Saturday, 10/5/13

    1. Repulsive social media outbursts
    2. Jurassic Christianity version 73.2.103
    3. “Biological Colonialism”
    4. Bad reasons to marry
    5. Blaming the Victim?
    6. How far backward progress has taken us


I saw this homosexual patient who came in complaining of dysuria and wants me to help. Well … that’s what you get for being gay. I really don’t feel any compassion for these people — they don’t deserve antibiotics, they need to change their behaviors.

(One of 10 hypothetical vignettes in a study of Online professionalism investigations by state medical boards; H/T Volokh Conspiracy)

Eugene Volokh takes serious issue that the hypothetical Doctor who so vented on social media should be investigated and, presumably, exposed to professional punishment for such a repulsive social media utterance.

[T]he Federation of State Medical Boards takes the … view … that “State medical boards have the authority to discipline physicians for unprofessional behavior relating to the inappropriate use of social networking media, such as … Discriminatory language or practices online” (again, quite apart from breaches of confidentiality, which are covered by a separate bullet point). “State medical boards have the option to discipline physicians for inappropriate or unprofessional conduct while using social media or social networking websites with actions that range from a letter of reprimand to the revocation of a license.”

This strikes me as a serious lack of attention to First Amendment rights. Though doctor speech to their patients is subject to greater constraints than speech to the public (that’s the mysterious professional-client speech exception), this involves doctor speech to the public, expressing moral and empirical judgments — whether wrong or right — about homosexuality. Doctors, I think, have to be as free as anyone else to express such views without the fear of being legally barred from practicing their professions (or from being investigated with an eye towards disciplinary action that could eventually lead to such a legal bar).

And of course if such discipline is contemplated, there’s no reason to think it will be limited to speech on Facebook, or speech that mentions a particular patient (even without any identification of the patient). The rubric here is “discriminatory speech online,” and “discriminatory language” — that would include public campaigning against same-sex marriage that criticizes homosexuality, expressions of views that gays are committing grave sins through their behavior, and so on.


The inspiration for serpent handling comes from the Bible. In Mark 16:18, Jesus commands his disciples to “take up serpents” without fear. In Luke 10:19, Jesus gives his followers the “power to tread on serpents” and assures us that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.” For us, this commandment is no less important than any other.
Unlike members of other religious communities, however, I have found that fulfilling my duties as a church leader has repeatedly landed me in trouble with the law.

In my home state of Kentucky, using “any kind of reptile in connection with any religious service” is prohibited.

(Jamie Coots, Pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro KY, in the Wall Street Journal; emphasis added)

Isn’t it remarkable that the Church overlooked this commandment for – what? 1900 years? – and managed to worship, grow, produce martyrs and other saints, all without the involvement of any kind of reptile?

The Kentucky law quoted is thoroughly unconstitutional, but that doesn’t mean that I must treat Pastor Coots as anything more than yet another crackpot practitioner of yet another Jurassic Christianity, built not on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, but on harebrained experiments with putatively New Testament DNA.


Whenever I criticize the Wild West ethics of the in vitro fertilization industry, I hear from heartbroken people who tell me they would do “anything” to have a baby. I sympathize with the heartache of childlessness. But the willingness of many to do—and of the IVF industrial complex to sell—anything leads to a “me first” sense of reproductive entitlement.

(Wesley J. Smith, The Biological Colonialism of the Rich) Ponder that title a moment. If you don’t get it, read Smith’s article. If you still don’t get it, you’re certifiably part of the problem.


There are a lot of bad reasons to get married, and there are perhaps even more bad reasons to get married when you experience ongoing attraction to the same sex. Bad reasons might include:

  • To convince myself (or anyone else) that I am straight.
  • Because it’s what I’m supposed to do.
  • Because marriage will change my attractions.

There’s one primary problem with all these reasons: they are about me. And the first lesson marriage teaches you is, say it together with me, it’s not about me. Marriage is about the other—caring, loving, providing, and sacrificing for your spouse. That’s not to say there aren’t benefits for me—there are. But a marriage motivated primarily by selfish desires is a short marriage.

(Kyle Keating) In the Orthodox Church, the Crowning (Marriage) ceremony ends with a benediction invoking, among others, St. Procopios:

He, Who by His presence in Cana of Galilee declared marriage to be honorable, Christ our true God, through the intercessions of His all‑pure Mother, of the holy, glorious, and all‑praiseworthy Apostles, of the holy, God‑crowned and Equal‑to‑the‑Apostles Constantine and Helen, of the Holy, great Martyr Procopios, and of all the holy Saints, have mercy on us and save us, as our good and loving Lord.

I’ve “heard tell” (to use a good Hoosierism) that we do so because he taught the Christian faith to novice Christians who were imprisoned with him before their martyrdom, and encouraged them to accept the martyr’s wreath gladly.

Yup. It’s not about you.


“[I]f you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you—don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

(Serena Williams committing truth, before the accusations of “blaming the victim” and her ritual lying recantation.)

I don’t give a – well, never mind – about these Steubenville football players and their supposedly ruined prospects. (Seems to me that criminality is a feature, not a bug, in big name athletics these days anyway.)

If you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you—don’t do stuff like that. Why are you trying to get girls so drunk you can have your way with them? What the hell made you think that was a good thing to photograph and put on social media. You’re too stupid to have a professional career – unless it’s in something like football. It could have been much worse. You’re lucky. You could have knocked her up, and she’d have taken that risk with you even if she’d been conscious. You could be paying child support now.

(I just made that up)

Why don’t we call it “blaming the victim” when parents teach their children not to get into the car with strangers?

Rumors of ubiquitous drinking parties at our local Catholic high school circa 1990 is one reason our son went to a public school, where it was at least possible to get away from that stuff.


It requires an extraordinary moral certitude to conclude that one established the evil of a universal normative practice of the oldest monotheistic religion, a practice that Europeans, including anti-Semites, have tolerated for as long as Jews have been there. Burkeans they are not, at the Council of Europe.

This represents a massive failure of the liberal imagination. Tolerance requires, perhaps more important than legal restraints, habits of the mind. All religious practices seem odd and bizarre to outsiders. Tolerance requires understanding the importance of these practices to the practitioner – a lack of total certitude. It is Cromwell’s Rule, referred to in his address to the Second Scottish Synod:

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.

Indeed, the new European conscience might find circumcision repugnant, but certainly not as repugnant as Protestants and Catholics in Europe for centuries regarded each other’s practices. Yet for over 300 years, they have been able to live and worship fully in each other’s countries. On this backdrop, anti-circumcision legislation shows how far back we have gone while making progress.

(Eugene Kontorvich, Europe’s Proposed Circumcision Ban: How Far Back We’ve Gone While Making Progress)

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.