and talk to some students advertising LGBTA@%!$!% week and to tell them (I know this will shock you) that the Catholic church teaches that there are only two genders. She also (this is even more shocking) referred to one of the students as a man even though he told her he "identifies" as non-gendered.
An alumnus of Loyola Marymount University (in LA) listened to the conversation on a cell phone and agreed with the staffer's account, stating that she was friendly and kind in her dialogue with the students.
May 4, 2016
As a spaniel is to water, so is a man to himself
My reaction to last night's political events is available in a moderated form here.
What’s The Matter With Garbutt?
Given Tuesday’s disappointing Republican primary results and the end of Ted Cruz’s campaign for the nomination as the Republican party’s presidential candidate, now is as good a time as any to look more closely at Trump’s actual ‘policy’ positions (to the extent he has any positions at all that won’t change at a moment’s notice when it is convenient for him) and discuss their relationship to the common good. I’m particularly interested in examining Trump’s views on international trade and I thought I would use as a springboard for my piece National Review’s Kevin Williamson, who caused a bit of a kerfuffle on the internet recently when he decided to take Donald Trump’s supporters to task. More specifically, Williamson had the gall to call out the white working class as the author of their own failures.
May 9, 2016
More on Licona, genre, and reliability
Some months ago I wrote this post on the theories of New Testament scholar and apologist Michael Licona. Since then I've gathered some more material, some of it from his very large, earlier book The Resurrection of Jesus, which I had not then and still have not read cover-to-cover, but of which I have now read a good deal more than I had then.
I have also now read relevant passages from a book that Licona cites on the genre of the Gospels. This is classicist Richard Burridge's What Are The Gospels?
At the time of my original post, several people suggested both in private and in public that it was somehow remiss of me not to have waited for Licona's forthcoming book to come out. I disagree with this perspective quite strongly. Not only was my post based upon watching an hour-long public lecture and making detailed notes, but there is more material available on-line on the same topic, doing the same kinds of things, and subject to the same analysis. There is plenty of publicly available material right now for understanding and discussing Licona's approach.
You Must Love Big Broth...Um, Sis... Um....Sibling
The notorious "bathroom law" in North Carolina is back in the news, since the Federal government has sued the state for violating the civil rights of "transgendered" people. Let's examine what's really going on there. Based on the comments I see on social media, it's not about what people think it is.
As "transgendered" people and their allies have been correctly noting, people have been using the bathrooms of the opposite sex for some time. They have done this by physically looking like the opposite sex, and by behaving as a member of the opposite sex would. It has been, in a word, surreptitious. No other person has had to accept what they do, but they have been able to do it. They were left alone to pretend that they were members of the opposite sex.
Leaving them alone wasn't enough for some localities in North Carolina. They insisted that their citizens must accept people using bathrooms made for the opposite sex. They codified this forced acceptance in law, saying that people could use whatever bathroom they wanted to (as long as they "identify as" that sex, whatever that means).
The state of North Carolina reacted by saying that no, localities couldn't legally force people to accept "transgendered" people as the opposite sex. This, in turn, triggered a backlash saying that of course people should accept "transgendered" behavior, and that of course "transgendered" people should use the bathroom that suits their imagined sex rather than their actual one. To think otherwise isn't merely to make bad law, but to be a bad person: bad enough that companies will refuse to do business in your state, entertainers will refuse to sing for you, and the federal government will sue your for violating people's bathroom-going rights.
So this isn't about rights, or violence, or sexual predators, or peeping Toms. It's about forcing people to accept the "progressive" view of sexuality.
May 12, 2016
Test Acts Literal in Wyoming
The most recent instance of persecution for refusal to participate in the homosexual agenda is so legally dubious, indeed prima facie illegal, that one thinks, "This can't work." But that depends on the Wyoming State Supreme Court.
Ruth Neely was until recently a small-down municipal judge and circuit court magistrate in tiny Pinedale, Wyoming. In 2014 a federal judge imposed homosexual "marriage" on the state of Wynoming. In her role of magistrate Neely is allowed (but according to her lawyers not required) to perform marriages. In her role as judge she does not even have authority to perform marriages but deals with things like traffic tickets.
Neely gave an interview to a newspaper in which she stated that she would not perform homosexual "marriages" due to her sincere religious beliefs about marriage.
This sparked an "ethics" investigation, and the vengeful ethics board demanded that she be removed from office for a variety of "ethics" violations merely for voicing these opinions. These violations include "prejudice based on sexual orientation," "acting improperly," and "refusing to uphold the rule of law."
The ethics board has even recommended that she be fined! The stories in the news all say things like "fines of up to $40,000," and I've been unable to find out exactly what this means. Presumably it means that someone else decides exactly how much to fine her, and the ethics board has set it up so that that person could fine her as much as $40K. It looks like there is no such thing as a jury trial or conviction before she would suffer such fines, though the case can be appealed to the state Supreme Court, which is what is happening right now. She's already been removed from her position both as a magistrate and as a judge, despite the fact that the judge position doesn't even allow her to perform marriages.
May 13, 2016
The Real War on Women
May 17, 2016
Tie Score, with Little Sisters In the Lead, So Far
The Supreme Court appears to have semi-resolved the issue of the Obama Administration beating up on the Little Sisters of the Poor (as discussed earlier), but they may have just created a temporary delay instead.
In a Per Curiam (unanimous) decision announced yesterday, they are vacating lower court decisions and remanding back to them for re-consideration. This is because of new facts developed since the lower courts decided. What new facts? The new facts are those that the Court itself elicited after oral arguments, when the Court asked the parties to submit new briefs on whether there might be a manner in which the government gets what it wants - contraceptive insurance coverage under the employer's insurer - while the religious organization gets what it wants - not to be morally complicit in providing contraceptives. According to the Supreme Court, the re-briefs conceded that it IS possible:
Following oral argument, the Court requested supplemental briefing from the parties addressing “whether contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners’ employees, through petitioners’ insurance companies, without any such notice from petitioners.” Post, p. ___. Both petitioners and the Government now confirm that such an option is feasible. Petitioners have clarified that their religious exercise is not infringed where they “need to do nothing more than contract for a plan that does not include coverage for some or all forms of contraception,” even if their employees receive cost-free contraceptive coverage from the same insurance company.
Although the Court claims that it is not deciding any of the issues before it in the case, and sending the issues back to the lower courts for them to re-consider,
The Court expresses no view on the merits of the cases. In particular, the Court does not decide whether petitioners’ religious exercise has been substantially burdened, whether the Government has a compelling interest, or whether the current regulations are the least restrictive means of serving that interest.
it is important to realize that the Court is framing the case with a lot of new direction to the lower courts. The most important is how it framed the above quote, in saying that the parties "now confirm" that a mutually acceptable path is "feasible", it takes the wind out of the government's sails if it tries to pursue the matter in the Appeals courts. It would be seemingly irrational for a lower court, after the Supreme Court stated “both parties confirm that such an option is feasible,” to STILL decide that “the existing regulation is the least restrictive means of serving that interest”. I think that the Court is implying that much at least. Officially, the Court is saying “now that the parties both accept X in principle, you need to re-think your decisions in light of X”. But substantively, X actually consists in a less restrictive non-objectionable means of serving the government’s interest – at least in outline form.
May 20, 2016
Everything not forbidden is compulsory II
Almost six years ago I wrote a post with the same title as the current post (without the Roman numeral, of course). There I was examining the liberal idea that, if something isn't against the law, everyone else has to cooperate with it in a positive way. The example I used was that liberals assume that, if a minor girl is not legally required to tell her parents that she is having sex, a pharmacist is legally obligated to sell her contraception to enable her fornication.
The most recent examples of a similar attitude arise in the insane context of the "transgender" debate. The assumption is that, if some law cannot successfully be passed by a government entity legislating on the matter of whether biological males must use separate bathroom facilities from biological females, business have zero freedom in this matter and must "not discriminate" against people claiming to be the opposite sex.
This, of course, doesn't follow. State and local governments could simply be silent on the matter altogether while permitting local businesses to decide how to handle this. I suppose, with the insanity growing, that city government buildings and employers would have to have some policy, but this might even vary from one city to the next or one supervisor to the next, reflecting local mores.
May 24, 2016
"He was before me"--undesigned coincidence in John 1
My contract with DeWard Publishing for a book on undesigned coincidences has just been signed and countersigned, and we move forward to copy editing, typesetting, and production issues. I do not have a projected release date as of yet.
But here as a topical teaser is an undesigned coincidence included therein, one of the few that I discovered on my own. The wording used here is not the same as the wording in the book. I'm writing this post without looking at the book manuscript.
May 26, 2016
Let there be songs, to fill the air
The below was mostly written almost a full year ago, around the time my day job gave me the occasion to converse at length with some folks directly covering the story. Engagements and hesitations, I fear, have now delayed this little provocation well beyond the rim of relevance. Still, there is perhaps merit in the presentation of even rascal polemics, since all we are here are bloggers extraordinaire.
I do admit that it will shock some readers to discover conservative plaudits for the Grateful Dead.
San Francisco hippies and drug-addled fools who engendered a romance of dreary dissolution: How could any self-respecting conservative spare a word of praise for them?
Well, I speak only for myself, and with no pretended want of reservations.