03 Jul 2015
Vanderleun tries a little experiment.
Today I swung my front door wide open and placed my Remington 12 gauge semi-auto shotgun right in the doorway. I put 9 shells beside it, then left it alone and went about my business.
“While I was gone, the mailman delivered my mail, the neighbor boy across the street mowed the yard, a girl walked her dog down the street, and quite a few cars stopped at the stop sign near the front of my house.
“After about an hour, I checked on the gun. It was still sitting there, right where I had left it. It hadn’t moved itself. It certainly hadn’t killed anyone, even with the numerous opportunities it had presented to do so. In fact, it hadn’t even loaded itself.
“Well you can imagine my surprise, with all the hype by the Left and the Media about how dangerous guns are and how they kill people.
“I must be in possession of the laziest gun in the world.
Read the whole thing.
02 Jul 2015
Justice Anthony Kennedy
No president ever appointed Stuart Schneiderman to the Supreme Court, but he still has no difficulty in eviscerating Anthony Kennedy’s opinion.
Justice Kennedy’s opened his opinion with the following stirring statement:
The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.
The notion that individuals are free to define and express their identities is pop psychology and postmodern critical theory. More accurately, it’s mental drool.
When Kennedy added a few more freedoms to marriage, he went further off the rails of rational thought:
The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.
One expects better of the Supreme Court. In truth, freedom comes in many different shapes and forms. Free love is not the same as free will. Freedom from responsibility is not the same as freedom for responsibility. Free will is not the same as free lunch. And, of course, free expression and the free trade in ideas do not constitute a free-for-all.
By extending the concept of freedom indiscriminately Justice Kennedy has sowed confusion.
As for Kennedy’s musing about pop psychology, it’s one thing to say that marriage has evolved to include the possibility that a couple be in love. It’s quite another to say that the “nature of marriage” is to grant access to a freedom for intimacy and spirituality. In truth, Scalia pointed out, marriage circumscribes and restricts your access to intimacy. It limits your freedom to covet your neighbor and to commit adultery. …
Kennedy’s idea makes no sense within the context of gay marriage. If gays were free to create themselves as they wished they could recreate themselves as straights.
Admittedly, some people who are involved in homosexual activities are not, strictly speaking, gay, but homosexuality, nearly everyone will agree, is not a choice. It is a natural predisposition.
If Kennedy meant that gays should be allowed to define themselves as straight, thus, to marry as though they were straight he was suggesting that gay relationships, those that differ from socially recognized marriages, are somehow inferior to marriage.
One notes that Kennedy also mentioned, rather mindlessly, that the alternative to marriage was loneliness.
In fact, once you enter into the marital institution that institution defines and delimits your relationship. Those who have avoided entering into the institution of marriage have done so in order to gain a greater liberty in defining their relationship. Feminists, for example, have insisted that marriage is an oppressive institution, one that would unduly constrain the exercise of their freedom.
Dare we mention the obvious point, that a married couple is not free to change the definition of their marriage without passing through a judicial process called divorce.
Kennedy seems to have granted us the liberty to take liberties with reality.
One ought to note that the Supreme Court decision has not transformed reality. It has changed the way that certain couples are treated “in the eyes of the law.” The law can confer dignity and it can deny dignity, but it is not the only arbiter of the way dignity is conferred or denied.
02 Jul 2015
Matt Walsh responds to the liberaltarian contention that we should just accept Gay Marriage because it doesn’t really affect us.
The “it doesn’t affect us” mantra has become one of the more common, and absolutely the most damaging, idea circulating through the ranks of the defeatists. It’s a gross and ridiculous lie, one which accomplishes the impressive feat of being wrong in two different ways. It’s wrong when it says we should only care about things that have an impact on our lives, and it’s wrong when it says gay marriage will have no impact on our lives.
First, since when are we only supposed to care about things that will physically or financially affect us? Don’t we normally condemn a person who fails to act or think or speak simply because he, himself, individually, isn’t yet feeling the effect of it? Don’t we criticize a person who doesn’t care until he’s getting punched in the nose by the problem?
When we’re dealing with moral quandaries — questions of right and wrong, truth and lies — it is not a legitimate argument to say “it doesn’t affect me.” It’s effect on you is irrelevant to the issue. What kind of moral idiot measures the impact of a certain evil on his own life and calibrates his concern accordingly? We might all do this sometimes, but it’s a weakness. It’s shameful. It’s cowardice and self-interest. It’s not good. You shouldn’t be proud of it.
Second, as a member of society, State-imposed falsehoods do affect you. Marriage is a certain thing with a certain nature and definition. When the State mandates that the thing is something other than what it is, and has a purpose other than its actual purpose, you are now living under a tyranny of confusion. The severity of that confusion depends on the degree of the falsehood. So if the government announced tomorrow that we must all pretend penguins are elephants and cats are squirrels, I expect I wouldn’t be seriously harmed. I might be helped because I could finally get rid of my wife’s annoying cat on the grounds that I don’t want squirrels in my house.
But I would still oppose this redefinition because it’s not true, and I prefer Truth. How does it negatively affect my life that people are all confused about penguins and cats and elephants? I guess it doesn’t, except that it would make my trips to the zoo pretty disorienting, and more importantly, I want our culture to have a proper understanding of reality. Moreover, I don’t want our government to impose an improper understanding.
An improper understanding of a squirrel is one thing, though. An improper understanding of marriage, on the other hand, will destroy us. Marriage is the bedrock upon which all of human civilization rests. To expand its definition into oblivion is to weaken and destabilize it.
Hurt? Of course. You’re hurt. Everyone is hurt. This is our foundation, and we all depend on it, no matter if we’re separated from the issue by a few degrees. If your house is falling into a sinkhole, would you say it doesn’t hurt you because you happen to be standing on the top floor?
Why do you think liberals care so much about this? If it doesn’t matter, why have they dedicated years to bringing about this past Friday? Because they want gay people to love each other? Nonsense. There was never any law preventing any gay person from loving anyone or anything. The State never had any interest in encouraging, preventing, or otherwise regulating love. The State does have an interest in the foundation of civilization, which is the family. That’s why, up until recently, it recognized True Marriage.
Gay marriage is not an essential or true institution, nor does it serve any real purpose in society. There’s no practical or moral reason for the romantic lives of homosexuals to be recognized or elevated or protected in any way. Even most homosexual activist know this, despite pushing for gay marriage. Gay couples in many cases aren’t monogamous, and gay activists like Dan Savage have been very enthusiastic in extoling the virtues of open relationships and fornication.
This whole gay marriage debate is about opening up the lifelong monogamous bond of matrimony to a community that often doesn’t desire a lifelong monogamous bond. Do you understand what’s going on here? They don’t want marriage as it currently is; they want to change it into something else.
Read the whole thing.
01 Jul 2015
The Daily Currant:
Seven people were killed this morning when a Confederate flag walked into an Alabama shopping mall and started shooting.
According to local reports, the flag entered Cherrywood Mall outside Huntsville armed with two AK-47 assault rifles, a P 228 handgun and several grenades. It immediately proceeded to unload its ordinance on unsuspecting shoppers.
In addition to those killed, 23 people were injured and are currently being treated in area emergency rooms. Several are in critical condition and not expected to survive.
The flag’s motivations are uncertain at the moment. However, according to witnesses the flag did specifically target White people with Northern accents.
“The flag chased us down the hallway screaming ‘Die, Yankees Die!’, says Justin Anderson, a aeronautical engineer originally from New Hampshire. “Luckily flags don’t move very fast, so my girlfriend and I managed to outrun it.”
01 Jul 2015
The Thinking Housewife is revolting against the tyranny of Nice.
J.D. writes, “What is it that they want?”
It’s shockingly simple: They want to be thought of as NICE. By everyone.
Niceness is their highest value… the coin of the realm. Nice people are nice. Not nice people are mean. And they don’t want mean people to think they’re not nice, either, so it’s a double-bind worldview. They’re trapped in the social empire of nice, and there is no escape.
However, there is a prize: everyone thinks the nice person is nice. Not much more, but certainly nice. No one can say anything bad about the nice person, which isn’t a fully human, fully-alive experience, but it is nice.
They don’t want to be thought of as mean, so they follow the nice trends and celebrate all kinds of nice self-congratulation. It’s a dualistic worldview, brought to them through television, Internet, viral emails, movies, social media, cute JPEGs, et cetera.
The Glowing Box tells them what is nice, and how to think. They imitate, and pass it on.
That’s what they want: to be nice, for others to think of them as nice, for others to be nice to others, and the world to be a nice place. They want to be comfortable. People who create discomfort — by thinking or encouraging others to think — are not nice. Just like their most challenging teachers in their school years, who created a “not nice environment” that demanded the best of them and others… the highest effort, playing on their growth edge. Standing for something beyond the comfort zone of niceness. That wasn’t nice because some people couldn’t get an A because they wouldn’t think or work hard enough to get it, creating despair. That’s not nice. And this view of thinkers — those with higher standards for humanity — continues to this day. Thinkers are mean, caught up in their heads. Unrepentant thinkers are haters. They have no heart.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to Vanderleun.
01 Jul 2015
Kit Wilson identifies the leading cultural disease of modern times.
We seek to make society blinkered, mindless and immature. Look at the way today’s businesses choose to market themselves. They invent names that imitate the nonsense words of babies: Zoopla, Giffgaff, Google, Trivago. They deliberately botch grammar in their slogans to sound naïve and cutesy: “Find your happy”, “Be differenter”, “The joy of done”. They make their advertisements and logos twee and ironic — a twirly moustache here, a talking dog there — just to show how carefree and fun they are.
Those in our society who actually still have children have them later and in smaller numbers than ever. Many simply choose to forego the responsibilities of parenthood altogether. Marriage is an optional extra — one from which we can opt out at any point, regardless of the consequences for the children.
Students expect to be treated like five-year-olds: one conference recently prohibited applause for fear it would, somehow, trigger a spate of breakdowns. Many of my fellow twentysomethings reach adulthood believing they can recreate in their everyday lives the woolly comforts of social media. They discover, with some surprise, that they cannot simply click away real confrontation, and — having never developed the psychological mechanisms to cope with it — instead seek simply to ban it.
The effects of social media don’t end there. A Pew Research Centre study last year found that regular social media users are far more likely than non-users to censor themselves, even offline. We learn to ignore, rather than engage with, genuine disagreement, and so ultimately dismantle the most important distinction between civil society and the playground — the ability to live respectfully alongside those with whom we disagree.
Social media assures us that the large civilisational questions have already been settled, that undemocratic nations will — just as soon as they’re able to tweet a little more — burst into glorious liberty, and that politics is, thus, merely a series of gestures to make us feel a bit better. Hence the bewildering range of global issues we seem to think can be somehow resolved with a sober mugshot and a meaningful hashtag.
In reality, our good fortune is an anomaly. We’ll face again genuine, terrifying confrontations of a kind we can scarcely imagine today. And we’ll need something a little more robust than an e-petition and a cat video.
Sadly, our philosophical approach seems to have been to paper over Nietzsche’s terrifying abyss with “Keep calm . . .” posters. If one were to characterise the West’s broad philosophical outlook today, it would be this: sentimental nihilism. We accept, as “risen apes”, that it’s all meaningless. But hey, we’re having a good time, right?
This is gleefully expressed by our society’s favourite spokespeople — comedians, glorifying the saccharine naivety of a culture stuck in the present. When the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat asked the comedian Bill Maher to locate the source of human rights, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s in the laws of common sense.”
Read the whole thing.
30 Jun 2015
Taylor Clark, in California Sunday Magazine, has a helluva story about a still-ongoing treasure hunt arranged for his own amusement by a colorful millionaire art dealer.
Five years ago, a legendary art dealer left his home in Santa Fe, traveled to an undisclosed location somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and hid a 42‑pound chest filled with priceless treasure.
In the summer of 1988, not long after doctors removed his cancer-plagued right kidney… late one night, Fenn had an idea… He would stuff a treasure chest with glittering valuables, write a clue-laden poem that would point to its location, and then march out to his favorite spot on earth to take some pills and lie in eternal repose with the gold, like a doomed conquistador in an Indiana Jones movie. All he needed was someone to write and publish the book in which he’d place the poem. “Because there was no point in hiding it if no one knew I hid it,” Fenn said.
“Forrest told me the idea at lunch one day,” recalled the bestselling author Douglas Preston, a longtime friend and one of the first writers Fenn approached. “His plan was to inter himself with the treasure, so that anyone who found it could essentially rob his grave. I said, ‘God, Forrest, that’s a terrific story — you’re the guy who’s going to take it with you!’” Still, Preston didn’t go for the idea… and neither did any of the other writers. “I think they didn’t like the idea of me dying out in the trees someplace,” Fenn said.
Fenn’s failure to launch this scheme was no great disappointment, however, for the simple reason that his cancer treatment worked. Yet he couldn’t let go of his treasure idea. He held on to the chest he’d bought, an ornate bronze lockbox, and spent years filling it. Fenn tinkered with its contents constantly, aiming to create a stash that would dazzle anyone who opened it: gold coins, Ceylon sapphires, ancient Chinese carved-jade faces, Alaskan gold nuggets the size of chicken eggs — some of these items coming from his own private collection, others acquired just to add to the hoard.
For the next 20 years, Fenn kept the chest in a vault in his Santa Fe home, covered with a red bandanna. Occasionally, he’d test out its amazement quotient on friends, who tended to view the whole thing as just another amusing Fennian lark. Certainly, few of them expected he’d actually hide it. For one thing, the man was a born raconteur who readily admitted to embellishing his stories. For another, the treasure was worth a fortune — seven figures, most likely — and not even Fenn was crazy enough to just give something like that away. And after so many years of talk, if he was really going to do it, wouldn’t he have done it already?
Then, sometime around 2010, Fenn did it. Without even telling his wife, Peggy, he slipped out and squirreled away his chest — to which he’d added a miniature autobiography, sealed with wax in an olive jar — somewhere in the wilds of the Rockies. It took him two trips from his car to get all of the treasure to the hiding spot, because it weighed 42 pounds and he was in the neighborhood of his 80th birthday by then. For a while, Fenn kept what he’d done secret. His own daughters didn’t find out about it until he self-published his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, complete with the poem he’d spent years refining.
Read the whole thing, and bring your shovel.
The author serves up an anecdote from his first meeting with Fenn, which illustrates beautifully that grand eccentric’s philosophic approach to collecting historical artifacts.
I tell you what,” Fenn said at the end of our first afternoon together, hoisting himself up from the leather sofa. “I’ll give you a treat.” He shuffled over to one of the floor-to-ceiling bookcases that line his library and pulled out an old green bottle that I recognized immediately from Too Far to Walk, one of the nine other books he’s written.
“This is the Jackie Kennedy brandy,” I said, startled.
In June of 1984, Fenn lodged Kennedy in the guesthouse of his gallery, where she was a model visitor. “A lot of people stayed at my guesthouse, and she’s the only one who left my cleaning lady a $50 tip and a two-page handwritten letter,” he told me. When Kennedy departed, she left behind a mostly empty bottle of Korbel brandy, which now enjoys pride of place next to Fenn’s Air Force medals. In the past 30 years, he has offered sips from the bottle to only two people. He unscrewed its top and extended it to me.
“Now, you take a big swig, I’m gonna punch you out,” he warned.
I held the bottle for a moment, hesitating. Wasn’t this, in its way, a piece of American history? I took the tiniest volume of liquid that could plausibly be called a sip into my mouth, held it for a moment, and swallowed.
“So, do you feel different now?” Fenn asked.
I couldn’t say that I did. History tasted pretty much exactly like old brandy. Yet for the rest of my life, I’d be able to say I shared a drink with Jackie Kennedy.
“See, when I look at you taking a sip of this, I would think of you feeling like you’re on a different plateau,” Fenn said, grinning. “Because you’re part of it now. Instead of being a spectator, you’re a player.”
29 Jun 2015
They are a sleazy operation and have been put putting these warning labels into their reprints for years.
29 Jun 2015
Last year, Stella Morabino argued that abolishing civil marriage would be doing exactly what left-wing statist most desire.
Abolishing all civil marriage is the primary goal of the elites who have been pushing same sex marriage. The scheme called “marriage equality” is not an end in itself, and never really has been. The LGBT agenda has spawned too many other disparate agendas hostile to the existence of marriage, making marriage “unsustainable,” if you will. By now we should be able to hear the growing drumbeat to abolish civil marriage, as well as to legalize polygamy and all manner of reproductive technologies.
Consider also the breakneck speed at which the push for same sex marriage has been happening recently. The agenda’s advocates have been very methodical in their organization, disciplined in their timing, flush with money, in control of all information outlets, including media, Hollywood, and academia. And perhaps most telling is the smearing of any dissenter in the public square, a stigma made de rigueur by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his animus-soaked opinion that repealed the Defense of Marriage Act.
We’ve seen also how the Obama Administration’s push for same sex marriage has occurred in lockstep with policies that are hostile to marriage, such as the severe marriage penalty written into Obamacare.
Activist judges have taken their cues from Attorney General Eric Holder who used the DOMA repeal to proclaim open season on any state that recognizes marriage as an organic (i.e., heterosexual) union of one man and one woman. In their crosshairs are state constitutions, businesses, students, communities, churches, and all of those bogus “conscience clauses” that were written into same sex marriage legislation in order to sway wavering state legislators to vote “aye.”
The tipping point came soon after certain big name conservatives and pundits swallowed the bait on same sex marriage. Folks like Michael Barone, John Bolton, George Will, S. E. Cupp, and David Blankenhorn have played a huge role in building momentum for this movement, which, as we will see, is blazing a trail to the abolition of state recognized marriage. And whether they know it or not, advocacy for same sex marriage is putting a lot of statist machinery into motion. Because once the state no longer has to recognize your marriage and family, the state no longer has to respect the existence of your marriage and family.
Without civil marriage, the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. This has huge implications for the survival of freedom of association.
The notion of marriage equality was never about marriage or about equality. It’s all about the wrapping paper. It’s been packaged as an end in itself, but it is principally just a means to a deeper end. It is the means by which marriage extinction – the true target — can be achieved. If marriage and family are permitted to exist autonomously, power can be de-centralized in society. So the family has always been a thorn in the side of central planners and totalitarians. The connection between its abolition and the limitless growth of the state should be crystal clear.
Read the whole thing.
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