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Political Monday with John DePetro: Fees, Fraud, Fetuses, and Finding a Field of Candidates

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about the many new fees and taxes in the governor’s budget, a progressive’s alleged embezzlement, the significance of an abortion poll, and the multiple candidates for RIGOP chair.

Open post for full audio.

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The First Amendment and Criminalized Speech on Campus

Something just isn’t adding up with reports about a “racial incident” at Bryant University:

On Super Bowl Sunday, Quinton Law walked past a party in a townhouse on the Bryant University campus, and a young woman screamed at him:

She said five words: “I f—ing hate these n—–s.”

He answered: “That’s racist as hell.”

Her response: “I don’t care if I sound racist.” At least, that’s what he posted the next day on Facebook. When he quoted her over the phone last week, the sentence was more like she didn’t give a (vulgarity) if she sounded racist.

Since then, the reports appear to be that people living in the townhouse have received threats and the university asked Law to take the post down.  On one hand, the university found that “a bias incident” had occurred, but on the other hand, somebody apparently advised Law to find a lawyer in case the woman’s housemates sue him.

Given the contrast with how one would expect this story to go, there’s clearly not enough information available to the public in order to make any judgment about the substance.  One thing remains interesting, though, in a particular statement from Law:

“This is past racism,” he said. It is a First Amendment violation of free speech, he said.

And yet, here’s the characterization of how the “bias incident” was handled, per a statement from Bryant:

The University has an established process for responding to bias incidents and this process was followed. The University immediately opened a thorough investigation of the alleged bias incident which included interviews with multiple students and a review of security camera footage. The Bryant University Bias Incident Committee reviewed the results of the investigation and concluded that a bias incident had occurred.

This official and comprehensive investigation was conducted over something that a student said.  The “incident” was that “a Bryant student stated a racial epithet in a public setting.”

Quinton Law isn’t to blame for the state of affairs on American campuses, and again, something seems odd about how this story has played out.  Still, one can’t help but wonder whether it is the initial attempt to criminalize speech as “bias incidents” that creates this strange environment.

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Governor Moves Toward Even More Restrictions On 2nd Amendment; Please Sign Petition

As the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity wrote after the State of the State address, the assault on individual and Second Amendment constitutional rights under the Raimondo administration is worse than expected. Her new scheme is one more example of the Rhode Island political class giving into the far-left Progressive agenda. Rhode Island families deserve to be able to exercise their God given right to self-defense without excessive government interference.

Instead of protecting and preserving our individual freedoms, the Governor is expanding the attacks and infringements on those seeking to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves. Now is the time to demand better government, not more restrictions on honest citizens. Click Here to sign a petition demanding exactly that from our elected officials.

This “crystal ball” approach of justifying government infringement because something “might” happen must end!

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Early Indications of Legalized Prostitution?

Although I’m pretty sure state Democrat Representative Anastasia Williams, of Providence, has introduced this legislation in the past, with the possible legalization of marijuana this year, it’s worth mentioning.  As Ian Donnis reports for the Public’s Radio:

A Rhode Island lawmaker believes the state’s laws governing sex work are too punitive and she wants to create a 12-member commission to review possible changes. …

According to a bill introduced by Williams, H5354, “Criminalization of prostitution disproportionately impacts women, transgender individuals and people of color.” Her legislation points to findings showing that decriminalizing prostitution can improve public safety and public health.

If Williams’ envisioned legislative commission moves ahead, it would face a February 2020 deadline for reporting its findings.

As I’ve noted repeatedly, there’s a reason Pottersville — the alternate reality in It’s a Wonderful Life in which the movie’s hero had never been born — combines drugs, gambling, and prostitution.  As I’ve also suggested before, it would be one thing to arrive at this state of affairs because our culture and our respect for liberty had become stronger, because then it would have implicit safeguards for individuals and the community as a whole.

As it is, we’re seeing the government move into areas that used to be the province of organized crime, largely for the same reasons: money and power.

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New Poll Data on Abortion and Priorities

A new group called Citizens for Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness has commissioned and published the results of a new poll by the company Cygnal focusing on abortion:

The top-lines of the poll, which contacted 700 Ocean State residents via land and mobile lines, and with a 3.7% margin of error, include:

  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (92.8%) believe that the abortion issue should not be the “top priority” for lawmakers; the abortion issue does not even rank among the top-6 issues
    • Only 7.2% say it’s their top priority
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (73.8%) believe that abortion should not be legal up until birth
    • Less than one-in-five Rhode Islanders (18.8%) believe it should be legal up until birth
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (68.9%) oppose partial-birth abortions in all situations
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (63.9%) oppose second-trimester abortions in all situations
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (63.0%) oppose legislation which removes restrictions as to who can perform abortions

The largest group of respondents (27%) believes that abortion should only be legal in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.  A little more than half of those would leave off rape and incest, too.  Add in those who do not think it should be “permitted under any circumstances,” and the total is 39%.  Another 25% draw the line at the first trimester, making that the majority position.

This means that 74% of Rhode Islanders oppose the state of the law as it currently exists for the nation.

That result is particularly telling when put in the context of respondents’ priorities.  After the universal interest in education, the next three top priorities that Rhode Islanders have for the General Assembly arguably lean conservative:  jobs and the economy, lowering taxes, and combating government corruption.  Indeed, despite Democrats’ being heavily represented in the poll, the largest group of respondents considers itself to be conservative (35%, compared with 32% moderate and 30% liberal).

An interesting question may shed some light on the motivation for the emphasis on “combating government corruption”:  How is it, given these results, that Rhode Island’s statewide office holders are all progressive (perhaps excluding the lieutenant governor) and progressives seem to get so much attention?

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Unnecessary “Fair Housing” Bill is Unfair to Landlords!

House bill 5137, deceptively named the Fair Housing Practices bill, which mirrors leftist-inspired legislation introduced in other states, is completely unfair to landlords.

The legislation claims it seeks to end discriminatory housing practices because in the progressives’ land of social-equity, making a legitimate business decision should be a crime. Under the proposed law, any Section-8 lessee applicant (those whose rents are subsidized by the federal government) who are not accepted as a tenant, must have been discriminated against, and the landlord must be punished.

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The Counterintuitive Consequences of Birth Control

A bit of recent research appears to confirm something I’ve been arguing from theoretical grounds for decades:

Access to the birth control pill in the U.S. has increased the births of children outside of marriage, especially among poor and minority women, according to a new study of the contraceptive’s historic effects.

“Our findings add to a growing literature which documents the power of the pill to shape women’s lives in broadly heterogenous ways, with minority and less-well-educated women bearing the brunt of the losses, a phenomenon we call the paradox of the pill,” economics professors Andrew Beauchamp and Catherine R. Pakaluk said in their paper, “The Paradox of the Pill: Heterogeneous Effects of Oral Contraceptive Access.”

“We find robust evidence that access to the pill increased nonmarital childbearing and reduced the likelihood of high-school graduation,” they said.

There are two important principles coming into view, here.  The first is something I wrote about in a 2004 post about the trajectory that our thoughts about sex, marriage, and family have been on, as a culture.  The relevant point, here, is that contraception intellectually and culturally separates sex from procreation.

Consequently, regardless of whether a particular couple is using contraception (or using it correctly), people begin behaving sexually as if children aren’t really a consideration.  When one is conceived, therefore, the tendency will be to blame the contraception, or its lack of availability, or whatever reasons one might have for not using it.  The pregnancy therefore seems unfair, increasing the demand for abortion.

The second principle is one that I expressed frequently when same-sex marriage was still a matter of public debate.  Namely, that people who don’t necessarily need marriage in order to have healthy relationships or to raise children reasonably well are actually investing in a culture of marriage that benefits more-vulnerable people.

We see the same thing with contraception.  More-privileged groups of people will not only have more access to contraception but also stronger cultural guides for the regulation of their behavior.  Yet, their view of sex will define the culture and affect the behavior of those who are less privileged and less responsible.

Jessica Botelho writes on the efforts of Nichole and Tyler Rowley to put a spotlight on the misdirected thinking behind the presentation of abortion as an untrammeled right.

Me, Still Me, and the Time of Choosing

Jessica Botelho writes on the efforts of Nichole and Tyler Rowley to put a spotlight on the misdirected thinking behind the presentation of abortion as an untrammeled right:

Nichole Rowley, a mother of two, said she and her husband, Tyler, recently received a card from Gov. Gina Raimondo. The delivery marked six months since Rowley gave birth to their second son, Fulton.

“The card expressed the joy of having children, but the sentiment didn’t make sense coming from Governor Raimondo,” Rowley told NBC 10 News in an email. “If children are such a special gift, as the card claims, why does she offer those children no rights before they are born?” …

After hearing [Governor Raimondo support abortion legislation in her State of the State speech], Rowley said she and Tyler decided to mail the governor back the card, along with a card of their own, plus two photos inside: a picture of Fulton at 12 weeks in the womb, and another of him a few hours after birth. The words, “Me, Still me,” were printed across the photos.

The idea that our Catholic governor needs reminding of such an elementary concept — now fully visible through modern technology — is a travesty and a scandal.  She and other politicians of her ilk, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, ought to be informed of their excommunication for the good of their own souls as much as those whom they corrupt.

They like to claim that they aren’t pro-abortion, but pro-choice.  Well, when their fellow Democrat governor is out there excusing infanticide, we are clearly all in a time of choosing.  Life or death… pick one.  Nihilism or morality… pick one.  Choose.

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RI House May Expand Abortion, but Criminalize Cat Declawing

As the Rhode Island House of Representatives gives hints that some sort of legislation will pass to lock in or even expand the ability of women to kill their children in the womb, this legislation (H5073) enters the docket:

It is unlawful for any person… to perform or cause to be performed, an onychectomy (declawing) or flexor tendonectomy procedure by any means on a cat or other animal, unless the procedure is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian.

In addition to being able to impose a fine of up to $1,000, the court would gain the totalitarianesque power not only to forbid the person to possess any animals, but also to live “on the same property with someone who owns or possesses animals, perhaps for life.  Naturally, forced “humane education” would be a requirement.

But wait!  There’s more.

If H5113 also were to become law, the person who has his or her cat declawed would also be forced to participate in a new publicly accessible online animal abuser registry.  That way his or her neighbors could readily dig up details of the dastardly deed.

As long as we have our priorities in order.

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The SJWs Claim the Dreams of One of Their Own

Rod Dreher shares a story that shows the urgency of pulling our society away from the social justice warrior (SJW) cliff.

Amelie Wen Zhao is a Young Adult author whose debut sci-fi/fantasy novel, Blood Heir, was set for a June release from a major publisher, as part of a three-book deal. When the deal was announced a year ago, Zhao, who is just starting her career, made her excitement public.

Ms. Zhao has quite a story.  Born in China.  Fully accredited member of the right-thinking POC community.  Unfortunately, a Twitter mob formed, apparently focusing on the fact that the first book’s PR materials described the fictional world as one in which “oppression is blind to skin color.”

The result, as Dreher puts it, is that Zhao learned to love Big Brother.  In her apology letter, she expressed gratitude for having been taught a lesson and reports, “I have decided to ask my publisher not to publish Blood Heir at this time.”

Robby Soave is right to quote Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in this context: “There is more than one way to burn a book, and the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” This madness will come for us all if we don’t start stopping it.

One suspects the SJWs miss the irony that they’re bringing Ms. Zhao’s fictional world into being.  “Oppression is blind to skin color,” indeed.

Somewhere around Twitter, I saw somebody complain that people are spreading "lies" about Virginia Democrats.  The on-point response from somebody else (paraphrasing):  "People are spreading direct quotes."

Pretense Has Fallen Away on Abortion: It’s Infanticide

Somewhere around Twitter, I saw somebody complain that people are spreading “lies” about Virginia Democrats.  The on-point response from somebody else (paraphrasing):  “People are spreading direct quotes.”

Sometimes these things are better seen.  Watch Virginia Democrat Delegate Kathy Tran explain her pro-abortion legislation.  As the Republican chairman of the committee to which she’s presenting digs into what the bill would allow, Tran’s face actually winces, because she knows what she’s about to say:

Gilman: Where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth — she has physical signs that she is about to give birth.  Would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was [certified as having a mental health reason]?

[Pause]

Gilman: She’s dilating.

Tran: [Winces.] Mr. Chairman, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make at that point.

Gilman: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yeah.

All pretense is now off the table.  This is infanticide, as Democrat Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam subsequently went on the radio to confirm.  The interviewer asked about the exchange quoted above, and Northam answered thus:

If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen.  The infant would be delivered.  The infant would be kept comfortable.  The infant would be resuscitated, if that’s what the mother and the family desired.  And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

Notice that we’re no longer talking about a fetus, here.  This is an infant.  Apparently, many Democrats have become so intrinsically radical that they are now willing to admit that.  It’s their religion, and human sacrifice is allowed.

By the way, infanticide is evil… just in case that isn’t clear anymore.

One aspect of the abortion debate with which one really must contend is the deception of those who advocate for abortion as a right, starting with the idea that legislation to preserve women's ability to kill their unborn children in the womb is about "reproductive health care."  Reproductive of what?

The Strange Assertions of Abortion Advocates

One aspect of the abortion debate with which one really must contend is the deception of those who advocate for abortion as a right, starting with the idea that legislation to preserve women’s ability to kill their unborn children in the womb is about “reproductive health care.”  Reproductive of what?

So much of the pro-abortion argument requires distortion of the language and concepts that are involved.  Why that is should be obvious.  The other day, a progressive state senator from Providence, Gayle Goldin, and Providence Journal reporter Katnerine Gregg responded to news that a judge had struck down an Iowa law restricting abortion when the baby’s heartbeat can be detected, implying that it’s a concern because it may give the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to address the question of abortion.

Think of the underlying issue.

This law that is, at the moment, arguably unconstitutional essentially states that if an unborn child is so provably unique from the mother as to have his or her own heartbeat, a doctor can’t suck out his or her brain, tear him or her limb from limb, or otherwise kill the child (presumably except to save the life of the mother).  When that’s the fact of the act, the only way to maintain support has got to be to misdirect attention some other way.

Activists at the Rhode Island State House, the other day, emphasized minorities’ access to abortion, but starting from a different perspective paints a very different picture.  Something around 8% of Rhode Island’s population is black, but they account for some 16% of abortions.  Abortion kills black babies at about twice the rate that it kills white babies in the Ocean State.

A chart from the Guttmacher Institute shows that minorities, especially black non-Hispanics, have much higher abortion rates than white non-Hispanics, yet the claim of the chart is that “lack of access to health insurance and health care plays a role, as do racism and discrimination,” in abortion rates that vary by race.   Is Guttmacher, which is associated with Planned Parenthood, suggesting that racism leads to the higher rates, or is it suggesting that, but for racism and discrimination, the United States would have even higher rates for killing black babies.

That’s what the Providence activists would seem to be suggesting when they talk about “access.”  Pursuing policies that would keep a significant portion of a minority population alive is a strange kind of bigotry.

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Governor’s Regressive Budget – The Wrong Direction?

Is the Governor’s budget pointing our state in the right direction? On Monday, I attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast hosted by the RI Ministers’ Alliance. At the breakfast, the Governor said that the country is moving backward, and that she is committed to moving RI ‘forward’ and in the opposite direction. What planet is the Governor living on?

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Governor’s Budget: The “Rhode To Serfdom”

Instead of seeking to shape Rhode Island’s future with the proven ideals of a free-society, Governor Raimondo’s proposed 2019-2020 budget is a stunning departure from America’s core values and, instead, would put our state on a “Rhode to Serfdom.”

The Governor’s regressive budget points us 180 degrees in the opposite direction of where we need to head, and would stifle any opportunity for growth.

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The Lie of That Gillette Ad

The Gillette ad going after “toxic masculinity” isn’t asking for change; it’s reasserting what most of us have thought masculinity was all about as if it’s been reinvented and handed back to us by our moral superiors.

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Charity and the Guilt of a Race

Rod Dreher has an interesting post on the balkanizing dangers of progressive anti-white rhetoric, and readers with an interest in the subject should read it.  What most caught my eye, however, was a tangential sentiment in a quotation Dreher includes from an NBC News commentary by Noah Berlatsky:

Even community service can reproduce racist ideas. It’s hard to see people as equals when you always have power over them, or when your primary experience with them involves giving them charity.

The spectacle of well-intentioned people working, half unconsciously, to solidify and perpetuate their own power is not an encouraging one. “I feel like my findings are pretty dismal,” Hagerman admits. “When you have people who have a lot of wealth alongside this racial privilege, they’re ultimately making decision that benefit their own kids, and I don’t know how you really interrupt that.”

However he arrives at it, Berlatsky’s ideology clearly gets charity wrong.

Maybe that’s a progressive versus traditionalist difference.  To a traditionalist — specifically a Christian traditionalist — we’re called to charity because we’re all equal in the eyes of God, and we’re to see God most especially in those who are suffering.  The last will be first.  If we are comfortable, we should be concerned that we have already received our reward, but when we humble ourselves, we will be elevated in Heaven.

There’s plenty of room for hypocrisy and imperfection in the actual application of this principle, but that’s the underlying view.  You owe it to the disadvantaged to help them because, ultimately, they are your equals, and what you have is an indication either that your priorities are wrong or that God has given to you so that you may help others.

The penance of progressives’ materialism is much more stern.  The obligation of the privileged is complete negation.  You don’t give to others because you are equal; you deprive yourself because you are inferior (and give to progressives, so they can profit from the redistribution of your wealth).

Actually, as Dreher explains, it would be more true to say that the altruistic progressive appears obligated mostly to express guilt and continue on with his or her privilege.  Culturally, it’s a ritual sacrifice of the less privileged of their own race for the expiation of guilt.

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