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Protecting Free Speech and Press: A Critique of Defending Our Community Values: A Letter to the Editors – The Clerk

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:03 pm


I would like to respectfully address the ideas you posited in your article, many of which are indicative of the exact problems regarding discourse and speech here at Haverford. I feel this response is necessary because your views do represent a portion of the school that disagrees with me and I feel the best way to respond to such critique is through direct and open discourse.

You offer the opinion that my historical comparisons are illegitimate because there is no correlation between these events and the current situation at Haverford. However, the presented counter-arguments reflect a failure to understand the basis for my comparison. I included these examples to reflect a similarity between the modus operandi of the Haverford Honor Code and the perpetrators of these genocides and their justifications for silencing the speech of and exterminating certain groups of people. If you wish for me to briefly enumerate upon each example specifically, I will address them in order of mention in my article. In Nazi Germany, the Jews were considered a security threat to the German nation. In Turkey, the Armenians were considered a security threat to the Turkish nation. In Rwanda, the Tutsi were considered a security threat to the Hutu interests in the Rwandan nation. In Iran, the Bahai and the Kurds were considered a security threat to the Iranian nation. In Iraq, the Kurds were considered a security threat to the Iraqi nation. In every instance, these were subjective determinations by the majority of individuals in the nation and justified atrocious acts. As I explicitly clarified in my article, I am not comparing these genocides and atrocities to what is currently occurring at Haverford; however, I am making a comparison between our ideological justifications for denying speech and the ideological justifications given for these events. At Haverford College, many believe that certain ideologies and their associated groups are a security threat to the interests of minorities on campus and, therefore, they should be subject to institutional punishment due to the messages contained in their speech or expression. My argument, in accordance with the words of the Supreme Court in R.A.V. v. Supreme Court, is that these security interests are not legitimate justifications for viewpoint discrimination and the selective punishment associated with it.

Addressing your point specifically about Rwanda and the United States decision concerning radio jamming and free speechit is overtly evident that the United States should have intervened in this situation. The reasoning for this intervention, believe it or not, is enshrined in the Constitution and judicial precedent concerning free speech. Here in the United States, there are certain exceptions to free speech in extreme cases. One such exception is referred to as fighting words, which although they are more narrowly applicable than when the exception was first mentioned in the 1940s, still hold weight in considerations of what protected speech is. In this case, the Interahamwe militias message to exterminate the cockroaches would fall under fighting words because they advocated for violent action and an unreasonable threat to public peace. Thus, they would not be protected under the First Amendment. You have presumed that I agree with this decision because I am identifying a problem with free speech on Haverfords campus. My committal to free speech and expression does not mean that I automatically espouse this mistake on the part of the State Department Legal Advisors Office.

Now that I have clarified those points, I believe it is important to proceed to the latter half of your article. You repeatedly emphasize, through the usage of italics, that I was a signatory of the Honor Code, stating that I signed a social contract to follow our behavior standards. This is factually correct; however, this does not mean I resigned my right to critique and take issue with these behavioral standards. In the subsection of the Honor Code entitled Honor Council, the Code explicitly states:

members are obligated to confront each other and the administration regarding errors and points of dissent with proper procedure in relation to the Honor Code and Councils internal affairs, especially if they feel they are not fulfilling their community responsibilities or fully abiding by the Code.

While I may not be a member of Honor Council, I maintain that I have this same ability to dissent to the current procedure of Honor Code to reach the values enshrined in the Honor Council. Additionally, the exact pledge I took, as stated in Section 3.07 of the Honor Code, is I hereby accept the Haverford Honor Code, realizing that it is my duty to uphold the Honor Code and the concepts of personal and collective responsibility upon which it is based. Contractually, I remain fully committed to the values expressed in this code and recognize my personal and collective responsibility as a member of this community; once again, this does not mean that I unquestioningly follow the Honor Code and its stipulations, rather, I may disagree, privately or publicly, with the lack of procedural methods regarding the Social Honor Code and the potential abuses they allow. Just as we agree to follow the dictates of laws in the United States, I agreed to follow the Honor Code, but never forfeited my right to question it. Therefore, implying that I must abide by the dictates of this community without question or appeal is entirely incorrect and a dangerous way of conceptualizing membership to the Haverford community. Finally, I would like to mention that, in the clause of the Honor Code I take issue with, it also mentions that discrimination and harassment, includingpolitical ideology are in violation of the Honor Code. The fact is, the current lack of procedures regarding Social Honor Code violations allows for subjective determinations of offense and violation and, since Haverford is overwhelmingly of a particular political persuasion, this resultsde facto viewpoint discrimination based upon political ideology.

Continuing to critique what I perceive as dangerous ideas, I would like to proceed now to a question you ask in your article: Is a Moral Majority even a bad thing? My answer to that, unequivocally, is Yes. Once again, this one of the ideas I attempted to approach in my original article by referencing historical atrocities and is central to the problem I take with Honor Code in its current form. As I mentioned explicitly in my last article, a moral majority, masquerading as a moral absolute and suppressing dissent, is, indeed, a bad thing, especially when there is a clear lack of protection for the opinions of ideological minorities on campus. For example, when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. mobilized individuals, spoke out, and fought for an end to the dehumanizing practice of segregation in the Jim Crow South, he faced an ideological majority comprised of people who viewed desegregation as a threat to their security. Last I checked, just because the majority of people agrees with a particular moral standard does not mean they possess the authoritative truth on what constitutes moral action. Although the moral majority in the Jim Crow South believed Dr. Kings approach, message, or both to be illegitimate, perceived him as a threat, and sought to erase his message, this does not mean thathe was automatically morally wrong.

Transitioning to my next point, I am not, as you claim, co-opting a civil rights leader and quoting him grossly out of context. Rather, there is legitimate reasoning behind including this quotation in my article. If you read Dr. Kings Letter From Birmingham Jail, you will encounter explicit denunciations of viewpoint discrimination. Specifically, in his discussion of just and unjust laws, Dr. King states that, An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. Currently, through the de facto institutionalization of viewpoint discrimination in our Social Honor Code, we face this exact situation. Though my argument concerns a different topic than Dr. Kings, I espouse this same fundamental belief concerning unjust laws and abide by it in my analysis on why I believe the Social Honor Code is illegitimate in its current form.

In this portion, I will address your final two paragraphs and clarify important points to avoid the conflations made. First, this is not fake moderacy; this is an appeal to the Haverford community to reflect on how, due to viewpoint discrimination, our value of pluralism is endangered. Furthermore, I never stated or suggested that cross burners are marginalized. My point is that non-majoritarian opinions and ideologies on campus are unduly subject to institutional punishment, and therefore comparatively marginalized, due to the messages they contained, messages the First Amendment protects. Finally, you state that moral majorities are not created equal[ly], attempt to differentiate Haverford from the historical events mentioned, and imply that I am utilizing atrocities in a haphazard and illegitimate way. As I believe I have already clarified these issues in this article, I would like to overtly state my incoherent point. The sordid state of free speech at Haverford College demands reflection and action. By allowing for viewpoint discrimination in our institutional proceedings, we threaten unpopular voices and opinions into a stifling silence in the name of security interests and subjective moral standards. If we are to actualize our commitment to pluralism, this incongruence must not be allowed to persist. While our values are noble, the ways in which we are currently trying to realize them, are illegitimate because they discriminate against ideology. It is one thing to peacefully confront an individual over their beliefs or to communally express our dissatisfaction with an action, but another to institutionalize our subjective moral standards in the Honor Code.

As members of an intentional community dedicated to confronting these social ills, I believe it is important to recognize that we share the same objective, just posit different methods by which to achieve these laudable goals. Although I believe in the legitimacy of these goals, I cannot in good conscience remain silent when the disallowance of free speech, as defined by the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedence, remains the procedure by which we seek to actualize our shared commitments. As members of a community that supposedly supports pluralistic ideals and peaceful discourse, I believe that the ideas in my article, while controversial, deserve to be and must be debated if we wish to protect and reaffirm our commitment to pluralism. I apologize if this article also fails to meet your expectations for me as a Haverford student and fellow community member, but I believe this issue is important enough for me to subject myself to such disapproval.

With the Utmost Trust, Concern, and Respect,

David Michael Canada 20

Have an opinion? Consider writing an article and sharing with The Clerk by emailing our Editor-in-Chief Maurice Rippel at mrippel@haverford.edu

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Protecting Free Speech and Press: A Critique of Defending Our Community Values: A Letter to the Editors – The Clerk

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No, Milo Yiannopoulos’ 1st Amendment rights aren’t at risk – Washington Examiner

Posted: at 6:54 pm

The rights of Milo Yiannopoulos were violated. Angry about his politics and uncomfortable with his trolling, violent protestors kept him from delivering scheduled remarks in a public venue. His right to free speech was categorically infringed.

But that was more than three weeks ago at UC Berkley and it bears zero resemblance to the current controversy surrounding Milo’s CPAC speech. In reality, there’s little threat to his First Amendment rights.

For those unfamiliar with the obnoxious populist provocateur, Milo has made a career of exposing liberal double standards. The operating procedure of the Breitbart writer is pretty simple. He mocks the pieties held by many on the Left, trashing in particular the special treatment afforded to individual groups.

And Milo puts on a good show. Normally his antics are more entertaining than his arguments are incisive. But he’s always aggravating on purpose. That’s gotten him kicked off of Twitter and college campuses, all the while catapulting his career.

But his comments about pedophilia are beyond reprehensible. In a recently surfaced January 2016 video, Milo speaks fondly and even defends “relationships between younger boys and older men.” Later he makes light of the sexual abuse that rocked the Catholic Church, quipping that he’s “grateful for Father Michael” and adds that he “wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”

Is all of this terribly offensive? Absolutely. Is it protected speech under the First Amendment? Yes. Does that mean that CPAC will violate Milo’s rights if they cancel his speech? Not at all.

As a private organization, CPAC can give a venue to whomever they please. Whether they cut or keep Milo in the speaking line-up for this week’s conference in Washington, D.C., is completely up to them. Whether he speaks or is silenced, his rights won’t be violated.

There’s only one way the Berkley episode can be replayed this Friday. If a violent mob rips him from the stage or the government bars him from speaking. Clearly, there’s little chance of that happening.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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Racially insensitive posts protected under First Amendment – Daily O’Collegian

Posted: at 6:54 pm

Despite calls for expulsion or suspension, Oklahoma State University cant legally punish the students who posted offensive words and images on social media at the beginning of the semester, according to OSU officials.

African-American students and others who are outraged by (the incident) have every right to be outraged by this, but if youve turned the focus on punishing the speech, you dont solve the problems of the racism, said Joey Senat, who specializes in media and First Amendment law.

When you say that person should be expelled because I didnt like that persons speech, they dont understand the larger issues and what the First Amendment actually is intended to mean, he said.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a photo including four OSU students, two of whom were wearing a dark substance resembling blackface, wasposted on Instagram and caused uproar on social media.

About a week later another OSU studentposted a photo on Snapchat of herself wearing a mud mask with the caption, When he says he only likes black girls. The photo sparkedprotests on campus and led to a meeting between OSU President Burns Hargis and African-American Student Association members.

In both instances, Hargis issued a statementsupporting student protest anddiscouraging intolerance and discrimination at OSU.

But for some, the statements and apologies arent enough.In a recent Letter to the Editor, an individual called for the students involved to be expelled or, at least, suspended.

However, there is no justification for censoring the students speech because it did not present a true threat, Senat said. Its counterproductive, he said, to suggest students be disciplined by suspension or expulsion.

You cant stop these people from thinking what they think, he said. You can only drive them underground, but that doesnt get to the root problem of the racism. It doesnt get to the societal issues of racism. It doesnt allow for solutions and progress.

Students shouldnt rely on the university, a taxpayer-funded entity, to solve their problems, Senat said. Instead, he suggests offering counter speech to racism.

Students should be out there protesting, Senat said. Confront those ideas. Thats how you go about trying to change someones mind and show them the error of their ways. They should be out there making it known this is not acceptable in their community, but thats a far cry from government being involved.

Senat said students and others who want these individuals disciplined need to keep in mind that next time it could be their speech someone wants punished or censored because it was offensive.

We cant expect government to step in and punish everyone because were offended or we justifiably disagree with someone elses speech, Senat said.

Lee Bird, vice president for student affairs, said the university is working to provide educational opportunities for students and has started a dialogue with the students responsible for the social media posts.

Theres a legal, right way to approach (the incidents), Bird said. The institution just cant say, Well, you cant do a blackface again, or, You cant do this.

Bird, who co-wrote a handbook for universities regarding the First Amendment, said restricting what students can say on campus through speech codes violates the First Amendment. A speech code is a regulation that prohibits expression normally protected under the First Amendment, according to FIRE, a nonprofit organization concerned with free speech on university campuses.

People think, Lets just write a code and prohibit it, Bird said. Well, thats not how the First Amendment works.

Bird said she, along with other university officials, has spent several hours meeting with the students involved, encouraging them to educate themselves and looking ahead at how the institution can proceed.

The students involved were ignorant, she said, which is the bigger issue.

What we learned from this case is we have a lot of students that are completely uninformed, ignorant about many race issues, Bird said. I think we need to help encourage students to educate themselves and where the institution may have to realign diversity classes or those requirements to help make sure that our students really do understand more about diversity.

Laura Arata, an OSU professor who specializes in the history of race, said the recent incidents are reflective of what she sees in the classroom.

Each semester, Arata said she asks her Survey of American History students whether racism is still a problem today.

Responses always range from No, it’s definitely not, to Yes, absolutely it is,” Arata said in an email to the OColly. To me, this is the clearest indication possible that there are some very important, very complicated, very deep conversations most of us need to have, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Arata advocates having conversations that go beyond defining right and wrong. She said this is an opportunity to talk about why the actions are hurtful.

We are a diverse country and, of course, we’re going to experience different things in all kinds of different ways, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to acknowledge them and consider different viewpoints, she said.

Bird said she acknowledges knowing the university cant legally take action might not be comforting for victims. She believes OSU students need to understand the effects their actions can have and should be more thoughtful of those in their community, she said.

People need to understand that all these behaviors have an impact on our community, affect institutional reputation, make it harder to recruit, and I think the Cowboy nation is better than that, she said. I would hope that students would not be bystanders to hate, but they would be personally involved. If it was (an) international student, a Muslim student, an African-American student, an LGBT student, it doesnt matter hate is hate.

When you see something, say something, deal with it, speak to it.


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A Win for Free Speech and Gun Safety – New York Times

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:02 am

New York Times
A Win for Free Speech and Gun Safety
New York Times
As the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held on Thursday in striking down the key parts of the law, this is an obvious violation of the First Amendment, which generally prohibits restrictions on speech based on what's being said. It

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Pence offers ‘unwavering’ NATO pledge – York Daily Record/Sunday News

Posted: at 10:57 am

The Associated Press 9:55 p.m. ET Feb. 18, 2017

United States Vice President Mike Pence, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet for bilateral talks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. The annual weekend gathering is known for providing an open and informal platform to meet in close quarters.(Photo: Matthias Schrader, AP)

MUNICH (AP) America’s commitment to NATO is “unwavering,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday, reassuring allies about the direction the Trump administration might take but leaving open questions about where Washington saw its relationship with the European Union and other international organizations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for strengthening a range of multilateral bodies the EU, NATO and the United Nations and lauded the benefits of “a free, independent press.”

In his first foreign trip as vice president, Pence sought immediately to address concerns raised by President Donald Trump’s earlier comments questioning whether NATO was “obsolete.”

Pence told the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of diplomats and defense officials: “I bring you this assurance: The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to our trans-Atlantic alliance.”

“Your struggles are our struggles. Your success is our success,” Pence said. “And ultimately, we walk into the future together.”

Merkel, speaking before Pence, told him and other leaders that “acting together strengthens everyone.”

Her address came amid concerns among allies about the Trump administration’s approach to international affairs and fears that the U.S. may have little interest in working in international forums.

“Will we be able to continue working well together, or will we all fall back into our individual roles?” Merkel asked. “Let’s make the world better together and then things will get better for every single one of us.”

Trump has praised Britain’s decision to leave the 28-nation EU. And a leading contender to be the next U.S. ambassador to the EU, Ted Malloch, has said Washington is “somewhat critical and suspicious” of the bloc and would prefer to work with countries bilaterally.

Pence did not mention the European Union in his speech, something picked up on by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who wrote on Twitter: “In Munich, Vice President Pence renews America’s commitment to the Atlantic alliance. But not a word on the EU.”

Pence did say, however, that the U.S. was on a path of “friendship with Europe and a strong North Atlantic alliance.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also indicated skepticism about Pence’s pledges, saying that he agreed Europe needed to work with the U.S. on the basis of common values. But in a barely veiled reference to Trump, he said “both countries must define their interests, and our foreign policies should not be driven by ideology.”

“Ideologies lead to hostile concepts that might not be able to be overcome,” said Gabriel, who is chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Merkel’s junior coalition partner.

Going ahead, he said Europeans “should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

In pledging the Trump administration’s support for NATO, Pence said the U.S. expected all countries to live up to commitments to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product spending into defense.

“Europe’s defense requires your commitment as much as ours,” he said.

Merkel reiterated that Germany is committed to the 2 percent goal though Germany currently only contributes about 1.3 percent.

“We will do everything we can in order to fulfill this commitment,” she said. “But let me add, however, that I believe while NATO is very much in the European interest, it’s also in the American interest it’s a very strong alliance where we are united together.”

Gabriel suggested that development aid and humanitarian moves such as in Germany’s decision to take in nearly 900,000 refugees last year should also be part of the consideration when looking at defense spending.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press, however, that both things were necessary.

“We need a comprehensive approach and of course development aid and funding for refugees is also very important,” he said. “But there’s no contradiction between being focused on development aid and security actually the only way we can create development is to preserve the peace. We need security to be able to facilitate economic development.”

Merkel, who met with Pence one-on-one following their speeches, acknowledged that Europeans couldn’t fight global issues like Islamic extremist terrorism alone.

“We need the military power of the United States,” she said.

She renewed a call for Islamic religious authorities to speak “clear words on the demarcation of peaceful Islam and terrorism in the name of Islam.”

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told the security conference that Trump is working on a “streamlined” version of his executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations to iron out the difficulties that landed his first order in the courts.

Kelly said next time Trump will “make sure that there’s no one caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports” during the travel ban.

The nations affected by the original ban were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Kelly mentioned “seven nations” again on Saturday, leading to speculation they will all be included in Trump’s next executive order on immigration.

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Peter Breen’s Illinois Campus Free Speech Act – National Review

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:00 am

Illinois state representative Peter Breen (R., Lombard) has just introduced HB 2939, which would create the Illinois Campus Free Speech Act. Breens bill is based on the model campus free-speech legislation I recently co-authored along with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of the Goldwater Institute.

Upon introducing the bill, Breen said:

With everything going on nationally right now, this is a timely bill that will serve as a reminder that the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech and expression. Our public institutions of higher learning have historically embraced a commitment to free speech, but in recent years we have seen colleges and universities abdicate their responsibility to uphold free-speech principles. This initiative will put Illinois in the forefront of ensuring robust, respectful speech on college campuses.

As recently noted, North Carolina lieutenant governor Dan Forest has announced that his states General Assembly will soon be considering a bill based on the Goldwater proposal, and I will be testifying before the Florida state house next week on the Goldwater model campus free-speech bill at the invitation of Education Committee chair Michael Bileca.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at comments.kurtz@nationalreview.com

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Want to Save Free Speech? Listen to Rod Dreher, Jordan Cooper, Issues ETC., etc – Patheos (blog)

Posted: at 4:00 am

Stefan Molyneux: Free Speech is All That Matters.

Post by Nathan Rinne

Popular libertarian You Tuber Stefan Molyneux argues with all his rhetorical might that Free Speech is All That Matters.

I balk at his insistence. I dont like the way he puts that. While I find his supporting arguments for this persuasive and important when it comes to politics, overall I wonder about the implications of such words, such devotion. It almost sounds religious to me. Molyneux talks about the importance of humility and self-doubt, but of this he is certain!

Why the intensity of such conviction? In a related comment, Rachel Fulton Brown, University of Chicago professor, interestingly argues that:

.the freedom of speech enshrined in our national culture was established first and foremost as a freedom to wrestle with religion. Freedom of speech means little without this religious content, which is why cries for contentless free speech are so vacuous.

Versus Molyneux, I would argue that it is only in cultures influenced by Christianity that you get the fruits he so treasures.

So where is the West, guided thusfar by Christian rails, going? Will speech remain free? Is the artistic expression of a florist speech that should be protected, and not extracted as a mere product to be sold? Should local practices of Christian-only prayer at public meetings be ruled unconstitutional? (see yesterdays unanimous decision at the Washington state Supreme Court and the decision by a federal appeals court) Will Christians remain free not only to believe what they want, but to speak their faith in the public square? To practice it not only on Sundays, but in public? What of their schools and universities?

And should we, like the Apostle Paul, insist on our rights by fighting politically at least to some degree? Or by withdrawing in the hope of being strengthened to give an answer for the hope that we have when the world is finally ready to hear and believe again? This brings us to the ideas of Rod Dreher, the cultural observer at the American Conservative and a thoughtful Eastern Orthodox Christian. A few days ago, the well-known Christian commentator Albert Mohler had Rod Dreher on his show Thinking in Public to talk about Drehers new book The Benedict Option.

It was a fascinating and informative conversation, and one which I would recommend to everyone (I first talked about Drehers Benedict Option a couples years ago here).

The conversation between the two men ended with the following exchange, always a bit biting for folks like me (I need to hear it though!):

DREHER: The Lord gave me a second chance, and I would have all your listeners realize that if theyve got their heads buried in booksI love books, I write booksbut its no substitute for the life of prayer and service.

MOHLER: Well, a classical historic Protestant can only say amen to that. Thank you, Rod, for this conversation; Im deeply indebted to you.

That said, earlier in the conversation both men had clearly dealt with the importance of doctrine (note my bold in particular):

MOHLER: I read the articles that you wrote in the beginning, frankly I follow your column very closely at the American Conservative, and weve been watching you make this argument out loud for some time. And reading the book, it seems to me its significantly different than what I might have expected in terms of some your early articles on the Benedict Option, so let me just spell that out. You began by saying youre not calling for us to head for the hillsyou just used an illustration of heading for the hillsand as I look at those early articles in the American Conservative, it did appear you were calling, more or lessand those are of course partial arguments, just a few hundred wordsbut it appears you were calling to head for the hills. Nuance that a bit in terms of where you are in the book.

DREHER: I appreciate the chance to clarify this, and in fact my own thinking has been clarified through exchanges with my readers, through talking with Catholics and evangelical friends, and sort of working through these ideas. When people hear, Head for the hills, they think, you know, to light out for the mountains and build a compound and sit there and wait for the end. I dont think were called to that. I know Im not called to that; most people arent called to that. But it does mean doing what these monks in Norcia did initially. They were living right there in the town, but they were behind monastery walls. What does that mean for us? It means as lay Christians, we have to build some kind of walls to separate ourselves from the world so that we can continue to go out into the world and minister to people and be who Christ asked us to be. The culture itself is so toxic and so anti-Christian that were just not going to be able to make it if we let anybody and anything come into our hearts, into our imaginations. The monks in Norcia say, Were called to be monks, but we cannot be for the pilgrims who come to this monastery what Christ asked us to be if we dont have that time away behind our walls for prayer and study and work. I want to take that ethic and take it to lay Christian life. We need to have, for example, Christian schools. Not to shelter our kids from any bad idea that comes from the outside, but in order for them to be nurtured and to build that resilience within so when they do get out into the world, they know who they are, they know what they believe and why they believe it. And more importantly, they have participated and built practices necessary to live out this faith and to get the faith in their bones. Because if the faith is only in your head, if its only a series of arguments, youre not going to make it.

MOHLER: You talk about a conversation, rather haunting actually, at a Christian university or college campus where the professors were telling you that so many Christian young people come, and even though they basically hold to some knowledge, genuine knowledge, of Christianity, its so superficial that it tends not even to last very long inside whats defined as a Christian college and university.

DREHER: Thats true. I mean, the situation is horrible with Catholics, but this conversation youre recalling was on an evangelical campus and the professors were saying, We try our best; we can only have these kids for four years. And these are all kids who came out of evangelical schools and evangelical churches. But this is the youth group culture. All it gave them was emotion and having fun. And one of these professors even said to me, You know, I doubt that most of our kids are going to be able to form stable families. That shocked me. I said, Whys that? He said, Because theyve never seen it.

MOHLER: I thought in reading that, once again, place still matters a great dealand I mean place not just in terms of geography, but that and social context and social placementbecause I think of the students at our school and I think the vast majority of them did see an intact family It was still close enough to them, if they didnt come from it, then they saw it. But even in talking with students, you realize in concentric rings of their relationships, you get just one ring out, and then not to mention two or three rings out, and its very hard to find. And I think thats so well documented in something like J.D. Vances work now. Where once you would have thought that respect for family and a traditional Christian morality and sexuality and all of that wouldve been taken for granted, its now hard to find on the ground.

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod President Matthew Harrison shows off his copy of the Book of Concord.

I do not fully share Rod Drehers attitude when it comes to how we as Christians should engage the culture. That said, I can certainly say Amen to this exchange above. Because, to ape Molyneux, Jesus Christ is all that matters.

When I look back at my own life, I have no idea why I am as ferociously Christian Lutheran as I am. Not everyone in my family has kept the faith I hold on to. I think, however, that one thing that was very helpful for me was learning about the history of the Lutheran Church. I am thankful that I learned the content of Martin Luthers Small Catechism as a child, but the importance of the words found therein really changed for me when I learned about the 1580 Book of Concord, otherwise known as the Lutheran Confessions (not even reading Martin Luthers Large Catechism in college really helped me like this did).

Actually, not even that is the full truth. More accurately, the Small Catechism became much more important to me after I learned about the history of the church that produced the Lutheran Confessions. For me, getting in touch with the living history underlying the doctrines in the Book of Concord was essential. As the Reformed commentator Michael Horton likes to put it, the doctrine is in the drama. One notes that this is definitely the case for the churchs book, the Bible. We are creatures who hunger not just for propositional truths, but the meaningful stories that help situate the important things we should know.

To that effect, I cant help but recommend some of the podcasts Pastor Jordan Cooper has been doing on his show lately where he digs into the Lutheran Confessions, giving a good deal of background knowledge along the way. The Small Catechism does indeed cover the core elements of the Christian faith, and we can never get to the bottom of the truths it contains. That said, as we mature and look to get our bearings in life, I think that knowing more about Bible, church history, and the history of the Reformation is critical in these last days to ground us in the faith.

An Introduction to Confessional Christianity

The Ecumenical Creeds and the Augsburg Confession

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Smalcald Articles, and Luthers Catechisms

The Formula of Concord

(Id also be remiss to point out that the fine show Issues ETC. also has done many excellent shows on the Book of Concord).

And that, I think, cant not be good for any nation, including ours.

Now in a revised edition called How Christianity Changed the World.


Images: Molyneux picture from Wikipedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license ; Pastor Matthew Harrison with BOC from http://mercyjourney.blogspot.com/2009/04/minnie-me-book-of-concord.html

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Want to Save Free Speech? Listen to Rod Dreher, Jordan Cooper, Issues ETC., etc – Patheos (blog)

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First Amendment survives challenge from Florida gun law – Minnesota Public Radio News (blog)

Posted: at 3:55 am

If youre at all a fan of the First Amendment, there was plenty to like about todays decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down a Florida law that prohibited doctors from asking whether there are guns in the home (heres the full law in question).

But lets focus on the concurring opinion of William Pryor, who was on the short list to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pryor is a conservative, so he took great pains to point out that the decision is not about the Second Amendment; its about the First.

And much of his opinion was aimed strictly at conservatives, apparently anticipating their criticism.

Heres some examples.

If we upheld the Act, we could set a precedent for many other restrictions of potentially unpopular speech. Think of everything the government might seek to ban between doctor and patient as supposedly irrelevant to the practice of medicine. Without the protection of free speech, the government might seek to ban discussion of religion between doctor and patient. The state could stop a surgeon from praying with his patient before surgery or punish a Christian doctor for asking patients if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior or punish an atheist for telling his patient that religious belief is delusional.

Without the protection of free speech, the government might seek to censor political speech by doctors. The state might prevent doctors from encouraging their patients to vote in favor of universal health care or prohibit a physician from criticizing the Affordable Care Act. Some might argue that such topics are irrelevant to a particular patients immediate medical needs, but the First Amendment ensures that doctors cannot be threatened with state punishment for speech even if it goes beyond diagnosis and treatment.

Pryor said doctors already discuss highly controversial topics with patients. Whether to play football, or telling teenagers to abstain from sex, and recommending organ donation.

He called the very idea a thought experiment and then lowered the boom with this beautiful piece of prose:

If today the majority can censor so-called heresy, then tomorrow a new majority can censor what was yesterday so-called orthodoxy.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion . . . . Our decision applies this timeless principle to speech between doctors and patients, regardless of the content. The First Amendment requires the protection of ideas that some people might find distasteful because tomorrow the tables might be turned.

Todays decision was not close. The vote was 10-to-1.

The one belonged to Gerald Bard Tjoflat, who is 87 years old and is the longest-service justice in the U.S. Court of Appeals system.

He does see the case as a Second Amendment question:

The majority and I agree that Florida possesses a substantial interest in protecting both Floridians reasonable expectation of privacy during medical treatment and the full exercise of their Second Amendment rights. If that is so, then it is hard to imagine a law more precisely tailored to advance those substantial state interests than the one presently before us. The Act does not categorically restrict the speech of medical professionals on the subject of firearms. Instead, it simply requires an individualized, good faith judgment of the necessity of speech related to firearm ownership to provide competent medical care to a patient.

a constitutional right is a right to be free of governmental restrictions on the exercise of the right it is not a right to be free of private criticism for the exercise of the right, much less private questions about the exercise of the right, law professor Eugene Volokh in his Washington Post column analyzing todays decision. A doctor no more violates your Second Amendment rights by asking you about whether you own a gun than the doctor violates your First Amendment rights by asking you how much TV your children watch, or your Lawrence v. Texas sexual autonomy rights by asking you whether youve been having sex with multiple partners.

Heres the courts full opinion:

Bob Collins has been with Minnesota Public Radio since 1992, emigrating to Minnesota from Massachusetts. He was senior editor of news in the 90s, ran MPRs political unit, created the MPR News regional website, invented the popular Select A Candidate, started the two most popular blogs in the history of MPR and every day laments that his Minnesota Fantasy Legislature project never caught on.

NewsCut is a blog featuring observations about the news. It provides a forum for an online discussion and debate about events that might not typically make the front page. NewsCut posts are not news stories but reflections , observations, and debate.

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First Amendment survives challenge from Florida gun law – Minnesota Public Radio News (blog)

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Nash says ‘there’s more to be done’ on diversity at State of the County address – Gwinnettdailypost.com

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:38 am

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Free Speech, Free Religion, Voting and Taxes – Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Posted: at 1:07 am

Wall Street Journal (subscription)
Free Speech, Free Religion, Voting and Taxes
Wall Street Journal (subscription)
Letter writer Gary Hartzell makes an interesting statement in his Should Politics From the Pulpit Be Banned? (Letters, Feb. 10). His letter defending the 1954 Johnson Amendment that authorizes tax-exempt status for religious organizations only so

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Free Speech, Free Religion, Voting and Taxes – Wall Street Journal (subscription)

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