Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Conservatives should have the same free speech rights at Colin Kaepernick

original article: Christian Artists Should Have The Same Free Speech Game As Colin Kaepernick
August 30, 2017 by James Gottry

In case you haven’t been following the news, the NFL, or the little blue bird I like to call Tweety, Colin Kaepernick is trending. Again. But this time it is not for kneeling on the field during the national anthem. It is because he is not even on the field during the national anthem.

If you’ve missed the off-the-field action, here are the highlights.

  • March: Kaepernick opts out of the final year of his contract with the 49ers.
  • April – present day: No NFL team signs Kaepernick.
  • August 23: More than 1,000 people rally outside NFL headquarters in New York, demanding that Kaepernick be signed by the start of the regular season next month.
  • August 24: Two bars in Chicago announce their TVs are on the fritz they will not show any NFL games until Kaepernick is signed.

Throw in Michael Vick saying Kaepernick should cut his hair to “be presentable,” then Vick apologizing and saying “his Afro has nothing to do with him being signed,” and Jim Brown arguing that Kaepernick should be an activist or a football player but not both, and we’ve got ourselves a good ‘ol-fashioned controversy. (Not that conflict has been missing from the news cycle.)

I love it. NFL teams are free to sign Kaepernick, not sign him, or offer him a discount on season tickets. Those who don’t agree with Kaepernick’s views are free to cheer his current unemployment, wave a flag, or whistle the national anthem all the way home. Fans of Kaepernick are free to fly to New York and protest outside the NFL, burn a flag, and decry the injustice of it all. And yes, two bars in Chicago are absolutely free to pursue a new demographic by playing Lifetime movies on Sunday afternoons.

It’s the beauty of America. The beauty of freedom of speech and conscience. And yes, the beauty of learning to co-exist with people who think differently than you.

Now, Let’s Join Another Game in Progress

In Colorado, Jack Phillips is facing a very different set of rules. Like Kaepernick, Jack took a principled stand in relation to his career. Jack is a cake artist and decided years ago that while he would serve any individual who came into his shop, he would not accept invitations to create certain custom cakes. Cakes with alcohol in them, and cakes that promote atheism, racism, or indecency were on that list. So were cakes that were anti-American. So if you want a flag-burning cake for your Kaepernick protest, Jack is probably not your guy.

It turns out, no one cared too much if Jack declined an invitation to make a cake with alcohol in it, or a flag-burning cake, or a Halloween cake. If they did care, they voted with their wallets and took their business elsewhere. That’s fine with Jack, because he doesn’t want to force anyone to believe what he believes; he does, however, want that courtesy to go both ways. He wants true tolerance, the kind where we can co-exist with people who think differently than we do. Sound familiar?

No problems there. But there’s another type of cake Jack doesn’t design: cakes for same-sex weddings. That’s the one that has Jack scheduled to go before the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. Because when two men entered Jack’s Masterpiece Cakeshop and asked that Jack design a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony, Jack politely told the couple that he would gladly sell them anything in his store, but designing a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage was not something he could do.

So why is Kaepernick’s situation playing out in the court of public opinion while Jack’s is playing out in the Supreme Court of the United States?

When the couple left Jack’s shop, they had a range of options. Among other things, they could have applauded his free exercise of conscience based on his sincerely held religious beliefs (unlikely in this situation, though not unprecedented). They could have held a rally imploring Jack to change his views, or they could have voted with their wallets and taken their business elsewhere (which they did).

But they took an additional action, one we haven’t seen in the Kaepernick situation. The men asked the government to punish Jack for attempting to live peacefully according to his views, and—when offered the power to interfere—the government obliged.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that Phillips’s decision to live by his conscience was unlawful and ordered him to re-educate his staff, file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years, and create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings if he creates wedding cakes at all. That’s why Jack finds himself preparing to go to the Supreme Court and ask the justices to protect free speech and religious freedom for all people.

Too Many Men on the Field

The day after the news broke that Chicago bars were announcing their plans to nix NFL games, attorneys for Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib, were in a courtroom in Phoenix, Arizona. As I’ve written before, they also face something Kaepernick does not: government interference and punishment.

Meanwhile, Barronelle Stutzman is waiting to hear whether the Supreme Court will hear her case, and this 72-year-old grandmother stands to lose everything. She is also the victim of government interference and punishment.

If you disagree with Jack, Brush & Nib, and Barronelle, then write a letter to the editor, attend a rally, and otherwise express your beliefs. Raise a flag, burn a flag, but don’t give the government the power to throw a flag.

If the government can force a Christian cake artist to design and create a cake for a same-sex wedding, it can force a Muslim singer to offer her services for an Easter service, or a liberal speechwriter to draft speeches for a conservative candidate, or a pro-gun control T-shirt designer to create shirts for the National Rifle Association that say “more guns are the solution.” That kind of government blitz on conscience should alarm all of us, no matter where we stand on the individual issues.

After the New York rally, Kaepernick tweeted, “My faith always has been and always will be in the power of the people!” He’s right. And when it comes to free speech, the government belongs on the sideline. We the people can handle it.

censorship, christian, civil rights, conservative, culture, discrimination, diversity, free speech, freedom, government, ideology, judiciary, justice, political correctness, public policy, relativism

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Many of America’s seemingly benevolent programs succeed only in making people dependent

original article: Searching for Self-Reliance
May 30, 2017 by Edwin J. Feulner

When conservatives call for Congress to cut federal spending and shrink the size of government, they’re often portrayed as heartless.

On the contrary: We remember our heritage. We know there’s actually nothing “progressive” at all about the nanny state. Indeed, it’s regressive. It’s a betrayal of our history as a nation built on self-reliance.

We owe our republic, after all, to the energy and exertions of rugged individuals — pilgrims who crossed the perilous sea in frail ships to brave a wilderness, pioneers who slogged thousands of miles through hostile territory and prevailed against all odds.

They had no subsidies, no guarantees, no government help save for raw public land they painfully developed by hard labor. They shared what they had, helped one another, and took turns standing guard to protect against danger. They wanted to be free, and they build the freest country in history.

Self-reliance, Alexis de Tocqueville observed in his landmark work “Democracy in America,” was the organizing principle of American life, culture, and politics in the 19th century. Today, however, our nation seems to have reversed Tocqueville’s admiring formulation and become a nanny state in which more and more individuals depend on government to do not only what they can’t do for themselves, but far too much else.

Sure, there are plenty of hard-working Americans still around. But unlike our predecessors, many other present-day Americans show little or no interest in relying on their own mind and muscle to surmount obstacles. Since the 1930s, generations have grown up accustomed to depending on government as their first line of defense against not only serious trouble, but also the common vicissitudes of ordinary life.

Think of the chores we expect our public servants to perform with all the panache of brave first responders tackling a terrorist attack. If you lock your keys inside your car, can’t coax your cat down from a tree, or feel insulted by a surly cabdriver, what do you do? Many milquetoasts in 21st century America call 911 and demand action by some hapless fire company or overworked police department.

The nanny state has conditioned vast numbers of us to view nearly any setback as a federal case. If you can’t pay your debts, taxes or tuition; if you can’t afford health insurance, rebuild your beach house after a hurricane, or save your business from your own follies, never fear — some federal program will surely bail you out.

And you don’t have to be poor, friendless, handicapped or underprivileged to get that help. The bigger your business and the more egregious your errors, the more you can expect the feds to save you.

Americans have been sliding into dependency ever since the New Deal began federalizing everyone’s problems, and particularly since Lyndon Johnson launched his so-called “Great Society.” What fell by the wayside was the previous American way of dealing with adversity, the era when people in need turned to the civil society around them — the safety net of families, friends, churches, local doctors, and politicians.

All that changed with the proliferation of federal programs doling out benefits on an industrial scale. Federal involvement in everything from retirement (Social Security), health care (Medicare and Medicaid) and education grew by leaps and bounds, making more and more Americans dependent on faceless bureaucrats they never meet.

It all adds up to a profound loss of the self-reliance that built this country and made it great. Many of our seemingly benevolent programs succeed only in weakening people and condemning them to endless dependency.

This is why conservatives want to cut government down to size. As President Reagan said in his first Inaugural Address, “It is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work — work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride our back.”

Critics call that heartless. But to allow our present trajectory to continue unchecked is senseless. It’s time to change course — before it’s too late.

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Stop killing babies for sexual pleasure

original article: No, Killing Babies Doesn’t Make for Better Sex
May 21, 2017 by JENNIFER HARTLINE

Cosmopolitan writer Jill Filipovich ranks right up there with some of the most devoted religious people I’ve ever heard. Her singular focus, dedication and commitment is impressive. She is 100% sold-out, all-in, nothing held back. A true believer if there ever was one.

Take notes, folks. This is what it looks like when you shape your life, your philosophy and your decisions around the tenets of pure religion hedonism.

In this case, the deity is guaranteed to accommodate, because it’s the face in the mirror. Inside the Shrine of Sexual Pleasure, there on its altar the required sacrifice of blood is paid in an endless stream of silent victims, given over in dutiful homage by all the disciples seeking unrestricted happiness.

Ms. Filipovich believes women cannot be equal to men unless we abort our babies. She believes sex can only be freely, fully enjoyed if we have the assurance that we can get rid of any pesky little people that result from our sexual exploits.

If You Object to Abortion, You Must Hate Women

As the Washington Free Beacon noted:

In a December CNN op-ed, she lamented President Donald Trump’s election because “sex is about to get a lot less fun.”

She argued that, in addition to the usual “benefits” of abortion, “more of us are able to have sex without the anxiety of pregnancy, to enjoy the unique and fundamentally human pleasure that sex creates, and to tend to our relationships without the interruption and emotional devastation that an unintended pregnancy can bring.”

“In essence,” said LifeNews, “she accused conservatives of wanting to control women and prohibit them from having recreational sex.”

She continues:

But the future of women’s health under President Trump, and HHS Secretary Price, looks grim: Price’s plan turns sex for pleasure into a luxury item and puts our health at risk. And it sends women a clear message: That partaking in a full range of human enjoyment and physical experience isn’t for us, and that we exist instead to reproduce.

She thinks anyone who objects to abortion is out to ruin the sex lives of women because they’re misogynist pigs who hate women. There simply can’t be any reason to object to abortion other than that you hate women. And you hate sex. And you don’t want women to ever ever ever enjoy sex. Because SEX! Life is all about sex!

I’m Sick and Tired of the Abortion Narrative

Frankly, this is so tiresome and annoying. It’s brainless, insulting and cheap. The irony, Ms. Filipovich, is that sex is all about life!

I’m tired of hearing people like Filipovich, Democrat chairman Tom Perez, Nancy Pelosi, Cecile Richards and 99.9% of Hollywood tell me that abortion is vital — no, indispensable — to women’s health, well-being, equality, success and happiness in this world. I’m sick of hearing that women simply cannot thrive without the legal right to terminate their babies.

I’m sick of the womb being cast as the ball and chain around a woman’s neck. I’ve had it with babies being cast as the aggressor, the enemy, the thief of dreams. Abortion advocates rely on the narrative the Mom and Baby are locked in combat with each other, and only one can come out alive. This demented view of pregnancy means Mom has to kill Baby in self-defense.

I’m sick of fertility being cast as a disease, and pregnancy as some flukey and horrible thing that happens sometimes after you have sex, even though it shouldn’t because latex and chemicals are supposed to prevent that. I mean, how’d that happen?

I’m sick of women being told they cannot be happy unless their female bodies cease to do female things. I’m tired of hearing that women must be like men in every way, or they cannot be considered equal. What a load of horsehockey.

But at least Ms. Filipovich is honest where the politicians and Planned Parenthood continue to lie through their teeth. Abortion absolutely is utilized as “back-up birth control.” It’s the contraceptive method you use when your other contraceptive methods have failed. And nobody knows better than Planned Parenthood just how often contraception fails. That reliable, splendid failure brings in tremendous revenue — more abortions!

Pitting Women Against Their Bodies and Their Children

Filipovich says abortion has to be available so women can have “worry-free” sex. Without knowing she can abort the baby if she becomes pregnant, a woman simply can’t relax and “partake in a full range of human enjoyment.”

If I can’t kill you later, how can I possibly enjoy myself now?

This isn’t feminism. It’s not womanhood. It’s not equality, or freedom, or liberation, or progress. It’s not health care. It’s completely depraved and unutterably sad.

To consign women to this — you must live your life at war with your own body and at war with your child, if you ever hope to be “happy” — is the most hopeless and inhumane kind of slavery. It chains women to the lie that their female nature is a continuous threat to their plans and their own personhood. In order to achieve anything worthwhile, women have to be men. Hmm. Sounds like sexism to me.

Nothing Could be More Anti-Woman Than Killing Babies

Corrupt men throughout history have done a stellar job of demeaning and objectifying women for their own pleasure, but in 2017 it’s fashionable for women to disdain their own bodies and have a flippant disregard for the most innocent of human beings.

Well, not this woman. Filipovich’s hedonistic worship of sexual pleasure is revolting. Women are not served by this violent notion that it’s us versus our own babies in a fight to the death.

The future of women’s health has nothing to do with uninhibited sex and everything to do with respect for the female body as God designed it, and reverence for human life. Nothing could be more anti-woman than abortion.

Sorry, Ms. Filipovich, but child sacrifice doesn’t make for great sex, either.

abortion, conservative, culture, ethics, feminism, ideology, pro-life, prolife

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Pence reveals a triple standard, and you should care

Imagine if you will two men, public officials in American politics (so we’re dealing with only two big political tents). These officials each belong to opposing sides of the political isle. The issue of sexual harassment is of particular significance to both.

For one, let’s call it the Gentleman’s standard. This official is accused of sexual harassment by one woman. She can’t keep her story strait, so the allegation is difficult to corroborate. But the public narrative is not deterred. We are told the following:

  • character matters
  • women don’t lie about this sort of thing
  • the nature of the evidence doesn’t matter, only the seriousness of the charge
  • the allegation itself should be treated as evidence
  • therefore, the accused man is disqualified from public office on ethical grounds

For the other, let’s call it the Politician’s standard. There is no pretense of integrity in this scenario. This official is accused of sexual harassment and assault by numerous women. Some of them produce significant evidence to support their claims. But the public narrative is not deterred. We are told the following:

  • character does not matter
  • a man’s personal life has no affect on his professional life
  • bimbo eruption (women lie about this sort of thing all the time)
  • vast rightwing conspiracy
  • when damning evidence is finally recognized (despite dismissing previous damning evidence) we are told it doesn’t matter anyway
  • therefore, the accused man is not disqualified, leave him alone, move on

These two men are both confronted with allegations of sexual harassment and they are treated with opposite standards. Some of you are old enough to know exactly who is being described here. The Gentleman’s standard was applied to Clarence Thomas during his supreme court confirmation hearings. The Politician’s standard was applied to president Bill Clinton throughout his two terms.

To those of us who have the stomach to actually pay attention to politics, this is no surprise. Republicans and Democrats are treated very differently regarding scandals. For Republicans, allegations of sexual misconduct are serious matters; sexual harassment is sexual harassment. For Democrats, allegations of sexual misconduct are often no more than amusement; sexual harassment is nothing more than a meaningless sex scandal. If you defended Clarence Thomas, you didn’t care about women. If you failed to defend Bill Clinton, you didn’t care about women.

Enter Mike Pence. Pence knows politics works this way. He knows Democrats will be defended when sex scandals are made public, and he knows Republicans will be crucified. So he adopts a very reasonable policy to avoid putting himself in a situation where he can be too easily accused of such things. This has the twofold result of protecting his career and that oh-so-minor detail of guarding his marriage.

So what is the political left to do when it turns out Pence hasn’t provided enough room for them to manufacture an empty sex scandal? Easy – find a way to misconstrue anything else.

Pence’s recent admission that he doesn’t go to dinner alone with women he works with has caught the liberal left by storm. Instead of acknowledging the obvious political reality of the situation, they simply contorted the logic into some other form of scandal.

PenceProtest1

This photo, borrowed from Campus Reform, is a microcosm of the objection. The statement reads “Because women are people, not weird demons who you can’t be trusted to enjoy a meal with #NotMyCommencementSpeaker”.

If you haven’t heard, the fake scandal drummed up by liberals is that Pence is discriminating against women, making it more difficult for them to advance their careers by not giving them an opportunity to schmooze with him after hours. Does the notion of performing well AT THE JOB count for anything? On the other hand, has the political left completely forgotten about Rape Culture, the notion all men are predators and potential rapists? Does “Duke LaCrosse Team” mean anything to anyone? The fact Pence has often declined to dine with men after hours conveniently escapes mention in the criticism.

Notice, also, the swipe at Pence’s religious beliefs: the comment about demons is obviously meant to suggest he is some sort of religious extremist, given the well known fact Pence is Christian. Ah, gratuitous religious intolerance added onto the fake scandal. What’s cherry picking worth without the cherry on top? Douglass Gibbs at Canada Free Press has a good take on this fake scandal.

So the double standard is not available for those who want to attack Pence. But making up a fake scandal is always a valid option. Simply by being smart about defending himself, Pence is faced with a logical distortion only politically correct feminists could invent. This is the triple standard: it really doesn’t matter what happens, if a way can be found to make Republicans look bad, that becomes the official narrative of the day.

But if you think about it, you already know this. We all do. The main stream media has an obvious preference for the Democrat perspective on any and all subjects. That’s precisely what we see with Judge Thomas and President Clinton. There was a way to construe Anita Hill’s allegation against Thomas to make it appear more legitimate, and the main stream media ate that line hook, line, and sinker. And they delivered that line to the people with enthusiasm. There was also a way of defending Bill Clinton in which the women he abused were made to look like liars. While the mere allegation of impropriety was enough to convict Clarence Thomas in the eyes of his critics, suddenly the mere allegation of sexual misconduct was not enough by itself for Bill Clinton’s defenders (the same people who condemned Judge Thomas a few years earlier).

Even if you can’t stand Trump (and I sympathize with you), please defend his administration against this hypocrisy. Partly because of his high dislikability, Hillary Clinton’s hypocrisy wasn’t called out in the main stream press when she pretended to be a defender of sexual assault survivors. She had the exact opposite attitude as first lady when she defended her philandering husband by attempting to destroy any woman who made an allegation against him. Also partly because of his high dislikability, Trump was not defended on the matter of his past treatment of women when the media applied the Gentleman’s standard to him. They could just as easily have applied the Politician’s standard. They opted to attack him, rather than to defend him the way they defended Bill Clinton.

If you don’t want to defend Trump, at least hold liberals to their own standards. “But they don’t have any standards” some might retort. They claim they do. But their supposed standards are quite fickle (such as claiming to value free speech when they want to say something, but are eager to restrict other people’s right to speech). Please don’t let them get away with that. It does none of us any good to let the political left lie to us. Yes, one can say it does us no good to let Trump lie to us either, and you’re right (some of us said the same of Obama for eight years). But if you’re willing to call out Trump’s lies, why would you let other lies from the media, Hollywood culture, and Democrats go unchallenged? Don’t play that game. If you act like you care about truth and justice when Trump says something absurd, you can at least act like you care about truth and justice when other people lie about Trump, Pence, Jeff Sessions, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. You don’t have to like any of those names to be intellectually honest. Truth works for the betterment of all of us. Play that game.

Keep in mind, there was a time when all politicians were expected to act like gentlemen.

bias, conservative, corruption, culture, Democrats, ethics, feminism, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, relativism, scandal, sex, sexism

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The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique

original article: The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique
April 22, 2015 by Carlos D. Flores

By now we are all undoubtedly familiar with the tragic suicide of Joshua Alcorn, the transgender teenage boy who, in late December, walked onto a freeway with the intention of ending his life. In an apparent suicide note, Joshua cites a host of reasons for why he was led to end his life, most prominent of which were his parents’ attempts to discourage his identifying as a girl and his being sent to therapists in an attempt to relieve these feelings. All of the problems that ultimately culminated in his suicide, writes Joshua, stem from the fact that, from the time he was a small child, he felt like a “girl trapped in a boy’s body.”

No sooner had Joshua’s heart stopped beating than the story of his suicide was seized by LGBT activists and pruned to advance a familiar narrative of a sexual minority fighting cultural oppression. Joshua’s parents immediately began to be chided as “repressive” and “bigoted” and even began to receive various threats from LGBT internet crusader-activists.

Transgenderism and Gender Identity

I have not referred to Joshua by using female pronouns or by using his self-invented female name of “Leelah.” The reason I am not doing this is simple: Joshua was not a girl—he was a boy—and to address males with female pronouns or females with male pronouns is to contribute to our culture’s confusion about sexuality and the nature of the human person, which is literally leaving casualties in its wake. No amount of surgical mutilation of body parts, effeminate behaviors, or artificial female appearances can make a man a woman.

LGBT activists will respond in various ways to this. They might first respond by saying: “Okay, true enough: Joshua was biologically a male. But you have misunderstood our claim: we contend that his sex was male, yes, but his gender was female because he ‘identified’ as female.” The idea here is that people have a sex, which is either female or male and which one cannot choose. In addition to this, however, there is “gender,” or what sex one is more comfortable “identifying” as. The response to this is simple: Why think that what one “identifies as” is significant at all, especially to the extent that others should actively recognize or cater to such an identity, and especially when the identity one adopts is contrary to reality?

Consider the following analogies. Suppose that a Caucasian man from Finland—call him Gunther—suddenly decided that he identifies as being of Sub-Saharan African descent. Suppose further that, in light of this, Gunther undergoes unusual procedures to have his skin darkened and his skull’s bone structure re-shaped so as to resemble that of individuals of Sub-Saharan descent. Would we think that such a person has suddenly become of Sub-Saharan descent through such procedures? Of course not, and his identifying as such does nothing to change this. His appearance as someone of Sub-Saharan descent might be very convincing. But, again, this doesn’t change the fact that he is not of Sub-Saharan descent.

Similarly, suppose that a seventy-year-old man—call him Bob—comes to identify as a sixteen-year-old. Wouldn’t we think it absurd if people considered it “rude” or “bigoted” to tell the man: “You are not sixteen years old. Your identifying as such doesn’t change this fact, and we will not indulge you in your strange delusions by not calling attention to your old age and by pretending that you really are sixteen years old”?

The cases of Gunther and Bob and the situations of individuals who believe themselves to be transgender are perfectly analogous. In the case of the transgender individual, he identifies as something he is not—someone of the opposite sex—and seeks to undergo harmful surgeries and hormonal treatments in order to have his physical state match his identity of himself as someone of the opposite sex.

Our mental faculties, like our physical ones, are ordered toward various ends. Among these ends is the attainment of truth. To this extent, it is perfective of our mental faculties to recognize how we truly are (and thus apprehend a truth). It is for this reason that we can make sense of mental disorders such as anorexia nervosa as disorders: they involve persons’ having persistent, false beliefs about their identity or how they really are. In the case of the anorexic, someone who is dangerously underweight believes falsely (but tenaciously) that he is really overweight. It would be a proper procedure of medicine, then, for a therapist to help an anorexic individual to do away with his anorexia, restoring the individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state.

Gender Reassignment Surgery Is Not Medicine

Those in favor of transgenderism also (naturally) support gender-reassignment surgery as a perfectly legitimate medical procedure for individuals (including children) with gender dysphoria. Now, put to one side the fact that 70-80 percent of children who report having transgender feelings come to lose such feelings. Ignore, for the moment, the fact that individuals who undergo gender reassignment surgery are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Instead consider the following question: Can we reasonably categorize gender reassignment surgery as a medical procedure in the first place?

Before we answer this question, we might venture to ask: what is medicine? Here is a plausible answer: medicine is the enterprise of restoring bodily faculties to their proper function. Our bodily faculties are ordered toward certain ends. This seems impossible to deny. Eyes, for example, are ordered toward (i.e., their function is) seeing, the stomach is ordered toward breaking down food, the heart is ordered toward pumping blood, etc. So if, say, someone’s eyes were not able to achieve their end of sight well, it would be rightly considered a medical procedure to seek to restore this individual’s eyes to their proper function. Similarly, it would be a medical endeavor to seek to restore an individual’s defective heart (one that has arrhythmia, say) to its proper function. All well and good.

But what are we to make of this “gender reassignment” surgery? Insofar as such a surgical procedure involves the intentional damaging and mutilating of otherwise perfectly functioning bodily faculties by twisting them to an end toward which they are not ordered, such a thing cannot, in principle, possibly be considered a medical procedure. And because love compels us to seek the good for another, it is thus a grave evil to condone such surgical procedures.

On Gender Identity Disorder Therapy

A similar point can be made about gender identity disorder therapy. Transgenderism activists are seizing Joshua’s tragic death to insist that such therapy ought to be criminalized. A petition is floating around the internet to ban so-called “transgender conversion therapy,” a procedure that involves, presumably, an attempt by a professional to help a person who is experiencing a gender identity disorder (also known as gender dysphoria). If the progress of the homosexual movement is a guide to what will come next, we can expect that laws will soon be passed criminalizing individuals’ receiving therapy to help them do away with transgender identities or desires—even for those who want to relieve themselves of such identities and desires.

Recall our earlier discussion of anorexia. Like the anorexic, the transgendered individual tenaciously holds to false beliefs about his identity or how or what he truly is: he believes that he is a sex that he is not. Dr. Paul McHugh’s words here are particularly incisive:

The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.

It would thus be a perfectly proper procedure of medicine for the transgendered individual to visit a therapist to seek his professional help to relieve himself of his disordered transgender identity insofar as this would amount to a restoring of the transgendered individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state. The suggestion, then, that gender identity disorder therapy should be criminalized is as absurd as the suggestion that therapy to eliminate anorexia should be criminalized.

Some Common Objections

Now, an apologist for transgenderism might retort in the following way: “You’re missing a key point: the brains of, say, men who ‘identify’ as women have been shown to resemble those of women. This shows that there is a biological basis to their identifying as such.” In response, we might begin by asking for empirical evidence that this dubious claim really is true. But even if this were the case, this doesn’t show that men whose brains “resemble that of a woman’s” (whatever that means) are truly women after all. If we are to say that the person simply is the brain, as the one who espouses this objection seems to suggest, then, because presumably even males who identify as women have brains with male DNA, it follows that they are men after all.

But we don’t even need to grant that the presence of such-and-such brain states is relevant at all. For example, we may suppose that, through habitually behaving as a sixteen-year-old, the brain activity of the seventy-year-old mentioned above “resembles” that of a sixteen-year-old’s. Does it follow, then, that the seventy-year-old really is sixteen years old? Or that he is really a sixteen-year-old trapped inside a seventy-year-old’s body? Of course not. The most rational conclusion is that such an individual has some sort of cognitive or psychological defect associated with identity and self-perception. The same can be said for the transgender individual.

Indeed, it should not come as a surprise to find out that our daily activities shape our brain-states or alter the way our brains behave. After all, it is more or less common knowledge that, say, the process of learning to play an instrument has the effect of establishing new neural pathways, thus causing a change in brain-states. Thus Dr. Norman Doidge comments: “Now we know the brain is ‘neuroplastic,’ and not only can it change, but that it works by changing its structure in response to repeated mental experience.”

On the topic of sexuality more specifically, consider the fact that habitual porn use seems to result in (or correlate with) decreased gray matter in the brain, and that habitual porn use changes the sexual tastes of men. If habitually watching pornography can change a man’s brain so significantly, then it should hardly be surprising that through intentionally and habitually behaving like a woman a man’s brain would too change to some extent. But again, this does not thereby show that such a man is a woman after all; all it shows is that through habituated action of some sort, the man’s brain behavior has changed.

Another response might be to ask rhetorically: “Well, what about intersex individuals?” The implication is that the existence of intersex individuals somehow shows that the nature of sex is up for grabs for everyone, intersex or not. But this doesn’t follow at all. In the genuine case of intersex individuals, it may very well be appropriate to express puzzlement or ignorance as to what to make of such an attribute, metaphysically speaking, and perhaps leave it as an open question whether such individuals are either male or female or whether they should be encouraged to undergo surgical procedures in the interest of their health. Cases in which an individual is intersex, however, are exceedingly rare. Indeed, even granting the point, it would not be unfair to say that in 99.99 percent of cases (and even this might be too low a percentage), a person is either male or female. And unsurprisingly, most of the individuals who believe themselves to be transgender have perfectly functioning male or female reproductive systems. This question is both irrelevant and fruitless.

Finally, the LGBT activist might retort by asking: “but how will a man identifying as a woman affect you?” If these were simply private issues, this might be a valid point (though a concern for the physical and mental well-being of individuals struggling with their gender might obligate us to reach out to them in such a case). But, alas, LGBT activists are actively working to make it the case that the state and private businesses cover “gender-reassignment” surgeries, that men who identify as women be able to use women’s restrooms, that girls who identify as boys be able to play on male sports teams, that we consider it immoral to refer to infants as male or female lest we insidiously impose upon them a “gender” they might not identify with, that we ban therapy to treat gender dysphoria, and that we generally co-opt language and social norms to reflect pernicious falsehoods about the human body.

How a man’s identifying as a woman will personally affect me, you, or John Doe is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether we will make public policy and encourage social norms that reflect the truth about the human person and sexuality, or whether we will obfuscate the truth about such matters and sow the seeds of sexual confusion in future generations for years to come.

conservative, crisis, culture, extremism, government, homosexuality, ideology, justice, philosophy, public policy, relativism, right wing, science, sex, tragedy, victimization

Filed under: conservative, crisis, culture, extremism, government, homosexuality, ideology, justice, philosophy, public policy, relativism, right wing, science, sex, tragedy, victimization

A social justice without coersion

original article: Conservatives Do Believe in Social Justice. Here’s What Our Vision Looks Like
March 17, 2017 by Ryan T. Anderson

Last month, America lost a great defender of freedom, Michael Novak.

Novak was committed to rightly ordered liberty and cared deeply about the principles and practices that produce it. His enormous body of work emphasized the cultural prerequisites for political and economic freedom, as he stressed that economic conservativism and social conservatism are indivisible.

In the words of Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner, “Michael forced those of us trained in the dismal science of economics to explain that we should be more than ‘free to choose’—rather we should be free to make good free choices.”

Last year, I was the recipient of the Acton Institute’s Michael Novak Award for “outstanding scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society.” Upon receiving it, I delivered the annual Calihan Lecture in London, England, at a conference on “The Crisis of Liberty in the West.”

The first half of the lecture discussed challenges to freedom in terms of bad intellectual defenses of economic freedom, collapsing communities, and cronyism. The second half discussed a natural law account of economic freedom, a natural law account of social justice, and some concluding thoughts about anthropology and virtue.

>>>Read the full lecture.

Part of the argument that I advance in the lecture is that economic freedom is meant to give us the space to fulfill our economic duties, the duty to work to support our families, the duty to work hard and be a good employee so as not to waste our talents or our employer’s time and money, the duty to serve our customers, and the duty to serve our communities.

Economic freedom was to allow people the space to fulfill these duties. So rightly understood, social justice is about fulfilling our duties to the various societies of which we are a part, and it is about the state respecting the authority of the many societies that make up civil society.

Take, for example, the society known as the family.

The family is a natural society with its own nature and integrity. Because of the natural reality of the family, we have certain obligations.

If you are a husband or a wife, you have certain duties to your spouse. If you are a parent, you have certain duties to your children, regardless of whether or not you ever chose them. And children, not Social Security administrators, have duties to their parents, especially as they age.

It is the natural reality of father and child, mother and child, that creates the relationship of authority and responsibility.

This places limits on what the government can do. The government is not free to recreate the family. The government is not free to usurp the authority of parents over the education of their children or adult children over the care of their elderly parents.

The same is true for religious organizations, especially if you believe that your church has a divine origin and a divine creation. This means government is not at liberty to recreate your church, to recreate its authority structure, or to recreate its teaching authority—that your church is something that is entrusted with a stewardship.

As a result, the nature of religious authority places limits on political authority and places duties upon members of the church.

The State and Social Justice

None of this, however, says that the state has no role to play in economic justice, just that it must respect the proper authority of society—a society of societies—as it does so. And this means that it must also respect the proper authority of economic societies—employees and employers, consumers and producers.

But while respecting their authority and the markets that allow them to interact and fulfill their duties, government can perform certain welfare activities, as Friedrich Hayek taught us, without distorting market signals and processes.

Insofar as government programs are intended to ameliorate the forces of globalization and new technologies distort markets, they are likely to simply make matters worse by prolonging the dying process of outdated industries and preventing the necessary transitions.

What a natural law account of social justice would suggest are policies that would empower more people to engage for themselves in the market and flourish.

I can illustrate this with some examples.

Consider education. Some “taxation is theft” libertarians say children should receive whatever education their parents, extended families, and charities can provide and that there is no role for government to play. Liberals say the education of children is a matter of public concern, and thus government should run schools and most children must attend them.

Conservatives have traditionally said, yes, education is a matter of public concern, but justice requires us to respect the authority of parents, and whatever assistance we provide must empower, not replace, them.

Hence conservative support for school choice: vouchers, education savings accounts, and charter schools—programs that help all students get the best education they can without giving the government an unhealthy monopoly on schools.

The same is true for health care.

Consider the standard false dichotomy: If taxation is theft, then we should just leave health care to the market and charities; if health care is a matter of public concern, then government should run it and finance it—the typical libertarian and liberal pitfalls.

The conservative alternative has been to create markets in health care while empowering patients to choose, whether through premium support, health care vouchers, tax credits, or what have you.

The details of the policy need not bog us down. The concept is what matters. We need to make markets work better and work for more people by empowering more people to be market actors—empower more people to take control of their own lives and flourish.

Formulating Policy

So now the question is what can be done for working-class families, especially for workers who find their skills less and less marketable in ever-changing markets because of the forces of globalization and new technology.

We need to think about the justice in the distribution of costs and benefits of the creative destruction of free trade and globalization and how best to smooth out the rough patches. We need to think through the appropriate roles of various institutions:

  • What does justice require of families and churches, of workers and business owners, of civil society and charitable organizations, of local and national governments?
  • What rights and duties do these various individuals and societies have?

In a certain sense, the economic challenges I discuss in my Calihan Lecture can be classified as partly the result of a deindustrialization making way for the knowledge economy.

If Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum,” which inaugurated modern Catholic social thought, was a response to the industrial revolution, what we now need is a response to the deindustrial revolution.

What to do is a question for policymakers. That we need to think about what to do is a demand of justice, and the principles of natural law should inform how we think about it.

conservative, culture, economy, ethics, family, government, ideology, justice, philosophy, right wing

Filed under: conservative, culture, economy, ethics, family, government, ideology, justice, philosophy, right wing

No, Stay At Home Moms Don’t ‘Waste’ Their Education

original article: No, Stay At Home Moms Don’t ‘Waste’ Their Education
March 7, 2017 by Anna Mussmann

Anyone who castigates a woman for failing to cash in on her degree reveals a complete misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of education and the actual needs of society.

In Dorothy Sayer’s 1936 novel “Gaudy Night,” a minor character refers to the “question of women’s education.” Famous detective Lord Peter Wimsey responds, “Is it still a question? It ought not to be,” and adds, “You should not imply that I have any right either to approve or disapprove” of what women do.

Most progressives today would agree heartily with the first half of his sentiment. Feminists consider it a settled question that educating women is essential to a humane, egalitarian society. At the same time, however, few are quite so restrained as Lord Peter. Most venture to “approve or disapprove” of women’s choices, especially if what a woman chooses is to follow years of education with life as a stay-at-home mom.

Smart, educated women who decide to end, pause, or part-time their careers are often treated as defective parts in the machinery of egalitarian social justice, or as children who have asked for a plate of food and then thrown it in the garbage. The general argument is that an education, like a treadmill or a bag of flour, is wasted if it is not used (the definition of “used” being, “used to make money”).

The thing is, though, anyone who castigates a woman for failing to cash in on her degree reveals a complete misunderstanding of two things. 1. The nature and purpose of education, and 2. The actual needs of society.

Education Is Not Just a Synonym for Job Training

The American founders argued routinely that ordinary citizens ought to be educated. This was not because literacy would help farmers milk their cows more sensitively or because familiarity with Plato would open up additional career prospects for pioneers, but because it would change what sort of people they were internally.

Education is much bigger than any specific field of work. Career coaches recognize this when they tell students that their choice of college major rarely dictates the field in which they will later find employment. Education helps people do a better job at any task by helping them discover how to think, how to learn, and how to exercise the self-discipline necessary for achievement. Educated people know useful facts, of course; but more importantly, they know how to live.

Unless we want a society in which an elite few rule over the wider peasantry, we must recognize that people—men, women, lawyers, mechanics, stay-at-home moms, everyone—benefit when they pursue the learning and wisdom that make them more fully human. To say that moms “waste” education is to show tremendous disrespect for the actual importance of education.

Education Is Supposed to Open, not Close, Opportunities

We tell our children they can become anything they want. On the other hand, when young people aspire to careers that may or may not be achievable—when she wants to major in art, when he thinks he can open his own restaurant—we encourage them to hedge their bets. We talk about double majors, business minors, and back-up plans.

Likewise, many young women hope to eventually become mothers, and many would prefer to stay at home while their babies are young. They, too, are wise to hedge their bets. What if they never meet the right man? What if they do, and illness or disability keeps him from being able to support a family? What about divorce? Hitting pause on a career may still leave them somewhat vulnerable to later financial challenges, but less so than if they possessed only a high school diploma. For them, a degree is a prudent investment regardless of the outcome. It maintains options.

The inflated cost of modern college is admittedly a complicating factor. A debt load that shackles a woman to a particular career path is probably a bad investment for anyone. We should absolutely encourage young people to think outside of the box when acquiring an education. And, of course, universities are not the only places one can become educated.

Society Should Trust Women

Feminists encourage society to trust women in matters like abortion. Yet feminism distrusts females who want to stay home with their children. Perhaps such critics assume that if a woman’s daily work belongs to the domestic sphere, with no raises to compete for and no performance reviews to hold her accountable, she is likely to lounge around in yoga pants while surfing the Internet. That is, they imagine that outside accountability is inextricably tied to meaningful accomplishments.

Yet the most meaningful human work transcends accountability. As an analogy: the best classroom teachers do wonderful things for students not because they adhere to any checklist, but through who they are. They communicate a love of learning by loving to learn. They inspire compassion by being compassionate. They engage by being engaging, challenging people who care both about truth and about their students.

When school administrators distrust teachers and hold them to overly rigid guidelines or testing schedules, it hampers the efforts of excellent teachers. The best work in all spheres of life is not about accountability, but about the sort of person doing that work (yet one more reason why we should value education for everyone!).

When women make sacrifices to stay home with their own children—the babies for whom they would die—they are likely to be highly motivated to be the sort of people who make a difference in their children’s lives. We need to trust women on this.

Society Also Benefits from People who Do ‘Less’

The current culture delights in volume. Bigger boxes of French fries. More volunteer activities on college applications. Our values make it very easy to see the merit in those high-energy achievers whose packed schedules allow them to accomplish what seems like everything at once. It is often harder for us to admire those who delve more deeply into only one or two things. After all, their list of what they do each day seems short. To people who do not understand, their daily activities might even sound trivial.

Yet society needs deep-focus people as much as it needs multi-talented, multi-tasking people. We need the lab assistants who stare faithfully at computer screens all day. We need the cellists who devote the majority of their lives to practicing. We need the scholars whose years of devotion to mathematics produce a single work upon which others can build. These people do their work just as faithfully as those who juggle a greater variety. In fact, they do it in a unique way that requires sacrificing variety.

Hard as it might be to realize, society benefits when we recognize that there are many ways of being useful members of society, of serving others, and of finding joy in our work. Stay-at-home moms are able to bring a deep focus to the lives of their children and the needs of their community. By sacrificing volume, they are able to serve others in a unique way.

We Can Value SAHMs without Condemning Working Moms

Ultimately, I suspect many women are uncomfortable with arguments in defense of stay-at-home moms because they are concerned about the specter of simplistic consistency. After all, if a woman provides an important benefit to her child by becoming his full-time caretaker, doesn’t that imply that the opposite is also true—that the children of career moms are missing out on an important benefit? And that, therefore, homemakers are better moms?

In reality, life is complicated. No two mothers can provide their children with quite the same good things. Trying to do so is crazy. Every life choice brings both costs and benefits. In fact, it is not always easy even to know whether a given difference is a benefit or a handicap. Living in poverty can prevent a child from gaining access to resources—and can teach resilience and determination. Watching a parent struggle with a disability can teach compassion and grit—and be confusing and depressing.

Being a good parent is not about competing with other women to magically give one’s child everything that seems good. It is about faithfully doing one’s best in all kinds of circumstances. Often that means making a careful, thoughtful choice about how best to put the needs of one’s own children first, whether by remaining in the workforce or taking time off from it.

I remember when a very conservative friend warned my mom not to let us girls pursue career-oriented degrees. This friend was afraid that educated women would be unlikely to stay home with children. Most feminists would decry the idea of trying to “trap” young women into any particular life path. If they are to be consistent, however, feminists—and society at large—need to recognize that education is not a trap, either. It is something that helps all women live their lives in a more fully human manner, no matter what their work may turn out to be. Even if it involves teaching children how to go potty.

conservative, culture, education, family, feminism, freedom, ideology, opinion

Filed under: conservative, culture, education, family, feminism, freedom, ideology, opinion

Psychological study rigged with liberal bias; researchers oblivious

Let’s try an experiment. What if we could gauge liberal leanings of the American public by tracking tech purchases? Now, before you start complaining about how disturbing or invasive such tracking might be or how suspicious and absurd it is to even ask about tracking people in such a way, let me say this: you’re right!

But this wasn’t my idea. I got the idea from a psychological study published in Psychological Science in March 2013 entitled Ideology and Brand Consumption. The study is replete with liberal bias from the researchers and they appear entirely oblivious to it. The study is not about general political leanings. No, the study particularly targets U.S. conservative political leanings. Here’s the abstract (bolding is mine):

Do mundane daily choices, such as what brands people buy in a supermarket, reflect aspects of values and ideologies? This article presents a large-scale field study performed to determine whether traits associated with a conservative ideology, as measured by voting behavior and religiosity, are manifested in consumers’ routine, seemingly inconsequential product choices. Our analysis of market shares for a variety of frequently purchased products shows that both of these measures of conservatism are associated with a systematic preference for established national brands (as opposed to their generic substitutes) and with a lower propensity to buy newly launched products. These tendencies correspond with other psychological traits associated with a conservative ideology, such as preference for tradition and the status quo, avoidance of ambiguity and uncertainty, and skepticism about new experiences.

The abstract mentions a conservative leaning three times and makes no mention of a liberal leaning. It should be no surprise that the researchers have left wing political leanings, given their description of a conservative ideology clearly stems from a liberal bias. Look at the traits the abstract lists as “associated with a conservative ideology”:

  • preference for tradition
  • preference for the status quo
  • avoidance of ambiguity and uncertainty
  • skepticism about new experiences

Plenty of conservatives would agree on a preference for tradition, but a preference for the status quo? That’s obviously a liberal point of view on conservatism, as such a term is not how conservatives typically describe themselves. Sometimes liberals can be accused of defending the status quo too, especially in bloated government institutions such as public education. As to ambiguity, liberalism thrives on that so of course an aversion to ambiguity would get the attention of the liberal researchers.

Uncertainty is a problem for every one, not only conservatives. It just depends on the context for us to see this. For example, the purpose of the social safety net (such as unemployment benefits, social security, Obamacare, etc.) is obviously meant to help people, not least of which by providing some level of financial peace and security (even if it fails to actually achieve the promises made to the American people). The social safety net is intended to reduce uncertainty and help people manage risk, and is most vocally championed by liberals. Tenure is meant to accomplish the same thing for teachers (liberals love tenure, whereas most complaints about tenure I hear are from conservative and libertarian students displeased with their liberal teachers – who dominate the academy). We all appreciate reducing uncertainty in some form, but these liberal researchers seem to have overlooked this simple and plain fact of the human condition about themselves.

Skepticism about new experiences is another favorite liberal critique of conservatism, not something conservatives typically say to describe themselves. The article is written from a viewpoint that seems entirely bereft of sociopolitical balance – a liberal examination of a conservative perspective hardly qualifies as a conservative perspective.

The secondary data points mentioned in the study are also from a thoroughly left wing bias. Without leaving the first page we see risk aversion mentioned, and included in the examples are the purchase of medical and auto insurance (conveniently, the social safety net most favored by liberals escapes mention as an example of risk aversion, when that is precisely its purpose). Keep in mind, in most states the purchase of auto insurance is required by law. Obamacare is a glaring example of the researchers’ political blind spot in that it MANDATES the purchase of health insurance. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for the Affordable Care Act. It was enacted by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, three years before this psychological study was published. Liberals widely favored the mandate aspect of Obamacare, conservatives did not – conservatives favored health savings accounts as these would transfer control of health decisions from an insurance bureaucracy back to into the hands of the patient. The purchase of insurance is one thing, mandating it is quite another. This factor is completely disregarded in the Psychological Science article. The researchers instead thought only the “risk aversion” aspect of purchasing insurance was relevant because it fits neatly into their narrative. This is certainly true given the partisan goal of the study, but not as useful for understanding the reality of the situation as it ignored the liberal proclivity for reducing risk by favoring policies which control people’s choices.

The researchers refer to the 2005 edition of Miriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to define conservatism (UPDATE: Miriam-Webster showing signs of political hackery). They state this definition as “disposition in politics to preserve what is established” and “the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change”. This, again, is more a matter of how liberals see conservatives rather than how conservatives see themselves. Conservatism is not a “disposition in politics to preserve that which is established”. Some obvious examples would be Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court ruling highly lauded by most liberals but highly condemned by most conservatives. The same is true of Obamacare and its mandate to purchase health insurance. Conservatives are working to undo both matters of law, the exact opposite of “preserving what is established”.

On the other hand, conservatives are certainly interested in preserving the individual’s right to make his/her own decisions that don’t cause harm to others. Some examples are opposing the institution of slavery (one of the seminal issues that led to the founding of the Republican party), opposing Jim Crow (established and defended by Democrats taking liberty with other people’s rights), and supporting the expansion of civil union laws rather than allow the federal government to usurp the religious institution of marriage – which is a violation of the separation between church and state, something liberals have said for generations is vital to maintaining liberty.

Let’s return to part of the hypothetical scenario I mentioned up top – tech purchases. Consider two major consumer products in the tech market: smart phones and Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Both forms of technology give us good reason to practice patience, or exercise a “preference for the status quo” and “skepticism about new experiences” as this liberal study would suggest.

Some of us remember Windows Millennium Edition (Windows ME). That was a publicly disastrous product launch for Microsoft. It left a bad taste in the mouth of Microsoft’s customers, so much that many of those customers have been cautious about upgrading to the next latest edition ever since. Windows 8 proved a similar problem in that many Windows users simply hated it, and reverted back to a previous version. This pressured Microsoft to push out the next version of the OS and many people, including conservatives, are quite happy with Windows 10 (the most recent version of the OS as of this article). Many Windows users learned to wait before upgrading to any “new” version from Microsoft. This group of customers will gladly let other more adventurous people test the latest version of Windows first. After the inevitable update fixing who knows how many problems (as also happened with Windows 10), this more cautious group becomes much more likely to upgrade. But according to this liberal study on conservative consumer habits, this could be an example of a “preference for the status quo” rather than the very sensible patience for predictably problematic new technology to be improved.

Smart phones have a similar problem. There are customers who, for whatever reason, simply must have the latest smart phone as soon as it is released to the general public (if not before). These devices are at their most expensive retail price at this early release stage. And they typically have the same sort of quality problems as a new Windows OS. Common sense tells us with the practice of a little patience, most of these problems can be fixed and the prices for the smart phones will drop once the market is more saturated with them among the first triers. But according to the liberal study this pragmatic and reasonable self restraint might demonstrate a “skepticism about new experiences” something akin to a resistance to trying any new technology simply because it’s unfamiliar. Those of us who live in the real world can understand the benefits of new technology that it has been well vetted by the adventurous first triers. If that qualifies as “conservative” so be it.

Contrary to what liberals tell themselves, conservatism is a disposition to preserve freedom, not any old thing that has been established. In the conservative mindset the single greatest threat to freedom is the abuse of power. A healthy skepticism of power is fundamental to the American experiment; it’s part of America’s DNA. In the effort to PRESERVE freedom the conservative endeavors to CONSERVE power (use it sparingly). And how does the abuse of power occur in the grand American experiment? Quite often it happens through the offer of government assistance. Ironically, it turns out government aid usually means government making decisions for us, and a decision the government makes on our behalf is a decision we (as individuals) no longer have the right to make for ourselves.

Freedom is also threatened by the abuse of freedom itself, which why we need laws in the first place. This necessitates a sort of social compact where we try to reach a balance between laws and liberties. In the conservative mindset this balance favors liberties. The abuse of power and the abuse of freedom are best addressed by an aversion to abuse and waste, thus self restraint is encouraged in both cases, where power (the use of force) is limited or conserved (hence the term “conservative”).

Contrast this with the liberal balance between laws and liberties, which favors laws. It is not conservatives who are constantly trying to regulate various aspects of life. It is not conservatives who pushed to regulate the use of tobacco, or sugar, or speech. The ever increasing list of words we are to avoid using (for fear of offending anyone) is not an invention of conservatives; it is the hallmark of modern liberalism. (Jailing students for distributing free copies of the US Constitution is a thoroughly liberal policy.) On the one hand, liberals claim to value and defend free speech when what they really mean is APPROVED speech, which is the opposite of free speech. The ambiguity and purposeful misuse of language is the playground of tyrants. And let us not purposefully confuse the Republican Party with conservatism. The Republican Party has spent decades distancing itself from conservatives, attempting to become diet Democrats. And they have succeeded. There is scarcely a trace of conservatism left in the Republican Party of today.

The so-called resistance to change often cited as a tenet of conservatism is predictably reductive as well. Rather than acknowledge the fact change is merely different, and that difference could be either good or bad, the typically mindless liberal view is that change is automatically a good thing (that’s how the vague and vapid slogan “hope and change” was so successful). The problem is none of us knows change is always good. Getting cancer is “change” but none of us is likely to treat that change as good. How do we know a political or social change is going to be good if we don’t examine it first? But, as mentioned earlier, in the liberal mindset, recognition that life is not so simple is dismissed as a small-minded resistance to change. To suggest change ought to be vetted before we impose it on our entire society is typically dismissed as bigotry. (Consider Obamacare again: liberals dismissed health savings accounts as a solution to the problem of astronomical health care costs saying this was another example conservatives don’t care about people, whereas mandated health insurance was the preferred liberal solution, ignoring the highly likely possibility that insurance itself is the primary CAUSE of astronomical health care costs.) That’s one of the underlying premises of this study because it’s a fundamental premise of liberalism – that conservatives are “skeptical about new experiences” and “prefer the status quo” because they don’t like change.

I learned of this study by randomly encountering an article in Psychology Today by Art Markman titled Conservatism and Product Purchase. Dr. Markman’s article didn’t address the liberal bias of this study. His interest was more on confirming a standard liberal view of conservatism. He ends his article with this:

There is evidence suggesting that conservative ideology is often taken on by people who find newness and change to be stressful.  For individuals who are anxious in  new situations, familiar products and brands are comforting.  So, the same factors that promote conservative political affiliation also seem to affect everyday purchases.

It seems to me this study and the impetus behind it was in the common liberal vein of trying to “explain away” conservatism as if it were a pathology. That’s not my description. This is the description of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. The New York Times has a good article describing Haidt’s work in William Saletan’s 2012 piece “Why Won’t They Listen?“. Saletan’s article adeptly explains Haidt’s attempt to enrich American society by explaining something about human psychology that most of us simply don’t think about, or don’t think about in a well rounded way.

If actual understanding is a goal of yours, Saletan’s article is definitely worth a read. If you’re satisfied in simply telling yourself what you want to believe perhaps your social media echo chamber would be better for you.

bias, conservative, culture, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, pandering, philosophy, progressive, propaganda, study

Filed under: bias, conservative, culture, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, pandering, philosophy, progressive, propaganda, study

A Closer Look At Why There Aren’t More Black Conservatives

In January of this year The American Conservative published “Why Aren’t There More Black Republicans” by Musa Al-Gharbi. I found some excellent and insightful points in Al-Gharbi’s piece. While there are also some legitimate grievances mentioned (which the GOP needs to take seriously) I believe many of these grievances are aimed in the wrong direction. I admit my perspective is not one of a political insider or policy wonk. I’m just a regular Joe trying to make a living. With that in mind, please consider the following.

Al-Gharbi makes the remarkable (and rare) point that the GOP has a positive historical record on civil rights and that Americans need to be reminded of this history. Al-Gharbi also touches on some important Democrat history of American politics and race. Can you imagine what campaigning would be like today if Americans were reminded of historical Democrat opposition to civil rights (including filibustering civil rights legislation in the 1960s)? For more eye opening info on this topic, Bruce Bartlett writes about the abysmal Democrat past on civil rights in his book Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past. Dinesh D’Sousa’s movie “Hillary’s America” is another good place to look.

But when Al-Ghardi moves off of history and into the meat of his article there is a vital distinction between Republicans and Conservatives that is not mentioned – the difference between conservatives and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). This distinction, I believe, would reshape many of his points. Another point I want to reexamine in Al-Gharbi’s article is what appears to be a left wing perspective on many issues.

Take, for instance, the argument on the supposed harm inflicted on black Americans “by advocating for voter ID laws, which disenfranchise primarily low-income and legal minority voters.” We can ask, in what way does a common sense (and internationally speaking, a very common) election security precaution disenfranchise anyone? The “widespread evidence” standard is a legitimate one, and I’d like to see widespread evidence that such abuse is inevitable in the implementation of voter id laws. For the liberal left it is standard procedure to ignore or downplay stories of various forms of election fraud, and we should not neglect the fact this fraud is so often in their favor. The numerous cases of voter fraud are often simply ignored or actively covered up by those who benefit from them (which should not be surprising). I humbly suggest the complaints of Voter ID laws should not be taken at face value.

EDITORIAL: North Carolina answers Democrats’ question ‘What vote fraud?’

N.C. proves multiple voting occurs and dead cast ballots

Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy

53,000 Dead Voters Found in Florida

If “widespread evidence” and “a single example of when such voting has actually turned an election” (criteria Al-Gharbi mentions) are the standard Voter ID proponents must measure up to, why not hold opponents of Voter ID to that same standard?

A couple examples of voter fraud come to my mind. A Philadelphia man gleefully admitted on live television he voted multiple times for Barack Obama. Imagine all the details that have to work together for this to occur. First, the only system innate in the voting process to prevent multiple voting is the poll workers. Unfortunately, the poll workers either don’t notice or don’t care that he voted more than once. And he feels so confident that nothing is wrong with this he is willing to admit on TV that he committed the crime. Some questions ought to naturally follow. Was this man charged? Did anyone in law enforcement follow up?

In another example, this woman, (who was a poll worker at the time) admits voting for Obama multiple times and yet denies committing voter fraud. When the perpetrators of voter fraud don’t recognize or even deny their crime it makes sense there would be difficulty in finding “widespread evidence” for it. As an experiment, one could show these two examples of voter fraud to people who voted for Barack Obama and ask them if these incidents qualify as voter fraud, and subsequently discover why “widespread evidence” for this crime is so difficult to find. Many people are so enamored with the idea of the first black president, election laws seem to be irrelevant.

On the other hand, there was an article a few years back on how the current election system (regardless of voter IDs) may be designed to disenfranchise black voters by default. Could it be that requiring voter ID might help liberate the black community from this and other common election shenanigans which already disenfranchise them?

I would also ask for widespread evidence that “Republican legislators court Neo-Confederates and other ethnic nationalist movements” as Al-Gharbi states. There seems to be no concern for nuance here (such as the difference between groups reaching out to politicians and politicians actively courting organizations). Do we know such groups reach out to conservatives and not to RINOs? RINOs are more likely to get government involved and appeal to special interest groups because RINOs act more like Democrats than like conservatives.

But does it matter when questionable groups have ties to politicians? It apparently didn’t matter in regard to the late Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, as Bill Clinton explained Sen. Byrd was merely “trying to get elected” by being a member of the KKK. A lame excuse, sure, but it worked. Evidently it doesn’t matter that Robert Byrd spent half a century representing people for whom a “fleeting association” (full blown membership) with the KKK counted as an asset rather than a liability. As Al-Gharbi already mentioned, the liberal narrative would sugar coat and disregard this record with a racist hate group. Then, curiously, Republicans would be blamed for the evils committed by that group. Despite many theories, the reality of why Democrats and Republicans are treated so differently on matters of racism escapes me. Even the myth that the parties “switched sides” is losing its influence as more people learn the truth of the matter, yet Democrats often get a pass for overt racism. There are no more whites only water fountains, restrooms, lunch counters, etc. It is not incidental that Republicans dominate the American South during its LEAST racist era. Racism abounds throughout the country, we are constantly told, and the South is no longer the preeminent example of it.

On the matter of affirmative action, I don’t doubt there was a time for this sort of government intervention. But it has become a crutch for the black community. The left wing narrative constantly promotes the idea that black Americans cannot survive without Uncle Sam’s helping hand on a daily basis. This, of course, makes it easier to displace white people to make room for demographic quotas in various jobs (though I don’t see much effort to REDUCE counts of blacks among professional athletes (such as the NBA or NFL) to make the demographics more closely match those of the general population). This narrative is promoted largely by perpetuating the belief that there has been no progress in the battle against racism over the last half century, that racism still lurks around every corner. No one claims racism has been eliminated but it certainly sounds like Democrats infuse race into every discussion possible. Fear mongering and race hustling work for Democrats.

But what should we expect from people who, as Bob Parks put it, make money finding racism even when it isn’t there? The Duke Lacrosse scandal is one of the more prominent examples of how the ghost of racism is kept alive because the fear of racism is fuel for the fire – even if liberals have to lie about it. But let us not forget that manufactured racism and affirmative action both provide the same benefit for Democrats: a belief that the black community needs government, and that government can solve all of life’s problems.

We should question whether government can solve such problems. There is an astounding degree of blind faith in the magical powers of government. This faith is often supported by questionable data if not outright lies. The figures Al-Ghardi provides sound familiar, much like the feminist data constantly touted about the supposed wage gap. I’d like to see the data that show “Black families have, on average, 5 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts.” How do we know “blacks earn only 60 cents for every dollar that white people earn in salary and wages.”? (And if blacks did earn 60 cents for every dollar that whites earn, wouldn’t blacks have 60 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts?) Are these numbers produced in the same way the specious 77 cents wage gap figure was produced? And if the methods for producing the 77 cent or 60 cent figures are valid there are other questions we should put on the table; such as is it okay for Hillary Clinton to pay her female workers 72 cents for every dollar she pays a male?

Others have made good points in that the data show the black community was stronger and more likely to overcome the lingering effects of slavery and racism before government started trying to “help” in the 1960s. In fact, Dr. Thomas Sowell and others who have looked into this issue make a good case that the lingering effects of slavery and racism we see today are largely perpetuated by government intervention (meaning Democrats and RINOs).

In conservative thought, a nanny state government is an insatiable government. Every decision the government makes on our behalf is a decision we no longer have the right to make for ourselves. Every effort for the government to “help” people grows the power and influence of the state, which diminishes the autonomy and liberty of the individual. Over time this sort of help infantilizes people, who look to government more and more to take care of them, and they eventually become slaves to their own government. Conservatives expect other conservatives to accept this viewpoint. RINOs don’t really care about the size or fiscal appetite of government.

I appreciate the viewpoint diversity Al-Ghardi speaks of. I would like for viewpoint diversity to be valued among our increasingly closed minded, intolerant, progressive culture. Progressives are astoundingly judgemental and abusive to those expressing dissent. (Just as an experiment, find a moment to say out loud to a group of progressives “marriage is between one man and one woman” as if you actually believed that statement, and tell me how tolerant they are of a view they disagree with.)

On any number of issues you can find ample viewpoint diversity among conservatives, of any race. But on the fundamental issue of liberty vs. government influence, to veer away from this premise is to veer away from conservatism. Given there are relatively few people who subscribe to this belief, conservatives gladly embrace all who agree with this view regardless of race. It is one of the building blocks of all conservative thought.

But to Democrats and liberals/progressives, to free people from a nanny state form of “help” is uncompassionate and even dangerous. Stoking racial strife is one of the most common ways for Democrats to promote their idea of benevolent government. Alan Keys, Herman Cain, and Ben Carson do not “downplay the significance of historical disadvantages or institutionalized racism” when they speak of the natural result of increasing government power, as Al-Gharbi suggests. Slavery is in fact the destination at the end of that road. Democrats, on the other hand, do downplay the significance such evils when they constantly accuse Republicans of racism, such as VP Joe Biden’s comment about putting black people back in chains.

As to alienating blacks, quite frankly it is not conservatives who do that. According to one of my favorite conservative commentators, Alfozo Rachel, it is the black community who alienates Republicans. And it is liberals who accuse black conservatives of being sell outs among other things. There is a concerted effort to marginalize black conservatives. Black conservatives often pay a huge price for coming out of the closet as conservatives.

RINOs do in fact offer the “top down” approach Al-Ghardi mentions, the same government-knows-best approach Democrats offer the American people. But RINOs and Democrats fail to understand something about economics that is common sense among conservatives: poor people don’t create jobs. On the other hand, somehow the American people have largely been convinced raising their taxes helps them.

One of the biggest lies in American politics is about taxes. So many people who claim to want “fairness” are led to believe “the rich” and “corporations” don’t pay their “fair share”. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what “fair share” actually means. One question on this issue conservatives like to ask is “how much of other people’s stuff are you entitled to”? Many Americans are in fact “looking for government handouts” and they are “demanding wealth redistribution as a corrective for historical disenfranchisement”. It is not conservatives who are doing this, it is liberals/progressives. I see it in the black community, the hispanic community, the white community, etc. American culture, with the exception of conservatives, is largely infected with an entitlement mentality – an attitude of “somebody owes me something”.

Everyone claims to desire a “fair playing field, opportunity for social mobility” but many people will likewise demand government handouts without even noticing the contradiction. In fact, from what I’ve seen, when liberals say they want a fair playing field and opportunity for social mobility, they actually mean government regulations and handouts. Thankfully conservatives are pushing back against this distortion. Black conservatives are doing a lot of this pushback but they are often marginalized and ignored, or attacked with racial epithets by those favoring government handouts.

I don’t know anyone who actually opposes a social safety net that prevents people from sinking into total despondency (though I know many who are blithely accused of opposing any social safety net at all). The biggest objection I see to the current American social safety net is that it is corrupt and inefficient, and has a tendency to trap its recipients in poverty. As Bill Whittle put it, the food, housing, education, and even cell phones offered by the government are all crap, crumbs from Uncle Sam’s table. And human beings deserve better than that.

Sadly, crumbs are the best we can expect from a massive, corrupt government. This is what “micromanaging the poor” looks like – the government-run social safety net. It is not conservative Republicans who support the inefficient social safety net, it is RINOs and Democrats who support it. That’s why conservatives preach so much about freedom. Crumbs we can get easily but if we want more than crumbs we have to work for it. This is why conservatives are constantly talking about getting government out of our way – so people can live their own lives.

But that brings us to a core difference between the way conservatives and others see life. Conservatives don’t look at life from a perspective of helping people attain minimal survival, but from one where people should be allowed to thrive. We don’t seek a social safety net as the peak of civilization, we seek prosperity so that a social safety net does not overwhelm all of us (as is inevitable given the way Democrats and RINOs constantly seek to expand that net). These things require work, a lot of work. Smart work. Making good decisions is crucial to prospering in life.

Making good decisions is a challenge faced by us all, but it seems the black community is more challenged than any other group of Americans. We can tell ourselves this is a result of slavery and discrimination, but perhaps a closer look might shed further light on the matter. Unfortunately, this closer look could lead to some socially unacceptable observations, even if they are true.

In the black community there is very common disdain for education, especially among young males. And why shouldn’t this be the case? From decades of telling the black community they can’t succeed because of racism, and then forcing the black community into what is arguably the worst sector of American education (often riddled with a political agenda), why should the black community believe success is possible for them? Why shouldn’t they expect a life of government handouts? That’s an alarmingly common attitude among the general American population, not merely in the black community. Many times I’ve witnessed people share ideas on gaming the entitlement system, with the mentality of getting as many benefits as possible from the government. And that’s one result that can be traced back to slavery but perpetuated by government: dependency on a master.

Conservative Republicans want to set people free from this kind of misery. One major effort to achieve this freedom is school vouchers. School vouchers empower parents to decide what sort of education is best for their children. But school vouchers take this power away from a bureaucratic state, which is the lifeblood of progressivism today. Thus Democrats typically oppose school vouchers, and make people fear the freedom this would grant them by making that freedom look “raysiss”.

The same is true of government entitlement programs. These programs often trap people. Promoting liberation from a minimum standard is often viewed as “draconian restrictions” on the “assistance provided” by government. And this brings us from bad government programs back to good individual decisions.

Government handouts have made headlines for buying alcohol, drugs, and other entertainment. To the people whose resources were confiscated by government and then redistributed, these sorts of purchases look like a betrayal of trust. We have been lead to believe the social safety net is intended to prevent “people from sinking into total despondency.” Buying booze, drugs, porn, etc., make it seem some of the recipients of these benefits are not as poor as we’ve been lead to believe. Like anything else in life, the people who genuinely need the social safety net have to suffer consequences of others, of those who abuse or defraud the social safety net. Republicans don’t want to make “draconian restrictions” on those who actually need assistance but they do want to stop fraud and abuse of programs which spend other people’s money. Social trust is an important element for those being forced to pay the bill. As long as abuse and fraud occur conservatives will be offended by the waste of aid intended for those who really need it, and seek to prevent such waste. Wasting this aid harms those who really need it. Shouldn’t we all be offended by that?

But rather than simply cleaning up corruption in the system, conservatives want to move beyond merely talking about setting people free and actually set people free. This requires a total change from the predominant safety net paradigm.

Which brings us back to taxes. The current government structure rests on making people think someone else should pay more taxes. The brilliance of this progressive system is that most people don’t realize they are the “someone else”. Businesses “pay” business taxes because they first raise the prices we pay – we the people actually pay all taxes. We can call it corporate tax, or employment tax, or whatever the government wants. But it is we the people who pay. Raising taxes directly impacts we the people, hitting the poor the hardest. Rather than building a massive government scheme designed to control wealth (the progressive way), conservatives prefer to reduce government involvement to the minimum required (military, police, courts, roads, etc.). With minimal government control over wealth there is also minimal government appetite, and thus less government involvement, thus minimal burden on the people. Imagine the jobs that would naturally be created if even 10% of the wealth currently confiscated by the government were instead left to the people who generated that wealth in the first place. People who create wealth naturally put it back into the economy in the form of purchases and business expansion. But we are supposed to call this greed, and consider increased jobs a bad thing when businesses are allowed to create them rather than the government.

And that leads us to another difference between conservatives and others. The ability to freely exchange among our fellow Americans is hampered by over taxation and corrupt regulation. Making life more expensive works quite well for government as it feeds the perceived need for government intervention, thus making a self fulfilling prophesy. But it does not work so well for the people, particularly the poor. Government’s strength is greatest in the act of taking and controlling, but the market’s strength is greatest in offering goods and services for voluntary exchange.

Which brings us back to politics. Conservatives want to change the “getting help” paradigm (government intervention) to a paradigm of achievement (individual liberty). Conservatives also want to redirect the new cultural obsession with “fairness” and return to an obsession with liberty. It is possible. There are prominent black Americans showing us success is possible if people were simply free from an over burdensome government. But that’s the rub; to be free to live one’s own life also entails the responsibility of doing so. A very important question conservatives should ask is “do you want to be free, or do you want to be taken care of?”. It is alarming to see how many people say they want the former but act like they want the latter.

Blind faith in the power of a benevolent government does more harm than good, especially to those it is allegedly trying to help. Democrats have an unwavering faith in the myth. RINOs share this faith. RINOs betray the Republican identity by becoming nothing more than diet Democrat. Democrats and RINOs betray the American people by making false promises resulting merely in more expensive government control of people’s lives. Obamacare is a prime example, from lies about keeping your insurance, to lies about reduced costs, to lies about improved access to health care.

Conservatives should work harder to reach the culture rather than look to politics to solve life’s problems. The “if government doesn’t help, no one will get help” myth must be confronted. So should the lies told which make people think a nanny state government taking of them and making decisions for them is “empowering”. Democrats and RINOs have a vested interest in making people look to government to solve life’s problems. The American people have a vested interest in the truth. It is conservatives who must tell it.

capitalism, conservative, economy, freedom, funding, government, health care, ideology, nanny state, public policy, reform, Republicans, taxes, unintended consequences

Filed under: capitalism, conservative, economy, freedom, funding, government, health care, ideology, nanny state, public policy, reform, Republicans, taxes, unintended consequences

A dynamic society is not perfectible – stop acting like cattle

In light of the US Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage we see the two fundamental social forces at work in the United States. These forces show us the human condition is dynamic, thus so is human society. Because society is not a static thing the idea of progress is not nearly as settled as many people would think.

The idea of progress is a very noble one, at its core. There is suffering and injustice in the world. A lot of it. ISIS is a good example of the evil that exists in the world. Indeed the desire for improvement of the human condition adds social pressure to a people to prevent its decay into a barbaric society like that of ISIS. A health society needs this desire to improve.

On the other hand, because society is dynamic and not static, we must remember that progress itself is not static. The idea that past improvements are here to stay is an assumption. There are good reasons for thinking progress is a permanent thing but there are also good reasons to doubt this assumption. It seems to me the idea of progress, while often viewed as achievement, is in practice really nothing more than trend.

In the gay marriage example, we have a group of people who are widely believed to have been oppressed. The alleged oppression prevented gay people from loving who they wanted to love and prevented them from living with who they wanted to live with. Of course neither of these forms of oppression are true in the United States, as gay people were living with and loving the people they wanted all along. Though these allegations are true in some regions of the world:

Thrown to death… for being gay

‘Kill the gays’ penalty proposed Malawi Muslim Association

UK Muslim Cleric: ’Okay to Kill Gays’

Horrific moment ISIS kill four gay men by throwing them from a roof

Iranian Gay Men To Be Hanged For Sodomy: Report

‘Gays’ and the Muslims who kill them

So Far, Media Downplaying Muslim Scholar Preaching Death for Gays in Orlando

Yes, yes, gay people have been murdered in the United States as well. In the US killing gay people is considered murder, while in many other parts of the world murdering gays is considered justice. But there are plenty of people who insist on treating the murder of gays in the US as no different from killing them elsewhere. In fact many go out of their way to argue conservatives and Christians are no different from Islamic extremists, yet would insist Muslims don’t hate gays. How are conservatives and Christians hateful homophobes no different from Muslim homophobes while Muslim homophobes are not homophobes at all? Don’t ask me. We live in a country where believing marriage is between one man and one woman is treated as equivalent to murdering gays, yet when gays are actually murdered by an Islamic extremists it is not Muslims who are to blame. Guess who is to blame:

ABC Blames Orlando Terror on Election Rhetoric and Guns in America

Anything But Islam: Media Attack Guns, Men, Christians, GOP Instead of Ideology in Terror Attack

NYT Columnist: Orlando Shows ‘How Potent’ Combination of ISIS, NRA Can Be

The View: Orlando Shooter Had No Ties to ISIS but Trump Is ‘Working With ISIS to Kill Us’

Vile Bee Prays NRA Is Plagued with Boils, Declares She Wants to Take Guns Away Post-Orlando

ThinkProgress Blames Christians For Orlando Shooting

Nets Censor Chick-fil-A’s Help in Orlando Blood Drives After Shooting

North Carolina NBC Reporter Blames Christians, Bathroom Law Advocates for Orlando

CBS Insinuates Christians ‘Promote the Kind of Violence’ in Orlando

Huffington Post Blames Orlando on Christians and Fox News Viewers

NY Times Again Blames Anti-Gay GOP, Not Radical Islam, for Orlando Massacre

The Logic Behind the Left’s Demonization of Conservatives

So we’ve got a convoluted notion of who is anti-gay and who is not but American culture tells itself redefining marriage to include same sex couples is progress, and this progress is here to stay.

That’s rather curious. In Europe in centuries past, it was one group or another of Christians who could be oppressed, abused and murdered merely for being the wrong kind of Christian. Some of those people left the old world to help forge a new world, one inherently based in a spirit of individual liberty where they could practice their beliefs freely. This idea would later be codified as the freedom of religion and made part of the law of the land. But that essential liberty is being undermined, along with a few other things.

There some fundamental problems with the way the American government dealt with the gay marriage issue. The tactics chosen to affect this type of change undermine many rights Americans currently enjoy and even some vital aspects of the government itself.

First, American society holds to a separation between church and state. This separation is widely and frequently cited as essential to the preservation of liberty. Throughout its history the United States has treated marriage as an inherently religious thing. But in 2016 the federal government usurped this religious institution, making it what a few oligarchs on the bench decided it should be. And gay activists demanded this. So much for keeping government out of the bedroom. It turns out keeping government and religion separate is only selectively important; apparently we don’t need this separation when government wants power over religion.

Second, American society holds to a separation of powers. The genius of the American experiment has several aspects, not least of which is the balance of power. In the Constitution of the United States, the supreme law of the land, the power to make law does not rest in the hands of the President or the Supreme Court. That power is reserved for the Congress. But the Supreme Court has decided it can make law by fiat. This is not the first time SCOTUS presumed the right to make law (Roe v Wade is another).

This episode in American history show us certain things presumed permanent can easily be undone. The separation between church and state and the separation of powers are being undermined, and are done so with celebration from the political left. In the aftermath of recent mass shootings we see an overt effort to defend Muslims against imaginary acts of meanness while undermining the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms (and even question the right to self defense, another aspect of the law of the land long thought to be permanent). Some people are willing to be honest about their true intentions in supporting gun control.

You think gay marriage is a great step forward? Will you think the same if it turns out changing marriage in this way was merely a step toward banning marriage altogether as activist Masha Gessen is candid enough to admit?

You think the right to free speech is a permanent fixture of a free society? Well, you’re right, but that doesn’t mean the United States is going to remain a free society, not with politicians clamoring to change the first amendment. In the United States it used to be taken as self evident that rights do not come from government but from a higher source. Today it seems half of Americans think rights are bestowed upon us by government. Some may call this progress; I would call it regress.

When our Progressive (by that I mean radically left leaning) society pushes for its idea of liberty I cannot help but notice this also means the restriction or even elimination of other liberties often taken for granted. Liberty is an achievement, but not a permanent one. The American experiment is an historical anomaly in a world where oppression and tyranny are the norm. Not seeing tyranny for what it is, Progressives tend to fight inequality not realizing they do so by sacrificing everyone else’s liberty and are pushing American society back towards the historical norm.

In his body of work on analyzing society Russel Kirk explains ten principles of conservatism. In principle 10 he explains it like this:

The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress, with a Roman P, at work in the world. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces, which Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its Permanence and its Progression. The Permanence of a society is formed by those enduring interests and convictions that gives us stability and continuity; without that Permanence, the fountains of the great deep are broken up, society slipping into anarchy. The Progression in a society is that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement; without that Progression, a people stagnate.

Therefore the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. He thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old.

Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism. Just how much change a society requires, and what sort of change, depend upon the circumstances of an age and a nation.

Let us embrace healthy change (an admittedly subjective concept) when it is needed (also a subjective notion) and not rush to it just for the sake of change. All actions have consequences. Changes we impose on society by fiat have not been vetted and consequences will ensue, often painful and often accomplishing the opposite of what was promised. As Kirk alludes to a balance between permanence and progression let us carefully consider the change we desire and especially the methods we employ to achieve it. Whether the change we affect hits its target or misses completely there will inevitably be unforeseen consequences either way. We cannot possibly know how future generations will interpret or distort our efforts and accomplishments of today.

Change should be viewed more like a pendulum rather than a ladder. As we see in our own lifetime some things previously taken for granted have been inverted. We now allow a man to claim to be a woman. We now allow a white person to claim to be black (though for some reason we won’t allow a murderous thug to declare himself Muslim). We officially claim the freedom of religion and use it as an excuse to restrict the freedom of religion. We restrict the freedom of speech and excuse it as the avoidance of hurting someone’s feelings. The more volatile an issue is, and the more controversial the methods of dealing with it, the more likely a strong reaction will upend what was once considered stable. You can push, but you should expect others to push back.

We humans are not perfectible. And neither is society. What was once achieved can be torn down. Humanity is a dynamic thing. Real solutions are elusive. Realistically we should expect to deal with the problems of life by finding trade offs rather than sweeping solutions. In this election season we would do well to remember every promise a politician makes has an underlying cost, a cost often obscured or ignored but will come back to bite us eventually. Don’t blindly accept what politicians and news media are selling.

american, civil rights, conservative, culture, first amendment, free speech, freedom, ideology, philosophy, politics, right wing, separation, unintended consequences

Filed under: american, civil rights, conservative, culture, first amendment, free speech, freedom, ideology, philosophy, politics, right wing, separation, unintended consequences

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