Russel Saltzman's struggles with the death penalty mirror my own. Good read here:
I am opposed to the death penalty, though I don’t recall ever writing about it before now. Probably my hesitation is due to the degree of my opposition to it. I’m not the sort to go out holding a sign or marching for much of anything. I guess I oppose capital punishment only about six days out of a week.
That seventh day is when I hear about an unusually ugly murder, committed by a heartless, merciless murderer. In some trials the lethality and viciousness of the killer, and the blood of the victim, simply begs for blood-vengeance. Then I am all pro-death penalty. I want to see that guy turned into a crispy critter, none of that la-la land pentobarbital-induced sleepy-time bye-bye. A hemlock concoction is too good for the killer. Cruel and unusual, I’m thinking, is exactly the sort of execution called for, and the crueler and the more unusual it is, the better.
That’s just in the abstract, of course, only one day a week. Twenty-three years ago, it didn’t feel so abstract.
When Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and the Communist Chinese are the closest allies you have in your quarrel with the Magisterium, the odds are extremely high that the Church is right and you are wrong.
Why is all of this happening? I think I know why, but it will be most politically incorrect to say so out loud.
I think it’s because Gay is the cause du jour of our time. I’ll go even a step further — Gay is the new (mandatory) ideology and idol of our time. You can be hateful, vile, vulgar, make threats, be vindictive, be dishonest, and seek to ruin anyone – as long as you’re Gay (or at least Gay-supporting).
It’s especially okay to do these things if the target of your outrage is a Christian, or just a conservative in general.
For the sake of Gay, journalists will lie and fabricate stories. For Gay, there is no bothering with facts. To hell with the truth. If the person or business or story doesn’t support the agenda and the propaganda, then it will be altered until it hits all the right buttons and generates the needed gasp of aghast from the ignorant and willing-to-be-deceived masses.
They will condemn every attempt to preserve the natural family unit of father, mother, and child, as blatant discrimination with purely hateful intent.
They will deliberately misrepresent legislation, twist the intent of others in government, and purposely brand everyone who resists this social re-engineering as out-of-touch, regressive, wanna-be slave owners looking for poor Gay folks to trample down.
Dan Savage specializes in vulgarity, profanity, threats, insults, intimidation, and hate, and he seems quite proud of it. And this, apparently, is what Disney feels is appropriate for our families today. This is the entertainment we need. Why?
We have seen how, with lightning speed, the media and the pop culture will pounce on and smack down anyone who speaks what they consider an unflattering or unsupportive word about a Gay person or Gay rights. This person is not defending an ancient truth about marriage, the family, and the human person — No! — he or she is a backwards bigot. End of story.
It is absolutely right that violent remarks, threats and insults are condemned. Nobody should be treated that way. There’s no reason for it, no place for it, and no excuse for it.
So why are Savage’s actions and words excused and tolerated, and now even rewarded? Why? Is it because he’s Gay and he supposedly speaks for the Gay community? Is it because his targets are conservatives, or Christians? It’s pretty hard not to come to that conclusion.
There is no longer any tolerance for anyone who is not in full accord with the Gay agenda. Such a citizen will not be allowed to own a business, hold an office, speak in public, teach at a school, give a sermon, or do much of anything outside their own home, and if they try, they will be swiftly and severely punished.
So, what I’ve really learned this past week is this: We are, in short order, becoming a nation that actually despises freedom. We have come to loathe the truth, and to crave distorted propaganda instead. We have lost the ability, or have forgotten how, to think at all. We can only react with emotion, and rarely at all employ reason and mature judgment.
In our zeal to abolish God and His law, we made government our god and demanded totalitarianism. We no longer allow any dissent from or non-participation in the government-sanctioned idol.
Gay must rule the day now, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Gay must be obeyed and worshiped. It has been decided.
Courtney Hoffman was one of thousands of people who donated over $842,000 to the Christian owners of the pizzeria last week after a high volume of online threats caused the business to temporarily close its doors. The outrage ensued after the owners told a local news crew that they would happily serve gay people in its restaurant, but would refuse to cater a gay wedding.
That’s why Hoffman’s donation stood out. While she clearly disagrees with the owners’ beliefs, she still supports their right to operate their business based on those beliefs. In addition to her $20 donation to Memories Pizza, Hoffman wrote:
“As a member of the gay community, I would like to apologize for the mean spirited attacks on you and your business. I know many gay individuals who fully support your right to stand up for your beliefs and run your business according to those beliefs. We are outraged at the level of hate and intolerance that has been directed at you and I sincerely hope that you are able to rebuild.”
Kris Cruz, a radio host and producer of “The Jeff Adams Show,” was the first person to flag Hoffman’s donation. He then contacted her through Facebook and she agreed to join them on the air Monday.
Cruz started with the “big question” — Why did she do it?
“My girlfriend and I are small business owners, and we think there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” she said. “Like, if we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, I mean, we would have to decline.”
There's more at the link, including tape of an radio interview conducted by a local radio station.
God bless and keep Ms. Hoffman, a courageous woman willing to face down the mob and stand up for true tolerance.
The lynch mob came for the brilliant mild-mannered techie Brendan Eich.
The lynch mob came for the elderly florist Barronelle Stutzman.
The lynch mob came for Eastern Michigan University counseling student Julea Ward.
The lynch mob came for the African-American Fire Chief of once segregated Atlanta Kelvin Cochran.
The lynch mob came for the owners of a local pizza shop the O'Connor family.
The lynch mob is now giddy with success and drunk on the misery and pain of its victims. It is urged on by a compliant and even gleeful media. It is reinforced in its sense of righteousness and moral superiority by the “beautiful people” and the intellectual class. It has been joined by the big corporations who perceive their economic interests to be in joining up with the mandarins of cultural power. It owns one political party and has intimidated the leaders of the other into supine and humiliating obeisance.
And so, who if anyone will courageously stand up to the mob? Who will resist? Who will speak truth to its raw and frightening power? Who will refuse to be bullied into submission or intimidated into silence?
I'm not asking, which leaders? Though that, too, would be good to know. Are there political or religious leaders who will step forward? Are there intellectual or cultural leaders who will muster the courage to confront the mob?
No, I'm asking what ordinary people will do. Are there Evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians who will refuse to be intimidated and silenced? Are there Latter-Day Saints, Orthodox and other observant (or even non-observant) Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs? Buddhists?
Oh yes, the mob came first for the Evangelicals and the Catholics and the Latter-Day Saints; but do not be deceived: it will not stop with them. It's true that many in the mob have a particular animus against Christians, but the point of destroying the reputations and livelihoods of the initial victims is pour encourager les autres. If you believe you belong to a group that will be given a special exemption or dispensation from the enforcement of the new orthodoxy—by any means necessary—you will soon learn that you are tragically mistaken. No one who dissents will be given a pass.
We have seen how swiftly the demands have moved from tolerance to compulsory approbation of behavior historically rejected as contrary to morality and faith by virtually all the great religious traditions of the world. And now it is not only approbation that is demanded, but active participation. And do you honestly think that we have now reached the endpoint of what will be demanded?
The question I'd ask those who want to use non-state means to punish mom-and-pop businesses that decline to cater gay weddings is what, exactly, their notion of a fair punishment is. Nearly every supporter of gay marriage is on board with efforts to publicly tell people that their position is wrongheaded–I've participated in efforts like that for years and insist that respectful critique and persuasion is more effective than shaming. What about other approaches? If their Yelp rating goes down by a star does the punishment fit the "crime"? Is there a financial loss at which social pressure goes from appropriate to too much? How about putting them out of business? Digital mobs insulting them and their children? Email and phone threats from anonymous Internet users? If you think that any of those go too far have you spoken up against the people using those tactics?
(If not, is it because you're afraid they might turn on you?)
A relatively big digital mob has been attacking this powerless family in rural Indiana, but I don't get the sense that its participants have reflected on or even thought of these questions. I don't think they recognize how ugly, intolerant and extreme their actions appear or the effect they'll have on Americans beyond the mainstream media, or that their vitriolic shaming these people has ultimately made them into martyrs. I fear that a backlash against their tactics will weaken support for the better angels of the gay rights movement at a time when more progress needs to be made, and that they're turning traditionalists into a fearful, alienated minority with a posture of defensiveness that closes them off to persuasion.
And that's a shame.
The religious impulse to shy away from even the most tangential interaction with gay weddings can be met with extremely powerful and persuasive counterarguments so long as we're operating in the realm of reason rather than coercion–so long as we're more interested in persuading than shaming or claiming scalps. Thanks to past persuasion, evangelicals are already evolving on this issue, as David Brooks points out, observing that "many young evangelicals understand that their faith should not be defined by this issue. If orthodox Christians are suddenly written out of polite society as modern-day Bull Connors, this would only halt progress, polarize the debate and lead to a bloody war of all against all."
As an example of a persuader, consider my colleague Jonathan Rauch, who advises the faithful that while they might mean "just leave us alone," others hear, "what we want most is to discriminate against you," a needlessly alienating message when there is "a missionary tradition of engagement and education, of resolutely and even cheerfully going out into an often uncomprehending world, rather than staying home with the shutters closed." He adds, "In this alternative tradition, a Christian photographer might see a same-sex wedding as an opportunity to engage and interact: a chance, perhaps, to explain why the service will be provided, but with a moral caveat or a prayer. Not every gay customer would welcome such a conversation, but it sure beats having the door slammed in your face." The best way forward for all sides is to love one another, or at least to act as though we do.
It's a good read and an exceptional counter to the prevailing idiocy insisting that all gay marriage opponents are bigots and Bull Connors wannabees.
And it's a hopeful sign that there exists amongst the left a mindset still open to reason and true tolerance.
Oddly, people across the country are reacting as though Indiana did something utterly unprecedented and unspeakable. Instead of calling it a “religious freedom law,” it is being described as an “anti-gay bill,” even though the words “gay,” “homosexual,” and “marriage” never show up anywhere in the law.
This is troubling—and not just for the reasons you might guess. It’s not because I think everyone should agree with this law. On its substance and wisdom, I think honest people can disagree. What’s troubling is the emotional virulence with which people are reacting to this particular law, when it is identical to protections offered in thirty other states and in the federal government. Indiana is just playing “catch up” here, legally speaking. We usually want states to offer legal protections roughly equivalent to those offered by the federal government. So why the uproar in this case?
Again, it’s fine for people to express disagreement with the law—if they know what’s in it. What I’m worried about is the single-minded, narrow, largely uninformed, self-righteous prejudice of those who are furious with the “bigots” that are assumed to live in Indiana and the glee with which they are welcoming the hysterical reactions against the state. “I’ve never been so ashamed to be from Indiana,” wrote a friend of mine on Facebook. Really? Nothing else was more shameful? Not the Indian massacres, not the popularity of the KKK right up through the 1920s, not the lynching of black men? The mayor of Seattle has banned all official travel to the state of Indiana. How about to any of the other thirty states that have nearly identical religious freedom protections?
This reaction is clearly being driven by one-sided media presentations of what’s happened in Indiana. What’s especially disturbing—and dangerous—is the degree to which Americans are showing themselves to be susceptible to the panderings of the crassest forms of political propaganda. A stable, vibrant democracy depends crucially upon its people’s ability to recognize and resist the allure of political propaganda.
Our Unexamined Metanarratives
French post-modern theorist Francois Lyotard is perhaps most famous for defining the postmodern age as one involving “incredulity toward metanarratives.” If only that were true.
Quite the contrary, it seems that we all have our own small group of metanarratives by means of which we interpret all news events. “White cops mistreating black men.” “Anti-gay homophobia.” “Male oppression of women.” “Threats against American security.” “Murderous Muslim fanaticism endangering the West.” These are just a few of the “grand narratives” into which we “fit” all big news stories: they are the “lenses” through which we interpret events. Lyotard would have been more accurate if he had said: “The postmodern condition can be characterized as a near-absolute domination by a series of largely unexamined metanarratives.”
One of the most dangerous aspects of being dominated by unexamined metanarratives is that political propagandists can use them to pull our strings. They pipe the tune, and we dance. They rejoice in pitting us against one another, because that is the way they consolidate their power. As the founders well understood, mob hysteria is one of the quickest ways of undermining a democracy. Mobs are characterized by undisciplined outbursts of emotion. People will do things as part of a mob that they would never consider doing as individuals.
And in the midst of the anarchy and disorder that usually accompany such hysteria, what often enough follows is some sort of tyranny. The mob gives itself over to some person or group that portrays itself as embodying what Rousseau used to call “the will of the People.” It doesn’t really matter what the people think; no one takes a vote. The mob just knows: it has a mind of its own. And what it “knows” is that it somehow represents “the Spirit of the Age.” You don’t want to be on the “wrong side of history, do you?” people ask. Or more menacingly: “Those people can’t be tolerated any longer; they’re getting in the way of the progressive march of history.”
To be honest, when I look back at many of the “grand movements” of history—the ever-increasing glory of the Roman Empire, the divine right of kings, “Manifest Destiny,” nationalism, eugenics, etc.—personally, I think I would have preferred to have been “left behind.”
The frog must jump out of the pan, before it boils.
We should not let the possibility or even the likelihood of “failure” make us timid. Witness is utterly different from propaganda, more fragile but far more enduring.
For centuries, the early Christians endured far worse than we might face, dying in the Colosseum to the taunts of jeering crowds — whose grandchildren would flee the moral chaos of collapsing Rome and flock to the underground churches. All the persecution that a government like China can deal its native Christians has not stopped the church from exploding there, and striking fear at the highest levels of a totalitarian government. The battered church in Poland led the movement that brought down the Iron Curtain, through sober, persistent resistance.
Perhaps the future we face is the one that Cardinal George envisioned. Speaking of a future bishop who would someday die a martyr, George predicted, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” If we stand for eternity, then history is on our side.
We have reached the point in history when we either choose a side or a side will be chosen for us.
Indiana’s Memories Pizza Reportedly Becomes First Business To Reject Catering Gay Weddings
Memories Pizza is a nine-year-old shop in downtown Walkerton, Indiana, just a few blocks from John Glenn High School. It’s owned by an openly-Christian couple, the O’Connors, who decorate their shop with mementos of their faith in Christ. So how does a small business in a small town wind up making headlines around the world as the new avatar of Christian bigotry?
Perhaps, you say, they brought this upon themselves, seeking out publicity for their strict biblical views.
Some cursory internet forensics shows how it happened…or rather, how it was made to happen.
ABC-57 reporter Alyssa Marino’s editor sends her on a half-hour drive southwest of their South Bend studio, to the small town of Walkerton (Pop. ~2,300). According to Alyssa’s own account on Twitter, she “just walked into their shop [Memories Pizza] and asked how they feel” about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Owner Crystal O’Connor says she’s in favor of it, noting that while anyone can eat in her family restaurant, if the business were asked to cater a gay wedding, they would not do it. It conflicts with their biblical beliefs. Alyssa’s tweet mentions that the O’Connors have “never been asked to cater a same-sex wedding.”
What we have here is — as we called in journalism school jargon — “no story.” Nothing happened. Nothing was about to happen.
If I were forced to mark out a story line, it would be this: A nice lady in a small town tries to be helpful and polite to a lovely young reporter from “the big city.”
In other words, Memories Pizza didn’t blast out a news release. They didn’t contact the media, nor make a stink on Twitter or Facebook. They didn’t even post a sign in the window rejecting gay-wedding catering jobs. They merely answered questions from a novice reporter who strolled into their restaurant one day – who was sent on a mission by an irresponsible news organization.
Next: ABC-57 anchor Brian Dorman leads the evening newscast dramatically with this:
Only on ABC-57 News tonight. We went into small towns looking for reaction to the Religious Freedom Act. We found one business, just 20 miles away from a welcoming South Bend…with a very different view.
Notice that his city of South Bend is “welcoming,” but that small-town business is not. It’s very different. That’s why ABC-57 “went into small towns,” as if embarking on a safari to aboriginal lands.
Not only did ABC-57 News create that story ex nihilo (out of nothing), but the next day, the station’s Rosie Woods reported on the social-media backlash against the Christian pizza shop owners.
“Our Facebook page has been blowing up with comments after we aired that story last night,” said Woods.
At this point, even my old Leftist journalism professors would be grinding their teeth and rending their garments.
You see, not only did ABC-57 manufacture the story with an ambush interview, it then doubled-down by making the reaction to the story into another story to give the sense of momentum, as if it were growing at its own impetus. Yet, everything about it is a fabrication.
Read the whole thing. Read it all because you'll go on to read about what has happened to this business since ABC-57's piece. It's abhorrent. It should remind you of what happened in Germany in the 1930's.
The press is leading this high tech lynching of traditional Christians all under the guise of tolerance and open-mindedness while proving to be neither.
It's a travesty and if you're one who sees it as anything but then know you are soulless.