Energy Secretary Steven Chu no longer wants gas prices to go up! Maybe we’ll see some action towards approving more domestic production. Not holding my breath
Now, I know government has to regulate stuff. If you are serving chicken, a health inspector probably should sign-off on a reasonably clean environment before you hand it over to the eager public. I don’t mind that. In fact, seeing the 100.5% rating at Taco Bell earlier made me feel more secure. I didn’t even realize that percentage existed but I knew it meant clean food.
What I didn’t like to see this week, was two mayors from two of our most important cities (Boston and Chicago) saying that they wanted to ban chicken from being sold for a non-health related reason. Apparently, the President of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, supports the traditional definition of marriage. Apparently, he even donated lunch to a Pennsylvania organization that fights for that cause.
Even worse, when asked by the Baptist Press, Mr Cathy said that he was, “guilty as charged” on supporting the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Whoa. In a country where 80% of the population is Christian and every state that has put this issue on the ballot, even California, has agreed with him, he is obviously way out-of-line.
In the follow-up to this, Boston Mayor Tom Menino wrote to Dan Cathy, “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
Not to be out-done by the Bostonians, a Chicago alderman said that he would “now be denying Chick-fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the 1st Ward.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to stand behind this outrageous violation of the First Amendment, saying, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.” The controversy is evidently big enough to even get on ABC World News.
Alright, so now I’m guessing there will be liberal politicians in Oregon, California, and many other places that will seek to do the same. A number of college campuses are also following suit. My only question is, really? Is this where we’re headed? I’ve been following the news pretty closely over the past few years and I don’t really remember this being a trend too much until very recently. By “this” I mean forcing business owners to hold your values or face intimidation by the government.
This whole debacle reminded me of a story I thought was just a strange anomaly from about a month ago. A wedding photographer in New Mexico was approached by a lesbian couple who wanted her to shoot their “commitment ceremony.” The woman said she declined because she believes marriage to be a sacred union between one man and one woman. After she declined, the couple took her to court and sued her for discrimination. And won. The state of New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriage or even civil unions, only traditional marriage, so I was very confused by this. Let me get this straight, the government does not recognize these relationships but business owners have to or else they will be sued and their businesses closed-down?
But that’s not all, yesterday I read of another story of a Christian business feeling unable to do business due to ideological impurity. Hercules Industries is a construction supply company in Colorado that is owned by the Newlands, a devoutly Catholic family. They have built the business into a large job-provider for the area, with 265 employees. They say that the new “Contraception Mandate” from Obama’s health-care bill will force them to shut-down. They will not pay for sterilizations, abortifacients, or contraception, but will be faced with large fines if they do not. Now some might think, “Well they need to get with the times!” but in America, we’ve always respected freedom of conscience. Maybe you think the Amish need to get with the times, but the beauty of our country was we allowed them to sport beards and buggies if that’s what they wanted to do.
In World War II, if you were a pacifist who thought killing, even in a war, was immoral, they let you be a conscientious objector. It didn’t matter if those around you thought you were a wuss, or a religious nut, or just wrong. You were allowed to take this position.
Can we not let the Newland family sell vents and other equipment to people in Colorado without forcing them to give their employees products that they see as immoral? If we can’t, I don’t think we live in a particularly free nation. I mean, the birth control will be free I suppose, but not the people. We need a right to conscientiously object to things. We need a right to disagree without being shut-down.
Just imagine if this became a trend in both red and blue states. Take the same issue of gay marriage. Let’s say people in Nebraska, a more conservative state, thought a certain company’s president didn’t represent “Nebraska values.” Would it be alright with everyone if the public leaders of this state threatened to deny them business permits? I think not. This trend would be very dangerous and would lead to a fragmented business climate in America. Businesses who support certain politics would be allowed to operate in liberal states, whereas business with more conservative leadership would be banned, and vice versa.
After the mayor of Boston was told that, in fact, he didn’t have the legal right to ban Chick-Fil-A from his town, he backed down a bit, saying, “I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there.” Menino continued, “I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.” The Chicago alderman did not quite back-away though. When asked if the Chick-Fil-A organization would change their stance on marriage if he would reconsider, he said, “If they’re serious about that, and they’re willing to put that in writing and they’re willing to adopt that. I think those are the grounds where we can move forward.” So, if they change their beliefs, they can open.
Gay groups have decided to instead go another route. If it’s not legal to ban them, yet, then they will instead invade Chick-Fil-A restaurants across the nation with gay make-out sessions. The organizers at Equality Illinois say, “LGBT supporters will show their disdain for Chick-Fil-A’s policies with public displays of affection in front of their restaurants.” Classy.
This whole campaign of intimidation makes you wonder how long it will be until it simply becomes impossible for one to be a traditional Christian and a business owner. If you are forced to believe in gay marriage or be denied restaurant permits, or forced to photograph gay marriages or be sued, or forced to provide products you think are immoral or face government fines, will Christians even bother to open-up shop? We aren’t to that point yet, but if these stories become less like anomalies, and more just the way the business world works, it is very possible.
Over the years, this argument has been put forward time and again in conversations I’ve had. When somebody is trying to justify smoking pot all day, for example, they may say, “Well, it’s natural.” Ok, I suppose it does grow out of the ground, so I guess that means it’s good to continuously inhale smoke from this certain plant? This seemingly full-proof argument got me thinking though, what really is natural? And just because something is “natural” does that mean it is good?
The initial premise of marijuana being natural may be a little more complicated than meets the eye anyway. I suppose it’s natural, but only in the same way a chihuahua is natural. Both have been taken so far from their original forms that they barely resemble them. Cannabis in its original form is a plant with many uses. It can make paper, rope, soap, and yes, it can even be smoked, but didn’t have the same effect. Over time humans selectively bred the plants to get higher and higher (appropriate word) levels of THC, the drug in the plant that causes that stoned feeling the user is after. At this point, modern marijuana is to the original cannabis plant what a chihuahua is to a wolf. Yes, it’s a living thing, but humanity’s meddling probably makes us more the creator than God/nature/evolution at this point. I mean, do these look like the same animal anymore to you?
But then again, is something “unnatural” just because it was tampered with by humans? This brings us to another point. Many people also use the opposite of the “It’s natural, man.” argument; also known as the “That’s not natural, man.” argument. I was discussing nuclear power with someone the other day, and they said they were opposed to it for that very reason. If human beings are a natural part of this planet though, how are we capable of being unnatural? Shouldn’t everything we do be natural? If beavers can clear-cut forests to build their dams (using their dental advantage), and bears can rip deer to shreds for dinner (using their strength and claw advantages), why can’t we use our mental advantage to build nuclear plants while continuing to be just as “natural”?
It’s just not clear to me how all the other animals can rearrange their environments and maintain their status, but not us. We are smarter and more able to do drastic things, but we are not alien to the planet. We are, after-all, just another species using our natural capacities to achieve whatever we can with what’s around us.
If the “natural” police want to just limit the human race to the sorts of things that the other animals can achieve, then they have no right to wear clothes, fly in airplanes, cook food, or read this blog entry. Humans are really a strange sort of animal, but if nature produced us, by definition, everything we are capable of doing is natural. Atomic research, nuclear fusion, astro-physics, you name it; it’s natural, man.
What goes unsaid is the assumption hidden behind the “natural” argument; that if it is natural, it is good. But is all that nature produces good? And is every use we find for anything in nature good? Well, what about heroin poppies and all the poisonous plants one could put in a pipe and smoke? No? Well, then smoking from selectively-bred marijuana plants aren’t necessarily either. So, it could be that all that is natural is not necessarily good, and all that is unnatural (if we somehow agree that we are capable of doing unnatural things) is not necessarily bad.
Maybe instead of looking at whether doing something is natural or unnatural when approving or disapproving of it, we should look to other qualities, like what is right and wrong according to objective standards of morality. Under this paradigm, a lot of things that are completely natural, are still wrong. Animals rape, steal, and murder as part of their day-to-day life. Humanity also has natural inclinations to do these things, but maybe nature is not the best moral guide. Maybe ethics has more to do with seeking the common good. Maybe we should be thinking more about whether something is “good” or not and less about whether it is “natural.” Heroin, rape, and nuclear bombs are all equally natural (at least according to my more generous definition), but that makes these things sound morally-neutral and inevitable. What I’d rather discuss is whether they are good.
No, not that guy. That guy was the President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society (as it is sometimes called because it’s real name, “The Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage” is a little wordy).
Franklin initially didn’t object to slavery, and as a young man even had two slaves at his printing shop. But after being invited to observe a school for African-American children, he concluded, “I was on the whole much pleased, and from what I then saw, have conceived a higher opinion of the natural capacities of the black race, than I had ever before entertained. Their apprehension seems as quick, their memory as strong, and their docility in every respect equal to that of white children.”
Rather than simply accepting the equal humanity of African-American slaves while turning a blind eye to their condition, he spent the rest of his life fighting to advance the Abolitionist cause. Once the war was over, and he returned from his diplomatic post in France, he gave the years he had always planned on devoting to “philosophical leisure” instead to freeing slaves. Though he was very advanced in years, he made sure that the public’s last memory of him was a plea to truly honor the American creed that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” In his last public act before his death, he petitioned the Congress, in 1790, to end the slave-trade, and free all those held in bondage against their will. Sadly, many would have to die before this wish would become enshrined in law.
The way that history is taught today, even and especially in America, is that the Founders were all slave-owning, landed gentry who we should feel some shame for celebrating, even if they did have the occasional good idea on political philosophy. The legacy of some on this issue is confusing, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who both put forward bills to end slavery and abhorred the practice, while hypocritically to modern eyes, owning slaves.
But there was not a glimmer of duplicity in others, like Franklin and John Quincy Adams (known as the “hell-hound of abolition”) who were forcefully speaking out against the practice from the beginning. Madison, Jefferson, and John Rutledge, all from Virginia, said that if it weren’t for the threats of break-up by Georgia and the Carolinas over the issue, the Union would have been able to dismantle the institution in the original Constitutional Congress. As it was, in order to appease these states, they agreed to make no laws against slavery until 1808. The order of the day was staying united so the new nation would not be quickly re-conquered.
In all our head-hanging over the Founders’ real and imagined faults on this issue, we seem to ignore the fact that slavery is still a strong force in the world right now. America should actually feel proud in that it was one of the first nations to address the evil of this institution, while acknowledging, of course, that the evil lived here as well. Between bouts of shame and pride over our own history, we should look to places like the African Sahel (the middle-belt in Africa where the North African Arab cultures and Sub-Saharan Black cultures mix).
There is no arguing the fact that freedom, democracy, and human rights have made enormous advances around the world in recent decades. Technology, medicine, and science have also improved the lives of humanity in general. We live longer and more comfortably due to abundant entertainment, futuristic medical care, and food options that a king in any other century would kill for. A blue-collar family in Missouri, by most measures, lives better than Caesar. If Caesar could hop on a Harley, ride home to a Thanksgiving dinner of eating and watching football, he would no doubt do it in a second. Although, he might miss his concubines.
Even the third-world has made incredible progress. China and India, after mostly ending their socialist experiments, have pulled literally hundreds of millions of people out of the subsistence lifestyle that had limited them in previous centuries. A lot of work is left to be done to create global prosperity for all, but as Francis Fukuyama said, it looks like “the end of history.” Poverty will gradually reduce as technology and global trade allows us to use our resources more wisely and efficiently to humanity’s benefit. What could there possibly be to complain about?
Well, now that many in the developed-world have their basic needs met, and it looks as if the rest of the world is quickly catching up, what now? We’ve been fighting nature just to stay alive since our species came into existence, but if that struggle is destined to ease dramatically, what is this life we’ve been struggling to keep really all about?
The human experience used to revolve around being part of a family, which was part of a greater community, that participated in a local culture, that was informed by a greater worldview or religion. Family, Community, Culture, and Faith were the glue that held us together, and what mostly defined our identity, but each are being challenged, changed, or just discarded for this new life.
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Sometimes, when confronted by viewpoints that I just don’t understand, I ask myself little questions like, what is the worldview that inspired this particular opinion? What is the foundation on which that worldview is built? And, what does their perfect world look like once all their goals are achieved?
I’m of the belief that almost every worldview has some rosy utopian vision in mind when all the aims are met. With this in mind, I’ve been trying to crack the progressive egg. What are they really after? What is their end-game? As our country becomes more and more ideologically split between small government conservatives, and big government progressives, it is important to try to figure out what really motivates the other side.
Why would one, for example, mandate the size of soft-drinks in a restaurant, as New York City is proposing, or ban smoking inside one’s own apartment or condo, as some Californian cities have done? I know, I know, soda and cigarettes are bad, but why do they think government is entitled to ban potentially harmful individual decisions?
To get there, you need to get down to their philosophical beginnings. The foundational belief that leads to these sorts of laws seems to be that humanity is perfectible or at least “progress-able,” and that the government is a good vehicle for driving stupid citizens towards smarter outcomes. For Christians, or others who believe that humanity is flawed, putting that kind of power into the hands of politicians is a very dangerous proposal. We might use an old cliche like, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” to warn against this misplaced trust in government. It seems much safer to have millions of potentially stupid people drinking too much soda, than to give people enough power to make these kinds of decisions for us.
For the moment though, let’s just assume that the progressives are correct. We are not hopelessly corrupt, just not too smart, and government can help guide us towards a grand future of something better. Ok, well what is that something better? If we are progressing towards a goal, is it a definable place which we will be able to recognize upon arrival?
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Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, most Americans probably had no idea about the differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Many likely still don’t, but the terms are at least familiar. Religion wasn’t that important under Saddam’s secular Ba’athist regime. Despite the Ba’ath Party’s secular credentials, they still favored Saddam’s Sunni relatives while brutally oppressing the Shia majority. Saddam’s motivation was more tribal than religious though, so often these two communities lived peacefully side-by-side. A new blend of Muslim, that many called Sushis, was actually growing, due to the inter-marriage of Sunnis and Shias in many neighborhoods.
The Sushi trend has been drastically reversed though, and Sunni/Shia tension is threatening to break out into an enormous regional war involving virtually every country in the region. America may have unwittingly unmasked some old tensions smoldering under the surface. Soon after the American intervention, Sunni Al Qaeda-inspired jihadists from around the world began flooding in. In retaliation, Shias sought Iranian money and arms to fund militias like the Badr Brigade and Muqtada al Sadr’s large Mahdi Army. When Iraq seemed poised to descend into a bloody civil war of sectarian bombings and death squads, coalition troops stood in the gap and were able to force a peace.
Although immediate crisis was averted in Iraq, that fight is now one of the cooler hot-spots of Sunni-Shia violence around the region. The calm produced by the surge in Iraq has faded and the Arab Spring’s revolutionary furor has turned to sectarianism as all sides vie for control of the streets. Increasingly, all the region’s alliances and hostilities can be assumed based on whether one is a Sunni or a Shia.
Sunnis are getting most of their funding from the Gulf Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, and the Shias get their support from the Iranians. Both have become wealthy from oil profits and can now use that wealth to influence the neighborhood.
No, they aren’t. Sorry to break your hearts, but they are, as far as I’m aware, just animals. Now, we can love animals, invite them into our homes, and treat them with affection, but they remain animals. I felt compelled to set the record straight due to some creepy trends.
A recent study showed that 83% of pet owners call themselves, “mommy” or “daddy” when speaking with their pets. Yeah, they speak to their pets. I guess dogs can recognize many words, so maybe that’s not crazy. But giving birth to a canine would be. Also, in the study was that 70% of pet-owners sign their pets’ names on greeting cards, and 78% give their pets “several gifts a year.”
I think I realized that it was I who was out of the mainstream, not pet-mommies and daddies, when my college roommate’s girlfriend (now wife) told us she was late because her family had to take their dog to get surgery. When she described how expensive it would be (over 5-figures), I couldn’t help but asking a few questions. “Dogs can get surgery!?” “Why would your parents spend that much money on that?” “Why didn’t you just get a new dog?” The questions seemed logical to me, but after the glare I got, I could tell they struck a nerve. I decided to shut-up because I wanted to stay friends with her, but my opinion of doggie surgery hasn’t really changed much.
It boggles my mind that people justify spending so much money on animals by buying them gifts and giving them top-notch medical care? One woman recently gave her entire $13 million inheritance to her cat. And a young man has spent over $60,000 trying to get a dog back after his girlfriend left him and took it with her to the West Coast. The most telling quote from this story, which you can watch by clicking the name below is, “Knuckles is my son. And I don’t mean to come off like he’s more important than an actual human child, but to me he is.”
Possibly the most frustrating part of being a conservative or Republican in modern America, is the fact that the media and popular culture at large assume a racist motivation for much of what you say or do. It doesn’t matter the subject, whether it’s the War on Terror, immigration, the “social safety net,” the need to show photo ID to vote, or even Obama’s health-care law, many will begin with the assumption of a racial motivation when trying to understand your positions on these issues.
Do not bother pointing out the fact that it was in fact the Democrats and the Progressives, from the days of slavery all the way up to the 1970’s, that were the overt racists. Apparently though, all that history was dumped right on the conservatives laps in a political version of hot-potato. “Oh, you guys were racist last!” This is because some racists left the Democratic Party after the Civil Rights-era was over and joined the other side.
Republicans were considered more “traditional” at the national-level and got the Southern presidential votes. At the local-level though, Democrats retained their Southern power. In 2010, my state of North Carolina actually just achieved their first Republican majority in both houses of the state General Assembly since 1870. So, most of the local boys have stayed Democrat (despite voting Republican for President) while racism has gradually become less and less acceptable for all parties.
To complicate the who-is-more-racist game though, many other national Democratic figures stayed in the party. Al Gore, Sr. and Sen. Robert Byrd filibustered until they were blue in the face to prevent civil rights for blacks, but remained Democrats in good standing until the day they died. Bill Clinton even tried to do a little re-writing of history at Sen. Byrd’s funeral. Byrd held a high-rank in the Klan and was a prominent figure in the segregationist movement, but the Democrats just pass it off as a youthful indiscretion (despite his being in his mid-40’s at the time). The main point is, neither party was willing to embrace the old South’s segregationist platform, so the supporters fractured, the message was rejected, and no serious politician I’ve ever heard of has repeated these goals.
There is something about success that inspires the humble and annoys the prideful. Those who know they can never achieve another’s feats, can either celebrate that fact for the other, or mourn it for themselves. Mitt Romney is one of those people whose story is bound to have this effect on America as we are fully introduced to him over the coming months, and possibly years.
You can measure a person’s life based on their professional success, their family life, their community and religious activity, or personal integrity and virtue, among other things. Whichever of these standards you choose, he seems to have been given, as well as worked hard to create, a life that would be the envy of almost anyone.
A short glance at any of these areas of Mr Romney’s life, starting with his professional career, shows his magnficent ability to make almost anything he touches a success. Now, when I tell you that he was born in Detroit, you may assume that the previous sentence must have been hyperbole. Those from my generation aren’t fully aware though, that at one time Detroit was the engine (pun intended) of America’s economic success. It was a place full of money, power, and new ideas, and Mitt was born right into the midst of it all.
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I’ve been told multiple times that I’m crazy. I don’t act or appear crazy necessarily, though some may dispute that, but the real reason for bringing my sanity into question is that I actually believe in an intelligent, powerful being named “God.”
The saner folks have made some pretty impassioned arguments that this proves my mental-illness. The main argument seems to be that the insane lack reason, and there are no reasonable reasons for any reasoning person to believe in this God character (they use the word reason a lot). You see, science has explained to a pretty high degree this place in which we find ourselves. Therefore, since everything is/will be explained through science, it would be like continuing to believe in Santa Claus after it was pretty evident that it was dad who snuck the presents under the tree every Christmas Eve. We simply don’t need God to explain anything anymore. Atheists don’t claim to have all of life figured out, but just enough to make God a very unlikely explanation.
Science has come a long way; that’s true. We know a lot more about the cosmos and all the planets, galaxies, stars and black holes whirling around above. We also know a lot more about the micros and all the cells, bacteria, molecules, and all the other little things our eyes could never observe before. We’ve managed to melt sand into brilliant telescopes and microscopes to let us view these things, revealing to us a lot about the way things operate.
It is still a little unclear to me though, what exactly we’ve seen looking through these instruments that would make God any less likely. When it was realized, way back when, that the world was round and that it orbited rather than being orbited, we made some adjustments to the way we saw things, but God remained. If biology is leading us to move away from fundamentalist point-and-boom visions of creation, so be it. Many never thought those very convincing in the first-place. But why does anything in modern science force God’s exit more than a round earth whirling around the sun?
As a former, long-time non-theist (of varying sorts), I actually slowly began to think it was the atheists that needed to provide better explanations. Some plausible thought other than “not-God” for the overwhelming mystery, misery, and majesty of this existence. Young-earth creationists aside, both thinking theists and atheists accept the laws of science. Atheists often forget that before the more recent batches of less religious scientists, Christendom actually was the best incubator for scientific discovery in history.
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Did you ever wonder how, after the West won the Cold War, and it was clear to the whole world that the Free Market provided a much better standard of living for people, as well as more freedom, that hip young Westerners have gradually grown to see us as the bad guys and people like Che and Mao as misunderstood heroes? Maybe a little story would help illustrate what has occurred.
Imagine if you will, a guy, we’ll call him Mark Sizm, who really likes a certain girl, we’ll call her Prola Tariat, but Prola wants nothing to do with Mark and instead is going steady with a certain Freemar Kit. Mark follows them around and makes advances towards Prola, but she just looks at him skeptically and says, “No, I’m happy with Freemar. He provides me nice things, and let’s me live pretty much how I like. Anyways, didn’t you used to date my friend Cindy? She said you were super-controlling and … didn’t you like, kill her whole family too?”
Mark continues his advances for awhile, but soon realizes it is hopeless. He can’t compete. She really likes Freemar and Mark has kind of a bad reputation. He needs another plan. What if he just followed them to all their dates and was critical of everything about Freemar? Eventually, she would probably come to hate ol’ Freemar and might warm-up to him.
During a movie one night Mark said, “Prola, did you know that Freemar’s great-great-grandfather stole this land from a Native American family?” Another day while they were grilling in the backyard he added, “Also, his great-grandfather made slaves build them this nice house on the land.” Later when they were sitting at a nice restaurant, “Oh, and his grandpa made his grandma have a bunch of kids and go to church every week!”
Freemar starting to get annoyed finally spoke-up, “Shut up, bro! Didn’t you massacre over 100 million people and collapse their economies, while taking away basic freedoms and stuff?” (Every metaphor has to break-down at some point.) Mark moved in for the kill, “How dare you try to judge other’s actions?! How can you claim the moral high-ground with a bloody, oppressive history like your family has?” Freemar, not having a PHD like Mark, felt a little out-gunned intellectually, and decided not to confront him again.
Years later, after Mark’s continued criticism, Prola looked at Freemar and realizing she no longer loved him, said finally, “You … disgust me.” and left in Mark’s Volvo. She is now flirting a little bit with Mark Sizm, but hasn’t necessarily decided to make the switch yet.
I’m going to have to admit this; the secular worries about Christian intolerance are true. You see, we were taught to be perfectionists. It is not even slightly possible to achieve this, but Jesus looked us straight in the eyes and said, “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Anything that even slightly strays from this insanely-high bar, we are to reject. It’s not that Christians have to feel bad about themselves all the time, or judge other people constantly, we just have to keep a grand ideal in mind. There will one day be a perfected version of this life, and we are not to glory in the unfinished or twisted elements of this version. We love all that is good in it, but have a burning desire to right its wrongs.
We can seem at peace with our own failures and those of the world around us, but only at the level of understanding their inevitability and our own limitations. At a deeper level, we hate these imperfections though and the pain they cause. We cannot tolerate or be accepting of them. We want to cure diseases, end injustice, befriend the lonely, and fix anything in our path that does not live up to this perfect ideal.
This is causing us to be a little out of step with the rest of the culture though. When others say that the deaf, transgendered, mentally-handicapped, or even the same-sex attracted person is perfect just the way they are, we should recoil. That is NOT how they should be!
They should have been born with a clearly-assigned gender, and with working eyes and ears! We want them to see, hear, walk, and think like we believe their perfected body one day will. And we should do everything we can to help them overcome these things if there are ways to, or at least bare their burdens with our support. We must love our neighbor, but we do this while acknowledging they are not yet the perfected versions of themselves.
People love the idea of a market. We love to go out and choose the items we need or desire, and freely buy them from those we believe provide the best product at the best terms. We love this freedom so much that, at least in the West, we even sometimes view our search for meaning in life through this prism. Finding a worldview is at some level an economic decision which involves competing worldviews in the marketplace of ideas.
For this to work properly, the metaphorical marketplace has to allow for those with competing worldviews and ideas to organize and package their ideas in attractive ways and to “sell” us on them without intimidation, force, or favoritism. Every idea has to be taken on its merits and the consumer must be able to judge whether this is in fact the best item on the market.
An old chain-store has just opened up a franchise in the West, though. It is used to a monopoly and does not seem open to changing the prior terms they have enjoyed for so long elsewhere. For this reason, this shop’s rules of operation may not quite fit in with the others in our market.
The other stores are allowing shoppers to enter, pick up their Lutheranism, atheist materialism, Mormonism, nihilistic hedonism or whatever else they are peddling, and choose to buy-into it at their own discretion. If they want to return this product later, “No problem, but we do hope you’ll return.”
Islam on the other hand, has some strict rules in place. First of all, others cannot criticize their product. Pick up the paper on an average day and you will find a number of stories showing the traditional attitude of the Muslim world to receiving criticism. Higher-profile examples, like the threat of a burnt Koran or a cartoon of their founding CEO, have left the marketplace riddled with corpses, but other smaller examples get virtually ignored daily.
Criticism of their product, known as blasphemy, was strictly forbidden by their founder and to this day it is not accepted. Examples from just this week of this are the arrest of a female Christian in Pakistan for this crime, where it carries the death penalty, and the unanimous vote by the Kuwaiti parliament to impose this same penalty for blasphemy in their country. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, and (soon) many of the newly-Islamized Arab Spring countries as well, have this anti-market principle as their rule on the street.
Imagine if Coca-Cola had this policy. If Pepsi or Dr Pepper dare say their drinks taste better, they must be killed. That’s no way to run a marketing campaign, at least if you want to be seen as a respectable company.
No, I do not mean Chastity the stripper at your local club for “gentlemen,” but that is sort of what I want to talk to you about. Chastity is defined by Merriam-Webster as “purity in conduct and intention” with regards to sexual behavior. I know, this is a ridiculously outdated concept. There was a sexual revolution at some point in the 60’s, which means to look back to such concepts would mean revisiting some creepy 1950’s sitcom. Maybe one day we’ll make even more progress, to get rid of the concept of gender altogether or something, but it sure won’t be to go back to anything we used to do.
What these progress fundamentalists don’t consider though, is that history isn’t just a linear progression from old and bad towards new and good. There have been many periods in history where various ideas (including sexual liberation) have been tried out, found lacking, and then old ideas have been retrieved. I’m going to suggest that maybe we should take a look at the effects of tossing aside sexual restraint and wonder to ourselves whether progress really is the right word for what we see.
That’s Queen Victoria, in case you’ve never been introduced
Your average town or city across the country will invariably have a series of drinking establishments for the hard-working public to kick back and relax after a long week. After visiting many-a-bar over the years, more recently I’ve found myself troubled by what I observed by the end the night. Not that I expected to see Victorian gentleman with “purity in conduct and intention” and modest women guarding their honor, but it’s getting crazy out there folks.
A couple years ago in Mobile, Alabama, I was a new-in-town graduate student looking to mingle and make some friends. Two girls who I had briefly met at the school were kind enough to invite me out for a drink. Innocent enough. We met and went downtown to a bar to socialize. At one point, three Coastguard guys came and sat next to us, recognizing these girls from a wedding the day before. “Great.” I thought, “More nice local people to befriend.”
I wasn’t interested in either of these girls romantically but I started getting a little offended on their behalf at the sailor dudes’ comments. The biggest one leaned over to the one sitting next to me and said, “Stand up and let me see that nice butt of yours.” or something to that effect. To my dismay, she stood up and showed him. Then he started to comment on her breasts and she just started giggling. I looked at him, and as nicely as I could said, “Come on now, be a gentleman.”
At this he jumped out of his seat, threw his mostly full beer on the ground, and yelled across the bar, “What are you, gay!?” It was like a scene from the animal kingdom, when one male interrupts the other’s mating ritual.
A little shocked at the turn of events, but wanting to save face in front of a bar full of strangers who had recently turned their heads towards the comotion, I stood up at my full 6’6” and 210, and said the first thing that came to mind, not that I understand at all what it meant. “What…if I wasn’t?” He huffed and puffed and repeated my odd question loudly, then muttered it to himself a few times. He started looking very confused, and to my surprise, he just sat down. Even more surprisingly, we just continued talking like nothing had happened.
About a month ago two tragedies occurred in a single Florida town on the same night. The two incidents may have seemed unrelated and very different in detail from one another but were actually closely connected.
The first one involves a young child, pictured above. He was visiting his dad in another town for a few days in a neighborhood he wasn’t familiar with. One night he decided to take a walk through the neighborhood to get some Skittles and an iced tea at the store down the street. On his way home, a white resident who ran the local neighborhood watch, took notice of him walking. The child was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, which, likely in combination with the fact that he was a young black male, caused this man to profile him as a potential problem for the gated community.
Paranoid about crime in his neighborhood, he called the police, like he had done many times before (often over very minor incidents). When the dispatchers told him to leave the kid alone, he ignored them and kept his pursuit. The child noticed him and becoming scared of the stranger, ran off. In his frustration at losing sight of the child, the man showed the prejudice in his heart by uttering racial epithets under his breath, overheard later on the 911 tapes.
Shortly after, and it is not clear exactly how, these two crossed paths again. At this point, the man initiated a physical altercation with the boy and then, despite his superior size, resorted to shooting this child in cold blood. The young boy was found dead when the police arrived. He was unarmed and had only a bag of Skittles.
Despite this, the local police let the man walk free after listening to his self-defense argument. Protests sprung up around the country demanding justice be done. Old racial wounds were opened again, bringing back memories of times when whites could commit violent crimes against blacks and not be held accountable. Many were forced to confront the fact that these times likely never left us.
What many did not talk about however, was another shooting in the same town on the same night. In this death, another young black male was killed by an older shooter. The 17 year old victim was a 6’2” high school football player who was in town visiting his dad. A few days earlier, the teen’s school had suspended him for graffiti and after finding marijuana paraphernalia in his bag, along with women’s jewelry and a flathead screwdriver they suspected were evidence of burglary.
The traditionally-minded people of this country want some entertainment and are willing to pay for it. A report by the website Movieguide found that movies with traditional themes, involving Christian, patriotic, moral, and capitalist messages, outperformed ones with more liberal messages by 6-to-1. In a marketplace, where the customer is always right, you would think supply would increase to meet this demand. This doesn’t seem to be the case though. Entertainment options look like they will continue to be overwhelmingly targeted towards the more secular folk.
In fact, if you perused the popular culture, you might assume that this country was made up of teenagers whose parents were out of town for the weekend, and would find very little evidence of this large Christian demographic. From the popular tv shows it might appear as if one of our nation’s favorite past-times was watching somebody’s face hit the concrete and then rewinding it to see it again in slow-mo.
One man who has made a killing at this gig is Daniel Tosh. He has a own show on Comedy Central, Tosh.0, that simply finds painful and embarrassing videos of human beings at their most degraded moments, and then adds further degradation with mildly witty commentary. “Oooo, that must have hurt.” It’s America’s Funniest Home Videos if every video was the one where the kid hits his dad in the nuts with a baseball bat.
Just to illustrate the extent that this type of humor will go, look at Mr. Tosh’s standup routine. In one bit, he makes a whole audience roll in laughter mocking a Christian boy that was decapitated (a real life tragedy in Atlanta) by a girl’s leg as she was going by on a rollercoaster. He had gone to retrieve his hat after the ride, and went beyond the safety-fence. The girl who collided with him shattered her leg in nine places and had to have a cast for over a year. It was a true story, and a heartbreaking one, but to Tosh he thought it was simply hilarious.
Here are a couple of his super-funny highlights, “And I know he was in a church youth group, and they don’t believe in evolution, but that kid was getting picked off sooner or later!” Hahahaha And now he turns his attention to the girl, who has to live the rest of her life with accidentally killing this poor kid. He is equally as pleased with her situation. “I don’t know if you’ve ever worn a cast or not, but everybody and their mother will come up to you, ‘How’d ya break your leg?’” Pause for more uproarious laughter. “She’ll get to say, ‘I fu**ing punted a guy’s head 90 yards.”
Would this man (Dr. Julian Savulescu) strangle a baby? …maybe
Recently, a series of prominent ethicists have put forth increasingly outlandish, dangerous, and decidedly “unethical” proposals about how we should approach various moral quandaries. With their current understanding of right and wrong, they are struggling to find any ethical problems with post-birth abortion (yes, you read that right, formerly known as infanticide), “euthanizing” the mentally ill, people with disabilities, and certain elderly, condoning polygamy, bestiality (as long as the animal consents, I’m assuming with a grunt of some sort), and, what party is complete without…CANNIBALISM.
Now you’d think that with views like that you would qualify for some ethicists “Kill the Insane Program” and would never be seen from again, but as it turns out, it may just land you a prestigious professorial gig at Princeton, Oxford, or another fine institution.
When those wigged and tighted founders of this country looked for an ethical foundation for our constitution, they started with a simple premise; that it was “self-evident” that all people were created equal by a being that endowed them with basic dignity and rights. To believe this you would have to hold a few basic principles in common with them, or else, apparently it may not be so self-evident. First, you’d have to believe, as even the Deist founders did, that such a being existed. Second, you would have to believe that this Creator held humans in some esteem, even the disabled and infant ones, and wanted us to ensure they had some pretty basic rights. The first right that the Founders mentioned was life; meaning we can’t just kill the inconvenient among us.
Without this foundation, it’s hard to really approach ethics in ways that truly respect human life as being beyond just a smart animal. If our intelligence is the only thing that endows us with dignity, it would make complete sense that we should treat the less intelligent among us with less dignity. Enough from me though, let’s hear it from the learned professors themselves.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu no longer wants gas prices to go up! Maybe we’ll see some action towards approving more domestic production. Not holding my breath
You may have noticed brash entertainment acts like Howard Stern, South Park, Penn and Teller, and Adam Corolla (pictured above), and were confused when on a host of issues… they agreed with you. You may also have noticed a loud group of energized and trendy college kids yelling things about liberty and Ron Paul over the past few years. If you’re a traditional faith, flag, and family conservative, this has likely left you scratching your head.
Isn’t the in-your-face, juvenile humor supposed to emanate from the left? Aren’t young students loudly demanding revolutionary change also a force of the left? Well the times they are a changin’, and there are new rebels on the scene.
From its very founding, America has a great history of cultural rebellion. The left continued this tradition in the 1960’s, finding new things to rebel against. Their greatest legacy was fighting for full-equality for African-Americans, women, and other minorities. These were unquestionably noble battles to wage, but it didn’t end there. It seems we have been in a constant state of rebellion ever since. The traditional family structure, capitalism, organized religion, patriotism, and even basic sexual mores are all now on the chopping block.
The resulting nihilism has left America’s cultural landscape a chaotic realm for the youthful rebel. Does he join one of these revolutions and storm the Bastille of faith, family, or flag, or does he rebel against parts or all of the rebellion? Increasingly, youth are choosing the latter. As Peter Kreeft stated, “In an age that has jettisoned all of its tradition, the only rebellion possible is orthodoxy.”
There are many examples of this trend, but most interesting to me are two sons of liberal LA culture, Adam Carolla and Andrew Breitbart. Seeing liberalism lived out to its logical ends inspired both to abandon the worldview they were raised in, in the same way college students raised in conservative Christians households are known to do.