Desperate Times Call for Temperate Measures

“Kill ’em all, God will recognize his own.”

Massacre at Beziers, the Albigensian Crusade

Some of the most common reactions to a piece I wrote about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial verdict (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2021/11/21/juries-judgments-justice/) were to point out the criminal record of the two men killed by Rittenhouse, the violent nature of the protest allegedly by mostly outside agitators, and lack of action by authorities.

What the criminal record of these two men has to do with the matter is beyond me. Unless it is to confer added justification to Rittenhouse shooting them as if he did society a favor. After all, Rittenhouse had no idea who he was shooting. He had, under Wisconsin law, no duty to retreat and the right the stand his ground, and nothing else.

Would it have made a difference if Rittenhouse shot a nun, a rabbi, and an imam who threatened him? Who knows? But, perhaps with his track record, nuns, rabbis, and imams might be wise to use caution in dealing with Mr. Rittenhouse, or those who will inevitably try to emulate him.

Do we really think 17-year-old pretend militiamen—or anyone else for that matter whose only qualification is a gun and the willingness (but perhaps not the wisdom) to use it— are the best choices for avenging angels to rid society of evil people?

After all, one person’s evil is another person’s…

The violent actions of some participants in the protest overshadows the underlying cause—outrage over the police shooting of Jacob Black and the continuing outrage over similar situations, such as the murder of George Floyd—and offers a convenient smokescreen to ignore it.

As to the allegation of inaction by the police, authorities made over two hundred and fifty arrests during the protest the night of the Rittenhouse shooting incident. Contrary to popular belief—fueled by misinformation out of the then Trump White House and other right wing sources—most of those arrested were from Kenosha or surrounding areas. They were not organized outside agitators. (FACT CHECK LINK HERE)

And the police were not ordered to “stand down.” Clearly, the law enforcement presence, which included local, state, and federal resources was inadequate, but they were not told to ignore violations of the law. In moments of such unrest, like during any high demand on law enforcement services, priorities must be set. And in some situations doing nothing is the most efficacious action, something professionals understand.

But two hundred and fifty arrests hardly reflects a “standing down” by the police.

And the only incident involving a fatal shooting was the one by Rittenhouse. Not one officer killed anyone.

Yet, the clamor for a more forceful response persists.

In the late 70s and early 80s, a Black Liberation group known as MOVE rose to prominence in Philadelphia. Over the years, there were various confrontations with the police, including the fatal shooting of a police officer.

The MOVE members barricaded themselves in their homes and refused to come out or allow the children inside to come out. Ultimately, a decision was made to drop a “small explosive entry device” on the roof to penetrate the barricade. A Pennsylvania State Police Helicopter deployed two of the devices. The explosion ignited gasoline stored on the roof, and the ensuing fire killed several MOVE members, including five children.

Now one might argue if the MOVE members had just left the compound, the fire never would have happened. One might also argue that, while force may always be effective, it can also be counterproductive.

None of the officers involved in the decision process to deploy the devices intended to kill children, but children still died. One can blame their death on the actions of the MOVE leaders, but it fails to consider that there were alternatives available to the authorities.

This was an incident where an American police department essentially called in an airstrike on civilians. We often deploy our troops to countries that take such actions to protect the innocent from such governmental actions. It is incidents such as this that prompted serious reviews of policies and tactics in these situations.

One of the basic tenets of hostage negotiation is to slow things down. Time can be an ally as the adrenalin of the initial incident fades, and rationality can be encouraged.

Why does this matter today? Because despite the clamor for strong enforcement, authorities in Kenosha chose restraint over overwhelming force. Not one officer was forced to use deadly force to make arrests or quell the protests because they were trained and professional in their actions.

In contrast, self-proclaimed militiamen—something Rittenhouse claims as a calling — see armed confrontation and unrestrained use of deadly force to protect themselves from a situation they placed themselves in and are often unequipped to handle as the correct solution.

They, and those who seek a hardline Police response absent well-articulated rules of engagement, are wrong.

These militiamen like to portray themselves as modern-day versions of the patriots of the Revolution. Yet, what they seek—the government using overwhelming military-style force to quell disturbances—is precisely the thing those original Patriots died to prevent.

Some would think in the face of protests…

If we sent just one Blackhawk helicopter, we could annihilate anybody in the street.

One tank, and we could crush all the insurrectionists (Hmm?).

One Marine rifle squad, and we could eliminate all the looters.

And this would solve the problem. Like the quote at the beginning of this piece says, some innocents may die but it is the price of strong enforcement in the face of rebellion.

So why don’t we?

We don’t not because we lack the will, but because we shouldn’t.

Where some see weakness, I see wisdom.

When some see reticence, I see reasonableness.

We haven’t lost our strength or the will to use it. Instead, we’ve learned to employ it wisely through experience.

These militiamen like to portray themselves as modern-day versions of the patriots of the Revolution. Yet, what they seek—the government using overwhelming military-style force to quell disturbances—is precisely the thing those true Patriots died to prevent.

They are not emulating the call of the Patriot; they are acting out as schoolyard bullies, albeit armed with deadly weapons, playing at the complex and challenging task of fairly and equitably enforcing the law. The are playing video games without a reset button, which is where most of them probably got their “training.”

I wonder what the reaction would be if someone—acting under the same premise of self-defense—shot a couple of the “patriots/insurrectionists” violently destroying property and killing cops on January 6th?

Methinks the outcry would ring differently.

Juries, Judgments, Justice

“Not Guilty, so sayeth we all” was the decision of the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and, as distasteful as it may be, we must accept the verdict. To paraphrase a quote (often attributed to Winston Churchill who actually said it but was quoting some other unknown orator)

“The Jury system is the worst form of Justice except for all the others that have been tried.”

Judgment by jury of our peers achieves a balance of power between the government’s obligation to enforce laws and the peoples’ right to be free from unfettered prosecutorial zealots. It is a costly but necessary price.

In the Rittenhouse case—if one read the jury instructions and understood the elements of self-defense embedded in the state law—the jury’s focus was narrowly defined. And, given this focus, the verdict almost inevitable.

What it leaves unanswered is why a seventeen-year-old boy—carrying a powerful semi-automatic rifle, with no formal law enforcement or military background to prepare himself for dealing with chaotic and dynamic situations—was in that situation in the first place.

“The Jury system is the worst form of Justice except for all the others that have been tried

Author

It also calls into question the competency of his mother who allowed her son access to the weapon and, implicitly at least, encouraged him to place himself in a situation he was ill-equipped to handle.

If Mr. Rittenhouse aspires to be a law enforcer or protector of life and property, let him join the military or work towards becoming a police officer and prove his mettle to assume such a role. (Let’s hope he never does. Police departments are already dealing with a dearth of competent candidates and the last thing they need is someone joining the ranks who will likely put two notches on his gun when he gets it back . And he will get it back.)

Merely having the means (without the requisite skills or competence which is more than the ability to load, aim, and fire a weapon) to pretend to be an armed guardian angel is nothing more than delusional vigilantisms.

Here is what is clear and troubling. Mr. Rittenhouse had the right to defend himself in the face of perceived threats. Those who posed that threat—at the risk here of blaming the victims—put themselves in the situation and paid the price. What’s troubling is that there seems to be little or no consequences for Mr. Rittenhouse creating the situation in the first place.

Juries pass judgment, they do not dispense justice. Neither does Mr. Rittenhouse, who I fear we will hear about again, nor those who will be emboldened by the verdict and see it as an opportunity to emulate such behavior.

I fear we have opened a Pandora’s Box of vigilantism and are yet to find hope in the chaos.

Coming this December from JEBWizard Publishing

Written by Steve and Dr. Dru Pollinger, VMD with Helayne Rosenblum

Cover Design by Jeff Slater, Slater Creative LLC.

Imagine

every sound you hear could be something trying to kill you.

Imagine

being alone in the dark—cold, hungry, without shelter yet better off than the place where you suffered unimaginable torment.

Imagine

having to fight for every moment of your survival.

Imagine

For Dexter, that was the life he led for many months. Alone, often starving, without shelter, afraid of any contact with people. He bore the scars of unimaginable abuse. Yet, the only thing that could save him were the same beings who caused him such agony—people. And he feared them even more than the predators he avoided daily.

Enter Steve Pollinger and his wife, Dr. Dru Pollinger, VMD, a resourceful veterinarian.

Learning about Dexter’s circumstances, they devised a plan to rescue this beautiful dog And that is exactly what they did. Come along on a journey from the darkness of an abused dog’s seemingly hopeless situation to his resurrection.

An unforgettable journey of hope in an often-uncaring world. This story will restore your faith in the fundamental goodness within people.

I Am Dexter is the culmination of the Pollinger’s long experience in treating animals brought to bear in a most touching recovery story of a wonderful dog named Dexter.

Assisted by Helayne Rosenblum, the Pollingers weave a wonderful story—-told from not only their perspective but from Dexter’s as well through their intimate understanding of animal behavior—of the rescue, rehabilitation, and restoration of Dexter to a healthy, happy member of the Pollinger pack.

This story will restore your faith in the fundamental goodness within people.

Praise for I Am Dexter

..magnificent—a true love story. I want to reread tomorrow again. It’s a love story on so many levels. It was emotional for me as I could also relate to Dexter. I was orphaned at age 12. Not abused, just abandoned. It was hard to read about the pool concrete incident. Hard to get that picture out of my head… magnificent writing.

Cheryl – Financial Controller PVCA Solar, California

Available soon in Print and eBook versions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere books are sold. Contact the publisher for pre-release copies and special group rates for book clubs or other organizations.

JEBWizard Publishing

Info@jebwizardpublishing.com

401-533-3988

Wrestling Nightmare

As a police officer I spent many a moment wrestling drunks into submission, wading into barroom brawls, and separating combatant couples.

But nothing compares with the sheer exhaustion of trying to put a six-month-old into a onesy (who designed that nightmare?) and a one piece pull over sweat suit.

Dragging away drunken outlaw biker gang members engaged in a battle with a rival club is child’s play compared to dressing an infant…and they often smell better.

You get a leg in, start on the other, and the first one is out. Get the snaps done, and find a extra one. Undo it all, and a leg pops out. And the socks. Don’t even get me started on them. It would seem like they have built in handles at the toes designed to allow the child to yank them off as quickly as you put the on. I briefly flirted with the idea of duct taping them to his legs, but decided it would likely be frowned upon by his mother.

Want to become rich? Invent infant resistant socks

And, to add insult to injury, the little guy thinks contorting his grandfather into a tangle of arms, legs, and random pieces of clothing is the most hysterically funny moment of his life.

As it turned out, my choice for the wardrobe met with harsh criticism. I thought he looked very stylish, although it turned out I put the onesy-thingy on backwards.

And the peaceful, almost cherubic look on the little guy’s face is but a public relations ploy to conceal the devilish sense of humor unleashed as I try to dress him.

And I enjoyed every moment.

Political Correctness Run Amok

Now I am all for increasing awareness of the often subtle and hidden prejudices that are the elements of our society.

And I understand that issues such a transgenderism, sexual orientation, and gender identity are complex issues often lost in the political hyperbole of the moment.

But I do think there is a difference between what is necessary and what is kowtowing to fear of offending anyone.

(Interestingly enough when I ran Word’s editor against this piece it also flagged thug. It offered no suggestions but even thugs need the inclusivity hug.)

In the course of my writing, I use a number of programs to do grammar and spell check. While editing a recent project for a client author, Microsoft Word flagged the following as an “Inclusiveness” issue.

Flagging the line “illegal alien” Word suggested the replacement “undocumented immigrant.”

I never realized Word had a category for “Inclusiveness” in the editor function.

Now Dictionary.com defines immigrant as:

“a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence”

While it defines illegal alien as:

“a foreigner who enters the U.S. without an entry or immigrant visa, especially a person who crosses the border by avoiding inspection or who overstays the period of time allowed as a visitor, tourist, or businessperson.”

Thus, it hardly seems a reasonable suggestion given the obvious difference between the terms.

I have empathy for those so desperate for safety for themselves and their families that they risk a treacherous journey to reach the United States. I have empathy for those who provided aid to American troops in countries like Afghanistan and were promised our assistance should they need to leave their country. I have empathy for those who are the victims of totalitarian regimes, victims of gang violence, or threatened with kidnapping and murder at the hands of thugs.

(Interestingly enough when I ran Word’s editor against this piece it also flagged thug. It offered no suggestions but even thugs need the inclusivity hug.)

Those people deserve our help. They deserve to claim asylum and seek recourse under the law and we should do everything in our power to ensure those who are eligible for such asylum receive it.

But…that does not include those who would come here simply because there is more opportunity with no intention of seeking either citizenship or contributing to the multi-cultural juggernaut that makes America great. They are not immigrants by any definition of the word, undocumented or not.

Now at the risk of becoming the latest victim of another politically correct phenomenon, cancel culture (the subject of another column soon), there is no inclusivity needed for someone who comes to this country illegally with no intention of ever seeking a legal recourse for remaining here.

I think I will be more judicious in relying on Word or any other program to determine what or who should be entitled to inclusivity.

A Different Sort of Badge

For twenty years, I wore the badge of a police officer on the East Providence Police Department. Wearing that badge never seemed a burden, and I wore it with pride.

But now, all these years after my retirement from those days, I get to wear an even more important badge.

It isn’t gold or silver or shiny. It takes on many forms and shapes, often showing up in places one wouldn’t expect to find a badge. But it is, to me, the most important badge I have ever worn.

My wife and I have the great fortune of spending much of our day caring for our grandson, Levi, while his parents plod their way through to an onerous, but necessary, workday. While caring for a 6-month-old has its challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Each day, when one gets to experience life through the eyes, smiles, screams, and facial expressions of an infant—especially the ones we recognize as portents of an artistically filled diaper with all its otherworldly colors and consistencies—it opens a window on a whole new world.

Through my sixty-five-year-old eyes, while I strive to hold on to imagination and wonder, so many things have passed by me, I often miss the simple majesty of a leave falling from a tree, or a squirrel burying acorns, or a stuffed animal, animated in my hands, which brings the look of wonder to Levi’s eyes.

Levi makes the world new again.

When he needs something, even absent the power of speech, he can use his powers of persuasion to sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully, lead you to the solution, be it food, a clothing change, or nap time. He does this without words and is better at communication than most people I know.

We learn to be creative in our entertaining skills. While he comes equipped with a plethora of toys and equipment to engage him, we have sometimes found a solution in the most unlikely of activities.

The sound of fingernails scrapped along the couch, something so new to his ears as to border on fascinating, will hold his attention. Or a new game I invented called, “Rolled up newspaper smashing,” where I take a few pages of a grocery store ad, roll it up and whack things — myself, the table, Levi’s legs—something that causes waves of giggling, chortling delight for him.

My only fear is, if he remembers such antics after he gains the power of speech, he may someday tell a story in school about how his grandfather would hit him with a rolled-up newspaper. Context might be lost and I might have some ‘splaining to do.

And the badge, you might ask? Inevitably, after being fed, Levi sometimes sends some of his meal back out into the world and on to me. It has become, for me, a new badge of honor. And while I don’t parade it around for more than the time to wipe it off, I wear it with pride.

All Levi has to do is smile, which he does almost all the time, and all is right with the world. I will bear those daily badges proudly and remember them fondly all the days of my life.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Cops Getting Shot(s)

First, let me preface this piece by saying that Police Unions have done more to maintain law enforcement agencies’ professionalism, integrity, and excellence than any politician. Commission or reformation efforts. Without unions, the problems within agencies would be tenfold worse. They do not obstruct change; they seek to ensure any changes are done with fairness toward the officers they represent and protect them from politically motivated attempts that often do more harm than good, no matter how well-intentioned.

But I am at a loss to understand the resistance of the FOP, IBPO, and other police unions to compulsory vaccinations. https://crimeandjusticenews.asu.edu/many-police-officers-refuse-vaccinations.

Officers face the onerous risk of exposure to covid because of their day-to-day activities. They often have little choice in whether they come in physical contact with those they arrest or deal with in the course of their duties.

This contact comes with two risks.

First, the officers risk becoming infected with the Virus. Almost 500 law enforcement officers across the country have died from the Virus. While no one can be certain they contracted the Virus while on duty, it is a reasonable assumption a significant portion did.

Some of those infections may have occurred before the vaccines were available. That is the risk one assumes when you put on the badge. Yet since the vaccines are now widely available—and officers were among the first to have access to them because logic dictated those at higher risk of exposure and of becoming vectors for the spread of the Virus should be first—there is no excuse not to be vaccinated.

I’m willing to bet most of those 500 dead officers and their families, given the opportunity, would jump at the chance to receive a vaccine and save their lives.

Even if they never exhibit symptoms or recover from the Virus, officers exposed to the Virus pose a risk to the public as vectors to spread the Virus. This alone seems to be one of the most confusing aspects of the unions’ resistance.

It seems a contradiction in purpose when the unions argue against an effort to protect its members.

Author

 Why would you want your officers, who protect the public, to pose a known and potentially fatal risk to society when the risk can be effectively mitigated?

And if you argue that contracting Covid should be considered an on-the-job injury—which I believe it should be—why would you resist efforts to protect your members?

Often, these disputes between unions and local government stem from more profound conflicts. Sometimes it is necessary to take unpopular positions when trying to negotiate for your members. But when the country has suffered almost 700,000 deaths from the spread of Covid, it is equally necessary to be circumspect in your choices of battlefields. It seems a contradiction in purpose when the unions argue against an effort to protect its members.

Vaccines work. Vaccines help control the spread of Covid. Vaccines save lives.

Arguing that getting a vaccination is a personal choice is illogical in its formation. It would be like claiming officers have an option to respond to calls involving certain lifestyles for which they disagree, or picking which laws to enforce because they see them as unnecessary .

Such positions make unions look petty and uncaring, something I know is not accurate. Unions need to reassess their positions and live up to their traditions of protecting their members from the politics of the day, not allowing them to become involuntary weapons against the very people they are there to protect.

Traveling in the time of Covid

We are in the very early stages of our long-anticipated return to Aruba. As many of you know, we love to travel. We love to go to new places and experience the diversity of culture and people throughout the world.

But we also indulge in a bit of comfortable familiarity by returning to the island of Aruba. It used to be an almost annual trip—we’ve been coming here since long before my daughter was born (we came here when my wife was pregnant with Kelsey who has now achieved the position of being a mother on her own and the ancient age of …I’ll just leave that there)—and it has been more than 18 months since we’ve been here.

It was the last international destination we reached before the time of Covid.

Caribbean Photo of the Week: The Colors of Sunset in Aruba

What I wanted to point out was the reality of travel in the strange new world we face. I love to travel, and I have never been one to worry about anything outside my control, but the reality is boarding a plane—something I’ve done so often I hardly even think of it any more than getting in a car—is now different, almost a bit intimidating. But I am here to tell you the process was almost flawless.

In the airport, everyone complied with the face mask requirement. The security lines were empty. The move through security a breeze. It was on the plane that the first unsettling aspect of relying on people to act mature and responsible reared its ugly head.

There were about 5 or 6 people who failed basic mask wearing. Since the plane originated in the US and from what I saw everyone carried a US passport, it was Americans who could not grasp the concept of covering your mouth and nose. Wearing the mask below the nose-which, since they had to comply with the testing requirements to enter Aruba, they would know is the primary source of spreading the virus—is self-defeating.

I find it troubling that people with the basic skills to purchase a ticket, pack bags, find their way to the airport, and board a plane lack the basic consideration for not only their fellow travelers but for the country which they choose to visit.

It shouldn’t fall on flight attendants to be the eyes in the sky for our country. They made sufficient announcements to remind people of their responsibilities. Nor should it rise to a childish confrontation between passengers. Perhaps, what the airline should do is document the passengers who fail to comply and let the FAA issue a travel ban.

I bet if we leave a few people behind with no recourse but a slow boat from China full of Amazon orders as their only way home it would make an impression.. Videos would garner millions of hits with stranded airline mask deviants puking over the railing in rolling seas on their 30-day journey home from Aruba.

Wear the damn mask, I do and so did most of the responsible passengers on board the flight.

If there is one downside to this trip, it is one of timing. Since we are here in September, and the weather at home is still pleasant, my usual level of schadenfreude is lowered. I normally can take particular delight walking on a Caribbean beach knowing my friends at home are shivering in wind-chills and trudging through snow…but I shall bear the disappointment as best I can.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Un-Conscientious Objections

The wisdom of President Biden’s push to encourage/demand vaccinations for Americans will be debated in the media for weeks, but they likely will miss the point. Instead of confronting the real threat to the health and well-being of the nation, they will focus on the zero-sum nature of the politics rather than the critical need for firm action. I, for one, think the President has seized a historical moment and implemented a policy he believes necessary despite the political risks. A decision which future historians will see as both necessary and courageous.

Such courage and commitment are refreshing. Something that has been sorely lacking in both the office of the Presidency and the halls of Congress, on both sides of the aisle.

Why have we reached this point? Selfishness and lack of empathetic reciprocity.

With the recent 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are reminded of how we came together as a nation to confront the crisis. Yet, on further analysis, it was just 1% of the population and their families who bore the burden for the rest of us. Even then-President Bush told Americans to go shopping. We were a nation at war, but it was something we watched on TV. No one was planting victory gardens or saving cans for the war effort.

And so the situation in which we find ourselves in the pandemic crisis should come as no surprise.

When the burden of facing the issue affects all Americans, suddenly, it is too much to ask for a significant number of us. It is easy to wave flags, sing God Bless America, and send someone else’s son or daughter off to war. Then crack open a beer and toast the video of some JDAM bomb explosion in a cave in a country many couldn’t find on a map. But it is entirely different when we face the outrageous demand to get vaccinated and wear a mask.

How dare the government take away my rights to be selfish.

The country faces a crisis. In many ways, it is a crisis of our own making. For years, we have reduced the emphasis on basic science literacy at the expense of our overall well-being. By releasing into society high school graduates with minimal understanding of science and the efficacy of standard medical treatments such as vaccines and the method in which communicable diseases spread, we’ve sown the seeds of our own demise.

When one has little fundamental understanding of science, one is vulnerable to the myths and agenda-driven nonsense such as the anti-vax movement.

When you combine scientific ignorance with the widespread selfishness permeating society in the guise of demand for rights, we would inevitably be the vehicle of our own demise. Then you have those who abuse the necessary, but rare, exemptions such as medical conditions and religious objections, and we have a recipe for disaster.

In a recent hearing on a bill to remove Massachusetts’ religious exemption, a witness said that she used the religious exemption,

“Not because it goes against my religion, but because I do not believe that it is necessary to put additional chemicals into my child’s body for an illness that she would fully recover from. You are proposing to take away my right as a parent, and for what? To protect other people?” https://www.wgbh.org/news/politics/2021/07/12/standardizing-mass-school-vaccine-rules-triggers-vocal-opposition

None of the major religions have doctrinal objections to vaccinations. Almost all acknowledge the benefit to society of such medical practices. Yet, the abuse continues, placing society at risk.

If a religious organization demanded the separation of students in public education by sex, no one would take such a demand seriously. So why would we allow objections which place others at risk?

If you choose not to be vaccinated, you accept that you may be banned from public transportation, gatherings, or any other place where the public gathers. Although you may have the right to place yourself and your family at risk, you do not have the right to do that to others.

There is a well-articulated study of the abuse of religious exemptions well worth the read.

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain: Use and Abuse of Religious Exemptions from School Immunization Requirements, 65 Hastings L.J. 1551 (2014).
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_law_journal/vol65/iss6/5

What can we do about false claims of religious objections? Not much. But it reflects the increasingly selfish nature of many in our society where rights trump responsibilities, and what may hurt others doesn’t matter as long as an individual’s claim to a right to create the risk is preserved.

During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US suffered 7,036 killed in action. In World War II, the US suffered 407,300 killed in action with the same number of families paying the ultimate price.

So far, Covid has killed 677,988 Americans. 677,988 dead from a condition we can now control and prevent with a high degree of success. Almost as many Amerians have died from Covid as have died in all the wars we fought for our freedoms. Somehow, I don’t think all those who died in battle did so so Americans could commit suicide. What we have in this country is a collection of UN-Conscientious Objectors refusing to join the battle.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the level of selfishness overrunning society and the descent into willful ignorance. Thus, while we have a reasonable expectation of being free from the onerous demands of the government, that expectation must be measured against the overall risk to society.

It’s time we come together once again to face this burden, not shirk it out of selfishness.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

The Retreat from Enlightenment

The folly of the abandonment of our once enlightened society continues unabated. With the recent Supreme Court 5-4 decision allowing the Draconian Texas Abortion Statute to take effect—which, if we keep with the supporters claim to be pro-life, then they also must be characterized as pro-rape and pro-incest—it is another nail in the coffin of a humane, moral, and ethical society.

In an unsigned ruling backed by a narrow 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law banning all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to go into effect. The court heard no oral argument and dealt with the matter in a mere three days.

While the decision doesn’t address the law’s constitutionality—something that will surely come later—it is an omen of things to come.

The court said,

 “In reaching this conclusion, we stress that we do not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants’ lawsuit. In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”

While this language offers a glimmer of hope, it is a weak and faltering one. The conservative agenda to overturn Roe V Wade is well established. The addition of the three conservative justices nominated by President Trump were the deciding votes.

The whole basis of the anti-abortion movement is a claim to moral superiority. The overwhelming basis of this position is religious, which is an anathema to effective secular public policy. This interjection of a religion-based morality is a danger to our society. When one segment, holding a slim majority in critical institutions like the Supreme Court, dictates restrictions over a woman’s right to control her own body based on primarily religious tenets, it is a slippery slope toward a theocracy.

There is little if anything about abortion in the Bible, the primary authority for the evangelicals and religious conservatives, but there are many guidelines on taking and keeping slaves and smiting one’s enemies, sacrificial offerings, and the seminal output of donkeys, but not too much about abortions.

There is this gem from Numbers 27,

” If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.”

This, of course, is directed only at women with no similar verse about men, which, of course, is in keeping with the whole male-dominated orientation of almost every religion.

But there is a glaring inconsistency in the conservative claim to a duty to protect all lives. Their concern stops at birth. As philosopher George Carlin put it, “pre-born you’re precious, post-birth you’re f$%$ed.” Nor does this concern extend to God’s children from south of the border or pretty much anywhere else where the language, skin tone, or (most importantly) religious affiliation is in contrast to the conservative concept of the ideal.

The same cabal that argues they have the moral obligation to take choice away from women also demands that the government stay out of their choice to be vaccinated or wear a mask. This despite the clear and irrefutable evidence that vaccines and masks save lives and reduce the spread of the disease.

I would argue this. We can present overwhelming scientific evidence of the efficacy and benefit to society of vaccines and masks. Those who oppose abortion and foster these restrictions on women argue they are answering to a higher power. Yet they cannot present one scintilla of evidence of the actual existence of this power. They claim their morality comes from a god.

This invisible being has inspired more death than any other cause in the history of the world.

If one wants to rely on moral authority, one should, at a minimum, be able to offer evidence of the reality of the authority; faith is not evidence no matter how sincere. Unfortunately, many of the same people celebrating the Texas Abortion statute are the very same people arguing against government-mandated vaccinations and mask requirements.

Disingenuous doesn’t even come close.

One of the most cited authorities on the Christian religion—for this is a primarily Evangelical Christian driven cause—is Thomas Aquinas, the author of Summa Theologica. Aquinas essentially argues that man is incapable of crafting anything superior to the moral dictates of God. Thus the title, Summa Theologica, Highest Theology.

Another titan of the Church, Saint Augustine, testifies in his own Summa Theologica,

“… if reason is turned against the authority of sacred Scripture, no matter how specious it may seem, it errs in the likeness of truth; for true it cannot be.”

Such imposition of surrender to faith, despite rational discoveries to the contrary, was reinforced and demanded under penalty of death for heresy. Augustine also argued,

“A wise man, therefore, would not accuse faith and look upon it as opposed to reason and natural truths, but would rather offer heartfelt thanks to God, and sincerely rejoice that, in the density of ignorance and in the flood-tide of error, holy faith, like a friendly star, shines down upon his path and points out to him the fair gate of truth beyond all danger of wandering.”

“If triangles had a god, they would give him three sides.”

Montesquieu

Thus, the basis of reliance on Biblical authority rests on the premise that man is incapable of creating anything superior to that contained in the faith as described in the inerrant word of God in the Bible.

And yet, over the centuries when the Church would perform exorcisms over epileptics, accuse those with deformities as being the product of consorting with devils, or contend that certain members of society were more worthy of salvation than others as evidence by a host of debilitating conditions, science and rationality made medical breakthroughs in treating such conditions.

Thus, I would argue, accepting that secular humans are incapable of determining a moral course for themselves based on what has clearly been a false premise is not only dangerous but despicable.

Man is not only capable of reason, he is also compelled by it. It is the only thing that stands between us and mythical nonsense.

In a 1784 essay, Immanuel Kant answered that reason comprises,

 “humankind’s emergence from its self-incurred immaturity,” its “lazy and cowardly,” submission to the “dogmas and formulas” of religious or political authority.

Humans created religions to explain what they did not understand. The most educated person in 17th century England would tell you that storms at sea were caused by sea witches. Belief absent proof is merely an analgesic for ignorance. The enlightenment would dispel such nonsense and set us on a more rational, and I would suggest a more moral course.

Montesquieu wrote,

“If triangles had a god, they would give him three sides.”

Thus, man created the gods in his own image and endowed them with the wisdom to control the things man could not understand. At best, God is like  Schrödinger’s cat, both dead and alive until we observe him. Something that some contend only happened in Israel before the advent of mass communication.

Another of the arguments for a return to a more “moral” society when abortions were outlawed is the false nostalgia for the past.

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.” Franklin Pierce Adams

Stephanie Coontz, a debunker of 1950s nostalgia, puts some numbers to the depictions: A full 25 percent of Americans, 40 to 50 million people, were poor in the mid-1950s, and in the absence of food stamps and housing programs, this poverty was searing. Even at the end of the 1950s, a third of American children were poor.

Sixty percent of Americans over sixty-five had incomes below $1,000 in 1958, considerably below the $3,000 to $10,000 level considered to represent middle-class status. A majority of elders also lacked medical insurance. Only half the population had savings in 1959; one-quarter of the population had no liquid assets at all. Even when we consider only native-born, white families, one-third could not get by on the income of the household head. (https://www.stephaniecoontz.com/)

While the good ole days may have created good memories, it also whitewashed the downside. During those same times, racial and gender inequality was a reality for more than half of Americans. Abortions, while illegal under almost all circumstances, were always available to the wealthy; the poor were forced into the back alleys.

We are in grave danger of recreating the reality of those times with laws such as the Texas abortion statute. It was because of such conditions that Roe v Wade came to be. The court recognized the availability of abortions, and the need for it to be within the woman’s sole discretion, was essential and constitutional. Any attempts to reimpose such conditions will lead to infinitely more moral bankruptcy, not less.

Those who support the Texas statute and overturning Roe v Wade have no moral standing or superiority in the matter. Instead, the motivation is driven by their religious beliefs and the need to have those beliefs not just embraced by the state but openly supported by it.

I would suggest that a close examination of the arguments against abortion falls into this narrow religious claim to determine morality. Religion has no exclusive command of morality. Secular, rational humanistic morality is more than equal to any such faith-based pronouncements.

Philosopher Harry Frankfurt said it best.

“From the point of view of morality, it is not important everyone should have the same. What is morally important is that each should have enough.” Harry Frankfurt.

I know moral behavior and laws such as the Texas statute are not moral; they are Draconian control over women. Every woman should have the absolute right to decide with no interference from the government. We have no need for religion to provide moral guidance or be the basis of secular law. As a matter of morality, we should openly oppose it.