May 26, 2015
It always pains me to have to disagree with Wesley J. Smith, who is such an important and stalwart spokesman for the cause of human exceptionalism, but this time, I have to do so.
Smith is positively inclined toward this proposal to institute "organ preservation" measures on patients who "die unexpectedly" when they or their relatives have not yet agreed to organ donation. The actual proposal is to ask relatives only to agree to these "preservation" measures at first, to give them time to process the patient's death, and then after some unspecified period of time (I cannot see how it would be more than a few days, maximum) to try to obtain their agreement to actual organ donation. Wall, et. al. (the JAMA article authors) sound like they would actually prefer a European system in which organ preservation is begun immediately on all patients whether or not relatives consent, but they realize that people in the U.S. will balk at this and suggest this alternative as (it appears to me) a halfway house sop to U.S. sensibilities.
I think their proposal is a very bad idea.
May 21, 2015
Recently this extremely poor piece came out by Jason Lee Steorts, the managing editor of National Review.
In passing: A little googling has not turned up much about Steorts's previous history, so perhaps my readers will know. Is this turn to the left on the issue of marriage any sort of surprise, or has Steorts always been a shallow social liberal, at least on this issue? All that I was able to find in a brief search was the fact that he has freaked out a couple of times at his own writers (once at Mark Steyn and once at Kathryn Jean Lopez) for their "rhetoric" in the vicinity of the issue of homosexuality. I suppose that was warning sign enough, but I still wonder if this is considered some kind of earthquake in conservative circles. It is, in any event, a sickening comment on how low National Review has fallen. So much for standing athwart the course of history crying, "Stop!"
The article as a whole is so jejeune that I am going to resist a temptation to fisk it. The temptation isn't that great, anyway. It just doesn't deserve the time that a fisking would take. A central aspect of Steorts's "argument" is the dismissal, with a flick of the wrist, of the entire natural law tradition by the magical invocation of the is-ought distinction and the name of David Hume. Really. See for yourself. Gosh, it's just that simple.
As I was musing on Steorts's cavalier treatment of natural law and wondering what sort of response might be effective with someone this dismissive, I remembered this post of mine from a few months back. Rather surprisingly, it didn't get any comments, so here I will try to make the connections to current issues explicitly yet again.
May 20, 2015
Front Porch Republic author Pete Davis has an interesting post on making Facebook outrage more constructive. I admit to a certain amount of suspicion about Front Porch Republic and to a resulting thought that this post is directed partly at those of us on the right of the political spectrum who are filled with righteous anger. There is a little bit too much of the cool, above-it-all moderate saying, "A pox on both your houses" to right and left.
In any event, I do think he has a point when he deprecates some mere venting, whether on Facebook or on blogs. A paradigm (made-up) case would be a news story about a viciously abused child followed by Facebook shares with variants on, "I just feel so terrible about this" or "This is outrageous" as a status update.
It's true: Our social media culture is indeed replacing meaningful action with words on a flickering screen; Facebook shares and expressions of outrage can be an example of the growing impotence of real humans to do real things as they become wedded to their devices.
May 15, 2015
The prophet Jeremiah gave the following message to those who would be exiled from their land:
[S]eek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. (Jeremiah 29:7
This post by Russell Moore has a great many things wrong with it, but one of the central things wrong with it is that Moore does not understand that we should seek the peace of the city in which God has placed us.
May 14, 2015
Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association and chancellor of Patrick Henry College, has this article in USA Today. It is both heartwarmingly spirited in its defiance and disturbing in its predictions.
Farris takes the omens from the discussion of tax exempt status and homosexual "marriage" before SCOTUS recently in oral arguments. As Farris notes, Justice Alito asked Donald Verrili, who was arguing on behalf of the federal government in favor of imposing homosexual "marriage" on the entire country, whether the Bob Jones precedent would be used to strip tax-exempt status from Christian schools who refuse to recognize homosexual "marriage." Verrili replied, "It's certainly going to be an issue," implying that this could indeed happen.
May 10, 2015
The tracing of American regional inheritance comprises one of the richest fields for patriotic study. In the fine historical works of David Hackett Fischer, and the more breezy sketches of Colin Woodard, among many other books, American regionalism emerges dynamically. Its patterns of regional texture and integrity illuminate much that is otherwise obscure in the history of the North American continent.
Within so large a Republic as ours, regions often stand for past dispersions of whole nations. That it is why, as a matter of history, and often observable in the present, it is descriptively possible, without undue exaggeration, to speak in the plural of the American Nations.
Fischer’s book focuses tightly on the Anglo and Celtic peoples who settled the rugged parts interior to the Eastern Seaboard: the Nation of Greater Appalachia. Woodard’s lighter fare broadens the historical lens to compass Acadians, Spaniards, Germans, Dutch, Frenchmen and Native Americans.
The vigor and variety of these regional nations should kindle in us a surer patriotism than any facsimile of perfect national consolidation, a kind of continental-wide General Will, could possibly manage. We may appreciate the virtues of other regions, but we are mostly at home with our own people in our own nation.
We know that from tensions among these American nations much of our country’s drama springs. More than once the nations have threatened to come to blows; once they came to very severe blows.
[UPDATED with image. Appomattox River, 1864, Library of Congress]
May 8, 2015
Here are my not-terribly-brilliant or original observations on the affair of the recent Mohammad cartoon shootings. In no particular order.
a) I saw the cartoon that won the contest. Please, let's not have anybody talk in this case about those evil, mean, disgusting, pornographic, blah, blah. This is straightforward political satire and protest against the "don't draw Mohammad" sharia restriction.
b) The bullies of the left who are blaming Pamela Geller and her contest for the murderous attack against them are despicable.
c) That the FBI has not contacted Geller is significant, chilling, and revealing.
d) That the would-be-murderers of jihad were gunned down in a matter of seconds, in contrast to the murders and long hunt in the Charlie Hebdo affair, demonstrates the difference between France and Texas. Good for Texas.
e) Have you heard about the Facebook angle? (This is the one place where perhaps I will be telling readers something they didn't already know.)
May 6, 2015
It is sometimes painful being the never-ending voice of doom, but in good conscience I cannot agree with David French's sunny perspective on this story. It's understandable that French would look at matters this way, since evidently he actually gave legal counsel to Gordon College in its accreditation crisis, and from his perspective as Clever Lawyer, they got the outcome they were seeking--namely, the accreditation agency dropped its ominous implication that they would lose their accreditation if they did not endorse homosexual acts.
May 4, 2015
There is no evil Republican hater social conservative (but I repeat myself) on the national scene who treats women, blacks, gays, or transsexuals as viciously as the Shrieking Harpies of Tolerance treat their friends who dare cross the line. Exhibit #2,356,224: Joss Whedon, of the Avengers movies. (Trigger warning: twitter and vulgarity.)
The silver lining here is that, perhaps, more people will see how vicious the Harpies are, and that it's impossible to satisfy them. That may eventually get ordinary people, including famous ordinary people, to stop trying to accommodate them even a little bit.
Unless there is no deviation from their doctrine, and no accidental offenses (of the professionally offended! Good luck), the Harpies will never help anyone win a campaign, create a hit movie, make a blockbuster novel, beat a charity fundraising goal, or turn any other good deed into a great one. They will help until they turn on you, and then they will try their hardest to destroy you -- even if you think they're on your side.
Lesson learned, my harpies. Thanks.
May 3, 2015
Homosexual orientation, we are told, can’t be changed. Not only that, but attempting to change it is considered potentially dangerous, and some people (such as Barack Obama) advocated outlawing the practice. I must confess that I know very little about what is called “gay conversion therapy,” but an article in the Atlantic recently talked about how Christians have turned against it.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the Christian right poured money and muscle into promoting the message that homosexuality was a curable disorder. It advocated conversion therapy, which promised to turn gay men and women straight. But last week, when President Obama announced his support for a national ban on such therapies, few voices on the Christian right spoke up in protest. The announcement confirmed the evaporation of support for these approaches among the communities that once embraced them. As Alan Chambers, who once ran America’s largest ex-gay ministry, told me, “sexual orientation doesn’t change.”
May 2, 2015
By now my readers probably don't need me to inform them that the crowd-funding site GoFundMe apparently has a war on against Christians. Or for that matter, anyone else who holds to a traditional view of marriage and suffers for it. The site has shut down no less than two campaigns--one for Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist, one for Aaron and Melissa Klein in Oregon. The latter case is one I haven't happened to write about yet. It features the disgusting spectacle of a pair of lesbians arguing for (and probably getting) the utter financial ruin of a pair of small-business bakers because the lesbians suffered such "emotional pain" and even "physical suffering" when the bakers refused to make them a cake for their "wedding." The emotional pain of the bakers at the financial destruction of their business and their lives is of no account, of course. They are bigots and made a pair of lesbians feel bad, so this is what they deserve. The administrative law judge has ruled that they should be fined $135K. As in the florist case in Washington, apparently no corporate veil applies. This money will come out of the Kleins' personal assets. Another bureaucrat can accept or reject the proposed fine.
April 29, 2015
Thinking about the constitutional law essay by Northwestern professor Steven Calabresi and some Brown University students (mentioned by Lydia in a couple of recent posts) I was struck by their main claim summarized in the abstract:
This essay examines the original meaning of the equality guarantee in American constitutional law. It looks are the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century roots of the modern doctrine, and it concludes that the Fourteenth Amendment bans the Hindu Caste system, European feudalism, the Black Codes, the Jim Crow laws, and the common law's denial to women of equal civil rights to those held by men. It then considers the constitutionality of bans on same sex marriage from an Originalist perspective, and it concludes that State laws banning same sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Congressional Register, 1866
So I did some digging on what the Congress that passed the Fourteenth Amendment thought about these issues and right from the get go, I discover they were not that enlightened when it came to women's "equal civil rights":
Mr. ELDRIDGE. Mr. Speaker, let me go a little further here. If it be true that the construction of this amendment, which I understand to be claimed by the gentlemen from Ohio, [Mr. Bingham] who introduced it, and which I infer from his question is claimed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania. [Mr. Stevens:] if it be true that that is the true construction of this article, is it not even then introducing a power never before intended to be conferred upon Congress. For we all know it is true that probably every State in this Union fails to give equal protection to all persons within its borders in the rights of life, liberty, and property. It may be a fault in the States that they do not do it. A reformation may be desirable, but by the doctrines of the school of politics in which I have been brought up, and which I have been taught to regard was the best school of political rights and duties in this Union, reforms of this character should come from the States, and not be forced upon them by the centralized power of the Federal Government.
Take a single case by way of illustration, and I take it simply to illustrate the point, without expressing any opinion whatever on the desirability or undesirability of a change in regard to it. Take the case of the rights of married women: did any one ever assume that Congress was to be invested with the power to legislate on that subject, and to say that married women, in regard to their rights of property, should stand on the same footing with men and unmarried women? There is not a State in the Union where disability of married women in relation to the rights of property does not to a greater or less extent still exist. Many of the States have taken steps for the partial abolition of that distinction in years past, some to a greater extent and others to a less. But I apprehend there is not to-day a State in the Union where there is not a distinction between the rights of married women, as to property, and the rights of femmes sole and men.
Mr. STEVENS. If I do not interrupt the gentleman I will say a word. When a distinction is made between two married people or two femmes sole, then it is unequal legislation: but where all of the same class are dealt with in the same way then there is no pretense of inequality.
Mr. BINGHAM. Excuse me. Mr. Speaker, we have had some most extraordinary arguments against the adoption of the proposed amendment.
But, say the gentleman, if you adopt this amendment you give to Congress the power to enforce all the rights of married women in the several States. I beg the gentleman's pardon. He need not be alarmed at the condition of married women. Those rights which are universal and independent of all local State legislation belong, by the gift of God, to every woman, whether married or single. The rights of life and liberty are theirs whatever States may enact. But the gentleman's concern is as to the right of property in married women.
Although this word property has been in your bill of rights from the year 1789 until this hour, who ever heard it intimated that anybody could have property protected in any State until he owned or acquired property there according to its local law or according to the law of some other State which he may have carried thither? I undertake to say no one. As to real estate, every one knows that its acquisition and transmission under every interpretation ever given to the word property, as used in the Constitution of the country, are dependent exclusively upon the local law of the States, save under a direct grant of the United States. But suppose any person has acquired property not contrary to the laws of the State, but in accordance with its law, are they not to be equally protected in the enjoyment of it, or are they to be denied all protection? That is the question, and the whole question, so far as that part of the case is concerned.
So it seems to me (with only some basic research) that the argument that the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment somehow gives women the equivalent civil rights to men is nonsense. But what about their other claims?
April 27, 2015
Another Thing You Can't Be Without Threats To Your Livelihood: Gay owners of a gay resort and a gay-friendly hotel -- who dare to speak politely with Ted Cruz.
You really can't make this up. If I had said this would happen, reasonable people would have disparaged me for being a paranoid dealing in slippery slopes. If you're a reasonable person, the odds are that your realistic worst-case scenario isn't paranoid enough.
The men in question own Fire Island Pines Resorts and Out NYC.
If you read the statement by the organization that canceled their charity event, you'll see them refer to two NYTimes articles, both of which show that the men did nothing more wrong than meeting with Cruz.
I've seen at least two recent articles arguing that there is a "way out" for Christians in the wedding business. Here is one and here is the other. The basic idea goes something like this: If you are a florist, a baker, or a photographer, willingly agree to celebrate homosexual "weddings," but make a big deal of the fact that you are going to donate the money to marriage defense groups of some kind or other.
April 25, 2015
This post is arguing against using two specific terms which contribute to the debasement of the English language. (There are so many attacks on the dignity of the English language that every such Jeremiad is a drop in the bucket. But we have to try.)
These two terms are "bromance" and "mancrush." If you regard yourself as even culturally conservative, much less politically conservative, don't use these words.