Thursday, December 21, 2017

Forbidden Words

There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.

— Hippocrates, Breaths

What the Trump people are doing today bears no similarity to what the Nazis did in the early 1930s. Those were the days of book burnings and other activities that were designed to suppress ideas that differed from the philosophy of the Nazis. Joseph Goebbels was in charge of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry and in that capacity took control of all forms of German communication, including newspapers, magazines, movies and radio. Any points of view that contradicted the Nazi points of view were censored or eliminated from all media. On May 10, 1933, professors, students and librarians marched in Germany and threw books into huge bonfires. Nothing like that is happening in the United States under the Trump regime. What the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doing is simply attacking a very few words. Here was the news of December 15, 2017 that was reported by the Washington Post. And it is not cause for alarm.

On December 15, 2017 it was reported that seven words in the English language have fallen out of favor with people at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. According to someone at a meeting that took place on December 14, 2017, policy analysts at the agency were told that seven words or phrases were not to be used in official documents prepared for the 2018 budget for the CDC. The exiled words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement”, “diversity”, “transgender”, “fetus”, “evidence-based”, and “science-based.” To those not familiar with what passes for thinking in many Trump appointees, including those at the CDC, it may be hard to understand how the various words offend. Although there are doubtless other explanations, one reason “fetus” is offensive is that for those who are opposed to abortion, as many Trump supporters are, the word depersonalizes the child in the womb, treating it as an object rather than a baby. “Transgender” is offensive because those who do not want it to appear in official documents believe that its use acknowledges a group of people whose belief in their sexual identity is a figment of their imaginations and should not be dignified by appearing in CDC documents.

To understand the objections to the use of “evidence-based” and “science based,” it is helpful to go back almost ten years to the Texas State Board of Education that struggled with the same concepts. Two thousand nine was the year that board confronted the difficult task of deciding what words should be put in science text books. The problem was especially acute when addressing the pesky questions of climate change and evolution. In 2009 the school board was led by dentist, Don McLeroy. He and his like-minded colleagues on the board were successful in causing Texas science text books to include discussion of what were described as the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories such as evolution. In an interview following the school board’s action, Dr. McLeroy said of the board’s decision to address both sides of evolution and other scientific theories: “Wooey. We won the Grand slam, and the Super Bowl. Our science standards are light years ahead of any other state when it comes to challenging evolution.” Explaining his enthusiasm, he said that “evolution is hooey.” (In fairness to Texas it must be observed that it now has a more enlightened school board and its scientific instruction comports with science rather than Dr. LeRoy’s beliefs.) The explanation offered by the CDC spokesperson for banning the use of “science based” or “evidence based” was eerily reminiscent of Dr. LeRoy. According to the agency, an appropriate alternative to “science-based” or “evidence-based” was to say that: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

The CDC’s attack on the English language bring to mind Former President Barack Obama’s comments at the Economic Club of Chicago on December 5, 2017 as reported by Miranda Green on CNN.. In his remarks, the former president said: “You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we’ve seen societies where that happens. Now presume there was a ball room here in Vienna in the late 1920s or ‘30s that looked and seemed as if it, filled with the music and art and literature that was emerging, would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. An entire world was lunged into chaos. . . .There have been periods in our history where censorship was considered OK. We had a president who had to resign prior to impeachment because he was undermining the rule of law. At every juncture we’ve had to wrestle with big problems. . . .”

The former present’s warning was timely even though some people think we are a long way from that now. Just give the Trump more time and see what happens.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

More Moore

“Lechery? You betchery.”
Anonymous

Our thanks go out to Roy Moore. As a result of his pedophiliactivities his friends are educating us in acceptable explanations for why such activity should not be a bar to professional advancement. One of our teachers is Jim Ziegler, the treasurer of the state of Alabama, and the other is the Presidential imposter who lives in the White House. Each offers a different defense, but both are persuasive.

The first defense is known as the “Joe and Mary Defense.” The second is known as the “Political Party Defense” (PPD). The Joe and Mary defense appeals to those having a religious bent, and the PPD appeals to Republicans of all stripes.

The Joe and Mary defense comes from Mr. Ziegler. Addressing Roy’s alleged acts of pedophilia, Mr. Ziegler presented Roy’s critics with some historical facts that had (a) been overlooked by many of Roy’s detractors, (b) put pedophilia in a whole new light, and© gave it an aura of respectability that was lacking before Mr. Zeigler sprang to its (and Roy’s) defense. Mr. Ziegler pointed out that Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, was “extremely old to marry Elizabeth [John’s mother]”. Although we are not given the ages of either of the parties to that particular marriage, if Mr. Ziegler is using them as justification for Roy’s pedophilia, we can be sure that the age difference was sufficiently great that had it not been a marriage, it would have been pedophilia. Of course, Zechariah was not the most persuasive case of approved pedophilia. That was left to Mr. Ziegler’s “Joe and Mary Defense.” Explaining that defense, he said: “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” (Mr. Zeigler doesn’t mention the fact that this was a virgin birth but he’s probably assuming that after the birth took place, Joseph and Mary had sex just like any other married couple, thus making Joseph a Moore-like pedophile who simply waited to assume the role until the baby was born.) Given Roy’s zealous religiosity, it would not be surprising to learn that it is only modesty that has caused him to refrain from observing that in his conduct he is merely following in the footsteps of the parents of his beloved Lord who has guided him throughout his life.

The other person who has come to Roy’s defense is the presidential imposter who lives in the White House, a man who is himself a sexual predator who has been captured on tape bragging about his lecherous behavior. He has created an effective defense if the person being defended belongs to the correct political party. In the case of Roy Moore, even if all the allegations that have been made against him are true, they should not, in the imposter’s opinion, stand in the way of Roy’s achieving other great things (besides getting away with assaulting teen age girls which is in itself something of an achievement as the imposter would be the first to acknowledge since it didn’t keep him from getting the keys to the White House.) That defense is known as Political Party Defense (PPD) and its availability depends on the political affiliation of the accused pedophile and to what the pedophile aspires. Here is how the defense works.

Even if Moore is a pedophile, his aspiration is to join the United States Senate and his opponent is a Democrat. The imposter in the White House has asserted the PPD defense in defense of Roy. As he explained in a tweet speaking of Doug Jones, Roy’s opponent: “[W]e do not need somebody who’s going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad for the military, bad for the Second Amendment.” Unspoken but implicit, was that the United States Senate is not sullied by having a member who was bad for young girls. The imposter has now been joined in support of having a pedophiliac join what has been called “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” by the Republican National Committee and the courageous Mitch McConnell the majority leader of the Senate.

For those contemplating the sorts of activities in which Mr. Moore has allegedly engaged, they should not do so in expectation that the presidential imposter in the White House will come to their defense by means of PPD. The White House imposter would be the first to tell you that PPD is only available when the choice is between putting a pedophile in a position of power or putting a member of the other political party in power. And if there is still a question of how this works, observe the actions of the majority leader of the Senate. In November Mitch McConnell said he believed the women who accused Roy of pedophilia were truthful. He is no longer offended by the thought of a pedophile joining him in the Senate. He did acknowledge, however that if Roy is elected “he would immediately have an ethics committee case and the committee would take a look at the situation and give us advice.” It is unclear what advice Mr. McConnell and his colleagues who have said they believe Roy’s accusers are truthful, are seeking. Perhaps they want to know if any of them has a semblance of a conscience. Many of us could answer that without asking the ethics committee.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Christian and the Cake

The hippo’s feeble steps may err
In compassing material ends,
While the True Church need never stir
To gather in its dividends.

— T.S.Eliot, The Hippopotamus

December 5, 2017 is the magic date. That is the date the United States Supreme Court will hear the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which might also be called the Wedding Cake, the Lord and Jack Phillips.

Jack Phillips is the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. One of the things Jack loves to do is bake cakes. He does it in the shop in which his cakes are also sold and, as he will be the first to modestly tell you, God is his chef. He and God work hand in hand producing Jack’s wonderful creations. (Creating things is, of course, God’s strong suit and, in God, Jack has an able assistant.) God, through one of the Ten Commandments, instructed Jack to love his neighbor as himself, and, presumably, treat his neighbor as he would be treated, and Jesus described that Commandment as one of the two most important commandments ever pronounced, the other having to do with loving God. Those commandments, (along with the other eight) were promulgated, as it were, before the United States Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution (which is in the same category of really important pronouncements as the Ten Commandments) had said gays had a right to marry. Jack is sure that when the “love thy neighbor as thyself” was announced, that did not mean that Jack had to love his neighbor as himself if the neighbor was gay.

Since God forgot to say anything about loving gay people as you love yourself, Jack considers himself a self-deputized spokesman for God. What Jack said God told him to do, is to save his baking skills for the heterosexual. That is not quite how God put it. The way God put it, using Jack as his spokesman, is that Jack should not make cakes for gay people to use at their weddings because it violates Jack’s Christian beliefs, and Jack’s Christian beliefs are, of course, derived from God. There is no indication that God has any objection to Jack selling cakes to people who are gay nor, apparently, does God object to a gay person eating one of Jack’s cakes. God’s only objection to cakes and gays, is if Jack makes a cake that is specifically baked to be served at a wedding of gay people.

To some it might seem curious that when considering for whom Jack may bake, God has focused on weddings of people who are gay. Acting as God’s spokesperson, Jack has not said God would object if he elects to bake a cake for a wedding of an heterosexual couple, each of whom was previously married and who, while married, committed adultery. God, speaking through Jack, would say that Jack has no objection to baking a cake for that occasion even though one of the Ten Commandments specifically prohibits committing adultery. To bake a cake for those who commit adultery would seem to be as bad as, if not worse, than baking a cake for gays, since adultery is expressly forbidden by God.

There is a reason God has made himself known in Jack’s kitchen. It is because of what could be called a “Godly oversight.” Jack is addressing an issue that God had overlooked because it never occurred to Him that men would want to marry men or women would want to marry women. From God’s perspective, men marrying women and women marrying men made perfectly good sense since that way people would reproduce. As an added bonus, the process of insuring that there would always be people on the earth was fun for the participants in the process. Had God thought of the now common alternative and wanted to ban it, He could have come up with an 11th Commandment. It would have read something like this: “Thou shall not bake wedding cakes when the weddings are for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman.”

One thing is absolutely clear. God is indebted to Jack for letting people know how God would have felt about gay marriage had God thought of it when assisting in the promulgation of the Ten Commandments. And God is no doubt especially pleased that rather than having his feelings about gay marriage explained by some prelate in fancy dress in a magnificent church or cathedral, he has imparted his message through a simple and humble baker in a place called Lakewood, Colorado. Now God will join the baker in awaiting the decision of an entity almost as important as God, an entity whose decisions frequently have more far reaching effect than God’s own pronouncements-the United States Supreme Court. Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com