For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
I said on Twitter last month that "The best poster boys for #FreeSpeech are the most obnoxious ones. That is how we test whether we are truly committed to our ideals." While that is true, many people have a poor understanding of free speech and censorship, and have no idea how to properly use free speech and defend the right to free speech.
Specifically, just because you have the right to free speech does not mean you need to be an obnoxious jerk. One can make a point about why war is bad without posting a meme with pictures of flag-draped coffins and the text "play stupid games - win stupid prizes." There is no need to mock the pain of grieving military families, as Liberty Memes did on Facebook and then defended the meme with an especially pretentious, haughty post about right-wing hypocrisy.
Yes, you have the right to free speech, but the fact that you get an angry reaction does not mean that your "free speech" rights are being violated. When you intentionally troll people to get an angry response, you are not allowed to clutch your pearls when you get the exact response you wanted. It is called "being an adult."
Now, to be fair, Liberty Memes does have a good point about the hypocrisy of many on the right on free speech. Far too many conservatives are willing to grab pitchforks and torches to join a social media lynch mob whenever their sacred cows are skewered. If we believe in free speech and we are truly appalled when Leftists try to ruin someone's life over one silly social media post, then we must believe in free speech for things we find offensive. It is reasonable to point out that hypocrisy, but not every angry reaction to intentional trolling is an attack on free speech.
Some Christian denominations teach that speaking in tongues is a requires sign of salvation, and unless someone speaks in tongues he is not saved. But is this assertion Biblical? As with all questions of Christian doctrine, we must consult the foundational document of the Christian faith, the Bible. One of the Scriptures used as evidence for the tongues theory is below:
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The problem with using this passage is that all Christians have clearly not been given all of these gifts. If a Christian went to his kitchen and started drinking Drano, would he be assured that he would not be harmed? Clearly, God can perform miracles and protect His followers from things that would normally be harmful or deadly, but he will not do so each and every time. That's why most Christians would consider it foolish to make a statement of faith by drinking Drano or some other toxic substance. Not all Christians receive all spiritual gifts.
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
In the above example, the thief on the Cross is not recorded as showing that he received the Holy Ghost by speaking in tongues. He is not baptized either. What does happen is that he has faith in Jesus Christ even as He is dying on the cross, and he is redeemed by the Savior as a result.
1 Corinthians 12 is probably the most direct refutation that all Christians are required to speak in tongues. See verses 4-6 and 14-18 below:
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1 Corinthians 12:14-18
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
God has given each of us spiritual gifts, but not all of us have the same gifts. God explains it perfectly through His servant Paul, that each part of our bodies may be different, but all are necessary and created by God for His purpose. Along the same lines, God has given those in His church different spiritual gifts. Some have discernment, some can counsel people who struggle with sin, some can preach and teach, and some are called to mercy. Whether someone is preaching to the congregation on Sunday mornings or cleaning the church's bathrooms when no one is around, all serve the church in different ways.
1 Corinthians 12:27-30
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
The questions Paul asks in verses 27-30 are rhetorical, meant to draw the answer of "no" from the Corinthians reading the letter. Clearly, not all are apostles, Not everyone works miracles or heals the sick, and not everyone speaks in tongues. In fact, there are a number of instances in the book of Acts where people are saved but are not recorded as speaking in tongues, such as the people saved and added to the church on Acts 2, the Philipian jailer in Acts 16:30-34 and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:27-39. So why does God give the gift of tongues? See below:
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
The Jews were amazed by this miracle, and Paul explains the purpose:
1 Corinthians 14:22
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
As Paul explains, this was to be a sign to unbelievers so that they will accept Christ.
One thing that we as Christians need to be careful of is attaching something we have done to our salvation, as if we could have done anything to atone for the blood guilt we have and escape the punishment we so richly deserve. Salvation is not because of what we have done, and that cannot be because we are completely unworthy of God's unmerited grace. As Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches, salvation is by grace through faith, not of anything we have done. Being powerless to obtain favor in God's sight is incredibly liberating because we know that any righteousness we have is His gift. He has already won the battle and all we have to do is trust and obey.
♣ Here is a great post by Pastor Tim Bayly. We must fight against sexual abuse and we must respect due process. Do you remember the Duke University lacrosse team and the Central Park Five?
♣ It amazes me how often I am accused of hypocrisy based not on what I do, but based on what other people do.
♣ Government is not a necessary evil. It is a gift of God for our benefit. Like with all of His gifts, we pervert it and make it repressive.
♣ I was an officer in both the College Republicans and Students for Life as a student at Indiana University. Now if you add the ages of two clubs' presidents together, it is less than mine. I am an old man. Get off my lawn.
♣ Men who refuse to submit to proper authority are bad leaders themselves. They are either tyrants or doormats. If you are looking for a good leader, first find someone who submits to those in authority over him.
♣ The best poster boys for free speech are the most obnoxious ones. That is how we test whether we are truly committed to our ideals.
♣ Drunk sex is not rape unless one of the people involved is too incapacitated to consent. If a woman willingly consents to sex while drunk, she was not raped, despite the hysterical screeching from feminists.
It was twenty years ago today that I walked into Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne to have an inguinal orchiectomy to remove my left testicle. It was a scary time, even though I knew that I probably would not die from the cancer: It was caught in Stage 1 and had not spread, so the surgery got it all. I was not even in much pain after the surgery. I only took a few of the prescription painkillers I was given.
The key here is I am not a tough guy by any means. I have quite possibly the world's lowest pain tolerance, so when I say something does not hurt, it really does not hurt.
Even though I had a fairly easy time, surviving cancer will always be a major part of my life. At twenty three years old, I looked directly at death. A cousin I adored had died just a year and a half earlier from cancer, so I understood my mortality and how quickly things could go badly. Most importantly, it reminded me that the Bible is right in James 4:13-15. Life really is a vapor. You are here a little while and then you are gone. Furthermore, God tells us in Proverbs that those who spare the rod hate their children. This is because as our loving Father, God brings suffering into our lives to discipline us. (See Hebrews 12:5-8.)
I remember sitting in class the Friday before Spring Break, knowing that I likely had testicular cancer and worrying about the next week. I don't remember anything that was said, though I do remember feeling isolated as I looked around the room. I went to the doctor on Monday and a specialist on Wednesday. The specialist suggested surgery the next day or on Friday, and I chose Friday. I needed an extra day to process and mentally prepare myself for the surgery - which as I stated above was not all that bad.
The next few weeks were a blur. I had to drop out of college, though I knew I would be back in August. I spoke with my friends in the College Republicans and let them know I would not be back until August, and lost the spring semester and the work I had done up to that point. I completely forgot to tell my dormitory, so my resident assistant was shocked when I told him why I was moving out. That was definitely a bone-headed move on my part. I normally work during the summer, but not in 1997. I went on to gain thirty pounds that summer as I sat around the house in between doctor appointments.
There was a bit of a blip in the weeks following the surgery. The biopsy of the tumor found only seminoma cancer cells, but the alpha-fetoprotein levels in my blood were elevated. By the time this was discovered, too much time had passed for a second blood test (which found no elevated AFP levels) to be useful. Therefore, the elevated levels presented three possibilities: Either it was a false positive, or there were non-seminoma cells in the tumor, or I was pregnant.
We ruled out the third option pretty quickly, so my treatment plan needed to change. Instead of radiation treatments, I would be in surveillance for five years. I was pronounced cancer-free in 2002.
Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men between fifteen and thirty-five years old, but survival rates are very high when caught early. Men should be doing a monthly testicular self-examination to check for irregularities. If you find a lump or if you notice a size difference, go to the doctor. Procrastination is like playing Russian roulette when dealing with cancer.
In a particularly dishonest headline, Slate argues that we need to "decriminalize HIV." Of course, no state has actually criminalized HIV. No one has ever gone to jail for having HIV or AIDS. By arguing that we need to decriminalize something that was never criminalized in the first place, Slate is spreading fake news.
What was actually criminalized is spreading HIV or exposing someone to HIV without a sexual partner's knowledge or consent. Of course that should be illegal. Even if one argues from a libertarian perspective that there should be absolutely no restrictions on sex between consenting adults if one of them is HIV-positive, it is impossible to have informed consent when one of the partners does not know the HIV status of the other one. It is likely that the person who does not have the fatal disease would not consent to sexual activity if he or she knows that the other person is HIV positive.
The basic premise of libertarian philosophy is that you can do as you please unless you harm someone else. When someone has sex and does not disclose that he (or she) has a lethal sexually transmitted disease, there is harm being done. One could even make the case that it should be illegal for single people with HIV to have sex at all, from a public health standpoint. That is not being argued here: The issue is exposing someone to a lethal virus without his knowledge or consent.
Slate goes to the typical well, whining that the case is about racism and anti-homosexual bigotry. This is not about race or homosexuality. Had it been a white male exposing women to the virus without telling them, it would be every bit as wrong and should also be prosecuted and punished. The issue is that a crime has been committed and someone has been exposed without his knowledge or consent to a lethal virus. This is not a difficult concept for those not immersed in the cult of total sexual anarchy.
Despite the complaining you see about "shaming" on various websites, shame is a good thing and we should embrace it. Shame is our conscience, that still small voice that tells us when we are doing something wrong. We should listen to that voice instead of attacking those who rebuke us for bad behavior.
To be fair, Walsh believes (as I do) that shame is a good thing. In fact, he defends shame in the column cited above. But denying that something is "shaming" actually plays into our snowflake culture's claims that shaming is bad. We need to be careful to not give this wrong-headed mentality any compromise whatsoever.
In fact, all of the people who decry "shaming" the loudest are guilty of shaming themselves. Why? Because they are trying to shame those who are guilty of shaming, with the goal of making them stop shaming. Complaining about shaming and criticizing those who engage in shaming are always examples of hypocrisy.
Now, obviously, there are things that should not be shamed. Things that are not immoral, unethical, rude, inconsiderate or in other way examples of bad behavior and are not under someone's control should not be subject to shaming. I am sure that we could all come up with many examples. But in those cases, the problem is not shaming, but that the wrong things are being shamed.
We should not be afraid of shaming. Instead, we should embrace it both as a way to restrain our own behavior and as a good tool to restrain society at large.
Whenever we pass a law, we are giving government the authority to use force on us to accomplish the goals of that law. If we are not willing to have the government use force - potentially with guns and bullets - then we should not pass the law.
I was asked a few weeks ago about government aid to the poor and whether I truly believe in the teachings of Jesus. Obviously, we can debate whether mandatory contributions and government social welfare programs were what Jesus meant when He told us to care for "the least of these," but the fact that force is required to enact these programs is undeniable. If you do not pay your taxes, the civil magistrate will come after you. Whether the Internal Revenue Service targets you, or whether the county sheriff takes your home and auctions it off in a tax sale for failure to pay property taxes, there is no question that force backs up the law.
This is why it is absurd for someone who argues I am wrong for advocating for laws that "force my morality" on others to also argue for government social welfare programs. Both banning abortion and government social welfare programs enforce morality through the state, and both empower the state to use force to accomplish the law's goals - whether feeding the poor or preventing unborn babies from being killed. All law is force. That is what the law and government does.
Does this mean I am advocating for anarchy? No. We will always have a government. If we abolished all laws and government today, a new one would quickly take its place after a bloody civil war that will likely have many competing sides. Government is a blessing from God, restraining evil and providing a framework where civil society operates. But because government is always a hammer, it should be used only when necessary and should control as little as possible. Only then can we have the best mix of freedom, security and justice.
On March 14, 1997, I was sitting in class in Ballentine Hall at Indiana University anxiously awaiting spring break. My thoughts were not on what my instructor was saying but on the week to come. I barely heard a word that was said, and hoped I would not be called on because I was not at all prepared to answer anything. Unlike many other students, I was not anticipating a week of fun. I was worried about what the next seven days would mean for the rest of my life.
You see, I had cancer. My left testicle had swollen and was significantly larger than the other one. A family member had passed away a few years earlier from testicular cancer, so I knew I was dealing with something that would kill me if nothing was done.
Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer for men between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five years old. According to testicularcancersociety.org, six in 100,000 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer each year. Statistically speaking, it is likely that there will be cases in Monroe County this year, so you may know someone who will contract the disease - or you may contract it yourself.
We men tend to be very private about our genitals, so the prospect of going to the doctor and discussing abnormalities is not appealing. It can also be uncomfortable to discuss the topic with family members or a significant other. It is far better to be uncomfortable than to be dead.
The good news is testicular cancer is very treatable and survivable. The five year survival rate for testicular cancer is over 95% if it is caught early. Because symptoms show up early (unlike many other forms of cancer) early detection is quite common. But like any cancer, testicular cancer becomes more deadly the longer it is allowed to grow unchecked and without medical intervention.
Men should be performing a monthly testicular self-examination to look for abnormalities. The following are warning signs of testicular cancer, from MayoClinic.org:
A lump or enlargement in either testicle
A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
If you discover any of these warning signs, go to the doctor right away. Do not procrastinate and do not ignore the problem. Make sure men you know are aware of the warning signs, because that knowledge could save their life. If you have sons, teach them to know the warning signs once they are old enough to understand and before they reach the age where it becomes common. If you know of any man who has the warning signs, press him to go to the doctor immediately.
That spring break twenty years ago was certainly a memorable one. I went to my family doctor on Monday, and he sent me to a specialist on Wednesday. On Friday, I was having surgery to remove the diseased testicle. After five years in surveillance, I was pronounced cancer-free in 2002. Twenty years after I went into surgery, I am still cancer-free. It was a stressful week, but my story has a happy ending. Yours can too. Do not ignore the warning signs of testicular cancer, because doing nothing could be deadly.
The Supreme Court should strike down the North Carolina law that bans sex offenders from using social media, and early arguments indicate that will happen. We can and should protect children online from predators, but we should not do so in a way that radically restricts free speech - including two of the most important websites (Facebook and Twitter) for political organizing and information.
First, I want to address an unbelievably offensive headline on Slate: First, They Came for the Sex Offenders... This is anti-Semitic and borders on hate speech. Slate is actually equating punishment of people who have committed terrible crimes (including some crimes worthy of death) with the mass slaughter of millions of completely innocent people, including children. No matter how much you think this law is wrong, the Nazi analogy is heavy handed and just plain immoral.
To a large degree, we would not have this problem if we actually killed people who committed crimes worthy of death. Someone who is executed for rape or child molestation would not be able to sign up for a social media service. The fact that our "justice" system, our courts and our legislators have abandoned their God-given responsibility to bear the sword in His name has created a mess where we have to deal with people who should never be in society in the first place.
With that said, it is also important to remember that the term "sex offender" is very broad. When we hear "sex offender" we think of a monster who has committed unimaginably evil deeds. However, "sex offender" could include an 18 year old who has sex with his 15 year old girlfriend. We have seen teenagers charged with child pornography for sending pictures to each other. (See here and here and here.) In some cases, someone who was caught urinating in public with no sexual or exhibitionist intent is labeled as a "sex offender." We need to drastically reform the way we classify "sex offenders."
The North Carolina law, however, goes too far. It cuts too many people off from services that are very important means of engaging in society. In some cases, it can make it more difficult to find meaningful employment, because LinkedIN does not limit membership to adults. Shame on North Carolina for taking this all the way to the Supreme Court, where it will likely be struck down, when they could have simply repealed it and passed a new law with the goal of protecting children without unnecessarily restricting free speech rights.
Here is a smart strategy for deciding what you share on social media: If you see a claim that is designed to generate outrage, look it up and check other reliable sources. Snopes is especially good. This is even more important if the thing you are sharing is designed to generate outrage or anger against a specific person because of something especially outrageous he or she allegedly said or did.
Here is another good rule to follow: If you have an article where any portion of the headline IS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, it is definitely click-bait. There is also a strong possibility it is misleading or maybe even outright fabricated. If you are on Facebook or Twitter (or any other social media service) you need to stop sharing things that are not true.
Furthermore, you are not permitted to plead ignorance when you share something that is misleading, only partially true or outright fabricated. If you are sharing a "point at something with outrage" (PASWO) link on social media, then you obviously have Internet access and you can double check your source before passing it on to hundreds of people who may then pass on the same lies to hundreds more people. You have no excuse, so stop doing that.
People, this is not difficult. If you do not like fake news, then stop sharing fake news. Start vetting the claims you see before you share them. We will never clean up all of the crap on the Internet, but we can at least stop contributing to the steaming pile of rotting feces that infects our social media news feeds every day.
When I attended an IU Students for Life meeting a few months ago, it struck me that the room was almost entirely female. It is amazing that the twenty or so women in the room all hate and distrust themselves and want to be oppressed by men. This includes the officers of the group, all of whom are women. The same could be said of many women I know, all of whom hate themselves and want to repress their own sexuality and turn over control of their own bodies to the state.
Obviously, I am being sarcastic. But that leads me to a description of pro-life activism by an Indiana Daily Student columnist last week:
"Abortion opposition is an insidious ramification of hatred, skepticism and distrust toward women. Its purpose is not to help women, but to revoke their bodily, reproductive and sexual autonomy."
I have no doubt the columnist actually believes this and sees people who oppose abortion as holding that position for reprehensible if not outright evil motives. I doubt she even considers arguments about the humanity of the unborn child, and whether that baby is a person with rights. Pro-life views cannot be about protecting human life, it is about hatred and oppression of women. Pro-life women either loathe themselves or are brainwashed and oppressed by men.
I believe abortion is a great evil, so I obviously do not agree with the "pro-choice" position. I do understand it, however. I do not believe all people who are "pro-choice" are all bloodthirsty monsters who just want to murder helpless babies for fun. Many of them have sincerely-held positions that while abortion is terrible, banning it would be worse and would compound the problem rather than make it better. There are people on both sides who act from good faith, and obviously there are some who act in bad faith.
But the position that all opposition to abortion is hatred of women is not a carefully considered or well-reasoned position. It is fanaticism bordering on cult behavior. This is not a position that sees opponents not as wrong, but as blasphemers or heretics. It has often been said that abortion is the sacrament of militant feminism, and this kind of "thinking" is strong evidence for that theory.
Back in 1993, I became a fan of the Phoenix Suns. I followed them through the regular season and into the playoffs, rooting for them to their eventual loss to the Chicago Bulls. I remained a Suns fan for most of the 1990s. So why would someone in Indiana be a fan of a team in a state where I had never been? Simple: I was a fan of Charles Barkley and wanted to see him win a championship. When he left the Suns, my fandom waned.
I have taken a LOT of heat over the years for either not supporting the "hometown" team at all, or for supporting a different team over the "hometown" team. So there is an obvious question: Why do I have to root for the hometown team? Why am I not allowed to like who I want to like? Why am I mandated to like a certain team just because I happen to live in a specific city or state? And most importantly, why do you care who I root for and why is it any of your business? How do my opinions on sports impact you at all?
Amin Elhassan solidified my thinking on this in ESPN's NBA Lockdown podcast a few weeks ago. Just because you live in a specific city, why should you be obligated to follow a poorly-run team that is no fun to watch? If you live in Sacramento, why are you obligated to be loyal to the raging dumpster fire that is the Sacramento Kings? Why should people in New York be required to follow and root for a team that has been poorly managed for many years and continues to make stupid decisions? Would it not be better if a team actually earned your loyalty by being fun to watch or having the players you like?
Here is the bottom line: I will root for who I want to root for, and I will root against who I want to root against. If I refuse to support a team because I do not like a specific player, I have that prerogative. If I choose to root for a different team because I am a fan of a player or set of players they have, then that is my prerogative. This is not a religion, where I am betraying a "god" by bowing to a different "god." I am not committing treason against my city or state. I am enjoying a sport, and having fun doing it. After all, is that not the entire point of sports, to have some fun and escape?
We have far too much division, anger, and hatred in our lives for this. We have too much misery and suffering in the world to get offended at something so meaningless. We should not treat sports like a religion and we should not treat people who do not cheer for our team as blasphemers or heretics. Chill out and relax.
We often hear in politics that those on the other side or in the other political party are our opponents, not our enemies. This is generally true and we should operate under the assumption that the other side is wrong, not evil. But let's be honest: If you are involved in politics and/or you consistently speak in public on controversial political and cultural issues, you will have enemies. This is especially true if you are a Christian who speaks Biblical truth. Jesus Christ promises we will be persecuted, because we are not greater than our Master.
In fact, when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He presupposes that we will have enemies. If we do not have enemies, we cannot obey this command. Scripture is filled with examples. Take a look at the Psalms, which is the Christian's prayer book, and see how often the psalmist refers to "my enemies."
I most certainly have enemies. This is not me being paranoid or overly sensitive. This is me recognizing reality. There are people who will viciously personally attack me and spread lies about me no matter what I do or say. There are people who will attempt to blackmail and threaten me into silence when I dare to say things they do not want to hear. We live in an effeminate age, and when someone recognizes reality and refers to anyone as "my enemies" people are shocked and scandalized.
So yes, I will point out when I am being unjustly attacked, and I will continue to point out that the people who obsessively do that are my enemies. Also, I am not the one who chose to have enemies. I would rather we be able to be civil. I am simply recognizing reality: Some people hate me and are my enemies.
This is damning. Leo Tolstoy's wife writes to him while he is off on some humanitarian mission:
"My little one is still unwell, and I am very tender and pitying. You may not especially love your own children but we simple mortals are neither able nor wish to distort our feelings or to justify our lack of love for a person by professing some love or other for the whole world."
This is a good quote for those of us concerned about political and cultural affairs to remember.
Conservatives used to brag that we see our political opponents as wrong, while they see us as evil. While that has never been perfectly true, conservatives are increasingly falling into the same habits as the Leftists we condemned in years past. Worst of all, we do not see Leftists as evil as much as we see each other as evil. This has been no more obvious as the battles between #NeverTrump conservatives and Trump voters.
That has continued since the election. While there is some simmering leftover resentment, the battles between "Never Trump" conservatives and Trump supporters are mostly over. But the way far too many conservatives see Leftists does not bode well for the future of the Republican Party or the conservative movement, when internal conflicts inevitably come. The most vicious conflicts are always between people who are the closest to each other, and any police officer will tell you the worst calls to take are domestic violence calls.
The problem is that too many people treat politics like religion, complete with cult-like devotion, seeing the other side as demonic, and furious denunciation of "heretics" on your own side. Criticism of your favorite political figure is blasphemy and must be treated as such. This goes far beyond devotion to principle or defending your own side from unfair or false attacks, it is defending the honor of your messiah against sacrilege. It goes hand-in-hand with a complete refusal to ever recognize where your own party could be wrong.
We have to do better, and the only way to do that is to focus our energy on policy and principle. Party loyalty is fine to an extent, because of the reality of our political system, but it must always be secondary to principle. We can call out cult behavior in others, but the only real way to clean up this mess is to become better ourselves by recommitting ourselves to our ideals, not a specific political leader or a political party.
For those of us who express political opinions publicly, it is common for us to get questions about what we believe or why we hold certain views. Generally, we should answer those questions in good faith. However, some questions are not legitimate and therefore do not deserve to be answered. How do we separate an fake so-called "question" from a legitimate question?
The most obvious standard is whether or not the question has been answered before. If someone asks a question and it is answered, and then that person continues to ask the exact same so-called "question" over and over and over only to get the exact same answer every single time, it is not a legitimate "question" and the fake "question" does not deserve to be answered.
Why would someone ask the exact same so-called "question" over and over when the answer is the same every single time? There could be many reasons. In some cases, the person asking the so-called "question" could be interested in moral preening, or the so-called "question" might actually be an attack on the person being asked that "question." Regardless, a fake "question" does not deserve an answer.
When someone asks me a legitimate question, I will answer it. When someone asks the same fake "question" over and over after it has already been answered, I will not answer it again. I will not give trolls what they want by wasting my time with fake "questions."
Conservatives need to stop obsessing over personalities and return to defending principle. It is our movement's repeated embrace of celebrity "conservatives" that has poisoned conservatism and led us into far too many high-profile embarrassments. We have to stop it, and we have to stop it right now.
The day my most recent letter to the editor was published, a controversy was raging because of a video where Milo Yiannopoulos defended the concept of pederasty. My enemies seized on this, taunting me and attacking me for defending Yiannopoulos' free speech rights. But my letter was never about Yiannopoulos. My letter was about defending free speech and opposing violence and terrorism.
Let me be very clear: What Yiannopoulos said was wicked and depraved. That has nothing to do with the principles I advocated in my letter. I defend free speech as a principle, no matter who is speaking. I oppose rioting and arson to censor free speech as a matter of principle, and who is speaking is totally irrelevant. Rioting and terrorism is wrong and must be condemned on its merits. There is absolutely no justification for it, or to cave to the demands of rioters and terrorists that speech they don't like be censored.
In the comments for my letter, my enemies were totally desperate, throwing out red herring after red herring to distract from Leftists rioting and committing acts of terrorism to silence speech they dislike. My enemies are desperate to discuss anything but the topic of my letter - violent Leftist radicals who rioted to censor free speech. That speaks volumes. The desperate, pathetic attempt to cover up Leftists rioting and committing terrorist acts speaks volumes. This is why Donald Trump is President. This is why you lost.
I am not a blind groupie for any political figure, pundit, columnist or celebrity. I was defending the principle of free speech, and opposing violence, rioting and terrorism. Humans will fail. Some will make utterly wicked statements in public (as Yiannopoulos did) and others will commit crimes of varying severity. This is why attaching yourself to a personality will either leave you disappointed or will turn you into a hypocrite.
Principles, however, stand on their own, and are not tarnished by the sins, failures, crimes or depravity of any individual person. I stand by the principles I advocated in my letter, defending free speech and opposing violence. I stand by those principles without apology or compromise.
Conservatism needs to stop being about personalities and celebrities, and is most certainly needs to stop seeing political figures as some sort of Messiah. Obviously, there will be differences within our movement about what conservatism really means and what compromises must be made in advancing that agenda. But our movement must be about principles. While we will always have leaders of our movement, we must always place our loyalty to our leaders or our political party far below our devotion to our principles.