In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Matter of "Choice"

Last weekend marked the 38th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, which struck down most state-law restrictions on abortion, and recognized that a right to "privacy" distilled from the Due Process Clause of the federal Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment includes a woman's decision to abort her pregnancy. This past Monday, hundreds of thousands of people from across the nation and the world gathered in the streets of Washington, DC for the 2011 March for Life, demonstrating their commitment to life over legalized killing, and praying for a dramatic change in the law to protect the lives of unborn children. Encouragingly, observers noted an especially high rate of participation by young people.

President Obama marked the milestone with this statement:
Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women's health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.
The President's statement reflects the myth that Roe vs. Wade and its progeny somehow affirm the principles of free choice and limited government, things libertarians and conservatives claim to support. In reality, Roe v. Wade represented a profound intrusion of federal government power into matters traditionally within the states' jurisdiction. Worse, by "choosing" personal privacy and convenience above the sanctity of life as fundamental national values, Roe contributed mightily to the development of a culture of selfishness, perversion and death that undermines society itself and the physical and moral health of everyone in it--not least the most helpless and vulnerable class of all, unborn children.

One questionable aspect of the President's statement is the suggestion that "government" has no business getting involved in "private family matters." To many today this idea seems almost self-evident, but in fact it doesn't comport with legal practice in this country now or for most of its history. In fact, America is rife with laws regulating "private family matters" in general and and sexual behavior in particular: laws against bigamy, incest, rape, and sex with children, the helpless, and animals; laws against pornography and sexual exploitation; laws governing marriage, separation, divorce, property division, spousal support, and the custody and support of children; laws against domestic violence and the abuse or neglect of partners, children, and the aged; laws governing medical care and education of children; laws providing for adoption, emancipation, and personal health-care decisionmaking; laws regulating wills and the distribution of property upon death--and so on. Almost all such laws are enacted and administered at the state level, and the regulation of "family matters" has long been regarded as a responsibility primarily of the states. Until the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, state statutes restricting or prohibiting abortion were part of this considerable body of law designed to promote, strengthen, and assist families and to protect children, mothers, the elderly, and other especially vulnerable persons in the domestic sphere. Singly and taken together, these laws "infringe" significantly on personal and family privacy. But they were enacted democratically by the people's elected representatives, and so reflect a deliberate decision by the people to surrender a modicum of privacy and personal freedom for the sake of ensuring our future by protecting children and promoting family life.

Roe v. Wade, however, effectively denied the right of the people to provide for their own children, their families, and their future in this way. Formerly, the citizens of one state could decide democratically, in their own legislatures, that the unborn should be protected from the moment of conception and severely restrict or even prohibit abortion at an early stage of pregnancy, while the people of another state, applying different values, could choose to regulate abortion much more liberally. In Roe v. Wade the United States Supreme Court took away this "choice" and said that the Federal Constitution, as the Supreme Court interpreted it, would decide the limits of what legal protections could and could not be afforded to the unborn. In effect, Roe moved the authority to decide this issue from the the people of the several states, acting democratically through their legislatures, and gave it to the federal courts, acting through Presidentially-appointed judges who serve for life and have the last word on the Constitution's meaning and reach. This assumption of power might be defensible were a right to abortion mentioned in the Constitution, or were such a right a clear and necessary extension of some specific freedom expressly guaranteed in that document. Instead, the right to terminate a pregnancy recognized in Roe was based on a vague right to "privacy" that itself is not mentioned in the Constitution, but was extrapolated from the malleable Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and developed within parameters laid down by other Supreme Court justices in earlier Supreme Court cases. Roe thus made clear that the autocratic Judicial Branch of the Federal Government, rather than the democratic assemblies of the people, will decide whether, and just how, state laws may intrude into "private family matters."

Even more damaging than this loss of choice for the people is Roe's exaltation of the the individual's freedom and convenience over the rights and interests of everyone else affected by the decision to terminate pregnancy--the father, families generally, civilized society, and of course, the unborn child itself. Making the pregnant mother's "choice" paramount above all, even above the life of her own helpless child, would be morally and legally untenable except on the principle that that entity in the mother's womb not a human being at all--at least until what the Supreme Court decides is "viability"--but is just so much medical waste. By elevating personal freedom and self-interest over life and all the duties--and blessings--that go along with it, the Supreme Court energized the growing culture of selfishness, irresponsibility, materialism, promiscuity, and perversion that is now corroding the very foundations of society. Roe gave a green light to the development of a whole industry, funded with billions of (many of them taxpayer) dollars, devoted to the destruction and removal of fetal life. What this has done to the national conscience and soul, not to mention the millions of lives lost to legalized abortion since 1973, is incalculable. It is this culture, and this industry, that leads to things like the "house of horrors" maintained by Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. This is the "freedom of choice" that has forced some health-care professionals to participate in abortions against their will. These are the consequences of the Supreme Court's choice of self over life that have resulted in forty-one percent of all pregnancies in New York City ending in abortion (48 percent in the Bronx alone).

So, while President Obama "chose" to celebrate Roe v. Wade last week, I and millions of others "chose" to mourn--the loss of millions of innocent lives, the loss of a people's honor and soul, the loss of freedom to resist the death culture and of our democratic power in the states to protect unborn life. But we can still choose: to speak out loudly and unashamedly public and private in favor of fetal life, to work and vote for political candidates who do likewise, to lovingly counsel and support expectant mothers in choosing life for their unborn children. Most importantly, promote a culture of marriage and of life in your own home and teach it to your children. We can choose to fight selfishness with love, despair with faith, death with life, every day--for another 38 years or longer, if need be.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Fallout from Tucson

Some interesting developments/revelations regarding the tragic Gabrielle Giffords shooting:

As I predicted just last night, proposals for legal restrictions on free speech are already sprouting up like spring flowers (and it's only January). For example, a Democratic Congressman, Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.), is planning to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to "use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress." In an interview with CNN, Brady referred to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in remarking, "You can't put bull's-eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official." Of course, as I showed in last night's post, she did no such thing. I suppose, under the proposed legislation, I could go to jail for posting this:

Oh, wait . . . I already did. My bad. It's not a cross-hair symbol, but you get the idea, right? ;-) Unless you're a pot-smoking, demented anarchist, in which case, please disregard this post. Please.

And as you might expect, South Carolina Dem. Congressman James E. ("Jim") Clyburn says that in the wake of the Tuscon attack, he "wants standards put in place to guarantee balanced media coverage with a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine." Curiously, Clyburn's daughter Mignon Clyburn is an FCC commissioner; it's reported that she took a stand on the issue during her confirmation hearings and said that she opposed such a policy in "any way shape or form."

We've also been reminded that after Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at an Army base in Ft. Hood, Texas last November, killing 13 people, legions of news media types and government officials issued statements imploring the public not to "jump to conclusions" that the shooting was an act of Islamist violence--even though, within hours of the attack, it emerged that Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before he began shooting, visited violence-oriented Islamic websites, wrote Internet posts justifying Muslim suicide bombings, opposed American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as wars on Islam, and told a neighbor shortly before the shootings that he was going "to do good work for God." Now--despite steadily mounting evidence that Giffords shooting suspect Jared Loughner has been a paranoid leftist-anarchist and angry with Giffords for at least three years, before anyone south of Anchorage had ever heard of Sarah Palin--many of the same people are insisting that the shooting was an act of terrorism prompted by Palin's right-wing political vitriol, and are clamoring for limits on free speech. Where was all this righteous indignation when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were being hung, drawn, quartered and burned in effigy on an almost daily basis by left-wing zealots? Where were the calls for "better judgment" and "cooler heads" when Bush was being angrily blamed for everything from Hurricane Katrina to swine flu to economic collapse to Democratic failure at the polls--as he still is today?

Speaking of limits on speech, you might be surprised to learn that the father of nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, Jared Loughner's youngest victim, regards this terrible tragedy as part of the price of living in a free society, and does not want more restrictions on our liberties. I can't fathom this man's grief, or his nobility.

The lesson we need to take from the Tucson tragedy is Mr. Green's, not Rep. Clyburn's or Brady's. We must NOT let the violent act of a lone madman, acting for no one's twisted purpose but his own, become the excuse for a stifling of free expression by the powers of law or of political correctness. Everyone must speak and act with common decency and common sense. But we must not delegate to any governmental agency or social/political elite the power to decide in advance, for everyone else, just what expressions fall within and without those limits.

Christina Taylor Green

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I (and Sarah Palin) Shot Gabrielle Giffords

It's distressing to start off a new year's posts with commentary on a tragic event like the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people in Tuscon, Arizona yesterday. Needless to say, we all pray for the families of the slain and for the full recovery of the wounded, and that the perpetrator(s) be brought to justice.

But what most appalls and frightens me now, observing others' reactions to this event--in the media, and in comments to online articles and Facebook posts--are the wild and irresponsible conclusions people are leaping to that this single act of violence was somehow "caused" by the angry rhetoric and hostility toward politicians stirred up by conservative critics of government. By some hysterical pretzel-logic, most of the blame-throwing seems to be directed at--who else?--Sarah Palin. Their "reasoning" goes something like this:
PREMISE: An atmosphere of incivility and hostility toward government and politicians prevails in America today.
PREMISE: That atmosphere has been fostered by Sarah Palin (among others, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and members of the Tea Party movement).
FACT: Someone committed an act of violence against a government official.
CONCLUSION: Sarah Palin and her allies are responsible for that act of violence.
In other words, anyone who has publicly and angrily criticized the government and its officials in recent years--presumably including me, and maybe you too--is at least jointly responsible for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords.

Before the suspected shooter had even been officially identified, and without the slightest evidence of what his motives might have been, mainstream media news stories (for example, this one from the AP) were noting that "Giffords has drawn the ire of the right in the last year, especially from politicians like Sarah Palin over her support of the health care bill"; that "[h]er Tucson office was vandalized a few hours after the House voted to approve the health care law in March"; that "Palin listed Giffords' seat as one of the top 'targets' in the midterm elections because of the lawmakers' support for the health care law"; and that "[t]he shooting comes amid a highly charged political environment that has seen several dangerous threats against lawmakers," including one by "a San Francisco man upset with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's support of health care reform" and one by another California man "known for his anger over left-leaning politics" who shot at highway patrol officers and planned to attack the ACLU. It was pointed out that Rep. Giffords' opponent in the November elections, a former Marine, was pictured on his website in military gear holding an automatic weapon.

Left-leaning Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, in several press conferences and interviews only hours after the shooting, referred to it as evidence that his own state had become a “mecca for racism and bigotry”, and blamed the act on "the vitriol that comes out of certain people’s mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country" (this is the same county sheriff who, a few months ago, called the new Arizona Immigration law unwise, stupid and racist and that he would not enforce it).

A lead article in Sunday's New York Times makes this incredible statement:
While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained antigovernment ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.
"Regardless of what led to the episode"? This statement encapsulates the problem with the current debate over the Arizona shooting's relationship to the "emotionally charged political climate" and who's responsible for it. Even though Loughner's motivations are presently unclear, at best, and may have little or nothing in particular to do with Ms. Giffords' politics or current government policies--and almost certainly nothing to do with Sarah Palin or campaign ads ran months ago which this youthful, mentally disturbed suspect probably never saw--liberals in the government, media, and general populace are eagerly leaping to the conclusion that they do, with no factual basis whatever. "What led to this episode" should have everything to do with the debate, and if investigation shows that this was the irrational act of a raving lunatic, that should be the end of it.

Of course, the Left won't let that be the end of it; by some twisted quasi-logic "Sarah Palin and her allies," through their passionate rhetoric and antigovernment attitude, will be fixed with responsibility for inspiring, emboldening, or enabling an unbalanced individual to commit such an act. As far as they're concerned, the case is already closed.

But we're thinking people. So, let's look at what evidence there is at the moment before we make judgments. And what little there is doesn't lend much credence to the wave of self-righteous indignation against conservative political rhetoric. An article on MSNBC last night, which quotes Loughner's YouTube videos and MySpace postings extensively, says that:
The videos are not blatantly political, in the sense that they do not mention the congresswoman or federal judge that he's suspected of shooting, nor any specific legislation. They do complain that too few people in the area speak English — immigration has been a hot-button political issue, particularly in the border state of Arizona, and the federal judge who was killed had handled high-profile cases about immigration, after which he received threats. (The sheriff said Saturday night that it appears the judge was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the gunman went first for the congresswoman.)
If you proceed to read the article's own quotes of Jared Loughner, you'll find that he complains that too many people are "illiterate"--he never once mentions Mexicans or the Spanish language, or that people can't speak English, and he talks more about "grammar" and how the government is using it for "mind control." He says absolutely nothing about immigration.

In fact, here's essentially all he says about government or politics:
I know who's listening: Government Officials, and the People . . . Nearly all the people, who don't know this accurate information of a new currency, aren't aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn't have happen . . .
I can't trust the current government because of fabrications. The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.
The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America's Constitution. You don't have to accept the federalist laws. Nonetheless, read the United States of America's Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.
In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can't trust the government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!

No! I won't trust in God!

What's government if words don't have meaning?
The MSNBC article lists among Loughner's favorite books, as indicated in an online profile, "Animal Farm," "Brave New World," "The Wizard of OZ," "Aesop's Fables," "The Odyssey," "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," "Fahrenheit 451," "Peter Pan," "To Kill A Mockingbird," "The Communist Manifesto," "Gulliver's Travels," "Mein Kampf," and "The Republic." This article, and another posted this evening, quotes a former friend of Loughner who described him as a "pothead" and his past politics as "left wing, quite liberal, & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy."

I don't know about you, but I find it hard to see what in all this suggests any responsibility for Loughner's actions on the part of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party movement, the Republican Party, or political conservatism in general. Given that several of the authors of Loughner's favorite books were critical of governments and social systems of their day, it seems just as logical to infer that Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut, Lewis Carrol, Karl Marx, or Plato inspired him to shoot Gabrielle Giffords.

Sarah Palin has been singled out for criticism by liberals and the media for publishing a "target map" on her PAC website using small "cross-hairs" symbols to roughly identify the districts of 20 House Democrats up for election in last year's mid-term elections, including Rep. Giffords'. The Congresswoman's face is not on the map, nor is anyone else's, and her name is only one of twenty listed on the map. The map doesn't mention "targeting" or shooting anyone. Interestingly, the ultra-left blog Daily Kos also posted what it called a "target list" identifying Giffords in a 2008 post, which listed Giffords as one of dozens of representatives with "a bull's-eye on their district" for being a "bad apple" Democrat.

The Left's and media's response to the Arizona shooting evinces the sort of political scapegoating and witch-hunting that liberals claimed to abhor back in the 1950s and '60s. Today, they're all to happy to pin responsibility for a lone maniac's actions on certain individuals (other than the actual perpetrator), and a whole class of people (conservatives), they don't like. Presumably, they would find the many vocal critics of John F. Kennedy's policies complicit in his assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oddly, I haven't heard anyone on the Left condemning Muslim leaders or the atmosphere among Muslims of hate against Christians, Jews, and Americans generally for Nidal Malik Hasan's massacre of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009. Nor have I heard any of them denounce the attitude of divisiveness that drove the "New Black Panthers" to intimidate voters in Philadelphia in 2008, or the spirit of hate that impelled SEIU thugs to terrorize a bank executive's children in their own home last May.

The point of this post, however, isn't so much to defend Sarah Palin or Tea Partiers against hysterical, groundless attacks as it is to warn my readers about the impact that these denunciations and demands for "civility" could have on free expression and the political future of this country.

We should remember that in 1933 the Nazis used the setting of a fire in the German Reichstag building, by an unemployed, mentally disturbed Communist sympathizer, as an excuse to push through the German Parliament a suspension of civil liberties and for mass arrests of political opponents, which enabled the Nazi party to consolidate its hold on power. Five years later, the Nazis used the shooting of a minor German diplomat in Paris, by a young Jewish man upset at his family's forced deportation from Germany, as an excuse to launch the Kristallnacht, a nationwide pogrom against Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues that marked the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust.

Today in the United States, the Giffords shooting and the "uncivil, antigovernment atmosphere" from which it supposedly sprang will undoubtedly fuel a campaign to have the Federal Communications Commission and other government agencies regulate talk radio and the Internet (the latter move has already begun on transparently innocuous grounds, as discussed here and here) so as to prevent the spreading of "divisive", "hateful," or seditious rhetoric. The FBI and the Treasury Department (including the IRS and Secret Service) will be called upon to "investigate" people and organizations who do the spreading and to threaten their funding and tax-exempt status. At a minimum, open and forthright criticism of the government and of political figures will be discouraged as "uncivil" and as a potential incitement to violence. This will be true not only for high-profile figures like Sarah Palin, but also for ordinary folks like you and me, who like to express our opinions in easily-monitored online forums like this blog, or on Facebook (or in bars, buses, or anywhere else snoops might be employed).

Of course, everyone wants peace and civility. But people aren't angry for nothing, and it wasn't Sarah Palin or any other conservative spokesperson who "made" them angry. Their fury was, and is, the direct result of the relentless campaign within governments, the media, and other elements of society to negate the Unites States Constitution and fatally undermine all that this country has traditionally stood for. Let's deal with the causes of popular anger, not merely the symptom.

It's sobering to think that the American Revolution might never have happened if the plainly inflammatory antigovernment statements of firebrands like Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry had been suppressed. Career politicians, bureaucrats, socialists, public employee unions, and their running dogs in the media and academia would like nothing better than to make sure that ordinary people in this country could never rise up against their masters again. They'll use any excuse--even the impulsive shootings of a Congresswoman, a judge, a little girl, and some old ladies in a mall parking lot by a crazed, pot-smoking loser like Jared Loughner--to stifle dissent and advance their agenda.

Don't let them. Don't shut up. Don't hide. Don't stop exposing their corruption and evil schemes. Don't stop defending your liberties, whatever it costs, and no matter what others try to embarrass you with. Don't surrender, and don't retreat--not one inch.