Liberal Tolerance

Shut Up, They Explained

 

Kimberly Strassel for Prager University reveals the ongoing attempt by the left in this country to shut people up.  If Trump wins the election, and the polls are off, the left can thank their own brownshirt tactics in convincing many Americans that here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, keeping one’s mouth shut is the better part of valor if one’s sentiments are not politically correct.  I blog under my own name.  Partially that is because it is part of my nature to stand up for what I believe in, but partially it is because I have been self-employed for thirty-one years.  In today’s climate, if I were not self-employed, I doubt if I would be blogging under my own name, if I were blogging at all.  My ancestor, Major Andrew McClary, did not die on Breed’s Hill in 1775 so that generations later Americans would live in fear of expressing their heart-felt sentiments.  We can do far better than this, and we owe it to our honored war dead to do so. Continue reading

Special Snow Flakes Afraid of Democracy

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I really wish this was take from Eye of the Tiber:

 

Students protested yesterday at the Emory Administration Building following a series of overnight, apparent pro-Donald Trump for president chalkings throughout campus.

Roughly 40 students gathered shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the outdoors space between the Administration Building and Goodrich C. White Hall; many students carried signs featuring slogans such as “Stop Trump” or “Stop Hate” and an antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad. Peraza opened the door to the Administration Building and students moved forward towards the door, shouting “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

After approximately ten minutes outside from the start of the demonstration, the gathered students were ushered into the Quad-facing entrance to the Administration Building and quickly filled a staircase to continue their demonstration. Pausing in the staircase, a few students shared their initial, personal reactions to the chalkings.

“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school,” she added.

A short time later, students moved into the Henry L. Bowden Board Room, surrounding the long table that dominates its center, the students themselves surrounded by portraits of Emory University’s former presidents.

“What are we feeling?” Peraza asked those assembled. Responses of “frustration” and “fear” came from around the room, but individual students soon began to offer more detailed, personal reactions to feelings of racial tension that Trump and his ideology bring to the fore.

“How can you not [disavow Trump] when Trump’s platform and his values undermine Emory’s values that I believe are diversity and inclusivity when they are obviously not [something that Trump supports]” one student said tearfully. “Banning Muslims? How is that something Emory supports?” asked yet another. Continue reading

Big Brother Twitter

Twitter Big Brother

 

Twitter is becoming a prime example of how contemporary leftists view George Orwell’s 1984 not as a cautionary tale, but as a how to manual:

 

 

On Friday, Twitter suspended the account of Robert Stacy McCain, a conservative blogger and dogged critic of feminism, apparently without warning or explanation. This has led, in true Twitter fashion, to protests under the hashtag #FreeStacy.

Only a few weeks earlier, Twitter had announced the creation of a “Trust and Safety Council,” to which it appointed Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist known for denouncing “sexism” in video games, a prominent figure in the Gamergate controversy—and oh yes, a frequent target of criticism from McCain. So it sure looks like the moment Twitter gave Sarkeesian the power to do so, she started blackballing her critics.

Go here to read the rest. Trust and Safety Council has the nice Orwellian ring for a group set up to censor conservatives on Twitter, the “Council” functioning in secrecy.  Then we also have Twitter shadowbanning conservatives:

Continue reading

Quotes Suitable For Framing: George Will

Liberal-Tolerance

If you believe, as progressives do, that human nature is not fixed, and hence is not a basis for understanding natural rights. And if you believe, as progressives do, that human beings are soft wax who receive their shape from the society that government shapes. And if you believe, as progressives do, that people receive their rights from the shaping government. And if you believe, as progressives do, that people are the sum of the social promptings they experience. Then it will seem sensible for government, including a university’s administration, to guarantee not freedom of speech but freedom from speech. From, that is, speech that might prompt its hearers to develop ideas inimical to progress, and that might violate the universal entitlement to perpetual serenity.

George Will

Blatantly Unconstitutional

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To the past, or to the future. To an age when thought is free. From the Age of Big Brother, from the Age of the Thought Police, from a dead man – greetings!
― George Orwell, 1984   

 

It seems I made a mistake this morning and woke up in a foreign country where it is always 1984:

 

Brad Avakian, Commissioner of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries and acting Minister of Thoughtcrime, wrote that Sweet Cakes owners Aaron and Melissa Klein must “cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation.”

The Daily Signal reports that the $135,000 figure took into consideration the couple’s physical, emotional and mental damages:

Examples of symptoms included “acute loss of confidence,” “doubt,” “excessive sleep,” “felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful,” “high blood pressure,” “impaired digestion,” “loss of appetite,” “migraine headaches,” “pale and sick at home after work,” “resumption of smoking habit,” “shock” “stunned,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “weight gain” and “worry.”

How about we give you five bucks for the doubt, surprise, uncertainty and worry and call it even? That’s $5 more than the rest of us get for feeling the same feelings. Continue reading

Ban Gone With the Wind?

 

As fellow blogger Paul Zummo noted yesterday:

Once upon a time it took months and even years for the next level of absurdity to be realized. In modern America it only takes hours.
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/03/11/professors-us-flag-symbolizes-racism-should-not-be-displayed-on-campus.html

Now the film critic for The New York Post wants to relegate Gone With the Wind to the museum:

Warner Bros. just stopped licensing another of pop culture’s most visible uses of the Confederate flag — toy replicas of the General Lee, an orange Dodge Charger from “The Dukes of Hazzard’’ — as retailers like Amazon and Walmart have finally backed away from selling merchandise with that racist symbol.

That studio sent “Gone with the Wind’’ back into theaters for its 75th anniversary in partnership with its sister company Turner Classic Movies in 2014, but I have a feeling the movie’s days as a cash cow are numbered. It’s showing on July 4 at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the museum’s salute to the 100th anniversary of Technicolor — and maybe that’s where this much-loved but undeniably racist artifact really belongs. Continue reading

Shut Up, They Explained

 

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I do love schadenfreude first thing in the morning.  A leftist college professor wails about the closed minds of his leftist students:

The press for actionability, or even for comprehensive analyses that go beyond personal testimony, is hereby considered redundant, since all we need to do to fix the world’s problems is adjust the feelings attached to them and open up the floor for various identity groups to have their say. All the old, enlightened means of discussion and analysis —from due process to scientific method — are dismissed as being blind to emotional concerns and therefore unfairly skewed toward the interest of straight white males. All that matters is that people are allowed to speak, that their narratives are accepted without question, and that the bad feelings go away.

So it’s not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas — they refuse to engage them, period. Engagement is considered unnecessary, as the immediate, emotional reactions of students contain all the analysis and judgment that sensitive issues demand. As Judith Shulevitz wrote in the New York Times, these refusals can shut down discussion in genuinely contentious areas, such as when Oxford canceled an abortion debate. More often, they affect surprisingly minor matters, as when Hamsphire College disinvited an Afrobeat band because their lineup had too many white people in it.

Go here to read the rest.  Most revolutions eventually eat their own, and that is what is happening today.  Case in point:

Laura Kipnis is a feminist professor at Northwestern University — and not just any feminist. She’s long been one of the few professors in American public life who are capable of making news with their scholarship, find their books reviewed by the most elite newspapers, and help start elite “conversations” about academe’s favorite topics: sex, power, and identity. She’s liberal, certainly (well known for her sympathetic views of pornography), but she’s a free thinker. And that is intolerable.

 Earlier this year she wrote an essay entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for the Chronicle of Higher Education. In the piece, she decried bans on students’ dating professors, declaring, “If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama.” Students were being taught to “regard themselves as exquisitely sensitive creatures.” Their “sense of vulnerability” was “skyrocketing” as a result of the “melodramatic imagination’s obsession with helpless victims and powerful predators.” She warned that “the climate of sanctimony has grown too thick to penetrate,” with any dissenter labeled “antifeminist, or worse, a sex criminal.

Predictably, her words prompted a campus backlash, with mattress-carrying protesters demanding that the university immediately and officially condemn Kipnis’s essay. They used adjectives such as “terrifying” to describe the traumatic effect of her words. Kipnis shrugged off the protests — after all, when you’re a feminist professor writing on pornography, you’re used to a bit of negative public attention. But she couldn’t shrug off what happened next. Two students filed Title IX complaints against her, claiming that she’d violated federal law with her essay and a subsequent tweet. In essence, they were claiming that her writings on matters of public concern constituted unlawful gender discrimination. What happened then should be familiar to anyone who has ever been embroiled in the Star Chamber that is academic “justice.” Rather than laughing the claims out of the university — which would have been the appropriate response — the university retained an outside law firm and launched an investigation. The university not only denied Kipnis legal assistance during the formal proceedings, but its investigators also initially refused to even describe the nature of the charges against her, insisting on interviewing her before she knew precisely what she’d been accused of doing. According to Kipnis, she’d “plummeted into an underground world of secret tribunals and capricious, medieval rules, and I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about it.” Continue reading

Now Where Have I Heard This Before?

MoS2 Template Master

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

 

 

One advantage of studying history is that you learn the truth of Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun.  That is why when I was reading this morning the latest antics of the deranged campus Left it seemed so familiar:

Out in Washington State, some students at Western Washington University have come up with interesting new techniques in the field of debate. For example, one of their state senators, Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) was found by the upset underclassmen to be a heretical non-believer when it comes to the issue of global warming. Ericksen, as it turns out, is an alumnus of WWU, so rather than debating him on the hot topic, they have issued demands to have his diploma revoked.

This isn’t an election year for state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, but challengers do seek to wrest something from him — not his elected office but rather one of his college degrees.

A group of students with ties to Huxley College held a meeting at 5:30 p.m. today, Thursday, May 7, on campus, to start what promises to be an uphill — if not Quixotic — battle to convince university administration to strip Ericksen of his diploma.

“We’re framing it in a more radical way,” D’Angelo said. “We’re not just trying to have a conversation with him or hold him accountable. We’re trying to revoke his degree and get people to pay attention.”

The Republican senator has been at odds with Democrats over how to craft policy on climate change and carbon reduction. He butted heads with Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, on the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup. Ericksen removed language in the bill creating the workgroup that mentioned “climate change” and the threat it posed to the state.

While Ericksen may have stripped the phrase “climate change” out of a bill, upsetting the young Democrats, he had primarily worked to prevent any tax increases which were supposed to pay for carbon capping. But but does that make him a “climate change denier” in the full sense of the word? Not exactly.

The students refer to Ericksen as a “climate denier” on their Facebook page. He told this blogger a couple years back he was a “climate agnostic,” which may be more accurate. While he stripped the words “climate change” from the 2013 Climate Legislative and Executive workgroup bill, he at least conceded the possibility of human-caused climate change in 2015 legislation that would give utilities more flexibility in meeting state-mandated alternative energy goals. (Ericksen’s bill, SB 5735, passed the Senate on March 9 but has not yet made it through the House.)

In an amendment Ericksen introduced, the bill’s intent section reads, “The Legislature finds that climate change is real and that human activity may contribute to climate change.”

This is apparently the bar which must be met when dealing with college campus activists. Publishing legislation which says that climate change is real and human activity may contribute to it isn’t going to cut the mustard, folks. You’re going to have to do better than that. And if you don’t, your opponents will work with the university to strip you of your credentials.

Go here to Hot Air to read the rest.  The idiots behind this lunacy worked in the campaign of the defeated Democrat opponent of Ericksen.  While I was reading this, I knew I recalled similar measures taken against political adversaries before.  It took me a moment, and then it came to me:  Nazi Germany! Continue reading

Bingo

Ronald Reagan on Liberal Tolerance
Attorney David French over at National Review Online nails it in regard to the uproar over the Indiana Religious  Freedom Restoration Act:
Simply put, their concerns about systematic invidious discrimination are utter hogwash, and they either know it or should know it. Why? Because RFRAs aren’t new, the legal standard they protect is decades older than the RFRAs themselves, and these legal standards have not been used — nor can they be used — to create the dystopian future the Left claims to fear. After all, the current RFRA legal tests were the law of the land for all 50 states — constitutionally mandated — until the Supreme Court’s misguided decision in Employment Division v. Smith, where the Court allowed fear of drug use to overcome its constitutional good sense. And yet during the decades before Smith, non-discrimination statutes proliferated, and were successfully enforced to open public accommodations to people of all races, creeds, colors, and — yes — sexual orientations.

Continue reading

Catholic Teacher Under Fire From Catholic School For Practicing Catholicism

 

 

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I used to view as extreme those who predicted that faithful Catholics would face persecution.  Now such people every day are looking more like prophets.  What they forgot to note is that those doing the persecuting would often be fellow Catholics.

Mathew J. Franck at First Things gives this disturbing example of what I am talking about.

 

While Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone holds the line on the teaching of orthodox moral doctrines of the Catholic Church out in San Francisco, here in New Jersey a theology teacher in Immaculata High School in Somerville is threatened with dismissal from her position for . . . agreeing with orthodox moral doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Patricia Januzzi, the teacher in question, recently posted some remarks on same-sex marriage and homosexuality on her publicly accessible Facebook page. After remarking on the dubious proposition that protection of gays and lesbians as a class can be brought within the ambit of the Fourteenth Amendment, Januzzi wrote: “In other words they [advocates of same-sex marriage] want to reeingineer western civ into a slow extinction. We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!!!!”

Of course—of course—a firestorm erupted over this. Even (whatever happened to) Susan Sarandon weighed in with self-righteous condemnation (it seems her nephew once attended Immaculata). The principal of the school told Januzzi to take down her public Facebook page, which she did, and the school issued a statement a couple of days ago assuring the public that its “investigation” had “determined that the information posted on this social media page has not been reflected in the curriculum content of the classes [Januzzi] teaches.” Then followed the rote recitation of the gospel of “respect and sensitivity.” As stilted and impenetrable as all this was—Januzzi had not posted “information” but opinion, and what, after all, was the school telling us was not “reflected” in the classes it offers?—at least it seemed for one brief shining moment that this little flap would go away.

No such luck. Now it is reliably reported that Patricia Januzzi is under pressure to resign, and threatened with dismissal if she utters a peep about the matter. This is rapidly becoming an outrageous assault against a person whose worst offense was to speak with what some (but by no means all) would call an intemperate passion, in favor of the Church’s teaching. Continue reading

Religious Test in California

 

The California Supreme Court has just enacted a religious test for judicial office, something specifically banned by the US Constitution.  In a policy aimed squarely at the Boy Scouts, the Court bans judges from participating in any youth groups that practice discrimination.  Although the Boy Scouts were the target since they ban homosexual adult leaders, the idiotic ban would apply to any group that practices what the Court deems to be “invidious discrimination”.  Since the Court appears to view as “invidious discrimination” anything that runs counter to the beliefs of the loony Left, one can foresee problems for judges who participate in Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox Jewish and Muslim youth groups.

Of course this nasty little exercise in identity politics runs smack into Article Six of the United States Constitution that bans any religious test for public office:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

That this is a religious test no one should doubt.  In California the powers that be wish to punish those who have not fallen into lock step on homosexual rights and this travesty is but a small portion of this punishment.  Such attempts by government to coerce believers is precisely why the no religious test was placed into the Constitution.  One would trust that the “Justices” of the California Supreme Court would realize that what they have done is blatantly unconstitutional.  I assume they do, and they simply do not care, which is a fundamental betrayal of the Law and their function as Judges.

The Left Eats Their Own

 

Well this is interesting.  Jonathan Chait, uberliberal, writes an article for New York Magazine decrying political correctness:

But it would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.

It also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity. A year ago, for instance, a photographer compiled images of Fordham students displaying signs recounting “an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.” The stories ranged from uncomfortable (“No, where are you really from?”) to relatively innocuous (“ ‘Can you read this?’ He showed me a Japanese character on his phone”). BuzzFeed published part of her project, and it has since received more than 2 million views. This is not an anomaly.

In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular. “All over social media, there dwell armies of unpaid but widely read commentators, ready to launch hashtag campaigns and circulate Change.org petitions in response to the slightest of identity-politics missteps,” Rebecca Traister wrote recently in The New Republic.

Two and a half years ago, Hanna Rosin, a liberal journalist and longtime friend, wrote a book called The End of Men, which argued that a confluence of social and economic changes left women in a better position going forward than men, who were struggling to adapt to a new postindustrial order. Rosin, a self-identified feminist, has found herself unexpectedly assailed by feminist critics, who found her message of long-term female empowerment complacent and insufficiently concerned with the continuing reality of sexism. One Twitter hashtag, “#RIPpatriarchy,” became a label for critics to lampoon her thesis. Every new continuing demonstration of gender discrimination — a survey showing Americans still prefer male bosses; a person noticing a man on the subway occupying a seat and a half — would be tweeted out along with a mocking #RIPpatriarchy.

Her response since then has been to avoid committing a provocation, especially on Twitter. “If you tweet something straight­forwardly feminist, you immediately get a wave of love and favorites, but if you tweet something in a cranky feminist mode then the opposite happens,” she told me. “The price is too high; you feel like there might be banishment waiting for you.” Social media, where swarms of jeering critics can materialize in an instant, paradoxically creates this feeling of isolation. “You do immediately get the sense that it’s one against millions, even though it’s not.” Subjects of these massed attacks often describe an impulse to withdraw. Continue reading

First They Came For the Bakers, And Then the Photographers, And Then the Ministers and Next….

Liberal Tolerance 2

Poor silly man, d’you think they‘ll leave you here to learn to fish?

Lady Alice to Sir Thomas More, A Man For All Seasons

Contrary to the popular idea that the success that the gay rights movement has had through the imposition of gay marriage by judicial fiat means the ending of a culture war, this is actually the beginning of a much greater one, as Robert Tracinski, a secularist, at The Federalist is wise enough to understand:

 

On Friday, city officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, informed Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers and proprietors of the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, that they would be required to perform gay weddings or face fines or possibly jail time under the city’s “public accommodations” statute. Their religious views are expected to adjust to the edicts of the state.

So it’s official: a new religious orthodoxy is sweeping across the nation, imposed by government and backed by force. It’s a religious orthodoxy required by secular authorities for a secular purpose, but no matter. Heretics will be found out and forced to recant.

No one ever expects the Secular Inquisition.

Except that we actually did expect it. In fact, it’s inherent in the fundamental basis of the left’s arguments for gay marriage.

I’m speaking here of the argument for gay marriage. It may be hard to remember now, but not very long ago there were compromise proposals for same-sex “civil unions” that were legally equivalent to marriage but under a different name. Gay rights activists consciously rejected these unions in order to specifically demand the use of the term “marriage,” insisting that the state legally recognize and enforce the equality of these marriages with old-fashioned, outmoded heterosexual ones.

Personally, I have no problem with gay people getting hitched, having weddings, and saying that they are “married.” I don’t have any religious objection, on account of not being religious, nor do I think gay marriages, given their very small numbers, will have any particular impact on the state of marriage as an important social institution. (Which, alas, has all sorts of problems of its own.)

But the test of liberty isn’t what happens to people who agree with the intent of a particular edict. The test is what happens to people who disagree.

That brings us to the reason why gay rights advocates insisted on the government granting same-sex unions the title of “marriage.” The theory behind this was that homosexuals suffer from a lack of social acceptance, and gay marriage would put the government’s imprimatur on their status as social equals—along with the promise that this equality is to be backed by government force. Continue reading

This Isn’t America

 

tolerance

 

 

The late great Art Carney, who rose to fame for his comedic portrayal of Ed Norton in Jackie Gleason’s The Honeymooners television show, also had a flare for drama.  I recall one role in which he played a character being told by the police that they they had a right to search his house without a warrant.  His response has always stayed with me:  “Not unless I made a mistake this morning and woke up in Russia instead of the US. !” That is precisely my reaction to this story that Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reports on:

 

 

The city of Houston has fought a pitched battle to enforce its equal-rights ordinance, but in an ironic twist, they may find themselves afoul of the First Amendment for doing so. The ordinance has come under fire from a number of quarters, but perhaps none more determined than Christian pastors who see the law as a threat to their ability to preach. They have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the law, and city attorneys in turn demonstrated exactly why they feared this in the first place:

Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

 

 

Pastor Hernan Castano received a subpoena and believes his sermons are protected by the First Amendment.

“For a city government to step into churches and ask pastors to turn in sermons, it’s gone too far. This is not what America, the nation is about,” he told Eyewitness News. …

Some signatures were acquired at churches which make the sermons fair game, according to City Attorney Dave Feldman.

“If they choose to do this inside the church, choose to do this from the pulpit, then they open the door to the questions being asked,” Feldman said.

Again, that argument might work for issues about the petitions, and possibly even the mayor, if it was tied to their tax status and electoral activities, assuming the city could assert jurisdiction on those points. Those topics might be defensible in a discovery demand, too, although that would come from a court motion rather than a subpoena from the city attorneys. But when it comes to their positions on LGBT issues and “gender identity,” that’s a different kettle of fish. Continue reading

Democrat Attempts to Gut First Amendment

a jealous faith

 

 

The contemporary left gives lip service to freedom of speech, but where they are in power they actively seek to ban the speech of those who disagree with them.  We see this clearly on campuses where speech codes, anathema to any concept of freedom of speech, are the order of the day.  It is no accident, as Marxists used to say, that representatives of the Democrat party are busily seeking to jettison the concept of free speech when it comes to elections.  Kevin Williamson gives us the details at National Review Online:

 

 

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Dissent is the lowest form of crime. If you are a drone in the hive of the Left, it is possible — easy, in fact — to believe both of those things at the same time.

Free speech just won an important victory in a federal courtroom, though it is shameful that the case ever even had to go to court. Ohio had enacted a plainly unconstitutional law that empowered a government panel to determine whether criticisms offered in political advertisements were sufficiently true to be permitted in the public discourse. Those who have followed the IRS scandal, the Travis County, Texas, prosecutorial scandals, or Harry Reid’s recent effort to repeal the First Amendment will not be surprised that this measure was used as a political weapon against a conservative group, in this case the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. SBA List criticized a Democratic House member for having voted for the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), noting that the law will implicate American taxpayers in the funding of abortions, an entanglement previously minimized through measures such as the Hyde Amendment. Despite the fact that the ACA regime would, among other things, permit federal subsidies for abortion-funding insurance plans, the Ohio Inquisition ruled the ad impermissible, and banned it.

So much for free speech.

Fortunately, an Obama appointee whose ability to read the letter of the law had not been utterly drummed out of him ruled that the Ohio Inquisition obviously violated longstanding free-speech protections, the First Amendment notable among them. Last week, a similar case in Minnesota came to a similar conclusion.

Which is why Harry Reid wants to repeal the First Amendment.

Democrats pushing the measure to repeal free speech pretend that it is a campaign-finance measure, but the only criteria it establishes for Congress to ban an advertisement — or a book, or a film, or a television show, or a magazine — is that money is expended in an attempt to influence a political outcome. Under those rules, the Ohio Inquisition’s successful move to ban billboards critical of an embattled Democratic congressman would have been totally acceptable under the provisions of a gutted First Amendment.

The Ohio Inquisition, and the Minnesota Inquisition, and Harry Reid’s war on the First Amendment are hardly isolated episodes. Consider that the same Texas prosecutor that has indicted Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts for the so-called crime of exercising his constitutional authority to veto a bill — a bill providing funds to that prosecutor’s office — is now preparing to indict University of Texas regent and whistleblower Wallace Hall, on charges of . . . hmm.

The charges against Mr. Hall are odd even by the standards of Rosemary Lehmberg, the vodka-pickled Texas prosecutor whose videotaped tirade after a DUI arrest — she threatened to have sheriff’s deputies jailed if she was not given special treatment — led to Governor Perry’s veto of funds for her office, on the theory that he could not in good conscience sign off on funding for an agency under such non-credible leadership. Mr. Hall is accused of leaking private information regarding academic records; short of that, prosecutors want to charge Mr. Hall with the crime of leading people to “speculate” about certain information protected by privacy rules. For the record, I should note that, though I never have spoken to the man, the party to whom Mr. Hall is accused of leaking information and whose speculation he is accused of encouraging is me. Continue reading

Kirsten Powers on Liberal Tolerance

tolerant20liberals

Kirsten Powers, who is rapidly becoming my favorite liberal, casts her eye upon leftist tolerance and finds that it is an oxymoron:

 

Don’t bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted and which ones will get you strung up in the town square. Our ideological overlords have created a minefield of inconsistency. While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as “a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully” and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a “psychotic mass murderer” and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.

The self-serving capriciousness is crazy. In March, University of California-Santa Barbara women’s studies professor Mireille Miller-Young attacked a 16-year-old holding an anti-abortion sign in the campus’ “free speech zone” (formerly known as America). Though she was charged with theft, battery and vandalism, Miller-Young remains unrepentant and still has her job. But Mozilla’s Brendan Eich gave a private donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago and was ordered to recant his beliefs. When he wouldn’t, he was forced to resign from the company he helped found.

Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here. Continue reading

The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

 

 

I have read science fiction since I first learned to read as a child.  I enjoyed the exposure to new ideas and the frequently iconoclastic opinions, many of which I disagreed with, by the great authors of the field:  Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, Dickson, etc.  Their imagination and writing skills took me far away from the small town in which I lived and enlivened my life by revealing to me that books could be tickets to strange worlds and stranger people.  They helped to teach me to like to read and to like to think, both of which I have found handy throughout my life.  It is sad then to see that science fiction in this country is now beset by those who wish to impose a stifling political orthodoxy on it.  John C. Wright, a science fiction writer and a convert from atheism to Catholicism, gives us the details:

Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.

If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is. If you are not a science fiction fan, I salute you for having better things to do with your time than read stories about space princesses being rescued from bug-eyed monsters by stalwart and clean-limbed fighting men of Virginia; but please let me explain why this is shocking.

Robert Heinlein is without doubt the leading writer in the science fiction field. He was the first to break into the slick magazines or into hardcover. Were it not for him, science fiction would still be languishing in a literary ghetto, no more popular than niche-market stories about samurai or railroad executives.

He was a gadfly. Heinlein’s two most famous novels are Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. The first challenges the orthodoxy of the Left as much as the second does that of the Right. But in his day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas. Science fiction was proud to be a literature of the new and startling. A spirit of intellectual fearlessness was paramount.

A darker time followed. The lamps of the intellect were put out one by one, first in society at large, then in literature, then in our little corner called science fiction. What we have now instead is a smothering fog of caution, of silence, of an unwillingness to speak for fear of offending the perpetually hypersensitive.

Science fiction is under the control of the thought police. The chains are invisible, but real. For a genre that glories in counting George Orwell as one of its own, this is ironic, to say the least.

Myriad examples exist. Orson Scott Card publicly expressed the mildest imaginable opposition to having judges overrule popular votes defining marriage in the traditional way. The uproar of hate directed against this innocent and honorable man is vehement and ongoing. An unsuccessful boycott was organized against the movie Ender’s Game, but he was successfully shoved off a project to write for Superman comics.

Got that? The award-winning Mr. Card, one of the finest science fiction writers today, was forced off the project because the dictates of his religious faith (not to mention his faith in democracy over rule by activist judges) did not agree with the political beliefs of the thought police.

No one accused him of attempting to write a Superman story belittling homosexuals, or belittling anyone. Sales would have grown, not fallen. This was not about money or hurt feelings. It was about this: if a man thinks what St. Paul thought about homosexual acts, he cannot write a children’s yarn about a friendly alien Hercules saving a spunky girl reporter from mad scientists or moon-apes. Continue reading

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