Unromantic Potpourri 2/14/14

    1. Belgium: rogue nation, human rights violator
    2. Who should be “humiliated at the dry cleaners”?
    3. It never happened (and you went along)
    4. If you like your morality, you can keep it
    5. Same thing, time after time (Orthodox insider humor)
    6. Dathan, Abiram, Corvettam


Belgium has extended the “right to die” to children who request it.

Yeah. Right. Children who don’t have any real conception of death can make an informed decision for it. I can hear it now, spontaneous, unrehearsed and, of course, uncoached: “Mssr. Le Docteur, I should very much like to die now if that wouldn’t be too much trouble. I’ve really had quite enough. (How soon after I die until I can play with Monique again?)”

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Eugene Kontorovich at Volokh Conspiracy ain’t buyin’ it, either, though he predictably makes some very smart connections I missed:

Belgium’s move requires us to revisit Roper v. Simmons, the 2005 Supreme Court case that ruled it inherently unconstitutional to apply the death penalty to anyone under 18. European nations had long waged a moral campaign against America’s allowance of the death penalty for 16-18 year olds, which they called barbaric and savage. After all, minors are not really responsible for their actions. America was labelled a human rights violator, an international outlier.

Finally, in Roper, the Court caved in to this pressure. Indeed, it cited the European position as support for its conclusion – other countries do not allow for such a thing.

Why can a 17 year-old rapist-murderer not face capital punishment? Because, as Justice Kennedy wrote in a 5-4 decision, science has shown that minors, even 17-year-olds, are too immature to truly understand the consequences of their decisions, or the meaning of life and death. Juveniles are prone to “impetuous and ill-considered actions” that they should not be made to lose their life for, even if the action involved taking the life of another.” Moreover, juveniles are susceptible to peer pressure, Kennedy wrote. (Of course, one of the concerns in allowing euthanasia is external pressure from doctors, parents and others.)

I see no reason to think that intellectual fads of Europe or our left coasts are any more reliable, or more constant, as policy guides than the atavistic impulses of some random troglodyte in flyover country.


At least for this liberal organization, the issue of religious liberty has already moved away from being one worthy of dialogue with the other side to just a “guise” to be exposed and counter-attacked. That’s not a good development.

The panel itself lived up to the promotion. Lip service was given to the value of religious liberty, but exactly what the term was supposed to mean was never spelled out. There seemed to be agreement that one could mentally believe what one wanted and that churches could decide their own standards for membership and maybe even be exempt from onerous zoning. But, it was strongly implied that should one’s faith compel action outside the brain or pew, then “liberty” did not apply …

“No one should be humiliated at the dry cleaners,” was HRC’s Sarah Warbelow’s rule of thumb for how the law should play out. As she explained, the ability of two lesbians to have their wedding dress and tuxedo cleaned should trump a religious business owner’s interest in not associating with what is to his eyes was an immoral service. Thus, she might more fully have said, “No one should be humiliated at the dry cleaners, except the dry cleaner.”

Overall, the attempts at reasoning were often circular. “The Constitution trumps the Bible,” said Rev. Dr. Gaddy. That, of course, tells us little when the Constitution itself protects the free exercise of religion. “We all like religious freedom, but this is about discrimination,” offered Eunice Rho of the ACLU in a pithy but vacuous summation.

Though I have attended several panels at more conservative venues, and heard much decrying of the Obamacare mandates and the Elane Photography case, I cannot remember a discussion focused on identifying the point on the spectrum where communal standards should trump individual religious expressions. Christians in religiously dominated communities have sometimes cited the wishes of the many to uphold things like nativity scenes and public prayers against the complaints of the few. How, then, ought the faithful respond when the many cease to be on their side?

Assertions of religious freedom would be strengthened if we could better express its limits.

(Talking Religious Freedom at the Center for American Progress)


I alluded the other day to GRACE being fired by Bob Jones University as they approached completion of their work on the University’s handling of sexual abuse claims. It turns out that it’s not really that powerful people on campus are sexual abusers. Rather, it involved fundy kids, abused as children, seeking help when they got to college:

“Nearly everyone at Bob Jones grew up in a fundamentalist environment, so if you were abused, your abuser probably came from inside that bubble, too, which is what happened to me,” she said. “The person who supposedly counseled me told me if I reported a person like that to the police, I was damaging the cause of Christ, and I would be responsible for the abuser going to hell. He said all of my problems were as a result of my actions in the abuse, which mostly took place before I was 12, and I should just forgive the abuser.”

Ms. Lewis said she had seen other women have similar experiences. As a college senior, she took a friend to a university administrator for counseling after the other student said she had been molested by her father, a Sunday school superintendent in their church.

“They said not to go to the police because no one will believe you, to defer to authority like your father or especially someone in the church,” she said. “They said if you report it, you hurt the body of Christ.”

Erin Burchwell said that when she accused a university employee of sexually assaulting her in the late 1990s, “their idea of an investigation and counseling was to ask me what I was wearing and whether it was tight, and to tell me not to talk to anyone about it because it wouldn’t look good for me.” She said university officials alternated between “saying it never even happened and saying I was a willing participant.”

(New York Times, in a surprisingly straightforward news piece)


The tradition had held that sexual conduct is properly governed by both procedural and substantive norms. The procedural norm was provided by consent: forcible sex was condemned as the crime of rape. But consent was not the only issue, because sex was not governed only by a procedural norm. A substantive norm was provided by marriage and procreation. Thus, according to the tradition, adults might consent freely to certain forms of sex—fornication, adultery, or sodomy, for example—that would nevertheless still be wrong because of their inconsistency with the substantive purposes of human sexuality. The sexual revolution sought to strip sex of its substantive norms and leave only the procedural norm in place. This was the effect of slogans affirming the legitimacy of anything “consenting adults” might do.

As this kind of thinking was put forward by a certain kind of liberal, thoughtful conservatives warned about its revolutionary consequences. The liberal claim—that consent is the only ethically relevant concern in relation to sex—has the potential to erode all traditional sexual morality and all legislation based upon it….

[T]he same problem has repeated itself in more recent times, and over such a short period of time that it is hard to exonerate the left of willful duplicity. For example, when the Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), struck down Texas’s statute prohibiting homosexual sodomy, the Court’s opinion—authored by Anthony Kennedy—went out of its way to assure the nation that the case had nothing to do with the question of same-sex marriage.

In dissent, Justice Scalia, seeing through the Court’s “bald disclaimer” to the actual tendency of its reasoning, bluntly told the country: “do not believe it.” Events shortly proved Scalia right. The ink was hardly dry on the Court’s opinion before state courts began lifting the reasoning of Lawrence and using it to invalidate state laws that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And in 2013’s Windsor ruling, just ten years after his Lawrence disclaimer, Justice Kennedy himself showed his inclination to use Lawrence’s reasoning to move toward creating a right to same-sex marriage. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Lawrence was just one step in a larger project of sexual liberation by means of constitutional law, although Kennedy explicitly denied it at the time.

(Carson Holloway at Mercatornet.com)


A priest recently told the story of a parishioner who quite verbally found Church boring:

“Every time I go, it’s exactly the same thing: march around the Church, sing ‘Christ is Risen from the Dead’ ….”


Do you think the sinkhole under the Corvette Museum is a warning, of Biblical proportions, that we can’t rely on cars (and the dead dinosaurs they eat) much longer?

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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.