What’s Wrong with the World

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June 2015 Archives

June 2, 2015

Consent: The god without a reason

Occasionally I witness liberals giving their views on sex education for the young and on what a sexually healthy upbringing looks like for young people.

Here is what I'm hearing: Pleasure is everything, and so is consent. As long as kids are taught to respect the need for consent, anything goes. Oh, and we aren't (aren'taren'taren't) promoting sexual activity for minors. We're just giving facts.

The latter part of this is so self-deceived and stupid that I simply don't have the time to debate it. The web sites and "educational" materials defended by the left (Planned Parenthood, GLSEN, etc.) are so blatantly promoting sex to young people as fun, fun, fun that any pretense to the contrary is risible. And the pattern continues in college, with upbeat, sexually explicit presentations at freshman orientation, Sex Week at Yale, and so on and so forth. This is hedonism in pretty much its purest form.

Yet, in the "progressive" view, it is social conservatives who don't understand consent. We sexual traditionalists are allegedly the ones teaching (by commission or omission) that consent isn't important. They are the only bastion of the importance of consent. Only in the hedonism+consent equation, they imply, does consent come into its own.

This is dangerously false.

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Bob Dylan at the Fox Theatre


In late April, Bob Dylan, backed by an expert band, supplied an attentive audience at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre with warm, bluesy, bracing musical entertainment, mostly comprised of songs he has written over the last decade.

Even the older tunes, from the 60s and 70s, like “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” were performed in modern rearrangement, suitable to the piano-guided blues that characterizes his contemporary sound.

This style will strike those who know only his fifty-year-old protest songs very noticeably. The folk balladeer of antiquity does not much resemble the craggy bluesman of today.

At the Fox in Atlanta, the idle listener who thought instinctively of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” would not immediately recognize these gentle, rhythmic numbers, but this sound has defined Bob Dylan since before the turn of the millennium.

The crowd, enthusiastic but well-behaved (I only smelled pot twice and no one was falling-down-drunk as far as I could tell), witnessed a Dylan who never once picked up a guitar, preferring instead to stand alone, center-stage, minimal of gesture or antic; or to seat himself at a splendid grand piano, with a bust of Mozart overlooking. His occasional harmonica interludes rang with crystal clarity against Charlie Sexton’s steady guitar, and elicited some of the loudest cheers.

The Fox Theatre’s acoustics are excellent. Drummer George Receli used brushes rather than standard sticks, and bassist Tony Garnier favored the stand-up bass: these and other arrangement decisions preserved a certain tranquility to the concert. Dylan’s gravelly vocals were rarely indecipherable, and seldom did the guitar licks shock the ears.

So there was an intimacy and a vulnerability to this show: We came to see the troubadour, the old bluesman and the voice of Appalachia-to-the-Rockies American music, a proficient and legendary performer but also an aged man, worn by the world and its sin.

Dylan himself was sharply dressed, alert, intense, and professional. He spoke between songs only once or twice, a “Thank you” or a “We’ll be right back.” He shuffled like a grandfather but with dispatch. The stage lighting and transitions were ably carried off. Little about this show suggested ostentation or lavishness.

Moreover, this tour’s stable setlist means that all the principals are, rhythmically and theatrically, well-practiced and agile. It was, on the whole, an accomplished performance.

The troubadour’s determination to strum no guitar, and stand alone at the mic, while unexpected, proved inspired. Leave that workman’s business to the old pros he’s hired. Bob Dylan arrives to entertain and illumine. We all know he can play a mean guitar and write brilliantly to even meaner ones, so why tax a 73-year-old with task of lead or rhythm guitar?

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June 3, 2015

News From The Future, Bruce Jenner Edition: June 30, 2021

Chicago, Illinois -- Body-image activists gained another edge in their quest for acceptance with the election of Joanna Mecklen of Schaumberg, Illinois, as the first altbody-light (ABL) member of Congress.

"I'm here to serve the people of Illinois, and hopefully to inspire fellow altbody citizens to new heights," they said from their wheelchair. "We're all in this together!"

Tiffany Branewave of Chicago was ecstatic. "I know what they've been through. To see them at this moment, in their triumph... It's indescribable."

Ms Mecklen, like Ms Branewave and many others, lived most of their life under a regime of bigotry against people with varied body images that permeated society, religion, and even the medical literature. It wasn't until the classifications of "anorexic" and "bulimic" were removed from the DSM-VII manual of mental disorders in 2019 that they were finally able to pursue the body images they desired. 

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June 4, 2015


Where have I been? It turns out the phenomenon I pointed out in "It's Not My Fault I React Badly to Accusations of Racism" has a name of relatively recent derivation, Kafkatrapping. I even named Kafka and The Trial in the comments of the post, and that's what kafkatrapping's name comes from. It's well worth reading the page.

June 6, 2015

And now for something completely different

We interrupt our usual programming of talking about what's wrong with the world to bring readers and colleagues a momentary opportunity to engage in J.R.R. Tolkien geekery. I have recently been re-reading portions of LOTR, and last night I was struck by the following question:

How does Gollum follow the company of the ring out of Moria?

Here's the problem:

Continue reading "And now for something completely different" »

June 8, 2015

Vincent Lambert to be killed by dehydration

Just over a year ago I posted about the Vincent Lambert case when things were looking hopeful.

It seems that I have dropped the ball somewhat in the meanwhile. As near as I can figure out, the people who want him dead appealed to a higher court in France, which reversed the lower ruling and concluded that he should be dehydrated to death. His parents appealed to the Court of Human Rights, which fulfilled its glorious role as "the conscience of Europe" by...ruling that he should be dehydrated to death.

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June 9, 2015

Why Christianity is Growing Almost Everywhere

Christians in Europe and North America may be tempted to discouragement from recent cultural and social developments. Traditional Christian sexual mores are under assault like never before, headlined by the recent passage of a same-sex marriage bill in Ireland and the spectacle of Bruce Jenner undergoing “gender reassignment” surgery. Surveys indicate that the number of those who do not identify with a particular religion (“nones”) is on the rise while the number of self-identified Christians is dwindling. The news isn’t all bad for conservatives; those same surveys indicate that conservative churches are still growing numerically, albeit more slowly than the population. Mainline churches, on the other hand, are losing both in terms of raw membership and as a percentage of the population. For conservatives the answer is painfully obvious: why would someone identify with a church which is no different from the surrounding culture? There are other ways to do this that don’t require giving up one’s Sunday morning and Wednesday evening.

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June 13, 2015

A little Colin Hemer to brighten your day

Just today I ran across this wonderful quotation from Colin Hemer in his discussion of the "we" passages in Acts:

Further, it would seem Luke's experience [of the voyage] was not that of expert nautical knowledge. The documents confirm the impression of a careful observer recording what happened, describing in layman's terms the measures taken by the crew for the ship's safety, without necessarily understanding the rationale of theif actions, except as he made it his business to ask for information. He appreciated their obsessive fear of the Syrtes, the obvious peril of being driven on a rocky lee-shore. He is not explicit about the peril of the ship breaking up at sea before they could reach the neighbourhood of land at all, but this fear is evident in the undergirding at the earliest possibility at Cauda and probably implicit in the unspecified desperation of Acts 27:20, when their ignorance of their position combined with the realization that the ship was at the point of breaking and foundering at sea. They were probably well enough able to estimate their likely line of drift, to conclude that they had already missed their only likely salvation in a landfall on Sicily. But matters like these are not stressed interpretively by Luke. They are implicit in his account of the scene, and yet also fruitful in the light they shed on the explanation of other details. In a similar way, the cumulative indications of the use of Latin or hybrid nautical terms corroborate the likelihood, at first unexpected in a ship of Greek Alexandria, that the seamen's speech was mainly Latin, and that Luke had a Latin-speaking informant or informants. Yet this in turn is the more easily explicable in a ship of the imperial service which may have numbered many Italians, and some Romans on official business, among its ship's company. The actual soundings, too, of the course of a ship approaching St. Paul's Bay in Malta from the east suit the precise locations where, according to Smith, they must first have become aware of the coastal surf and then of the rocks ahead.

The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, p. 332.

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June 14, 2015

New number of The Christendom Review

In the latest issue of The Christendom Review I write at some length about Burke's supreme statesmanship, his consistency as a thinker, and his hard gritty work to changes men's minds.

His public utterances and letters are a treasury of the English language, but to understand the full lineaments of his statesmanship, we are obliged to reconstruct what he said and did outside the public record. Consider the Indian reform that concentrated his exertions for nearly a decade. We can say with confidence that the spring for the Warren Hastings Impeachment, long before Burke began the immense public effort of the trial itself, was a work of private persuasion. He had to rally a party around him.

Once he discovered the corruption and despotism prevalent in British India, under Governor General Warren Hastings, he went to work, first privately amongst his party, then publicly before the nation, to expose and reform it. He built an alliance for the ages: That intense Irishman turned the whole Whig coalition, ordinarily quite favorably disposed toward property and commerce, against the East India Company, a chartered establishment of commercial property; and then he took on the British imperial monarchy by the force of this coalition. The Crown had to cajole and buy the House of Lords in order to insure an acquittal for Hastings.

But parliamentary oppositions were here to stay. And that is no small thing.

Dissent organized within the integrity of the state but with contrary political goals and interests to the ruling party — this would be a new establishment in the political affairs of men. One of Burke’s lasting achievements, then, was the principle of patriotic partisanship: private party association rising to the dignity of the Loyal Opposition. The final integration of this Anglo-American principle would have to wait until the American Election of 1800 ended with Jefferson proclaiming “we are all Federalists, we are all Republicans,” but Burke was its earliest great vindicator. He “was the first to argue” — in the shrewd summation of Harvey Mansfield — “that principled behavior in politicians must inevitably be partisan, and that partisanship is not only occasionally necessary in emergencies but useful and respectable in the ordinary working of the constitution.” This was a new thing upon the earth, and the fact that we all take it for granted now is a measure of Burke’s genius.

Read on.

This new issue also features an excellent essay by Beth Impson and a wide variety of poetry.

[By the way, if you think the sparse layout of the TCR's website (not unlike our own here at What's Wrong with the World), is out-of-step with the times, I can only reply that it's a heck of a lot better than fashionable websites that launch annoying auto-videos or incorrigible pop-up ads for crankish products.]

Stand Together as Men

My strong feeling is that the solidarity of Christian denominations is an absolute necessity in our age. Protestants who can’t be bothered to stand for the liberty of Catholic schools might as well sign the amicus brief for gay marriage which proposes to extinguish religious liberty in America; likewise Catholics whose arrogance precludes raising a finger to defend dirty redneck or Latino Pentecostals can, while kindly pounding sand, go ahead and sign a loyalty oath to Pope Tony Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts his red-hatted deputy.

There just isn’t enough room for maneuver anymore. The elite secular class of America is committed to crushing all Christian dissent on certain points of fashionable principle. That they have no actual principles is itself a point of principle.

A careful read of my old friend Dan McLaughlin’s superb series on gay marriage will demonstrate the situation in its full lineaments.

Having been raised in an ecumenical home, I feel these petty preachments of parochialism most keenly. Let us stand together as men. The laughter of Mordor is our only reward when we quarrel.

June 15, 2015

News from the Future, Racial Identity Edition

NYU Professor On Spokane NAACP Controversy: Some People Can Be Trans-Racial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — The president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP is being accused of falsely portraying herself as a black woman, but an NYU professor said some people can, in fact, identify with a race other than their own.

As CBS2’s Weijia Jiang reported Friday night, Rachel Dolezal was asked in an interview if she was African-American, and was clearly taken aback as she answered, with the remark, “I don’t understand the question.”

In a different interview, with Spokane CBS affiliate KREM-TV, she said: “Actually, I don’t like the term African-American; I prefer black. So, if asked, I would say, yes, I consider myself to be black.”

But her biological parents say that is not true. Her birth certificate lists her parents as Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, who said their daughter has been estranged from their family and has been misrepresenting herself.

“Our daughter is primarily German and Czech and of European descent,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. “She’s white.”

The couple said their daughter is pretending to be someone she’s not, CBS News reported.

“Rachel has wanted to be somebody she’s not. She’s chosen not to just be herself but to represent herself as an African-American woman or a biracial person,” Ruthanne said.

But NYU sociology professor Ann Morning told CBS2’s Jiang that just like some people are transgender, others may be trans-racial – identifying more with a race other than their own.

Dolezal grew up with four adopted black siblings, and was briefly married to a black man.
“We’re getting more and more used to the idea that people’s racial affiliation and identity and sense of belonging can change, or can vary, with different circumstances,” Morning said.

Dolezal said the only ones questioning her identity are Larry and Ruthanne.

“I don’t give two (expletive) what they think,” Dolezal said.

“It’s more important for me to clarify that with the black community and my executive board than with people who don’t understand,” she said.

In the past, Dolezal has identified herself as a mix of black, white and Native American. She dismisses the controversy as little more than an ugly byproduct of family dysfunction, CBS News reported.

In a statement, the NAACP said, “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.” The organization said it stands behind her.


Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I grabbed from the wrong file. This is two verbatim excerpts of a CBS News article from June 12, 2015, "NYU Professor On Spokane NAACP Controversy: Some People Can Be Trans-Racial." My apologies. Sometimes it's hard to tell the reductio ad absurdams I'm inventing from the ones that are actually happening.

"Dumb as a Stump" Award

Two policemen in Overton, Texas are hereby nominated for the "Dumb as a Stump" Award, for people in public doing the dumbest things. The "code enforcement officer" and the police chief, working together, became even dumber than either one individually, though it was a close-run thing.

In this case, they shut down a lemonade stand being run by 2 girls, ages 7 and 8. Their offence? Health code violations, of course: potential spoilage in the sun requires special handling, you know.

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June 18, 2015

Surrogacy is evil

Perhaps nowhere is the proverb "By their fruits ye shall know them" more borne out than in the area of "assisted reproduction" and surrogacy. It is a general area where I myself at one time thought it was possible to take a pro-life position as long as one always acknowledged the humanity of the child and never went along with deliberate destruction of unborn children from the embryonic stage onwards.

But after further thought I eventually came to the conclusion that deliberately conceiving children in laboratories or in any manner outside of marriage, even asexually, is intrinsically wrong. The fruits of assisted reproduction and surrogacy were part of what got me to take a second look, though the final conclusion is supported philosophically.

Here is one of those evil fruits.

Continue reading "Surrogacy is evil" »

June 21, 2015

Out of the heart

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Matthew 15:19

Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

I recently read about an Internet atheist who has said something to this effect: "I don't think it's really wrong for me to lust and hate. Those are just mental attitudes, and I can control them."

In pondering what, if anything, to say about Dylan Roof's vile murders in Charleston recently, that particular bit of pernicious foolishness from the atheist seemed relevant. Of course, the atheist was saying it deliberately in contradiction to the words of Scripture and of Jesus Christ. Nah, never mind all that "keep thy heart with all diligence" stuff. Never mind "He that hates his brother is a murderer." Never mind "Out of the heart come murders." I can harbor whatever thoughts and attitudes I want, because they're "just thoughts" and I can control them and not act on them.

Dylan Roof didn't keep his heart, and murder came out of it. (South Carolina does have the death penalty, and he deserves it and ought to receive it, though it seems that South Carolina's actual use of the death penalty is currently tied up in lethal injection red tape.)

His evil leads me to reflect a little bit on web sites, obsessions, and keeping one's heart.

Continue reading "Out of the heart" »

June 22, 2015

Let It Fly

[Note that I have modified my position. See this comment.]

Was the Confederacy exclusively about slavery? Did the South have nothing to be proud of before they were defeated by the North?

Of course not. I know plenty of Southerners, some of whom love the Confederate flag, and not one of them approves of slavery. They are proud of the South without being proud of slavery. Duh.

Yet that's how the latest clamor to take down the Confederate flag makes things sound. The clamor is loudest from the same people who insist that nobody is allowed to tell anyone else who they are, what they represent, what gender they are, or anything else that defines them. They now insist on telling Southerners that their symbol represents one thing, and one thing only, as if they have the right.

By those standards, those same people should insist that we stop flying the American flag. No country can be proud of its heritage.

And that's ridiculous, so to Hell with them.

Let it fly.

June 23, 2015

Yes, it's murder

Words almost failed me when I read this story, but pretty quickly I found some words.

Short version: Elderly woman has a fall and is paralyzed and also in a lot of pain. (Yes, we have a problem with pain management in our medical system.) She keeps saying she wants to die. Her also elderly husband gets a gun, loads the gun, kisses her one last time while she's asleep in the hospital, and shoots her dead. He also tries to kill himself, but the gun jams, so he's still alive. After long pondering, the prosecutor declines to prosecute (we're not talking recommending mercy upon conviction but declining to prosecute altogether) and issues an ethically and legally incoherent statement saying that the man isn't a murderer and that's why he isn't prosecuting but that the refusal to prosecute is in no way an endorsement of assisted suicide.

This is in Nevada, by the way. Not in Belgium, Switzerland, or even England.

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June 25, 2015

I Thought It Was Only Crazy Islamists That Wanted to Destroy Their Heritage?

Apparently, now that the left and the right have joined forces to start removing Confederate flags from public display, some commenters have started suggesting we need to go after street signs and statues next! This is basically insane. As bad as the Confederacy was (and of course slavery was even worse), given its integral role in American history, it just does not merit such scorn. And many of their leaders and heroes were America's leaders and heroes as well.

In thinking about what I want to say in response to my fellow statue-destroying citizens, I realized I couldn't say anything more original than Civil War veteran Charles Francis Adams Jr., the great-grandson of United States President John Adams, and the grandson of president John Quincy Adams. (His father was not slouch either -- lawyer, writer, politician, and diplomat (Lincoln’s foreign minister in London and key to helping keep Great Britain neutral during the war). He gave a famous speech (famous for the times) in 1902 to the Phi Beta Kappa society of the University of Chicago called "Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?" The whole speech is excellent and I recommend you all check it out -- it seems like everything old is new again. Here is how that speech starts:

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June 26, 2015

Guest post: A eulogy for free will

It is with pleasure that What's Wrong With the World presents a guest post by Peter Johnson of the Acton Institute. (Bio at the end of article.)

(Intro. by LM.) This essay is especially timely in light of the breaking news that the SCOTUS has given homosexual "marriage" its own Roe v. Wade, another vast abuse of the Constitution to further the ends of the "Church of Sexual Liberation" represented by Fr. Fatalism. There is no question that today's decision will further the demise of Free Will in America, both by the suppression of the freedom of those who dissent from the Church of Sexual Liberation and by the further enslavement of men, women, and even children to the passions and fads represented by that Church.

Our thanks to Mr. Johnson for providing us with this essay at such a timely moment.

Free Will: A Eulogy

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Free Will. I am Father Fatalism, pastor of the St. Sanger's Sexual Liberation Church here in New York City.

Although it had been many decades since Free Will set foot in my church, I maintained a close relationship with him and have come to deeply admire his idealism. His optimism never faded, even as he suffered greatly in his last years.

I met Free Will many years ago. He was an old man when I met him—more than 3,000 years old—a crotchety, stubborn guy who still spoke with a Greek accent so thick that one might think he had only recently left the land of his birth.

Continue reading "Guest post: A eulogy for free will" »

In other news...

square circles have been ruled to be precisely equivalent to circular ones.

June 29, 2015

Sharp, Bitter Irony

Some people might wonder, at one time or another, how a lawyer like Anthony Kennedy could be appointed to the Supreme Court by a president like Reagan. Though it was, surely, an accident of monumental proportions, there were some extenuating circumstances. He did, at times, look like a conservative.

For example, Anthony Kennedy, in 1986, wrote this passage:

One can conclude that certain essential, or fundamental, rights should exist in any just society. It does not follow that each of those essential rights is one that we as judges can enforce under the written Constitution. The Due Process Clause is not a guarantee of every right that should inhere in an ideal system.

The fact that the 1986 Kennedy himself soundly defeats the stance of the 2015 Kennedy (with vastly greater cogency) is too rich an irony to pass up. And Justice Roberts refuses to pass up the dig: the quote is in his dissent, with attribution, of course.

This is an invitation to all our readers to search through the opinions and dissent for other zingers, bon mots, and tasty tidbits. Post them so we can all enjoy!

News from the Future, O-boy-did-we-fall-for-it Edition

"Remember these? Words. They have meaning."
Reuters, June 26, 2023 -- Eight years ago to the day, Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, setting up legal precedents that ensured a vast expansion of marriage rights in the United States. Six years ago, Conservative Footsoldiers of Doom v. Tolerance Against Haters overturned the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, enabling Congress and the states to establish campaign fundraising and spending rules with an eye toward preventing billionaires and corporations from buying elections.

Today, the Supreme Court handed down a 7-2 decision in Burgermeister v. Hodgepodge that relied on those precedents to eliminate political donations on behalf of families.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the majority, highlighting the corporate nature of family and the powerful necessity to keep corporations from interfering with elections.

Continue reading "News from the Future, O-boy-did-we-fall-for-it Edition" »