When Speech Is Violence

The case for limited government has been substantially strengthened in this past week. The onslaught against the 1st amendment, in particular, received brand new fervor with the Democrats’ and Mainstream Media’s unified and coordinated defense of Ilhan Omar. If you are unfamiliar with what happened, a video has been circulating online showing Omar, a U.S. House Representative from Minnesota, giving a speech at a CAIR banquet and flippantly referring to the events of 9/11 as “some people did something.” Omar is not new to controversy. Her association with CAIR has drawn much scrutiny given that CAIR has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was designated as a terrorist organization by the UAE in 2014. Omar has also been accused in the past of parroting anti-Semitic tropes on multiple occasions as well as being suspiciously obsessed with attacking Israel and pro-Israel groups while avoiding any harsh criticism of Islamic terror groups or Sharia nations. In a recent interview, she was heard mocking how Westerners negatively refer to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as opposed to how they refer to the U.S. and England. Her 9/11 remarks are just the latest in a pattern of behavior that has called into question her motives.

Given the profound impact 9/11 has had on most Americans, even 18 years later, it is understandable for people to have such a negative reaction to someone referring to that tragic day with such dismissive language, particularly when that person’s love for America has already been under scrutiny. The criticism and condemnation of Omar’s comments was widespread and there was no mincing of words. In response, Omar took her usual victim posture and her allies and supporters came to her aid to defend her, claiming the comments were taken out of context (although there is no conceivable context which makes the phrase, “some people did something” NOT downplaying 9/11 or any other horrific, mass casualty event you might be referring to). The tipping point came, though, with President Trump. On Friday, he tweeted a video of footage from 9/11 intercut with Omar saying “some people did something.”

How did the Democrats and their media allies respond to this? “The President is inciting violence.” Inciting violence. It was incredible to see how unified this message was among leftist blue checks on Twitter and punditry within the media. Almost all of them claimed that criticizing Omar’s lack of respect for what happened on 9/11 was the same as inciting violence against her. I won’t post them all here but you can look at this thread HERE and see the Groupthink at work.

It should be noted that these are the same people who have launched an all out, relentless attack against President Trump and his supporters for 3 years straight, accusing them of the worst things imaginable. From racism and white supremacy to being Russian spies to hating women and gay people and minorities and anyone who isn’t a straight White male, the smears have been never-ending. And there has been a laundry list of examples of actual violence against conservatives, much of it based on the lies told by the Democrats and the media. Steve Scalise actually got shot! But no, according to the left, none of that is a problem yet criticizing Ilhan Omar’s dismissive attitude toward 9/11 is somehow an unacceptable incitement of violence.

Beyond the obvious hypocrisy, it is important to understand what is happening here. In the last few years, the left has been pushing harder for restrictions on the 1st amendment and attempting to censor what they deem to be “hate speech.” This has been clear on college campuses across the country as conservatives like Ben Shapiro are regularly censored, banned, and/or have their events shut down because the students there honestly believe that no one should have the right to say things that they disagree with. This has spread to social media as many conservatives on Facebook and Twitter have found themselves suspended or banned for merely posting viewpoints that disagree with leftism. This shouting down and ostracizing hasn’t been restricted to conservatives either, as there are many examples of those on the left being attacked and censored for daring to venture outside of the echo chamber of self-proclaimed moral superiority. Just a few days ago, a petition was launched for Camille Paglia who is a Democrat, a self-professed feminist, an open lesbian and an intellectual powerhouse, to be removed from the faculty of the University of the Arts because her views on transgenderism do not align with the leftist agenda. The message is clear. Toe the line or else. No one is safe from the radical left ideologues.

So what does this have to do with limited government? Well, the argument for limited government is that the same power given to the government to do good can also be used to do evil. With this mind, it is infinitely more important to limit the government’s capacity to do evil than it is to expand its capacity to do good. This point is rarely considered on the left. The left’s goals are often short-sighted and the ends always justify the means. There is little consideration for what happens when the government that is in power is, at best, ideologically opposite or at worst, actually tyrannical. This is why it makes little logical sense for them to support socialism and abolishing/heavily restricting the 2nd amendment while simultaneously referring to Trump as the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. It is a massive contradiction. And it is very, very dangerous.

Let’s consider this in the context of the speech issue. What the left is doing is taking certain speech, namely speech that they don’t like, arbitrarily labeling it “hate speech” and equating that with inciting violence. Here is the Women’s March doing exactly that, even going so far as to call for President Trump to be suspended from Twitter.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. It has been a common tactic of groups like Antifa to label the speech of political opponents as “hate speech” and conflate the people themselves with Nazis. The phrase “Punch a Nazi” was fashionable for a while around the time Trump got elected (I am sure there are plenty of people who still use it) and was based on the idea that people who hold conservative viewpoints are racist Nazis whose ideas deserve a violent response. This tactic does a couple of things. It reduces their opponent to some sort of evil creature instead of a human being, which means that they don’t have to contend with their opponent’s ideas or listen to anything they have to say. It also gives them permission and moral justification to essentially do whatever they want to them, including engage in violence, which Antifa has done and continues to do. Equating words with violence means that words can be punished like violence and words can also be met with violence. I repeat:

Equating words with violence means that words can be punished like violence and words can also be met with violence.

The problem now is that this is no longer a tactic that exists on the fringe left within radical groups like Antifa, but is being embraced by the mainstream left. This is being pushed by leaders of the Democrat party, liberal thought leaders, and prominent members in the media. It is becoming clear that the contagion of leftist radicalism is spreading. Imagine, if you will, a government and a complicit media that champions a particular ideology, especially a radical one, and considers any opposition or dissent to be equal to violence and treats it as such. Jordan Peterson often says that the problem with something like “hate speech” is that it is too subjective and creating laws against using it means that someone must define it. And who gets to define it? He says it would be the people you least want to. That is a profound truth. And a government that defines “hate speech” merely as speech that is critical of its members or of its ideological agenda can legally punish the people who do it and pretend it is out of moral superiority and “for the greater good.” It is not alarmist to say that this is exactly what happens in dictatorships.

No sane person likes or supports actual hate but the idea of using the government as some kind of a weapon to censor or restrict speech we don’t like is a grave error. The very idea of freedom inherently means that other people get to do or say things that we don’t necessarily like or approve of. It is also vital that we remember that what we use against others can, in turn, be used against us. It is difficult to see the radical left learning this lesson until they inevitably find themselves on the receiving end of the very same suppression they once supported and being ostracized along with their enemies or, God forbid, finding themselves imprisoned or worse for dissent or criticism that was labeled “violence”. What concerns me the most is that the more moderate, otherwise reasonable people on the left have also begun falling victim to this siren song. I have been convinced for some time now that if the wolves of fascism ever truly infiltrate the heart of America, they will come in sheep’s clothing under the guise of liberalism.

I think George Washington summed it best when he said, “The freedom of speech may be taken away–and dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter”

The response to the situation with Ilhan Omar has made one thing abundantly clear. The radical left must never be allowed to gain the power that it seeks.

God bless liberty. God bless our country. And God bless you.

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The Preciousness of Life

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Last Friday, the Georgia State Legislature passed the HB 481 bill, entitled the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act” and it now heads to Governor Brian Kemp’s desk to be signed into law. The bill establishes rights and protections for unborn children once a heartbeat is detected in the womb. Predictably, this has generated much celebration from the pro-life side of the debate and much outrage from the pro-choice side. Many celebrity actors, led by Alyssa Milano, have even signed angry petitions and threatened to no longer film in the state if Governor Kemp signs the bill.

There is no doubt that the issue is highly contentious but why is it so difficult to discuss it, particularly the merits of the pro-life side, with even a modicum of reasonableness? Everything related to the topic is so emotionally charged and emotionally driven that logic and reason are flung into the wind in favor of berating the other side for arguments they have never made and intentions they have never had. This is not unique to abortion, of course. It has become seemingly more commonplace in many, if not most, areas of sociopolitical discourse (and by “discourse”, I mean perpetually screaming at each other on social media). The bottom line is that no one is listening to each other. And if you aren’t listening to the other side, if you don’t fully understand the actual opposing argument and the merits of it, how can you possibly be certain of your own position? An echo chamber might sound full but that’s generally because it is actually empty and hollow, and while you are in it, what you think is reality is almost always an illusion.

The pro-life argument is not difficult to understand. At its foundation is a belief that life is precious and that taking an innocent life is inherently immoral. That does not require a religious interpretation, though many religious people are pro-life. It merely requires the viewpoint that human life has intrinsic value. Because people who are pro-life view unborn children as valuable living human beings, naturally abortion would be seen as a taking an innocent life and therefore, immoral. Now, the arguments get convoluted and highly emotional on both sides and that is understandable, but what I’d like to do here is to take a more objective approach and prioritize facts and logic to make the pro-life argument.

To understand or have a point of view on the issue of abortion, one must answer the first and most basic question: “What is a human life?” and whether or not this applies to a fetus. That question is where the paths diverge between pro-choice and pro-life. Many people might argue that the question is actually, “when does human life begin”, but even that requires first defining “human life.” We cannot agree on when the life begins if we can’t even define what it is in the first place. Sift through a thread of an abortion debate on any social media platform and you will see this to be the case. Additionally, defining the question of human life easily answers the question of when it begins (since it can be looked at objectively).

So, let’s break the question down and examine both the term “human” and the term “life.” Let’s begin with, “What is human?” A human being can be classified in many different ways but one sure way to distinguish the homo sapien species from something else entirely is through genetics. Without getting deep into the scientific terminology, let’s just say that humans have a particular genetic makeup that is unique to the species. Therefore, if the organism in question has the genetic makeup of a human, scientifically speaking, that organism is a human. Another way to be sure it is a human is to look at the scientific facts of reproduction. Both common sense and scientific reasoning tell us that if the parents are human, it logically follows that the offspring is also human (as opposed to some other species). It is difficult to conceive an argument that attempts to deflect away from this fact. Some may argue that a fetus is merely a meaningless clump of cells. Even if that were true, they would still be human cells. And, they would be human cells that contain their own unique genome, meaning distinct from the mother as opposed to being merely a part of her. Therefore, it can be said, based on the scientific evidence, that a fetus is indeed human. Ok, that’s settled. Agreed? But is it alive?

An organism must exhibit what are called the properties of life in order to be considered “living.” Those properties are as follows:

  1. Cellular Organization
  2. Responsiveness to Stimuli
  3. Reproduction
  4. Growth and Development
  5. Regulation
  6. Homeostasis
  7. Energy Processing

Looking at this list, what is there that disqualifies a fetus, particularly a fetus with a heartbeat, from meeting the qualification for life? Cellular organization is apparent, it is responsive to stimuli, it is clearly growing and developing, has regulatory mechanisms in place, and there is plenty of research on fetal homeostasis and metabolic activities. The only thing on the list that does not check out is reproduction. But let’s think about that for a moment. Does inability to reproduce at a particular stage of development disqualify a human from being alive? Reproduction doesn’t even become a possibility until puberty. And surely we wouldn’t say that the people who are, unfortunately, unable to have children somehow do not meet the requirements for life. This qualifier is clearly referring to the potential to reproduce as an adult in the given species, which is true if you look at the genetic code (and we already established that it is, indeed, human per the genetics). It seems to me then that, objectively speaking, a fetus meets all of the biological requirements for life.

Now, if a fetus is a human AND it is alive, both of which I just used science to prove, that means that arguments such as viability, dependency on the mother, and any other arbitrary qualifiers that might be used to define life are objectively incorrect. The logical follow up question one must ask then, if it is both a human and alive, is how abortion can possibly be justified if the definition of homicide is, according to Merriam-Webster, “a killing of one human being by another?”

Is abortion ever justified? I personally don’t think so. Hard cases like rape and incest account for a small percentage of abortions (around 1%), but even in those tragic situations you have to ask yourself if it would be a justifiable reason to kill a born child, like a toddler? If the answer is no, then it isn’t a justifiable reason to kill a fetus either. Because as we just established, it is a human life just as much as the toddler. That doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the victim and their trauma. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help them. But we can’t victimize someone else either.

What about medical emergencies? A multitude of physicians have spoken out recently about how emergency deliveries can and should be done instead of abortions when the health of the mother is at imminent risk. Now, that baby still might die, but at least it would have a fighting chance instead of being ripped apart limb by limb (apologies for that image, but that is literally what happens. Let’s not dance around it). In emergency triage situations, sometimes it is necessary to intentionally step over a critically injured patient in order to save another critically injured patient first, one who is much more likely to survive with immediate aid. Otherwise you risk losing them both. That action may mean that you have left the first patient to die, but at least you were able to save the other one. What you don’t do in that situation, however, is take out a knife and repeatedly stab the first patient in the chest so that you only have one patient to deal with. You try to save them both.

The pro-choice side of this is definitely understandable. There are concerns for the mother’s health and well-being, concerns about bodily autonomy, concerns about government overreach, and concerns about an overcrowded foster system. All of these are valid concerns and real issues that I think we need to be mindful of. I just think that they are separate issues than the question that needs to be answered in abortion, which is, “is it ethical to kill a fetus?” If you accept the scientific definitions of both human and life and we then work from that framework that according to those definitions, a fetus is a living human being, then we need to approach every argument with that presupposition. We need to ask if it is ethical to kill another human being if the mother’s health and well-being are at stake in a non-emergency situation. Is it ethical to kill another human being due to concerns about bodily autonomy? Is it ethical to kill another human being due to perceived government overreach? Is it ethical to kill another human being due to overcrowded foster care? Those are the conversations that need to happen if you want to defend abortion.

The last point I will make is that even if the human life aspect was not scientifically sound and it was truly ambiguous, that would mean that we would be uncertain, at best. There is often an air of certainty in these debates from the pro-choice side as if the ethics of abortion are settled and should not be challenged, but that isn’t remotely true. At best, you just aren’t sure and you would like to leave the choice up to the mother. I understand that. But there are two types of errors to make in the face of uncertainty. One type assumes the fetus is a human life when it isn’t. The other type assumes the fetus is not a human life when it is. The consequences of the first error type means that the option for ending a pregnancy would be erroneously taken away and women would be unable to relieve the burden of carrying unwanted pregnancies to term. All of the pro-choice arguments would be correct. Government overreach, violation of bodily autonomy, strain on foster care and society at large, etc. But what does the second error type mean? What happens if you wrongly assume that the fetus is not a human life when it is and you kill it? In 2015, there were 638,169 abortions in the US alone per the CDC. The WHO estimates 40-50 million abortions worldwide. What do you call that if that large of a number of human beings are being killed every single year over many years? The consequences of making the second error type are clear. It’s genocide.

Regardless of the logic of type errors, we have already established scientific evidence that a fetus fits the qualifications for human life, especially if it has a heartbeat. So, in reality, there is no actual ambiguity. And life, as we know, is precious. Our children are gifts from God, full of wonder and innocence and potential to grow and learn and make this world a better place. Life, itself, is the most precious gift that we have. And you can see it everywhere. You see it when you play with your kids, when you laugh with your husband or wife, when you hang out with your friends, when you listen to the stories of your grandparents, when you walk through the woods or drive through mountains, when you sit on a beach, when you look at the stars or you watch the sunset. The beauty of life is all around us. Yet, it’s easy to take it for granted. We must not do that. Human life, particularly innocent human life, is the most precious thing in this world. And we have a duty to protect it. God bless our babies. God bless our country. And God bless you.

p.s. The film “Unplanned” is currently rocking it in theatres across the nation. Definitely make sure you go see it! Here is the trailer:

 

A person’s a person no matter how small

– Dr. Seuss

 

It’s Time To Break the Chains of Victimhood

Not many things get my blood pressure up like racial issues. If you have ever read my posts on social media, you know where I stand in regards to victimhood based on skin color (screams internally). This article looks to address some of the myths commonly associated with this idea of racial oppression and what I think needs to be done to move into a truly post-racial society.

If you have been paying attention, you know that our good friend Jussie Smollet has been in the news a lot lately, which yet again places skin color and supposed racial oppression at the forefront of the national conversation. Clearly, the evidence is decidedly against him and the abrupt dismissal of his sixteen felony charges is highly suspicious. Yet, he continues to maintain his innocence against all odds. Regardless of the outcome here, one would think that the racial element of the story could at least be dismissed given that we know that the brothers who supposedly attacked Smollett are Nigerian. But if you thought that revelation would vanquish the race hustler narratives of skin-toned victimhood, you are sadly mistaken.

What is so interesting about this case and the general attitude of the public is the ease and willingness of many people to blindly leap onto an idea that the United States is horribly, horribly racist and that this racism is pervasive throughout the whole of society. There is no questioning it. There is no skepticism. It is merely accepted as status quo that a scenario where a couple of Trump supporters stalk a Black man at 2 a.m. in Chicago, beat him up, pour bleach on him, and throw a noose around his neck is not only believable, but is somehow commonplace. And worse, now that this Smollett case has clearly turned out to be a hoax, they still refuse to back down from that initial wave of confirmation bias. “These things still happen though” is the common refrain. How? To Whom? When? Where?

“Everywhere,” they respond.

Everywhere? I live in Southeastern Ohio, 2 hours south of Columbus and 2 hours east of Cincinnati, where all of the counties are red except for Athens (thanks to Ohio University. You do the math). This is quite literally MAGA Country as Mr. Smollett claimed his attackers had shouted about Chicago. Where I live, blue voters are few and far between. Trump flags, bumper stickers, signs, hats, shirts, you see it everywhere. This is, of course, anecdotal evidence, but if the theory that Trump has stoked racial tensions and that his supporters are emboldened by his supposed white nationalist views and outspoken racism, then shouldn’t where I live in Southeastern Ohio be a hotspot for anti-minority activity? Now clearly one’s own personal experience is not compelling evidence for the whole, but if the racism theory is true, it is difficult to believe that Scioto County wouldn’t be one of the most dangerous places for a Black person to live. But let me tell you, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I love my MAGA country and the people who live here.

“But, Leonydus, what about the historic oppression of people of color, the incarceration rates and unfair justice practices, police brutality, the wealth disparities and housing discrimination, higher levels of poverty, etc.” Well, to answer that, the first thing I want to do is address the idea of living in the past. It is indisputable that terrible things happened in the past to Black people. But, there is a very important distinction to make. The people who lived through the horrors of slavery and the blatant racism of the early 20th century are not you and you have absolutely no claim to their suffering. It is actually pretty despicable to attempt to profit off the suffering of someone else, ancestor or not. You were never a slave and you don’t deserve any kind of recognition or accolades for descending from someone who was (that is, if you aren’t, in fact, descended from one of the Black slave-owners, which is very possible. Gasp). It seems harsh, but that’s life. Could you image someone claiming that their failures in life were due to the misfortunes of their grandmother or great-grandmother? It’s absurd. I repeat it again. You have absolutely no claim to the suffering of somebody else.

So then what about the present? It is an interesting thing, but for some reason people have a really difficult time accepting the fact that people who grow up in different places, have different environmental and cultural influences, and different values and belief systems might end up having different outcomes than another group. This is clearly seen in Asian-Americans who have risen to the top of the average income charts, out-earning all other ethnic groups, including White people. This is also seen in certain immigrant groups, like Nigerians (except for two very conspicuous gentlemen but I digress) who excel well beyond Blacks and Latinos and all immigrant groups. Is that Asian privilege? Or immigrant privilege? Or is it a difference in how Asian-Americans and Nigerian immigrants are raised and what they tend to value? The left understands this at a basic level. You can see it in their calls for “racial diversity.” What would be the point of racial diversity if racial groups were all exactly the same? So, clearly they see that there are group disparities that are NOT related to bias or oppression. They miss the mark though on attributing these disparities to race, when race is merely a correlation and not a causation. Culture, environment, values, beliefs, world-view, all of these shape communities and it has more to do with the community itself than it does with the skin color of its inhabitants. (This is why someone like Eminem seems “ghetto”). So, if it is true that environmental influences can help form significant differences in how people think and view the world, then why is it such a stretch to suggest that these differences could also contribute to disparities in outcomes?

The great Thomas Sowell addresses much of this in several of his books and interviews. The basic idea is that there are many, many variables that contribute to group disparities and simply chalking it up to race and skin color is irresponsible and just plain bad science. For example, the median age of White people was 42.9 in 2013 and for Black people, it was 33.3. That’s almost a full 10 years. And what kind of things does age affect? Well, younger people tend to commit more crime and younger people tend to have both less incomes and less wealth than older people. So, that one, singular, variable can help to at least partially explain crime rate gaps and income and wealth gaps. And that’s only 1 variable. How about single-motherhood? We know single-motherhood correlates strongly with poverty so it follows that higher rates of single-motherhood within a group will likely see a higher rate of poverty. The percentage of White single-mothers is 25% and the percentage of Black single-mothers is 73% (Asian-Americans fall in at 17%, by the way). Black single-mothers clock in a full 48 percentage points higher than White single-mothers. Wouldn’t that have some affect on poverty disparities between groups? The answer is, yes.

Along with the misrepresentation of statistical disparities, some of it is just outright lies. The idea that police officers are out gunning down Black people is not even supported by the statistics that are available (nor by common sense). In 2017, 223 Black suspects were killed by police (0.0006% of total population), 459 white people were killed (0.0001% of total population). Black suspects were 6x more likely to be killed than White suspects. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson look at a statistic like that and say, “Racism!” I say, not so fast. Look what happens if you control for crime rate. That same year, 618,173 Black people were arrested for violent crime and 1,076,155 White people were arrested for violent crime. That means, among violent crime suspects, 0.037% of black suspects were killed while 0.043% of white suspects were killed. Not only does the disparity disappear when you account for crime rate, which is significantly higher for Black people, but White suspects are slightly more likely to be killed than Black suspects (although, clearly, the police rarely kill anybody of any race). Myth busted.

The overall point is that you must look at the myriad of variables that are present, you must understand that correlation does not imply causation, and you have to recognize that groups of individuals who grow up in one type of environment are not going to be the same as a group of individuals who grow up in a different type of environment. And that has nothing to do with skin color. That’s Psychology 101. We have to let go of this idea that being a minority is some kind of a handicap and that the “evil White man” is out to get us. It is long past due that we shake off the chains of victimhood and begin to take responsibility for ourselves as individuals. Candace Owens likes to say, “I am a victor, not a victim” and I love that. You choose who are going to be and you can either choose to excel as a victor or you can choose to wallow as a victim. I choose the former. I have begun to teach my children that skin color is just another trait of the many incredible variations that exist on God’s color palette. It is no more consequential to our identity than our hair color or eye color. It is part of you, certainly, and helps make up who you are with the rest of your unique features. But, it does not define you. The sooner we realize that as a nation, the sooner we can move into a truly post-racial society and cherish each other as individuals, not the group they belong to, as brothers and sisters, not the “others”, as people who love their country… as fellow Americans. I pray for that day and I hope you do as well. God bless America. And God bless you.