Category Archives: Constitutionalism

Remembering 9/10/2001

Yes, you read that right.

Last night, I was in the ER.  I was in what I call “Marfan limbo”: I felt kind of like I did before my aortic dissection: I’ve been very active lately, I’ve had a lot of stress, my blood pressure has been erratic, and I feel a lot of pressure and pain in my arteries (a concept which many doctors claim is “Impossible,” even though it’s the experience of many people I’ve talked to either with Marfan syndrome or atherosclerosis).  Before I digress into a complaint about ERs, the point is I came to the hospital around 7 PM and got into a room at 11.   I went to CT at 12:15 AM and noticed that the clock in my room said 2:15, so I wondered if it was broken or just off by 2 hours.  It still said 2:15 when I left the hospital at 1:45.  So it wasn’t “off by two hours”; it was “off, period,” thus illustrating the adage that a “stopped clock is right twice a day.”

An illustration of the adage in application happened 17 years ago.
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled Gulf War veteran and atheist, used a truck full of fertilizer to commit what at the time was the deadliest and most destructive act of terrorism on US soil in history.
On June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed, and given St. John Paul II’s guidelines for the proper use of the death penalty, his execution could have been considered justified.  At that point in my life, I was a young husband with a wife and unborn daughter, trying to work on my MA thesis and trying desperately to find a full time job so my wife could be a stay at home mother as she wanted.
We had a stack of Catholic periodicals I hadn’t had time to read yet.

On September 10, 2001, I was doing both–working on my thesis and catching up on my periodicals.  I read two things which a day later had great significance and showed me as always that God tends to guide my reading where He wants and when He wants me to know things.

C. S. Lewis’s fictional and allegorical books are sometimes considered novelizations of his nonfiction-he himself makes that point specifically in some cases, such as his association of That Hideous Strength with The Abolition of Man.

So in preparation for my thesis on Till We Have Faces, I was rereading The Four Loves and happened to be reading the part about patriotism.  Therein, Lewis (who was ironically pro-death penalty and one of the few pro-death penalty Christian writers that influenced me in my early reading) talks about how “Just War Theory” and Self-defense follow parallel principles.   He says that if someone invades your home and threatens you, robs you or assaults you, you have the right to fight back, but you do not have the right to chase the invader back to his home and kill him.  That’s vigilantism, not self-defense.  Thus, Lewis says, just war has to be defensive, not retaliatory.

Then I picked up a stack of slightly old diocesan newspapers and scanned for articles that might still have relevance.  I hit upon the USCCB’s statement about the then-upcoming execution of McVeigh.  I thought of the broken clock metaphor when I read the statement, presented by Roger Mahony, who argued that violence only perpetuates violence.  They warned that worse terrorism might result from McVeigh’s execution.

Three months to the day after McVeigh was executed, those words proved prophetic, as an even deadlier and more destructive act of terrorism was perpetrated by men with utility knives on commercial airlines.

These men had come into the country “legally” on student visas but stayed after those visas were expired.  Like McVeigh, the disgruntled Gulf War veteran, they were supposedly motivated by their anger at the United States’ imperialism in the Middle East.  I thought at the time how this event not only fulfilled that warning by the Catholic bishops–it also validated every warning that Patrick “I like what he has to say but I don’t think he can win so I’m not voting for him” Buchanan had made during his bids for the presidency, how if Republicans had nominated Buchanan instead of “likely to win” incumbent Bush in 1992, or possibly even in 2000, that 9/11 might not have happened because Buchanan would have tightened immigration policy, and brought our troops back to guard our own country instead of oil companies’ interests.

A week or two before, we went to a Sunday Mass where the priest quoted the famous Billy Graham quip that if God didn’t punish America, He owed an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Yet know this, that the kingdom of God is at hand. [12] I say to you, it shall be more tolerable at that day for Sodom, than for that city. [13] Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida. For if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the mighty works that have been wrought in you, they would have done penance long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. [14] But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgement, than for you. [15] And thou, Capharnaum, which art exalted unto heaven, thou shalt be thrust down to hell.” (Luke 10:11-15, Douay).

For about a week, people flooded into churches.  People prayed.  It seemed like America was having its Ninevah moment.  Then, suddenly, it became “They hate us because of our freedom.”
Suddenly, we were being told, “Islam means ‘peace,'” even though I was always taught before that–by Muslims–that “Islam means ‘submission.'”  We were being told that it was wrong to see God’s justice in the “tragedy,” that the victims were “innocent” (even though there has only been one innocent victim in history).  Rather than doing things that might have actually prevented something like 9/11 from happening again, like tightening our immigration policies and bringing our troops back to our country to defend our own borders, we got involved in a perpetual “War on Terror” that has just perpetuated the cycle of violence even further, and we’re told that if one criticizes this cycle of violence, if one criticizes the imperialism of it, one is “dishonoring the Troops.”

Socrates said it is better to suffer wrong than to do it.

A common theme of many Marian apparitions–which have very accurately warned of the times in which we live–is that our only weapons should be the Rosary and the Cross.

Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

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Can we talk about *Facts* and guns?

Until the last 48 hours, I considered myself a “moderate” on gun control.  I believe in “turning the other cheek,” etc., though realize sometimes physical self defense is necessary.
Let’s set aside the theories a second and talk numbers;
https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6345a10.htm

http://www.businessinsider.com/world-suicide-rate-map-2014-4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

I’ve heard so many conflicting claims from both “sides” about gun laws, “gun violence,” where murder is worse, etc., and so I took some time to study the actual numbers for myself.

In short, both “sides” are slightly off in their rhetoric:
1) States with stricter gun laws have less “gun violence” or “gun related deaths” per capita.
2) States with stricter gun laws have *more* murders per capita.

For example, DC has approximately twice as many murders as “gun deaths.”  On the other hand, SC and GA have twice as many gun deaths as murders.

Accidental causes are about 1.5% of gun deaths.

The vast majority are suicides.  Looking at the suicide rate (above), it seems to correlate more to being lower in states with more cities and thus more mental health facilities.

Overall, the US suicide rate is in the lower-middle range worldwide.  Most states’ rates are about equal.  So while guns are the preferred means in states with more guns, those in states with stricter gun laws choose other methods.

So this idea that people are going around killing each other simply because guns are available is not supported by the facts.

 

On Football, the First Amendment and the Third Commandment

A couple years ago, we were ironically at McDonald’s on a Sunday morning, in a picking grain on the sabbath capacity, and while we were waiting, and whichever news channel was on (why must restaurants ruin people’s digestion with “news”? I wish they’d just play Boomerang or something that all ages could enjoy without stress or ideology), the anchoress said, “It’s Sunday, and that means Americans’ thoughts turn to football!”
It made me sad that that statement is so true: Americans’ thoughts on Sunday don’t turn to God.  They turn to football, or golf, or Sunday brunch or sleeping in or going to the movies.

In the City, we need no bells:
Let them waken the suburbs.
I journeyed to the suburbs, and there I was told:
We toil for six days, on the seventh we must motor
To Hindhead, or Maidenhead.
If the weather is foul we stay at home and read the papers.
In industrial districts, there I was told
Of economic laws.
In the pleasant countryside, there it seemed
That the country now is only fit for picnics.
And the Church does not seem to be wanted
In country or in suburbs; and in the town
Only for important weddings.

[….]

And the wind shall say: “Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls.” (T. S. Eliot, Choruses from ‘The Rock’)

This whole NFL/National Anthem thing is thus a bit confusing to me:
1) I hate professional sports, football in particular, both in that I don’t see the point of watching sports and get annoyed when my shows are preempted by sports, but also in that I think it involves way too much money and way too much physical risk.  So the idea of having people lash out against the NFL and hopefully free up Sundays and holidays a bit for other activities makes me kind of hopeful.
2) In addition, though I’m conflicted when it comes to prerecorded TV or going to a restaurant, Western culture is far less respectful of the Lord’s Day today than it was when Eliot wrote those words over 80 years ago.
We’ve come a long way since Eric Lidell in the 1924 Olympics.  Now, we have players who are “controversial” for openly praying during sporting events, and people who schedule their church attendance around football praise him while getting mad at the “irreverence” shown by players who protest the performing of the “National Anthem.”

3) What of the Anthem itself?

Everybody knows the first verse, but here’s verse 3, the source of the controversy:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

How is it the “land of the free and the home of the brave” if we’re going to hunt down and kill runaway slaves? (And yes I know the historical context was the slaves fighting on the side of the British during the War of 1812).

Long before anyone ever hear of Colin Kaepernick, Ray Charles and others were asking for the “Star Spangled Banner” to be replaced with something like “America the Beautiful” or “God Bless America.”  Besides, it’s also a notoriously difficult song to sing.

So it’s not some sudden new thing that African Americans find the “Star Spangled Banner” offensive, and I think they’re justified in doing so.  Given that “hirelings” would have meant Irish and German Catholics, anyway, I’m inclined to more than sympathize with their objections.

4) Why do we *have* a National Anthem?
Because in 1931, the news circulated that the City Council of Erie, Pennsylvania, was so left-wing they were singing the “Internationale” at their meetings.  The story “went viral,” as we now say, and the Star Spangled Banner was adopted as a National Anthem as a move against Socialism (so for that reason I’m inclined to agree with it).

5) OTOH, why do we put such emphasis on the flag?
In that case, it’s almost the opposite: in the late 1800s, concerned about rising immigration from Ireland and Eastern and Southern Europe, and trying to reunite the country after the Civil War, there was an alliance of Socialists and Protestants who pushed for US nationalism.  They wanted to downplay the Constitution to downplay both Federalism and the First Amendment, so they wrote and promoted the Pledge and veneration of the Flag as a new approach to unifying the country.
All these historical contexts validate another longstanding instinct of mine, which is that if we are to truly honor our military, we should honor the Constitution they vow to uphold, and that includes not forcing people to engage in particular speech or expression with which they disagree. Let’s recall that the early Christians’ refusal to swear an oath to Caesar was one of the major reasons they were persecuted.

6) Then there’s the “taking the knee” thing.  In one of those mind-numbing twists of human behavior, the players are genuflecting because, as Americans, they see subservience as a bad thing, so they are performing a gesture they perceive as a repulsive gesture of subservience to protest a song referring to hunting down and killing their enslaved ancestors.

Why now?  Well, let’s see, it’s only been since 2009 that NFL players have been officially required to stand on the field for the Anthem,  although it was customary before that.  And hmm, why, with more and more attention being paid to African American males, whether legitimate suspects or completely innocent, being shot in the back, might African American males in positions of influence might want to draw attention to a song about killing fleeing “slaves”?

7) What of the First Amendment?  A popular notion-depending upon whose side is at the center of the First Amendment issue in question–is that the First Amendment only applies to the Federal government and not to one’s employment status.  To a certain extent, I’d agree. But this also presumes people have a choice about their employment status.  It is one thing to look at an athlete who makes millions of dollars for playing a game or an actor who gets millions of dollars to play pretend and say, “You are paid to entertain me, and I am not entertained by your behavior. So I am not going to buy your product.”
A few years ago, we said of the “wedding cake” controversy, “What if Nazis wanted a liberal baker to make a cake?”  Well, now liberals are trying to get actual Nazis who get photographed at rallies fired from their jobs.  They’re refusing to perform for Trump or members of his administration, flat out telling Trump supporters they don’t want their business, etc.
If we don’t want someone like Tim Tebow fired for genuflecting in prayer, why do we want someone like Colin Kaepernick fire for genuflecting in protest?
There is a difference between telling a business, “I’m not going to give you business because I disagree with you,” or “I’m going to support your business because I agree with you,” and suing the business or asking the government to fine the business for some perceived “civil rights violation.”

8) Still, should the first Amendment protect employees’ speech?  Before disability, I could accept that, as an employee, and as someone trying to feed my family, I should refrain from certain kinds of speech.  But that seems different than requiring an employee to actively violate his or her conscience.  What about the right to pray or read the Bible in one’s cubicle?  To have political or religious signage on one’s vehicle?  What about after-hours?  There’s a list that circulates the Internet of requirements for teachers 100 years ago, and they were expected to adhere to various behavioral standards even in their off hours that today we might consider draconian, yet many contemporary contracts or “ethics courses” say the same.  I worked for employers who said, for example, that their “harassment policy” extended to one’s private life. That if an employee was out in public, and a coworker or client overheard an offensive conversation, the employee could still potentially be sued or fired for it!

9) Lastly, does protesting a requirement as a civilian, in a country that is supposedly founded on freedom of speech, to sing a particular song or say a particular pledge or revere a flag honor or dishonor the troops who’ve sacrificed and died to uphold the Constitution?  I’d argue that mandatory expression is a greater dishonor to the troops.

DACA and AL: if you do it long enough it’s OK

First, as I’ve said many times, I think the GOP should propose a law with a path for citizenship for illegal aliens and personhood/citizenship for the unborn.

Second, usual caveat that “I voted for Castle,” and I have no particular opinion of Steven Bannon, one way or the other.

However, I would like to present a few scenarios for your consideration:
1) A school says “We think plagiarism is bad.  A first offense is a failure of the assignment.  A second offense is a failure of the course.  A third offense is expulsion.  Oh, but if you’ve been plagiarizing for 4 years of school, and we find out a month before graduation, you’ll be allowed to graduate with those who have been working hard.”
2) A man loses his job.  He decides that applying for disability/unemployment, Medicaid, etc., is too difficult and/or demeaning and would require too  long a wait so he starts stealing for a living (i.e., Fun with Dick and Jane).  He steals for years.  His children grow up learning to steal with him.  He gets caught after years of stealing.  Do we let him off because he’s been doing it so long and because his children are involved?
3) A family jump the fence of a rich Hollywood celebrity or a bishop and declare themselves residents of his home.  Technically, per Catholic Social Teaching, there is a greater obligation for the celebrity or the bishop to share his residence than for a country to allow open immigration–and in the latter case, try emigrating to the Vatican and see how that works out.

This is the struggle I have with the concept of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and their families.  I used to take a stronger pro- stance, but then legal immigrants or second/third generation Mexican-Americans whose relatives came here illegally convinced me that it’s an injustice to those who work hard to come here.

And the same is true of the controversy around Amoris Laetitiae: if you point out it’s a double insult to the victims of adultery who already suffer from “no fault” divorce and rubber-stamp annulments.  It’s like saying, “If you’ve sinned long enough, you’re OK,” on this narrow group of sins, but would the same reasoning apply to a serial killer or a racist or a thief?

In the current discussion, there are three issues at play:
1) How best to handle illegal immigration (and this is far too complex an issue, morally or legally). What I do know is that arguments from emotion or “justice” work both ways, and I tend to focus on the injustice towards those who are struggling or have struggled to follow the US’s existing laws that are already more generous than most countries’s immigration laws. I see this as basically the equivalent of “plagiarism is bad but if you’ve been plagiarizing all through school and just got caught right before graduation we won’t expel you.” Just as the “justice” and “mercy” of AL is unmerciful towards the victims of adultery and the children of the first marriage. At the same time, aspects of US law regarding refugees are inconsistent and purely political.
2) Whether the president has the right to legislate via Executive Order, and he doesn’t. Outside of a proper Catholic monarchy, the only way to even remotely protect against corruption and dictatorship is a precisely worded Constitution implemented literally (this is a principle Aristotle understood two and a half millennia ago). Dictators always act in what they think is “justice.”
3) Whether the bishops have “moral authority” to be expressing “moral outrage” over one particular aspect of US immigration policy, particularly on the grounds of a supposed absolute obligation to enforce positive Scriptural law in a particular way. If that is the case, if refusal to “welcome the stranger” regardless of the circumstance is a moral duty, then they should be leading by personal example. Saying that it’s wrong to hop the bishop’s wall and declare yourself a resident of his palace but it’s right to hop the border and declare yourself a resident of another country is hypocrisy.

 

On Catholics using “Big Words”

If you listen to the MSM, you might have heard how those big meanies at Russia supposedly leaked emails to make poor innocent Hillary Clinton look bad, or how a leaked video of Donald Trump engaging in admittedly repulsive talk should destroy his campaign.
If you get your news on TV, you probably missed that among the latest “dump” of Clinton-related emails by Wikileaks are comments about setting up various front groups to undermine the “backwards” Catholic Church (as C. S. Lewis would say, if you’ve strayed off course from your goal, “backwards” is “progress”), proving that groups like “Catholics United for the Common Good” and other supposedly “moderate” groups that have sprung up in the past decade or so are, as I and others have argued, secular liberal front groups.

Many have asked why Julian Assange isn’t publishing much about Trump.  Well, the big batch that was released this weekend and covered up by discussion of which members of which parties engage in worse violations of the second, sixth and ninth Commandments, also included evidence that another “conspiracy theory” was true: that the Clinton Campaign was behind the Trump campaign all along, to avoid someone like Rand Paul or Marco Rubio getting the nomination.

A third headline that you may have missed if you get your news from Clinton News Network, Nothing But Clinton, All ‘Bout Clinton or Clinton Broadcasting System (the more common acronym for CBS would violate my own broadcasting rules), and the one I’d like to reply to most directly here, concerns a batch of emails between some folks named John Halpin (jhalpin@americanprogress.org), Jennifer Palmieri (JPalmieri@americanprogress.org) and John Podesta (john.podesta@gmail.com).  I’m sure these individuals’ emails are flooded, if not shut down, but I would like to reply to the following statement that’s garnered no small attention in the circles of conservative Catholicism (and, I imagine, counterweighted Trump’s obscenities for some of us  on the fence about whether to vote for Trump or a more conservative third party candidate.  Said Halpin:

[Catholic Conservatism is] an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.

Apparently, Mr. Halpin is “totally unaware” that “Christian Democracy” is not just an oxymoron but an outright contradiction.

Now, prior to the era of Donald Trump, I’d have pointed out how liberals can’t even communicate amongst themselves without resorting to rough language, but given that that is a perfectly good word abused by abusers of language, what is more of an — adulteration — of the Faith than to try and mask Socialism with Christianity and call it “Christian Democracy”, or to claim the Church has “severely backwards gender relations”?

[Catholic conservatives] can throw around “Thomistic” thought and “subsidiarity” and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.sIt’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.

Well, first off, that’s precisely what we’re talking about–how to avoid going to Hell, which should the secondary concern of every person on the planet (the primary concern being learning how to properly respond in love to the selfless gift of Christ).

Second off, for people who throw around sentences like “postmodern approaches to reevaluating paradigms of patriarchal and Eurocentric hegemonies” to accuse anyone else of using “big words” to “sound smart” would make me laugh if I were physically capable of it anymore.

Third, and most importantly, if “Thomistic” political theory is too complicated for you (for me, St. Thomas Aquinas himself, once you learn the method of properly reading a Summa is about as simple and clear as possible), and if “subsidiarity,” one of the basic principles of Catholic Social Thought, going back at least as far back as Pope Pius XI, and best summarized in the famous dictum of Lord Acton, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, is too big a word, on this, the 99th anniversary of the Sun Dancing at Fatima, I would like to offer a far simpler explanation of why I, for one don’t support Socialism, Statism, modern “gender relations” or so-called “Christian democracy”. In the words of Our Lady:

“Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated.”

“God is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Communions of reparation and for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart … In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

(See also Miraculous Medal and La Salette Apparitions)

“Three Felonies a Day,” Clintons and Irish Travelers

In 2009, an attorney named Harvey Silverglate published a book called Three Felonies a Day that became a kind of a meme or urban legend, that seems sensationalist but is really based on simple facts.  He used to have a website that summarizes his book, but I can’t find it.  First, most federal law does not include the condition of “criminal intent.
The FBI recently said that Hillary Clinton should *not* be prosecuted for “gross negligence” in exposing classified information because she didn’t know any better, yet a Naval servicement is charged with a felony for taking six photos of the inside of a submarine (and potentially going to jail when crewmembers of the same ship did the same and received internal disciplinary actions).

Second, federal law is so pervasive.  One of Silverglate’s examples is the “Honest Services” clause of the mail-and-wire fraud statute, which is so vaguely worded that anyone who calls in sick to go shopping or see a show is guilty of a felony.  Speaking of which, technically using an alias online is wire fraud.
Ever download or record something copyrighted without paying?  Pass off someone else’s work as your own?  How many times does the average person break copyright law?
What about EPA regulations?
Almost anyone involved in education has done something that violates FERPA.  Almost anyone involved in healthcare has violated HIPAA or ACA.
Then there are the stories Silverglate tells us people wandering onto federal property, not realizing it, since there’s so much of it, and being charged with traspassing or theft.

Personally, I think Silverglate’s *three* felonies a day is optimistic.

Another issue Silverglate doesn’t touch on, at least in that context, is the “witch hunt” scenario.  The New England “witch” scare that led to the Salem Trials started with a book by one of the Mathers about “witchcraft” (Catholicism) among Irish and Caribbean slaves.  Now, some “witches” were selling what we’d now call recreational drugs like marijuana and “magic mushrooms.”  Sometimes, they or other witches were the forerunners of Planned Parenthood (the only convicted witch in Virginia history was convicted of selling abortifacients and contraceptives, and pardoned centuries after her execution by Tim Kaine).  Some were practicing voodoo and other pagan religions, but whatever their reasons for being accused, those who were “guity” admitted it, and took deals by “naming names.”  The women they named were mostly innocent, but since they *were* innocent and knew nothing of “witchcraft,” they were prosecuted.

The same happens today with many federal cases, particularly the “War on Drugs”: a criminal keeps his family in the dark about his activities.  When he and his wife or roommate or whomever are arrested, he takes the deal and names his wife or roommate or whomever as knowing about it.  The innocent and ignorant person goes to jail.

And because these laws are so vaguely worded, and so expansive, anyone can be prosecuted for any reason if the government wants to.  Joe Schmoe gets fired or sent to jail for checking his work email at home, but Hillary Clinton is running for president?

Meanwhile, there’s a local story about the indictment of 20 “Irish Travelers” on 45 fraud charges.  I had first heard of Irish Travelers through their popular culture representation, and, being inclined to support an underdog, have had a hard time discerning whether the allegations are accurate.  If you’ve ever heard of “red Irish” versus “black Irish” (a rivalry once depicted on 30 Rock between fictional Jack Donaghy and non fictional Conan O’Brien), or “lact curtain Irish” or “Shanty Irish,” that’s the Travelers.  Whether they’re related to “real gypsies” is disputed.

As disdained as the Irish are in general, the Travelers in Ireland are disdained by the other Irish, as well.  Around here, I find that when non-Catholics hear I’m Catholic, they think I’m a Traveler.  When other Catholics around the state hear I’m from North Augusta, they think “Traveler.”  Ironically, Travelers drive much nicer vehicles than we do, generally dress and style their hair “expensively” (even if the follow out-of-date fashions).

On All Saints’ Day about 5 years ago, we had to drive upstate overnight because my wife had an event there for work, and one of our kids had a medical appointment.  When we went to get dinner after arriving in Greenville, we realized we’d left our only card at the McDonald’s we stopped at for lunch.  We called to cancel it, but it was too late to go to the bank in person for a withdrawl.  Finding myself, in the middle of a real life occurrence of a cliche scam, I took the kids to Mass then asked for help.  The parish business manager was the usher, and he got the pastor, who gave us the $60 I requested.  That covered a hotel room (how many parents have saved on hotel rooms by undercounting their kids?) and some vending machine food.  In the morning, I *did* go to the bank and get the cash, then came back to the church to give back the $60.

The business manager said, “Thanks for restoring my faith in humanity. Keep the money and do something special for your kids.”  He mentioned the Irish Travelers in North Augusta (I guess he thought we were Travelers), and recommended their church as a beautiful place to visit, as it had rescued the stained glass windows from an old church in Philadelphia.

It took us a while to actually visit, because we were worried about their reputation for being clandestine, reclusive, etc.  While they have a reputation for wearing fancy clothes and hairdos, and the women *do* have 60s and 80s style hair, for daily Mass and devotional services, at least, they dress pretty much like my wife and I do (hence the common impression of people, especially when I’m wearing the jacket they gave me–more on that later).  They usually wear religious t-shirts or hoodies.

Their liturgical music is Haugen-Haas, and the most orthodox publications in their vestibule are the diocesan newspaper and Catholic Worker. Otherwise, it’s the “Fishwrap,” US Catholic or Commonweal–I forget which.

OTOH Their parish has Adoration, various Novenas, Rosaries, Legion of Mary and a few other groups.  They have an outdoor shrine to the Infant of Prague.

We don’t know if the first daily Mass we went to there was something special, or they just always have a meal, but contrary to reputation, they invited us to join them after Mass for a very nice little buffet in the vestibule.  The “lace curtain” part of their reputation is of course a penchant for enjoying fancy food, fancy houses and fancy cars that makes this Carmelite rather uncomfortable.

We went that once for daily Mass in the evening.  Then in the Lent before my surgery, we went for daily Mass and Stations on Friday.  That was when I noticed the women wearing the religious hoodies and asked about them.  They offered to give me one next week, for free.  We asked for mutual prayers.  We came almost every Friday that Lent for Stations, and after a few weeks, they gave me a very nice St. Michael hoodie that I still have but sometimes feel embarrased to wear.  Once, last winter, we passed a group of men at Wal-Mart who saw my hoodie and said, “He’s not one of us.  Wonder where he got that?”

We’ve been once or twice since for Mass, and I went to Adoration a few months ago.

Seeing all the women praying in church, with their 60s style hair, with very few men there, made me feel  like I was in a mafia movie: the women in church, praying for the men who were out commiting crimes for a living (if reputation was deserved, and the truth is probably somewhere in between.

What I don’t understand, though, is how the fraud the Irish Travelers commit to get their fancy belongings is any different than the fraud committed by Hillary Clinton or anyone else who’s rich.  It’s not envy to point out that it’s extremely difficult to become extremely wealthy without commiting some sort of crime or sin.

Most of the articles focus on misrepresenting income to get Food Stamps and Medicaid, and I see comments online from African Americans–a community also stigmatized as being full of criminals and committing the same kinds of crimes–rejoicing.  It is horrible how we, as liberals put it, “Other” everyone.  It’s always “those people,” and the accusations against “those people” usually apply to “us,” so long as we’re the “good guys.”  Every villain is the hero of his own story, after all.

We hear about the Travelers getting paid to do work at people’s houses, doing a bad job, and then leaving.  I’ve experienced a lot of workers like that over the years, from licensed repairment to MDs.  If a doctor charges me $500 to tell me I’m being a hypochondriac and doesn’t even run a test, I still have to pay him, then he goes and uses my money to make the payment on his BMW.  If an Irish traveler charges me $500 to paint my house, does a cheap job that washes off in the next rainfall, and disappears, I’m out $500 that he uses to make a payment on his BMW.

I’ve read articles about previous raids and investigations that turned up nothing but some unaccounted for cash.  That actually sounded suspicious to me, like they *were* hiding something, but still, it strikes me as a witch hunt.  And as Hillary Clinton races to the White House on the backs of deleted emails, compromised National Security, dead ambassadors, dead friends, dead witnesses, dead lawyers, dead soldiers and dead babies, it seems hypocritical now for the government to prosecute anyone for any reason.

What does “The Confederate Flag” mean?

Since some evil, deranged man who shall remain nameless killed a bunch of African Americans in their church in Charleston, including Clementa Pinckney, the youngest African American elected state senator in SC history, also a minister at the church, then promoted his racist agenda draped in Confederate Battle Flags (henceforth CBF’s for simplicity), the nation is once again draped in debate over that “symbol.”

Not satisfied with the State’s switch justice, and people rallying for Christian forgiveness and peace in awe of how the folks at Mother Emmanuel AME church demonstrated their faith immediately following the catastrophe, the media and the Feds needed controversy.   So they started talking about the “Confederate Flag on the State House,” making it sound like the flag was still on the roof of the state house, as it is clear many people who initially commented thought it still was.

No, the flag was taken off the state house dome (more on that later) 15 years ago, when the aforementioned Senator Pinckney, a Democrat, then in his first term, voted in favor of taking it down from the dome and putting it in a Confederate memorial.  A memorial was also built to African American heritage (more on *that* later.

Trying to shut up the media, keep the feds out, and keep riots from happening, Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, the first minority female governor in our state’s history–whom some racist liberal on Twitter referred to as a “Dot head pretending to be white” (racism being acceptable if one is a liberal and the target is conservative, even if the racist is both racist and ignorant, since the family of Gov. Haley, an Indian-American, is Sikh, not Hindu), again showed leadership by calling for the flag’s complete removal from the state house grounds.

The media twisted this, inciting rage from Democrats who called her a phony and said it was an empty gesture, and Republicans who called her a traitor and a sell-out and a wimp.  To the latter, I would suggest reading Russell Kirk, who would have likely said something like Haley was showing herself a true conservative by letting principles guide her, not ideology.

There are many issues tied up in the Confederacy and that flag in particular, and without any particular ranking or weight, I want to point out some of the things people seem to ignore on one side or the other.

First, the complaint about removing it seems to be that it’s dishonoring the “Confederate heritage,” or history, or some such.  The official site has a virtual tour/map of the grounds and all the monuments (click here).  Of 31 monuments identified:
1 monument to fallen confederate soldiers
2 monuments to George Washington, and 1 monument to honor trees that died that were originally planted to honor Washington
1 monument to the *streets* in Columbia named for Revolutionary generals, and another monument to the generals, with a third to the liberty bell, a specific tribute to Gen. Richard Richardson, and a grave of a Revolutionary War officer who owned the land the State House was built on, and was buried there.
3 monuments to the Spanish American War
1 monument to James F. Byrnes, an SC politician and US Supreme Court Justice who was an apostate ex-Catholic and a highly anti-Catholic politician
1 monument to the 1986 time capsule
1 to Robert E Lee, specifically, and 1 *monument* to “Robert E. Lee Highway (US 1),” which has the Seal of the Confederacy on it.
1 monument to the original state house, burned by Sherman
1 “African American” Monument
1 to Wade Hampton
1 to Confederate Women
1 monument to mid-20th century SC Gov. Robert McNair
1 monument to Strom Thurmond
Markers for where the State House was shelled in the Civil War
1 monument for SC Law Enforcement Officers who fell in the line of duty
1 monument, the oldest on the grounds, to the SC Veterans of the Mexican War.
1 monument to all US Veterans from SC
1 monument to a highway itself honoring all US Veterans
1 monument to former Gov. and US Senator Benjamin Tillman
1 monument to J. Marion Sims, the “founder of gynecology,” a monster comparable to Josef Mengele who stuied women’s anatomy by experimenting on female slaves with no anesthesia, etc..

So, on the one hand, if one wants to waste the time and energy and money to complain about monuments to genuinely bad people, there are a few on the list that should take priority.  On the other hand, if one wants to complain that taking down one piece of controversial cloth will somehow detract from memorializing “Southern heritage,” I think they have that covered.  Yet again, if they want to say that the SC State House is all about the Confederacy, they have plenty of monuments to the Revolution, other wars, US veterans, and SC politicians who have had national reputations.

What about the “Confederacy”?
1) it lasted for 5 years, all of them at war.
2) Throughout the War Between the States, South Carolina called itself the “Palmetto Republic,” in spite of Pettigru’s famous comment that SC was “too small for a Republic and too large for an insane asylum.”  Many in SC did not like how Richmond was trying to make Union 2.0 and planned to re-secede if the CSA won.
3) It is admittedly difficult to separate the motive of States’ Rights from the motive of slavery,  but not impossible, and there is plenty of genuine evidence for that being exactly the position of many Confederate leaders
4) History is always about perspective, usually the winners’.  Honoring “heritage” usually means remembering the good and filtering out the bad.  What should matter is learning from history to help be more virtuous individuals, and to help build a more virtuous society.  Personally, I’d rather honor Saints than soldiers and politicians, but that’s just me.
5) Flannery O’Connor, Russell Kirk, Sheldon Vanauken and others saw kinship between the nobility, manners, morals and tradition embodied by the ideal of “The South” and Catholicism.  Vanauken said he drove around with a Confederate Battle Flag painted on his car, with the words, “Civil Rights in the CSA” written over it.
6) Paradoxically, those who insist the “South” is not about “racism” may focus on genteel nobility, or they emphasize “redneck” quintessentially American anti-authoritarianism.

So, there’s all that, but there’s the “heritage” of anti-Catholicism embodied in the monument to Byrnes.  The KKK focused on persecuting Catholics and hispanic Americans before blacks, as evinced by the murder of Fr. James Coyle–whose killer was defended (succsessfully) by another future Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black.

Nevertheless, the cultural purge that has taken place in the past 2 weeks is terrifying.  The cultural engineers of the Left have used this flag as a symbol of hate–their hate, their hatred for traditional values of any sort; their hatred for culture; their hatred from anyone who rejects federal micromanagement of our lives.  The swiftness with which they’ve banned sales of “confederate flag related merchandise”–even books and historical computer games–from major brick and mortar and online retailers, from gift shops at federal historical sites, etc.; from positing on social media; and from display at some historical sites–should terrify anyone who has any concern for freedom of speech.

“It Can’t Happen Here”?

Some are suggesting that we’re overreacting in saying Friday’s ruling is the door to open persecution.  If it weren’t for the fact that Antonin Scalia himself says it is, I’d share their “let’s keep cool heads,” but no, we need to make a stand for religious freedom.   I often quote a Joseph Sobran column I read once–can’t find the original, and the only hits I’ve found on Google are from me–saying, “The only problem with pessimists is they underestimate how bad things are going to get.” I know Kreeft and Kirk have written similar things.
All my more conspiracy-minded friends, and people like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck, sometimes seem to be wrong only in that regard. It’s easy to see how the whole thing was engineered just as people have warned for years.
First, things like the blue/gold dress that a) show how fast a “meme” (in the original sense it was coined) can travel in this digital age; b) get people fired up about nothing; and c) undermine people’s confidence in their own abilities.
Then some conveniently timed acts of violence–again, I don’t think the Feds sent the attackers, but I know they’ve permitted it because Scott Roeder was on 24 hour FBI surveillance when he shot George Tiller.
Now, just in time for the two rulings that destroyed the American Republic by saying the letter of the law means nothing, and the will of the people means nothing, they do this Confederate Battle Flag thing (a symbol that I don’t personally support) and show how swiftly censorship can happen in an age when information spreads swiftly.

In two days, SCOTUS has ruled that a) words don’t mean anything, and they can insert whatever they want to into laws; b) state laws, referenda and constitutional amendments don’t mean anything; c) the Constitution itself doesn’t mean anything; and d) once again, the Anthony Kennedy Doctrine of “People can decide what they want to be or whether they’re even people” has been given another precedent, this time with the notion that the government exists not to protect the liberty to pursue happiness but to *make* people feel happy and loved.
Let’s not forget that, 20 years ago, St. John Paul warned about the Conspiracy of Death in _Evangelium Vitae_.
Cardinal George famously predicted that his successor would die in jail, and the next archbishop of Chicago would be publicly executed.

The US has remained the one bastion of safety amidst all those aforementioned persecutions: ISIS may be more public and scorched earth, but the violent persecution of Christians has always been going on, and there is only one reason it doesn’t happen here: the First Amendment. From George Takei to Barack Obama, we’ve heard radicals this weekend saying it’s their next and ultimate target. 
When Catholics said, “contraception will lead to acceptance of abortion, divorce, and homosexuality,” it was “you’re being paranoid; that’s a slippery slope fallacy,” yet we were right. When they started legalizing gay marriage, they insisted on no one being affected, yet now we’ve had little old ladies sued out of their life savings and small businesses. Yes, it’s a small price to pay for eternal life, but then so’s death.

Yet, it’s less of a martyrdom than being directly killed, but it’s more Satanic. It’s the very agenda the Chinese communists use.

Killary wants us to change our beliefs on abortion; Obama wants us to change our beliefs on marriage.
Now, reports are trickling in of faithful Catholics being reported to Facebook, or worse, the police, for petty offenses.

Meanwhile, radicals are threatening, and some Catholics are warning, that the next step will be demands that Catholic schools and adoption agencies comply, that churches lose tax exemption status, that they’ll do everything they can to financially cripple the Church–and it’s still the same dismissal of “paranoia” and “that’ll never happen,” and “what’s so bad about that,” even after every other warning has been proven ?
Even if we “win” in court, it will be costly, and the enemies of the Church only care about their futile attempts to destroy Her. They won’t, of course, but that doesn’t change that we all need to be vigilant and take a stand.
 

7 years ago, some of my RL friends predicted that Obama would engineer some violent crisis, declare martial law and declare himself dictator. The old saying about learning from history applies here, since this has happened in every Republic/democracy throughout history (you can start by reading about Julius Caesar).
It’s a pattern that, 10 years ago, George Lucas expected Dubya to follow, making _Revenge of the Sith_ an allegory for what he thought the Bush Administration was doing, and yet it’s Obama who’s really implemented the patterns Lucas describes.  While there’s still a chance a Bush or Clinton will be the one to go full Julius or Augustus Caesar on our Republic, there’s also time for Obama to do it, or else we could be truly honest and declare Anthony Kennedy imperator.

_The Abolition of Man_ has arrived

The principle  argument of C. S. Lewis’s _The Abolition of Man_ is that, if we remove objective values from society, we will lose our humanity.  Lewis begins with an analysis of an English textbook he calls the _Green Book_, which says that statements of objective beauty are impossible. From this, he builds to the existence of objective moral standards, which to appeal to a neutral audience, he refers to as the Tau, rather than the Natural Law.
He also modifies Plato’s theory of the Tripartite Soul.  Where Plato says the “head” is the essential part of a person, and Freud says the gut is, Lewis argues that it is the “chest” which makes us human–our passions, and our ability to control them, are what separate human nature from the angels, which are pure intelligence and the animals, which are pure body.
Then making the case for a Natural Law and a Natural Lawgiver, regardless of the particular deity–that’s a topic he covers in _Mere Christianity_
Finally, in the third section, he warns how the efforts of science to “conquer nature” are really the efforts of a few men to conquer other men using nature as the means.  He warns how our modern conveniences, which supposedly increase our power, actually increase our servitude.  He gives the examples of “the airplane, the wireless and the contraceptive.”  Now, as the use of airplanes and wireless radios (or, now, devices in general) are not intrinsically evil, his inclusion of contraceptives, as one feminist critic but admirer of Lewis put it, “sound like a list of Lewis’s pet peeves.”
However, it is interesting that the concerns raised by Lewis (echoing Chesterton) about those particular devices correspond to the early 19th century prophecies attributed to Our Lady of La Salette–prophecies which, though published later and called into doubt by some sources, uncannily predict the 20th Century. She specifically mentions devices that will allow people to travel in the air and communicate over great distances.
On  contraception, though, Lewis warns of the effects it would have on children’s psyches to know they are “planned” by their parents.  He says that the Western Democracies are more likely to achieve the “abolition of man” than the Nazis or Communists.
At the end of _That Hideous Strength_, often seen as a novelization of the ideas Lewis addresses in _Abolition of Man_, Dr. Ransom tells reformed feminist Jane Studdock to go be with her husband.  Jane asks, “Am I no more than an animal in heat?”
Ransom replies, “More, but not less.  Go, and have no more dreams: have children instead.”

The Culture of Death has created the very “Men without Chests [that is, consciences]” Lewis warned us of.  20 years ago, my Dad realized that his students didn’t understand Shakespeare because they didn’t understand the idea of transcendent morality.  Why would Hamlet hesitate to “off” the guy who killed his dad?  To those born in a culture of abortion and violent movies, killing an inconvenient person was no big deal.

In 1992’s _Planned Parenthood v. Casey_, as well as other decisions, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued, as a positive, what Lewis presented as a negative: that the “right to liberty” implies the liberty to decide for oneself what a person is.  Kennedy argues that people can and should determine whether they are alive, and if a child is inside that magical barrier of a few inches, the mother can determine whether or not her child is a person.  Kennedy has applied this “reasoning” to other culture war cases, including recent decisions in which he has argued for people to define for themselves what “marriage” is.

On Riots, Racism, and Standardized Testing: All you need is Love, and that means Christ

Our nation is in turmoil.  Everything distopian novelists and “crazy conspiracy theorists” have written about seems to be coming true.  Early in the Obama administration, for example, people said he’d create a national crisis to declare Martial Law and establish a dictatorship.  Well, the tensions are arising, and Obama  established aprogram under everyone’s noses to begin nationalizing local police forces.  Major cities keep erupting in race riots.  The Supreme Court is likely to overturn every state law on marriage and establish yet another fictious constitutional “Right.” Some people are being driven out of business for expressing thir Christian beliefs while other businesses are denying Christians their services.   Hillary Clinton says if (and when) she’s “elected” President, she wants to force all religions to accept abortion.

All of it just shows society’ need for Christ.   

Attempts to “fix” broken schools with more money and more legislative interference for 50-60 years have only made things worse.  All we have is a “race to nowhere” with high stakes standardized tests that demonstrate nothing about real learning, line the pockets of educational conglomerates, and cause students to burn out, or worse, from the stress.  When I was in elementary school, the teachers would say, discussing the differences between the US and Communist countries, taht Communists made students take tests that determined their entire lives.  When I was a young adult, a teacher friend went through a few years where a faculty member had a heart attack or stroke during standardized testing, because it was so stressful.  

We can’t fix something unless we know why it’s broken, and what’s broken is a lack of transcendent values.   
If the reason people riot is lack of advantage, or discrimination by police, what is served by looting or burning small businesses and charities?  One of the reasons the July 1832 revolt that Hugo immortalized failed was that most of “the people” were mad at the students for stealing their stuff.  But, at least they knew whom they were revolting against (a just, Catholic king who was popular for giving he people more rights than the “Republic” or Napoleon) and why (they believed that secular government could and should end poverty). I saw a meme pointing out how people riot over sports games, and implying that race riots at least have a point.  The way I see it, it’s equally meaningless: unbridled anger, expressed in random violence.  If revolution is ever effective or just–and the Church has always been wary of revolution, even in the case of the Cristeros–it needs to be focused on the right enemy.  

I often refer to Catechism 676, the passage that tells us to beware of any movement that claims to try and solve all the world’s problems through  secular means because that is the “spirit of Antichrist.”  This was the reason the Church condemned Freemasonry.  It’s what Pope Benedict XVI expounded on in _Caritas in Veritate_, saying taht charity must be from love and truth, both of which are personfied in Christ, and that since the Church is the arbiter of Christ’s teachings and the Natural Law, economic justice cannot be divorced from the Church.

Prayer, fasting and forgiveness are the only solutions to these crises.  The more we abandon Christ as a society, the worse thigns will get.  If as 1 Samuel warns us, we choose a “King” over God, the warnings Samuel gave to the Israelites will continue to be proven. 

_Griswold v. Connecticut_ and Radar Detectors

This will be the 50th Anniversary of the monstrous _Griswold v. Connecticut_ (1965) case that established the fictional “right to privacy” and the notion of the “penumbral shadow” of the Bill of Rights, giving us _Roe v. Wade_ and a string of other anti-family and anti-life decisions.

The fundamental premise of the _Griswold_ case, which I was taught concerned a married couple who tried to purchase contraceptives at a pharmacy but actually was started by a Planned Parenthood director, is that laws banning the use of items that are used in private are unconstitutional, because to enforce them requires violating the 4th and 5th Amendments–yet the law, which ha been rarely enforced, was enforced in Griswold’s case by targeting the public business that provided the “private” service, not the couples using it.

Just as it is still technically illegal in South Carolina and some other states to privately own or use a deck of cards or a set of dice, even without gambling, there are plenty of things that are illegal to use in private but haven’t been ruled unconstitutional, and are legal to sell but not to use.  While I could come up with several examples, the one that comes most readily to mind is those radar detectors.  Another one that struck me a few years ago was when the federal government made it no longer a crime to change the SIM card in a cell phone (which had previously been considered hacking, yet seemed to be a common practice among some tech-savvy people).  Indeed, the entire “War on Drugs” should be “unconstitutional” according to _Griswold v. Connecticut_.

Which is easier to deny?

Thought: if a conservative Catholic says that, for example, Pelosi, Biden, or Giuliani isn’t “really Catholic” because Catholicism is a set if beliefs, and one must at least nominally adhere to them to claim membership, secularists will insist that baptism and possible parish registration are sufficient.

On the other hand, if you respond to the claim that conservatives are racists and/or sexists by pointing out conservative figures who are women and/or minorities, it’s “Clarence Thomas isn’t ‘really’ Black,” or “The Little Sisters of the Poor are anti-woman.”

“Really” Catholic, and don’t dare suggest otherwise:
20140712-080904-29344426.jpg

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These people are anti-woman:

20140712-081147-29507941.jpg
Alan Keyes, not “really” African American, and only a racist supports him since his conservative ideals, say the liberals, are too nuts for anyone to actually support:

20140712-081343-29623555.jpg

Drugs, the law, and morality

For some reason, it’s a headline that the Pope is against legalization of recreational drug use. At first thought, I tend to agree, but I am not sure it’s so simple in practice.
Much has been written on the subject lately, and I completely agree that it’s sinful to
a) use any otherwise acceptable activity excessively (Cardinal Virtue of Temperance/Aristotelian Mean)
B) intentionally impair one’s judgement so as to make moral decisions more difficult
C) cause direct harm to one’s body.

It’s very clear when some drugs do all three, but what about tobacco, alcohol and even caffeine? Those would be considered acceptable in moderation, but cause damage long-term.

All three of those standards could apply to food as a drug. Certainly, gluttony is a mortal sin, but should it be a crime?

What about self-medication? Various layers of mental health? Prescription drug use?

It’s a complicated matter when it comes to legalities, civil liberties, etc., and enforcing laws. In the name of making it harder to abuse prescription drugs, the FDA has made harder and more costly for those of us with actual health problems to get our meds. Then there’s the issue of drug testing for employment, etc., and people having to reveal medical problems to their employers.
That’s not getting into things like “no knock” raids that have made headlines recently, where SWAT teams invade homes of “suspected” drug dealers/addicts and burst in without warning to avoid “flushing.” Innocent bystanders and even innocent suspects get injured or killed, even if they have the wrong house altogether.
They’ll do the whole “witch hunt” thing and send innocent family members to prison for the “crime” of not knowing anything while the actual criminals make deals and name names. Then property involved in illegal drugs can be seized. Back in Virginia about ten years ago, there was a case where a man bought a house from a judge’s ex-wife shortly after their son was arrested for dealing marijuana. Somehow, the judge’s wife got to keep the money from the sale but the buyer lost the house to the state.
Then there’s the so-called “right to privacy” that selectively applies to birth control.

I don’t think drug use should be legal, but it shouldn’t be “illegal,” either. It should be treated as a medical and psychological matter.

Personhood in South Carolina: Vote Today!

In addition to the GOP primaries for the House and 2 Senate seats (strangely, Tim Scott does have a challenger, and we really need to unseat the Planned Parenthood supporting Democrat wannabe Lindsey Graham), there is a personhood referendum on today’s ballot.

Please vote!

Liberals say . . .

The Constitution means whatever they want except what it says.  Animals have rights, but people don’t. Babies aren’t babies unless you want them to be. Gender means whatever you want. Sex and marriage are about self-gratification and not procreation and child-bearing. Life is about pleasure and should be “terminated” if it isn’t pleasurable. Money can be created ex nihilo but the universe wasn’t. If you suggest it’s more important that kids learn in school about how their bodies actually work than about dinosaurs, evolution, and various forms of pleasure seeking, you’re “anti-science.” And they call us “wing-nuts”. . . .

On Phil, A&E, Freedom, and Urban versus Rural America

Some of my left-leaning Facebook friends (yes, I do have a few) have been posting memes about the alleged hypocrisy of the “red state” folks regarding the recent controversies about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame being fired by A&E and some people talking about it as a “freedom of speech” issue.

This is from the page “Being Liberal.” For lack of a better word, “Duh.” That’s not what we’re saying.

Here’s another from “The Beer Party”:

Again, I’d agree, insofar as what *some* people are saying, but most people I’ve read are acknowledging this.

In fact, I’d say there are some interesting parallels between the “Dixie Chicks” controversy and Phil Robertson. First, the difference, in part, is that the Dixie Chicks were not fired by their publisher; Phil Robertson was. Secondly, the Dixie Chicks are singers. I don’t generally like it when singers or actors take positions on “issues,” or force their audiences to support their “causes,” regardless if I agree with them. However, Robertson is in that strange amorphous zone known as “reality TV,” which is about as “real” as professional wrestling. He entertains people (I’ve never seen his show) with a certain persona, and it has become clear over the past few years that a) he’s a Christian, b) he’s a conservative, c) A&E doesn’t like that, and d) audiences do.

The Dixie Chicks took some flack for mocking the president, and in *that* respect it’s hypocritical of “Red Staters” in terms of criticism of Bush versus criticism of Obama. Their careers have gone on just fine. They never got fired. However, the situation is the same in that both cases involve the media not “getting” the “Red State”/”Flyover State” public. It’s an issue that goes back for decades, if not for all of history, in entertainment: “Town Mouse and Country Mouse,” as it were. “Country Come to Town” is a subgenre of American literature. In the 1960s, the TV industry produced lots of “rural comedies” like _The Andy Griffith Show_, _Green Acres_, _The Beverly Hillbillies_, etc., that were supposed to ridicule “country bumpkins,” but people *identified* with the characters.

Then there was the “rural purge” and the rise of liberal ideology-promoting “urban comedies”, mostly from Norman Lear. When _All in the Family_ came along, there was a Hollywood stereotype of an urban blue-collar conservative in Archie Bunker as exaggerated as the redneck stereotypes of the rural comedies, pitted against the liberal hero, son-in-law Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner), forever known to the public as “Meathead,” which symbolizes the public’s reaction to the show: they liked Archie and hated “Meathead,” the opposite of Lear’s intention.

Flannery O’Connor’s discussion of how professors interpret “A Good Man is Hard to Find” applies here:

I’ve talked to a number of teachers who use this story in class and who tell their students that the Grandmother is evil, that in fact, she’s a witch, even down to the cat. One of these teachers told me that his students and particularly his Southern students, resisted this interpretation with a certain bemused vigor, and he didn’t understand why. I had to tell him that they resisted it because they all had grandmothers or great-aunts just like her at home, and they knew, from personal experience, that the old lady lacked comprehension, but that she had a good heart. The Southerner is usually tolerant of those weaknesses that proceed from innocence, and he knows that a taste for self-preservation can be readily combined with the missionary spirit.

That sums up the conflict that has always existed between the “elites” in the “big cities” of the Northeast and the “Left Coast,” versus the “Red State” “rednecks” (a term which, interestingly enough, used to refer to Southern Democrats, farm workers who had “red necks” because of working in the sun).

That gets us back to this Phil Robertson fellow. His recent interview with GQ has been well discussed. In short, he talked about his sinful youth, as he has done before, and how he “found Jesus,” and how he believes (rightly) that we all need Jesus’ grace to be healed of our sin. Then he paraphrased the “controversial” passage of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

9
* Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes* nor sodomitesc
10
nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11
That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

(emphasis added)
As my friend Kevin O’Brien has pointed out, homosexuality seems to have “Most Favored Sin” status in our culture. Or, as Jay Leno apparently put it, ” Gay people are upset with him. Then he went on to criticize adulterers, drunks and swindlers, and now Congress is mad at him. So the guy just can’t win.”

I’ve never watched _Duck Dynasty_ and I’ve never read _GQ_, but from the quotations of the interview that are all over http://www.amazon.com/Holocaust-Childlike-The-Progress-Spiritual/dp/1492895474/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387218063&sr=8-1&keywords=holocaust+of+the+childlike Net, I don’t see the problem.
Yes, some of his phrasing was a bit crude, but that fits with his persona and intended audience (both on his show and _GQ_).  It was also arguably “The Emperor’s  New Clothes” principle: he’s in trouble for stating the obvious.  Again, he said it in the context of “sin is illogical.”  He probably could have made a better argument for “theology of the body,” but I don’t know enough about him to know if that was (as some say) his own lack of sophistication or his intentional persona.

People are saying he implies that homosexuals engage in “bestiality” because he presents a (very true) slippery slope argument about society’s tolerance of sin.

He is accused of “equating gays with terrorists” because he says he loves all people, regardless of who they are or what they do.  He is accused of “hate speech” by saying that he doesn’t judge anyone’s souls but wants everyone to know  Jesus.  Oh, and, while he was clearly fired for offending the GLBTQXYZ lobby  (which at most accounts for 18 million Americans, is most realistically 9 million and that includes statistics on anyone who has ever had a “same sex relationship”), some people have accused him of “racism” for saying that when he was a farm worker (again, a literal “red neck”) in the 60s, he didn’t see his African American co-workers being treated any worse than whites–at worst, an ignorant statement but hardly meant in hate.

But, again, even if it means cancelling what is supposedly the highest-rated show in the history of cable, TPTB are so literally hell-bent on pushing their agenda that they will sacrifice views and even advertisers rather than sacrifice their agenda.

So, no, this is not, strictly speaking, a First Amendment/Free Speech issue.  It’s a free market issue.  A&E had every right, theoretically, to fire Robertson, and the viewers and advertisers had the right to react according to their positions.  Robertson will do fine.  He’s a millionaire.  He has already garnered a national following and is circulating the “mega-churches.”  This publicity has increased his status.  He reportedly already has offers from Fox News and Glenn Beck’s “the Blaze” network.  He’s going to do fine, just as the Dixie Chicks have done fine.

What worries me, and many others, is the double standard the media apply to these situations.  Look at all the controversy about suppression of speech online (again, it’s “Facebook [or whichever entity] has the right to suppress users’ speech”).  Where does that end?

What is a “Real Journalist”?

This past weekend, I was watching Part 2 of _Karol: the Man Who Became Pope_ on EWTN (one of my FB friends pointed out that the whole miniseries is on YouTube). The previous week, part 1 was on, dealing with his life under the Nazis and ending with Poland’s “liberation,” was on, and I thought, “This is what’s coming.” Watching Part 2, I thought, “This is what the US already has”:
1) The government spying on the Church (we know they were doing it at least as early as Clinton, and that the current regime has gone so far as to bug the Papal conclave)
2) The government talking about “the will of the People,” and then responding to complaints that they’re *not* doing the “will of the People” with “The people don’t know what’s good for them; we do.”
3) Independent journalists being silenced and “disappeared.”
This also raised one of those “Why do we think anything’s different now?” issues. For the past 10 years or so, a debate has raged about whether the “new media” constitute “journalists.” Earlier this year, Senator Dianne Feinstein (Communist from California) proposed an amendment to the superfluous “Media Shield Law” (a law which basically says that journalists fall under First Amendment protection, which just shows how Washington fails to understand the Constitution) which identifies a “journalist” as one who “draws a salary” and specifically limits the First Amendment rights of bloggers and other “new media” types.
Blogging, Tweeting, Podcasting and so forth may make it easier to generate an audience (my dad is fond of bragging that I have an “international blog”, which had my nurses at the hospital thinking I was some kind of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist or something), but “independent journalism” is nothing new. Indeed, it wasn’t too long ago, in the scope of human history, that *all* journalism was “independent.” After the invention of the typewriter, anyone who had the wherewithal could produce a “newspaper” or “magazine” or “newsletter.” The personal computer and printer made production quality and distribution cheaper and easier.
Twenty years ago, when I was in college (wow!), one of my professors used to speak of growing up in New York City in the early 20th Century, when his family subscribed to at least 6 different newspapers (and there were many more available). They represented a range of political ideologies, and it was just understood, “This was the conservative paper, this was the liberal paper, etc.” The consolidation of media to a few conglomerates (even locally–here in the Augusta, GA, area, the “local” channels mostly operate out of one building, through some kind of legal agreement that skirts the FCC’s rules) has led to this notion of “unbiased” journalism that really just means “liberal bias,” “corporate/government control.” FOX News (which, in this household, is considered just another example of liberal anti-Catholic TV news) is challenged by the Obama regime for it’s “bias” (meaning that FOX reporters are the only ones doing their jobs right now–the bright spot that CBS recently reported on Benghazi was dashed when the reporter recanted), and commonly referred to as “Faux News” by liberals.
It’s always been the “independent journalists” who have forced reform. This country was founded by “independent journalists” like Benjamin Franklin and James Madison. The First Amendment exists precisely to protect the speech of those who don’t “collect a salary” to promote propaganda for those in power. The fact that a “Media Shield Act” even exists is absurd.

“I’m mad that they stole what I stole first”

Earlier, I posted about some of the various issues raised in the conviction of Bradley “Chelsea” Manning for his involvement in Wikileaks and the ongoing pursuit of Edward Snowden, a central figure in exposing the fact that the NSA has been spying on US citizens.
A New York Post columnist, John Podhoretz, insists that the bottom line is “the Snowden material was stolen.” Podhoretz focuses on the fact that contemporary technology makes it more convenient to steal “intellectual property” than, say, carrying a stack of thousands of floppy disks or thousands of file folders, but says it is still “theft.” This raises several questions related to whether what Manning or Snowden did constitutes “theft.”
One problem that has arisen with the Internet, kind of parallel to the Manning and Snowden cases, is that of people who steal pre-release products from factories in China or wherever, then sell them on EBay. I’m aware of this in the toy industry, but I’m sure it happens with appliances, electronics, etc. Others buy these pre-release items for exorbitant sums, usually to be the first to post reviews of them on their blogs and reap the rewards of ad revenue. A few years back, when I was more active in following such matters, there was a bit of a row in the Transformers community about a collector/blogger who was mad that someone hacked into his account and “stole” his pictures of the “prototype” he had bought on Ebay and planned to write about, thus “scooping” his “scoop.” In other words, the guy was mad that someone else “stole” his photos of “stolen” property that he had bought illegally. This is is Pat Buchanan’s take on the matter of Snowden: the government is mad that Snowden “stole” information that the government itself “stole” to begin with!
Is it really theft to steal something back that was stolen to begin with? I honestly don’t know, but that’s certainly a question to ponder.
Was it “theft” for a tobacco company researcher to reveal to the press and in court that the tobacco companies were adding Coumarin, a known carcinogen, to cigarettes? What about the corporate scandals of a decade ago–ENRON, Tyco, etc.–and the “whistleblowers” who “stole” “company secrets” to expose corruption? What about the “theft of information” that has led to the exposure of cover-ups of priestly misconduct within the Church?
While the Vatican has certainly had its own controversy surrounding Wikileaks, and seems to have come down harder on the whistleblowers than on those engaging in the corruption they exposed, some of the same issues are involved. I’m raising these questions for discussion and offering no certain conclusions:
1) Does leaking “private” information about a corrupt governmental bureaucracy constitute a sin against the 8th Commandment, when there is no other recourse? For example, Vatican officials have claimed that the allegations made in the media during the “VatiLeaks” scandal were exaggerated, though Pope Benedict reportedly had the results of his internal audit read to the college of cardinals before the election of his successor, and Pope Francis has since confirmed (albeit, again, in a talk that was “leaked”) the existence of a “gay lobby” at the Vatican.
2) Does such leaking of information constitute a violation of the 7th Commandment?
For example, there’s the question I touched on in my previous post on the subject: are “we” the “enemies” of the government? Regardless of the particulars of how Manning and Snowden did what they did, the result was revealing to “the people” secrets of “the government” via “the Press,” which would seem to be the essence of what our Constitution is about: reminding the “Government” that it works for “us.” Doesn’t information that “belongs” to the CIA or the military ultimately “belong” to the people?
If the shareholders are the real owners of a company, and an employee reveals information about corruption in the company to the shareholders, is that really “theft”?
How do “we the People” keep tabs on “them the Government,” who supposedly work for us, if not for people like Manning and Snowden who are willing to divulge “government secrets” to the press? The use of flash drives certainly makes it more convenient for someone like Glenn Greenwald versus the lengthy investigations of Woodward and Bernstein, but are Snowden and Manning any more traitors or thieves than Mark Felt?
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

What do I think of Guns and Gun Control?

1) I HATE THE ISSUE. It is such a non-issue, on both sides. It’s absurd. Yes, the Demonocrats want gun control so they can establish a grand Communist tyranny. Yes, Republicans oppose gun control because they want a grand Libertarian anarchy. It’s a complex issue, with various complex moral layers, and each side tries to drastically oversimplify it, stating the problems in the other side’s position without seeing the problems in its own.

2) As far as the Second Amendment goes:
a) It says “well-regulated Militia” Much has been made of how people in Switzerland have lots of guns and very low violent crime in recent weeks, but it was pointed out to me the other day by a FB friend who lives in France, the people in Switzerland have to undergo yearly tests to retain their gun ownership rights.
b) It can be amended.
c) If we are to take the Founding Fathers’ word that it is to protect the people *against* the government, we must also remember that they were Masons, with an attitude of opposition to traditional forms of government.

3) Catholics like to quote Catechism 2265:

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.[66]

Without including its qualification in 2264:

Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
“If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful…. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.[65]” (emphasis added)

So when someone says, “I wish they’d have shot that guy dead before he even got into the school, they are not following Church teaching regarding legitimate self-defense. The Mississippi shooter who has been discussed as a parallel case–who killed his own mother before coming to a school but was stopped in progress and later said he did it as part of a Satanic cult–was stopped by an assistant principal using a private handgun. And that assistant principal never fired a bullet. Indeed, in many of these mass shootings, the shooters stopped when confronted by either a private citizen, security guard or police officer with a gun–and either surrendered or killed themselves.

It may not even be necessary to fire a gun to stop an assailant. More on this later.

Here are some other passages from the Catechism that gun fanatics ought to consider. First, the passage from _EvangeliumVitae_ which led to the _Catechism_ being almost immediately revised:

2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
“If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
“Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’ [68]

While 2265 is taken by some as saying there’s a moral obligation to use violence, 2306 offers a different perspective:

Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death.[103]

Again, when “pro-gun” people speak with glee about the notion of killing a would be assailant, they’d do well to remember these passages:

2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,”[93] our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.
Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.”[94] If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”[95]

2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

And the following passages, while specifically applying to war, should be taken into consideration by those who “stockpile” weapons, especially in “preparation” for a hypothetical societal collapse or government oppression:

2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations;[110] it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316 The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

4) I never understand what a gun can do that a knife, a sword, an arrow, a spear or a throwing star cannot. Indeed, in terms of the Church’s teaching on disabling rather than killing an opponent whenever possible, these weapons would be far more effective.

5) I also do not understand why Christians are not more eager for the opportunity to try and convert a would-be assailant, to confront someone obviously in the grip of the Devil with holy water, prayer and preaching, and the power of Sacramentals, and not with violence.

6) The situations in my life where I’ve been most afraid for my life, having a gun in the house wouldn’t have helped, and may have actually allowed the individuals the opportunity to kill someone.

7) I know a lady who has lived for many decades in an older neighborhood where because of trees, sidewalks, etc., there are a lot of prowlers. On several occasions, she has protected her house merely by the threat of having a gun (yelling, “I have a gun, and I’m going to shoot you” at prowlers whom she could see but could not see her). This on the one hand shows how actually having a gun is not necessary and, again, killing the criminal is not necessary. It also shows how having the *ability* to own guns protects people.

8) Criminals by definition don’t follow laws: if they want guns or any other weapons, they’ll get them.

9) There are several websites that discuss the Texas “concealed carry” law and how many crimes have been committed by people with concealed carry permits, how many crimes have been committed by people *without* concealed carry permits, and how many crimes have been prevented by people with concealed carry permits:

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba324
http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/rsd/chl/index.htm

Note, however, that by definition “concealed carry” is a form of “gun control”: requiring licenses to own weapons is a form of gun control, and is the form of gun control I support.

10) I think gun control has been a contributing factor to the mass murders of the past 20+ years, because gun control advocates have convinced families to keep guns away from their children. So children in households *with* guns, who used to be raised to hunt and to know how to use a gun and how to respect it, have been taught that their parents’ guns are a mysterious taboo waiting to be explored. On the other hand, they watch violent movies, and mommy says, when the person dies on the screen, “You know that’s just pretend, right? And he’s coming back. He’s not really dead.” They play video games and get to “kill” people and monsters, and have them “come back,” and if they get “killed” in the video games, they get to “start over,” and for certain kinds of personality types, this can be very damaging.

11) Just as with guns as such, blanket suppression/condemnation and blanket permissiveness of TV/movies/video games are equally to blame. Instead of parents telling their kids “this is OK to watch/play, but this isn’t,” and explaining *why* the “not OK” is “not OK,” parents either ban everything or permit everything. A while back, a nice lady on Facebook was concerned that her kids were invited over to a friend’s house to play _Super Smash Bros_. “It sounds horrible” she said. I explained that, while I’ve never seen or played it directly, the game is really no more harmful than _Wii Boxing_: it’s just basically a boxing game featuring a mix-up of classic video game characters, particularly from the Mario franchises. Parents ought to have such basic, minimal knowledge about TV, movies and video games, especially when it’s as simple as looking something up online. If they really don’t know this stuff, then they’re not participating in their kids’ lives. And THAT is the thing to be concerned about in terms of societal causes.

12) People who want to do evil will do evil. As several Facebook memes are pointing out, Timothy McVeigh did it with fertilizer. The guy in China stabbed a classroom full of kids with a knife. The 9/11 terrorists used plastic knives. As my wife pointed out this evening, in the past few days, while she was driving the kids to school, two different idiots tried to kill her and them with automobiles. What ultimately infuriates me about the gun control “debate” is that it’s about epiphenomena.

You can ban and round up every legally owned assault rifle, and criminals who want assault rifles will get them (and apparently with the help of the Obama Administration). You can put TSA agents at every public venue, and strip search everyone, and those with wicked designs will find ways to get around it.

Unless you directly take on evil, all the rest of it is useless. More on that later.

Do Liberals Always Think We’re Angry Because *They’re* So Angry?

In his short-lived sitcom Bob, Bob Newhart played a cartoonist who had been a popular comic book writer a generation before and was hired by a comic book firm to work with a hip young writer on reviving the superhero he created with a “gritty,” 90s approach. In the show’s most memorable scene, often used in ads, the younger writer encourages Bob to express his anger in his work.
“But I don’t have any anger,” says Bob.
“Show me your anger, Bob!” shouts the other guy.
“I don’t have any anger.”
They go back and forth a few times, until “SHOW ME YOUR ANGER, BOB!”
Until Bob finally screams, angrily, “I DON’T HAVE ANY ANGER!!!”

One of the surest ways to incite someone to anger is to claim they’re angry when they’re not, and a favorite debate tactic of liberals is to accuse conservatives of being angry, especially when we’re giving impassioned defenses of causes like the Right to Life. Ever since those early 1990s, the racist, sexist expression “Angry white males” has been used to dismiss conservatives.

So, the other day, after what I’ll admit became a bit of an angry Facebook discussion with a self-proclaimed daily Mass attending Catholic who supports gay marriage and opposes the Church’s right and obligation to tell the State what to do in matters of Natural Law, I posted a reflection on how we often speak of “poorly catechized” Catholics, but there are actually a lot of *badly* catechized Catholics. Some woman who, from what I can discern from her blog isn’t Catholic but likes to post a lot of anti-Catholic stuff, posted an extremely condescending comment with three points:

1) She claimed that my mission statement is a lie because I oppose Obama. Apparently, she thinks that abortion and eugenics constitute support of children and disabled people.
2) She approved of my interlocutor’s disrespect for the Pope, made condescending comments about how she presumed I must have been “dismissive” in my tone, and how people have to be nicer to each other when debating vital moral truths, and how I ought to be capable of seeing some good in my interlocutor’s demonic positions in support of government-endorsed sin.
3) She said she sensed a lot of “anger” in my post.

Hmm, that’s funny, since I thought in the post in question I was being fairly neutral, if not expressing dismay and sorrow that so many Catholics have been misled about what Catholicism is. I sometimes confuse Ven. Fulton Sheen’s observation that not 1 person hates the Catholic Church but millions hate what they think the Catholic Church is with GK Chesterton’s observation that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting but found difficult and not tried. It is also Fulton Sheen who said, after the infamous Land of Lakes convention that fomented dissent against Humanae Vitae in Catholic universities, that the worst thing a Catholic parent can do is send their child to a Catholic college.

Ironically, as I noted in my previous post, I had baited my “Catholic” interlocutor at one point the other night with a charge that he had been brainwashed by a secular education, expecting him to say he had a Catholic education–since usually when I encounter someone who thinks they way he does, that person has been to 12 years of Catholic school, and probably has an MA in theology from one of several universities.

The first time I was suspiciously dismissed from a teaching job was at the first Catholic college I taught for online, when I had been careful to do everything they said, and had even done a great deal of work, unpaid, because I had been verbally offered classes several quarters in advance, only to be told at the last minute that my classes were assigned to someone else. “Did I do something wrong?” “No. We just had to give your classes to someone we hired after you.”

Later, I applied for a job with the online program of another university. My training went well, though I was uncomfortable with the notion they wanted me to do a semester of “training” unpaid. The very last training assignment was an essay on “diversity.” I was puzzled. I had never had to talk about “diversity” at any of the public or secular for-profit universities I’d worked for, so why at a Catholic school? Then I did a more careful perusal of the school’s main site to find they had an active “LGBT” program, including a Gay Rights Week on campus. So I wrote my essay on how great it was to finally teach at a Catholic institution and be able to incorporate my faith in the classroom, and I never heard from them again.

Anyway, I’m getting off track from this post’s intent.

Another time I was directly fired from a teaching job, this time at a for-profit college, it was nominally for cause (they always emphasized how gradebook and attendance errors could be grounds for immediate dismissal, and I had a couple due to entering the information in the computer the wrong way), I felt that the firing was not due to that. I had a couple openly homosexual students, and I found myself put on the spot at one point, and in the following class session, I was being observed again, when I had just had an observation a few weeks before, and a week after that I was called in to the dean’s office and fired. I was vindicated, however, when I saw the campus advertising for a dean and assistant dean later that quarter.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI, has said that he expects to die in bed, but he expects his successor to die in prison and his successor’s successor to be publicly executed. Archbishop Chaput has made very similar statements. As I’ve noted many times since last January, the Holy Father himself, addressing the US bishops at their ad limina visit, said the “gay rights movement” and the present administration pose an unprecedented threat to religious freedom in our country, particularly the freedom of the Catholic Church. The UK this year passed a “gay marriage” law that specifically requires churches to participate if they provide weddings to non-members. My interlocutor the other night kept insisting that legalizing gay marriage isn’t a threat to the church, even after I listed the number of ways that it is a threat to the Church and to heterosexual couples (for example: various government forms are now changing to say “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2”, rather than “husband and wife”), including the stated goal of many homosexual activists–and many of my students whose papers I graded over the years–that they want to see the day when the Catholic Church, specifically, is forced to endorse gay marriage.

When Archbishop Levada was appointed prefect of the CDF by Pope Benedict XVI, a lot of people were concerned because of his compromise on San Francisco’s law requiring employers to provide benefits to gay couples. After unsuccessfully suing the city, Archbishop Levada said he was going to allow employees of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to name any adults who lived with them without paying rent to be “dependents”–thus not creating a special right for homosexuals but also providing a needed benefit for adult relatives who live together, etc. In a discussion with some other Catholics who were concerned about whether this made Levada a “liberal,” some of whom were from Canada, I asked what the justification was for the “gay marriage” movement in Canada. Here in the US they make impassioned arguments about legal property rights and insurance coverage, when Canada has socialized medicine. One fellow said, “They don’t make any pretense about it. They openly say their goal is to force the Catholic Church to recognize gay marriage.”

If I say that gay marriage creates a situation where it’s harder to protect my children from sin, that means I’m a “hater.” If I say that it’s frustrating to see so many openly gay characters on television, and how gay couples are becoming more and more prominent on TV, that somehow extrapolates (as my interlocutors the other night directly accused me of saying) that I want to kill gay people or something. No, it just means the same thing as why I try not to let my children see programs involving cohabitation. They still think of the Sixth Commandment as the _Veggietales_ “Dance with who brung ya,” and they think it’s gross when people who aren’t married kiss each other.

Canada is now saying that homeschooling families can’t teach Christian morals to their kids. Canada is saying that it’s “bullying” and “hate speech” to say that homosexual behavior is wrong. Members of the “Christian Left” will respond that we are all sinners, and that’s perfectly true. The other night, one of the guys I was arguing with (there were two, but one was more active than the other) pointed out that the only New Testament passages that explicitly mention homosexuality group it with drunkenness, theft and slander. I responded that I try not to let my children get exposed to drunks, thieves and slanderers, either, and that if someone started a movement to legalize drunk driving, theft and/or slander, people would object to that. That didn’t go over well, and I was accused of confusing bigotry with reason.

Again, angry liberals like to accuse conservatives of being angry when they don’t have a leg to stand on in their arguments.

Then there’s the famous, “It’s biological,” which I’ve addressed many times. My body’s propensity to have its arteries blow up is also biological. Just because I am, as “Lady Gaga” tells her followers, “Born that way,” doesn’t mean it’s God’s intention: the Church has that covered in the doctrine of Original Sin. Sociopaths, manic-depressives, addicts and schizophrenics are all, in some extent, born that way. That doesn’t mean we allow them to *stay* that way. My autistic children are “born that way,” and autism actually has a lot of redeeming qualities, but that doesn’t mean they should be permitted to throw self-destructive fits.

If there’s a biological basis for homosexuality, that doesn’t mean God intends it or it’s something good. I often mention the “study” a few years back where some geneticists got together and debated homosexuality: normally, a favorable genetic trait leads to individual health and procreation, and if something doesn’t meet those criteria, it’s a genetic defect. Homosexual behavior doesn’t lead to procreation, and it leads to all sorts of health problems. A logical conclusion would be that it’s a genetic defect, but these geniuses decided to redefine the standard for an advantageous evolutionary trait and say that homosexuality is a natural tool for population control! So much for survival of the fittest!

But, again, that’s hate. That’s anger. That’s bigotry.

When an unmarried woman gets up in front of Congress and claims that college students like herself have to spend close to $1000 a year on birth control, and someone calls her a “slut,” that’s dismissed as anger and bigotry.

I call it the little boy pointing out that the emperor’s naked.