16th Anniversary

    1. Boredom is gout of the soul
    2. DOJ casts its lot with the angels
    3. DeVos and Title IX
    4. The Age of Feeling

1

If you are too young to remember 9/11, then go watch the video. Do not forget, because the world you live in right now is shaped by 9/11. We must know history, think, and be aware. There is a time for rest, recreation, and relaxation, but on 9/11 is not that time. 9/11 is real.

If you cannot forget Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, then imagine how alive the results of 9/11 2001 are. They are alive in Afghanistan where Americans fight to  stave off darkness returning to that troubled nation. They are alive in Iraq where for bad and some good we overturned a vile dictator and then lost the peace. They are alive in Syria where Christians face extermination from the radical fringe of Islam.

If you are bored, then you are dying inside: mentally dead before physical death. Gout is a disease of wealth, the pain that excess produces. Boredom is gout of the soul, the toll that an abuse of liberty takes on us. We party too hard and overturn the boundaries virtue sets, because we can and we can afford the cost that immorality brings, but then boredom begins. We have been there and one that. We roll our eyes at virtue.

What should we do to recall this day? What we must do on December 7 or every August when the guns of 1914 began . . . remember. We must remember the mistakes that led to doom and what we was done as a result. We can prove the foes of liberty wrong by refusing to be bored and enduring in the face of difficulties.

God save this Republic. God bless New York City this 9/11.

(John Mark N. Reynolds)

2

Among the Amicus (Friend of the Court) Briefs filed by non-parties in the Supreme Court’s cases involving government punishment of bakers and florists who declined their services to same-sex weddings is a heartening one from none other than the Department of Justice of the United States.

Excerpts via Prof. Howard Friedman’s Religion Clause blog:

Heightened scrutiny is appropriate at least where a law both compels the creation, for a particular person or entity, of speech or of a product or performance that is inherently communicative, and compels the creator’s participation in a ceremony or other expressive event….

Public accommodations laws compel expression— whether speech or expressive conduct— when they mandate the creation of commissioned goods or the provision of commissioned services that are inherently communicative. That situation might arise if a public accommodations law were applied to painters, photographers, poets, actors, musicians, or other professional artists. Assuming that those artists offer their creative services to the public, a State might attempt to bar a painter who agrees to paint a custom portrait of an opposite-sex couple at their wedding from declining to paint a same-sex couple, or vice versa. Or it might attempt to bar a freelance graphic designer who agrees to design fliers for the upcoming meetings of a Jewish affinity group from declining to do so for a neo-Nazi group or the Westboro Baptist Church. So long as the artist offers to produce expression for a fee, a public accommodations law might purport to restrict her ability to determine which art she will create and for whom….

A public accommodations law exacts a greater First Amendment toll if it also compels participation in a ceremony or other expressive event. That participation may be literal, as in the case of a wedding photographer who attends and is actively involved with the wedding itself. Or that participation may be figurative, as when a person designs and crafts a custom-made wedding ring that performs an important expressive function in the ceremony. Either way, such forced participation intensifies the degree of governmental intrusion.

Not all that long ago, an artist, opposed notionally to his patron’s doings, would have been considered a “sell-out” for taking a commission anyway. But in this decade and the last, it has become a violation of law not to sell-out in some circumstances.

I try, but I cannot find a way to see these florist, baker and photographer cases other than as instantiating a dubious principle that same-sex couples must be shielded from reminders that some people think that same-sex marriage is contrary to God’s will or even that it is an ontological impossibility (so that participation is either a sin or a kind of perverse and transgressive mummery, respectively). There was no shortage of florists, bakers and photographers to fill the need, but to avoid such conscience-pricking, other consciences, of those less favored by the Right Kind Of People, must be crushed.

I try, but I cannot find a way to view the attorneys general who pursue people like Baronnelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips, trying to punish them for refusing to join the festivities, as acting in good faith. The cases are just that clear to me. The laws and their defense, as applied to expressive activity, are monstrous.

Yet somehow they won in their state courts (as, be it remembered, did the ultimate, unanimous losers in Hurley prevail in Massachusetts’ courts). Our culture, including many state court judges, is suffering strong delusion.

I don’t know how the Supreme Court has escaped the delusion when free speech is implicated, for it surely has succumbed elsewhere, but I’m grateful that it has escaped.

And I don’t know why President Trump has kept his promise on judicial nominees and has allowed Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department to file this wonderful and pointed Amicus Brief. It surely is from no personal respect for the institution of marriage. But elections matter, and this Brief is the very sort of thing that motivated some sane people to vote for a candidate who had so many glaring defects.

3

I completely support Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s initiative to eliminate Team Obama’s 2011 Title IX guidance that forced colleges and universities to adjudicate sexual assault claims in kangaroo courts.

Among the Orwellian tenets of our modern witch-hunt is this gem, which I hadn’t encountered before:

Consider the wide popularity of a theory called “tonic immobility” that informs how colleges weigh evidence in sexual-assault tribunals. Yoffe describes the theory as follows:

People facing sexual assault become terrified, triggering a potent cascade of neurotransmitters and stress hormones. This chemical flood impairs the prefrontal cortex of the brain, impeding victims’ capacity for rational thought, and interferes with their memory. They may have significant trouble recalling their assault or describing it coherently or chronologically. The fear of imminent death may further elicit an extended catatonic state known as “tonic immobility,” rendering them powerless to speak or move — they feel “frozen.” As a result, those adjudicating sexual-assault allegations are told, the absence of verbal or physical resistance, the inability to recall crucial parts of an alleged assault, a changing story — none of these factors should raise questions or doubt about a claim. Indeed, all of these behaviors can be considered evidence that an assault occurred.

Catch that? It means that the absence of evidence is itself evidence of a crime. In normal cases, if an alleged victim is “unreliable and incoherent,” that indicates problems with their claims. Not so in sexual-assault cases, say some advocates. When it comes to sex, unreliability actually bolsters the case.

If you think that makes no sense, then you’re not alone …

All of these facts — combined with an extraordinary number of egregious stories of campus injustice — have led civil libertarians on the left and the right to raise the alarm. Indeed, so many progressives have issued their own statements or expressed their own concerns about an overhyped campus-rape crisis that it’s simply wrong to say that criticism of Obama-era Title IX jurisprudence is simply “Republican,” “conservative,” or — even worse — “Trumpist.”

(David French) In a separate article, French quotes a Commentary article:

In late August, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett blocked Miami University from suspending a student the school had found guilty of sexual assault. The student claimed that his due-process rights had been violated by Miami University’s fact-finding process. This process had featured a proceeding in which all the witnesses corroborating the accuser’s claims had refused to appear—and at its conclusion the chair of Miami’s disciplinary panel simply accepted their unverified statements as “true.” When the case reached federal court, university lawyers argued that cross-examination of the absent witnesses was irrelevant because the accused student was allowed to say that he disagreed with their claims. The university, Barrett responded, misunderstood the importance of cross-examination for assessing witness credibility. Miami’s “claim that no amount of cross-examination could have changed the minds of the hearing panel members,” the judge concluded, “arguably undercuts the fairness of the hearing.” The “arguably” was a nice touch.

Barrett’s decision marked the 59th judicial setback for a college or university since 2013 in a due-process lawsuit brought by a student accused of sexual assault. (In four additional cases, the school settled a lawsuit before any judicial decision occurred.) This body of law serves as a towering rebuke to the Obama administration’s reinterpretation of Title IX, the 1972 law barring sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

(David French quoting KC Johnson)

4

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“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.