Stopfamilyviolence.org has called South Dakota's recent passing of the country's strictest anti-abortion law ``heartless.'' I've posted that organization's release below, as well as an op/ed piece from an anti-abortion writer. The South Dakota law is designed to force the Supreme Court to deal directly with the constitutionality of abortion rights. That may or may not happen, but I'm sure the law will be challenged in court and federal judges will deal with it. There's no guarantee the Supreme Court will take up the issue, though it would seem to me hard to pass on such a law. It essentially eliminates abortion, even in cases of rape, incest -- and even when the mother's health is in danger. The only exception is when a fetus dies during a doctor's attempt to save a mother he couldn't be prosecuted. In all other cases, doctors performing abortions will be fined $5,000 and sent to prison for 5 years. But in South Dakota, abortion is already pretty restricted. The state only has one abortion provider, and that clinic has to fly in doctors from other states to perform the abortions. But other states, such as Georgia and a few others, are considering following South Dakota's lead. Read more about it here. This law is an important one to watch no matter which side of this issue you are on. It is sure to inflame passions on all sides of the debate. For me, I wish there was a way to convince more people to make responsible decisions about sex and pregnancy as a way to reduce the chances that anyone would ever find themselves contemplating such a tough decision.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
John Stossel's ``Stupid in America,'' which is being used by school choice advocates to get that kind of reform finally passed in South Carolina, has fueled more debate rather than get people closer to common ground. I am a school choice advocate, but it is simply because I believe such major reform might -- might -- educate more of our students at a higher level. We've tried a thousand reforms over the past few decades, with some success, but not nearly enough. Too many of our students are still dropping out and not reading to standard. Public schools do a good job for several students, me included, but not all, and that's why I believe in school choice, and also because the research seems to suggest that it could work. This is one site about choice to check out, and this is another study from a Harvard professor. I've posted comments below, including a response to my school choice column from the public information officer from the S.C. Department of Education. Enjoy.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Cory Burnell, who currently lives in Lodi, Calif, apparently has a plan. He plans to come to South Carolina and, along with other like-minded ``conservative Christians,'' hope to take over the place. They plan to outlaw not only gay marriage but homosexual relations, outlaw all abortion, and allow government displays of Christian symbols. And at the same time he wants to end state-funded education. He founded ``Christian Exodus'' and so far has convinced a couple dozen folks to move to South Carolina, my native state, because he said this is an ideal place to further his agenda. If he can't accomplish his goals through conventional means -- flooding the General Assembly with like-minded people -- he would consider secession, which is in line with the League of the South. Doesn't this guy know his history? That the first time this state seceded it didn't end well. Here's to hoping he changes his mind and instead picks off a part of California to unleash his grand, master plan and stays 3,000 miles away on the other side of the country.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
``Negroes for Sale.'' That's the cover story on a Feb./March issue of a golf magazine which the head honchos of the Sports Authority retailer have decided is too offensive to be sold in their stores. They've instructed employees to remove and destroy all issues of the magazine. Here's the story. I can't say whether or not it is truly offensive because I haven't seen the magazine in person yet, but I hate censorship of all kinds which is why I'm going to go out today and buy a copy of the magazine. We shouldn't banish everything we find offensive. That's not how this country is supposed to work.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
A British historian, David Irving, has been sentenced to jail for 3 years for his claims that the Holocaust didn't happen, or that it didn't happen in the way or to the extent most of us believe. Here's one take on how some are reacting to the sentence. I say the sentence is as ridiculous has his denials. You don't shine a bright light on truth by burying or punishing outrageous points-of-view. The truth wins out at the end of the day, not because we have to protect it, but simply because it is the truth and has a funny way of always making its way through the clutter of nonsense. Jailing people who hold contrary and ridiculous views only gives ammunition to lunatics. It does little to illuminate truth.
Is killing ever humane? That question is being debated in California as we speak. Medical professionals there have refused to participate in the execution of an inmate on death row because they believe the procedure violates the 8th Amendment's provision against ``cruel and unusual punishment. Here's the story. What has always fascinated me about the logic we use to put people to death is how we ever decided that killing someone, for any reason, is not cruel and unusual punishment in and of itself. We can argue back and forth about the necessity of executions, the morality of it, etc., but can we really say that there is a humane way of killing a fellow human being? The usual argument is always, well doesn't this criminal deserve to die because they took a life of another and didn't do it humanely, which goes right along with the reasoning that it's OK to torture because that's what our enemies do. I've never bought into such reasoning for a simple reason: We are fighting against them because they did things with which we don't agree, so why should we turn around and become exactly like that which we say we despise?
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
A reader, whom I've been dialoguing with through email about issues of faith, sent me this review contrasting the reaction to ``Brokeback Mountain'' and ``End of The Spear.'' It's a very interesting read, no matter the side of debate you are on. It provides good food for thought. Just thought I'd share it.
Friday, February 17, 2006
I began writing columns consistently back during my college days, and looking back over a few of them I've noticed how much my perspective has changed, particularly concerning what I call ``oppression politics.'' During those days I was so caught up in being a minority and believing the world was out to get me, that was what framed most, if not all, of my thinking. But since then I've come to realize that I have struggles, but so do so many other people who are alike and aren't like me that is makes no sense focusing on how unfair things are. That only wastes precious energy needed to survive and thrive in a world that's challenging for us all. That doesn't mean all is fair and all is equal, it's just that it makes more sense to focus your energy on the things you can control rather than the things you can't. I was reminded this week that many people, though, are still stuck in oppression politics, where they've determined their pain is greater than everyone else's, their struggles are more important. I believe the reader in the first email I posted below is operating from that mindset. To him and everyone else, all I can say is this: Yes, life might not be fair, it might be tough, but in order to live a full life, to beat back discrimination, people have to be courageous enough to be themselves even when others demand that they don't. This column about how feminism has gone wrong touches on the same issue, I believe, but from a different angle. ``Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture'' by Ariel Levy does the same thing as well and is worth your time.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I wanted to share an intriguing point of view I came across in some recent reading, this one in the book by Elaine Pagels, ``The Origin of Satan.'' It is a scholarly look at how the figure of Satan was transformed in early Christianity from a sort of God's helper who tried to push people back on the right track by making their roads bumpy -- if you're traveling on the wrong road, bumpy is good because it might motivate you to get on the right, less bumpy road. The satan figure, according to this work, then became anyone who disagreed with the main church's teaching, and that primarily in that day was other Jews who didn't see things in the same way as the orthodox portion of the church. ``Satan'' became a way to separate us vs. them. But what interested me most about this book was her history on how the Bible was put together and why some gospels were chosen and others were left out. Whatever your beliefs, such works can shed light on the first and second century church and how the Bible and the modern day church came to be. If you want a source that is a strong argument for the orderly creation of the Bible, I suggest ``The Case for Christ'' by Lee Strobel. I've excerpted a piece from ``The Origin of Satan'' below and would love to know what you think about it. I like exploring and that's why all such books fascinate me. Here's a newspaper review of her work and reviews by readers. Once again, here is a great website where an endless number of religious issues are explored on all sides of the equation.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I wrote about ``Brokeback Mountain'' today, taking a fairly serious look at it. I believe the movie, if embraced for what it is, can help bridge the divide and get more people to understand that gay men are just as complex, just as human, as the rest of us and that there is little reason to always paint them as one-dimensional stereotypes. That came from the considerate side of me. But like every man I know, there is an immature teenage boy still present in my brain, and, inspired by that side of me, I wrote another version of that column, which isn't going to run in the newspaper -- but could -- that I've posted below. With many of the columns I write I go through several versions and try to publish the one which I believe will have the most resonance. This one would as well, though for sillier reasons, which is why I chose to publish the more serious version. You can tell me if I'm wrong.