Saturday, 1/25/15

    1. Evacuate! The Canary’s Dead!
    2. Forced membership = Coerced political speech?
    3. Certified victimhood means complete editorial control
    4. Rudyard Kipling Does Wall Street
    5. Too Christian, Too Foreign
    6. …In love and war
    7. The Boys Who Cry Wolf

Busy week with mental distractions left me with too little to blog Friday. (Hey! You get what you pay for – and then some!)

1

There has been a lot of “don’t ask, don’t tell” related to gay teachers and administrators in Catholic schools (hypocrisy is the necessary lubricant for much social life), but the legalization of same-sex marriage forces the issue.

(Rod Dreher, commenting on the resignation of CEO and President of a private Catholic school, forced by protests over her firing of the Vice-Principal for marrying his same-sex partner.) Rod’s discussion, and the Update, are worth reading.

Thursday’s quotes in my blog made it clear that Catholic teaching from the hierarchy isn’t budging, but the laity is deeply, deeply compromised. Probably every religion in America that isn’t self-isolated like the Amish is trending the same direction, including Orthodoxy.

This prosperity and niceness culture is seductive. Very seductive.

2

Pamela Harris and seven other home-care workers are challenging the decision by the state of Illinois to make them join a public union. They claim this violates their right to free association, as well as their right to free speech by forcing them to subsidize (via forced dues payments) union political speech they don’t agree with.

The four liberal Justices believe that these First Amendment claims are less important than the state interest in enforcing dues collection laid out in a 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That case held that the government, like any private employer, could require dues payments in the name of managing employees and to ensure “labor peace.”

Since Abood the High Court has tried to protect worker First Amendment rights by drawing a line. Workers can be compelled to pay dues that go to collectively bargain for wages and benefits, but they can’t be compelled to pay dues that go to political activities. Justice Scalia seems happy with this line and isn’t sure Abood needs to be overturned or modified.

The constitutional answer is that being forced to join a public union is different from a union in private industry in its politically coercive implications for free speech. Take a teachers union that collectively bargains for higher pay and benefits for its members. Lobbying to raise teacher wages is taking a political position that government spending ought to be greater, and perhaps taxes higher.

Arguing for bigger government is inherently a form of political speech …

(Scalia Agonistes, in the Wall Street Journal)

Three points:

  1. The Wall Street Journal article is plausible and the position may prevail. I’m not making a prediction.
  2. It’s never possible to say “X is Constitutional. The Supreme Court said so in Y. So take your argument Z and go away, frivolous person.” A new argument – here, that public employee unions inherently engage in political speech, and forced membership is coerced political speech – can change an outcome.
  3. >I’ve been factually puzzled by the concurrent characterization of Pamela Harris as a “home care worker” and the union she must join as a “public union.” A homecare worker arguing for higher wages isn’t engaged in political speech just because those wages may be paid in part from Medicaid. But it’s Illinois, apparently, that coerces these private agency employees to join a public union, so maybe it created its own mess (in this as in so many other things).

3

Somehow, the people attacking Grantland—few of whom, like many credentialed “media critics,” are not actual journalists—know better than the editors of this acclaimed site what constitutes a good story. They insist that, because Hannan started writing about a golf putter, he was obligated to continue writing about a golf putter, even when his dogged reporting turned up something far more interesting. By this journalistic logic, Woodward and Bernstein should have kept themselves content reporting the details of a routine break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters.

(Journalist James Kirchick defending Caleb Hannan; H/T Rod Dreher) More from Kirchick:

What began as a piece exploring the physics behind a new golf club, however, soon grew into a profile of the putter’s enigmatic creator: Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, or Dr. V. She claimed to be a career-long private contractor for the Department of Defense who had worked on top-secret projects like the construction of the stealth bomber. She said she had earned degrees at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. She claimed to be a descendant of none other than Cornelius Vanderbilt, the American shipping tycoon.

But none of that was true. In the course of his reporting, Hannan discovered that practically everything Dr. V had told him about her life was a lie. She had never enrolled at MIT or Wharton. Hannan could find no evidence that she ever lived in Washington, or volunteered at Walter Reed hospital, as she had claimed. Indeed, “It seemed as if there was no record of Dr. V’s existence prior to the early 2000s.” And he found out the reason why there was no evidence of Essay Anne Vanderbilt’s existence earlier than a decade ago is because she legally changed her name—and gender—in October 2003. Born Stephen Krol, Essay Anne Vanderbilt was a transgender woman.

Hannan hit a tripwire, detonating sundry LGBQTetc activists, when he reported (among many other things) that Essay Ann Vanderbilt was born Stephen Krol.

I don’t give a damn about golf clubs. I do give a damn about people (including the Catholic League, by the way) who seem think they have a right to complete editorial control over how the doings of their constituents get reported or portrayed dramatically.

4

Is it just me, or are the nightly market reports reminiscent of Just So Stories? Who really knows why markets tanked Friday? Did they do some kind of exit poll?

I’d call it a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy, except I’m not sure the press itself believes it. Rather, it seems an affectation of omniscience.

5

Here’s a great piece by The Week’s Michael Brendan Dougherty on the persecution of Mideast Christians. Doughtery offers an explanation for why the human rights community in the West is largely ignoring the problem:

Western activists and media have focused considerable outrage at Russia’s laws against “homosexual propaganda” in the lead-up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. It would only seem fitting that Westerners would also protest (or at the very least notice) laws that punish people with death for converting to Christianity.

And yet the Western world is largely ignorant of or untroubled by programmatic violence against Christians. Ed West, citing the French philosopher Regis Debray, distils the problem thusly: “The victims are ‘too Christian’ to excite the Left, and ‘too foreign’ to excite the Right.”

That really says it quite well.

(Mark Movesian)

6

Anything that forwards the revolution is permissible. Back in the early 1990s, I allowed a gay friend with whom I shared an apartment use my laptop to create his resume. He was looking for a job, and didn’t have a computer. I found out much later, after he had moved out suddenly and left town, leaving me to cover his half of the rent until I found another housemate, that he had decided that since I was a Catholic and a conservative, he had the right to go through my private e-mail files and spread gossip he found there. He had passed this information all around. I was not only his old friend but also his benefactor; he was broke and never could have moved to Washington if I hadn’t agreed to make the down payment on our apartment, and be responsible for the lease. I didn’t care that he was openly gay. He was my friend, and I needed a roommate I could get along with and trust. If I had had any problem being around gay people, I wouldn’t have agreed to let him move into my apartment. Little did I know that to him, since he came out, I was the Enemy, and was therefore due no basic human consideration — no respect for my privacy, and no respect for his own obligations to pay bills he had incurred (I had to cover them when he skipped town; they were large, and he never paid me back), even though I had tried to help him. We had been friends for years, but he blew it up. That was the first time I had ever seen somebody destroy a friendship sneakily, purely over ideology. People fighting at this level will tear anybody and any human relationship apart for the sake of the Cause.

(Rod Dreher, in the comment boxes of his blog Pushing the Pink Police State). On the primary subject of Dreher’s blog, let’s just say that Dan Rafter has done what I didn’t think was possible: lowered my opinion of the the Human Rights Campaign.

7

The Boys who Cry Wolf are currently ginning up the panic machine because the Holder DOJ is investigating Dinesh D’Souza about violating campaign finance law. D’Souza was the guy behind 2016: Obama’s America, which true believers in the total satanic evilness of Obama regard as divinely inspired prophecy. So it goes without saying that FB is suddenly sprouting with rallies for support of D’Souza from all the normal watering holes of discernment-free credulity for every anti-Obama meme. The DOJ investigation is being uncritically pumped as sure fire evidence of His Evilness’ harrassment of the Servant of God D’Souza which we must all denounce with a 15 Minute Hate.

Gosh, I’m gonna miss Mark Shea. From him, I learned the wonderful phrase The Thing That Used To Be Conservatism, and he periodically writes incandescent paragraphs like the block quote.

But he, Ann Althouse and the Indiana Law Blog all have too low a a signal-to-noise ratio for my tastes, and I’ve unsubscribed (again, as to the first two) as of Friday night. Your mileage may vary.

That’s Dinesh D’Souza, by the way, who gave us no only 2016: Obama’s America (excerpts of which made me nauseous because I knew people had friends who were buying into it), but What’s So Great about God: A Reasonable Defense of the Goodness of God in a World Filled with Suffering (which cured me of the impression that he was scholarly) and a concurrent evangelical college presidency, 29-year-old fiancé and 30- or 40-something year old wife. But we know he’s a good Christian because he’s agin’ that even darker-skinned POTUS.

* * * * *

“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.