Liberal tolerance

Man with mouth taped shut1.  British Christians are slowly being banned from advocating traditional Christian views . . . such as the belief that marriage should involve one man and one woman.  The only allowable morality is that which does not align with traditional Judeo-Christian doctrines.

2.  A well-known Hispanic actress was fired from play because she supports a Tea Party candidate.  “‘Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission [District in San Francisco]. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe,’ Lopez [wife of far Left S.F. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi] said.”  In other words, Hispanics are not allowed not hold any views inconsistent with the Democrat party platform.

3.  Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York:  “The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”  Support the Second Amendment?  New York is not the place for you.  Agree with roughly half the country that pregnant women aren’t the ones making a “sacrifice” when they abort a fetus?  Leave New York.  Now!!

That’s just from the past couple of days.  Please feel free to add any I missed.

Mark Steyn on Pajama Boy and the Robertson firing

Phil Robertson and Pajama BoyAs always, Mark Steyn’s whole essay is worth reading, but this quotation below is the part that bears remembering and repeating:

Look, I’m an effete foreigner who likes show tunes. My Broadway book was on a list of “Twelve Books Every Gay Man Should Read.” Andrew Sullivan said my beard was hot. Leonard Bernstein stuck his tongue in my mouth (long story). But I’m not interested in living in a world where we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells. If it’s a choice between having celebrity chefs who admit to having used the N-word in 1977 (or 1965, or 1948, or whenever the hell it was) and reality-show duck-hunters who quote Corinthians and Alec Baldwin bawling out some worthless paparazzo who’s doorstepping his family with a “homophobic” slur, or having all of them banished from public life and thousands upon millions more too cowed and craven to speak lest the same fate befall them, I’ll take the former any day.

Because the latter culture would be too boring for any self-respecting individual to want to live in, even more bloody boring than the current TV landscape where, aside from occasional eruptions of unerotic twerking by sexless skanks, every other show seems to involve snippy little Pajama Boys sitting around snarking at each other in the antiseptic eunuch pose that now passes for “ironic.” It’s “irony” as the last circle of Dante’s cultural drain; it’s why every show advertised as “edgy” and “transgressive” offers the same pitiful combination of attitude and impotence as a spayed cat humping.

Piers Morgan gets it wrong AGAIN

Piers MorganPiers Morgan makes money in America, but doesn’t understand America.  Following the Duck Dynasty explosion, Morgan tweeted out that the First Amendment “shouldn’t protect vile bigots” like Phil Robertson.

Au contraire, Piers.  Putting aside the fact that this is not a First Amendment kerfuffle (A&E is not the government), Robertson’s speech is precisely the type that gets First Amendment protection.  Popular speech doesn’t need any protection.  To the extent speech needs protection, it’s unpopular speech that is covered under the First Amendment.

There are limitations, insofar as the Supreme Court has given the government leave to act against speech intended to create imminent acts of violence or that are blatant falsehoods against private citizens.  Otherwise, though, in America you’re allowed to say things that other people don’t like or with which they disagree.  Free speech and guns are each citizen’s primary bulwark against despotic government.

Prancer, Dancer, and Vixen

Phil-Robertson-813x1024I linked obliquely to this video yesterday, but as the Phil Robertson matter heats up, I want to include the following Obamacare video here, with its focus on getting gay  men to sign up.  Please be warned that the video is vaguely NSFW.  There’s no bad language, nudity, or sex, but it’s full of partial nudity and gay sexual allusions that may make you and your colleagues uncomfortable.

As Dan Calabrese notes, although the government probably didn’t fund the video, it’s almost certain that taxpayer dollars funded the video indirectly.  The bigger point, however, is this one:

Now before you start disputing the comparison between this and the Phil Robertson situation, let’s get it straight. Yes, this is a video on YouTube and Phil Robertson could do one of those too. I’m talking about the broader stance of the prevailing culture. Robertson cites and embraces scriptural teaching on homosexuality, and he is suspended because A&E is “disappointed” in him for what he said. These guys prance around in a clear and unmistakable celebration of a) gay sex; and b) ObamaCare; and that’s perfectly fine because hey, what are you, some sorta bigot or something?

Please note that neither Calabrese nor I are saying this video shouldn’t have been made.  What he says, and I agree with this, is that in a truly free society, both videos get made, rather than having the one supporting traditional values get axed.

Two more things:

(1) Couldn’t they have gotten a better singer? Her voice is dreadful.

(2) Is it a coincidence in this carefully staged set piece that one of the prancers and dancers is wearing dog tags?

(I didn’t come up with my clever post title.  The friend who emailed me the link did, and it was such a delicious line that I had to borrow it.)

Now I remember why I don’t like the ACLU

Sometimes the ACLU remembers what it’s about and actually defends civil rights.  Most of the time, though, it’s just another hard-core Leftist organization.  Take its reaction to a Marin County Fair edict, for example.

The Marin County Fair in past years has been plagued with gangs from the Canal District, which is the large Hispanic area in San Rafael.  To try to crack down on violence, the Fair announced this year that it would ban gang-style clothing (which, incidentally, some of the “nice” boys in Marin wear too in an effort to look cool).

The ACLU has stepped in, and its theory basically says that cracking down on gang-wear is racist.  That is, it says that, since most gang members are Hispanic, banning their gang paraphernalia isn’t anti-gang, it’s racist:

Marin’s new ordinance cracking down on gang attire at the fair means that “hundreds, and probably thousands” of fairgoers will run the risk of violations, according to a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, adding that as a practical matter Latino youth are the real targets of a code that in effect formalizes racial profiling.

“Given this county’s identified gang population, it is Latino youth who will be taking a risk … not white youth wearing the identical items,” declared Alan L. Schlosser of Mill Valley, legal director of the ACLU of Northern California.

Undersheriff Mike Ridgway begged to differ, saying the county law does not discriminate and was “carefully crafted by attorneys to pass constitutional muster” while providing a more transparent process that includes advance notice of the gang insignia at issue.

BTW, it’s not a hardship for these young men (they’re always young men) to avoid gang wear. It’s just that the ACLU is claiming that it is inherently racist to ban clothes that lead to open warfare if the majority of those wearing them are minorities — never mind that they’re also the same young men who engage in open warfare.  The syllogism is sick:  Gang members wear gang clothes that are triggers for violence; these gang members are a subset of the Hispanic population; therefore it’s racist to ban gang clothes that are triggers for violence.

The Democrats’ attacks on free speech on their approach to the immigration bill demonstrate what good strategists they are.

Democrats are very organized.  I’m not just talking about their ability to whip up a rally at a moment’s notice or to elect a President with the help of a substantial voter fraud and government chicanery.  (I’m referring to the IRS scandal.)  Those were just the visible signs of Democrat organization.  As Mitch McConnell explained in a speech he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute, the Democrat effort to squelch conservative free speech goes back many years and does indeed start with Obama — but not quite in the way you’d expect.

I have to admit that I’m not usually very good at reading the transcripts from long speeches, but this was riveting.  McConnell reminds us that, when Democrats speak or act, there are no coincidences.  They are the well-ordered, always-got-a-plan crowd, while Republicans just muddle through, batting at balls as they come their way.

Whenever I look at the difference between Republicans and Democrats, I’m reminded of the Germans and the British in World War I.  The Germans, either because they realized early that trench warfare would last a long time, or because they were simply more meticulous, built trenches that were things of beauty:  deep, secure, and comfortable (given the limits on long ditches in the ground in the middle of battlefields).  The British, by contrast, simply dug slap dash holes in the ground, and then made do with them for the next several years.  The men had no protection from the elements, and simply wallowed in louse-ridden mud and filth for years.  That the British prevailed was due to the resources of her Empire, the quality of her fighters, and the fact that America came in and finished the war for her.

When it comes to organization versus chaos, it’s no coincidence that the Senate is set to pass another 1,200 page monstrosity that no one has read, this time on immigration.  The Democrats know precisely what’s in it and they do not want anybody to read it.  If the public finds out what Democrats know, they’d be screaming to the rooftops.  As it is, they’re supine as a bill that destroys American sovereignty and remakes her population (without any citizen input) is rushed into law.

My suspicion is that the Senate Dems actually don’t care if the House stops the bill.  In that event, all they have to do is scream that the Republicans are racist immigration enemies.  The fact that the bill is a disaster that no one should pass is irrelevant.  Since no one knows what’s in it, the Dems and their media can simply set the narrative.

In other words, it’s a win-win for Dems:  either they get a bill that turns us into a permanent low-income, welfare economy or they get to call Republicans racists.  And, with all the aplomb of the British in WWI, the Republicans will stand there shell-shocked, unable to figure out what hit them.

If you go below the fold, I’ve included McConnell’s entire speech here.  You’ll see that McConnell is trying to arouse Republicans and conservatives to intelligent efficiency.  Good luck to him!

[Read more...]

Both mandatory unions and mandatory professional organizations are antithetical to Constitutional Free Speech *UPDATED*

California Bar Seal

The State Bar of California, which I have to pay into in order to practice law in the State of California, long-ago abandoned its core responsibility of ensuring that people who hold themselves out as lawyers to California citizens are at least minimally qualified.  As with all these mandatory organizations, it’s turned into a political advocacy group and, again in sync with all these mandatory organizations, it advocates Left. That is, it forces me to pay money if I want to have a livelihood in my chosen profession, and spends that money on heavily politicized issues such as abortion.  (It hews so far Left that, even when I was a Democrat, I was offended by many of the political stands it took with my money.)

The State Bar isn’t the only professional organization that leans Left.  The American Bar Association is heavily political too in a Leftist kind of way. The difference between the ABA and the State Bar, though, is that the form is a voluntary organization. I was therefore able to cancel my membership when I realized that my money was being used to support political causes that were unrelated to law and with which I disagreed.  Sadly, I can’t opt out of the State Bar — not if I want to be a practicing lawyer, that is.

Looked at this way, I have the same lack of rights as union members who don’t live in in right-to-work states. Here’s the deal: if unions and bar associations limited themselves to their original function, which was to ensure that union workers have good conditions or that lawyers have reasonable qualifications, union dues and mandated bar memberships would be less of an issue. Unions and Bar associations, however, have drifted far afield from these core responsibilities.  They’ve branched out since the 1970s or so to become political action groups taking far Left stands on just about everything.

When states mandate that workers must join unions or that professionals must join professional associations, the state is effectively coercing citizens into funding speech with which they may disagree. Looked at this way, mandatory participation in activist unions and professional associations is a profound perversion of the First Amendment right to free speech. Free speech doesn’t just include the right to speak freely, it also includes the right to refrain from participating in speech with which one doesn’t agree.

All of this popped into my mind when I received an email from the president of the State Bar of California (emphasis mine):

Begging

By now, you should have already received your State Bar of California fee statement. Statements were sent out on Nov. 30, and many of you may be taking steps now to send your payments before the Feb. 1, 2013 deadline. If you have not yet received your statement, it may be helpful to know that you can sign in to My State Bar Profile to calculate and pay your 2013 fees.

As the president of the State Bar, I would like to take this moment to enlist your help with an important opportunity that you have through your annual dues.

As attorneys, other people’s problems challenge us to do our very best. We straighten out transactions gone awry. We resolve property and commercial disputes. We counsel our clients through criminal proceedings and personal difficulties and help with innumerable other problems that ordinary people have every day.

But there is a new challenge. Sadly, our economy has experienced an almost unprecedented downturn with interest rates at historic lows. It is the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA)* revenue that pays for civil legal assistance for indigent people statewide; and it is barely a quarter of what it was in 2008. There is no cushion left as we struggle to close the justice gap – the gap between the legal needs of the poor and the legal help we can provide for them. This is an unprecedented crisis for those we are charged with protecting.

But there is a powerful step each of us can take in seeking a solution to the justice gap. Your tax-deductible donation to the Justice Gap Fund (a component of the statewide Campaign for Justice) will expand access to justice for the millions of Californians with nowhere else to turn. The Justice Gap Fund is the only statewide vehicle to restore critical funding to nearly 100 legal nonprofits that serve our biggest cities as well as the most isolated rural communities.

A gift made at line 10 of your annual dues statement, or online anytime at www.CAforJustice.org, will make a real difference.

Please join me in the Campaign for Justice. Make a life-changing gift to the Justice Gap Fund – it will make a real difference to those who most need our help.

I have to say that my heart strings remain un-tugged.  The Leftist policies of coercive organizations such as the California Bar Association helped lead to a long, deep economic collapse and painfully drawn-out recession.  The Bar, with its speech amplified by coerced dues, managed to out-shout someone like me, who would have had more money if the Bar hadn’t taken it away.  If I could have been left to my own political speech, I might then have been more amenable to contributing to a fund that helps poor people entangled in the political system.  Because the fund is owned and managed by the same group of people who contributed to this mess, however, I’ll hang onto my money until I find more worthy charities.

UPDATE:  You have to check out Michael Ramirez’s perfect editorial cartoon, because it distills to a single picture the whole free speech (or non-free speech) argument I made above.

“Rid the world of those savages!”

Froggy, who blogs at BlackFive, attended the funeral of Ty Woods, one of the former Navy SEALS who died trying to defend the consulate in Benghazi that State Department policy left completely exposed.  Dorothy Woods, Ty’s widow, had the emotional strength to deliver a powerful eulogy for her husband.  Froggy was especially struck by two things that she said:

“It is easy to write a book about being a Navy SEAL, but it is very hard to write an obituary for one.”

“To all the Operators here today I give you this charge: Rid the world of those savages.  I’ll say it again, RID THE WORLD OF THOSE SAVAGES!”

I won’t comment directly on what Dorothy Woods said, because I think it needs no comment. I will, however, pair it with a discussion of Pamela Gellar’s important Free Speech victory against the New York Transit Authority.  It all started when Pamela Geller, who blogs at Atlas Shrugs, wanted to put up an add in the subway system:

Please study the ad carefully to confirm to your own satisfaction that says nothing about Islam or about Muslims generally.  Instead, it asks that American citizens “defeat jihad,” which the paragraph above describes as the side of “the savage” in a way.  Jihad is not a religion, it is not a race, and it is not a religious practitioner.  It is a doctrine:  it is a Holy War intended to kill or subjugate those whom the jihadists deem are “infidels.”  It is about conquest, rapine, death, and slavery.

In the face of protests from Muslim groups (including CAIR), the subway system backed down on the ground that the ad was “demeaning.”  PowerLine asks the right question:  Demeaning to whom?

“Demeaning”? Again, demeaning toward whom? Jihadists. Are jihadists now some kind of protected class?

They are to those Muslims who understand that jihadists (coincidentally, I’m sure) all happen to profess the same faith.  And one of their numbers was upset because, you know, even though his is a religion of peace, if you upset the jihadists, their co-religionists might have to get violent:

Abdul Yasar, a New York subway rider who considers himself an observant Muslim, said Geller’s ad was insensitive in an unsettling climate for Muslims.

“If you don’t want to see what happened in Libya and Egypt after the video — maybe not so strong here in America — you shouldn’t put this up,” Yasar said.

So, the ad doesn’t mention Muslims, but Muslims understand it to mean that they are savages, which they assure us they are not.  Still if you don’t take down the ad, they will be forced into savagery — and it’s all your fault, you infidel!.  Oooh, I’m so confused.

Let me give PowerLine the last word (and PowerLine, in turn, is quoting from the New York Post):

But aren’t they [the words] offensive only to jihadists, which is to say, mass murderers and their supporters? If you advocate mass murder, shouldn’t you expect to be offended? At a minimum?

Opponents say the ads imply that Muslims are savages.

But wait! Aren’t we constantly told that jihadists aren’t really Muslims? That Islam is staunchly opposed to terrorism? So how are all Muslims encompassed within the term “jihad”?

“We recognize the freedom of speech issues and her right to be a bigot and a racist,” said Muneer Awad, the executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But he said he hopes the MTA and elected officials “take on a leadership role in denouncing hate speech.”

So now jihadists are a race? I am so confused! And does CAIR really think that denouncing jihadists constitutes “hate speech?” If jihadists can’t be denounced, then who can be?

This is the sort of confusion that is, in its own way, clarifying.

Fortunately, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer managed to cut through the confusion in order to reach the correct conclusion:  Pamela Gellar’s ad was protected Free Speech.  The transit system must place her ads on its subway trains.

Dorothy Woods knows who the savages are. Pamela Geller knows who the savages are. And you and I know who the savages are. “RID THE WORLD OF THOSE SAVAGES.”

Jonah Goldberg gets to the heart of the matter about Islam and the First Amendment

I wish I’d said it this well:

It’s really quite amazing. In Pakistan, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories, Christians are being harassed, brutalized, and even murdered, often with state support, or at least state indulgence. And let’s not even talk about the warm reception Jews receive in much of the Muslim world.

And yet, it seems you can’t turn on National Public Radio or open a newspaper or a highbrow magazine without finding some oh-so-thoughtful meditation on how anti-Islamic speech should be considered the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a movie theater.

It’s an interesting comparison. First, the prohibition on yelling “fire” in a theater only applies to instances where there is no fire. A person who yells “fire” when there is, in fact, a fire is quite likely a hero. I’m not saying that the people ridiculing Mohammed — be they the makers of the Innocence of Muslims trailer or the editors of a French magazine — have truth on their side. But blasphemy is not a question of scientific fact, merely of opinion. And in America we give a very wide legal berth to the airing of such opinions. Loudly declaring “it is my opinion there is a fire in here” is not analogous to declaring “it is my opinion that Mohammed was a blankety-blank.”

You know why? Because Muslims aren’t fire, they’re people. And fire isn’t a sentient entity, it is a force of nature bereft of choice or cognition of any kind. Just as water seeks its own level, fire burns what it can burn. Muslims have free will. If they choose to riot, that’s not the same thing as igniting a fire.

Have you ever heard of a book called “The Master and Margarita?”

I was doodling about on that Folio Society site I told you about, and I came across a book I’ve never heard of:  The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov.  Here’s the product description:

‘Well, as everyone knows, once witchcraft gets started, there’s no stopping it’

On a hot spring afternoon in Moscow, a poet and an editor are discussing the non-existence of Jesus. A polite, foreign gentleman interrupts their debate, claiming to have known Jesus in person and to have been present when he was condemned by Pontius Pilate. Moreover, he predicts the editor’s death – a bizarre accident which happens exactly as the foreigner foretells. The Devil has arrived in Moscow and, along with his demons and a large black cat, he carves a trail of chaos and destruction through Soviet society. He exposes the hypocrisy and greed of those around him, their willingness to inform on neighbours, their urgent scrabble for power and their fear for themselves. One man seems different: a writer known as ‘the master’ who, in despair, has burned his unpublished novel about Pontius Pilate and has been incarcerated in an asylum. His lover, the passionate, courageous Margarita, will do anything to save him – including serving the Devil himself.

Writing The Master and Margarita in secret between 1928 and 1940, through the period of Stalin’s purges, Bulgakov was already deemed anti-Soviet; his plays were banned, and he had few illusions that anyone would publish this highly satirical work. Like his main character, he destroyed a draft in despair. Yet, as the Devil tells the master, in a phrase which went on to become a watchword of hope: ‘Manuscripts don’t burn’. In 1966-7, more than 25 years after Bulgakov’s death, The Master and Margarita was published with relatively minor cuts. Smuggled past the censors, its subversive message, dark humour and lyrical force combined to make it an instant success and a beacon of optimism and freedom that spread through Russia and the world. Peter Suart’s dramatic illustrations provide a fitting accompaniment to what is one of our members’ most requested titles.

Have you heard of  The Master and Margarita?  It seems like a rather amazing book, along the lines of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s books, which were also smuggled out of the Soviet Union.  Solzhenitsyn’s books were important, because they breached the walls built, not just by the Soviet Union, but also by the Walter Duranty’s of America — apologists who deliberately deceived the American people abut the true horrors of Soviet statism.  Although he is writing satire, Bulgakov also seems to be one of those who was willing to challenge statist orthodoxy, even at great risk to himself.

If this is indeed a Solzhenitsyn-esque book, I think it’s worth reading, not just for its content, but because of what it represents.  I was speaking with a friend today about the abject cowardice that inevitably characterizes people in police states, whether those states are Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Zimbabwe, or the Muslim World.  You’d like to think that you’re brave but, when an act of bravery means that the state will brutally and casually destroy, not only you, but every member of your family and all of your friends (and possibly your acquaintances too), most people, even good people, discover that the cannot be brave.  They’d like to be, and maybe they would be if only their lives were at stake, but few have the courage to sacrifice everyone in their world.  This is especially true in statist situations because the state entirely controls the machinery of communication.  Under those circumstances, sacrifices tend to be in vain.  Each dead person is a tree falling in an empty forest or one hand clapping.

A few years ago, these thoughts about individual courage were purely hypothetical for most Americans.  Things have changed, however.  In the last week, our current government showed that it does not value free speech:

Our media, which ought to be entirely supportive of free speech brutally castigated the only famous American politician (that would be Romney) who was willing to voice approbation of our American right to challenge religious belief.  The LA Times ran an op-ed piece claiming that First Amendment law, which does indeed prohibit the equivalent of shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater, should be applied to insults to Islam.  In other words, because all real or perceived insults to Islam are the equivalent of shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater, insulting Islam, by accident or on purpose, is not protected speech.  Voila!  It’s sharia through the back door.

When free speech ends, it’s the Bulgakovs and Solzhenitsyns of the world that stand between citizens and perpetual servitude to the state.  If I do read The Master and Margarita, I’ll let you know what I think.  And if you have read the book, please let me know what you think.

A brilliant display of grassroots conservative wit

There’s nothing funny about the Obama administration’s decision to trample on the First Amendment in its rush to placate radical Islamists.  Well, almost nothing.  If you give the conservative masses a crack at their still functioning right to free expression, you end up with marvelous examples of political wit.  Here are a few of my favorites, but you really need to check out Zombie’s post, because Zombie trawled through almost a thousand of them to find the best of the best: