Monthly Archives: January 2013

Worst argument ever

Marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” opponents of gay marriage have told the Supreme Court.

By contrast, when same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required,” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans.

In their opening briefs, this was the reasoning offered by both Clement in defense of Section 3 of the “Defense of Marriage” Act and Charles Cooper in defense of Prop 8: Because opposite sex couples are burdened with the “unique social difficulty” of frequently producing children by accident, and same sex couples “don’t present a threat of irresponsible procreation,” same sex couples and their children should be excluded from the security and benefits of marriage. This is what anti-equality American taxpayers are getting for $3 million in public funds?

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Citizen with an M60

“The notion that registering gun purchases somehow violates the Constitution is unmitigated nonsense,”

so said former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger. He also said that

“[n]othing outrages me more than the conduct of the National Rifle Association (‘NRA’).”

Former NRA Vice President Neal Knox once said that the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were possibly “part of a conspiracy to enact gun control” and “could have been created for the purpose of disarming the people of the free world.” This past week, the NRA has eclipsed its ordinary standard for bad taste by attacking the President’s children, asking why the federal government provides them Secret Service protection but not other children in our public schools. Anyone want to suggest a distinction that the NRA might understand? Continue reading

What it says, what they’d like it to say

The constitution revised (ht: Daily Kos)

Many local letters to the editor, many of them a reaction to the Newtown gun massacre, provide evidence of a coordinated campaign of terror directed at advocates of common sense gun regulation. They also point towards a broad-based constitutional miseducation campaign. For example, Nick Donnangelo writes in the Jan 11 Purcellville Gazette:

The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting or target shooting, it is the cornerstone of the system of checks and balances found in the Constitution. In it is the right and even the duty to defend liberty – by all means possible at the ballot box but by force if necessary; not from ducks or deer or from common criminals, but from “uncommon criminals,” armed bureaucrats who abuse their power and usurp economic and political freedom. The Founders saw security in arming people with the same weapons as the military had…

Mr. Donnangelo must not have read the whole thing, including Article III Section. 3.

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Guest speaker Rosaria Butterfield draws contrast with Patrick Henry College’s fear of dialogue

Author Rosaria Butterfield at Patrick Henry College

According to Patrick Henry College professor of government Stephen Baskerville, “PHC is an oasis of academic freedom in an inbred academic environment of stifling orthodoxy.” Given that over half of PHC’s faculty resigned within one year over precisely the issue of academic freedom, I would have to dispute the facticity of this statement. The academic orthodoxy at the school was at the time so stifling that one professor, ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, was suspended for writing a paper suggesting there could be sources of truth other than the Bible. Others were told by administrators that “there are some questions we can’t ask in class or entertain.”

PHC would be more accurately described as an alternative to the usual academic environment in which biblical inerrancy is held to the same evidence-based standard as other ways of understanding the world, and found wanting according to that standard. PHC does provide an environment in which an alternative standard is applied.

Dr. Baskerville (writing to object to the Loudoun Times-Mirror coverage of PHC’s reaction to the student/alumni group Queer at Patrick Henry College) misrepresents the article, claiming that it approaches the presence of sexual minorities at PHC with “scandal-mongering.” The scandal in question is not the existence of these LGBTQ students, but PHC Chancellor Mike Farris’ embarrassing attempt to bully them, an attempt that garnered the group a much wider audience and support base. Queer at Patrick Henry College is a far from unusual signal of the transformation happening within evangelical Christianity, and has surprised virtually no one other than Patrick Henry College administrators.

It is with this in mind that I consider the interview I witnessed last Friday at PHC with author Rosaria Butterfield (prequel here). Dr. Butterfield appeared as a guest of the college to discuss her transition from Syracuse University Women’s Studies professor and lesbian activist to orthodox Christian and pastor’s wife.

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Wait, come back! We just want to ‘educate’ you!


Two men walked the streets of Portland armed with assault weapons earlier this week because they said they wanted to “educate” residents, who reacted by fleeing and calling police.

Yes, there is a deliberate campaign on the part of gun extremists to normalize the presence of armed private citizens in public. It began in Virginia in 2004.


A stoic Roman Senator once said, “It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity.”

I don’t know that our national dialogue has “slipped” into vulgarity.  It has felt to me more like a down-hill flat out run into vulgarity.

Let’s consider one example that covers the waterfront.

Back in March 2012, the Georgetown University President, John J. DeGioia, said that the foul language used to characterize student Sandra Fluke’s sincere objections to HHS regulations affecting contraceptives, especially what Rush Limbaugh had to say, was “misogynistic, vitriolic and a misrepresentation of [her] position.”
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“I’m going to start killing people.”

Meet James Yeager. Mr. Yeager is the CEO of something called Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that specializes in firearms and tactical training. He is also Exhibit A to educate those unable to conceive of why it might make folks feel unsafe to come across a guy packing a Glock hanging around a store exit (which, let’s face it, is really not normal behavior to begin with). It’s because of guys like this. If you happen to be a decent, responsible gun owner with a similar style or superficial resemblance to this fellow, and you’re being unfairly tarred by this sort of behavior, I’m sorry. It’s not fair. But this is why.

Question: Would Wayne LaPierre, or any of those who feel that he represents them, consider this man to be mentally ill? If so, what would be the appropriate response?

Bob Lazaro, barometer of change on gun views?

The Loudoun Times-Mirror is reporting that Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro has joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, a bipartisan organization advocating for more (many people would say reasonable) restrictions on firearms. They are advocating, according to the Times-Mirror, “for Congress to pass laws requiring every gun buyer in the U.S. to pass a criminal background check; making gun trafficking a federal crime; and banning military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.”

If one is a legitimate and responsible gun owner, I don’t see how these measures would be a terrible burden. I’m not sure what they mean by “military-style” weapons – that should be clarified – but certainly no legitimate gun owner has a need for high capacity magazines like the ones that made the mass slaughters in Colorado and Connecticut possible. Even if you prefer a semi-automatic for predator control – which I can appreciate – if you can’t hit a coyote without a 30 or 50 round magazine you should probably find a new line of work.

The article has attracted the sort of comments one expects an article like this to attract. However, one commenter makes a very interesting point:

..when Bob Lazaro shifts to a new position, it means that things have somehow changed and the majority is looking at something in a new way.

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There shall be no neutrals

The ongoing PBS series The American Experience has been praised as “the finest documentary series on television,” and The Abolitionists, broadcast last night, is possibly the finest episode I have ever seen. Behold William Lloyd Garrison, American hero. At the time that he wrote these words in 1831, introducing the first issue of The Liberator, he was virtually alone as a white ally:

There shall be no neutrals. Men shall either like, or dislike me. Let Southern oppressors tremble. Let their Northern apologists tremble. Let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble. On the subject of slavery, I do not wish to write with moderation. I am in earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch, and I WILL BE HEARD.

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A visit to Patrick Henry College

Patrick Henry College hosts an ongoing “newsmakers interview” series, and the guest Friday afternoon is a woman named Rosaria Butterfield, a resident of Purcellville. Dr. Butterfield “will discuss her new book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, detailing her conversion to Christianity and her former lesbian lifestyle before marrying a pastor.”

This is the bio offered by World Magazine:

When Rosaria Butterfield was 28 she declared herself a lesbian. Her Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies led to a tenured position at Syracuse University, where she advanced a leftist agenda. Then God used her desire to write a book on the religious right, and the friendship of a biblically orthodox pastor, to draw her to Christ. She became a voracious Bible reader and gradually saw that her new beliefs required her to upend her former life. It’s a fascinating story—although she interrupts the narrative several times to insert speech text. Her book also shows the power of love and hospitality to soften hearts: Butterfield is now married to a pastor and the mother of four children by adoption.

I have not had a chance to read the book. However, I can say knowing nothing else about it that this is someone’s personal journey, which she cared enough about to put into words for others to read. Although it sounds like another “ex-gay” narrative, and although there is a robust history of “ex-gay” spokespeople being exploited by the anti-gay industry and later renouncing (or quietly abandoning) their “conversion” experience, I think we make a mistake when we fail to seriously listen to a person’s story, and instead act as if we know how it will, or should, end up. However this woman’s story ultimately unfolds, it is hers, and it’s no more kind to insist that her life will conform to that narrative than it is for those promoting an anti-gay agenda to demand that we “change” to suit their narrative.

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