On the Ban of Bake Sales

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at the bake sale

at the bake sale (Photo credit: tiny banquet committee)

Almost every day I read an article from a news source and wonder, “Is this for real?” and I cross-check other sources to make sure the story is accurate. Here is an example that turns out to be accurate: A number of schools in the United States have banned bake sales as fundraisers due to their selling “junk food” and alleged encouragement of obesity. Apparently one place this has happened is in the schools of Massachusetts (surprise!) and another place is a district in Maryland.  Now obesity is not a good thing–it can lead to serious health problems. It is also true that Americans have an addiction to junk food. However, to police what children can sell at bake sales smacks of Puritanical totalitarianism. Those Americans who are not busybodies about violators of religious orthodoxy find another religion, whether it be the War on Drugs or the fight against junk food. In the past, Prohibition was the great Puritanical crusade. Some Americans are not happy unless they can force their nosiness down the throats of others by government power. Thus, food totalitarians have banned bake sales, which are excellent means of fundraising by school organizations. Many clubs on the university campus where I teach have bake sales, and I buy and enjoy the “junk food.” To any Puritan who wishes to force his beliefs on me, my response is “Don’t tread on me.” Thankfully, parents see the silliness of the bake sale ban. A simple way to stop such nonsense is to elect a school board that is not composed of nosy busybodies who have nothing better to do than to police free people’s food. They may reply, “But some of this junk food is being sold to children!” Unless parents have a child who is morbidly obese and overstuff him, which is an extreme case anyway, if parents have no problem with their children eating what is sold at bake sales, there should be freedom to decide what foods to buy. Those arranging bake sales should also have the right to sell cookies, brownies, and other staples of bake sales, as well as the usual hot dogs and hamburgers. If Ms. Yogurt Breath still wants to discourage junk foods (by the way, I like yogurt), she can use education and try to convince people to change their minds. It is way past time to get the food police out of the schools of the United States.

 

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The Health and Human Services Department’s Attack on Faith-Based Organizations

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Logo of the United States Department of Health...

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The United States Department of Health and Human Services mandated that employers offer health care insurance to employees that includes payments not only for standard birth control, but also for abortificants. Faith-based organizations are not exempt from this mandate. The Roman Catholic Church is resisting this mandate, as well they should, and since abortificants are also paid for, all faith-based groups who oppose abortion are being forced to violate their beliefs. I have no doubt that the social democrats and socialists who read this post will disagree, which is their right. What about the right of a faith-based organization to establish employment benefits in line with its beliefs? H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., a bioethicist and physician at the Baylor College of Medicine, has argued for ideological pluralism in health care choices. That is, if someone accepts abortion, she can buy insurance through a company that accepts abortion. Roman Catholic groups could have what Engelhardt calls “Vaticare” or something like that. Now Engelhardt is a Classical Liberal who is consistent that pluralism be respected. What the government is doing is the equivalent of telling “Vaticare” or similar organizations that their beliefs be damned. The government will now tell you what to do, and if you don’t like it, suck it up. The result, if this rule is not overturned, will be a mass closing of faith-based organizations that help a significant number of people.

Although Mr. Obama has tended to be a friend of Wall Street and warmongers, his ideological roots are strongly Marxist, and, I would claim, totalitarian. The fact that he is no more totalitarian than Dubya does not change the fact that Obama desires as much power as did Mr. Bush. Regulatory agencies have been one way that government can gain power without legislative approval. Congress should establish a conscience clause in the health care bill in order to allow for faith-based organizations to offer insurance to their employees consistent with their own beliefs. To do otherwise would be another step toward a “social democratic benevolent” dictatorship that the most radical on the left wing desire. Although this is by now a tired cliche, it remains true that freedom of religion was never construed by the founding fathers to mean freedom from religion. I am pleased that Eastern Orthodox Bishops (The Council of Canonical Orthodox Bishops) as well as conservative Protestants have joined the effort to reverse this rule change. I hope they succeed.

The Tea Party–Are they Finally Supporting Cutting Defense Spending?

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U.S. Defense Spending Trends from 2000-2011

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The Tea Party Movement has energized the Republican party and poured new blood into a party that had become corrupt and bloated with country club Republicans and RINOs. However, like many self-styled “conservatives,” they did not seem interested in cutting defense spending. Yet now there are Tea Party leaders who are saying that defense spending should not be off limits in attempts to bring government spending under control. This is a positive development.

The military became bloated during the 1950s as a result of the Cold War. Instead of combating Communism, which would have eventually collapsed under its own inefficiency in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, the Cold War created a vast “military-industrial complex,” to use President Eisenhower‘s words from his 1961 Farewell Address. Not only does a bloated military suck up government spending, it encourages the United States to be involved in unnecessary wars that feed the defense industries with fat profits. Vietnam, the U. S.’s involvement in Bosnia, and Iraq are good examples; some response to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was necessary, but an approach using smaller special forces units and CIA agents, which was the original CIA plan, probably would have worked better than sending over 100,000 American troops. The more the military-industrial complex is fed by war, the more money it demands, and the more money defense-related companies with government contract make.

In addition, a large standing army is a threat to freedom–deep cuts in defense spending could reduce the military’s size and limit the potential threat to both the sovereignty of the states and to individual Americans. Concentrations of power in large organizations, whether those organizations be big government or big business, is dangerous to freedom–and the combination of big defense industries, big government, and a large standing army, is particularly dangerous. More than just “cutting the fat” out of the defense budget is required to bring defense spending under control–and I wonder if any Tea Party leaders want the deep cuts necessary. Hopefully the fact that some Tea Party leaders are at least open to cutting defense spending will lead to a broader discussion of the need for deeper cuts to control the power of the military-industrial complex.

Compassionate Totalitarianism

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Communist propaganda - Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu

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The Left believes it knows what is best for others–and those who do not agree are simply ignorant of what the “experts” know. Usually the “experts” are in the highly sheltered world of academia where ideas that otherwise would only be accepted by someone in an insane asylum are routinely supported–ideas ranging from offering only palliative care to the elderly to bestiality. I confess that I am a part of that academic world, but I can also say from first hand experience that it is sheltered from the real world. It is easy, from the confines of an academic position, to pontificate on the best form of government or economics. When liberal Democrats or neoconservative (i.e., pseudoconservative) Republicans try to apply these ideas to real public policy, disaster results. In the name of compassion those in Arizona who pass a law in line with federal immigration law are persecuted by the federal government for trying to control their borders. In the name of compassion the United States has forced millions of people into a situation in which they are permanently dependent on the government. In the name of compassion children were bussed at 4 a.m. from their homes to schools many miles from their neighborhoods in order to achieve the abstract idea of “racial balance.” In the name of compassion (to protect Americans from terrorists) the government can spy on its own people, view them naked in an x-ray, and touch them in places that in other contexts would be considered to be sexual assault. In the name of compassion for groups the Left has sanctified, good people, both men and women, people of various races, have been fired from jobs in academia for questioning the zeitgeist of the Left, especially on issues such as homosexuality. In the name of compassion a pharmacist who disagrees with abortion is forced either to give a woman an abortificant drug or lose his job. In Canada, in the name of compassion and tolerance for homosexuals, a pastor who preaches against the moral acceptability of homosexuality can be (and one was) arrested. In the name of compassion organs are routinely taken from the “brain dead” by doctors who know that the donors have been declared dead due to a law that was proposed for the chief purpose of increasing the number of available donors. Now in the name of compassion people who are not dead are declared dead after two minutes of heart stoppage to take their organs.

I predict in the future someone will propose that churches, in the name of compassion and tolerance, lose their tax-exempt status if they do not ordain women to the ministry. Eventually the loss of tax exempt status may spread to churches who refuse to ordain practicing homosexuals. Sadly, one day, in the name of compassion and tolerance traditional Christians, as they were in the days of the pre-Constantinian Roman Empire, will be jailed for expressing traditional standards of morality. Liberalism deals with abstractions–its drive for the abstraction of “equality” knows no limits–and the lust of its adherents for power to impose their vision of the good onto the “ignorant masses” knows no limits. In the end, leftism becomes a lust for power and domination–in the name of compassion.

Linguistic Fascists

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American society has spawned a group of individuals who make an industry of being offended and whose favorite sentence is “I’m outraged.” There are times I wish to tell them to take their outrage and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine. These fascists wish to change the language people speak to reflect their political views of what reality ought to be in terms of race, class, gender, and “sexual orientation.” Instead of language being a slow product of societal evolution, they believe language can be controlled by an elite group so that people must speak and write the language of those elite–or else.

An example is the so-called “non-sexist language” that has been forced on academia. For centuries, the English language used the terms “man” and “mankind” to refer to people of both sexes, and everyone recognized that this implied no favoritism of men over women. And though these critics point out that “they” was used as the singular for both sexes in the eighteenth century, for three hundred years “he” has been used–“they” in the eighteenth century was part of the normal evolution of language. “They” used today as a singular term is an artificial imposition that no one would use who wishes to write in good literary form. Academics have told me privately that they agree with me that the traditional terms for the human race were not sexist–but in public they tow the party line. While this is cowardly in one sense, in another sense it is a matter of survival, for the linguistic fascists have the political power in academia.

Over the years I have learned to write more elegantly in “gender-inclusive language” since many journals require it–but it is a difficult task. But on this blog I will use traditional terminology, and I generally do so in my public speaking and private conversation. There is one area in which I refuse to use “gender-inclusive language,” and that is with language about God.

Although it is true that the Bible uses both masculine and feminine imagery about God–God in His Being is neither male nor female–in direct address He is referred to as “Father,” not as “Mother.” I used to believe that God could be addressed as both because I did not understand the reason for the exclusively masculine form of address. In the Christian tradition, God is both transcendent and immanent. If God were called “Mother,” this would tend to overemphasize the immanence of God–the image “Mother” reminds one too much of “Mother Earth.” It is more of a pantheistic image than a theistic image. God as Father emphasizes both distance and closeness–both transcendence and immanence. I believe these to be natural images rooted in real differences between men and women. I have heard too many prayers by liberal ministers who use the term “Godself”–I gag every time I hear it. There are theological journals who require “inclusive language” about God–I will not send an article to those journals, for such would violate my religious beliefs. Linguistic fascism wins out in those journals.

Students are taught such pablum in schools, especially the singular “they”–and I cannot count off for such usage in their papers. I would if I could. Most ordinary people continue to use traditional language, and in recent years “man,” “mankind,” and “chairman” have come back into vogue in many news broadcasts. In academia a committee chairman is a piece of furniture, a “chair.” I wonder how they tolerate a term such as “humankind” since that word has “man” in it. Perhaps academic fascists will change the spelling to “humynkind.”

Academics live a sheltered life that emphasizes coming up with new ideas for newness sake. That trend, combined with the influence of the 1960s radicals on academia, have stifled intellectual freedom in many places. Part of such stifling of freedom is imposing politically correct language on professors and students, to the point that some professors will penalize students’ grades if they use traditional language for both sexes.

What can be done? Academics who are in “safer” places need to speak up more against academic fascism, including linguistic fascism. Those whose jobs would be in trouble if they spoke up can talk to those people, including students, whom they trust. The process will be “three steps forward, two steps back,” and there is a risk of failure–but such risk is worth standing up to intellectual totalitarians.