Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Some refugees prefer to stay home. Who knew?

In the present environment of American politics, some say bringing refugees to the U.S. is THE solution to the Syrian crisis. But there are other perspectives, such as the perspective of some refugees themselves.

 

This refugee from Syria expresses gratitude for America’s military action in response to the gas attack on Syrian civilians, which appear to be the work of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. He also mentions the fact he and his fellow refugees don’t want to be forced out of their homes and into some foreign country. Some in the American media, such as CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, fish for criticism of President Trump and his immigration policies when interviewing refugees. Debora Heine at PJ Media wrote on this story in CNN Narrative Fail: Syrian Refugee Slams Clinton, Obama; Praises Trump.

“With all due respect, with all due respect,” Kassem began. “I didn’t see each and every person who was demonstrating after the travel ban…. I didn’t see you three days ago when people were gassed to death….I didn’t see you in 2013 when 1,400 people were gassed to death. I didn’t see you raising your voice against President Obama’s inaction in Syria that left us refugees,” he said, completely deflating her expectations.

“If you really care about refugees, if you really care about helping us, please — help us stay here in our country,” he continued.

Others who have looked into immigration have reached a similar conclusion. Rather than play politics and act as if racism or xenophobia are the motivation, those who are willing to make an intellectually honest assessment of the crisis recognize immigration is not the solution the refugees need. Just like the Syrian refugee who wants help remaining in his home, Roy Beck shows good reasons to question the open immigration narrative by discussing the practical details that actually affect the people involved.

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African migrants sold in Libya ‘slave markets’, IOM says

original article: African migrants sold in Libya ‘slave markets’, IOM says
April 11, 2017 by BBC

Gambian migrants who returned voluntarily from Libya stand in line with plastic bag from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as they wait for registration at the airport in Banjul, Gambia April 4, 2017Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionReports of African migrants being bought and sold mark a new low in the crisis

Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold.

Migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices, the head of the IOM in Libya told the BBC.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 Nato-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Hundreds of young sub-Saharan African men have been caught up in the so-called slave markets, according to the IOM report.

Migrants ‘forced to starve’

A Senegalese migrant, who was not named to protect his identity, said that he had been sold at one such market in the southern Libyan city of Sabha, before being taken to a makeshift prison where more than 100 migrants were being held hostage.

He said that migrants held at the facility were told to call their families, who would be asked for money to pay for their release, and some were beaten while on the phone to allow relatives to hear them being tortured.

He described “dreadful” conditions where migrants were forced to survive on limited food supplies, with those unable to pay either killed or left to starve, the report adds.

African migrants gather at the Tripoli branch of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority, in the Libyan capital, 23 March 2017Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMigrants have to survive on limited food supplies, according to the IOM report

Another witness, who was able to raise the funds needed for his release after nine months, was later taken to hospital with severe malnutrition, weighing just 5.5 stone (35 kg).

Women, too, were bought by private Libyan clients and brought to homes where they were forced to be sex slaves, the witness said.

The IOM’s chief of mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, told the BBC that those sold into slavery found themselves priced according to their abilities.

“Apparently they don’t have money and their families cannot pay the ransom, so they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that,” he said.

“The price is definitely different depending on your qualifications, for example if you can do painting or tiles or some specialised work then the price gets higher.”

A migrant hangs from a boat as they wait to be rescued as they drift in the Mediterranean Sea, some 12 nautical miles north of Libya, on October 4, 2016.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMany thousands of migrants each year try to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean

An IOM staff member in Niger said they confirmed the reports of auctions in Libya with several other migrants who had escaped.

“They all confirmed the risks of been sold as slaves in squares or garages in Sabha, either by their drivers or by locals who recruit the migrants for daily jobs in town, often in construction.

“Later, instead of paying them, [they] sell their victims to new buyers.”

Some migrants, mainly Nigerians, Ghanaians and Gambians are forced to work “as guards in the ransom houses or in the ‘market’ itself”, the IOM employee added.

The organisation has called the emergence of these markets “a disturbing new trend in the already dire situation for migrants in Libya”.

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

In February, the UN children’s agency Unicef released a report documenting – in sometimes horrific detail – stories of slavery, violence and sexual abuse experienced by large numbers of vulnerable children travelling from Libya to Italy.

The report, A Deadly Journey for Children, said that almost 26,000 children – most of them unaccompanied – crossed the Mediterranean in 2016, many of them suffering abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

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Healthy masculinity is exactly what our young boys need

original article: The ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Trend Blames Boys For Being Born Male
April 12, 2017 by Nicole Russell

The term “toxic masculinity” is en vogue now, from college campuses to Playboy. But the term implies there’s a problem with masculinity, and teaching our boys and men that their innate wiring is wrong, stupid, and even toxic creates far worse problems. If anything, society doesn’t need less toxic masculinity, we need more men embracing their natural masculinity.

The latest in the explorations and denigrations of toxic masculinity is the University of Regina, a school in Canada. They’re hosting a program called “Man Up Against Violence,” which asks male students to sit in a Catholic-style confessional booth and confess their sin of “hypermasculinity.”

What’s that? You weren’t aware masculinity, hyper or otherwise, was a problem? Well, universities want guys to own it and apologize for it—not just inwardly, but outwardly too. After a female colleague wrote about toxic masculinity, New Zealand’s Martin Van Beynen observed, “Toxic masculinity is the new male burden.” He is also trying to figure out what it means.

You then have to ask what aspects of manliness its accusers don’t find toxic. Surely they can appreciate the masculinity that builds cities and roads and fixes things. Maybe they could also find the hardiness associated with masculinity commendable and worthwhile.

Of course, some men do rape and beat up their partners and make excuses for rude behavior. But nothing suggests a rape culture is endemic to the male psyche—not anywhere close to the majority of men are rapists—and to stigmatize masculinity on the strengths of some bad attitudes among teenage boys and some men is simplistic, counter-productive, and unfair. Labeling masculinity itself as toxic is hardly going to change attitudes, particularly among teenage boys, or enlist the help of men who can make a difference.

Do the Actions of a Few Men Characterize Them All?

While I applaud that Regina University is hosting a “Healthy Relationships and Healthy Masculinity” workshop—who’s not for “healthy masculinity?”—I’m afraid the whole initiative reinforces the myth that men are toxic just because of their natural biology, not because they’ve done anything wrong. Man Up Against Violence says, “[W]e challenge mindsets and behaviors about the social construction of masculinity and its relationship with violence. We work together to bring light to the causes of all types of violence related to gender, race, socio-economic status, ability level and beyond.”

The phrase “social construction of masculinity and its relationship with violence” carries an assumption that some men, even all men, are violent. Some women are prostitutes too, but does that mean it’s healthy for society, particularly universities tasked with shaping young minds, to automatically equate females with selling sex? Of course not.

Even Playboy has started using the term. Earlier this month the publication said British singer Ed Sheeran had a “Toxic Masculinity Problem”: “[Sheeran] sometimes comes off as sad and out-of-control. And his attempts to own that—in both his music and his interviews—is what makes it feel like he’s dealing with a severe case of toxic masculinity, one that is continually fueled by binge drinking and sex.”

What this author describes isn’t a toxic male but an immature one. This kind of behavior has been common among musicians and Hollywood celebrities for a long time. In the 80’s, Eddie Murphy joked the band The Busboys made his fish stop swimming because of their propensity to, “f–k anything that moves.” But this says more about Hollywood culture than “toxic masculinity.”

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Even advocates of this thinking can’t agree on what “toxic masculinity” is, save for things men do that women don’t like. Of course, rape, misogyny, and abuse are toxic. Any civilized society should demand that criminal or abusive behavior to be dealt with as a legal and moral imperative.

But if the “We-hate-toxic-masculinity” crowd were just referring to this, they wouldn’t have a confessional booth set up on a college campus for the average male student, and abuse is more serious than that. Criminalizing manhood is a sure way to trivialize actual crimes by comparison by lumping two completely unlike things under the same heading.

Suggesting men confess a crime they didn’t commit, or confess to a crime that’s not even a crime (being a man) is progressive virtue-signaling in overdrive.  Such a scheme is framed in such a way to deliberately hurt young men and thus our society at large, which benefits most from men meeting their masculine potential.

What We Need Is Healthy Masculinity

Our culture is so wrapped up in trying to blur the lines of sexuality, and women have become so obsessed with their warped concept of feminism, we seem dead-set on confusing, even hating, men for their masculinity. Equality doesn’t mean sameness. Yes, society should strive for equality between men and women, but no phrase, whether “cisgender,” “toxic masculinity,” or “gender binary attack helicopter,” will ever change that men and women are not the same. Nor should it mean men shouldn’t be as proud to be masculine as women can to be feminine.

Camille Paglia once said, “Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. None of their pain or achievement is registered in feminist rhetoric, which portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.”

Masculine men are as much the bedrock of society as strong, nurturing women. Don’t think so? Read a bit of history about the men and women who traversed this country’s wilderness and winters with minimal belongings on horseback and in carriages during the pioneer era. Talk about the sexes working together. Without each other, they likely may not have survived. Even though survival is easier today, men and women still need each other. We both have unique and complimentary things to offer each other and society.

Because feminists are so clueless and careless about the differences between men and women they seek to emasculate even an “average” guy as opposed to calling out men who are actual misogynists.

Instead of teaching our boys to embrace a healthy masculinity that includes what at first glance appears to be trivial—such as holding doors, carrying groceries, or throwing a coat over the shoulders of a wife or girlfriend—society forces them to not only to eschew such chivalrous gestures but to repent of exuding masculine strength.

I have two boys and believe teaching them the value of healthy masculinity is as imperative as teaching girls it’s good to embrace their femininity. Even the simple truth that maleness is nothing to be ashamed of seems to be a radical concept. Healthy men and boys know their strengths, and instead of seeking to annihilate these traits, we need to encourage them to use their strengths for good. Society needs it far more than we need men to apologize for existing.

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Yes, Democrats are still responsible for slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK

I was listening to a guy talk about the unsavory history of American Democrats. An academic in the audience, also a Democrat, spoke up during the Q&A and castigated the speaker for suggesting modern Democrats are responsible for their party’s past. Elsewhere, on a forum unrelated to politics I saw a post asking (while actually suggesting) if Republicans were the party of racism.

On many occasions I’ve heard people argue in no uncertain terms that today’s Democrat party is not the same as it used to be. Democrats are a very different group of people today, the argument goes, so the modern party cannot honestly be held accountable for the evils of their predecessors.

And yet Republicans today are frequently blamed for slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK – all of which were either defended or (in the case of Jim Crow and the KKK) invented by Democrats. If Democrats cannot be honestly held accountable for the sins of the past because the modern party is composed of different people, how can modern Republicans honestly be held accountable for the Democrats’ sins of the past?

The myth that the parties “switched sides” is constantly losing credibility, as it should. Certain arguments keep cropping up which rightly challenge that myth. As one example, consider the fact the “not a person” argument was one of the chief defenses of slavery Democrats used in the past, and it is one of the chief defenses Democrats use today to defend abortion. Democrats never stopped playing semantic games with other people’s personhood. That game switched to a different target, but the victimizing continues. Deciding who is and who is not a person, and therefore who does and who does not have rights, is one of the fundamental tools of oppression Democrats have always used.

Contrast this with the conservative position on who does and who does not have rights. If you move to the United States legally and follow our rules, and join in the social compact we all have amongst ourselves as citizens, you can enjoy the rights and benefits of citizenship. If you move to our country and choose to break our laws and intentionally avoid becoming a citizen you don’t get to enjoy the rights and benefits of citizenship. Voting is not a human right, it is a citizen right. No one is denying an immigrant their status as a person by arguing they have no right to vote (despite Democrat protestations).

Another important detail is the fact Democrats are not responsible for the vast majority of civil rights legislation passed by the U.S. government. From the war between the states through the 1950s civil rights legislation was soundly the result of Republican efforts. Remember that incident in the early 20th century when the American military was racially segregated? Yeah, that was Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, working against civil rights that had already been achieved up to that point in American history. And even for those pieces of legislation which Democrats do claim credit, we are justified in asking why should they? After all it was not Republicans who filibustered the 1964 civil rights act; that was Democrats. So why should Democrats get credit for it today?

Besides, if Democrats of today ought not be held accountable for the sins of Democrats of the past, even if you wanted to argue Democrats deserve credit for the 1964 civil rights act, why should today’s Democrats get credit for it? On the other hand, if today’s Democrats do deserve credit for the virtues of Democrats half a century ago, they likewise deserve blame for those past sins.

Another reason Democrats can still be blamed for their past sins is the myth that those slavery-defending Democrats were conservative. This is why liberals/progressives have no choice but to define conservatism as wanting to maintain the status quo and opposing change. All power seeks to preserve itself. Communists, socialists, fascists, Democrats, Republicans, and all political groups who have power want to keep it. To admit this plain fact would endanger the modern narrative. Liberals/progressives have no problem blaming modern Republicans for the sins of the past but they lose their minds if someone suggests Democrats should be held responsible for the sins of their own political party.

“Change” has always been a battle cry of tyrants, so conservatives are naturally skeptical of politicians promising change, or making promises of any kind. The liberal/progressive description of conservatism sees the political right as a group of people who want to maintain the status quo, to keep power structures as they are. But the conservative description of conservatism is quite different. In the American experiment, conservatism has always been leery of the abuse of power. That’s why, in order to “preserve” liberty, conservatives prefer to “conserve” power, to limit its concentration and avoid its over use. Conservatives are glad to test new ideas, but not to blindly jump on board just because enthusiastic (or even violent and hateful) protesters demand change. Environmental activists work in a similar fashion: seeking to preserve the environment by conserving energy, avoiding its overuse or waste (but resorting to liberal/progressive tactics in seeking to control other people in the process).

It was not conservatives of the past who defended slavery. The abolitionists were the conservatives of the day. They viewed the abuse of power in legally robbing one group of people of their humanity as a threat to everyone, naturally put us all in danger of the same abuse. Looking at the long term effects of the situation, conservatives realized if our government can dehumanize one group, it can dehumanize another. They viewed this type of power, in a free society claiming to be founded on the notion of liberty, as abuse. And the abolitionists were right. Today, prenatal people are denied all rights because they are explicitly robbed of their very humanity. (And don’t forget that other incident when progressive Germans decided to play semantic games with personhood.)

In our modern era all manner of common ideas are construed as discrimination and oppression to help reinforce the idea of blaming Republicans for the past sins of slavery. It is said foreigners who are not citizens are denied their humanity because they are not allowed to vote (which could become their right if only they would become citizens). It is said gays are denied their humanity because they are not allowed to live together, to love who they want to love, or to have a ceremony. Actually, even before government usurped the religious institution of marriage (a violation of the separation between church and state, by the way) gays were already doing all these things in the United States. No one was stopping them. There are some people who want to deny the right of gays to do any of those things, or even to live, but if I told you who they were I’d probably be accused of Islamophobia.

When conservatives want reasonable justification for redefining the right to vote or the institution of marriage we are accused of all sorts of evil things, and a lot of people believe those accusations because somehow conservatives are supposed to be responsible for slavery, so why wouldn’t Republicans do these other evil things, too? When conservatives ask why, after telling us liberals wanted government out of the bedroom, do they now demand government enter the bedroom we are supposed to simply cower and remain silent at the allegation of bigotry.

So there is political gain to be had in blaming Republicans for the past sins of Democrats. Democrats have a long track record, continuing even today, of dehumanizing others. But is only Republicans who bear the blame for dehumanization. Misconstruing today’s issues as hate is the new norm. Anything progressives disagree with is labeled “fascism”. Then progressive act like fascists to “protest”. Silencing others, resorting to violence to do so, dehumanizing detractors, and bullying anyone fails to tote the line is fascism. It is also the history and contemporary practice of Democrats.

Yes, both political parties are quite different today as compared to what they were 150, 100, or even 50 years ago. No, the parties didn’t “switch sides”. Since Democrats continue to play the same political games they have played all along, they deserve the blame for their own sins, especially since they fraudulently claim credit for any virtues of the past.

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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.

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Intel community raced to unmask Trump team

original article: Former Obama Official: Intelligence Community Raced To Pump Out Classified Info About Trump Team
March 30, 2017 by Ben Shapiro

While the media fulminates over supposed connections between the Trump Team and the Russian government, the only scandal of which we have real evidence – members of the Obama intelligence community leaking classified information about American citizens – continues apace.

And the media don’t seem to care.

Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Obama said on March 2 on MSNBC that she was telling members of the intelligence community as well as Democrats in Congress to gather as much information as possible on the Trump transition team.

She explained:

I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration. Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy … that the Trump folks – if they found out how we knew what we knew about their … the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence….So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia. So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were trying to also help get information to the Hill.

In other words, there’s a hint here that Team Trump may have been targeted by Obama intelligence officials specifically; there’s definitive testimony here that the Obama team tried to distribute material on Team Trump as widely as possible, likely leading to the outing of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador and then his firing.

This squares with reporting from The New York Times the day before Farkas’ appearance that, “In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.”

It’s not illegal for intelligence officials to do that. It is illegal for intelligence officials to unmask American citizens needlessly, or to disseminate such information to the press. Yet somehow The Washington Post’s David Ignatius ended up with such information in January prior to Trump’s inauguration, quoting a “senior US government official” who said “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on December 29…” How did he get that information?

Trump has always been right about the danger of intelligence community leaks. He’s slathered that real scandal in the evidence-less stupidity that he was personally wiretapped at Barack Obama’s behest. But just because Trump’s twitter feed is filled with gossipy silliness doesn’t mean that the media have a right to ignore the burning scandal of intelligence coordination to damage the Trump White House.

abuse, bias, bureaucracy, corruption, cover up, criminal, ethics, government, politics, scandal, victimization

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Catholic teacher fired for promoting traditional marriage

original article: When our reporter called this Catholic teacher fired for defending marriage, she broke down in tears
April 2, 2017 by Ben Johnson

Which two words best describe the reason LifeSiteNews exists? I could answer that a lot of ways – unborn babies, traditional marriage, Christian worldview – but I think I’ll use these two words: Patricia Jannuzzi.

If you haven’t heard of Patricia Jannuzzi, she’s the high school theology teacher at a Catholic school who is being persecuted for posting a message on Facebook upholding traditional marriage.

In response to a story on her news feed about vile and vicious comments made by gay activist Dan Savage, Jannuzzi said the argument in favor of redefining marriage is “bologna.”

That’s it. That’s the whole outrage. But ever since she said “bologna,” she’s been put through the grinder.

Unfortunately, one of the people who saw this message – on her private Facebook account – was the nephew of actress Susan Sarandon. She got her far-Left Hollywood friends to swoop down on the town and demand the school shut her up.

But here’s where the story gets really terrible: The school turned its back on Jannuzzi – and some say the bishop lied to cover it up.

Bishop Paul Bootkoski of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, said that Jannuzzi had been placed on leave, but she has not been fired, and “there has been no interruption in her pay and benefits.”

But then Jannuzzi’s lawyer released a series of emails that show that may not exactly be true.

The principal at Immaculata High School in Somerville, Mrs. Jean G. Kline, sent an email saying, “I have decided to place you on administrative leave without pay effective immediately.”

In another email, her lawyer accepted a deal for the school to continue paying her salary and benefits – but it appears it was conditioned on Jannuzzi not being rehired next fall.

We personally feel very badly for this heroic, faithful woman who deserves much praise, or at the very least fair reporting of her firing, rather than condemnation. And we are trying to do whatever we can to help her.

All this woman did was share the Catholic Church’s position on gay “marriage” on her own social media page, and even students who disagree with her fidelity say she is a kind and effective teacher who always has her students’ best interests at heart.

But instead, the Catholic school – and the leadership of this diocese – decided to disregard her 30-year teaching career and throw her to the Hollywood lynch mob.

Jannuzzi can’t afford to fight this on her own. She is a 57-year-old breast cancer survivor with one son in college and another in a parochial high school.

Until LifeSiteNews brought her story to light from a traditional perspective, all the media coverage had been hostile. Supposedly “impartial” media sources branded her post an “anti-gay rant” and hinted she was full of “hate.” (Come to think of it, that’s the same thing they say about you….)

After our story, one of our reporters spoke with Patricia Jannuzzi. She couldn’t say much for legal reasons, but she broke down in tears and thanked him for our media coverage. She also asked him to pray with her right there on the phone.

That’s the reason LifeSiteNews is so necessary.

It’s no secret that there’s a war in America. But that war isn’t just between “their” side and “our” side: it’s taking place within the church.

When a beloved, veteran teacher can’t disagree with the Hollywood jet set without fear of her diocese taking away her livelihood, things have gotten terribly out of control.

LifeSiteNews exists to inform you about what’s going on in the world, from a faithful perspective. But we also exist to make sure people like Patricia Jannuzzi can have their story told, truthfully and without fear of being demonized. We want to give them a voice that all others are denying them.

We’re here to hold everyone equally accountable – inside the church and out.

And our reporting is accurate – a little too accurate for some people’s liking. Because we refuse to let “our” side slide when they step over the line, we can never count on them for financial support.

We have to rely on you. We have no one else.

Your generous support for LifeSiteNews helps us bring you the facts you need and the stories that other news outlets are afraid to touch – the stories they refuse to tell the truth about. We desperately need your help at this time to keep working at this mission.

In the last few days of Lent, do yourself two favors: Say a prayer for Patricia Jannuzzi, and make a donation of any size to LifeSiteNews.

God bless,

Ben Johnson, U.S. Bureau Chief
LifeSiteNews.com

abuse, bullies, corruption, education, extremism, free speech, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, oppression, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, scandal, tragedy, victimization

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Yale deems essay condemning rape as ‘unnecessarily provocative’

original article: A Lawsuit Accuses Yale of Censoring Even Inoffensive Ideas
April 2, 2017 by PETER BERKOWITZ

A class essay condemning rape was ‘unnecessarily provocative,’ the Title IX coordinator allegedly said.

Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, took to these pages last October to affirm that “we adhere to exceptionally strong principles of free expression.” He invoked Yale’s exemplary 1974 Woodward Report, which states that the university’s educational mission is inextricably bound up with “the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”

A February lawsuit tells a different story. Tucked inside the amended complaint, Doe v. Yale, is the extraordinary claim that Yale punished the anonymous male plaintiff for writing a class essay in which he condemned rape.

Like dozens of lawsuits now working their way through state and federal courts, Doe v. Yale alleges that university officials grossly mishandled sexual-assault allegations. According to the complaint, a university panel found in spring 2014 that Doe had engaged in sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent. He alleges that the woman expressly consented and on that evening she harassed him. He adds that Yale’s disciplinary procedures were stacked against him and administered by biased officials who presumed his guilt.

This case is unusual in several respects. Doe advances one relatively new and one completely novel legal theory. The relatively new one revolves around Title IX, the 1972 federal law that provides that “no person” may be discriminated against based on sex in educational programs that receive federal assistance.

In April 2011, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague” letter declaring that Title IX imposed a duty on colleges and universities receiving federal funding—as virtually all do—to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate sexual-assault allegations and impose punishments where appropriate. The letter also directed schools to reduce due-process protections for the accused, typically men.

Doe insists that Title IX must protect men as well as women. In punishing him for sexual assault on the basis of allegations that were either unfounded or refuted by facts to which both sides of the dispute agreed, the lawsuit argues, Yale discriminated against him on the basis of his sex in violation of Title IX.

The novel legal theory flows out of a reading of “state action” doctrine developed by Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School, who served as Doe’s faculty adviser during the university’s sexual-assault proceedings. Doe argues that through the “Dear Colleague” letter, the Education Department conscripted Yale to enforce criminal law—thereby transforming the private university into an agent of the government.

That would subject the university to constitutional limitations. Thus Doe alleges Yale violated his 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection of the law.

This case also involves free expression because it began, Doe alleges, with Yale’s draconian regulation of his speech. According to his lawsuit, in late 2013 a female philosophy teaching assistant filed a complaint with the university’s Title IX office about a short paper Doe had written. In the context of Socrates ’ account in Plato’s “Republic” of the tripartite soul, the paper argued that rape was an irrational act in which the soul’s appetitive and spirited parts overwhelm reason, which by right rules.

According to the lawsuit, Pamela Schirmeister, Title IX coordinator and an associate dean in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, summoned Doe to her office and told him his rape example was “unnecessarily provocative.” She ordered him to have no contact with the teaching assistant and directed him to attend sensitivity training at the university’s mental-health center. She also informed him that he had become a “person of interest” to Yale, which meant that the university had to intervene to ensure he “was not a perpetrator himself,” in the lawsuit’s words. A few months later, the same Title IX office initiated the sexual-assault investigation against him.

Through a spokeswoman, Yale described the lawsuit as “legally baseless and factually inaccurate” but declined on confidentiality grounds to address any specific factual allegations.

If the lawsuit’s account is accurate, Yale has reached a new low in the annals of campus policing of speech. Surely no female student would incur criticism, much less censorship or punishment, for providing weighty philosophical authority in support of the proposition that rape is wrong.

If Doe’s story is true, Yale is no longer satisfied in enforcing correct opinions. To utter the correct opinion, Yale also demands that you be the correct sex. Far from protecting the right to “discuss the unmentionable” in accordance with the Woodward Report, Yale is stretching the boundaries of censorship by abridging the right to discuss even the uncontroversial.

abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, civil rights, corruption, culture, discrimination, education, ethics, feminism, government, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oppression, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, public policy, relativism, scandal, victimization

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Pence Shows Why So Many Feminists Are Humorless, Bitter, and Ugly Hearted

original article: Now We Know Why So Many Feminists Are Humorless, Bitter, and Ugly Hearted
April 3, 2017 by Erick Erickson

While I was on vacation last week, it became apparent that we now have the answer for why so many American feminists are humorless, bitter, and ugly hearted. The nasty reaction of so many shrill single women who cannot get dates and the beta male footstools for the few who can to Mike Pence prioritizing the sanctity of his marriage explains it all.

Conservative women, it seems, can get ahead without having to take the boss out one on one for drinks, but feminists apparently are incapable of getting ahead in the office without trying to seduce their married male boss at a one-on-one drink fest.

That is the accusation — that women are at a disadvantage in Mike Pence’s office because he won’t go drinking one on one with them. Pay no attention to the fact that this is not true. Pence has always had a number of high profile female employees. On top of that, Pence does not go out with the guys either.

But cue the outrage over Pence valuing fidelity to his wife over letting feminists embarrass themselves.

The thing that made the outrage so spectacular is that the most outraged people are people who do not even respect marriage. The outrage came from a bunch of single, divorced, and adulterous liberals. People who really value their marriage and marital integrity barely batted an eyelash.

In fact, a lot of what is going on here is that the adulterers and feminists outraged by Mike Pence’s private behavior loathe him and his behavior because his behavior shames them. Let’s not kid ourselves. A number of the most outraged are people who have publicly been exposed for adultery.

As a friend of mine noted, “in under six months, the American left has pivoted effortlessly from denouncing a man for being a bad husband to denouncing a man for being a good one.”

Again though, now we see why the feminists are so upset. They presume they have to have one on one drinking time with their married boss to get ahead. I’d probably be a shrill, humorless, ugly hearted person too if I thought I had to sleep my way into a better job because otherwise no one would recognize my talent.

Lucky for the women of America, our present Vice President recognizing the talents of his male and female staffers through their work product, not through their private dining.

culture, feminism, government, ideology, left wing, liberalism, philosophy, politics, progressive, propaganda, scandal, victimization

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MSU discriminates against and suspends student over transgender issues

original article: MSU accused of suspending student for anti-transgender views
March 29, 2017 by Amber Athey

  • A former student is suing Montana State University for more than $225,000, alleging that he was suspended for expressing anti-transgender views in a private conversation with a professor.

  • After expressing qualms about discussing the subject in class for fear of offending classmates, John Doe claims his professor twisted his words and told a transgender student he had threatened her.

  • The transgender student filed a Title IX complaint, and Doe alleges that the subsequent investigation deprived him of basic rights like due process and freedom of speech.

A former student is suing Montana State University for more than $225,000, alleging that he was suspended for expressing anti-transgender views in a private conversation with a professor.

The student, who is choosing to identify as John Doe for fear of retaliation, says the university’s investigation on the incident was biased and violated his right to due process, and that his subsequent suspension was therefore discriminatory against him on the basis of sex and violated his freedom of speech.

[RELATED: Male student sues university, alleges gender bias in rape case]

In the lawsuit, Doe explains that he signed up for Contemporary Issues in Human Sexuality in the summer of 2016 to fulfill MSU’s diversity requirement, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports.

The course, which was taught by Professor Katherine Kujawa, required students to sign a confidentiality agreement that they would not discuss information about other students outside of the class.

When the topic of transgenderism came up on May 24, Doe, who is against transgenderism, decided not to speak during class or complete a paper assignment on the topic because he did not want to offend “Jane Roe,” a classmate who had disclosed that she was transgender in an earlier class discussion.

Doe says he met with Kujawa to explain his concerns and ask whether he could earn half-credit on the assignment, and Kujawa asked him how he would react if Roe approached him outside of class.

According to the lawsuit, Kujawa subsequently claimed that Doe responded that he would first ask Roe to leave him alone, and that if she did not comply, he would “break her face.”

[RELATED: UWM offers ‘voice feminization therapy’ to help students ‘live their gender identities]

Doe contends that this was a misrepresentation of the conversation and that he did not threaten Roe. Rather, he says, he was explaining to Kujawa that the only time he had ever had a violent incident with an LGBT person was nine years prior, when he punched a man for groping his girlfriend, and that his intended point was that he didn’t find out that the man was gay until after the incident.

Regardless, Doe alleges that Kujawa told the transgender student that Doe had threatened her, and when Kujawa asked Roe if she needed to be escorted out of the class, Roe flashed a pocketknife and said she didn’t need an escort. She later filed a Title IX complaint against Doe.

On May 26, Doe was called into the Dean of Students’ office and told he could not be on campus because the school had received a Title IX complaint against him.

James Sletten, the deputy Title IX coordinator, concluded that Kajawa was telling the truth because, as a professor, she was apparently more trustworthy than Doe. Sletten wrote that Doe had harassed Roe and created an unsafe environment for her, which Doe says is “biased” because he had never spoken to Roe before.

After a failed appeal, Doe was suspended for the fall 2016 semester, and was required to never have any contact with Jane Roe, to attend anger management and civil rights training, and to fill out a campus safety questionnaire before he could be considered for re-enrollment.

[RELATED: Student suspended for recording ‘act of terrorism’ prof]

Doe argues that the entire investigation was unfair because he was sanctioned before MSU had completed its investigation, adding that the university allowed the same individual to both conduct the investigation as well as determine guilt and punishment, and that Doe was not even allowed to question witnesses in the case.

He also says MSU treated him and Roe differently by allowing her to get away with threateningly flashing her pocket knife, and that his freedom of speech was violated because he was punished solely for expressing his anti-transgender views.

Finally, he alleges that Kujawa actually violated the intent of the very contract she had everyone sign at the start of the course by sharing his private comments with Roe.

MSU has declined to comment on the case since it is pending litigation.
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