Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Transgender laws may usurp the right to privacy

original article: Transgender bathroom laws have contributed to ‘voyeurism epidemic,’ says researcher
February 15, 2017 by Steve Weatherbe

A Canadian pastor who has researched 140 incidents of voyeurism in unisex and transgender-friendly spaces, says it is clear that transgender bathroom policies have contributed to the problem.

Paul Dirks of the New West Community Church in New Westminster, British Columbia, says his information, published on his WomanMeansSomething.com website, shows there is a “voyeurism epidemic.”

It also shows that policies establishing unisex or trans-friendly facilities are exposing biological women and girls to typical male crime and violence, he said.

“Policy makers and politicians need to understand that the push to open women’s spaces is taking place in the middle of a voyeurism epidemic,” Dirks wrote in The Federalist recently.

Most of Dirks’ cases involved male voyeurs using unisex washrooms, dressing rooms and swimming pool change rooms to video nude girls and women.

However, others involve men pretending or sincerely claiming to be “trans-women” who are behaving in typically male ways criminally.

Dirks was in Ottawa this week to lobby senators against Bill C-16, which would add gender identity and expression as protected grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

One of Dirks’ most important gleanings from several hundred academic studies on transgenderism is that males who claim to be females commit more crimes than women do. They also retain male patterns of sexuality.

“One of their most frequent sexual behaviors,” Dirks told LifeSiteNews, “is to use their male gentials insertively into women’s vaginas.”

Dirks insists his data debunks the oft-heard claim that there is no evidence that open or unisex bathrooms pose a risk to the girls or women who use them. For example, Mic Network published a story in 2015 titled Statistics Show Exactly How Many Times Trans People Have Attacked You in Bathrooms.

The story’s lead sentence reads “Surprise: There are zero reported cases of this happening.”

It then sources the misleading claim: “Spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union told Mic that no statistical evidence of violence exists to warrant this legislation.”

But what Dirks’ data show is multiple cases involving unisex or transgender-friendly facilities where biological males captured images of women or girls with cell phones and miniaturized cameras. Dirks considers acts like these true violence. They leave victims with genuine psychological injuries.

Dirks’ database also contains many cases of male-pattern physical violence committed by “trans-women.” These include sexual and non-sexual assaults on women in prisons, women’s shelters, bars and taxis.

“There is nothing keeping a violent man or a sex offender from putting on a wig and entering a woman’s safe space, or making no change to their appearance at all,” Dirks writes on his website. But there is also “no way for a woman or a child to tell the difference” between a sincere “trans-woman” and one feigning a female persona for criminal purposes.

Dirks began his Women Means Something campaign only three months ago. Already he has made the unsettling discovery as he searched for news stories on retailers with unisex facilities that he was not alone. Voyeurs were on a similar hunt.

“I found forums for voyeurs where people were asking about good places to peep,” he said.

Dirks’ research has also uncovered a significant increase in voyeurism charges and convictions in the United Kingdom. Academic studies indicate that for each criminal charge there are dozens if not hundreds of actual incidents. These cases and the proliferation of recent incidents in his database are the basis for his claim of a “voyeurism epidemic.”

He has also found unexpected allies. “A significant number of de-transitioning women are coming to the fore,” Dirks told LifeSiteNews. These are women who once believed themselves to be men. They sometimes had their breasts cut off, their ovaries removed and their genitals reconstructed to cure their gender dysphoria. But it did not work. Now they are accepting their biological gender.

“In the midst of this grand social experiment, there are some horrible effects,” Dirks said.

Dirks’ womanmeanssomething.com website offers the video testimony of some of these women after they returned to identifying and living as women. “Officially, only 2 percent or 3 percent of female-to-male transgender de-transition,” says Dirks, but he believes the number and the percentage are both growing fast.

Dirks’ site offers links to feminist organizations that also oppose Bill C-16 and transgender activism. Because some feminists do not want to align with social conservatives, they have their own petition against the bill.

Dirks sees other signs that “the tide is beginning to turn.”

Academics and health professionals are waking up to the real and permanent physical injuries being done to teenagers with gender dysphoria through hormone treatments and surgery.

The immediate task for Dirks, however, is to defeat Bill C-16.

“I do hope members of the Senate want to do a good job actually dealing with some of these questions,” he told LifeSiteNews.

However, in British Columbia, there is another serious threat to the safety of children. The transgender agenda is expanding in public schools.

“I will pull my daughter from public school if she is put at risk from a biological male,” Dirks told LifeSite.

abuse, criminal, crisis, diversity, ethics, government, justice, law, nanny state, public policy, scandal, unintended consequences, victimization

Filed under: abuse, criminal, crisis, diversity, ethics, government, justice, law, nanny state, public policy, scandal, unintended consequences, victimization

The Gun Control Farce

original article: The Gun Control Farce
June 21, 2016 by Thomas Sowell

Surely murder is a serious subject, which ought to be examined seriously. Instead, it is almost always examined politically in the context of gun control controversies, with stock arguments on both sides that have remained the same for decades. And most of those arguments are irrelevant to the central question: Do tighter gun control laws reduce the murder rate?

That is not an esoteric question, nor one for which no empirical evidence is available. Think about it. We have 50 states, each with its own gun control laws, and many of those laws have gotten either tighter or looser over the years. There must be tons of data that could indicate whether murder rates went up or down when either of these things happened.

But have you ever heard any gun control advocate cite any such data? Tragically, gun control has become one of those fact-free issues that spawn outbursts of emotional rhetoric and mutual recriminations about the National Rifle Association or the Second Amendment.

If restrictions on gun ownership do reduce murders, we can repeal the Second Amendment, as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist to protect people. People do not exist to perpetuate laws.

But if tighter restrictions on gun ownership do not reduce murders, what is the point of tighter gun control laws — and what is the point of demonizing the National Rifle Association?

There are data not only from our 50 states but also from other countries around the world. Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm’s empirical study, “Guns and Violence: The English Experience,” should be eye-opening for all those who want their eyes opened, however small that number of people might be.

Professor Malcolm’s book also illustrates the difference between isolated, cherry-picked facts and relevant empirical evidence.

Many gun control advocates have cited the much higher murder rates in the United States than in England as due to tighter gun control laws in England. But Professor Malcolm’s study points out that the murder rate in New York has been some multiple of the murder rate in London for two centuries — and, during most of that time, neither city had serious restrictions on gun ownership.

As late as 1954, “there were no controls on shotguns” in England, Professor Malcolm reported, but only 12 cases of armed robbery in London. Of these only 4 had real guns. But in the remainder of the 20th century, gun control laws became ever more severe — and armed robberies in London soared to 1,400 by 1974.

“As the numbers of legal firearms have dwindled, the numbers of armed crimes have risen” is her summary of that history in England. Conversely, in the United States the number of handguns in American homes more than doubled between 1973 and 1992, while the murder rate went down.

There are relevant facts available, but you are not likely to hear about them from politicians currently pushing for tighter gun control laws, or from the mainstream media, when those facts go against the claims of gun control advocates.

Despite hundreds of thousands of times a year when Americans use firearms defensively, none of those incidents is likely to be reported in the mainstream media, even when lives are saved as a result. But one accidental firearm death in a home will be broadcast and rebroadcast from coast to coast.

Virtually all empirical studies in the United States show that tightening gun control laws has not reduced crime rates in general or murder rates in particular. Is this because only people opposed to gun control do empirical studies? Or is it because the facts uncovered in empirical studies make the arguments of gun control zealots untenable?

In both England and the United States, those people most zealous for tighter gun control laws tend also to be most lenient toward criminals and most restrictive on police. The net result is that law-abiding citizens become more vulnerable when they are disarmed and criminals disobey gun control laws, as they disobey other laws.

The facts are too plain to be ignored. Moreover, the consequences are too dangerous to law-abiding citizens, whose lives are put in jeopardy on the basis of fact-free assumptions and unexamined dogmas. Such arguments are a farce, but not the least bit funny.

civil rights, constitution, culture, gun rights, ideology, law, study

Filed under: civil rights, constitution, culture, gun rights, ideology, law, study

2 fatal mistakes made by Roe v. Wade

original article: 2 fatal mistakes made by Roe v. Wade
January 18, 2016 by KRISTI BURTON BROWN

Roe v. Wade has been the most fatal judicial decision in U.S. history. In the aftermath of Roe, 58 million babies have been aborted, whilecountless women have been irreparably damaged and families have been harmed and torn apart.

Roe was based on multiple mistakes, direct lies, and a rejection of accurate science, research, and the real Constitution. (Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg agrees that Roe was “heavy-handed judicial intervention [which] was difficult to justify.”) However, there are two particularly damaging mistakes – one made by the justices and one by the attorney who argued the case.

FATAL MISTAKE #1: The justices completely missed the intent of the 14th Amendment.

The justices behind Roe wrote that there was no constitutional basis for protecting preborn life. They rejected the 14th Amendment as a basis for protecting the preborn, even though it recognizes the right to life and equal protection for all persons.

They entirely failed to recognize the specific intent of the Congressional sponsors of the 14th Amendment. The intent – a key part of interpreting law – shows that the sponsors wanted to include future vulnerable and oppressed human beings in constitutional equal protection.

Representative John Bingham, a House sponsor, intended the Amendment to be applied universally – to any and every human being.[1] In a speech to Congress, prior to the passage of the 14th Amendment, he declared that the Constitution is “based upon the equality of the human race. Its primal object must be to protect each human being…”[2]

Senate sponsor Jacob Howard agreed that “the measure would apply to even the ‘humblest, the poorest, the most despised of the human race.’”[3] Representative H.D. Scott stated: “The strength of this Government…is in its willingness as well as ability to do equal and exact justice to every human being…”[4] He condemned justice being “made subservient to interest” and when the strong “can prey upon the weak and unfortunate with impunity.”[5]

Just as these statements applied to Black Americans at the time, they apply to the preborn now, just as they did on January 22, 1973, and at the time the 14 Amendment was passed. The Roe Court would have done well to recognize this clear and constitutional truth.

FATAL MISTAKE #2: The lawyer who argued Roe believed women needed abortion to be successful.

There are certainly things to admire about Sarah Weddington, the 26-year-old lawyer who successfully argued Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court. At a very young age, she took on the entire nation to advocate for something she believed in. She didn’t let her age, gender, or inexperience stop her.

However, besides the fact that Weddington was on the completely wrong side of a human justice issue, she also has a sad story in her personal history. Before she married Ron Weddington, she became pregnant with their child in her final year of law school. Neither of them wanted children, and so the couple traveled over the border to Mexico, for an illegal abortion.

Weddington cites her ability to have an abortion as the reason she went on to have a career as a lawyer, and yet countless successful female attorneys have proven Weddington’s assertion wrong. Women are, in fact, able to be successful and to be mothers.

Erika Bachiochi, a feminist and former pro-choice attorney,  authored “Embodied Equality: Debunking Equality Arguments for Abortion Rights” for the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. She also wrote about the real truth on abortion and women for CNN:

As a one-time abortion rights supporter, I well know the temptation to see the right to abortion as a representation of women’s equality. …

Abortion betrays women by having us believe that we must become like men — that is, not pregnant — to achieve parity with them, professionally, socially, educationally. . …

When we belittle the developing child in the womb, a scientific reality that most pro-choice advocates have come to admit, we belittle and distort that child’s mother. We make her out to be one with property rights over her developing unborn child (much as husbands once had property rights over their wives).

We give her the inhumane (but for 42 years, constitutionally protected) right to decide the fate of another human being, of a vulnerable child — her child — to whom she properly owes an affirmative duty of care. We do all this rather than offering her the myriad familial and social supports she needs, whatever her situation, and cherishing her role in the miracle of human life.

Conclusion

While these two fatal mistakes continue to cost millions of lives, we can each personally work to stop the damage. In our conversations with friends, on social media, on campus, and at our offices, clubs, churches, and groups, we can spread the truths that every human being – at every stage of development – deserves equal protection and that no woman needs to take her child’s life to succeed at life. We can actively and practically help women who make the choice for life.

As Carol Tobias, President of the National Right to Life Committee,says:  “As long as abortion is legal, pro-lifers will fight and never give up.”

Sources:
[1] CONG. GLOBE, 34th Cong., 3rd Sess. (1857)
[2] Id.
[3] SENATOR JACOB HOWARD, SPEECH INTRODUCING THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT, Speech delivered in the U.S. Senate, May 23, 1866
[4] CONG. GLOBE, 34th Cong., 3rd Sess. (1857)
[5] Id.

abortion, culture, feminism, history, ideology, indoctrination, judiciary, law, lies, progressive, propaganda, science

Filed under: abortion, culture, feminism, history, ideology, indoctrination, judiciary, law, lies, progressive, propaganda, science

Maybe you can’t keep your health care plan after all

original article: ObamaCare may force employers to pull the plug on millions of health plans, CBO report finds
March 28, 2016 by FoxNews

In the latest report to undercut President Obama’s “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” promise, the Congressional Budget Office projects millions of workers will leave employer-sponsored health plans over the next decade because of ObamaCare.

Some will opt to go on Medicaid, but others will be kicked off their company plans by employers who decide not to offer coverage anymore, according to a new CBO report titled,  “Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65: 2016 to 2026.”

“As a result of the ACA, between 4 million and 9 million fewer people are projected to have employment-based coverage each year from 2017 through 2026 than would have had such coverage if the ACA had never been enacted,” the report, released Thursday, said.

Employers now cover some 155 million people, about 57 percent of those under 65. That’s expected to decline to 152 million people in 2019. Ten years from now, employers will be covering about 54 percent of those under 65.

CBO said part of the shrinkage is attributable to the health care law: some workers may qualify for Medicaid, which is virtually free to them, and certain employers may decide not to offer coverage because a government-subsidized alternative is available.

Larger employers would face fines if they take that route.

But the agency also noted that employer coverage had been declining due to rising medical costs well before the health care law was passed, and that the trend continues.

The CBO also found that more people will enroll in Medicaid than previously predicted, though fewer will be covered through the public insurance marketplaces mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

The analysis underscores the view that the health care law is driving the nation’s gains in insurance coverage, which raises political risks for Republicans who would repeal it.

bureaucracy, crisis, economy, government, health care, law, legislation, nanny state, politics, public policy, reform, regulation, unintended consequences

Filed under: bureaucracy, crisis, economy, government, health care, law, legislation, nanny state, politics, public policy, reform, regulation, unintended consequences

This is how cronyism works

original article: New York’s Taxi King Is Going Down
October 26, 2015 by Jared Meyer

People don’t deserve to be millionaires because they can get government to let them pick people’s pockets.

Evgeny “Gene” Freidman is no fan of Uber. The increasing popularity of this vehicle-for-hire (or ridesharing) company has lost him millions of dollars. He has even asked New York City taxpayers for a bailout. As difficult as bailing out the big banks was to swallow, bailing out a taxi mogul—who at one point owned more than 1,000 New York City taxi medallions—is an even harder sell. A bailout would be especially outrageous considering that Freidman and his financial backers are actively working to make consumers pay more for fewer options.

Freidman reluctantly took over his father’s modest yellow taxi business as a young man. He brought his experience in Russian finance to the industry, and started to accumulate increasing numbers of taxi medallions using highly leveraged financing. Freidman expanded a company with just a few taxis into a conglomeration of three- to five-car mini-fleets.

As Freidman’s taxi empire grew, he expanded into other cities, including New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He gained control of hundreds more medallions that are also now in financial trouble. His willingness to bid on practically any medallion that came up for sale helped drive a rapid increase in medallion prices across the country.

Subprime Taxi Medallions

This model can work when times are good but, as the housing crisis showed, it has its dangers. It works until another technology emerges, consumers move on, and funding dries up.

This is where Uber comes in. Competition from Uber has left investors wondering how much the company will grow and what further effects its growth will have on taxis’ market share. While yellow taxi medallions were selling for $1.32 million as recently as May 2013, now they may be worth as little as $650,000.

This drastic drop in price has made the banks and credit unions that fund Freidman’s vast enterprise nervous. For example, his companies still owe around $750,000 for each medallion financed by Citibank. Without new loans to meet existing obligations and expand his fleet, Freidman’s companies became insolvent. This is why he sought the bailout and wants the government to support the medallion market by offering taxpayer-guaranteed loans.

Adding to this financing crunch, the lease rates Freidman now can charge taxi drivers who rent his cars have declined. Many taxi drivers switched to Uber, which offersincreased earning potential, flexible work schedules, and improved driver safety. Competition led Freidman to complain that he is no longer able to charge the city’s legal maximum lease rate. This is promising news for drivers, but problematic for Freidman’s income.

There’s Not Much Argument for a Monopoly

Medallions commanded such astronomical prices in New York because yellow taxis had, and still do have, a monopoly on street hails in Manhattan south of the northern boundary of Central Park. Ubers come rapidly, but they are not street hails, because people summon them beforehand with a smartphone. In cities across the country that also use a medallion system, the same reasoning applies. Government restricts the supply of taxis below the level of demand, and medallion owners reap the profits—all at the expense of consumers.

It is not just Freidman’s companies that are in trouble. The banks and credit unions that funded him and other medallion owners are also worried. Just four credit unions hold security interests in over 5,300 medallions, for which they are on the hook for about $2.5 billion. In the face of greater potential losses, these companies have resorted to calling people who work in policy (myself included) to try and convince researchers that Uber is illegal and needs to be banned.

The credit union argument progresses as follows:

  1. Yellow taxi medallion owners were granted a monopoly on street hails.
  2. For-hire vehicles are only allowed to offer pre-arranged rides.
  3. Uber uses street hails, not pre-arranged rides, to connect riders with its driver partners.
  4. Therefore, Uber is illegally using street hails, and this infringes on yellow taxi medallion owners’ government-granted monopoly.

If the third premise is true, this argument could hold some rule-of-law water. It is not.

The law governing New York City’s street hails date back to the Haas Act of 1937. This law restricted the number of New York yellow taxi medallions to 16,900, which was lowered and now stands at 13,437—even though the city’s population has grown byover 20 percent since 1940.

The Haas Act also set the stage for other common carrier regulations that apply to the taxi industry. These regulations place substantial limits and requirements on taxi owners and drivers in exchange for their monopoly privileges. For example, the city’s Transportation and Limousine Commission sets fare prices, and fares cannot change with increased demand for rides. This is one of the main reasons it is so difficult to hail a taxi in the rain or at the beginning of rush hour.

Updating regulations takes time, but New York City taxis were finally granted the ability to accept ride requests from smartphones (e-hails) early this year. Once taxis were allowed to accept e-hails, something they needed to compete with new technologies, four credit unions argued that the technology was now off-limits for Uber—the company that had popularized e-hails. They sued New York City for infringing upon medallion holders’ monopoly privileges.

This makes no sense. How can a decades-old law covering street hails be construed to cover ride requests made through smartphones? Anyone who has tried to hail a taxi on the side of the road, and then used Uber, knows that the two experiences are vastly different. Simply put, holding your hand up is not the same as pressing a button on your phone.

How to Save Taxis Without Squeezing People

The path forward is not to ban ridesharing or bail medallion owners out. It is to make taxis more like Ubers. This takes more than simply allowing taxis to accept e-hails. Rather, the only ways to save taxis are greater flexibility in pricing and service and increased competition.

As Uber’s rise has made obvious, when the crucial aspect of competition is missing from markets, established companies do not have to worry about improving their services to attract and keep customers. Regulations need to be continually modified and updated in light of new technology.  There is no reason to require New York taxis to have expensive (and annoying) Taxi TVs. Pointless mandates such as this only increase the cost of taxi rides.

Even with a relaxed regulatory framework that embraces ridesharing and competition, taxis will still have an advantage. No one is talking about taking away New York City’s yellow taxi monopoly on street hails. Applying antiquated laws and regulations to new technology is what laid the groundwork for the rise of Uber and other ridesharing services in the first place.

Everyone Shouldn’t Pay for Some People’s Bad Bets

Credit unions oppose allowing Uber to grow because they want to protect their investments. The Queens County Supreme Court ruled against the credit unions last month. The court found that the credit unions did not have a cause of action against the city and its Transportation and Limousine Commission. This was a major win for Uber and consumers, but a death-knell for Freidman’s business and its financers.

The whole yellow taxi financing model is crashing, along with medallion prices. After the ruling, Montauk Credit Union, one of the plaintiffs, was seized by the New York State Department of Financial Services because of “unsafe and unsound conditions.” The day that New York City’s proposed cap on Uber’s growth was defeated, 22 of Freidman’s mini-fleet companies filed for bankruptcy.

Even if medallion holders such as Freidman lost a lot of money, it does not follow that the public should subsidize their losses. The returns from a yellow taxi medallion in cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, or New York far outpaced the stock market or gold for many years. The values of these medallions about doubled in each city from 2009 to 2013.

Investments carry risk, as Freidman knows from his background in finance. He made a poor calculation that the Manhattan yellow taxi street hail monopoly would continue to provide him enough future cash flow to satisfy bankers, who would loan him more money to expand his fleet. Freidman and his investors have no claim to a taxpayer-funded bailout to cover their poor business decisions. Perhaps they should consider investing in Uber instead.

bailout, corruption, cronyism, economics, funding, government, greed, hypocrisy, law, nanny state, public policy, regulation, taxes

Filed under: bailout, corruption, cronyism, economics, funding, government, greed, hypocrisy, law, nanny state, public policy, regulation, taxes

Cummings Calls Gowdy a Liar…Gowdy Turns the Table on Him

original article: Cummings Calls Gowdy a Liar…Gowdy Turns the Table on Him
October 18, 2015 by The PC Graveyard

Elijah Cummings, one of the criminals from the IRS scandal has accused Trey Gowdy of lying and demanded he apologize to Hillary.  Cummings called Gowdy a liar because of a comment he made about Hillary endangering national security and lives with her handling of her emails.  This we know to be true.  Funny thing is that Cummings was able to get an answer from the CIA in 45 minutes on a weekend, while republicans are still waiting for information they requested over six months ago.

The CIA information is suspect also.  They said that naming their secret asset in Libya was not classified.  You don’t need to be a super spy to know that naming an asset that’s in the middle of terrorists is not a good thing and is never done.  Gowdy made mention of the response Cummings got.  Here is the letter Cummings wrote:

The CIA yesterday informed both the Republican and Democratic staffs of the Select Committee that they do not consider the information you highlighted in your letter to be classified.  Specifically, the CIA confirmed that “the State Department consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these documents, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified information.” …

Unfortunately, the standard operating procedure of this Select Committee has become to put out information publicly that is inaccurate and out of context in order to attack Secretary Clinton for political reasons.  These repeated actions bring discredit on this investigation and undermine the integrity of the Select Committee and the House of Representatives.

On Sunday, Gowdy answered in a missive of his own:

Contrary to your assertion, the CIA did not inform the Committee that anything about the facts stated in the October 7 letter “[was] wrong.”  As usual, I would ask you to completely and accurately relate the facts rather than attempt to create an impression that is misleading based on an incomplete and selective recitation of the facts.  In fact, my understanding is the CIA advised the Committee in a very brief email late Saturday night that it had reviewed the material in question and asked for no material to be redacted…

As such, we will continue to redact certain information to protect sensitive information regardless of how others treat that information.  Whether Secretary Clinton received protected information from Sidney Blumenthal or simply recklessly wrong information from Sidney Blumenthal is relevant at some level.  What is most important is to protect information that can endanger others.  As you will recall we had this same conversation when we received a letter from you we found troubling as it relates to the naming of certain assets.  We did the responsible thing which was come to you, alert you to the issue, and allow for that information to be withdrawn and or otherwise not made public…

So, our position is consistent.  Sources and methods of intelligence are among the most closely guarded information our government has.  We will continue to redact that information and treat it with the highest level of confidentiality and sensitivity, and we would advise you to do the same…

PS:  I am envious of your staff’s ability to get information from this administration in less than 45 minutes on a weekend.  This is something the majority Members struggle to do on weekdays.  Perhaps you would be willing to help us gain access to the information the Committee has been seeking from the administration for over half a year now.

Someone is lying.  I’m betting the rent money on Cummings.

bias, congress, corruption, cover up, ethics, government, hypocrisy, ideology, law, politics, scandal

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Say Goodbye to Bride and Groom in Florida

original article: Say Goodbye to Bride and Groom in Florida
September 28, 2015 by Michael Brown

N. T. Wright is one of the most world’s foremost New Testament scholars, a sober-minded man not given to extreme rhetoric. Yet when it came to the question of redefining marriage, Wright did not hold back, explaining how dangerous it is to change the fundamental meaning of words:

“When anybody—pressure groups, governments, civilizations—suddenly change the meaning of key words, you really should watch out. If you go to a German dictionary and just open at random, you may well see several German words which have a little square bracket saying ‘N.S.,’ meaning National Socialist or Nazi. The Nazis gave those words a certain meaning. In post-1917 Russia, there were whole categories of people who were called “former persons,” because by the Communist diktat they had ceased to be relevant for the state, and once you call them former persons it was extremely easy to ship them off somewhere and have them killed.”

He continued, “It’s like a government voting that black should be white. Sorry, you can vote that if you like, you can pass it by a total majority, but it isn’t actually going to change the reality.”

That’s why I have often said that once you redefine marriage, you render it meaningless.

It would be like saying a couple can now consist of five people, or a pair can refer to one item, or a tricycle can have two wheels.

Redefining those terms doesn’t change reality, and when it comes to marriage, if you don’t have the two essential components, namely a husband and a wife, you don’t have marriage.

Consequently, if you change the fundamental meaning of marriage, you change the meaning of husband and wife as well.

As I pointed out last year in an article entitled, “I Now Pronounce You Spouse and Spouse,” as England began to move towards redefining marriage, the Daily Telegraph reported that, “The word ‘husband’ will in future be applied to women and the word ‘wife’ will refer to men, the Government has decided.”

According to John Bingham, “Civil servants have overruled the Oxford English Dictionary and hundreds years of common usage effectively abolishing the traditional meaning of the words for spouses.”

In the government’s proposed guidelines, “‘husband’ here will include a man or a woman in a same sex marriage, as well as a man married to a woman. In a similar way, ‘wife’ will include a woman married to another woman or a man married to a man.”

So, a man could be a wife if married to another man (or not), while a woman could be a husband if married to another woman (or not), all of which begs the question: Why use words at all if they have utterly lost their meaning? It’s like saying that up is down (or up) and down is up (or down), while north is south (or north) and south is north (or south).

In the same article, I cited the Huffington Post, which reported that “California’s same-sex couples may now be pronounced spouse and spouse after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill [last] Monday eliminating outdated ‘husband and wife’ references from state laws.”

Not surprisingly, according to California bill AB 1951, birth certificates will have three options: “mother,” “father,” or simply “parent,” meaning that, in the case of two lesbians, one could be designated “father,” while in the case of two gay men, one could be designated “mother.” (The bill would also allow for three parents to be listed on the birth certificate, since there’s obviously a missing third party in the event of two men or two women “having” a baby.)

This means that we’ve come to a place of semantic insanity, a place where you can have male wives, female husbands, male mothers, and female fathers.

Do people really think you can just turn the world upside down without having any adverse effects?

In keeping with this social madness, the state of Florida recently changed its marriage certificates, removing the terms “bride” and “groom” and replacing them with “spouse.”

This goes hand in hand with other international trends. As I pointed out in 2011, “In Ontario, Canada, as a result of the legalization of same-sex marriage, all references to terms like husband, wife, and widow were removed from the law books in 2005. In Spain, birth certificates were changed from ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ to ‘Progenitor A’ and ‘Progenitor B.’”

But of course!

That’s why principle #4 in my new book is: Refuse to Redefine Marriage, since, to repeat, once you redefine marriage, you render it meaningless.

The Supreme Court can gives its ruling; laws can be passed; public opinion can shift and turn, but that doesn’t mean we have to affirm it, participate in it or, God forbid, celebrate it.

But all is not lost. True marriage – natural marriage, marriage the way God intended it from the beginning (see Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:4-6) – will endure, while radically redefined marriage will undo itself.

I was reminded of this as I watched some baby dedications at a church service on Sunday, with the proud moms and dads holding their precious little ones in their arms: There’s no substitute for marriage and family the way God set it up, regardless of what Florida or California or England or Spain or Canada might say.

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Carson knows something the media doesn’t – opinion does not make law

In light of Dr. Ben Carson’s recent comments about a Muslim being elected president of the United States three important points need to be brought to the forefront.

First, as One News Now’s Bryan Fischer thankfully pointed out the U.S. Constitution does specify that a religious test shall not be used for public office in the U.S. But there is nothing anywhere in the universe that states PEOPLE cannot use what ever test they please to determine who they will vote for, for any office. As Fisher explains the Constitution’s ban on religious tests applies to the federal government, for federal office. You and I, and Dr. Carson, can impose any religious test we may wish.

Second, Dr. Carson was stating facts about Sharia law (what it actually states about killing gays or oppressing women or suppressing speech) (facts which CAIR needs to explain) and he was stating his OPINION about the kind of person he would want as president of the United States. Somehow we are supposed to act like Carson claimed the constitution doesn’t allow for Muslims to run for office. He said nothing of the kind! It’s not surprising to see the main stream media deliberately misrepresent Dr. Carson’s comments in this way, but Carly Fiorina should know better. She may be an anti-establishment candidate, but she’s certainly comfortable using the news media to pander.

Third, Carson was not proposing a new law forbidding Muslims from running for office nor was the claiming any such law currently exists. I realize it’s common place for the political left to think in terms of law. When the people don’t voluntarily do what liberals think they should do, liberals eagerly promote and implement new laws to force the people to comply. That’s how illiberal “liberals” are today. That’s how they roll. So when Carson states his legitimate and well founded opinion about who the American people should (or in this case should not) prefer for the highest office in the land, of course a left leaning news media and Democrats think he was talking about the law. He wasn’t. Anyone actually paying attention and who doesn’t have a vested interest in purposefully misunderstanding Carson can plainly see he was not saying the law forbids Muslims from holding public office in America. He was merely stating Sharia is in direct conflict with the law of our land and that he was very uncomfortable with the prospect of anyone holding such beliefs becoming POTUS. And he has every right to that opinion. He also has the benefit of being right about it.

I expect the liberal news media to slander conservatives and all Republicans with Nazi comparisons, constant accusations of racism, sexism, and any number of phobias, then turn around and defend Muslims at any hint of unfavorable fact. The liberal press goes out of its way to correct “misunderstandings” when their beloved politician or candidate or policy is criticized, so I don’t expect them to defend Carson’s obvious meaning by these comments. But shame on you Carly Fiorina for using the MSM to trash Dr. Carson like that and perpetuate a phony scandal.

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Freddie Gray Autopsy Report leaked after being hidden for two months

original article: Freddie Gray Autopsy Report Deals Blow to Murder Charges
June 24, 2015 by Andrew C. McCarthy

Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby has withheld the autopsy report on Freddie Gray from defense counsel and the public for nearly two months. It is the report on which she relied to file murder and other charges against six police officers, even though the investigation into Mr. Gray’s death was not close to being complete.

Now, just two days before Friday’s court deadline for the state to disclose the report to the defense, it has been leaked to the Baltimore Sun.

The Sun’s story makes it easier to understand why Ms. Mosby wanted the autopsy kept under wraps. It raises additional disturbing questions about her case — a case in which she has already had to dismiss false-imprisonment charges, the untenable nature of which I explained when Mosby filed them.

It turns out that Mr. Gray “tested positive for opiates and cannabinoid.” Moreover, he carried on wildly when initially placed in the police van. It had previously been widely reported that he was not belted into his seat, a violation of recently adopted Baltimore police policy that Mosby dubiously makes the plinth of her case. The Sun’s latest dispatch, however, indicates that Gray was making matters difficult for the police: “yelling and banging, ‘causing the van to rock,’ the autopsy noted.”

The van made several stops during its 45-minute ride. At the second one, six minutes after the arrest, Gray was reportedly “still yelling and shaking the van.” Police thus removed him and placed him in leg restraints — ankle cuffs, to go along with the handcuffs that had already been applied. Gray was “then slid onto the floor of the van, belly down and head first,” according to the autopsy report, which gingerly adds that he was, at that point, “still verbally and physically active.”

It’s now easier to understand why Mosby wanted the autopsy kept under wraps: It raises additional disturbing questions about her case.

It was after this, the medical examiner concluded, that Gray suffered a severe spinal injury (which led to his death, a week later). At some undetermined point during the van’s journey, he was catapulted by the force of its deceleration and crashed into the interior. The injury is likened to a “shallow-water diving accident.”

Significantly, however, the medical examiner, Carol H. Allan, surmised that Gray probably could not have sustained his severe injuries if he’d remained in the prone position the police had put him in.

The Sun report elaborates:

While it’s possible Gray was hurt while lying on the floor and moving back and forth, Allan determined that his body likely couldn’t have moved in that position with enough force to cause his injuries. Allan surmised that Gray could have gotten to his feet using the bench and opposite wall. With his hands and ankles restrained, and unable to see out of the van and anticipate turns, she said, he was at a high risk for an unsupported fall.

Thus, the most likely scenario is that Gray, under the influence of narcotics and in the course of making his transport difficult for the arresting officers, elected on his own to get to his feet despite the difficulty of doing so. Under circumstances where his arms and legs were restrained, Gray’s decision to change the position the police had put him in rendered him vulnerable to the “high-energy” injury he sustained.

This is not to say the police should not have done a better job of securing Gray. But we are not talking here about whether they violated procedure and prudence. We are talking about whether their conduct warrants prosecution for murder and lesser forms of culpablehomicide.

The driver of the van, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., is charged with depraved-heart murder in the second degree. In his case, the question is whether he acted with such wanton indifference to Gray’s life that his conduct should be considered just as blameworthy as if he had fully intended to kill Gray. As one Maryland court has instructed:

This highly blameworthy state of mind is not one of mere negligence. It is not merely one even of gross criminal negligence. It involves rather the deliberate perpetration of a knowingly dangerous act with reckless and wanton unconcern and indifference as to whether anyone is harmed or not. The common law treats such a state of mind as just as blameworthy, just as antisocial and, therefore, just as truly murderous as the specific intents to kill and harm.

It is blatant overreach, on the facts spelled out in the autopsy report, to describe Goodson’s conduct as the “depraved heart” equivalent of willfully murdering Freddie Gray.

Also suspect are Mosby’s charges of involuntary manslaughter against Goodson and three other cops — Lieutenant Brian W. Rice, Sergeant Alicia D. White, and Officer William F. Porter. Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another by a negligent act, which can include the failure to perform a legal duty.

Obviously, the prosecutor’s claim that Goodson acted negligently contradicts her claim, in the murder charge, that he acted with a degree of depravity functionally equivalent to intentional killing. That aside, Mosby’s manslaughter case hinges on two police omissions: the failures to secure Gray in a seatbelt and to get him sufficiently prompt medical attention.

Gray was arrested at about 8:40 a.m. on April 12, after he’d fled in a high-crime area upon making eye contact with Lieutenant Rice. It was Rice who ordered Goodson to take Gray to the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. It was also at Rice’s direction that the recalcitrant Gray was placed in leg restraints and belly down during the van’s afore-described second stop, shortly after the arrest. To repeat, the autopsy indicates that Gray would not have sustained his fatal injuries if he had remained as Rice had positioned him; nevertheless, Rice is charged with manslaughter.

Police stopped three additional times to monitor Gray during the van ride. Before considering them, it is worth noting that checking on a prisoner repeatedly and attempting (however insufficiently) to assist him are hardly consistent with Mosby’s suggestion that the cops were flippant about his condition.

The medical examiner believes the severe injury — after Gray stood up on his own — occurred sometime after the second but before the fourth stop. On the third stop, Goodson merely eyeballed the back of the van from the outside, taking no further action. A few minutes later, he made the fourth stop, during which he again checked Gray. This time, he called for assistance.

It arrived in the form of Officer Porter. Though he is charged with homicide, this marks Porter’s first appearance in the case: He had no involvement in the arrest, and did not participate in the positioning of Gray prior to Gray’s injury.

The prisoner was apparently lying on the floor, complaining about difficulty breathing and moving. He asked for a doctor, but Porter instead helped him up and seated him on the rear compartment’s bench, enabling Goodson to continue the ride. For that decision, Porter is charged with manslaughter — even though Gray was communicative and able to move with assistance; even though Porter may have concluded (perhaps reasonably, even if incorrectly) that it made more sense to have the van take Gray the short remaining distance to Central Booking, where any necessary help would be available, than to wait for a medic.

It was after this stop that a radio call went out for another arrestee to be picked up nearby. The proof of Goodson’s purported depravity includes his decision to respond to that call, because it necessarily delayed by a few minutes the provision of medical attention to Gray.

That brings us to the final stop, where manslaughter defendant White makes her first appearance in the case. In the course of loading the additional prisoner into the van, Sergeant White and other officers noticed Gray slumped against the bench and appearing “lethargic with minimal responses to direct questions.”

White — who, like Goodson, is black — is apparently charged with manslaughter, despite her dearth of participation in the police interaction with Gray, because she allowed the van to continue the short remaining distance to Central Booking, rather than stopping to summon a medic. The Sun’s account does not tell us whether it would have taken less time for a medic to get to the scene than for the van to meet a medic at Central Booking — much less whether the few minutes lost, if any, would have made any difference at that point. That, in any event, is the sum total of Mosby’s allegation that White caused Gray’s death.

Causation is not a small matter. Prosecutors have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in a homicide case. If Gray’s own actions, particularly those in contravention of what the police were trying to get him to do, materially contributed to his severe injury or broke any chain of causation attributable to the police conduct, the homicide case collapses.

Put another way, Ms. Mosby’s case appears to be very thin . . . and that’s before experienced defense lawyers have even begun to pick it apart.

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Law firms willing to work with companies dealing in tobacco, pollution, and murder – but not traditional marriage

original article: The Scummiest Clients on Earth
April 13, 2015 by ROD DREHER

The cream of the American legal crop considers arguing the case for privileging traditional marriage to be too filthy to touch. From the NYT:

Leading law firms are willing to represent tobacco companies accused of lying about their deadly products, factories that spew pollution, and corporations said to be complicit in torture and murder abroad. But standing up for traditional marriage has turned out to be too much for the elite bar. The arguments have been left to members of lower-profile firms.

In dozens of interviews, lawyers and law professors said the imbalance in legal firepower in the same-sex marriage cases resulted from a conviction among many lawyers that opposition to such unions is bigotry akin to racism. But there were economic calculations, too. Law firms that defend traditional marriage may lose clients and find themselves at a disadvantage in hiring new lawyers.

“Firms are trying to recruit the best talent from the best law schools,” said Dale Carpenter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, “and the overwhelming majority of them want to work in a community of respect and diversity.”

But some conservatives say lawyers and scholars who support religious liberty and oppose a constitutional right to same-sex marriage have been bullied into silence. “The level of sheer desire to crush dissent is pretty unprecedented,” said Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge who teaches law at Stanford.

A community of “respect and diversity” as long as you think exactly like they do. Traditional, orthodox Christians need not apply. Former US Solicitor General Paul Clement argued for DOMA, and then, in private practice, the traditionalist side. He’s disappeared now:

Mr. Clement seems to have learned a bitter lesson from the last case, United States v. Windsor. In 2011, as it was heating up, his law firm, King & Spalding, withdrew from the case under pressure from gay rights groups.Mr. Clement quit, moving to a smaller firm and continuing to represent his clients.

“I resign out of the firmly held belief,” he wrote at the time, “that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters.” Mr. Clement did not respond to a request for comment.

Ryan T. Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who opposes same-sex marriage, said the episode was a turning point. “When the former solicitor general and superstar Supreme Court litigator is forced to resign from his partnership,” Mr. Anderson said, “that shows a lot.”

Read the whole thing.

This matters. When lawyers believe that even terrorists deserve a fair hearing in court, but do not believe that people who believe that what has been a near-universal standard of marriage for centuries, even millennia (at least in the West) is worthy of advocacy in court — well, it tells us how the religious liberty of orthodox Christians is likely to fare in the coming decades.

When a corporation believed to be complicit in torture is considered worthy of a fair hearing and defense in court, but people who believe what Pope Francis believes are not, we are in uncharted waters.

Signs of the times. Organize. Prepare.

UPDATE: A lawyer friend writes:

I read the NYT piece yesterday.  What the article doesn’t say, but which anyone who knows lawyers knows, is that lawyers are by and large conformists.  Most lawyers who were educated starting in the late 1960’s (which is for all practical purposes 100% of practicing lawyers) had held up to them as the idea, the lawyer crusading for social justice.  The Warren court showed that when executives and legislatures wouldn’t act, the courts would step in and lawyers were the ones who would bring those cases to the courts.

Now almost every law school has a clinical program.  They are 99% devoted to social justice causes.   There might be a clinical program to protect lgbt rights, but not one for religious liberty.  There might be one for immigrants rights, but not one to protect marginalized low wage workers who are adversely affected by immigrants.   Law students are conditioned to be activists for the progressive side.

It is a failure of law schools not to inculcate their students about the “nobility” of fighting for unpopular causes.

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