|Wednesday, March 12, 2014|
"My decision to do porn to pay for college was a private one I made" - Porn performer "Belle Knox"
You know, I see absurd, nonsensical things on a daily basis. That statement quoted above is in the running for the most absurd and nonsensical thing I have ever seen. This woman made a "private decision" to have sex with strangers on camera and then have tens of thousands of people pay to watch her have sex with strangers.
Put aside the morality of porn for a minute - how it degrades women, cheapens sexuality and destroys families. That is not the point I am making in reacting to this statement. The point I am making is that this decision cannot be described as "private" in any way that is tied to reason, logic or facts. It is nonsensical, stupid and absurd.
Think about this another way, in a morally neutral context. Instead of "acting" in pornographic films, imagine "Belle Knox" was writing a column for the Los Angeles Times about cooking. She instructed her readers about how to find the the best ingredients to make the best meals, for a reasonable price. She figures no one at Duke will see it, because it's in a newspaper on the other side of the continent.
That plan does not work out because someone recognizes her and she becomes a minor celebrity. Fellow students ask her for advice on making specific meals or how to improve recipes they already know. "Knox" then whines publicly because writing a newspaper column to pay for her college education was supposed to be a "private" decision.
It is absolutely absurd.
We live in an exhibitionist culture, where many people over-share details about their lives. It is an amusing irony that some of those people who over-share also complain about their "privacy" being violated if what they post online winds up seeping into other areas of their lives. I always say that if you would be horrified to see something on the front page of the newspaper, you should not post it on the Internet, no matter how much you have your privacy settings locked down in your social network profiles.
But the fact of the matter is that words mean things, and the word private has a specific meaning. It is reasonable to expect that a conversation with our spouse in our home will not be publicly broadcast. But when you do and say things in public and attach your face to those things - whether it be hardcore pornography or writing a newspaper column about cooking - you cannot expect those things to remain "private" and contained to those areas. You certainly do not have any standing to whine about someone "outing" your public actions or words.
Back in the day, when I was playing Desert Strike for Super NES, one of the missions featured some United Nations weapons inspectors.
So in addition to taking out the Iraqis, I launched a Hellfire missile directly at the United Nations van and inspectors... I figured I was supposed to defeat the enemies of America.
Apparently the mission was to rescue United Nations guys, not incinerate them.
Oh. Oops. My bad. Time to start the mission over.
It's a joke. Chill out.
Mayor Kruzan has said that his proposal to make chain restaurants a "conditional use" that would need to be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) is not a "ban" on chains. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... you know how it goes. The purpose of this proposal is clearly to make it more difficult for chains to locate in downtown Bloomington. Given that there are already several chains downtown - Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, Subway and Chipotle - the BZA could conclude that any additional chains would upset the "balance" needed downtown.
After a few people argued in the public comments that the market should determine what restaurants should go downtown, Steve Volan childishly brought up the argument that no one should object to a chemical weapons incineration facility downtown. This is downright silly. It is several leaps from arguing that the market should decide which restaurants should be permitted to locate downtown to arguing for no restrictions on land use at all. Volan is far too intelligent to be making these arguments.
Obviously, there should be reasonable restrictions on land use, to protect the property rights and property values of neighbors. I do not know of anyone who is arguing for absolutely no land use restrictions. Going to an absurd extreme does not establish the case for making chain restaurants a "conditional use" downtown.
The other problem is that the Indiana state constitution makes it illegal for government to "grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens." A restaurant owner with a single location would not be subject to the same restriction as someone attempting to open a Jimmy John's or a Burger King - or another Kilroy's location, for that matter. The pseudo-ban would almost certainly be subject to a court challenge, and the city could very well lose.
It is true that downtown Bloomington has a unique character, and we do not necessarily want it to lose that character, but this clearly discriminatory pseudo-ban is not the way to go about protecting the downtown. The city council should reject Kruzan's proposal.
Following is the audio of my speech to the Bloomington City Council on March 5, 2014.
I was speaking against a proposal to make chain restaurants a conditional use that must be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals.
To follow up on my post from yesterday, here is a post I wrote about prison rape in 2009.
In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, seeking to put policy in place that would protect the basic human rights of prisoners that are too often violated in U.S. prisons. It is estimated that over 60,000 prisoners are raped annually in U.S. prisons. Many of these rapes are brutal gang rapes, often accompanied by vicious beatings. Some prisoners are murdered in the course of the assaults and others commit suicide to escape a life of sexual slavery and brutality. Too often, prison officials look the other way.
Too often, this is something that is glossed over, the subject of jokes rather than the subject of serious attention. Soft drink company 7-UP provoked outrage with a commercial making light of prison rape, and such "jokes" are far from rare. Furthermore, it is difficult to have sympathy for the worst criminals in prison. After all, many reason, who cares if someone like notorious serial killer Ted Bundy is abused by other inmates? Of course, many of the inmates subjected to abuse aren't mass murderers or serial rapists, but people who have committed far less serious crimes.
This is not just a concern for prisoners. One of the "findings of fact" in the law President Bush signed was that prison rape "increases the risks of recidivism, civil strife, and violent crime" by victims. This is common sense. When someone has been brutalized for years, he is much more likely to be looking to hurt others the way he has been hurt. This makes everyone less safe. If we are serious about reducing violent crime and protecting society, one of the most effective steps we can take is preventing serious violations of human rights behind bars.
Of course, society has a moral obligation to work towards eliminating prison rape to the greatest extent possible. We lock people up to protect society, but those prisoners still have basic human rights that deserve protection. This is why government is forbidden by the Constitution to use "cruel and unusual" punishments. Many people recoiled in horror at the abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but American citizens are subjected to much more severe abuse on a regular basis in our own prisons. A society that looks the other way when prisoners are repeatedly gang raped and dismisses brutality as a "lovers' quarrel" (as was the case with one Texas inmate who asked for protection, was ignored by prison staff, and was then subjected to a rape and beating that left him with severe injuries) should not be surprised when prisoners of war are abused.
Obviously, more needs to be done. There needs to be a zero-tolerance policy for prisoners who abuse other prisoners, and there must be severe consequences (including harsh criminal penalties) for prison guards and wardens who do not take requests for protection seriously. Even in a recession when revenues are down, government must invest in the technology, training and facility improvements that are needed to protect basic human rights of prisoners. If that means we need to cut spending elsewhere, then so be it. We have ignored this basic moral obligation for too long.
- Rape Crisis in U.S. Prisons -- Human Rights Watch, April 18, 2001
- US: Prevent Prison Rape -- Human Rights Watch, June 23, 2009
- Jails must take measures to stop prisoner sex abuse -- Human Rights Watch, June 25, 2009
- Rape in Prison -- New York Times editorial, June 23, 2009
- Panel Sets Guidelines For Fighting Prison Rape -- Washington Post, June 23, 2009
Ten years ago, the nation was shocked by the abuses of prisoners of war at the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq. American soldiers had abused and sexually humiliated prisoners of war, and even women were participating in the sexual degradation of these men. We should not have been surprised at all. Instead, we should have expected this to happen. After all, a nation that cannot respect the human rights of its own prisoners in domestic prisons should not be expected to treat prisoners of war humanely.
When I read this story in the New York Times, I was violently angry after only two paragraphs. I wanted to see all of the rapist prison guards executed and I wanted all of the others who knew about but did not stop the rapes to spend the rest of their lives in prison. I have cooled off since then, but I still believe the death penalty is warranted for prison guards who rape inmates, and that prison officials who know about but do not stop this sexual abuse should also be harshly punished.
Unfortunately, violence is going to happen in our prisons. When you house a large majority of violent criminals in a confined space for an extended length of time, some violence - including rape - is sadly inevitable. We do not do nearly enough to stop it, and more needs to be done to protect the human rights of both men and women in our prison system, but it is impossible to completely eliminate all of the violence.
Rape and sexual abuse of inmates by guards, however, should never happen. Even one instance of that is a complete and total failure of the system. These prisoners (who were made in the image of Almighty God) are society's responsibility. They deserve to be punished, which is why they are in prison. They do not deserve to be raped, sexually abused or subject to sexual blackmail by the very prison guards who are there to protect them and maintain order in the prison.
This cannot be allowed to stand, in any state in the nation. This is nothing short of a crisis that requires immediate reform to protect the basic human rights of these women who are being raped, sexually abused and sexually blackmailed. Some reforms are obvious - install more surveillance cameras and make it clear that male guards are never to be alone with female inmates. Thoroughly screen the applicants who want to be guards and immediately terminate the employment of any guard caught in consensual or non-consensual sexual activity with a prisoner - and aggressively prosecute the guards in the criminal justice system.
This should never have happened in the first place, and it needs to stop right now.
Should the NBA raise the minimum age for playing in the league, or should the age limit stay where it is or even be abolished? You can count Kevin McHale among those advocating for a higher minimum age, but you can count me among those who think the age limit should be abolished entirely.
Starting with the 2006 NBA draft, players must be one year removed from high school and at least 19 years old to qualify for the draft. This was implemented after a number of players jumped directly from high school to the NBA, and while some were wildly successful (LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant) others have not done so well. But is the rule really necessary? I do not think so.
Part of the problem for the college game is that "one and done" has not only damaged the quality of the game by having fewer talented upperclassmen available, it has also damaged the credibility of the college game by turning the NCAA into a glorified minor league for pro basketball. College basketball is no longer for student athletes - it is for players like Greg Oden and Anthony Davis to work without pay for a year until they can enter the NBA.
It makes little sense to force players to risk injury in college for a token season of college basketball so they can drop out of school after their freshman year. Some of those players would have been ready straight out of high school, and some would not. But the answer to the players who are not emotionally ready and do not have NBA-level skills is not an arbitrary age limit - the answer is for NBA general managers to stop making foolish draft choices.
The maturity argument is silly. We have been sending 18 year old men to fight, kill and die in wars for the entire history of this nation. If someone is old enough to fight, kill and die in war, he is old enough to handle the lavish (if stressful and demanding) lifestyle of a modern NBA player. Again, the problem is that general managers are making foolish draft choices, not the arbitrary age limit. Raising the age limit will not turn a bad general manager into a good one.
In fact, I have not seen a single argument for raising the age limit that would not also be addressed by smarter draft choices and more effective mentoring of young and talented but raw basketball talent. It's safe to say that this experiment has failed and has distorted the market. It should be abolished.
E.J. Dionne boasts of American voters' respect for religious freedom, in that while 55% to 59% of people say that private business should not be legally permitted to refuse to provide services to same-sex weddings, 61% said that a clergy member or church should have the right to refuse to officiate the ceremony.
First of all, the fact that only 6 in 10 voters would agree that the government should not be allowed to force a church or clergy member to officiate a homosexual wedding should indicate how our religious freedom hangs by a tiny and fraying thread. If we lived in a nation that truly respected religious freedom, that number would be at least 85%. A shift in public opinion of only 12 percentage points would leave that group as a plurality at best.
Dionne knows that public opinion can shift quickly and dramatically - look at how rapidly homosexual marriage is gaining support among the American people, when such a rapid and dramatic shift that would have been unthinkable just ten years ago. For Dionne to tout the truly pathetic and dangerously low margin of 61% as some sort of a grantee of religious freedom is either dishonest or incredibly naïve - and it is almost certainly the former.
The entire point of the limitations on government in our Bill of Rights is that it does not matter what a majority of the voters think. Rights are not subject to majority rule, and government may not abridge our rights just because it is politically popular.
This is why we need to stand firm on freedom of association and not compromise on religious freedom and freedom of association. It is a very short leap from having government force a Christian business owner to participate in a homosexual wedding to having government force churches and/or clergy to officiate a same-sex wedding. It is obvious that the homosexual lobby - the goal of which has always been mandatory, state-enforced acceptance, not tolerance - is in the process of incrementally breaking down the barriers that our Constitution places between government and religious freedom.
A letter to the editor was published on March 3 responding to my guest editorial, asking this question:
|How do people like Scott, including legislators, come off as thinking they have the right to deny others, some of whom fought and died for this country, their human-given right to marry? Why can't the concept of marriage evolve beyond one penis and one vagina?|
If that is the argument for homosexual marriage, then why should that not apply to polygamy? After all, there are polygamists who have served their country in the military, and even fought in war. Why can marriage not evolve beyond one man and one woman to include a larger group of people?
One can certainly find more historical support for polygamy than one can find for same-sex marriage. Even many of God's people in the Bible practiced polygamy - including King David, a man after God's own heart. If one wants to argue from Scripture, it makes more sense that polygamy be recognized than homosexual marriage. After all, polygamy does not fundamentally alter the nature of marriage the way homosexual marriage does.
Allow me to be clear: I am not advocating that government recognize polygamy. Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a creation ordinance, as seen in Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:6-9 and Ephesians 5:25-31.
I am making the point that there is no logical basis on which to disallow polygamy if we are going to allow homosexual marriage. If the argument is that we have no right to discriminate against people based on who they choose to love, then there is no reason that should be limited to monogamous unions.
It is clear that homosexual "rights" and religious liberty are no longer on a collision course - the two are clashing right now and religious liberty is losing. The homosexual rights lobby's goal has always been mandatory acceptance, not tolerance, and they are speeding toward that goal at a frightening pace.
The most recent battle is over whether Christian business owners should have freedom of association, and religious liberty suffered a loss when Jan Brewer vetoed a religious liberty measure in Arizona. But before we examine freedom of association more broadly we need to look at facts and reality.
First, let's cool down the rhetoric and the hysterical shrieking about "Jim Crow" and examine the real issue here: Mandatory, state-enforced acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual "marriage." The cases of the florist and the baker who have been punished by government for refusing to serve a homosexual "wedding" are well-documented by now, and illustrate that this is about mandatory acceptance.
Nether business refuses all service to homosexuals. The baker would not have refused to provide a birthday cake, or a cake celebrating a homosexual employee's anniversary of service with his employer. What they did not want to do is provide flowers and a cake to celebrate a homosexual "wedding," because of their Christian beliefs that homosexuality is a sin before God. In their view, providing a wedding cake would be an endorsement of that sin.
The homosexual couple could have simply gone to another baker, and spent their money elsewhere. They did not. They went to the state and demanded the baker be punished by the civil magistrate. They did not demand tolerance from the baker (because they already had that) they demanded acceptance and forced labor to endorse their union. That is profoundly un-American and impossible to reconcile with religious liberty.
So this was not about refusing to serve homosexuals generally, or putting out an sign that says "no homosexuals served here." This was about a very narrow situation where the baker could not in good conscience provide a cake to endorse a union he believed was sinful. To the homosexual lobby, that is something that should not be legal, and should be punished by the state.
To the issue more generally: There was a discussion on Herald-Times Online recently about what exceptions should be made to nondiscrimination laws - for example, should a Jewish baker be forced by government to decorate a cake with a swastika? Should a black baker be forced by government to decorate a cake with a burning cross?
The entire orientation of those questions is wrong. The question should not be where we carve out exceptions for personal choice, but where the interests of society are so strong that the civil magistrate should intrude on freedom of choice. The orientation should always be to allow private citizens to do business the way they see fit, and in a way that conforms to their moral or religious beliefs.
If a white racist doesn't want to serve blacks, he should be free to make that choice. If a Black Panther doesn't want to serve "whitey," he should be free to make that choice. If a Muslim doesn't want to serve Jews, he should be free to make that choice. If an atheist doesn't want to serve Christians, he should be free to make that choice.
What we should do is allow any business serve anyone, or refuse service to anyone, and leave the government out of it. It should not be the role of government to force private business to serve anyone they do not want to serve. If a business refuses money from a specific class of people (for whatever reason) they are the ones getting hurt by driving away customers and getting bad publicity for that choice.
That is not Jim Crow. What we had in the South was government-mandated segregation, which is immoral and was rightly made illegal. That was also a violation of freedom of association as well as religious freedom. Allowing private individuals to make private decisions is not a return to the days of state-mandated segregation or discrimination. It is instead exactly the opposite.
But even if this were to be official policy (which it is not and will not be) does anyone really believe we are going to see large-scale discrimination against minorities? Does anyone think that a business can get away with that in 2014? Come on, folks, let's be real here. The hysterical screeching about "Jim Crow" was never based in reality. It was always pure fear mongering designed to frighten low-information voters and smear the opponents of the homosexual lobby. This is about a very narrow set of circumstances, but the Left cannot abide that because they demand 100% total acceptance.
The one exception I would make is life-saving or otherwise necessary medical care. Doctors, licensed by the state, should not be able to discriminate in who they serve. Because of the nature of medical care, society does have an interest in not allowing discrimination here. Note this is not the same as refusing to perform certain objectionable procedures (such as abortion) on anyone, regardless of who they are. But that is another issue for another day.
But in all other areas, we should respect freedom of association and religious liberty, allowing the market to rule. Keep the government out of it and respect private choices, whether you personally approve of those choices or not.
I believe in young earth creationism. Here are four posts on the issue:
I am not ashamed of my faith.
Freedom of association necessarily includes the freedom not to associate.
That is not Jim Crow, so please stop making this nonfactual comparison. Government-mandated segregation and discrimination is and should be illegal.
But a private business owner should not be forced to serve anyone he does not want to serve, for any reason or no reason at all.
For crying out loud, read Facebook's Terms of Service Agreement. If you post certain things, you can have your account deleted. That means Facebook refuses to serve you, and they are well within their legal rights to do that.
Most stores have a sign that says "no shirt, no shoes, no service." That's discrimination. It is also their legal right.
If you believe in freedom of choice, that means you need to allow for choices you don't personally like. Even if you believe it is "discrimination."
Otherwise, you don't believe in freedom of choice.
|Friday, February 28, 2014|
Last week BBC Radio ran a segment about sexual assault at American universities, and efforts to combat it. The lead was a personal story from a woman who was allegedly raped, who was traumatized by the university's requirement that the alleged rapist must be permitted to face her. What was not mentioned was the accused rapist's Sixth Amendment right to "be confronted with the witnesses against him."
Here is the obvious dilemma: Someone who has been the victim of a violent crime - especially rape - will understandably be traumatized by facing her accuser, but the right to face one's accuser is a critical part of due process that protects both the integrity of the system as well as the rights of the accused, whether innocent or guilty.
We do know that false accusations take place. The most famous false accusers of the last thirty years are Tawana Brawley and convicted murderer Crystal Gail Mangum, both of whom fabricated stories of "rape" out of whole cloth. Both were exposed as liars and frauds, but not before ruining the lives of the men falsely accused. Our criminal justice system presumes those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty, but in the case of sex crimes that is often ignored - and that has led to terrible injustice against innocent people.
But a more obvious question is this: Why is the university handling something like this, instead of handing it over to the civil magistrate? If a crime may have been committed, why not separate the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim while the case is adjudicated by the criminal justice system instead of a university's disciplinary system? The best a university can do is expel someone, but they do not have the authority to impose criminal punishment.
Finally, it was mentioned that conviction rates are "too low." This is not a game, where we are trying to improve a player's statistics. The goal should be justice. In some cases, that means a conviction. In some cases, it does not. It may well be that too many rapists are getting away with their crimes (and that is probably the case) but the goal should never be a specific result. That is the goal in totalitarian regimes that have no respect for civil liberties, but should not be the goal in a nation founded to protect people from an abusive government.
|Thursday, February 27, 2014|
If you make a business decision that will cause your customers an inconvenience, is it better to be forthright about why you made the decision (namely, that this is best for the company) or is it better to lie to your customers and claim that reducing services will improve customer service?
Last week, I went to a local business only to find out that the service I needed was no longer offered, but that it was offered at the other location on the opposite side of the city. (I am intentionally being vague because the point is more important than shaming the business.) The paper I was handed explained that the change was made to improve customer service. This was a flagrant and shameful lie.
I understand that the business may have needed to make the change in order to improve internal efficiency. I understand that having each location specialize in specific services is likely helpful to the operations at both locations. But to claim that completely eliminating an important service that thousands of people use annually was done to "improve customer service" is simply laughable in how obviously false it is.
While I am unhappy with the loss of service, I am far more unhappy with being treated like some sort of mindless sheep who will buy whatever spin the business throws my way. Honestly, how stupid do you think I am? Do you actually think I am so gullible as to believe your obviously dishonest reasoning for the change?
Sometimes changes need to be made, but it is never smart to lie to your customers.
|Wednesday, February 26, 2014|
My latest on Hoosier Access: A ballot requirement that is clearly and plainly illegal.