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Paths of Injustice

This week, my ongoing efforts to be better cultured landed Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 film Paths of Glory on my television.

The generals in the French army order a regiment to take a German fortification during the First World War.  It’s an impossible command, and the attack fails, with large segments of the force pinned down such that to charge is to die instantly.  The general in immediate command demands a show trial and execution of three randomly chosen soldiers as an example to the others, and their colonel asks to represent them as their defense.

The officers conducting the court martial hearing give Colonel Dax no chance.  They treat one soldier’s medals and proven bravery as no defense against the charge of cowardice in this case.  Another soldier’s testimony that he didn’t charge because he had been knocked unconscious by, and pinned under, a falling dead body is insufficient to overcome rank speculation that he could be lying and could have inflicted a serious head injury on himself after the fact.

Kubrick subtly interweaves the very human tendency of the generals to rationalize their acceptance of injustice because they had conflated their own interests with the good of the  military and the country.  In his closing argument, Colonel Dax expresses shame at being a member of the human race:  “The case made against these men is a mockery of all human justice.”

Watching that scene, I wondered how it is that we have not all been acculturated against such behavior.  (Unfairness in state and local politics were in my thoughts.)  But then my mind separated the themes of the movie and its imagery.  The court martial consisted of a group of white men in military costumes before a national flag in a large room at Schleissheim Palace.  One can’t deny that our society has been well trained to see injustice in such settings and with such characters as that.

We too easily lose sight of the reality that the particular cause in whose name human beings treat each other unjustly is not ideological or demographic.  Not only traditional authority types are wicked or prone to rationalizing harm to others.  Any one of us can fall into the same role.

Insisting in the name of identity politics or intersectionality that only certain types of people can be inhumane is a dangerous mistake that our civilization seems at risk of making.

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Generational Apologies All Around

Steven Papamarcos offers, in the New York Daily News,  the apology that GenXers like me have been wanting to hear ever since we came of age and came to understand the world into which we’d grown:

The previous generation, the Greatest Generation, saved the world by sending Orwell’s rough men into the crucible of war in the interest of peace. My generation, the Baby Boomers, was to live the life purchased for us by the boys of Normandy, the Ardennes, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and other killing fields. White marble crosses and Stars of David in these places testify to the enormous price of that purchase. And live we did. What a party we threw ourselves. So, as I reflect on the goodness of the job my generation has done, I apologize. I apologize for it all.

On his list of the Boomers’ good works:

  • Bankrupting the United States
  • A political system in which neither party will “staunch the fiscal bleeding”
  • Raising the current generations of civically ignorant nationalists and socialists around the world who are renewing “the tired, hateful rhetoric of the past”
  • Turning higher education into a politically correct land of ego stroking
  • Undermining American education, generally
  • The prolongation of racial division by trying to compensate for racism of the past, rather than simply moving past it

It’s nice to hear an apology, for all the good it does, but a nagging sense of pre-guilt keeps me from gloating.  I have a feeling some GenXer will pen a responsive apology some day, as the younger Boomers shuffle off to the grave, for what reality led us to do to them once we’d overcome their programming of the Millennials and managed to explain it all.

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Quotation Marks Tell a Tale of Bias

Although it’s from Monday’s “Political Scene” in the Providence Journal the following paragraph is worth memorializing because it truly captures — media watchers will agree — a dominant perspective in the mainstream news media:

Last Thursday night at the Rhode Island State House, deeply-held religious beliefs collided with the anger and fervor of women’s rights activists in the Trump era; the dominant church in Rhode Island waged — and lost — a holy war against “the sin″ of abortion; and a House Speaker who promised to be “the firewall” against “ultra-left wing groups” felt compelled to let colleagues vote, for the first time in a quarter-century, on an abortion-rights bill.

Specifically, note that the reporters and/or editors put quotation marks around “the sin,” but not around “holy war.”  In that small detail of copy editing, one sees precisely the angle from which the newspaper is reporting.  Killing children in the womb up to the point of birth is only a sin in some people’s eyes, thus requiring quotation marks to prove that the journalists don’t necessarily subscribe to that view, but opposing the legality of such an act is literally a holy war.

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Rhode Island Needs A Freedom Agenda. (And It’s Coming This Week.)

The Ocean State is doomed to lose a US Congressional seat because of its hostile tax, educational, and business environment. The state’s current thinking chases away the wealth, families, and businesses that are needed for all of us to be truly prosperous. The far-left big government policies that have reigned in our state for far too long will continue to only make matters far worse. Instead, we need a change of direction.

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McDonald’s PR Decisions on the Gender Front

For some reason, a government relations officer from McDonald’s restaurants thought it worthwhile to send me a modified version of this press release in my capacity as the vice president of the Tiverton Town Council.  (Tiverton has no McDonald’s.)  The email subject line was “Introducing McDonald’s Gender Balance and Diversity Strategy,” and the body includes the following information:

Together with our franchisees, McDonald’s provides jobs for almost 2 million people across the world and is one of the largest employers of women. In fact, in the U.S., 61% of McDonald’s employees are women, 60% of our restaurant managers are women and over 3,800 restaurants are women owned and operated. Of our signature education and tuition assistance program, Archways to Opportunity, 62% of the participants are women. That is why we are committed to creating a workplace where everyone, from crew to c-suite, is equally supported and empowered to realize their full potential. …

We recognize that this initiative requires ongoing effort, and we are committed to engaging with stakeholders to understand their perspectives and how to evolve our actions. We appreciate the continuous feedback and guidance from you and other experts and hope our combined efforts will continue to make a difference.

I replied, seeking to resolve my confusion.  From the provided information, it appears that women are significantly over-represented in employment, restaurant management, and benefit from the company’s scholarship program, at least in the United States.  Shouldn’t efforts at equity in our country therefore focus on men?

I received no reply, but I subsequently noticed that the online version emphasizes that, “30% of McDonald’s Officer positions and 41% of staff positions at Director level and above are held by women globally,” which seems like an indicator of the oddity of our time.  I don’t know whether the online release was changed in response to feedback like mine, but the possibility seems plausible.  It isn’t difficult to believe that a company, these days, would rather provide critics with evidence that it is currently an unequal workplace committed to change than to take credit for perhaps overdoing it in its zeal to comply with a fashionable ideology.

One consequence of our culture’s adherence to this strange ideology is that a global company has incentive to introduce discrimination where there may be none to make up for opposite discrimination elsewhere.  The way we’re training ourselves to understand these issues thus leads us to combat injustice with injustice.

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How the Reproductive Privacy Act Enables Late-Term Abortion


Abortion supporters in Rhode Island are trying to tell you two stories at the same time. Story number one is that their proposed statutes to legalize abortion “codify” the law as defined by the Supreme Court in 1973. Story number two is that the proposed statutes only allow abortion in cases where a child has reached viability when there a serious medical risk to the mother’s life or health.

Katherine Gregg‘s story posted on the Providence Journal’s website last night shows how the two stories are not compatible and need a little help to appear consistent when told at the same time…

Among the key tenets of [Roe v. Wade], which has guided decades of court decisions since: “For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.”
 
The bill headed for a vote in Rhode Island…says much the same thing: “The termination of an individual’s pregnancy after fetal viability is expressly prohibited except when necessary, in the medical judgment of the physician, to preserve the life or health of that individual”….
 
One of the newcomers — Republican David Place of Burrillville — confirmed he will be voting an adamant “no” against what he considers an “extreme” piece of legislation that goes far beyond the Roe v. Wade ruling with a “health” exception for late-term abortions that, in his mind, is so vague it could mean “mental health.”
 
The problem here is that the idea of mental health as a justification for abortion did not, as the Journal story implies, originate in the mind of Rep. Place; mental health as a justification for abortion originated with the United States Supreme court, in an opinion issued on the same day as the Roe v. Wade decision, in the case of Doe v. Bolton
 
We agree with the District Court…that the medical judgment [whether an abortion is necessary] may be exercised in the light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment.
 
So if the legislature desires to turn back the clock on abortion law to January 22, 1973, then the non-specific “health” exception that they are proposing can, in certain cases, allow the killing of a healthy baby when the mother’s life and physical health are not in danger, up until the moment of birth.

That is not just David Place’s opinion. It is the Supreme Court’s opinion, and what Rhode Island’s supporters of abortion are attempting to “codify”. That this kind of broad justification for late term abortion is wanted by more than a few Rhode Islanders is not at all clear.

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Loss of US Congressional Seat Underscores Need for Reform Agenda

The state of the State of Rhode Island is not good. Even as the rising national economic tide has lifted ships in all states, when compared with the rest of the nation, our Ocean State is severely lagging, and is in danger of sinking further behind if progressive policies continue to be implemented.

Perhaps no indicator more appropriately demonstrates the failure of the leftist status quo, than does the near-certainty that Rhode Island will lose one of its precious House seats in the U.S. Congress. The persistent jokes of family and friends “moving out of state” have now tragically manifested themselves into the harsh reality that our state is not competitive enough to see population growth on par with the rest of the country.

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Upcoming Pro-Life Day of Action at R.I. State House

Citizens for Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness, a new pro-life group, will be holding a rally on Tuesday, February 26th at the Rhode Island State House from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. The rally will feature pro-life speakers in opposition to the legislation removing restrictions on abortion in the Ocean State. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

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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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