Can We Talk Intelligently Please?

I don’t like a double standard. I don’t really think any of us do, unless of course they favor us, and that is human nature. Our best selves however recognize that we all needed to be treated with the same dignity and respect. We all need to be treated equally in the eyes of the law, and we all need to be able to be treated with equal expectations, at the very least at a base line level, in what is and is not appropriate behavior in society at large. Basically what I am trying to get at here is that the expectation of how we act, what is and is not appropriate to say, etc. should be norms, no matter who we are all in all.  Before I get into this, let me say a few things. Bullying is wrong. Harassment is wrong. Sexism, racism, etc. are all wrong. If you read anything in this that you think says otherwise, one of two things is true. It is possible that you misunderstood what I was attempting to say. It happens to all of us, me a lot in truth, so it’s not a condemnation. It is equally possible (I am being generous to myself as it is much more likely) that I did not do a very good job of trying to explain the point I am trying to make. If, after reading this, you would care to comment, please do. Keep it classy though please, because in the last few days I have had enough of what can only be called unproductive conversation based in ignorance.

Let’s get the ball rolling with the elephant in the commercial, Gillette. In a rare twist, most of my issues with it can be summed up by VOX. Believe me, I was as surprised as any of you who know me are. I am in no way justifying any of the poor behavior that is shown in the advert. It’s terrible behavior. I desperately want to be able to seriously talk about the problem of reducing important social issues to an advertising campaign designed to make a large corporation money. Now, I freely admit that this is my, perhaps overly, cynical view, but it is an educated view based upon the shrinking profits of Gillette over the past several years and their inability to regain market share from competitors, combined with the current social awareness of these matters. Really, the VOX piece describes much of my concern better than I can, so please read it and think about it. The one thing not mentioned is the portrayal. In the advert, the majority of men are portrayed as those who encourage poor behaviors, while it is the minority that stands against them.  No, that is not my fragile male ego talking. I promise my ego is neither fragile nor is it small enough to be bothered by a commercial. It is my concern that the wrong message is being portrayed from that standpoint however as I reject the narrative that the majority of men are somehow terrible. That was the impression that I got from the ad personally. Read the VOX piece, consider it, and give it some real thought. After doing that can we have an intelligent conversation? You know, one that involves a little bit more than ugly accusations spewed and devoid of negative assumptions?
Something else that I found interesting about the people who think that Gillette was brilliant and being socially responsible and that more corporations should do this, and to be clear, I have no problem with holding that opinion, though I do disagree with it, when asked about Citizen’s United, the SCOTUS case that allowed large amounts of corporate money into the political process by declaring campaign donations protected speech, the answer was a resounding no. I do not see a logical consistency here. If corporations should be socially responsible and push for positive, or perceived positive, societal change, then should not those same corporations be able to support the candidates and policies that can bring that about? If not then aren’t we saying you should have a voice, but no influence politically? Isn’t that downright unamerican? Can we have a conversation about that? Can we intelligently discuss this? Can we talk about if we really want a bottom line profit driven corporation to control general societal morality and behavior? Please?

The second story is about a Gm plant in Toledo, Ohio and some overtly racist actions that occurred there. I hope that you take the time to read it as it is disturbing to say the least. Let’ take a few minutes to talk about what this is and is not. This is not about free speech. Yes, hate speech is protected as free speech, however the workplace has policies in place against such language and treatment of individuals that they apparently did not follow as they should have. Your employer has the right to limit your speech, during your on the clock hours. Not only that, an employer is ethically obligated to apply company policy equal to all. What happened here (according to civil action) is continued racial harassment. It’s wrong. Period. That, and under no circumstances is a noose hanging from a rafter free speech when used as an obvious threat. Never. That’s a threat, which is illegal, and likely constitutes a call to action, neither of which is protected speech. Can we have an intelligent conversation about this? Can we talk about how amazing it is that the two gentlemen who were treated so horribly did all that they could, every step of the way, to try and resolve the problem rather than immediately jumping of the cliff of civil actions like so many do? Can we talk about how sick it is that they had to? Please? Intelligently and not trying to cloud the issue with free speech arguments that do not apply? Please?

Finally we get to the piece i came across accidentally by virtue about reading a lot of news regarding sports. It is about a German Men’s Soccer Team. The very first line of the article reads: “The first woman to coach a men’s team in one of Germany’s top five leagues is tackling sexism by sarcastically suggesting her selections are based on penis lengths.” Read the whole article please, it is short. I am perfectly willing to accept that this is a sarcastic remark. Let’s change the first line slightly though by reversing the situation. We will, in our thought experiment, change it to a woman’s team and a male coach. The first line of our imaginary story for the purposes of our thought experiment reads “The first man to coach a woman’s team in one of Germany’s top five leagues is tackling sexism by sarcastically suggesting his selections are based upon breast size”.  Again, this is not my fragile male ego, but rather my research and experience, that tells me that, even if it were an obvious joke and sarcasm, that the imaginary comments in the thought experiments would be called out as at least inappropriate, by some sexist, and by some others to rise to the level of sexual harassment. Now, to me personally, I have no issue with the woman making an obvious sarcastic comment like this. I chuckled honestly. Then it dawned on me that while I would chuckle about the same basic comment made by a man about women, I do not think that many, and maybe most would. I further think that there would be very loud calls for him to quit or be fired. If the comments are inappropriate, then they need to be inappropriate for all. Can we have a serious conversation about how being treated equally includes this? Can we thin have a conversation about some of the “male rights” types that I find basically silly, in this have a point? Please?

Three stories, three topics, and three different types of situations, but they all have one thing in common. We can not talk about them like adults. As an example, in a conversation about the Gillette story, after I had affirmed that the behaviors they are presenting as bad are indeed bad, when I mentioned my concern that such serious topics should not be reduced to profit was suddenly a misogynist idiot that hated women and was simply attempting to mansplain myself. If voicing a concern is reduced that that, we can not talk. Similar things happen in various discussions about the other two stories. The question of being able to have an actual conversation goes far beyond these stories, but let’s start small. Can we talk about this please?

 

The American Reformation

In much of what passes for Christianity in the west, a reformation of sorts has taken place. It is not as easy to put a date on or identify as the protestant reformation, but it’s results are easily seen, including it’s own set of solas to mark it. Unlike the prostestant reformation, the lasting effects of this will not be reform and leading people to the faith, but rather it will result in precisely what we are seeing and result in an increasing amount of conflict and lead away from the faith. I would like to explore these new solas, and comment briefly.
  1. Sola Sententia (opinion alone). This is the easiest to identify sola of the new reformation. The opinion has been elevated above all else. It matters not what others think, but only what you do. It matters not what the church thinks, but only what you do. Everything becomes personal opinion and personal theology. Even if I, for example, were to defend the theology of the church, it is not seen as the theology of the church, but my opinion, my interpretation, my belief. The church, and Christ as her head, has been relegated to a personal opinion instead of an authority.
  2. Sola Motus (emotion alone). How we feel about something has become not only the defining characteristic that spurs us to action, but the defining characteristic of who we are. Feeling has become the highest truth. There is simply no rational truth, only emotion. Should someone try to present rational truth and/or facts, it is met with emotion. Don’t believe in universal healthcare? Obviously you hate the poor and want them to die. Before you laugh, I have been told this. This is not a random example, but a thing that I have heard over and over again. The highest sin has become offending someone’s delicate sensibilities.
  3. Sola Actum (action alone). This is one of the more insidious ones because it uses the language and promise of the church, but twists it into a tool of the adversary. We all talk about grace and ever say the right things, but the new reformation has twisted grace to only apply to those who do the “right things”, vote the “right way”, attend the “right protests”, and support the “right political causes”. Don’t fully support this or that political action group? Obviously that is a sign that the grace of God is not upon you. You end up accused of not having love, or of not having fruit, but those accusations of course rely on sola sententia thinking, so they are self fulfilling. Works are taken from being the evidence of grace, and used a s a necessity for grace, and of course they must be the right works.
  4. Sola Calumnoir (slander alone). Those who do not think as we do become enemies who must be discredited at every turn.  This becomes confusing because those who do this most often claim to stand for the freedom to be different. What they mean is that you can be different so long as it’s different like them.
  5. Sola Contextus (context alone). The worst of all the solas, and the one that binds them all together. Everything is ok so long as you do not claim that it is an objective truth. Such a thing doesn’t exist in the new reformation. It’s all context after all. What is sin? Depends on your context, if there is sin at all. What is holy living? Depends upon your context. What is right and wrong? Depends upon your context. Nothing is objective and absolute, and everything is a matter of context.
  6. Sola Cultura (culture alone). The church needs to be relevant! More destructive words have never been spoken. The meaning here is that the church needs to be relevant to the world, but that is not at all the case. The church needs to be relevant to the kingdom of God, and that kingdom, which will come in it’s fullness, does not resemble the kingdoms of the Earth. The church frankly shouldn’t be relevant. This sola however has had it’s effect as most can not tell the difference between the church and the world anymore.
  7. Sola Illustratio (enlightenment alone). Listen, a lot of good came from the enlightenment. Liberal theology was not one of those things. Said theology would have us look at ancient texts through modern eyes in the quest for truth. Said theology would have us reinterpret and change the faith once and for all delivered over and over again so that it reflects our world and our words, rather than reflecting the Kingdom of God and the Word, as well as the word,  of God. It would point us forward looking for answers when faith calls us to the past for our answers.
  8. Sola Rei Publicae (politics alone). The faith has become so intertwined with politics, even to the point that those who want faith out of politics cite the same faith to justify their politics. Such a faith looks to the powers of the Earth for answers rather than to the power of God, and His vessel, the church, for answers. Such a sola is dangerous at best, and blasphemous at worst.
  9. Sola Scientia (science alone). We demand that our faith make sense. No virgin birth because that is not possible. The sun did not stand still, the plagues upon Egypt were natural happenings, the resurrection is a beautiful story, but certainly not a literal bodily resurrection from the dead, and there are no miracles. Few of us might say these things out loud, but how many of us believe them? We say that we believe in miracles, but we don’t really think that they will happen. We say that we believe in the resurrection of the body, but secretly suspect it is something different, if we give it a thought at all. We have castrated the power of God by demanding that science answer our questions and provide our explanations instead of relying upon faith. Don’t get me wrong, I love science and find it fascinating, but it can not, and does not, answer the questions of faith. They are after all the mysteries of faith, not science.
  10. Sola Novus (the new alone). The ancient has no value. We know much better now. We are smarter, more mature, wiser, etc. All things new must be embraced and adored, and all things ancient must be put away as it does not apply now.

There are likely more things that can be thrown in here, but I think I will end my list of new solas here. The sad reality is that in America, and in much of the western world, our hubris has formed our faith rather than God through Christ. We have reshaped Christianity into something that the early fathers would have not only rejected, but written soundly against. The faith that we demonstrate in the western world rarely resembles the faith of the early fathers. Such a faith puts us all on dangerous ground. The ancient shows us the way, not the new. The new reformation and it’s solas is the wide way and not the narrow one we are to follow. I pray we all realize this before it is to late.

Gorsuch, SCOTUS, And A Win for Justice (and us all)

The Supreme Court issued a ruling on a case which, depending on which news outlets you read, is a stunning defeat for Trump on immigration, a betrayal by Gorsuch, a victory for liberals, or some combination of both. I want to challenge those narratives and say that this is a victory for justice, thus a victory for us all. To do this, we will briefly dive into the case and look at what Justice Gorsuch, who is currently my favorite federal judge (yes, I have a favorite federal judge), actually said about the case as he sided, in part, with the more liberal justices.
The case is about a gentleman named James Dimaya was convicted of burglary (first degree residential burglary specifically) under California law. That is not in dispute. He is guilty of this crime. He was convicted of it in both 2007 and 2009.  Mr. Dimaya has been a legal permanent resident in the US since 1992. This is also not at issue. The sentence for the crime was 2 years in prison. This is the basic background of the case necessary to understand what comes next. Under federal law if a non-citizen is convicted of an “aggravated felony”, the individual is subject to removal from the country. The department of Homeland Security decided that in this case Mr. Dimaya was subject to removal due to the fact that this constituted a crime of violence. ” Based on Dimaya’s two first-degree burglary convictions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alleged that Dimaya was subject to removal because the crimes for which he was convicted under California law constituted crimes of violence for which the term of imprisonment [was] at least one year. Such a crime constitutes an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(F), which utilizes the definition of crime of violence provided under 18 U.S.C. § 16.” (quote source). The relevant statute here reads as follows:
“(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or prop­erty of another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” (from Cornell University Legal Information Institute).
In a similar case, legally speaking, the vagueness of a law was struck down as well, also by a notably conservative judge whom Gorsuch is in some ways similar to, Antonin Scalia. He said the following: “by combining indeterminacy about how to measure the risk posed by a crime with indeterminacy about how much risk it takes for the crime to qualify as a violent felony, the residual clause produces more unpredictability and arbitrariness than the Due Process Clause tolerates … this Court’s repeated attempts and repeated failures to craft a principled and objective standard out of the residual clause confirm its hopeless indeterminacy.” (source) All of this led to a decision by the SCOTUS not on whether or not Mr. Dimaya is a violent man, a potentially violent man, or even if he should be in the US at all, but whether or not the clause used here in deportation was unconstitutionally vague. That is the key here. This case was not about Mr. Dimaya or anything he did or did not do, but about laws that are unconstitutionally vague. The decision was that it indeed was unconstitutionally vague. The plurality opinion, joined in part by Justice Gorsuch said, (in part) “In sum, §16(b) has the same [t]wo features that conspire[d] to make [ACCA’s residual clause] unconstitutionally vague. It too requires a court to picture the kind of conduct that the crime involves in the ordinary case, and to judge whether that abstraction presents some not-well-specified-yet-sufficiently-large degree of risk. The result is that §16(b) produces, just as ACCA’s residual clause did, more unpredictability and arbitrariness than the Due Process Clause tolerates.” 
Why this is a victory for justice though is in the comments made by Justice Gorsuch in his partial concurrence. “Before holding a lawful permanent resident alien like James Dimaya subject to removal for having committed a crime, the Immigration and Nationality Act requires a judge to determine that the ordinary case of the alien’s crime of conviction involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used. But what does that mean? Just take the crime at issue in this case, California burglary, which applies to everyone from armed home intruders to door-to-door salesmen peddling shady products. How, on that vast spectrum, is anyone supposed to locate the ordinary case and say whether it includes a substantial risk of physical force? The truth is, no one knows. The law’s silence leaves judges to their intuitions and the people to their fate. In my judgment, the Constitution demands more.” But wait, that’s not the best part! Justice Gorsuch goes further and says that as grave a penalty as deortation is, the void for vagueness doctrine should not stop there. “But, grave as that penalty may be, I cannot see why we would single it out for special treatment when (again) so many civil laws today impose so many similarly severe sanctions. Why, for example, would due process require Congress to speak more clearly when it seeks to deport a lawfully resident alien than when it wishes to subject a citizen to indefinite civil commitment, strip him of a business license essential to his family’s living, or confiscate his home? I can think of no good answer.”
In plain English, Justice Gorsuch here is challenging the numerous nebulous laws that local, count, state, and federal law makers and agencies pass forcing the courts to interpret that which has no definitive meaning. That’s right, Justice Gorsuch writes that real people, like you and I, should be able to understand the law, and it’s consequences, else it violates the due process clause of the fifth amendment. Imagine, if you will, a land where we all not only can know, but can understand, the laws that the nation passes which we are supposed to follow. Imagine, if you will, a land where the regulatory agencies, (despicable as they are) actually have to write regulation that is clear and concise and not subject to blatant abuse, such as the Clean Water Act. Imagine, if you will, a land where the law actually means what it says. That is what Justice Gorsuch is calling for here, and that is why it is a victory not for the liberals, not for the conservatives, not even for Mr. Dimaya, but for justice.

@Indiana new legislation “protecting businesses”.

(Someone asked me if I can’t just be foolish on Facebook… Well, hell, NO! I will be foolish here as well:)

1 – The State of Indiana passing laws that are to allow business to reject service to gays: WRONG. Even with the argument that it is to protect businesses from the heavy lawsuits gay people file against business. We should not respond with legislation against others whereas saying that we don’t like “legislation” which is against us

UPDATE: Please read a clarification in the comments.                               UPDATE #2 – Please read how CNN “headlines” the matter here

2 – Gay people closing otherwise good business by suing them because they cannot bake a cake for themselves, or arrange flowers by themselves (what kind of gay people are they?): WRONG
3 – Gay people in business, hypothetically, refusing to provide services for the KKK and the Westboro (more like West Burro) Baptist Church in a anti-gay regalia: WRONG.
So, in whatever case, it is all wrong! The fact is that no one wants to live together with those with whom they disagree. The fact remains that TOLERANCE is something you give, not something you DEMAND! The one demanding TOLERANCE and rights should be the first one READY TO GIVE IT!
I have repeated this often, including in “diversity” courses: Tolerance demanded is in and of itself INTOLERANCE! Especially when it is in detriment of others.
If it matters, before you call me names, read this: I do business with gays although I respect those who do not!
Now you can call me names …
A Civil War “of sorts”?
WE ARE IN A CIVIL WAR,
If:
  1.  We can’t live without legislating against those whose live styles or opinions we despise;
  2.  We can’t live without involving the courts against those whose life styles and opinions we despise;
  3. We can’t live without involving the GOVERNMENT against those whose life styles and opinions we despise:
THEN, we are already amid a CIVIL WAR; a bloodless one indeed, but perhaps just as dividing of a society as a full blown CIVIL WAR!!!!

My fellow #Americans

American Flag
American Flag

My Fellow Americans:

After reading in a few news outlets that the students of a certain university (mush brains being mushed brained) are removing the glorious AMERICAN FLAG from their campuses to make it MORE INCLUSIVE, I decided, as an AMERICAN BY THE WILL AND GRACE OF GOD to write this as A FAVOR for all those tho go to extremes in this INCLUSIVE PURSUIT so they know that what foreigners may not want is exactly the purge of anything that indicates that they are indeed in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

When they went to the Consular Offices, or Embassies to get their visas to come to America, they stood in line, paid fees, sacrificed their time to proudly earn the right to come, not to a foreign country of any sort, but AMERICA!
When their write to their moms and dads, they proudly do not say, “I am in a foreign country” – rather, they say I AM IN AMERICA, proudly!
When their moms and dads, grandma, grandpa, tell their buddies that they have a son, a daughter, a grandson or granddaughter studying in a foreign country, they don’t simply say, a foreign country; they say “my….. is a student IN AMERICA, IN THE USA!
When these students write to buddies they BRAG about being, NOT in any foreign country, but IN AMERICA!
They may say whatever they say about America among themselves, but no one brought them here, it wasn’t easy to be here, it wasn’t cheap to be here, but they are here and THEY ARE PROUD OF BEING IN AMERICA!
So, this “inclusiveness” is because these students: (1) don’t know the mentality of a foreign; (2) they themselves are ashamed of being from a country where every other foreign is proud of being, or else they wouldn’t be here! So, “inclusiveness” is childish, disrespectful, disrespectful of everyone accomplishments, and disregarding of all the sacrifices involved to be here, in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. As a “former” foreigner whom God Blessed with the American Citizenship, I say, FLY THAT FLAG HIGH! REMIND ME EVERY MOMENT THAT I AM IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! You’re welcome!