Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wherein I take a possibly surprising position on a controversial issue

So I walked over to the [Group W] bench, there … Group W is where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the Army after committing your especial crime … there was all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly people on the bench there … mother-rapers … father-stabbers … FATHER-RAPERS!
Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restauraunt”

In California—where else?—US District Court judge Virginia Phillips issued a permanent, world-wide injunction against the Defense Department, ordering the military “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced” under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

To me, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy made sense only as a means of conserving military criminal investigations resources for more critical violations of the UCMJ; as an attempt to compromise between the ideal of no gays in the military and the reality of gays filling useful, even critical roles, it was a loser: instead of being quietly intolerant, the DoD became openly hypocritical as well as intolerant.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another tiresome post on homophobia

Yes, I know. There are so many other topics to write about. Nevertheless, between the recent concerns over bullying and the recent SCOTUS case against Westboro Baptist Church, we seem to be approaching a crisis, the shape of which needs articulation.

Back in 2003, in a blog now long disappeared, I wrote about the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas (539 US 558). My concern at the time was not public acceptance of homosexuality. Rather, my concern was that SCOTUS was once again misusing the judicial power of review to serve its own sense of good legislation.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The lonesome death of Hope Witsell

It looks like at least one segment of the American population—the mainstream media—is finally waking up to the reality of bullying. At least among young people. (If ever the MSM woke up to the reality of political bullying, and how they feed and feed on it, I would get on my knees and pray because I would know the Second Coming was nigh.)

At my high school class’ 20th reunion, one person who had given me grief throughout my last three years of mandatory education approached me and said, “I wanted to let you know that I’m sorry for being such an asshole to you.” I was, to say the least, nonplussed; I’d finally let go of my anger some years before and wasn’t even thinking about it. But I managed to summon up enough of my customary tact and grace to shake his hand and say, “Hey, we were all assholes in high school.”

Mister Diplomacy, that’s me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recapturing the Catholic brand—UPDATED

The release this week of a Pew Forum study has caused some concern among American Christians, especially by the revelation that the highest average score came among atheists and agnostics. As Jimmy Akin pointed out on his National Catholic Register blog, the quiz wasn’t all that extensive and was more of a “how much do you know about all the major world religions?” quiz rather than anything specific to Christianity. Because the US is still predominantly Christian, most Christians would have less interest in learning about non-Christian religions than would other groups, especially atheists. I’m not completely satisfied with this answer—after all, Catholics in the US are outnumbered by Protestants almost 4:1, yet did slightly worse (50% average versus 55%)—but it’s a good and valid point.

However—breaking down the quiz further—there’s still some cause for discomfort. For in a battery of questions reaching towards general Bible knowledge, Catholics came up well short of the mark. If we took the old school standard of 70% for a D- pass, then Catholics would have flunked with an average 45%. (Protestants would also have flunked, with an average 54.1%, with even the highest-scoring bloc, white Evangelicals, doing no better than 60.8%.) And the study noted that 55% of Catholics know that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is not just a symbol, that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ … which means that 45% don’t; frankly, my brothers and sisters in the faith, if you don’t know this one, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.[1]