The Climate Sermon on the Mount of Fallibility


There is something to be said about a proactive pontiff (which I’d written briefly about after the Super Bowl) in this secular day and floundering religious age.  As noted recently in a new poll conducted by Gallup, the church in general has “been losing its footing as a pillar of moral leadership in the nation’s culture.”  Controversy, most specifically pedophiliac priests (terms which should never collide in the same sentence) and a devotion to the technological achievements of man, have left many people feeling as though the church is an antiquated institution that can provide little in the way of spiritual nourishment.  That’s what yoga, ‘’The View’’ and social media are for in the present day.

In the immortal words of Garth, “Live in the now.”

So, having a representative of the church that puts himself front and center to declare his beliefs should be a move in the right direction.  If only it were so.  The naive, or dare I say ignorant, approach to economics and global environmental with a dash of social affairs will only inflame the issues that are driven by that same secular faith in man and his ability to destroy and then fix the planet.  In this case, the pope will be used by the folks who declare the infallible righteousness of a separation of church and state and that the science is settled (when it suits them) yet keep his views out of the doctrinaire classrooms of public education.

In a previous blog I’d written, “to help the environment, encourage charity and clean living are noble and righteous acts in which the pope is almost obligated to engage.  But to express naivety towards free market economics, denigrating a system that has created more wealth for the world and the church than any other, is dangerous sophistry.”  And now he has doubled down on those efforts, using platitudinous morality to denigrate the nations (or really nation as it seems that his words are directed at the United States.  Maybe I’m just sensitive.  Probably not.) who have lifted this world from the darkness of the night with a lightbulb, the dangers of disease with penicillin (and I know Fleming was Scottish) and the chaos and destruction that was a Second World War.

Pope Francis writes in his ‘’Laudato Si’’ (Praise Be) that “this vision of ‘might is right’ has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all.”  He then adds, “completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus.”

The problem with this vision is that it directly clashes with millennia upon millennia of power struggles reflective of human nature.  We are not Jesus Christ and we never will be.  He is a model for the way that human beings can and should live.  An ideal that the world does not fully embrace and ironically, in the United States, shirks when his name is invoked in the public sector.  Except when it furthers the agenda of an already rabid environmentalism, unconstrained by economic, or any other, form of reality.

To decry the economic giants of the world for a fault they do not deserve is sadly, and conveniently for the ideology, dangerous folly.  For this perspective offers only a prediction based on the same human nature that it does not recognize in its prescription: do what we say or things will get worse.  They will then point to every instance of poverty, war, flood, drought and ‘’Deadwood’’ cancellation, as a sign that man is killing the planet and that he hates his neighbor.  But when crafting a view of what the world should be, man has always fallen well short of the ideal ‘’model’’ of behavior.

There are parts of the world where might IS right, where force is the rule of law and it is solely the defensive, and at times offensive, capabilities of these United States that keep those dark forces from truly destroying the planet.  Not with cars and air conditioners but with the machete, chemical weapons and fires at the stake.  This dream of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace is only possible if one side capitulates to the demands of the other, resulting in the inevitable subjugation of one society over another.  The Pope’s view is just that, an ideal, but not applicable as a panacea for the world in which we live.  People have always acted in ways that enhance one side at the expense of another.  It is the way it is, has been and forever will be.  After all, Christ needed to be crucified by the world to save the world from itself.  And this was pre-Prius.  But never has there been a more benevolent power than the United States to promote the ideals of Christ throughout the world.  We do fall short.  But this is the best hope that there has ever been.  To criticize that as not good enough, and to blame this humanistic achievement that has saved lives as the cause of discontent, is an arrogant message  unworthy of any church.

And then there’s climate change.

The science isn’t settled, humans are not destroying the planet and the automobile is not degrading the societies of the third world.  Humans undoubtedly contribute to the environmental integrity of the planet, as does the magnificent power of the sun and yes, cleaner living is good and yes renewable resources would be spectacular replacements for fossil fuels.  But they are not a reality.

“The simple reality is that energy is the essential building block of the modern world,” said Thomas Pyle of the Institute of Energy Research.  “Application of affordable energy makes everything we do — food production, manufacturing, health care, transportation, heating and air conditioning — better.”

The world needs energy and right now its up to oil, coal and natural gas.  Solar and wind are not economically viable just yet and to promote the idea as though they are is demagoguery at its finest.  Moreover, it is not the evil oil companies keeping this technology from us.  If any private entity could develop such power in an affordable way, those same energy companies would invest in the technology in order to send this power to the world, and yes, make money.  Then they would become the evil solar companies.

“Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur,” Francis writes.

Unrestrained delusions of grandeur are permitted in the United States and they can live side-by-side with the values and great goals that such delusions have created for the world.  How many more people can dream all the more wildly because they have an iPhone or access to the internet and a highway.  These consequences of a (relatively) free market have flooded the world with jobs and broadened the horizons from Kenya to California.  Slowing down and looking at reality in a different way is not an action requiring any other action on behalf of any civilization.  It is a bromide creating a false dilemma wherein we are to be made to feel guilty for the sins of the world.  And if not the Stone Age, then just how far back should we go?  1900 or 1600?

The fact is that people have been losing faith in church, its leaders and its teachings for reasons beknownst to individuals alone.  But speculate we can.  When the church defends or hides from its own indiscretions, when success and achievement are accused of creating an “immense pile of filth”  and when rabid environmentalism is allowed to taint the traditional message of love, people will tune out.

Jesus Christ was the embodiment of God on Earth and taught that love of one another was THE way of life.  This is the model for us to live: corporations, politicians, clergy and laymen alike.  This message is not served by the delusions of a politicized science that is so vague in its explanations as to explain everything that ever was and will be for all time… except of course what the weather will be like tomorrow.

Elementary Entrepreneurs in Regulationville, U.S.A.


Just another day in Regulationville, USA, the red-tape capital of the world.  Where you can find a rule for every rule, a water-monitored one-quarter inch lawn at every house and an FDA approved chicken in every pot.  Where even the panhandlers have permits and little girls selling lemonade will be shut down on sight.

And so it went this week in the town of Overton, Texas where two sisters had hatched the nefarious plot to sell lemonade and popcorn in order to provide their dad with a fun Father’s Day at a water park.  They were promptly stopped by the righteous long arm of the law, just doing its civic duty.

Truth and justice prevail yet again.  Good on ya guv’ment!!

(You can read the news story here)

When ask for comment, news outlets were told, “We have to follow by the state health guidelines,” Overton Police Chief Clyde stated.  “They have to have a permit if they’re going to do the lemonade stands.”  And when they tried to get a permit they were told they’d need a license from the health department. A license to get a permit =(

What an age we live in.  The future truly is NOW.

This joke that isn’t presents the first of two fundamental issues that have become the prevailing norm of American society. (I have decided to limit my critique of this ridiculousness to two so as to maintain the brevity that is the foundation of good humor)


While this is sadly not the first, or surely the last, instance of an overbearing bureaucracy, and only one of many Untouchable-like raids upon a lemonade stand, circumstances such as this one expose the lack of clothing on the rampant statist element.

Most notably, there is no level of control by a given populace over the powers of this kind of state interference.  Again, there is no vote, no election, no recall or petition that can effectively limit this kind of insufferable, inscrutable threat to liberty.

Someone, somewhere thought that somehow the public needed to be protected from itself to such an extent that the kids on the corner need a permit to operate a lemonade stand.  Now, albeit, this was undoubtedly not the initial purpose of the regulation, but that makes it all the more grievous and unforgivable.

For there is a level of authority operating amongst us that does not comprehend the extent of its own actions and yet acts all the same, without any oversight or approval from the communities in which its actions will be enforced.  This is the epitome of the “We Must Do Something” and “If It Saves But One Life” mentality that permits rampant emotional appeal to trump legal limitations on government and personal freedom.  And it need not even be consistently implemented.  Which brings us to…


The girls from this story did find, as they were getting their crash course education in bureaucratic buffoonery, that if they were not SELLING the lemonade but GIVING it away, their stand could operate sans Johnny Law.  You see, due to what was described as a “loophole,” the girls may make the same lemonade and the same popcorn and give it to the same citizens of the same community, from the same table in the same corner spot, but ask for a donation instead of charging for the refreshments.  THAT is acceptable under the “law.”

These previously juvenile scofflaws are able to give away the same presumably tainted, pestilent, putrid un-inspected lemonade for free and suddenly the laws meant to secure the safety of the unassuming patrons no longer apply.  Apparently, there is no longer any danger from products offered ‘gratis,’ and the sisters can go about their business.  Or lack thereof, as it were.

And with that, the undeniable truth has been set free: (stick with me)  for it follows that if a bureaucracy can create a regulation that is not meant to but does include lemonade stands run by little girls in its requirement to receive a permit, under the ostensible auspices of “safety,” but it doesn’t include those same requirements if there is no monetary exchange, the primary focus is not safety at all, but only money.

Safety is the Siren’s Song that tells us that something is being done, or most likely has already been done, by some guy (or gal, as I’m sure that red tape is gender blind) from room 6 of sub-level G at the regulatory bureau in Regulationville, for your own good.

Except it hasn’t.

The demonstrable proof is that these types of rules are created to limit your freedom and make you pay to get it back.  They keep us all under a permanent thumb. They know that virtually everyone, by the simple attribute of citizenship, is guilty of some regulation that they had no idea was in existence, couldn’t have known and now must pay for, literally.

And there are not going to be any exceptions.  These girls weren’t told that the rule would be revised, that the permit shouldn’t apply to lemonade stands and that the government was sorry for the inconvenience.  They were told to go to the bureau, get a permit and then a license to get the permit.  And they should be happy to live in a nation that protects its citizens from the surreptitious elements that exist on street corners, like elementary entrepreneurs working to pay for what they want.

They should have just made a cardboard sign instead and begged for money.  But then again, they’d need a permit for that.



 I wake each day with thoughts in my head
A conscience I feel
But this body instead

I look at this stranger in the mirror each day
Through the windows of my soul
At myself far away

I look at my hands, at my beautiful hands
And I know that they do not quite fit with me

I run these hands through my hair, not my hair
I see my arms, not my arms
My nose, my lips
Part of me
Not of me

Like clothes too tight
A crowded room with no air
Or standing atop a tall building with the uttermost care

My body betrays the true me that is me
If only I could be the me that is me

The Me
I have always wanted to be

Who I know that I am
The one that’s inside
The one who no longer can hide without pride
The trapped me that screams


Take who I am
All that I have to give

I will be strong and live on
Until that glorious day
When the world will let me
Be me and just be

But the truth is so hard
Nature got it wrong
I don’t feel quite white today
And it makes me less strong

For you see my skin
Is different within

To my innermost soul

Help me
Accept me
Don’t judge me


The Portrayal of a Character as a Cliche


Picture, if you will, life in a suburb of a major U.S. city where white flight took hold years ago.  Or better yet, the rural culture that, believe it or not, still maintains its roots throughout the vast expanse of the western United States.  Some areas are religious, some have a foundation in their own comfortable ways of life.  Now ask yourself, in these fairly sheltered, homogenous communities, where do these folks learn about the outside world?  From whence do their notions of ethnic groups, homosexuals and hippogriffs derive?  Without first-hand experience, the best guess that I can come up with is…dun duh nuh nuh… Pop Culture!!  And it is my contention (yes, my contention) that because of the adamant persistent drive for equality and acceptance by the advocates of the culture that is pop, the folks doing the portraying have an obligation to do a damn good job of it.

After all, they will create the images of what the gay, black, latino, irish, homeless, Buddhist, mermaid and wizard communities look like to much of the outstanding population.  If we are to take them seriously, and not as cartoony figments of those crazy Hollywood types, I don’t think that taking pride in the created characters is too much to ask.

Now I would turn your attention to a couple recent examples of portrayals of these “edgy” characters:

Here is a very recent article regarding the increasingly effeminate Loras Tyrell on the show Game of Thrones:

There are spoilers so, if that’s important, here’s the short, short breakdown.  Fans are upset because a character who is a homosexual man, who’s proclivities are alluded to more than they are described in the books of the series, is, on television, being turned into a poster boy for a lavish, unapologetic and uncompromising gay lifestyle that has, in the eyes of some, turned this character into a caricature of the gay lifestyle.

I have been a fan of this show for awhile and have seen the prevalence of homosexual relations, that are not literally depicted in the source material, come front and center on the small screen.  I believe that this is an attempt by the creators, writers, producers et al. to normalize these relations on television so that those “backwards” folks outside of egalitarian Hollywood can get used to the idea of seeing two men kiss (as well as discover a more detailed display than Michelangelo’s David can offer).  And by all means this is their right, just as anyone with a remote can change the channel.

But in the portrayal of Loras Tyrell the writers have jumped the proverbial shark.  They took a strong, handsome yet fierce, battle-hardened warrior and turned him into a GAY strong, handsome, kinda battle-hardened but more bedroom-hardened, weekend warrior, when I’m not otherwise intimately indisposed with another man.  A missed opportunity for a would-be hero.

Filmmakers did likewise with the recent film Pitch Perfect 2. In this case however, I have yet to see the “backlash” from the audience.  Here’s hoping…

In this pitch of a film, the most ethnically and socially diverse group of women on the planet have come together to sing acapella.  And every one with a line (some just hang about in the background) has been reduce to the most simple, common denominator:

-they are led by perky, and heterosexual, all accepting yet struggling with their own limitations, petite white girls.  Not in itself good or bad but it is an interesting choice for such a diverse group.

-the overweight and therefore compulsively repulsive yet somehow attractive enough to get a man, Fat Amy.  Oh, and she has a great accent that compliments her revolting demeanor.

-the butch black lesbian who is apparently attracted to all college girls, so much so that she winks like it’s a twitch from Tourette’s and gropes without consent (which, for those not paying attention, is actually sexual assault)

-and finally, the Asian girl carries throwing knives and does ninja-like moves, the Latina speaks in broken English about every possible hardship that faces the people of central America, and where would this group be without the completely open, sexually permissive, don’t even have a name or motive, slut of the group.

The creators of this film saw the opportunity to make some money and went for it while completely overlooking the opportunity that lay before them.  They could have created characters with some depth and personality instead of focusing on poop jokes and constant innuendo.  The racial stereotypes are just lazy, ceasing to be funny after the third iteration of the same joke, approximately eight minutes in.  And the sexual cliches abound giving yet another false, or at least one-sided impression of the alternate lifestyles that society is meant to accept, without seeing any substantial reason why.  If we are to believe that “they are people too” then it might help if we saw actual people, not cartoons.

I found some advice from Cosmo on what not to say to a gay man:

My takeaway is, surprise surprise, that gay men, just like men men, like to be treated as, well, people.  Not just gay people but people people.  All the trimmings of a fully realized life: hopes, dreams, failures, shortcomings, vacations, careers, aspirations and fears.  And just like the lives of heterosexual men are not all about antlers and strip clubs, homosexual lives are not all gay orgies drizzled in glitter and supported by rainbows.

Except, on both counts, some of them are.  And that is absolutely wonderful.

But, the issue then remains: what does the alphabet soup (LGBTQIA – more to come) of sexual minorities want from the rest of society.  Is it respect? Is it acceptance? Is there a genuine desire to become more than the pop culture portrayals?  I believe that unless these portrayals, which are the only source of exposure to divergent lifestyles for many many many folks, develop a consistently deeper identity, in the way of character development and honest but not shallowly minimalistic stereotypes, those who are not exposed in day-to-day life will continue to view this community as a cliche based upon a choice in lifestyle.

For if their supporters cannot be bothered to provide more than a sound bitten summary in the way of their minority characters, why would one believe that any others exist?

The Phony Factor: Why Hillary Will Lose

FILE PHOTO:  In Profile: 100 Years Of US Presidential Races

In the entertainment industry, of which politics is undoubtedly a part and shares some eerie similarities to the glitzy cult of personalities, there is that intangible quality that has been said to make a star. That thing. It. Pizazz.  Or quite commonly, the X-Factor.  Sort of a conglomeration of likability, charisma and talent, the X-Factor can separate good from great, memorable from mundane, pleasant from ghastly.  Think Kennedy vs. Nixon, 1960.

Sadly, in many cases, this characteristic can be of greater significance than either achievement or practical ability to do the job at hand.  But people like to see people succeed whom they like to like.  And they watch, and elect, those individuals who come across as sincere, personable, likable and genuine.  The kind of people that, no matter how far fetched this scenario might be, would come over for a beer and brat, or hummus and wine if you prefer.

On the other foot, people hate feeling duped and cannot abide being lied to. (again see Nixon, 1974)  We despise those who are disingenuous and, the majority of the time, the majority will turn away from those ineffectual leaders towards the ones that make us smile. This introduces, while perhaps not a polar opposite, a counter to the X-Factor:

The Phony Factor.

Think back on previous presidents and the opposing, inevitably losing candidate of the other party:

Barack Obama vs. John McCain- one was fresh, new, black, hip and ostensibly intelligent and completely devoted to his desire to transform the United States.  The other was John McCain.

-Mitt Romney fared little better as he never quite seemed to embrace, or at least find peace with the charge before him.  I think he wanted to be president, and for the right reasons, but the environment in which he had to operate was simply outside of his capability.

W. vs. Gore- the election was a coin toss and at the time, either one was X or Phony at any given time.  As the years have gone on, W. has become much more likable (any doubters can watch this) but as of the election, both were rather “meh.”

John Kerry vs. W.- Good old lurch barely looks comfortable in his suits, let alone his own skin, and couldn’t get much more than the anti-Bush crowd, which just wasn’t enough.

Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole- need I say more.

Bush 41 had exposed Michael Dukakis as a bleeding heart that endangered the public to secure his first term but for the second he had to combat both a charismatic Clinton and his own “read my lips” faux pas.  Too much to handle for the father.

And then there’s Ronald Reagan.  Mr. X-Factor who took all but Minnesota (his opponent Walter Mondale’s home state) to win his second term.  Morning in America was ubiquitous.

Which brings us to the epitome of the phony factor:

Hillary Rodham Clinton

I will go out on a limb here, so far out from the election, and say, with no equivocation:

Hillary Clinton will NOT be President of the United States.

She is simply too phony.  She stereotypically lives a life of public service which has amassed her family hundreds of millions of dollars.  She has been the First Lady, a Senator, the Secretary of State and yet clings to a message that she will reform Washington.  Why would she?  It made her who she is, with her style of success only possible in such a back-scratching, tit-for-tat, $200,000-500,000 per speaking engagement environment.

Her disconnect from reality is mystifying and yet entirely expected in the cynical realm of politics today.  Joel Gehrke at National Review writes,  “Clinton noted that small business creation has “stalled out,” to her chagrin. “I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it,” she said while campaigning in New Hampshire. “Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to.”

Again, First Lady, Senator, Sec. of State… and she didn’t know???  And this is just a smidgeon of the say anything mentality that will drive this election cycle.  She has such contempt for the “regular” beneath her, and she isn’t even aware of it.  That’s what Rumsfeld would call an “Unknown, unknown.”

Just take the test, which I will admit is less objective and more mystical that I generally purport to be, but ask yourself: Phony or Real?  Genuine or Fake?  Deep down, we know it to be true.  Hillary is a big faker, who was born in the 40s and claimed for years that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary who climbed Everest in 1953.  Why?  Because she will say anything and doesn’t believe that we the people, and especially the Democratic Party, will see through it.

But we, of all political bents, don’t like fakers in the White House.

The Cover of the Rolling Stone


“We take all kinds of pills that give us all kind of thrills, but the thrill we’ve never known,

Is the thrill that’ll getcha when you get your picture on the cover of the Rollin’ Stone.”

– Dr. Hook, “Cover of the Rolling Stone”

The absence of principled conviction, as reflected in moral relativism, will inevitably lead to the dissemination of ideas that conflict with one another.  And in so doing, the unconfessed single standard hiding behind the supposed double standard will emerge…

It was never a difficult task to dissect the motivations behind the Rolling Stone story about a girl from the University of Virginia who had been gang-raped at a frat party.  This fed into the narrative of an ideology that knows that women are treated as a lesser species by the neanderthal caucasian men who are the source of all of society’s ills.  They hate for breakfast and rape for dinner.

So why bother to question other sources aside from the victim?  Why question the responses of her friends that could be called nothing short of in-credible (as in, NOT credible)? And when it was discovered that one of “rapists” was not even at the party, then…?

Doesn’t matter.  The cause is what matters, that’s what’s just and that’s what’s important.  During the games of the Final Four (as well as throughout the entire NFL season) we saw athletes talking directly to camera about how WE need to end sexual assault.  As though it is somehow OUR fault and WE need to assume some collective guilt over what is already considered to be a horrendous crime.  And that’s the point.  Get the story out there to spread a message so that even when the facts are not entirely clear, the narrative is what sticks.

Because when the truth isn’t good enough, make it up.

Sexual assault is a plague in frat houses and across college campuses, don’t you know? Even if these particular frat boys didn’t sexually assault on THAT particular night they were going to soon, so it is for the common good that the house was closed and their reputations trashed.  And if we have to “enhance” the definition of sexual assault, then so be it.

 “The Department of Health and Human Services identifies sexual assault as “verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention.” Under that definition, forced kissing can certainly constitute as a form of sexual assault.”  Not that forced kissing should be tolerated at all but when it conflates with gang-rape we have an ethical dilemma due to an ideological agenda.

But there’s a conservative war on women, don’t you know?  They want women (and men by the way) to pay for their own contraceptives.  Jerks!!!

So, if real assault, faux assault, kiss assault and contraceptive assault can merge into a stew of hostility that’s then fed to the masses from the spoon of Rolling Stone, maybe the “crimes” will stick, even when the acts didn’t occur.  No one thinks of kissing when the words “sexual assault” come into play and the folks at DHHS and Rolling Stone know this.  Its the classic bait-and-switch.  Billy Flynn, & The Old Razzle-Dazzle.

Because when the truth isn’t good enough, make it up.

Women and men have horrible, traumatic events occur in their lives through no fault of their own.  No one ever deserves to be raped or “brings it on themselves.”  That is why the penalties for sexual assault are very severe.  They are horrible acts that society has deemed worthy of drastic punishments in the worst cases.  And while women have had to struggle for equal treatment in professional areas and with regards to civil rights, those aren’t current bouts against the mainstream.  Everyone believes in the equal treatment of women.  (I’ll shamelessly refer you to the bogus 77 cents on the dollar claim in a previous post.)

When a woman comes forward to report an attack, what is the existing stigma that is so feared?  Rolling Stone just showed that a woman with no evidence at all could dupe one of the biggest magazine’s in the country into believing her.  There was also the alleged rape of a woman by the Duke lacrosse team that never occurred, but people believed it. (Sharpton even showed up, of course he did)  But the story sticks and schools hyper-react so that they cannot find themselves in a position where they are accused of not caring about rape victims.  And what about the system? The cops, the judges and the DA want nothing more than to lock up rapists.  Their problem is that they want ACTUAL rapists.

But men and women lie.  They lie when accused and lie in the accusation.  It is the job of campuses, the police and the attorneys to find the truth.  Leave the ends that suit any ideology at the door and FIND THE TRUTH.  It would have taken any one of numerous “journalists” at Rolling Stone five seconds to sort this out. (They all get to keep their jobs too in spite of this debacle.  Isn’t that special??)  But they knew the truth before this girl from UVA even walked in the door.  So substantiating facts became a secondary matter and they went with the narrative that must be true, according to their own beliefs.

Rolling Stone has betrayed the very cause they sought to push forth.  While I don’t believe that women will now be viewed as liars first who must prove their accusations or go home, the magazine has undermined the essence of credibility and in cases of sexual assault, credibility is key.  When accusations are all there are, how else can the truth come out but through investigation and tests of credibility?

The truth is the end worth pursuing.  Not the phony war on whomever it is there is a conservative war on this week.  Not the inequality that may or may not exist.  Find the truth!

True leaders, honest public servants and daring journalists park their ideological baggage at the door and leap into the unknown, grasping for the facts.  They search out and expose criminals along with nefarious actors because they do in fact exist, but not in this case.

And here’s the sad part:

Somewhere, maybe on a college campus, last night a woman was attacked and raped.

How is she supposed to report this today knowing what occurred at UVA when the truth wasn’t good enough?

Rights 101: The Individual in Indiana


“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

It is a sad testament to the lack of social progress to see so many cultural and political issues reemerge into the fleeting gaze of the public spotlight.  An issue appears, as quickly as a speck in your vision, and just as it becomes clear, it vanishes from view.  The public no wiser, the politicians no better, the country no stronger.

I have been writing these “articles” for just a little while and I already find that I have sufficient material to regurgitate topics from the archives.  Just add a dash of my patented snarky ketchup to the pre-prepared topic casserole du jour and, voila!.  What was once old becomes new!!

But that wouldn’t achieve one of the primary goals of The Last Best Hope: to expunge the detritus that settles between my ears.  So let’s take those leftovers and really whip up something divine!

A few months back I’d written about two gay guys who walked into a bakery.  (I made the same joke then too, as you can find here)  The gist is that they wanted the baker to make them a wedding cake and the baker said “no” due to his religious convictions.  The men pressed a lawsuit and said baker was compelled to make said cake, decorations and all.  My position on this was, and is, that government compulsion of behavior is an invalid role of the state and that everyone deserves the right to direct or withhold his or her own work.  There is little quite so demoralizing as a job you take no pride in doing.

Which, of course, brings me to the great state of Indiana.  The Hoosier State has become the new Cuba, with trade and travel restrictions accompanying a general disgust for its leader, Mike Pence, who apparently hates homosexuals so much that, along with the state legislature, just made it legal to discriminate against those of same-sex orientation.

Or not.

Despite the rampant criticisms of certain reporters, the mob mentality, and of course Al Sharpton (just know that if Sharpton is on your side then you’re doing it wrong.  And by it, I mean Life) Indiana did not pass a sweeping reform to bring back the gestapo in white hoods.  What Indiana lawmakers drafted, and what Governor Pence signed into law, (and has done an admirably atrocious job of explaining) is a protection of the limitations on government as articulated in the first amendment, because, as 19 other states have found sans protest, the federal protection does not extend to the states.

And, in the spirit of leftovers, this federal protection, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), was signed into law in 1993 by that fastidiously fellatio-ed fellow, former President Bill Clinton.  It was supported by then senator Barack Obama in the Illinois legislature (although Indiana does not have the same legal discriminatory protections of Illinois), along with a 97-3 vote in the Senate and unanimous support in the House. (that’s right, EVERYONE)  Simply put, this was not a controversial bill and times have not changed that much.  Gay marriage is on the rise but not universal and religion is still a bedrock of American culture.  I have yet to find a town of any substance without a church of some kind…or a liquor store.

The federal bill has been used to protect native americans, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Jews and followers of Santeria.  The feds, and subsequently the states, like Indiana, have altered the way that courts approach cases where there are competing rights and possible governmental interests in the protection of those rights.  The laws are now “requiring a “compelling state interest” justifying a ban on religious practice, an action “narrowly tailored” to that interest, and the “least restrictive” means of pursuing it.”

The question now becomes (and has been) which rights are paramount and deserve protection?  Is a Jewish printer required to create recruiting pamphlets for the Aryan Brotherhood?  Should a devout Muslim photographer be compelled to shoot the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition?  Is a homosexual florist mandated to provide ornamentation for the opening of the new Westboro Baptist church?  And should an evangelical Christian be made to bake a cake for a ceremony that fundamentally violates her beliefs?  No, no, no and NO!

The abilities of every human being are the result of experience, dedication and hard work.  Religious beliefs provide a sacred foundation for how to live this life and prepare for the hereafter.  And sexual orientation is a basic component of all human beings.  But, when one person, couple, group, church, magazine or psycho-outfit demand that an individual act against his conscience, that individual deserves protection.

Yes, stores and restaurants are places of public accommodation and being that the owners of such establishments have opened their shops in such a legally-mandated climate, they are NOT allowed, under Senate bill 101 or any other, to openly discriminate.  The baker must still bake a cake for a gay customer.  But, the baker is not compelled to partake in any part of the wedding ceremony of two gay men.  There is a subtle and vital distinction.  It will be up to the courts to decide when to use which of the aforementioned rights to whom applies… etc. etc.

The First Amendment is the most basic of all protections against government that the citizens of this nation possess.  It protects the most endangered and discriminated group of all…the individual.

Some people have deplorable views based upon nothing more than a shallow upbringing, vapid stereotypes, and, in the absolute worst cases, unsubstantiate-able hate.  And some of those people own businesses.  Personally, I believe that much like one’s house, one’s business is one’s property and the owner should determine how to conduct business in said business.  Allow the free-market to determine who succeeds.  In most cases, as displayed by one aspect of the outcry in Indiana,  people support each other and will serve whomever walks in the door.  And those who don’t will suffer the wrath of fierce competition.  Let the creative destruction begin!

But no one should be compelled to act against his or her own will by government forces in violation of religious beliefs.  One person can never have a right to another’s time or ability.  That is not a right, that’s slavery.  Senate bill 101 will see some added language to specifically prohibit discrimination but such additions are catering to the wrong forces.

Don’t be like so many people, inclined to believe what is spoon-fed, flown into the hanger, when it fits comfortable, intellectually lazy preconceived ideas.  The mob is rarely right and never interested in truth.  It is the most base reaction to forces that, on most days, it can’t be bothered to attempt to understand.  Just check out voter turnout for the biggest elections.  Within the lifetime of anyone who might be reading this, the highest turnout among the voting age population was in 1960 at 62.8%.  In 2012 it was 54.9%.  That means that on the best of days only have of any of those people marching have any idea of what they protest.  The rest are acting on emotion alone, too busy chanting to be bothered with the details.

Learn and seek truth, not support for the opinions you already possess.  The world will open in ways that you can only now imagine.

“Buy the Truth…and sell it not.” – Proverbs 23:23