Diversity no longer make us stronger. Without a shared dream, our nation is not truly American.

Diversity

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams. ~Jimmy Carter

Mosaic? Sounds soaring, but what exactly is a mosaic in this context?

Here’s a definition of mosaic that may help clear things up: A combination of diverse elements forming a more or less coherent whole: an incompetently constructed mosaic of competing interests.

Oops. Maybe not.

I understand the different people and beliefs part … but yearnings? Hopes? Dreams? How is there significant diversity in these? I guess if one thinks of yearning in terms of vocation. But this makes little sense because virtually everyone’s vocational yearning is to be successful and satisfied with one’s work, maybe to even make a difference.

Hopes? Let’s see, virtually everyone from every country, culture and ethnicity wants to live a fulfilled, stable, peaceful life. Most want to be happily married and many hope to rear healthy, intelligent and successful children. Where’s the diversity here?

Dreams? NOW we’re talking.

Let’s talk about a dream that once made our nation strong. But it’s not about diversity for diversity sake. It’s about a shared American Dream that unites us.

This was a dream that beckoned hopeful immigrants from all over the world to come to America for the chance to build new lives through opportunity and freedom. If they could only get to our shores, they reasoned, they could work hard to become citizens in a nation that, far from perfect, afforded them the best chance to build new lives.

What happened to this dream? It still exists but has been overshadowed by the limiting, shaming and militant god of cultural diversity. If my grandfather had arrived in 2017 instead of 1909, he would find a once promising and relatively united country torn and tugged by division and a glorification of all things different.

Building barriers, not bridges

Instead of seeing a diverse nation of fellow immigrants now citizens united by a shared American Dream, he’d likely be encouraged to not only preserve his cultural heritage, but to resist fully embracing an American culture—the very culture he’d scrimped and saved and sacrificed everything to join and become an American.

Today’s diversity dealers don’t build bridges; by overemphasizing our differences, they build barriers.

Our once shared American Dream has has been trampled and disparaged by a small, but vocal minority who decry its legitimacy. A dream that galvanized generations of immigrants has been replaced by a glorification of cultural diversity.

Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with cultural diversity per se—but there’s everything wrong with it when it divides us. Diversity, with the right perspective and emphasis, makes us uniquely American.

Diversity as America

What began as a rekindling of interest in our rich ethnic and cultural origins has become an elevation of all things diverse. And by making diversity an obsession, proponents have denigrated the idea of conforming to a shared national identity.

Diversity

Here’s a fun factoid:

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “diversity” only acquired a positive connotation as recently as 1992.

Since then, diversity means so much more than … well, what it truly means.

Contrary to current collegiate instruction, diversity does not make for a utopian paradise of differing and self-contained, yet somehow cohesive mini-cultures. And it does not weave a strong national tapestry or create a beautiful mosaic.

What did diversity mean before its meaning was co-opted?

Diversity is rooted in a Latin word for disagreement, which naturally occurs when people of differing cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and worldviews come together. It’s inevitable—just as this article will inevitably raise hackles.

Worthwhile diversity is about commitment. Not divisiveness.

In America, what unites people with differences is a commitment to a common dream: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is a central tenet of our Constitution, which, by the way, immigrants swear by before they can become U.S. citizens.

The oath, in part, is this:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America … that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

Renounce allegiance … bear true faith to the same? These words confirm a commitment to a uniquely American way of thinking, an embrace of uniquely American values and dreams. The words of the oath are a commitment to … dun dun DUN … assimilation.

Assimilation is good, not bad

Sadly, assimilation has become a dirty word just as “melting pot” has become a dirty phrase. But here’s the truth—an immigrant cannot truly commit to becoming an American nor fulfill his or her oath without assimilating.

The idea that successful immigration can occur without assimilation is a relatively new construct—and it’s naturally illogical.

A foolish, mouthy minority has convinced a generation of young minds to believe that a culture with different beliefs, yearnings, hopes and dreams makes a stronger society and nation. This is nonsense.

Here’s the truth:

A culture with different people with different beliefs and points of origin can be strong—but only if its people are united by a common dream.

Don’t believe me?

Read about the world-changing actions of our “Greatest Generation.” Ask an elderly American what made his or her country great. They certainly won’t cringe at the mention of a melting pot. If they’re honest—and most are—they’ll tell you Jimmy Carter is full of you know what.

This quote by an earlier president make much more sense:

“Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections.” ~George Washington

Diversity

Is nationalism a dirty word?

It is now. Somehow to be a nationalistic nation is to be a racist one. Even though our country have been its strongest, wisest and best when we’ve been the most nationalistic.

Which begs the question: Is it wrong to be a nationalistic superpower? The greatest nations in history were powerful, altruistic and influential in their time. And they were nationalistic … without being Nazi.

Take this test: 

If you see the word nationalism and think Nazi or Alt Right, you’ve been indoctrinated by the media and far left.

If nationalism makes you think about our nation coming together after Pearl Harbor, your mind is still free and historically sensitive and unencumbered by propaganda.

Let’s look at this logically.

Allow me to ask some penetrating questions regarding this diversity-as-virtue motif:

When athletes on a sports team hold different beliefs about how to reach their goal of winning a championship, will they be as likely to become champions?

If soldiers in an army have different ideas about how to win a battle and aren’t willing to obey orders, will the army be as effective a fighting force?

When employees of a company believe in following different business models to achieve profitability, will the company stand the best chance to succeed?

If we hold different beliefs, yearnings, hopes and dreams, can we be strong as a nation?

Yes, we can. Sorry, O-Dawg.

But only if we lose the hyphen and see ourselves as Americans first and foremost. We desperately need to re-examine this infatuation with elevating and glorifying cultural differences. If you want to appreciate other cultures, please do so. But don’t do so at the expense of a shared American culture.

The opportunity to pursue happiness and the American Dream can be as inviting, accepting and amazing for us and our children and grandchildren as it was for our great-grandparents and their parents.

diversity

We’re different, but let’s be different together—as Americans.

Let’s resist the diversity despots who create barriers between us by emphasizing our differences. By coming together, we can get back to what Americans do best together—pursue a shared dream with innovation and spirit—and commitment.

And, while we’re at it, let’s drop the silly hyphen. It only gets in the way.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~Statue of Liberty inscription

Uncivil Discourse: How we’re vilifying viewpoints, warping words and destroying debate

uncivil discourse
This image is copyright protected. Nick Anderson reserves all rights. Used here with the permission of Nick Anderson.

Discourse is nearly DOA in America

We’re killing it with fear-fueled anger and disrespect for opposing viewpoints. Honest discourse has been shackled by intolerance, ignorance, and name-calling. This is a relatively recent but dark phenomenon.

There was a stretch of time in our nation’s history—oh, about 224 years—when healthy discourse could be passionate—even heated. It could also be intelligent and sensible and helpful in hammering out good ideas while discarding bad ones.

It was a time when words meant what they mean. When they weren’t hurled about willy-nilly in fits of emotion-charged ignorance. During this relatively civil epoch, people were offended by libel and slander and profanity, not—horror upon horrors—by disagreement and logical, position-threatening argument.

Words were used to express ideas, not to name-call or as conversation enders. Where does one go in a spirited back-and-forth, when he’s called a “hater?” He’s stopped dead in his tracks and must circle back to defend himself rather than a point or position.

Here’s a scenario that I haven’t experienced, but that happens every day. Just plug in whatever hot issue you want; it’ll work. Here’s the scenario:

John, a racist xenophobic Islamophobic fascist Nazi “debates” Jill, an open-minded, big-hearted modern progressive thinker:

John: “Let’s talk about this. I don’t hate you or your opinion on this issue, I just—”

Jill: “Haters gonna hate.”

John: “What? No, I’m not hating ANYTHING here. What I’m saying is that I disagree with your take on the immigration hold because—”

Jill: “You’re spewing hate because you don’t like Muslims—you’re afraid of them. To me, you seem Islamophobic and bigoted. And racist.”

John: “What? What the … NO! I am NOT racist OR bigoted. I’m not afraid of Muslims. I’m just not sure the immigration hold is an evil idea. I just—hey, where are you going? I’m not trying to offend you—I just thought we could talk about this.”

Jill: “I’m sorry, I can’t talk with you. I AM offended. If you aren’t against the Muslim ban, you’re a fascist and a racist and a bigot. Just like that Hitler in the White House. Hater.”

uncivil discourse

Our lost words

Words like hate have lost their meaning. As has bigot, any type of real or fabricated phobia, fascist, Nazi, intolerance and others. Here are some examples of our lost words with original definitions crossed out followed by new, culturally correct ones:

HATE |hāt| verb

intense or passionate dislike for someone or something

Opposition or disagreement to my firmly held belief about … anything

BIGOT |ˈbiɡət| noun

a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions

a person who is intolerant toward MY opinion

NAZI |ˈnätsē| noun

a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party

a person with extreme racist or authoritarian views (close, but …)

a person with views I find extreme or that oppose mine in ways I “feel” are mean, black and white, narrow minded and intolerant (boom!)

FASCIST |ˈfaSHəst| noun

an advocate or follower of the political philosophy or system of fascism

a person who is extremely right-wing or authoritarian (almost there …)

Trump

INTOLERANCE|inˈtäl(ə)rəns| noun

unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own

the expression of backward, incorrect and extreme views, beliefs, or behavior that oppose my views, beliefs, or behavior

DEBATE |dəˈbāt| noun

a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward

an argument about a particular subject, especially one in which many people are involved

an argument that can be won by name-calling, fake news dissemination, misinformation, or vilification

Our words have been warped and their meaning distorted to prop agendas. When this happens, they become meaningless. And without the objective ground rules that words and meaning provide, real discourse is impossible.

“Winning!”

We’re destroying discourse in America. No longer interested in civil give and take, we “win” arguments by vilifying opponents with toxic words. Instead of engaging opposition, we shout it down. Rather than persuade, we degrade. We don’t win over, we run over. Instead of listening, we filibuster.

Is it any wonder we’re divided, disillusioned and disappointed with our political system, our prospects as a nation, and our ability to communicate? The vitriol slung about in mainstream and social media belongs in fetid sewers not in news outlets, on Facebook and Twitter, or at protests.

Safe spaces?

Why is our civil discourse so uncivil? Here are some popular possibilities: liberal education, progressive leaders, entitled millennials, political polarization, political correctness, free speech-resistant college kids, helicopter parenting … yada yada.

What about safe spaces? This is a particularly puzzling construct this middle-aged writer finds virtually impossible with which to relate. I catch myself grumbling like an old guy on his porch watching a protest:

“Safe spaces? Whaddya want—a force field? Back in my day (insert old-man trill), your safe space was a tough constitution. Don’t agree with an argument? Win it by persuasion. Don’t be offended. Put on your big boy pants, punk. Safe spaces … pah! The only safe space you need is between your eyes and the back of your head.”

uncivil discourse
Image courtesy of Michael Ramirez, http://www.michaelpramirez.com

How did we become hypersensitive to points of view with which we don’t agree? Even I, a committed Gen Xer, have to resist the urge to tiptoe around feelings when discussing opposing opinions.

What are we so afraid of? If we believe strongly in our positions about important issues, we should be able to debate them with confidence AND passion. What happened to our ability to engage in respectful debate?

Here a truth, there a truth …

And now for the postmodern “truth” analysis. You knew it was coming. It has to. Here goes: All viewpoints are valid; truth is relative; therefore your truth is valid; my truth is valid. All truths are valid even—and especially—if two or more are diametrically opposed. Which means that as painful as it would be to Jill-of-the-open mind, John-the-Nazi’s truth is just as valid as hers—IF she truly believes in the postmodern truth-is-subjective construct.

This is what makes real discourse impossible—if all viewpoints are equally valid, challenging the logic or cogency of a viewpoint—challenging its validity, which is the essence of discourse in debate—is anathema. And is often considered intolerant, even offensive.

Degrading discourse

So here we are—seemingly unable to disagree agreeably—or effectively. Effective discourse is persuasive, not degrading. Here’s how:

In the real world, a viewpoint’s validity is based on its soundness—its ability to withstand criticism. In fantasyland, a viewpoint’s validity is equal to that of any other viewpoint regardless of merit (except those deemed intolerant or bigoted or hateful). Sadly, to challenge a viewpoint is to flirt with giving offense and is a breach of politically correct social decorum.

Thus, real debate is impossible. Opportunities to gain understanding through clarifying questions, to ponder the possibility that one’s viewpoint is weaker than first thought, or to come around to another’s way of thinking, are lost—tragically. What isn’t lost, but should be, is this obsession with taking offense, which only increases polarization and division.

Truth: An immovable object

Even more critically, we’ve lost the meaning of the most essential word in honest discourse—truth. Modern dictionaries are of little help. They define truth superficially. Mine defines it as the quality or state of being true. Or concisely, that truth is truth.

And here we have yet another crack in the postmodern temple of relativity—truth is defined AGAINST itself. When accepted definitively, truth is an immovable object because, by definition, its immutability relies upon its nature. And, for once, “it is what it is,” has meaning. Truth.

uncivil discourse

This is where the postmodern freight train of relativity, specifically, the myth of equally valid viewpoints, collides with the unyielding wall of truth. If truth is objective, there are winners and losers in debate. Jill’s position CAN BE less valid than John’s. Or vice versa. One viewpoint can be more sound, more cogent, more based on TRUTH and MORE VALID than the other.

But we may never know which is what because open debate and honest discourse are rare birds—and becoming ever more skittish. Especially when we continue taking offense where there is none and calling names and assigning labels and warping words beyond meaning.

What now?

Where do we go from here? We thicken our skins. We accept that our words mean what they mean. We ask clarifying questions to better understand one another’s point of view. We listen. Then, we talk. We discuss important issues with patience, controlled passion and intellectual honesty.

And, most importantly, we accept the truth that our way of thinking may not be the best way of thinking. If we persuade effectively, we secretly exult in winning the argument while helping one another revive and restore respectful, honest discourse to what has been—and should be—an essential element of communication and community.

If this article stimulates, encourages and/or annoys you, please tell me how and why below. I value your feedback.

Shark Weak: Discovery Channel sinks to new lows while feeding us the fishiest of fare

Discovery

I LOVED Shark Week. It was fascinating. A entire week of real footage of real sharks eating real prey and real scientists studying them and their unreal behavior. Sharks, sharks and more sharks all day, every day for a whole freakin’ week on Discovery Channel. It was a really fun time to get my geek on.

Then Shark Week started tanking. Discovery began offering fish feces instead of shark documentaries. The low point was the 2013 “mockumentary,” Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. The blasted show enticed me and my wife—and 4.8 million other suckers—into watching the search for the “submarine,” a 35-60 feet long prehistoric mega shark.

Less believable than Jaws 3-D

We watched with bated breath as “researchers” pursued the extinct monster they say could be responsible for the loss of a charter fishing boat and all hands off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.

To be fair, “Certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized” appeared at the beginning and end of Megalodon. We missed the beginning. This tidbit of information appeared again two hours later and way after a tease of Blair Witch Project-like “discovered” footage of a mysterious and colossal sea creature ravaging the vessel. Also, a disclaimer like this typically indicates that the material is based on actual events, not on fanboy fantasy.

With actors posing as “shark experts,” Discovery led us nincompoops on a taut, white-knuckle ride to a “I-can’t-believe-I-fell-for-this” destination of duh. To be fair, I’ll take a bit of blame—we wanted to believe that Megalodon lives. Which is what the shark oil salesmen at Discovery banked on. Literally.

Too much people people, not enough sharky sharky

I should’ve seen it coming. Since 2000 or so, I saw signs that Shark Week began chumming for chumps. When they ran out of shark footage, they began relying on manipulative editing and music and supposed shark people freaking out every time a shark bumped into a boat or shark cage.

In typical reality TV style, Discovery now features fishermen and adventurers as shark “experts.” And they spend more time showing footage of the people researching/studying/exploiting sharks than they do of the freakin’ fish.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by sharks, not manufactured drama of a shark “documentary” crew. Watch any Shark Week show and in a matter of minutes a so-called shark expert will let out a manipulative, “BLEEP…that BLEEPING shark is BLEEPING huge. Le’s get the BLEEP outta here.”

No, Discovery Channel—YOU get the BLEEP outta here. I’ll tune in again when you stop being a reality TV/ratings weasel and get back to your roots—discovery of our big, beautiful planet. And its sharks. And while you’re at it, stop making the jobs of real shark experts even more difficult.

Discovery

Oops, Discovery did it again

Michael Phelps races a shark. Really, Discovery? Turns out he raced a computer-generated shark. And Shark Week fans are up in arms over this? What can you expect from a channel that brought you Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives? So after a 2015 heartfelt apology and pledge to be “focused more on science and research this time around” Discovery gives us a Phelps/Jaws race that wasn’t.

Sadly, Discovery Channel is not about discovery and real science anymore. It’s about ratings and ad money. Shark Week was fun while it kept it real. Now it’s just a bucket of stinky chum for hungry, indiscriminate viewers who, Discovery apparently believes, will swallow anything that’s flung at them.

State-sponsored anti-discriminatory discrimination? Way to fight “discriminatory” laws by discriminating against other states, California.

 

Image may be subject to copyright.When California deems other states’ laws as discriminatory, what do they do? They pass discriminatory laws to fight these discriminatory laws.

“Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights,” trumpets California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

So in the spirit of prejudicial law dismantling, California has assembled a prejudicial law (AB 1887) that restricts state-funded travel to Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas.

“While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back,” says Becerra. “That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”

Make no mistake—California is committed to the intolerance of intolerance. Especially with beliefs they cannot tolerate.

It seems that California lawmakers considers any community in any state as their community and will not tolerate discrimination against any LGBTQ member in any community…because they’re part of California’s (global) LGBTQ community, you see. Wait…what?

We are the world. Or at least the nation. Or maybe just the state.

Which discriminatory laws of other states prompted heroic measures like AB 1887? Here’s one:

Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” (House Bill 1523) prohibits the state from discriminating against churches and businesses that believe marriage should be between one man and one woman and who decline to provide services to facilitate same sex marriages because doing so would violate “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

Here’s another:

South Dakota’s Senate Bill 149 shields faith-based and private child placement agencies from state-sponsored discriminatory measures. This means that if these agencies refuse to provide any service, including adoption or foster care services, on the basis of their religious convictions, the state will not retaliate against them.

So rather than “opening the door to discrimination” as opponents claim, the bills actually close the door on state-sponsored discrimination against the free exercise of religion—in theses cases—the violation of religious entities sincerely held beliefs.

Chucking the discriminatory First Amendment

State retaliation against religious entities, which violates the First Amendment separation of church and state, is an unconstitutional practice California champions and demands that other states employ…or…dun dun DUN! They’ll wield the incredibly intimidating travel ban.

It seems that Texas and the other pariah states are shaking in their boots. Here’s a response from the Texas Governor’s office: “California may be able to stop their state employees, but they can’t stop all the businesses that are fleeing over taxation and regulation and relocating to Texas.”

Snark attacks and giggles aside, the crux of this debate is this:

California considers faith-based entities sincerely held beliefs concerning gender, marriage and sexuality backward and discriminatory. They will not tolerate discrimination in any form, but don’t seem to realize that using state power to discriminate against entities they deem discriminatory is a form of discrimination. And so is their silly travel ban.

Or worse—they know very well that they’re doing the very thing they decry, but justify it based on their sincerely held beliefs. Beliefs that run counter to theirs “send all of us several steps back,” as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra so sanctimoniously pronounced.

According to Becerra, California will not tolerate people being “deprived” of their “precious” rights—except those people whom California seeks to deprive of their constitutional religious liberty rights.

Dear Governor Brown and California lawmakers,

If your voters allow you to abuse the power of your state to discriminate against citizens and private businesses, that’s their failure. Why would you expect other states to believe as you do and jettison the constitutional separation of church and state? Do you truly believe that your beliefs about gender, marriage and sexuality trump others’ beliefs?

A travel ban? Really? AB 1887 makes you look arrogant, small-minded and silly. Sorry, but your bill is as impotent as it is self-important.

Here’s a time-tested truth: Your sincerely held beliefs about marriage and gender are the product of a relatively recent zeitgeist and are shared by a minority. Notwithstanding, the Constitution protects your right to hold them.

Vast majorities in societies worldwide for centuries have embraced sincerely held beliefs regarding marriage and gender. Don’t they deserve the same protection?

Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 5—Making us better citizens: one lightbulb and gun law at a time

citizens

I’ve noticed something about California lawmakers: They don’t trust us citizens to be good people on our own. So they create laws to help us become better people … with their help.

As a doofus Texan, do I need the enlightened folks in Sacramento to help me be a better person? Nope. When it comes to lightbulbs and handguns, I need a nanny state like I need a hole in the head.

Take the legislative push to help Californians use less energy, for instance. If you add floodlights to the outside of your home, by law they must have motion sensors that kick them on when the neighbor’s cat triggers them at 3 a.m.

Why can’t you just leave them turned off when you go to bed, you ask? Because this is much too commonsensical. You see most Californians can’t be trusted to turn off their floodlights before turning in.

The folks in Sacramento know this right well, which is why they created a law to help mitigate our thoughtlessness.

However, if you buy newer, more efficient LED floodlights, you don’t need a motion sensor built in. It’s kind of a carrot, you see—do the right thing, and buy an energy efficient LED floodlight, and it doesn’t matter that you’re still likely to leave your floodlight on. This way, thoughtlessly burning it all night uses much less energy.

I have LEDs because they use a fraction of the energy fluorescents and incandescents use. It’s smart and cheaper. Do I need a law to be wise and thrifty? Do you?

Guns Guns GUNS!

The handling of the “gun issue” in California is the mother of all efforts to make us citizens better people. And here’s an irony—once a part of the Old West where saloon disputes were solved with revolvers on main street, California has become an overprotective, hyper-legislative wuss of a state.

Texas is the rootinest tootinest shootinest hombre east and north of the Rio Grande. And for some reason, I take a heap of pride in this distinction. Mostly for this reason—through all its bluster, Texas runs on common sense.

Funny thing is that for years as a Texas resident, I didn’t give a hoot about owning a gun. But after moving to California and experiencing the angst and annoyance many Northern Californians felt during the Obama years, I now exercise my Second Amendment rights with grit and gusto.

You see when a silly pseudo-Old West state like California tries to force itself on me for my own protection, I’m likely to protect myself from it. It’s called Freedom, and it’s mighty scarce ’round here.

A matter of trust

It all boils down to this: California lawmakers, many of them hailing from the Northeast either directly or one or two generations removed, don’t trust their citizens—or anyone for that matter—to do the right thing. This goes for energy use and for self and/or property protection.

In the case of firearms, these Yankee know-it-alls think California citizens don’t need those dangerous, treacherous things. Do you know how many people guns kill people in California annually? A big, fat zero. Criminals kill people…with guns.

Not sure the folks in “Sac” as they call the Cali capitol ’round here understand something elementary about guns: They need a finger to trigger them. Otherwise, they’re just pieces of steel or alloy. And limiting their magazines to 10 rounds won’t do a thing.

You see, it’s not like bad people are gonna abide by the law and make sure their magazines are legal capacity. They don’t follow the rules in getting weapons; why would they give two shakes about a 10-round magazine limit?

Logical state: Criminals will always have and use guns.
Logical measure: Allow more good guys and girls to have guns.
Logical conclusion: Good can more effectively combat evil.

Update: Well, what do you know? This happened in Texas on Wednesday, May 3, 2017—just three days before this post: 

Police: ‘Good Samaritan’ kills active shooter in Texas sports bar

Good guy with gun stops bad guy with gun and saves others.
Yeehaw!

Trusting citizens

In the rare instance a background-checked and trained conceal carry licensed citizen can use his or her weapon to protect others and him or herself, the 10-round limit gives the criminal the advantage in a firefight.

Here’s an idea: Instead of forcing citizens to carry more magazines (which negates concealment, by the way), why not let conceal carry permit holders use magazines that hold as many rounds as the handgun can manage?

Level the playing field between good guy and bad guy, right? Common sense? Nope.

California lawmakers don’t consider this commonsensical; they think it’s dangerous. Why? The answer brings us back to an earlier point: If they don’t trust us to turn off floodlights, why would they trust us with guns?

The truth is they would like to forbid gun ownership in California … period. It’s that simple. They think citizens who want to own and use guns shouldn’t.

Their legislative message is this: Don’t be a right-wing, gun-crazy nutjob. That’s what Texans are for.

Kim Jong-un and North Korea: How propaganda and a cult of personality blinds and binds a nation.

Kim

Talk about hogs running the proverbial animal farm. In North Korea, a prodigious propaganda machine powers a chubby pseudo-deity with a funny haircut who runs the whole stinking show.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly referred to as North Korea, maintains a cult of personality that venerates three generations of dictators: grandfather, Kim Il-sung, father Kim Jong-il, and current man-god, Kim Jong-un.

Its depth and scope of misinformation and brainwashing surpasses even that of Stalinist Russia. Like all cults and dictatorships, North Korea elevates flawed, capricious men and transforms them into semi-gods in the minds of citizens who come to believe their leaders can do wrong.

North Korea’s tandem of propaganda and cult of personality is especially effective because it leverages a national identity of civic duty and loyalty to leadership.

Propagating a god

The Kim family cult began around 1949 during the rule of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung. Through ubiquitous propaganda and “education,” North Korea’s youngest citizens were taught that they were fed, clothed and nurtured in all aspects by the “grace of the Chairman.”

One of these children, defector and author Kang Chol-hwan, describes the state-sponsored delusion like this:

“To my childish eyes and to those of all my friends, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were perfect beings, untarnished by any base human function. I was convinced, as we all were, that neither of them urinated or defecated.

Who could imagine such things of gods?”

Cra cra? It’s not that simple. The power of propaganda and the cult of personality are immense and virtually all-consuming. Brainwashing is an effective mind-control tool. Just ask former Scientologists, cult members and defectors of totalitarian regimes.

Kim
Kim Il-sung

Glorious leader forever

Kim Il-sung is the Eternal President. Eternally. Why? Because after becoming the nation’s first president, he had the position retired. It’s like when an American sports team retires a legendary player’s jersey number. Another legend can follow; but none can ever wear the first legend’s number.

The Eternal President’s likeness also is virtually eternal. There are a roughly 34,000 statues of him in North Korea. His birthday is the equivalent of the American Fourth of July. And, of course, his greatness is taught in the classroom.

Students memorize Kim Il-sung’s speeches and marvel at his state-imagined accomplishments, like when he single-handedly defeated the Japanese at the end of the occupation of Korea.

Over the course of his 46-year rule, Kim Il-sung was granted many titles such as Sun, Great Chairman, Heavenly Leader and others. He also was awarded the “Double Hero Gold Medal” because, after all, a double hero is twice as good as a single one.

The North Korean state even created a calendar just for Kim Il-sung. While the rest of the world operates in 2017, North Korea’s current year is “Juche 105” (105 years after the Eternal President’s birth).

Rainbows and uniforms

North Korea’s propaganda machine engaged in myth-making for Kim Il-sung’s son, Kim Jong-il, as well. According to legend, his birth was heralded by a swallow and caused winter to change to spring, a star to light the sky, and a double rainbow to spontaneously appear.

Propaganda has it that Kim Jong-il could walk and talk before the age of six months and control the weather based on his mood, among other state-issued accomplishments.

Like shooting a 38-under par the first time he picked up a golf club. This epic links outing included no less that 11 holes in one. Reportedly, it was so easy that he quickly grew bored with the game and ceremoniously retired.

Renaissance ruler

According to Kim Jong-il’s official biography, he authored 1,500 books during his three years at his father’s college, Kim-Il-sung University. Somehow between his book writing and studies, he found time to pen six full operas—”all of which are better than any in the history of music,” declares the biography.

Kim

When Kim Il-sung died in 1994, Kim Jong-il declared a national mourning period for three years. Three years?

Man, that’s a long time to grieve—legitimately or otherwise. To help his people maintain a tearful facade, the Dear Leader punished those who faltered in following state-written mourning rules.

Not to be outdone, the current despot Kim Jong-un holds at least six titles, one of which makes him “Wonsu,” the second highest rank in North Korea’s military despite having no military experience. And this “promotion” is in addition to his title of Supreme Commander.

Apparently, Kim Jong-un, like his father, was also a prodigy. North Korean students are instructed that he could drive at three and win yacht races at nine. And that he’s a skilled artist and composer of musical scores.

Kim

Life as a god-king

Kim Jong-un enjoys unworldly opulence while most in his locked-down nation live barely above or in abject poverty. He smokes Western cigarettes, plays video games, rides jet skis and indulges an NBA basketball fetish while his communist comrades feed the machine that powers his imperial fun.

But he does put down his Xbox controller and cigarette long enough to order up some real-world destruction. According to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Kim Jong-un has executed at least 70 officials since taking power.

And to keep his own family members in line, he whacked his uncle, Jang Song Thaek and had his older half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, assassinated in Malaysia.

Kim Jong-un’s seemingly favorite method of execution is death by anti-aircraft guns. Cute. How Dr. Evilesque—but without the funny.

Kim

Absolute corruption

Like all dictators. Kim Jong-un wields a crazy amount of power and more than any mortal can handle. Especially for someone who’s lived an unreal and kingly life for all of his 32-35 years. (We can’t be sure of his age because the exact year of his birth seems to be a state secret.)

One thing’s for certain though—Kim Jong-un’s upbringing and sheltered existence makes Donald Trump’s childhood seem mundanely normal. But it’s his ideology that makes the portly man-god dangerous and unpredictable.

And here’s the scariest part: Kim Jong-un has his pudgy finger on the nuclear and chemical weapons buttons of the DPRK. Worse, he’s seeking intercontinental warhead delivery capability. Scary stuff, indeed. 

Update: 4.20.17 breaking news in typical DPRK style…

So now the world waits to see if our loose cannon of a president can stare down a porky young ruler with a questionable grip on reality and pressure him into giving up his nuclear weapons aims. Fat chance.

Kim

Call me crazy, but it seems a fool’s errand to get this nutty guy to back down now when he’s never had to before. Trump would do better to offer him lifetime courtside tickets to any and all NBA games.

I fear force is the only pressure point to which the Supreme Leader will respond. Apparently, Kim Jong-un doesn’t listen to cautions from big brother China. Meanwhile, his people starve and suffer under yet another Communist failure of a state.

Communism FAIL

Socialism is a nice idea that does not work precisely because its tenets run counter to human nature. People will always want to rise above others and take more than their share of the loaf of bread. It’s just how we are.

We’re bent by greed, malice, selfishness and a corrupt, broken world that’s incompatible with the empty promises of socialism.

Communism is socialism with teeth; and it provides a barnyard for the strongest pigs to take over the farm. It happened in Russia and Cuba and China and elsewhere. Sadly, swine rule is firmly in place in North Korea even as its soldiers blindly goose-step for state cameras while grinding the hopes of true freedom underfoot.

By attacking Assad’s air base, we’ve pressed a real RESET button: Tyrants beware—America is no paper tiger.

tyrants

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

Love him or hate him, Trump just reasserted America’s lone superpower status. And though I don’t like our president, I’m grateful that we’re off the sidelines and back in the game. Hooyah!

Punching an evil tyrant in the nose is EXACTLY the right response to war crimes. It’s eight years overdue, but better late than never. Our missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat air base sends this vital message to Assad and Putin and others like him:

If you commit acts of barbarity against civilians, expect anything and everything from the world’s greatest military.

By the way, how does Trump’s treatment of Russia and its ally make the howlers of Russia/Trump election collusion look? Silly, that’s what.

Cool as Key lime pie

I have to give it to him: How cool is it to order the strike and then sit down to dinner with a tyrannical leader of another amoral regime? I wonder if Xi Jinping was just beginning to enjoy his Key lime pie when an aid whispered the news in his ear.

tyrants

What Trump seems to get and others should, too, is this:

Evil leaders, regimes and terrorists—and this includes Iran, North Korea, ISIS, Al Qaeda, et al—only consider altering behavior in response to brute force and the fear that crossing “red lines” will likely result in violent consequences.

There are those who claim that Assad’s gas attack is somehow a product of Trump’s supposed “hateful” words. Based on Assad’s previous behavior:

This horrendous act would likely have happened had Hillary been elected. It would likely have happened had Trump not even run. It would’ve even more likely have happened if Obama were still in office.

In each scenario, the timing and other factors may have been different, but the salient issue is this—the gassing of civilian men, women and children was not about Trump or his words. Every neophyte president gets smacked in the face with the reality of real-world intelligence. It happened to Obama and now to Trump.

Any self-respecting tyrant

Does any reasonable person truly think Assad is such a two-bit tyrant that he takes his cues from Trump’s “hate” words and acts accordingly? He’s an evil dictator with a weak chin—why would he need motivation from a loose-cannon-mouthed president? To those who blame Trump for this—STOP giving him so much power.

I’ve written time and again that I don’t like Trump. Though he’s petty, thin-skinned and a bit buffoonish, he’s not evil nor is he the devil. That said, I’m glad he just reestablished America as the muscle behind right responses to international war crimes committed by thugs and their minions.

Finally, America is back as the world’s enforcer of international law and order and common, civilized morality. My first shout out was in Navy speak—here’s the Marine Corps version—Oorah!

Being back sure feels good. It’s RESET time, baby.

Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 4—Speed humps, crosswalks and men at work.

Californians

The way Californians see traffic and pedestrians is a funny thing. It’s like the way they look at guns and people—instead of teaching humans to handle cars and firearms with care and common sense, they discriminate against the very things that can’t learn a thing—vehicles.

Take this crosswalk conundrum, for instance. What makes more sense—requiring a driver to stop a 7,000-plus pound pickup truck for a lone pedestrian waiting at a crosswalk or for the pedestrian to wait ’til the coast is clear and cross without the danger of another driver in the far lane running ’em over?

It’s about momentum … and physics

Is it me, or don’t it seem like human nature to wanna keep the momentum going in a vehicle rather than stopping for someone who should have sense enough to cross when it’s safe? Humans can stop on a dime, but vehicles take a lot more coin to come to a halt.

By now, you where this is going … things are done a whole lot different in Texas.

It’s more like the Old West there than it is in the Old West here. Texans decide for themselves when to cross the road based on their trusty eyeballs. In California, people rely on laws that establish bipedal supremacy instead of using their noggins.

Californians

Speed humps? Follow me, Californians.

Then there are these silly California “speed humps.” Speed humps? Those are what you see at a dog park. Where I come from, speed humps are called speed BUMPS. But either way, they’re just as annoying. These pesky little mounds of asphalt not only slow you down, they really exercise your pedal patience.

In Texas, you might find a couple of ’em in a strip mall parking lot. But in some parts of California, they’re placed every 30 feet or so. I dunno—maybe the powers that be think the more you annoy drivers, the safer they drive.

And then you got the “Follow Me” escort trucks that state lawmakers think are necessary to “Pilot” people safely past men (and women) at work on roads, bridges and, in the Sierra Nevada, piles of fallen rock. Here’s a Texas tip—use a few traffic cones and put the guys or girls holding STOP signs to work to make things go faster.

Californians
I can see this road work system making sense on two-lane roads, but they seem to employ it for just about any road. And most times, there are four or five workers loitering around watching two people do the work, anyways. They must be unionized.

Too much of a good thing

Public safety is paramount around here. It takes precedence over—like so many other things in California—good sense and personal responsibility. Maybe this stuff is another way the smart folks in Sacramento protect us from ourselves.

Where I come from, people protect themselves by making smart pedestrian and traffic decisions. It’s like how we teach our kids: “Wait ’til there are no cars comin’, Tommy, then cross the road.” The only laws we need are the laws of physics—big, heavy machines take a lot longer to stop than itty-bitty people.

So, let ’em blow by, and go when it’s clear.

The Shack: A rickety Emerging Church construct concealed in a stirring story of spiritual discovery

God

Have you ever had someone portray you as something you’re not? I have. I don’t like it. At all. I wonder how God feels about being misrepresented in The Shack? Probably not good.

Emotion and identification are powerful components of good fiction. William P. Young uses both effectively to craft a readable and powerful yarn that’s inspiring to many, confusing to others, and disheartening to me.

And now comes the movie version and another round of fresh emotions. Thanks, Hollywood.

What does The Shack have to do with the emerging church? Everything.

But first, what IS the emerging church? It’s a movement started by disaffected evangelical Christians who initially sought to make church more relevant in our postmodern age. In doing so, like Young with The Shack, they recreated a god, Christ-figure and spirit they can live with.

Young’s god in The Shack is a portly African-American woman named Papa who is warm, loving and accommodating in contrast with the cold, distant and demanding deity Young claims is the God of the Protestant Bible.

In a 2013 interview, Young said this:

“I’m a missionary kid and a preacher’s kid—evangelical, fundamental Protestant … You know, that’s about as distant from relationship with God as you can get. And it’s always been you know, religion that has been the primary impediment to actual relationship with God, because it creates a mythology about performance—that you can perform your way into the appeasement of the deity.”

God

Not to invalidate Young’s personal experience,

But don’t fundamental Protestants believe the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that there is nothing anyone can do to appease God? Hence the necessity of Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross? If Jesus’ life and death removes “the impediment to actual relationship with God,” what does Young mean by a “mythology” about performance?

What I think Young means is this:

Many emerging church adherents believe that evangelical Christianity’s teaching about sin and our response to it in light of Christ’s sacrifice is a performance-based appeasement strategy. This is because they believe God is only love, like Papa, and does not require a response to Christ’s atoning death.

And because emerging churchers do not consider the Bible reliable, they can dismiss its teachings that God is a holy and sometimes angry God. Just as they dismiss the existence of Hell and believe that God will forgive all, no matter their lifelong rejection of him. In the end, you see, love wins. And justice loses.

God

Lost in translation?

There are no examples of performance-based mythologies in the Protestant Bible. It has always been about Grace. But many in or sympathetic to the emerging church say they never felt like they fit in with evangelical churches. Or they decry evangelical pastors’ preaching about heaven and hell and the response to each for the Christian.

Perhaps they refer to Jesus’ Gospel teachings like this one in John 3:36 as a performance-based myth: “He who believes the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Ah. So perhaps this is the hang-up: People like Young have a problem with Protestant beliefs that call for obedience—or using their translation—performance. Can you imagine Young’s Jesus in The Shack uttering such absolute and intolerant words?

God’s word?

Young, like other adherents of his belief system, reject or affirm Jesus’ words based on what they choose to believe about him. When many in the emerging church do not believe the Bible is God’s word and cherry-pick it to build their construct, anything and everything is on or off the table.

In depicting God as a black woman, the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman and Jesus as a Jewish carpenter—all of which are all love all the time—Young covers many progressive bases—feminism and the anti-paternal God, universalism and the humanization of Christ.

God

Papa is no Aslan

Some will point out Young’s Papa is merely an allegorical device as, they say, is C.S. Lewis’ Aslan. This comparison is faulty for two reasons: Lewis’ Narnia is allegory, and Aslan is an alternate-world Christ-like figure; Young’s The Shack is didactic (meant to teach) and his Papa and Sarayu are depictions of God and the Holy Spirit, not allegorical devices.

For a better discussion of the differences between Papa and Aslan, feel free to read Tim Challies’ Why Papa of The Shack Is not Aslan of Narnia.

For an accurate description of Aslan, I leave it to the characters of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia:

“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

God

Young’s Trinity is a triad of his own creation

Granted, many will find encouragement in a safe, passive Papa, a mousy and mysterious Sarayu and a bumbling, comical Jesus. I know that some feel burned by fellow sinners and pastors of traditional American Protestant churches, and I realize that The Shack is a balm to many.

I recently exchanged emails with my former pastor who thinks the movie version of The Shack can spiritually help “millions of people.” I certainly hope not. If helping millions requires misrepresenting God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus, please William P. Young and those behind The Shack film, don’t help us.

Stripping God and the other members of the Trinity of their purity and holiness and “dangerousness” while denigrating and dismissing the beauty and sufficiency of the Gospel and Christ’s atonement, as The Shack does, is no help at all.

This will help grow the emerging church; and it will help grow Young’s and the movie makers’ bank accounts. But it won’t help grow genuine faith in a loving, holy and just God.

The Shack distracts and confuses people from seeing God as he is, and seeks to depict him as Young and others want him to be. This is a shame and a sham. It’s also a foolish misrepresentation.

Give me a dangerous Warrior-God who’s also the ultimate loving father over a passive Papa any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Subjective truth: It’s a lead balloon and the tie that binds progressives in religion AND politics.

truth

While watching Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s Senate hearing, it hit me like a bolt out of the blue—our BIG issue as a nation is not Russian election meddling or LGBTQ rights—it’s our embrace of subjective truth.

I watched a senator say our Constitution is a living, breathing document that should adapt to the times. As if the principles of American liberty require adjustment because things have changed so much in a mere 229 years.

Does the senator truly believe we should reinterpret meaning in a static document simply because it’s more to her liking? And more to the liking of people who pretend that the truths woven into the Constitution are somehow less true with the passage of time?

The notion that truth is subjective is an absolute non-starter—and it’s faulty thinking.

If truth doesn’t exist, then it would be true that truth doesn’t exist, and once again we arrive at truth. ~Nabeel Qureshi 

Truth is, we all operate in a world of absolute truth, and we all affirm its supremacy a thousand times a day whether we realize it or not.

During the same hearing, another senator described the type of Supreme Court justice American needs right now.

It went something like this:

America needs a Supreme Court justice who will look out for the downtrodden. One who will protect our children and keep the rich from taking advantage of the poor.

Excuse me, senator, protecting our children and the poor is your job, not a Supreme Court justice’s. You draft and vote on laws; our justices make sure those laws are Constitutional. This is how our democracy works.

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Progressive beliefs, regressive truth

Similarly, the progressive wing of the emerging church believes that the Bible is not Scripture because, as a “library of books,” it was written by men whose prejudices and viewpoints make it unreliable as a guide for Christian living.

Question: If the Bible is a library of books, who’s the managing editor?

But rather than reject all Scripture, emerging church leaders cherry-pick Bible truths they can live with it. Like the uber-easily digestible maxim that God is love. But to them, God is only love. He doesn’t ask anything of them in terms of obedience or justice or sharing truth, no matter how unpopular.

To these spiritual progressives, we all have carte blanche to live for others without structure and without guidance other than what we feel is right. This eliminates personal responsibility and accountability.

Is not spiritual life without the truth of Scripture like self-governance without a timeless Constitution?

When either incompatible state is taken to its logical conclusion, the result is anarchy.

truth

If there is no objective truth, how can we know the Constitution OR the Bible is reliable?

In the minds of progressives—in culture, government and religion—truth is purely subjective. Except when it comes to bolstering an agenda; then helpful truths quickly become absolute.

Like these convenient truths:

All men are created equal. This truth actually means that everyone is created with equal worth to the Creator. It has been subverted to mean that everyone IS equal and thus should be given every opportunity to act upon this equality through denigrating measures such as affirmative action.

God is love. According to Scripture, love is only one of God’s attributes. The Bible also says God is holy and just and righteous and pure. These characteristics, if true, call for accountability and responsibility—just as our Constitution calls for rule of law based on self-evident truths.

When progressives disregard the Constitution’s or Scripture’s authority, there is no rule of law—civically or spiritually.

Care for the poor. This is where progressives in religion and politics coalesce and differ most strongly with evangelicals and conservatives. But it’s not a question of if we should help the poor; it’s how.

Progressives think the federal government is best suited to help the poor. Conservatives think state and local government and religious groups and churches are best suited to help the poor.

I receive care from the federal government—the Veteran’s Administration. Trust me, the federal government is a ponderous, inefficient caregiver; it’s far from ideal. Local volunteers and people on the ground who can help poor people help themselves are much better suited to make a real, lasting difference.

truth

When we leave caring for the poor to the federal government, we wash our hands of them.

The poor become enslaved to a system that crushes their spirits and keeps them dependent.

If political progressives think we should give people what they need without encouraging them to give themselves what they need, they do not understand human nature. If religious progressives think the Creator is all love and is not holy and pure and just and that the Bible is not reliable, they do not understand God’s nature or human nature.

Because our topic is subjective truth and its effect on the rule of law and the reliability of Scripture, allow me to offer these concluding arguments:

But first an observation:

I’ve never seen such a starkly obvious difference between those who rely upon Constitutional and Scriptural authority for governance and interacting with God and others and those who seek to create their own framework for the same. This self-created framework is based on feeling rather than thinking, emotion rather than cognition.

Today’s progressives in the political and religious arenas seem to have forgotten this objective truth: What feels right is not always what is or ought to be right.

Subjective truth is by its nature not true. If a tree falls in a forest, it’s irrelevant whether anyone is there to hear its crash. And no, God cannot create a rock that even he can’t move. The size and weight of the rock is irrelevant. If he can make it, he can move it.

truth

Subjective truth is the pig that doesn’t fly.

It’s a sideshow clown who distracts and pleases childish minds with colorful balloon dogs. It’s a non-entity that binds the minds of many.

And sadly, its effect is on full display in our Senate chambers as we seek to confirm a Supreme Court justice whose job is to ignore subjective non-truths in favor of the rich tapestry of truth and human dignity found in our Constitution.

My message to Congress and my fellow politically- and/or spiritually-minded Americans is this:

Let go of the lead balloon of subjective nonsense and soar on the wings of truth. It will truly set you free.

How to get blocked from social media—for all the right reasons

social

Want to make a short and sweet splash in the world of social media? It’s easy. For the record, I’ve only been blocked twice—once on Facebook and once on Twitter—and by the same guy who I’d been 98 percent respectful toward.

My slip-up? In a Facebook reply, I wrote that he seemed angry and arrogant. He blocked me there and then on Twitter proactively—I’d never been to his page.

So it’s not like I’m getting blocked all over cyberspace and want to show you how to become persona non grata. I want to encourage you to discuss passionately and respectfully. If you do so and get blocked, you’ll have done both for the right reasons.

Let me show you three ways to get your block on:

1) Share your opinions

And do so respectfully, logically and CONFIDENTLY.

Offer a dissenting opinion with chutzpah. There’s no quicker way to get booted in today’s namby-pamby, pseudo-discussion-friendly social media scene. Disagree agreeably … with courtesy.

To dissent—no matter how respectfully or effectively—is rude and judgmental. But it can be fun and informative, too. So disagree cheerfully and with civility … be gentle … even though it probably won’t matter.

You see, nowadays, when you disagree with someone, you “invalidate” his or her opinion. It doesn’t matter how absurd it is or how kindly you are as you reduce it to a quivering blob of nonsense—civil give and take is virtually impossible.

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How dare you!

(Internally) How dare YOU … reject my viewpoint without any real consideration and then champion such a silly opinion that a twelve-year-old could dismantle in the time it takes him to eat a cookie?

Sadly, in our snowflake, truth-less culture, all viewpoints are equally true. No matter how ludicrous an opinion, everyone has the right to be right even when they’re demonstrably, flat-out wrong. After all, how can anyone be wrong if all viewpoints feel so right? Was Hitler right about the Jews?

Crickets.

Don’t censor me
You can’t shut me up
So don’t even try
~Audio Adrenaline

2) Use corny commenter names

Note: Do this if you’ve been respectful and srill have comment bullies calling for your blocking. But do it only to comment on blogs—not on Facebook or Twitter. This step can seem disingenuous, but shouldn’t be. Isn’t what you say more important than what you call yourself? What’s in a name?

Curiously, some consider using another name to comment on a blog a breach of trust—even on blogs that allow anonymous or whatever-name-you-want-discussions. Trust? I see it as a trusty way to get back in the game.

But if you’re gonna fake it, fake it good.

When “blogmenting,” go with silly, harmless names like Lynn Guini or Bill Foled. I went with Mr. Spock once and was surprised how respectfully people interacted with me. Mr. Spock’s got real clout when it comes to the discussion scene. Of course, I had to adopt a persona of pure logic and minimal emotion, which was unsurprisingly easy for me.

Bottom line—if they miss your words because they’re hung up on your names—real discussion isn’t gonna happen anyway.

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3) Confound them with truth

If they parrot talking points, offer them a truth cracker. This could open their cage doors to a whole world of possibilities. If they hit you with baseless assumptions, fire back with clarifying questions. Show them you care enough to understand where they’re coming from.

Say someone drops a logical fallacy bomb on you. This is a shut-down tactic most don’t even understand. Someone tried the “No true Scotsman” fallacy on me because I held that there are true Christians and people who call themselves Christian, but may not be.

Social media?

I explained that this logical fallacy application doesn’t work because a Scotsman is a true Scotsman whether he acts like one or not. A Christian shows what he is by the way he lives. A non-Christian who pretends to be a Christian will show he’s not one by his life. Nobody can fake the funk for long.

Nothing confounds like truth. Keep sharing it and they’ll either call you a hater or “judger” or try to get you banned. Or, if they’re open-minded and smart enough, they’ll try to persuade you or even admit that maybe you’re onto something. Social media discourse CAN be a learning experience.

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Block me or ban me

I will always share truth, so do your worst, social media bullies.

As my closing argument, ponder this:

  • If someone’s viewpoint is so fragile that respectful dissent brings about a block or ban, is it truly worth discussing?
  • And if we fail to challenge the fallacy that truth is subjective and all truths are equally valid, aren’t we giving in to the spirit of the age?
  • If you care about civil discourse and its demise, will you join me by being willing to be blocked, banned and even banished in the name of truth?

We shall defend our island of objective truth, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the blogs, we shall fight on the landing pages, we shall fight on Facebook, we shall fight on Twitter, we shall never surrender.
~Lovingly lifted and adapted from Winston Churchill’s “Finest hour” speech