Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thought Crime Press

I have a list of questions:

·         When five of nine judges make a societal change, are all Americans required to change their beliefs to align with that slim majority?
·         If individuals don’t immediately realign, should they be shunned, publicly shamed, forced out of their livelihood, and protested? Should this happen based on assumptions about someone’s beliefs, rather than on what they have done?
·         If one judge swings the majority opinion to something at odds with entire religions, such as Catholics, most Protestants, Latter-day Saints, and Muslims, should all of those adherent be required to denounce their religions or face the loss of their rights to participate in the marketplace and society?
·         If everyone is to change their opinions to align with that slim majority, does that include the four dissenting judges? Should the dissenters be forced to change their opinions or else risk being drummed out of their positions?
·         If even judges are to be forced to change their opinions whenever they are in the minority, does that need to happen even when a ruling goes against the side you’re now supporting?
·         Does that mean that you must change your beliefs whenever a slim majority of the Court goes against you? Should you be subject to coercive efforts such as shunning, public shaming, being protested, and forced out of your livelihood?
I’m asking the questions to carry a thought to its logical conclusion. Because people who police other people’s thoughts and attack them for disagreement tend not to be people who think things all the way through.

I’m hoping that we’ve reached the end of that pendulum swing (the disallowing dissent from current popular beliefs, particularly those in progressive/social-justice-y minds) and moving back to actual tolerance and respectful disagreement and dialogue.

This past week there was the attempt at public shaming of Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. I’m a fan. I’ve binge watched the seasons available on Netflix, and I’m glad a new season is underway. We’ll be within an hour of their store in Waco during the holidays, and we’re trying to work out a visit.

Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper
Photo from HGTV on Twitter, also found here

One of the things I love about the show is their happy family. They show the kids, at home around their farm. And they show how the family works around the parents’ busy schedules to make sure there is time for kids. There’s a little bit of family in every show.

They’re Christian. They’ve been very open about their faith in multiple interviews. Joanna has talked about how God led her, first to close down the store she loved to spend time with her small kids. And then, when it was time, step out and build something even better. Their growing business isn’t just about hard work, skill, and Joanna’s exceptionally good taste; it’s about using their talents to serve others and glorify God.

The attack in the press, BuzzFeed, was underhanded, and couldn’t even qualify as journalism. They spread the story that Chip and Joanna attend a church where the pastor is against “same-sex marriage.” There was no interview of the pastor; there was nothing in his behavior to show that he has attacked homosexuals or even been unkind to them. There was only assumption and inference. And, by association it was implied that the Gaineses ought to have publicly denounced their own pastor. And, failing that, maybe their show ought to be boycotted.

But, instead of some of the torches and pitchforks we’ve seen surrounding this issue, even people who support “same-sex marriage” were saying, that’s not only bad journalism, it’s just the wrong thing to do.

In a Heritage Foundation panel discussion, “Decision 2016: What’s Next for Conservatives?” Ben Domenech of The Federalist talked about this in a way that made me hopeful:

I don’t think we should underestimate how significant an issue the fact was in this election, that we had an election after the progressive left in America had announced an end to the culture wars. They were confident that the culture wars were over, “and we won. And we’re going to go around the battlefield shooting the wounded. And we’re going to continue to do that in a very public way. And we’re going to single out American individuals, private citizens, who simply have what is, from our perspective, the wrong views. The wrong views about God. The wrong views about family. The wrong views about the way that we live.”
I think it is very interesting what happened over this past week with the targeting of the HGTV hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, merely for the fact that they went to a church where the pastor was a Christian and believed Christian things that one would expect to see if you went to a church in Texas and heard Christians talking about Christianity. And the fact that there were a number of members of the media, the left media included, who stood up and said, “This is unfair. You shouldn’t do this. You shouldn’t target people this way.”
I think that we are in an entirely new space culturally, about where there are a number of people on the left who recognize, “Hey, there are a lot of Americans who don’t agree with us about things, and maybe we should acknowledge that those views are acceptable to have within the public square. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to embark on this type of targeting.”
I think, under this administration, you are going to see an amazing thing happen, which is that the left is suddenly going to rediscover that they like civil liberty, that maybe federalism is a pretty good idea. Maybe not the entire country needs to be governed by the same rules or expectations whereby a centralized government in Washington… I think you’re going to see them rediscover the fact that, hey, local things are good—and not just food. And that’s something that I think is going to be a very beneficial trend. And it’s one that conservatives, that people who believe in the Constitution, should be prepared to seize a hold of. Because, if the outcome of that is to devolve power back to our citizens, to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our states, that’s something that we’re all going to benefit from.
Chip and Joanna Gaines said nothing during the week of attacks on them. Then Chip finally tweeted this:
Chip Gaines
Regardless of our decision to make a statement about all this craziness, or not, I ask that people please! respect @KateAurthur & @ginamei
3:15 AM - 3 Dec 2016
He asks for respect. That is all. After taking the attacks without so much as a single defensive grumble, he appeals to common decency. In other words, he has responded as a good Christian.
Maybe there’s something in Christian beliefs that build people like this, or at least people who strive to be like this as much as we have learned so far.

I don’t know the anything more about Kate Aurthur, who wrote the non-news piece with the insinuating headline. I’m not inclined to shun, shame, and protest until she is fired and blacklisted. But I’d like to point out the irony of her claim—after what she just did to Chip and Joanna—that Christians are immoral. And I suggest she open up a Bible and look up Matthew 7:4 or Luke 6:42 and read about motes and beams in the eye.

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