Book Banning In Northwest Arkansas As Culture War Infects Nation

There is no way to have missed the latest culture war. Book banning is once again a pastime for a certain demographic in the nation which consists mainly of conservative white, rural parents. Nothing says ‘welcome to the 21st century’ and modernity than striking out at books.

This year books about racial matters and ones dealing with gay and transgender issues are getting special attention. These actions against books are taking place in areas with high numbers of Republican voters.

For instance in Virginia, the Spotsylvania County School Board has directed staff to begin removing books that contain “sexually explicit” material—but please keep in mind what constitutes explicit material between the views of a book-burner and that of a librarian is akin to the difference between a suspension bridge and a tomato.

And I do not use the term book burner lightly in this post. I mean it literally.

Two board members, Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg, said they would like to see the removed books burned.

“I think we should throw those books in a fire,” Abuismail said, and Twigg said he wants to “see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”

If my readers think there is a harshness being exhibited towards conservatives who wish to ban books, please be assured I have railed equally about liberals who carp about Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird“, John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” or “Huckleberry Finn

Banning books is just wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

What caught my attention about this broader issue was hearing of the action taken earlier this year at a school in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, not too far from Fayetteville. Their school board voted to remove a book about transgender teens from the high school library. The book, “Beyond Magenta” by Susan Kuklin, talks about the experiences and lives of transgender teens.

How this one incident played out is typical of the methods used by other parents across the country.

Three parents learned the book was in the library at the high school and filed a formal complaint to have the book removed because of some parts the parents found inappropriate.

Three people and their interpretations of inappropriate should be the first stick to your eye with this story. Here then is how the local newspaper, The Herald Leader reported the news.

On Dec. 17, a committee of seven voting members convened to hear the complaints regarding the book, according to a report by the committee.

After hearing the complaints, the committee considered the book in its entirety not taking selected portions out of context, the report states.

The majority of the committee voted that the book meets the criteria and should remain in the library, the report states.

There was lengthy discussion by the committee that while this book contains graphic language and sexual situations it does not preclude the book as a whole from having educational value nor does it change that fact that it does meet the selection criteria, the report states.

After the three parents received the news they decided to appeal to the school board.

Elsewhere in the south Greg Locke, a truly frightful right-wing preacher in Nashville, Tennessee led his congregation in a scene straight out of 1930s Germany….a nighttime book burning at his church.

This is not the first time the nation has heard from the fringe right-wingers that leftists are writing school textbooks and children are being taught history–gasp–in a manner consistent with the way events played out, and with the wide lens of history so to add perspectives that were not considered when everyone supposedly came from an Ozzie and Harriet family.

In Republican districts, the daggers of censorship are coming out to limit what children can learn through books. While the majority of people see the danger to both education and democracy through such efforts, the book burners miss the most obvious point.

When they fear a book–and fear of the bigger and more diverse world is precisely what these parents harbor and then unleash–only drives kids to the very text that is so ‘taboo’. After all, every book published is just a few clicks away with the internet. Having a book taken from the library shelves only makes it more tantalizing for young readers and teenagers.

And so it goes.

Diversity, Culture Remain Major Fault Lines Between Liberals And Conservatives

Some interesting findings that strike to the heart of our political fault lines.

Since the presidential election when asked to sum up what happened to allow for Donald Trump to win I have said the following.

A white male goes to work and finds his supervisor is now a woman.  Following his lunch break he finds his job has been replaced with automation and he now knows he does not have the needed skills to compete.  Thinking he will just head home he first heads to the men’s room and finds that there is a transgender there.  Stopping at a grocery store he encounters ethnic backgrounds from around the world.    In short some white men are not suited for the modern world and are simply lost.   The reasons for this are not the world’s problems but instead the personal choices those men made.

Polling data now show the depth of these fissures in our nation.  Education is the route to unwind them.

Think about the biggest political stories over the last month — Charlottesville, the Arpaio pardon, Trump’s DACA move. They’re stories, in large part, about culture and the country’s changing diversity, which remain some of the main fault lines in American politics, according to a new NBC/WSJ poll examining social trends.

Overall, 55 percent of respondents in the poll say they’re comfortable with the nation becoming more diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles, gender roles, languages, cultures and experiences. Twenty-four percent say they’re uneasy with these changes, because they believe what makes the United States special is the country’s uniquely American experience, speaking English and sharing a background that brings everyone together. Another 19 percent say they’re neither comfortable nor uneasy.

But the poll finds striking differences by political party, geography and age when it comes to the percentage of Americans saying they’re comfortable with the changes to American society.

Bottom line: More than 8-in-10 Clinton voters are comfortable with a changing America, but only a quarter of Trump voters are. “The ‘Culture Wars’ have been with us forever, and they remain today,” says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

“America has gone through rapid change, and the results of the Social Trend survey tell us that a majority of Americans are now comfortable with our increasingly diverse country,” McInturff adds. “But this sits at the heart of the Clinton-Trump divide, as 81 percent of Clinton voters say they are ‘comfortable’ with these changes, compared to only 28 percent of Trump voters.”


“An Earthquake” In Catholic Church’s Attitude Towards Gay People

Culture wars even at the Vatican coming down in favor of common sense and modernity.

In a dramatic shift in tone, a Vatican document said on Monday that homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” and asked if Catholicism could accept gays and recognize positive aspects of same-sex couples.

The document, prepared after a week of discussions at an assembly of 200 bishops on the family, said the Church should challenge itself to find “a fraternal space” for homosexuals without compromising Catholic doctrine on family and matrimony.

While the text did not signal any change in the Church’s condemnation of homosexual acts or its opposition to gay marriage, it used language that was less judgmental and more compassionate than past Vatican statements under previous popes.

The document will be the basis for discussion for the second and final week of the assembly, known as a synod, which was called by Pope Francis and focuses on the theme of the family.

It will also serve for further reflection among Catholics around the world ahead of another, definitive synod next year.

“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home,” said the document, known by its Latin name “relatio”.

“Are our communities capable of proving that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?” it asked.

John Thavis, Vatican expert and author of the bestselling 2013 book “The Vatican Diaries”, called the document “an earthquake” in the Church’s attitude towards gays.

“The document clearly reflects Pope Francis’ desire to adopt a more merciful pastoral approach on marriage and family issues,” he said.

Finally, Someone Blames ‘The Gays’ For Hurricane Sandy

I have been waiting for the real cause of Hurricane Sandy to be reported in the news for days.  But you know that ‘damn liberal media’ only wants to paint the monster storm as more evidence of climate change.

But edumacated people know better!

The real cause for Hurricane Sandy is a direct result of those folks with nice shoes and trimmed facial hair who know what temperature to serve brie.

But do you think liberal CNN would cover that fact?


But thankfully Chaplain John McTernan who has a hair cut that proves he goes nowhere near a gay barber is brave enough to venture forth with the truth.

This plump puritan says the storm must be God’s judgment on gays, and punishing President Obama for coming out in support of marriage equality.

But McTernan is more than just a culture warrior, he is also an international prophet.  He believes ever since George Bush Sr. signed the Madrid Peace Process to divide the land of Israel in 1991, America has been under God’s judgment.

That proves how stupid I have been all these years.  I thought God had doomed America back when we had the audacity to add fluoride to the drinking water.

I was not aware that America was under the pro-homosexual agenda given the lack of full civil rights that still impacts all gay couples, but McTernan  knows better.

For all the misguided anger directed at gays from folks like McTernan at least we still have respect for those born without a full frontal lobe, and allow them to have freedom to drool horse-rot in public.

John McTerna is proof of that.

Republicans And “Forcible Rape”, GOP Wants Culture War

I know the elections were last November and I am getting older and so things can be more difficult to recall and retain……

But did anyone hear last fall that Republicans were going to tackle abortion within the first weeks of their time leading the House of Representatives?

I thought this was a jobs….smack President Obama……smack the President again….jobs… type of House of Representatives.  I was not aware the culture wars were starting again. 

Did the American people sign up for more culture wars and I was not aware of it?

Furthermore, did anyone hear last fall the Republicans were doing to redefine the term rape?  And in so doing tick women in the nation?

Look, as a male I am outraged at this action.

I can only image what women would feel about the term “forcible rape”.    How cheap, insensitive, and demeaning to those victims of rape.

Today the three-thumb crowd, better known as Congressional Republicans, removed the offending language.  But only after being taken to the woodshed by many from around the nation.

House Republicans have opted to drop the word “forcible” from a section of House bill about abortion that addresses rape, following widespread condemnation from Democrats and abortion rights activists. 

The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” also known as H.R. 3, is a bill that would make permanent the “Hyde Amendment” – a provision banning the use of taxpayer subsidies for abortions that currently requires annual Congressional renewal. 

The bill came under fire earlier this week, however, for changes it made to the original language of the amendment – which includes exemptions for women who have become pregnant as a result of rape, incest or life-threatening illnesses. In the language of H.R. 3, only pregnancies resulting from “forcible rape” were exempted. The bill would also limit  exemptions among victims of incest to minors only. 

Critics of the bill argued that Republicans were trying to “redefine rape,” and that federal coverage for the abortions of rape and incest victims would be dramatically limited.

What Motivates And Guides Caffeinated Politics?

I was reminded this past week that with over 2,500 posts on this blog, there are some over-riding themes and principles that are repeated over and over.  I thought it might be fun to think of the guiding issues and principles found on this blog, and write them down.

…. The process of governing is more important than the politics of any issue.  In addition a  fair and orderly atmosphere both in electing officals, and creating legislation is required to insure a fair and equal playing field.

….Campaign money, and the ever-consuming need for more and more of it,  pollutes the political process, and undermines the enactment of sound public policy.

…. The Supreme Court (both state and national) requires the highest and most ethical standards applied to applicants.  In the states, it is more appropriate to appoint justices through the merit selection process than to have elections for the judiciary.

…. Drunk driving is a most troubling  problem that will require tough-minded legislators being more interested in doing what is right, than  carrying alcohol for the Tavern League.

…. Tough anti-smoking laws are just common sense.

…. Going with principle (Dubai deal) is more important than following the prevailing political mood.

…. Torture is wrong, and spawns more terrorists while undermining a nation’s moral code.

…. Darfur needs the world.  Sadly, history will severely judge the  majorityfor not caring.

…. Preventive wars are a waste  of a nation’s  treasured resources.

….Israel needs to stop the illegal settlement policy, and Palestinians should have, must have, and will have a homeland to call their own.  When it comes to Israel the tail must stop wagging the dog.

….Polar bears are needing us to care more about them, and to reach an understanding about the need to address climate change.

…. Gun control is needed to insure the safety of the citizenry.  Strict regulations on the manufacture, sale, registration, and usage is the means for a safer nation.

…. Marriage matters, for all.   Period.

…. Cheating on a partner, married or otherwise, is smarmy and wrong.  Getting preachy about this issue is still OK.

…. Books are some of our best friends.

…. Just because a singer is older does not mean that they have less value or creative ability.

…. History is in need of more study and understanding, not only in our schools, but also with the average citizen of this nation.

….Never underestimate the lack of humor from Mormons.

…. Never underestimate the damage one Bishop (Molrino) can cause.

…. When it looks like it is a slow news day check in on the antics of Sarah Palin and the Clampetts of Palinland.

…. Newspapers are the foundation for long-form investigative reporting, and an essential ingredient to democracy.

….Journalists are as vital to the nations democracy and well being as our soldiers, sailors. and air force.

….Radio and TV personalities should be considered guests in our house, and when they offend should be rejected from our premises. 

…. Elvis is still The King.

…. So is Roy Acuff.

…. The Grand Ole Opry is a national treasure, and true slice of Americana.

Differences On How To End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Heats Up

What would Harry Truman have done? 

A report due out later today from the Palm Center, a California think tank working to end the ban on gays in the military, blames Washington gay rights activists and their allies in Congress for dropping the ball on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The center has made the case for pressing President Obama for an executive order ending the ban on gays in the military, arguing that those facts on the ground — gays openly serving — would be irreversible, and could be followed later by Congressional action. But other gay rights advocates, led by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Human Rights Campaign, and members of Congress like Rep. Patrick Murphy have argued that a legislative repeal should be the primary goal, as an executive order could be reversed by a new president.

The report by Palm Center director Aaron Belkin — which you can read in full here — argues that the legislative path has “stalled”:

Many people seemed to agree that the two-part strategy would make political and operational sense. Once gays are allowed to serve openly and legally, it will be impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube. Operationally, there is no way to force gays back into the closet. And given that 75 percent of the public favors open gay service, it would be unwise politically for some future Republican President to try to reverse the order.5 Indeed, when former President George Bush tried to reverse one of Bill Clinton’s executive orders mandating equal treatment for non-military gay employees of the federal government, he could not get away with it.

As the two-part strategy continued to generate real heat on the administration, however, the gay community has taken its foot off the gas pedal. The chorus of gay and gay-friendly activists, journalists and politicos calling for an exclusive emphasis on legislative repeal has grown in recent weeks, and as opponents of the two-part strategy made their case with increasing fervor, the media’s criticisms of the administration have softened, and a senior administration spokesperson has again started to use conditional language as to whether “don’t ask, don’t tell will be repealed.”

James Dobson: “We Can Say We Have Lost All Those Battles”

What must it have felt like when no one wanted to attend crushing by use of heavy rocks for ‘witches’ after the late 1600’s?  What happens when a ‘man of God’ calls for a holy war and no one comes?  What happens when the nation discovers that the culture war is nothing more than a hate-filled waste of time?  James Dobson might know the answer to all those  questions.

Leading evangelicals have admitted that their association with George W. Bush has not only hurt the cause of social conservatives but contributed to the failure of the key objectives of their 30-year struggle.

James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family – one of the largest Christian groups in the country – and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reverse for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff.

“We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action,” he said.

“We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”

Despite changing the political agenda for a generation, and helping push the Republicans to the Right, evangelicals have won only minor victories in limiting the availability of abortion. Meanwhile the number of states permitting civil partnerships between homosexuals is rising, and the campaign to restore prayer to schools after 40 years – a decision that helped create the Moral Majority – has got nowhere.

Though the struggle will go on, the confession of Mr Dobson, who started his ministry from scratch in 1977, came amid growing concern that church attendance in the United States is heading the way of Britain, where no more than ten per cent worship every week.

Unease is rising that a nation founded – in the view of evangelicals – purely as a Christian country will soon, like northern Europe, become “post-Christian”.

Recent surveys have suggested that the American religious landscape has shifted significantly. A study by Trinity College in Connecticut found that 11 per cent fewer Americans identify themselves as Christian than 20 years ago. Those stating no religious affiliation or declaring themselves agnostic has risen from 8.2 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2008.

Despite a common distaste among evangelicals for the new Democratic president, who is regarded as at best a die-hard, pro-abortion liberal and at worst a Marxist, a serious rift is emerging among social conservatives in the wake of his election victory.

A growing legion of disenchanted grassroots believers does not blame liberal opponents for the decline in faith or the failures of the religious Right. Rather, they hold responsible Republicans – particularly Mr Bush – and groups like Focus on the Family that have worked with the party, for courting Christian voters only to betray promises of pursuing the conservative agenda once in office.

“Conservatives became so obsessed with the political process we have forgotten the gospel,” said Steve Deace, an evangelical radio talk show host in Iowa who broadcast a recording of Mr Dobson’s address, which he said had appeared on Focus on the Family’s website before disappearing.

Mr Deace added: “All that time spent trying to sit at the top table is not time well spent. Republicans say one thing and do another.”

In the southern Bible belt, many like the Rev Joe Morecraft, head of a small Presbyterian church near Atlanta, judge that the Christian movement failed not because its views were unpalatable for moderates and liberals, but because “it was not Christian enough”.

A deserter from the Republican Party, he said Christians had been corrupted by politics and needed to return to the basics of local social work and preaching the gospel, rather than devoting their “energies to getting a few people elected”.

He is not alone in questioning how evangelical leaders such as Mr Dobson could spend a career campaigning against abortion and then eventually support a candidate like Senator John McCain, who has dubious “pro-life” credentials.

Ray Moore, president of Exodus Mandate, a South Carolina-based group which organises home-schooling for Christian children, said: “Political involvement by Christians is not wrong, but that’s all the big groups did for 25 years. They were more concerned with fund-raising and political power than they were with our children’s welfare.”

“It’s a failed movement,” he said. “We will end up like England, where the church has utterly lost its way.”