The biggest problem with "Ant-Man" is that it is way too complicated for its own good and therefore makes very little sense. Neither the villains nor the heroes have good plans and there is far too much comedy to take anything seriously. And warning: There will be plenty of spoilers in this review. If you want to see this movie... Don't. But if you still want to see the movie, stop reading now.
Right off the bat, the scheme to get Scott Lang into the Ant-Man suit was far too complicated. In order for Hank Pym's scheme to work, absolutely everything has to go 100% perfectly. When your entire plan can be defeated by a question that begins with "Why don't you just..." your plan is several times more complex than needed.
First. Pym manipulates Lang into breaking into Pym's house to steal the Ant-Man suit. What if any of the multiple people needed to pass the rumor on to Lang decided not to spread the rumor? What if Lang fails to steal the suit? Do you find someone else? What if he sees the suit and does not take it? What if he never puts the suit on? What if he does not mess with the controls to activate the Pym Particles? What if Lang actually died in any of the multiple life-threatening situations he finds himself in after activating the suit?
How did Pym know that Lang's roommate would be coming in to turn on the shower at the very moment that Lang was trying on the suit, and activating the Pym Particles? What if, instead of breaking into the house and returning the suit, Lang had brought it to Stark Industries, SHIELD, the news media or the police? What if Lang refused to don the suit when the ants brought it into the jail, and decided to go back to prison instead?
So here we begin with the questions. Instead of having Lang break into your house, why don't you just invite him over and show him the suit? Instead of having Lang arrested, why don't you just make up a lie and say he was testing your security system? Instead of having the ants break Lang out of jail, why don't you just walk into the police station and say you do not want to press charges?
It is one thing to suspend disbelief for science fiction technology. But this plan is so full of holes that no rational person would behave this way. Furthermore, the way Lang is treated after he gets out of prison makes no sense. His ex-wife is nasty to him for no reason. Lang is not a thief. He went to jail for being a vigilante - he found out his employer was stealing from customers (many million dollars' worth) and hacked their system to give the money back to the victims. The police also treat him like a thief, even thought he is a vigilante. Yes, he needed to go to jail for what he did, but it is absurd to treat him like a common thief.
I would be remiss to note that Lang's buddies and their crew are uncomfortably close to being racist stereotypes, and I am being generous here.
Pym's former associate Darren Cross is trying to recreate the Pym Particles, but why did he not see the military application in the "malfunctioning" particle ray? The idea is to shrink organic matter, but it instead kills the subject and transforms him into a tiny blob of goo. (I think people would notice the fact that a member of the board of directors went to the bathroom and never came out.) The next time the Hulk is on a rampage and flattens half of New York City, they could shoot him with the "malfunctioning" particle ray and kill him. It would also be very useful to hand to soldiers the next time there is an alien invasion. You would not even need the Avengers to show up.
The movie tries to put over the Pym Particles as a huge deal, and is successful when the original Ant-Man easily dispatches an armed enemy battalion all by himself. Pym even mentions the Pym Particles are far more powerful and dangerous than even the Iron Man armor. But the final battle is far too silly and filled with slapstick. The movie jumps from intense action scene to a toy hitting the carpet over and over and over, and the drastic tonal shifts ruin the mood of the scene. Comedy can be worked into a superhero movie effectively, but if it is overdone it cheapens the experience. It was overdone here several times over.
I meant to go see this movie in the theater, but I never got around to it. After renting it, I am glad I missed it and did not waste the money to see it on the big screen. This could have been so much better, with a more straightforward plot and a whole lot less comedy. If Marvel wants its lesser-known characters to be viable properties, they have to treat them more effectively than they treated Ant-Man. There was enough good here that it does not deserve an F, but the stupid overshadows the good.
On December 21, the Herald-Times announced that the comments would be closed for two weeks due to the increasing incivility and large numbers of abuse alerts. (I am sure that holiday vacation schedules contributed to this, as some moderators being on vacation would leave more work for remaining moderators.) Comments are scheduled to be open on January 4, though it honestly would not surprise me if they never open again.
Was it an overreaction? One person estimated before comments were closed that there were probably at least two thousand comments over the same period that there were two hundred comments reported as abusive. Of the ten percent of comments that were were reported, less than ten percent of those were actually removed. Is it an overreaction to suspend all comments for two weeks because less than one percent of all comments over a ten day period were found to violate HTO policies and were removed by a moderator?
I have said dozens of times that the lack of a "three strikes" rule is a huge part of the problem of uncivil behavior in story comments. Back in January of 2012, the H-T implemented a policy where someone who had three comments removed over a fourteen day period would be automatically suspended from commenting for two weeks. That rule drastically improved the tone of HTO comments in 2012-2013, because knowing that you have to control yourself or you sit in the HTO penalty box for two weeks was a powerful incentive for people to behave. Unfortunately, the vastly inferior TownNews.com software does not have this feature.
The current software also does not have the ability to notify commenters when a comment has been removed, which is also unfortunate. Unless someone goes back to look at a thread that is a couple days old, he may never know his comment was removed, and this is compounded by the fact that the big red "comment removed" box only shows up for deleted comments that had replies. If you do not know your comment was removed, you may not know what rule you broke - especially given the very bad habit of HTO moderators to change the rules on the fly. If the H-T finds a way to restore the autoban feature, comment removal notifications will be absolutely necessary.
Without the two-week autoban feature, the only real stick the Herald-Times has left is to ban people from commenting altogether if they refuse to behave. It is extremely rare for the H-T to actually ban people, though they have threatened to ban a number of different posters several times.
Threatening to ban posters but never following through (especially when someone has been warned more than once already that he could be banned) is a sure fire way to convince trolls that they can post anything they want and will not be disciplined other than having their posts removed. The practice of banning needs to be used far more frequently. Banning removes troublemakers and serves as a warning to others to follow the rules.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. - Proverbs 20:1
I grew up believing that drinking alcohol was sinful. While I realized years ago that I was wrong, Barry Cameron nonetheless provides a helpful perspective on the dangers of alcohol abuse. Many people have had their lives ruined because they could not control their desire to drink. Sadly, it is not only the alcoholics' own lives that were left in tatters, but the lives of husbands, wives, children and even total strangers.
It is true that it is not possible to become an alcoholic without ever taking that first drink, and Christians are wise to be very aware about the dangers of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. It would be wise to never assume that drinking cannot be a problem and will always be under control. No one who has ruined his life with alcohol thought it would be the brutal master it eventually became.
Alcohol is a big part of the intense concern over campus rape. Women who are impaired can be more easily victimized, and men who are impaired may take horrible actions they would never consider if they were stone cold sober. Even when no crime is committed, fully consensual drunk sex can lead to false charges of rape.
I am a teetotaler, but the reason I do not drink alcohol is the same as the reason I do not eat grapefruit. I cannot stand the taste of it. I can almost tolerate hard lemonade but even that I can barely take more than a couple sips. I have tried a variety of alcoholic drinks and have found nothing I like.
But alcoholism is not the only danger that surrounds strong drink. Teetotalism has dangers as well - specifically the danger of pride and idolatry. It is very easy for teetotalers to think they are more holy than their neighbors because they never touch the "demon rum." Even teetotalers who do not think drinking is sinful can be proud and arrogant over the fact they cannot be tempted by alcohol while non-sinning social drinkers can be.
This pride is idolatry - worship of self. Christians are, of course, free to refuse alcohol if they believe it is the right choice for them. What we may not do is decide that we are more holy than God. Remember, Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine, and from the context of that account it is clear that it was alcoholic wine and not grape juice. We must not judge others who are not in sin and we must not believe ourselves to be superior because we have used our Christian liberty in a different way than our brother or sister in Christ.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. -- Exodus 20:17
In our self-worshiping age, it is very easy to be resentful of someone getting an honor you do not have, and to feel neglected and disrespected when someone else is honored for what they have done. It is easy to resent someone who has done you no harm because they have something you do not have. I have been tempted to this wickedness myself, and looking back I wish I could talk to my younger self - or more accurately, to slap him across the face.
Here is an example. A couple weeks ago on Twitter, someone asked this about my church: "Rather than Mother's Day celebrations, they give carnations to Child free or Never Married / Divorced?" (sic)
I found the "rather than" line extremely instructive and helpful, as well as a rebuke to my own wickedness over the years. Was the person actually advocating that women who are not mothers be honored instead of mothers on Mother's Day? Granted, Twitter is 140 characters at a time, so there's no way to know that. But people who actually have that attitude display a bitterness that is not healthy or helpful. It does not in any way dishonor single women or childless married women to honor mothers on Mother's Day, any more than it dishonors single men or childless married men to honor fathers on Father's Day. We can honor and respect both, and there is nothing wrong with two days a year to honor our mothers and fathers. (Of course, we should do that every day.)
I understand bitterness, because it has been a temptation for me my whole life. For many years, I resented Valentine's Day because I did not have a wife or girlfriend. I even resented others for having a happy birthday, if my own birthday the previous year was a bad day. When I was a teenager, I even resented someone getting an award I did not get, but would have gotten had I made a few different choices. It is easy for people with an absent father to begrudge someone who has an active father, and it is easy for someone without children to begrudge someone who does. But it is wicked and shameful to begrudge the happiness of someone else if you are not currently enjoying that thing.
As wicked men and women oppressed by sin, we are hard-wired to be self-centered. It takes effort to be anything other than that. But the only way to truly kill that sin is through the cross of Jesus Christ and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. The blood of Christ will wash away that sin so that God sees His Son's righteousness. But because we are sinners by nature and by choice, we may still struggle with envy and resentment. We may still begrudge those who have something we do not. This is where sanctification comes in, and we must pray for that power.
I have often heard people criticize video games and young men (and older men!) who play video games. I understand the point being made with these criticisms, that young men who spend many hours of their days and nights playing video games are not becoming mature, responsible adults who can provide and care for a family. Video games are a legitimate source of entertainment, but should not be a vehicle to escape the responsibilities of manhood. I understand this because I used to be that guy - the 20-something adolescent.
These criticisms paint with too broad of a brush. Video games can be a means of escaping responsibility and remaining a teenager forever. This is a way for young men to continue living in"Guyland" instead of actually being men. But that can also be said about television, movies, novels, sports, board games, music, web surfing, watching funny videos on the Internet or any other kind of entertainment. I do not think that video games themselves are a vice, though they can be.
The problem is not video games themselves. The problem is "Guyland." Excessive time spent playing video games is just one way for young men to escape being responsible adults - from truly being men. A "guy" who is determined to avoid manhood can smash his video game console and then get lost in something else just as easily.
What that "guy" needs to do is be committed to the responsibility and respectability of manhood. The first step to manhood is being part of a Bible-believing church with pastors, elders and older men who are committed to helping "guys" escape the extended adolescence of "guyland" and entering manhood.
The Monroe County Community School Corporation recently asked the state for the names and addresses of students who are using vouchers to attend a private school, and the state denied their request. The Bloomington Herald-Times followed up by making a request of their own, leading to an editorial by H-T editor Bob Zaltsberg whining about the denial.
Why does the newspaper and the school system need the names and addresses of these students? Is it to open the parents who used vouchers to harassment? Does MCCSC want to find out if any MCCSC employees are using vouchers so they can be punished professionally?
The state should provide the number of students who got vouchers locally - and they do. The newspaper published those numbers on December 15. The state should also disclose the amount of money spent, and the money that MCCSC lost in funding due to vouchers.
However, there is no public good in publishing the names and addresses of school children who are attending a different school via the voucher program, which is what the Herald-Times wants to do. Pursuing this data is just plain creepy and a little scary, to be honest. It gets even more creepy and scary when you read the statement by MCCSC School Board member Sue Wanzer:
I think the state doesn't want to reveal it because they don't want to reveal that a lot of the people getting this money aren't necessarily the people that the vouchers were intended for.
The state has made a good case that we're going to make these vouchers available to poor people who can't afford private education, and I think what they're afraid people will find is that a lot of this money is going to middle class or upper middle class people who really could perhaps manage this tuition, but instead are opting to take the state money for a private education.
If the logic behind publicly revealing the names and addresses of school children is that we need accountability by tracking people who benefit from a government subsidy, then let's take that to its logical conclusion. Monroe County government's health insurance plan is self-funded. Does the public have the right to know about every medical procedure that has been covered by the county's health insurance? Should this also apply to Medicaid or Medicare? What about details of what people are buying with food stamps?
No one is forced to take food stamps, Medicaid or Medicare. No county employee is forced to sign up for health insurance. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what kind of sensitive information can be public record for the sake of fiscal accountability. That is where this "logic" leads. So make all of that public, right?
I oppose using vouchers for private schools, because of the potential for government meddling in the operation of private schools. This position is not helped by the childish and petty behavior of the Herald-Times and MCCSC. They should both drop this request and end this dangerous harassment.
I spoke to the Monroe County Election Board a couple weeks ago. I had missed a deadline to file a campaign finance report and was asked to attend. I have no good excuse. I thought I had another week and I was wrong. I fixed it and turned in my report the next business day, and have already turned in the report due in January. Thankfully, the board was understanding. This is a mistake I will not make again.
It has become fashionable to compare the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars movies to Muslim terrorists, especially how Luke Skywalker became "radicalized" (that word is key) to an ancient religion and carried out a terrorist attack that killed 300,000 people. This is a deeply flawed and incredibly offensive comparison that should stop immediately.
No, the attack on the Death Star was absolutely not a terrorist attack. It was a legitimate military target - a mobile space station that had just destroyed an entire populated planet that did not even have a military. Plus, when the Rebels destroyed the Death Star, it was about to obliterate the entire planet the rebel base was on, along with (presumably) billions of noncombatants. Destroying the Death Star and everyone on it was a defensive action.
Comparing Luke Skywalker and the Rebels to Muslim terrorists who wantonly slaughter innocent people is wrong-headed and offensive. Nothing the Rebels did was against civilian targets - they only attacked military targets.
If anything, the Sith and the Empire would be comparable to Muslim terrorists who intentionally target and massacre civilians. Darth Vader brutally slaughtered children in the Jedi Academy in Episode III, while Muslim terrorists from Chechnya brutally slaughtered schoolchildren in Beslan, Russia in 2004.
Yes, I know Star Wars is fiction. (I can't believe I have to say that.) Muslim terrorists, however, are very real. These silly memes represent a dangerously naïve attitude and tendency by some to sympathize with an enemy that wants to destroy Western civilization and rule over what remains. These foolish sympathies must be rebuked.
It is disturbing to see politicians advocating censorship of ideas they dislike. It raises serious questions about their overall mentality and their respect for their constituents' basic rights. This is why it is unfortunate that MCCSC School Board member Sue Wanzer shared an article on Facebook demanding that Donald Trump's Facebook page be removed, and then doubled down on her demand for censorship in the comments below.
(Why this showed up in my news feed, given I am not "friends" with her on Facebook, is beyond me.)
Demanding censorship is exactly the kind of hysterical overreaction that only serves to help Trump. It creates a backlash. It will make Trump's supporters dig in and support him more. Even reasonable criticism of Trump has served to harden and deepen the resolve of Trump's supporters, so an unreasonable demand certainly will help him. Demanding censorship may even drive some people to Trump.
I find Donald Trump to be a detestable person, and I vehemently oppose him as a candidate. I will not vote for him if he is the Republican nominee. Obviously, provoking greater support for Trump is not something I want to see happen.
Taking down Trump's Facebook page is a terrible idea. It would be unprecedented for Facebook to remove a Presidential front-runner's Facebook page, and would set a precedent for Facebook to remove more and more political content that people find objectionable. What if the nightmare scenario comes true and Trump is elected President? (This is a horrible thought, to be sure.) Will the White House page on Facebook be blocked too?
Yes, Facebook is a private company and can allow or not allow anything they want. Facebook would be well within their rights to remove Trump's page. I certainly have no problem with Facebook (or any other interactive content provider) enforcing their Terms of Service against content that violates that agreement. But this goes far beyond enforcing a TOS agreement - this would be censorship of the most popular candidate for one of the two major political parties. Given polling data, Trump has millions of supporters. This is the classic "slippery slope."
Finally, the fact that Wanzer's reaction to Trump's foolishness is to demand censorship shows a totalitarian streak that disqualifies her from being re-elected to the MCCSC School Board. This is would be a concern for any office. It is especially worrisome given Wanzer's position as a MCCSC School Board member, because academic freedom and education depend on the free exchange of ideas. What textbooks would Wanzer favor censoring, if any?
Anne Applebaum wants Mark Zuckerberg to fix the "damage" Facebook has allegedly done to democracy.
Come on, now. We have to be smarter than this, people. It is totally absurd to blame Facebook for this. If Facebook never existed this would still be a problem.
For crying out loud, people. Did you not get those silly email forwards in the late 1990's? They practically gave birth to Snopes! If it wasn't Facebook, it would be MySpace. If neither of those existed it would be Google Plus or Yahoo 360. The problem is people, not the platform!
Let's think about the following hypothetical scenario:
Bubba was the treasurer for a megachurch. Over the course of ten years, he managed to embezzle one million dollars from the church before he was caught. He spent about six months in prison and is now in probation. He has moved back to his hometown and has applied to be the treasurer at the church where his parents are members. The church, seeing his criminal history, said "no." They hired someone else.
Bubba's parents are angry, because his resume clearly establishes him as the best candidate for the job. His education, skills and experience are all far and away above the other applicants, who have no history of theft. Why can't this church accept that this man has repented and has been forgiven by Jesus?
Of course, they do accept that Bubba has repented and is forgiven, but they still will not hire him. Why? Well, primarily, because they are not stupid. They know money is a temptation for Bubba, and they want to protect him from sin by not providing him with the temptation to steal. They also want to protect their own church's finances.
Yes, Bubba has repented. Yes, Bubba is forgiven. Yes, the church absolutely should welcome him to fellowship, communion, and their small group. But you would have to be a complete idiot to not recognize that greed is probably still a temptation. It is not loving to put Bubba in a position where he could be tempted to steal. It is pure hatred.
This is where a lot of Christians get confused. While we are forgiven by Jesus and washed of our sins, we still are at war with our sin nature and will be until the day we die. Everyone has different temptations. Bubba's besetting sin is greed, while others deal with lust, fornication, pornography, anger, bitterness, lying, or other things.
If someone has a particular besetting sin, it is wise to help him in his sanctification by not making that sin accessible to him. This is especially important when that sin harms others, because the church has a responsibility to protect the innocent as well as aid sinners in our war with our sin nature. Recognizing the reality that we all face does not in any way mean that someone with a particular besetting sin is not justified and will not spend eternity with Jesus.
Note: The characters in this story are entirely fictional. This is purely to make a point.
I have been accused of having "blood on my hands" after the murders in Colorado by a deranged lunatic. Leftists have said that the rhetoric of abortion opponents generally (and me specifically) inspired this man to attack a Planned Parenthood "clinic" and murder people. Blaming me personally is silly. I very much doubt that Robert Dear has ever read my blog, any of my letters to the editor or my online comments, or watched video of any speech I have made. To say that I personally inspired someone who does not even know I exist is absurd.
Here is the truth: I join the vast majority of the anti-abortion movement in opposing anti-abortion violence, especially murder and assault against human beings. I have a long and well-documented history of denouncing anti-abortion violence, and I have always maintained that the brutality of abortion should be opposed only through peaceful, legal means. Following is some of what I have written on the topic of anti-abortion violence:
What the shooting's aftermath shows is a disturbing impulse of the Left when confronted with speech they do not like: Leftists want to silence opposing viewpoints instead of debating ideas on their merits. Leftists see this particular shooting as an opportunity to shame and browbeat abortion opponents into silence, and maybe even make our speech illegal. This is because they are afraid to actually debate abortion itself. They do not want to address pro-life arguments about the humanity of the unborn baby, so they try to silence us instead.
Are pro-abortion arguments really so weak that they cannot stand up against an opposing argument? Is the only way for pro-abortion arguments to prosper is for opposing arguments to be silenced?
I have said this many times, but it deserves to be repeated: If you want me to stop using harsh rhetoric against abortion, then prove to me that the fetus is not a human being and that abortion does not end a human life. If you can do that, I will not only stop opposing abortion, I will rebuke those who continue to use that harsh rhetoric.
But if the fetus really is a human being, then there is virtually no rhetoric - short of advocating extrajudicial violence against abortion providers - that is too harsh to be used to describe abortion. In fact, terms like slaughter and mass murder fall short of the true horror of fifty million lives lost since 1973 and over a million lives lost every year. A more appropriate word would be holocaust, because of the sheer volume of little babies exterminated.
Murdering abortion providers is a wicked thing that cannot be justified. But abortion itself is a far more horrible evil than that, because of the sheer numbers of innocent babies murdered and because they are the most defenseless and innocent victims - exactly the kind of person our civil magistrate should be most adamant about defending. The anti-abortion movement must never stop speaking up for these little babies and speaking the truth about the horror of abortion.
Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain My children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them? -- Ezekiel 16:20-21
Why should I bother voting for Republicans when they pull nonsense like mandating prescriptions for pseudoephedrine? Why not just vote for Democrats, who do not pretend to be the party of small government?
We need a new state program if this legislation passes. I want the state to pay for my doctor's visit every time I need a decongestant. Neither I nor my insurance company should pay for it - state government should pay for it. If state government wants this mandate, then state government should pay for it. Of course, a better option would be to not pass this completely unnecessary and wasteful legislation.
As I have pointed out before, 80% of the meth in Indiana comes from Mexico, according to the state police. Even if we eliminated every meth lab in the state, we will not get rid of most of it and we will further empower hyperviolent Mexican drug cartels. So we will restrict the liberty of our citizens and force us to spend a lot more money than we need to spend, in exchange for making the drug trade worse.
So what is my solution?
I reject the idea that I have to provide a better solution when attacking a policy that I oppose. A huge problem in our politics is the notion that we need to "do something" about a problem. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something, if that something is counterproductive or destructive. And we are already doing something because making and using meth is already illegal and the law is being enforced.
If we make meth available only by prescription in Indiana, we will see over-the-counter drugs with pseudoephedrine smuggled in from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky - and not just for meth makers but also for law-abiding citizens who just want relief from congestion. We have already seen meth makers breaking into pharmacies with the current restrictions, and that will increase if it goes prescription-only.
We need to rethink the entire concept of the War on Drugs, which has given government the excuse to become bigger and more powerful while taking away our liberty. We need to stop treating drug abuse as a criminal matter and start treating it as a public health problem. Locking up drug addicts does not work.
The Herald-Times is obviously free to set whatever rules they want for their story comments. If they want to implement a new rule, that is their prerogative - but they should be honest about new rules, instead of lying about them. All I am asking for is a little honesty and integrity, but these qualities are severely lacking at 1900 South Walnut.
Last week, I posted a link to the Center for BioEthical Reform's website in the comments for a letter that supported abortion rights. My comment was deleted, so I asked why it was deleted and if there was a new rule against posting a link to CBR. A Herald-Times employee, instead of being honest and saying that the H-T has decided to disallow these links from this point forward, flagrantly lied and said links to CBR have always been against HTO comments policy.
This is simply laughable. I pointed out that I have posted a link to CBR in nine different comment threads, with hyperlinks to the threads and screenshots of my posts. Up until last Friday, this has never been a problem. But here is the kicker - I have included links to CBR's website in a letter to the editor and in a guest editorial. Are the "standards" for HTO comments different from the standards for the print edition? If so, that is more than a little silly.
The pictures of the results of abortion are relevant factual information for the discussion about the morality of the procedure and debates over whether abortion should be legal. The pictures are shocking and offensive (as they should be) but they are also informative in understanding exactly what the abortion procedure does.
The Herald-Times sent me an incredibly dishonest response, petulantly claiming that HTO "rules have not changed," because the Herald-Times has always prohibited "offensive" content. But as I pointed out above, this is simply not true, at least as it concerns links to the abortion photographs Center for BioEthical Reform's website. Remember, that URL has been published in the print edition of the newspaper.
But the prohibition on "offensive" content basically means that the Herald-Times will make up rules on a whim. By prohibiting "offensive" content, the Herald-Times can decide that literally anything can be against the comment guidelines, and the exact same comment can be against the rules or within the rules on a day-to-day basis, depending on the whims of the moderators. This is because "offensive" is an extremely subjective standard, and the Herald-Times cannot expect its users to know what is or is not "offensive" to the moderators on any given day. If we cannot know the rules we cannot know what we may or may not post.
Furthermore, there is a great deal of content in mainstream news coverage that can be deemed legitimately offensive. The famous Newsweek cover of the firefighter holding the dead baby after the Oklahoma City bombing is one example, and the Herald-Times own coverage of the Michael Plumadore trial is another one. (The article describes how Plumadore beat a little girl to death and hacked up her corpse.) But those things should be offensive, because they are accurate reporting on horrific crimes. If the "standard" is that "offensive" content is prohibited, the Herald-Times own news coverage was a violation of HTO comment policy.
This is the new rule. I will not post the link again. While I disagree with the rule, it is the Herald-Times' forum and the Herald-Times decides what is and is not allowed. But let's make no mistake about it: This absolutely is a new rule, and we all know it. This rule was never in place before December 4.
I find it extremely disappointing that the Herald-Times answered my questions in such a dishonest manner. The link has clearly not been against the rules in the past, as I have demonstrated by pointing out the comments that were never a problem in the past plus content (including my guest column) that has been published in the print edition. I wish the Herald-Times would just be honest and say they have decided that the link to AbortionNo.org is no longer allowed as of December 4. All I am asking for is a little show of integrity.
It is a common misconception that abortion opponents are inconsistent, or at least working against our own goals, by opposing birth control as a means to avoid abortion. But that ignores an important argument about chemical birth control, which I pointed out in the comments for a letter to the editor last week:
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that chemical birth control - which even Planned Parenthood admits can act as an abortifacient - is also the termination of a human life. Scientifically, they are correct. Whether a baby is killed chemically at the earliest stages of pregnancy or surgically later, it is still the destruction of a human life.
(I am not Catholic, by the way.)
I got some aggressive pushback against this statement, including some rather nasty personal attacks. I was called a buffoon (among other things) and repeatedly accused of being dishonest. But this is not something I just made up out of thin air. The federal Food and Drug Administration determined decades ago that because chemical birth control can prevent implantation of an embryo - a newly formed human being.
For those (like me) who believe that life begins at fertilization, this is unacceptable. Obviously, I understand why philosophical or religious opposition to chemical birth control would be controversial. What I find interesting is that the finding that chemical birth control (specifically the meaning the estrogen and progestin combination, commonly referred to as "the pill") can prevent implantation is so controversial and provokes so much rage.
It is especially interesting that this rage is provoked in people who support the right of women to have surgical abortions. Just form a visual perspective, a surgical abortion is a much more visually graphic and bloody procedure, as you can see from these pictures.
When you're dealing with preventing implantation, we are talking about something so tiny it is basically invisible. When an embryo fails to implant (naturally or as the result of chemical birth control) a woman will probably never even know that fertilization has taken place. Abortion-rights apologists routinely dismiss surgical abortion as removing "a clump of cells." This is obviously and laughably false in the case if a surgical abortion, but is an accurate description for chemical abortion. So what exactly is the big deal here? I honestly do not know the answer.
Note: I sent this letter to Grace College a couple weeks ago.
Dear Mr. Tim Ziebarth,
I have written you before, but I wanted to again encourage the Trustees of Grace College to approve the charter for Seven Oaks Classical School. My wife and I have a three year old son and a one year old son, and we believe that Seven Oaks is the best option to ensure they get the best education possible. Our older son will be starting kindergarten in the fall of 2017.
Classical education has been proven time and again to be an effective means of teaching young people and helping them retain that knowledge. Seven Oaks will provide a rigorous curriculum in math, science, language and history that will be a huge benefit to my sons. Most importantly, Seven Oaks will teach critical thinking (something sorely lacking on our society today) and good citizenship as well as the principles of our constitutional republic. This foundation (in addition to what they get at home) will be an advantage for my sons as they grow and enter adulthood.
I am not against MCCSC. I know for a fact that many young people can and do get (and have gotten) a good education though the local school system. All we as parents are asking is that we have an additional option that will meet our needs more closely. As you well know, all children are different, and that glorious diversity means that different children excel in different environments. Seven Oaks will provide an environment that will greatly benefit my sons. Some children, for example, excel at rote memorization. Even when I attended public schools, memorization of the periodic table, literary works and multiplication tables were common.
The character of the opposition to the charter is instructive as to why you should approve this charter. MCCSC partisans have repeatedly spewed lies and false accusations at Seven Oaks, claiming the school will teach creationism (false), that it is a religious school (false), and that it will discriminate against students (also false).
If we truly do not need an alternative, if there is truly no market for an alternative, then why do MCCSC partisans (including the elected School Board) feel they need to spew lies, deceit, and false accusations? Approving this charter will send a message that liars cannot get their way through their lies, smears and defamation of character. Approving this charter will send a strong message in favor of tolerance, diversity, civility and truth.
Thank you for your time and your attention, and please approve the charter for Seven Oaks Classical School so my two sons can get the best education possible.
There's no doubt that was Jered Fogle did - possession of child pornography and traveling across state lines to pay underage teenage girls for sex - was a wicked thing and he should be punished for it. Whether his time in prison is enough is up for debate and I personally think he should have gotten more, but it is downright disturbing to see people openly fantasizing on social media about him being violently anally raped. That is depraved.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Fogle should be executed for his crimes. A humane, lawful execution by the civil magistrate is one thing. Fifteen years of torture and sexual slavery is something else entirely. If Fogle serves his entire fifteen years, do you think he will be more likely to offend again or less likely to offend again after spending a decade and a half being violently sodomized against his will, perhaps even in a gang rape? Do you think Fogle is likely to have a lot of rage and hate that he may take out on innocent people?
The reason that taking pleasure in a prisoner being repeatedly violently anally raped is wrong has nothing to do with whether that prisoner "deserves" it. This is about what kind of people and what kind of state and nation we want to be. Do we want to be a nation of laws and justice, or do we want to be a nation where sadistic vigilantism, torture and murder replaces the rule of law? Do we want to be a nation where prisoners face harsh but constitutionally permissible punishments up to and including the death penalty? Or do we want to be a nation where we allow people to be gang raped and extrajudicial murdered because they "deserve" what they get?
Of course, in some cases a prisoner does not "deserve" to even be in prison. One example is Christopher Clugston, who spent 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. While he was there, he was gang raped and infected with AIDS. Another example is Bernard Baran, who was convicted of abusing children and went to prison, where he was raped more than 30 times. He was innocent too. Fogle is guilty, but the bloodlust and the sadistic pleasure in fantasizing about him being violently sodomized can spill over to innocents as well.
It's difficult to have sympathy for wicked men like Jered Fogle, and almost impossible to have sympathy for predators who do much worse. It is righteous, compassionate and godly to desire justice be delivered by the civil magistrate. It is wicked to fantasize or openly hope that someone is raped and sexually tortured by a pack of lawless vigilantes. This depravity should be rejected and rebuked.
Blaming "harsh rhetoric" from abortion opponents for the mass murder in Colorado shows that "pro-choice" activists and politicians are terrified to debate the actual issue.
Abortion is either the unjustifiable killing of a human being or it is not. Abortion is either murder or it is not. If it is not, then harsh rhetoric opposing abortion should be rejected because it is simply not true. If abortion is murder, then there is virtually no rhetoric that can be used against abortion (short of calling for extrajudicial violence against abortion providers) that can be deemed too harsh.
If abortion rights supporters want me to silence my anti-abortion rhetoric, then they need to show me why I am scientifically and factually wrong and that abortion does not kill a baby. If I am proven wrong, not only will I not speak against abortion, but I will repudiate everyone who does.
But I am not wrong. The unborn baby is a human being and abortion is murder. The "pro-choice" side fears debating on scientific or factual grounds. They want to browbeat and blackmail us into silence. But I will not shut up and I will not stop speaking against the horror of abortion.
There is not and has never been one single shred of evidence that Seven Oaks Classical School will teach creationism. Furthermore, the repeated claims that Seven Oaks is a religious school are completely false. In addition, Seven Oaks will not and is not legally permitted to discriminate on the basis of religion.
These allegations are lies, fabricated out of thin air by irresponsible and unethical MCCSC partisans who have absolutely no problem lying about Seven Oaks in order to stifle competition and prevent Monroe County parents from having another choice for where we educate our children.
If the charter is approved, Seven Oaks will be overseen by state government per the Indiana Code - just as MCCSC is overseen by state government. Charter schools are public schools under Indiana law and while they are afforded some degree of independence they are required to obey the law and submit to state government's authority just like traditional public schools. Therefore, a charter school does not represent "taxation without representation."
Seven Oaks offers a time-tested method of teaching that has been proven to be successful. Obviously, children and teens can get a good education in MCCSC and many have done so. All we as parents are asking is that we be given another choice, to offer our children the best education possible. If Seven Oaks does not attract students, it will fail.
But MCCSC partisans are afraid Seven Oaks will succeed. They believe our children belong to MCCSC, and that there should be no competition. They oppose allowing parents - who are in by far the best position to know what is best for our children - to direct our children's education and seek what is best. They demand a one-size-fits all monopoly. They are anti-choice, and we have seen they are not above lies and fabrications to smear those who want to provide another option. It is shameful.
Everyone knows that all children are different and an educational model that works for some may not work for all. Seven Oaks emphasizes mathematical skills, civic literacy (which is sorely lacking in our culture today) and, most exciting, teaching Latin.
I am completely opposed to vouchers for private schools and while I am a Republican I think Republicans have been short sighted to support them. With government money comes government strings and I do not want government controlling private schools - especially Christian schools. But charter schools like Seven Oaks provide a solid middle ground - a fully public school with an alternate method of teaching.
I have two sons, ages three and one. When Seven Oaks began the process of applying to be a public charter school, I was excited at the opportunity for my boys to learn in a rigorous academic environment. I have no connection to the school other than hoping my sons have the opportunity to be educated there. I plead with the trustees of Grace College to allow me to have this choice.