What If… Shirley MacLaine is Just an Idiot?

I’ve always liked Shirley MacLaine. I liked her in Billy Wilder’s movies opposite Jack Lemmon in The Apartment and Irma la Douce. I even watched her videos in the 1980s to understand my New Age girlfriends better, and enjoyed her scene stealing in recent Downton Abbey episodes. But the actress turned New Age flake has sparked controversy with her new book “What If…” in which she suggests those killed in the Holocaust were paying for the sins of their past lives. The Daily Mail quotes the passage, “What if most Holocaust victims were balancing their karma from ages before, when they were Roman soldiers putting Christians to death, the Crusaders who murdered millions in the name of Christianity, soldiers with Hannibal, or those who stormed across the Near East with Alexander? The energy of killing is endless and will be experienced by the killer and the killee.’”

MacLaine is a former Baptist and this view expressed is not much different from Baptist teaching which views our souls as steeped in Original Sin. No one born is truly innocent. It is also a form of Deuteronomic Dualism where the theological question “Why do innocents suffer?” is answered “Because they are not truly innocent.” In MacLaine’s view they are being punished for actions made in their past lives.

Let’s look at Shirley’s numbers.

It is estimated that the Holocaust killed somewhere between 5 and 17 million people, with most sources agreeing on 8 million deaths.

Ancient RomeA current obsession of mine... It turns out Rome was extremely tolerant of religions and it wasn’t until Nero’s reign that the Romans began persecuting them, and even then the evidence is for only a few cases (notably the martydom of St. Peter and St. Paul). After Nero it wasn’t until Domitian demanded Christians express religious fealty to him that they were persecuted again, and as under Nero the cases were sporadic. Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius protected Christians, and although Septimius Severus had a few Christians killed, there is no systematic persecution documented by Roman sources until the middle of the Third Century with the rule of Decius and later Valerian, Diocletian and Maxentius who was defeated by Constantine, the emperor who converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of Rome. The Christian emperors after that and the church itself tended to play up the number of Christians killed by the previous regimes, but today the number of deaths is thought to be in the thousands, not tens of thousands and certainly not more than that.

Crusades – Most estimates put the number of murdered around a million.

Hannibal and Alexander likely killed in the tens of  thousands.

But how many ancients have blood on their hands,  enough to justify being reincarnated as a Jew or Gypsy in Eastern Europe in the 20th century?

Hannibal and Alexander fielded armies numbering in the tens of thousands. Assuming that each soldier killed 1 innocent person, and we’re looking at roughly 100,000 “killers”. Assuming the same 1:1 ratio between “killer and killee” to use MacLaine’s terms in the Roman Empire, and we’ll generously estimate 100,000 “killers” in Rome. Of course the Crusades were a busy time for killing, and although the number of soldiers fielded during the Crusades is likely in the tens of thousands we’ll keep that 1:1 ratio and grant a million killers to the Crusades.

Total killers for all the events mentioned by MacLaine? 1.2 million – and that assumes that every soldier took one life when it is much likely that only a fraction of that number actually killed innocents.

So where’s the missing 6.8 million – those who had killed in their prior lives and were reincarnated only to die as innocents during the Holocaust?

There were of course other genocides in the 20th century. The Armenian Genocide that killed 1.5 million. The Russian and Chinese civil wars killed upwards of 20 million. The famine that followed Mao’s Great Leap Forward is estimated to have killed 40 million. Civilian deaths in World War I and II: 150 million.

It’s not an issue of karma but of demographics. There were many more people around in the 20th centuries than there were in prior centuries, especially compared to the ancient world. There are simply too many innocents dying this century who could have been killers in prior centuries.

But the main problem with MacLaine’s argument isn’t the numbers, it’s the philosophical logic. It rationalizes, even justifies Evil. The innocent woman raped and murdered deserved it because she was a killer in a past life, for example. There’s no point in punishing her killer because he will be reborn as a woman and suffer the same fate in the future.

Worse, it rationalizes anything. The poor deserve their fate today because they were wealthy and greedy in their past lives. The disabled must have injured others sometime long ago or else they wouldn’t have been born damaged. The ugly? Beautiful narcissists in the past. The rich and powerful today? The lot must have been humble and meek to deserve their current stations. This is nothing more than the justification for the order of things used by the Church and nobility in the Middle Ages to support feudalism and the oppression of the peasantry just with an Eastern twist. It is also a naive view of Karma and a gross oversimplification of Buddhist philosophy, the Baptist Sunday school taught to 5 year olds in MacLaine’s hometown of Richmond Virginia compared to the subtle nuances found in the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

I don’t think MacLaine should be censored for her views. I believe she has the right to her opinions just as she has a right to her flaky religious beliefs. But I do think she should be mocked, because while she has a right to her opinion as a public figure she gets a lot more attention than my loony neighbor who believes the Rapture is coming any day now. MacLaine has a microphone whereas my elderly neighbor does not.

Shirley MacLaine is an actress and we need to stop believing actors and actresses to be better people than we are. An actor’s job is to speak other people’s words,  not to have opinions of his own that are somehow more informed or better than yours or mine. Actors and actresses were looked down upon by most cultures until recently, and the Ancient Chinese and Greeks would think we were nuts for caring what an actress had to say about anything. Perhaps this is another lesson the Ancients have to teach us.

The Council Has Spoken: February 13, 2015

Council Winners

Fifth place t with 1/3 vote –The RazorEvidently Marijuana is Legal in NC Because These Reviewers Are High

Fifth place t with 1/3 vote –Simply JewsBibi does DC and some US Jews get their panties in a bunch. Is there a case for that?

Non-Council Winners

Mom’s Facebook Post Attacking Anti-Vaxxers Goes Viral

A Canadian mom who suffered the loss of  her five year old and whose newborn may have been exposed to measles goes on a rampage in a Facebook post and the post goes viral. The Daily Mail provides the post in full, but here’s an excerpt.

You think you are protecting them by letting them eat their shovel full of dirt and reducing antibiotics and eating organic? You aren’t. As an unvaccinated person you are only protected by our good graces. WE LET YOU BE SO PRIVILEGED thanks to our willingness to vaccinate ourselves and our children.

You know what vaccines protect your children from? Pain. Suffering. Irreparable harm. Death.

Read the entire thing here.

Canadian moms. Don’t f**k with them.

Council Submissions: February 11, 2015

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Evidently Marijuana is Legal in NC Because These Reviewers Are High

Hotel Indigo, Asheville NC

Another review of an Asheville hotel, and I’m beginning to think I’m the area’s fussiest visitor. Over 1,000 reviews and a near perfect 4.5 rating?

Are the other reviewers high? As a long-time resident of North Carolina let me assure you that the state has NOT legalized marijuana but you wouldn’t know it by the other reviews.

First let me state that I am not a well-heeled traveler. I am more Lonely Planet than Michelin, and have slept in some unique places like on the deck of a steamer on Lake Tanganyika and a foreigner’s flop-house in Seoul. While I may watch Downton Abbey I do not demand to be treated as if I lived in it. All I require is a clean island of calm at an affordable price. But the more I pay the more I expect and that’s where things go off the rails at Indigo.

First off let’s dispense with the pleasantries. Hotel Indigo is a very clean hotel that is centrally located in downtown Asheville. It is within walking distance of restaurants, shops and nightlife that make Asheville one of the South’s treasures. Its staff was courteous, helpful and friendly – and rates 5 stars on its own. Unlike the Megacorp Grove Park Inn parking is included in the hotel price, and if “weird Asheville” or the downtown business district is why you are there, you won’t have to deal with the roving packs of metermaids waiting to sprinkle your car with parking tickets. The hotel is very well maintained and it is one of the cleanest hotels I’ve stayed in.

So to summarize:
Pros: Location, Staff, Parking, Clean

Now let’s sharpen our claws and tear into this hotel. First off this hotel is often referred to as “chic”. To a person under 30 this may sound cool. Anyone over that age knows that what’s “chic” has a half-life measured in milliseconds. To put it bluntly the decor of this hotel is horrendous. I haven’t seen that much avocado green since my mother redecorated her home in 1973. All that was missing was harvest gold – likely a planned upgrade for 2016. I suppose the stretched blue spandex on the ceiling and the multicolored carpet in the hallways looks great when one is “tripping balls” but it just gave me a headache. A half-wall in our room was covered with a photograph made into wallpaper. At first I thought it was a forest canopy, then it became a head of broccoli. By the end of my stay I believe it was a close up of a piece of moss-covered wood, but mmmm broccoli – steamed covered with cheese sauce. I guess you have to be high to appreciate it – but don’t forget that marijuana is still illegal in North Carolina and smoking is also banned in the hotel. As are firearms, the hotel conspicuously displaying the “Victims Inside” signs at all entrances, and one must sign swearing to abide by the ban at check-in. I suppose prayer will be banned in 2016, and free speech soon after, followed by the rest of the Bill of Rights. Who are the owners of this hotel? The Chinese?

Victim Signs Posted at Hotel Indigo Entrances

Being centrally located is a double-edged sword (not banned at Hotel Indigo), but decent hotels know how to keep the sound at bay through heavy drapes, double-paned windows, and sound-deadening walls. We stayed on the side away from the highway, but it was quiet obvious when the city was waking up. Whatever the secret is for soundproofing, Hotel indigo doesn’t know it. I’m just glad Luck kept us away from the highway side since The Wife hates light and I hate sound so we both had restless nights in the room; I’m sure it would have been much worse by the highway.

The room was small, a feeling made worse by the large picture of broccoli on the corner wall and it lacked a refrigerator. Now this may not be a deal breaker for some, but for those like the Wife who travel to one of the craft beer capitals of the country, one needs a place to chill one’s Green Man or Highlander. Evidently the management believes fridges in rooms would harm their carbon footprints, forcing their guests to hurt their tastebuds by drinking warm stouts and craft ales.

Let’s get something straight. If you worry about global warming you shouldn’t stay in a hotel unless you walk or bicycle to your destination. Flying is up there with setting Smokey the Bear on fire when it comes to CO2 emissions. If you worry about such then stay home.

Which leads to the worst aspect of the stay: value. You can do much better at other hotels in the area. The Renaissance costs the same and has a bigger room, with walls that won’t give you the veggie munchies. It’s also centrally located and has no problem keeping the city sounds at bay. By the time you spend money on the upgrades at Indigo you could stay at the Haywood Park which has an even better location for business/weird Asheville, plus the amenities and luxury one expects for the price.

If you REALLY want a view, you shouldn’t be staying in downtown Asheville at all. The city is surrounded by mountains and you can do much better with hotels located on those. Even the cheap ones have better views than the most expensive downtown hotels.

Cons: Décor, Gun Control, Soundproofing/Lighting, Amenities, Fake Environmentalism (aka Greenwashing), Value

Booking Tips:
Do NOT book on the highway side of the hotel unless the sound of traffic lulls you to sleep. Also the higher up the better. For couples looking for a “romantic getaway”, avoid everything but the penthouses. Your ‘significant others’ will not be happy (as mine wasn’t).

If I want to camp, I’ll stay in a tent for free. If I’m paying $200 a night I expect a fridge in the room, lights that don’t make everyone look like Kermit the Frog, and hot water that arrives when I want it instead of next Tuesday.

The Council Has Spoken: February 6, 2015

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Council Submissions: February 4, 2015

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Terf Wars

The New York Times had an interesting piece on transgender people at women’s colleges,  “When Women Become Men at Wellesley.” Women’s colleges like Wellesley are grappling with how to maintain their status as women’s colleges in an age when gender is no-longer binary and is decoupled from sex. As the trouble at Wellesley shows things aren’t easy for anyone in this hyper-politically correct atmosphere.

Brian O’Rourke who oversees enrollment at the college says “We had a national speaker on trans issues join us on campus about a year ago, and one of the things she suggested is that we stop referring to Mills as a women’s college, because that concept is exclusionary. In the auditorium, there was an audible gasp. We’ve had a lot of conversations about how to stress women’s leadership and women’s empowerment and at the same time, include people who may not identify as women. The answer is: We don’t know yet.”

An audible gasp! I’m surprised no one fainted especially among those of the fairer sex, which to be fair, is hard to discern at Wellesley these days.  Not to be outdone a student group at Mount Holyoke has banned the Vagina Monologues because it discriminated against “women without vaginas.” The group sent an email to students on campus stating, “At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.” The Vagina Monologues were written by Eve Ensler in 1996 to “celebrate the vagina.” Two years later Ensler changed the purpose to stopping violence against women. No word on whether her intent was to exclude violence against women without vaginas.

Back in the Day a few of my friends and I decided to form a group “Female Athletes in Bondage” even though we weren’t female, we weren’t athletic and as far as I know, we weren’t in bondage. Nevertheless we claimed we were lesbians trapped inside male bodies for what reason I don’t recall. Back then we were just horny teenage boys attending an all-boys Catholic prep school, so creating a club with the word “female” in it was enough. But today… Our lives would have been completely different. We could use our little club to gain entrance to a woman’s college. Then again, perhaps it’s a good thing we were ahead of our times. I pretty much wasted my entire first year in college in a girl’s dorm room as it was without the support of the administration; I can imagine what trouble I would have gotten into had the college sanctioned my (ahem) “gender studies.”

As it turns out there is such a “thing” as lesbians who feel they are trapped inside the bodies of men. Dr. Brian G. Gilmartin, in Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment (University Press of America, 1987) writes,


Specifically, a “male lesbian” is a heterosexual man who wishes that he had been born a woman, but who (even if he had been a woman) could only make love to another woman and never to a man. Unlike the transsexual, the “male lesbian” does not feel himself to be “a woman trapped inside the body of a man”. Moreover, none of the love-shy men studied for this research entertained any wishes or fantasies of any kind pertinent to the idea of obtaining a sex change operation. All wanted to keep their male genitalia; all wanted to remain as males. However, all deeply envied the perogatives of the female gender and truly believed that these perogatives fitted their own inborn temperaments far more harmoniously than the pattern of behavioral expectations to which males are required to adhere.


An internet search of the opposite, a gay man trapped in a woman’s body, finds a lot of speculation and anecdotal evidence supporting this concept although I didn’t see anything vaguely empirical. Still it’s clear from experience that gender identity is complex, and since it’s impossible for us to live life in a different body it is also impossible to imagine what life is like as a woman, a man, or anyone else for that matter. So to avoid offending people writers like Eve Ensler either have to include everyone born with vaginas (heterosexual women, lesbian women, gay men trapped in women’s bodies) and those without vaginas (transgendered women, lesbians trapped in men’s bodies), excluding only gay and heterosexual men – men who self-identify as the male gender. And yes, if my teenaged self were around today he would likely demand Ensler include members of the “Female Athletes in Bondage” in her monologues, because he was a bit of a sacred cow slayer and rouser of rabble (blame the Jesuits.) And by doing so Ensler would end up writing a worthless piece of pablum that would be even worse than the tripe she’s come up with in the Vagina Monologues.

You see, the bottom line is that whether or not a guy feels like a lesbian trapped in a man’s body, he’s going to keel over if someone kicks him in the nuts. Similarly a transgender woman will never know the misery of menstruation or the pain of natural childbirth no matter how many operations she has. She also will never know “the feminine experience” – an empty concept since it’s impossible to know what it means to be anyone but ourselves.

Feminists like Ensler get this, which is why they are being attacked as “TERFs“  – transphobic exclusionary radical feminists. Using Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals #12, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” feminists who believe that sex and gender cannot be altered through surgery and that biology is in fact destiny, are being defined by those who think otherwise and are determined to destroy those who disagree with them. And when feminists fight back they immediately play the victim card. Transgender woman Kelsie Brynn Jones writes, “Merely by taking a stand against them, I and others like myself have been subjected to threats against our personal safety, been bombarded with spam, pornography, and signed up to various mailing lists in an attempt to silence our voices.” And the same thing and worse is not happening to biologically born women?

Nonetheless some feminists are fighting back. Deep Green Resistance (DGR) is a group of radfems (the preferred term of radical feminists who support excluding the transgendered – any more terms and I’ll need a glossary at the bottom of this post similar to that at the back of Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange) that believes “a person born with male privilege can no more shed it through surgery than a white person can claim an African-American identity simply by darkening his or her skin,” writes Michelle Goldberg in the New Yorker. Good point. Michael Jackson’s skin treatments didn’t stop him from being a creepy pedophile. Paleofeminist Germaine Greer says it’s impossible for a man to understand what it’s like “to have a big smelly hairy vagina,” although BritFem Sheila Jeffreys points out the man-made vaginas owned by the transgendered “do not resemble vaginas… and cause serious smell issues for their owners.” Jim Goad writing at Taki’s Magazine notes “leftist intersectionality has devolved to the point where real women and fake women are arguing over whose vaginas smell worse.”

To a white person born of male privilege all this fighting is about as violent and meaningful as a catfight – a lot of hissing and spitting but very little damage. A dose of perspective is in order. Not more than a long plane ride away there are men throwing gay men off buildings and stoning to death those who survive.Women are being raped and forced into slavery. Adulteresses are stoned to death. A fellow Sunni Muslim was burned alive in a cage. What would the psychopaths at ISIS think about such screeching? I doubt female-to-male transgendered individuals would get a pass from such barbarity, nor would male-to-female transgendered avoid a long fall from a high place. As the lives of women slide slowly back into the Stone Age the privileged elite in the US creates acronyms and emails hate porn.



The Council Has Spoken: January 30, 2015

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Council Submissions: January 28, 2015

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

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To My Wife’s Patients: Things She Can’t Say To You – But I Can

My wife is a family physician. On average she sees 25 patients a day, works through her lunch and usually arrives home after dark. During her career I estimate she has seen around 35,000 patients. In order to become a doctor she had to do the following:

  • Graduate from a four year college.

  • Take advanced courses in calculus, chemistry and biology required by med schools.

  • Sit for and do well on the MCAT exam.

  • Get accepted into med school.

  • Spend 3 years taking full-time classes and 1 year doing rounds at hospitals and offices under the supervision of doctors.

  • Work 80+ hours a week for 3 years in internship and residency.

  • Pass several all-day written and hands-on exams to become board certified.

  • Spend several days each year in continuing education classes to keep up to date on the latest medical research and treatments and maintain her credentials.

Doctors used to be treated like gods. They were fawned over and never questioned by patients. Today we’ve swung to the opposite extreme where patients are treated as “clients” and management encourages staff to believe the “customer is always right” as they compete with other health care providers and health care systems for business.  To me much of the below is common sense, but it’s amazing how uncommon common sense has become.

Be polite to her. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but manners have seemingly gone the way of men wearing fedoras and women wearing head scarves. When she enters a patient exam room,  she has had less than two minutes to review your chart (which often has hundreds of pages in menus and submenus in the electronic health record) and learn what you are there for from a medical assistant or visit notes that often say no more than “Fever.” When she opens the door, no matter how she feels herself you will have her full attention. She will make you the center of her universe for the few minutes that she is with you whether or not you deserve it to an outside observer like me.

Medicine Can’t Cure Everything. When you tell her, “I can’t be sick” with a cold or the flu because you are going on vacation or a wedding, tell that to her patient with pancreatic cancer, but you’ll have to go to his gravesite to do so. He didn’t want cancer but Fate had other plans. My wife is a doctor not Jesus. The truth is that your body will heal itself, and it’s my wife’s job to help it – and it will take its own sweet time doing so if it wants.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs and should only be used when needed. If she says you don’t need an antibiotic, you don’t need an antibiotic. What this means is you have a virus – likely a cold or a flu virus and antibiotics don’t affect viruses at all. If they did people wouldn’t be dying in Africa from Ebola because we could treat them with antibiotics, but we can’t because antibiotics don’t work on viruses.

If you say “But the last time I had this a doctor gave me a Z-Pak and I got better,” the Z-Pak had nothing to do with your recovery; your body beat the virus itself and the doctor only gave you an antibiotic because it was easier to give you one and shut you up than to be honest with you.

What you may not realize is that antibiotics have side effects, something the Wife knows first hand. Years ago she was treated for a bacterial kidney infection with a Z-Pak and the drug damaged the smell receptors in her brain. She couldn’t smell anything for a year, and it took two years more before she could smell the roses in her garden, five before she fully recovered. Antibiotics not only cause bacteria to become resistant, making the drugs less effective for everyone, they can also in rare cases kill you. Z-Pak has been found by the FDA to cause irregular heartbeats that have kill 47 people per million doses, and 245 per million for those with heart conditions. Even penicillin and its variants can damage your liver and kidneys. A common side effect is they screw up your body’s natural defenses, killing the so-called “good bacteria” that populate your gut and skin, causing yeast infections and diarrhea that can be worse than the cold that caused you to see the doctor  in the first place.

Immunizations save lives. If my wife notices you are not up to date on your immunizations she will offer to bring you up to date by vaccinating you in the office. If you then say to her “Vaccines are dangerous,” you’ll immediately reveal your idiot status although she won’t say so. Instead she will waste her time trying to educate you on how vaccination is the greatest medical discovery of all time. She’ll tell you that vaccines have saved more lives than any other drug or treatment ever imagined by Medicine bar none, and that idiots like you have only not gotten polio because the rest of us had parents who weren’t morons and got us vaccinated. The wife and I have been to places in the world where polio destroyed young lives, and have given money to paralyzed beggars in the streets. She’ll try to change your mind to help save your life; I’ll just laugh at you and say “Darwin Award!”

My wife is not a drug dealer. If you come to see my Wife because of back pain, she will likely explain that back pain can take as long as two years after an injury to heal if surgery isn’t warranted. My wife knows about back pain first hand. She was nearly killed by a tree branch falling on her neck in Africa, and she has suffered occasional back spasms that last for weeks ever since. She doesn’t take pills for these spasms. Instead she stretches her back, does some yoga, and lays on a heating pad.

If you come looking for narcotics, you will leave empty handed. Thanks to computerized medical records and a federal government centralized reporting on prescription narcotics, it is very easy for her to see who you got your meds from, what narcotic was prescribed and how many pills you got. If you tell her (as some patients have) that you’ll just get the drugs on the Street, go right ahead. There’s nothing you can say to her that will erase her sorrow at the loss of one of her patients, a young boy killed in an accident caused by his parents who were drugged up on Oxycontin they had gotten from other doctors. Later she’ll worry about whether there’s anything more she could have done to help your addiction; I’ll remind her of that dead boy.

Speak up. My wife is not a mind reader, and is a people doctor not a vet, so she will ask you questions and doesn’t need to guess. Speak up. Be honest in your answers. Ask questions if you don’t understand. My wife seriously wants to help you. Ask a med student why they want to be a doctor and chances are they will say “to help people.” That’s what my wife said, and it’s true.

But shut up if you don’t like gays, Jews or African-Americans. My wife is not a racist and is open minded just to the point where her brains don’t fall out. She respects everyone, and even if you don’t just keep it to yourself.

Don’t assume she’s rich just because she’s a doctor. My wife has chosen the second lowest paid specialty because she felt called to it, not because of any financial windfall. Every month I cut a mortgage-sized check to pay her student loans and will continue doing so for another couple of decades. We do have 4 cars though: One is a subcompact she bought used. One is a Southern Lawn Ornament, broken down at 170,000 miles. The other two (mine and my son’s cars) have 200,000 and 150,000 miles respectively. On a per-hour basis my wife makes about as much as a plumber does – and he can’t kill anyone or be sued if he does. And he sure didn’t finish plumbing school with $225,000 in plumbing school debt. (That’s a hint to any kids considering medical school who stumble upon this post.)

My wife works in a medical office not Burger King. You can’t have it your way. You can demand an MRI as one of her patients did, but you won’t get one. My wife is specially trained in soft tissue and musculoskeletal disorders and doesn’t need a $3,000 test to tell her that you have tennis elbow, the treatment of which is like many conditions in medicine: Time. You can’t have it your way because a) you aren’t a trained doctor and b) you really don’t know what is best for you. If you did you wouldn’t weigh 400 lbs and complain of knee pain. Perhaps the cases of Mountain Dew and bags of potato chips I see in your cart at WalMart have something to do with your problem, and again, if you want a miracle ask your pastor, not my wife. Exercise and limiting your calorie intake will do more to fix you than any drug she can prescribe, and I’m sure even Jesus would tell you to lay off the pork rinds.

My wife isn’t perfect, but she is the most intelligent woman I’ve ever met which is one reason I had to marry her. She also cares about people, many of whom don’t deserve it in my opinion. While some of you treat her respectfully a lot of you don’t, and you make me angry because it’s up to me to remind her of the lives (yes, LIVES plural) she has single-handedly saved. In addition to those she has made countless lives better through the exercise of her clinical skills, training and experience combined with her natural intuition. There aren’t many plumbers who can say that.



The Council Has Spoken: January 23, 2015

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Council Submissions: January 21, 2015

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Concensual Incest Puts Progressives on Slippery Slope

I support gay marriage on the principle that the Government should not be in the marriage business. To me marriage combines two unrelated components: a legal contract for asset accumulation/division plus a religious component that creates a moral contract between two people witnessed by the religious community. Marriage is one of the last vestiges where Religion and State are intertwined. The government controls marriage licensing, determining who can and cannot marry, and requires a religious ceremony to finalize the contract. While two atheists can have a completely secular marriage in which the religious ceremony is replaced by a Justice of the Peace witnessing the exchange of vows, the State will not recognize a completely religious ceremony, where vows are exchanged in a religious context but the newlyweds refuse to obtain a marriage license.

While Western countries have removed barriers to the issuing of marriage licenses to homosexuals, movement by religions to recognize such marriages has been glacial by comparison. The Roman Catholic Church, most Protestant sects, mainstream Jewish sects and all of Islam refuse to recognize gay marriage. Part of the success of the Gay Rights movement has been due to the equation of gay marriage to the American Civil Rights movement of the 20th century, particularly the state laws that prevented interracial marriage and the attitudes supporting those laws that the Civil Rights movement overturned through non-violent protest.

One of the arguments employed by supporters of traditional marriage was that by legalizing same-sex unions, Society is placed on a slippery slope whereby other non-traditional practices such as polygamy and incest become the next in line for legitimacy. Samantha Allen confronts this challenge in her piece “Consensual Incest is Rape.” In the article Allen, who supports gay marriage, takes issue with the attempt by those calling for the decriminalizing of incest between consenting adults to hitch their issue to the gay marriage movement in the same way the gay marriage movement attached itself to the civil rights movement. Referring to a pro-incest blogger, Allen writes, “Pullman tries to boost his marriage equality credentials by also promoting the legalization of same-sex marriage but a more apt description of affairs would be that he wants to hitch incest to the same-sex marriage wagon. In his post “Gay Marriage and Incest in the US,” he tries to link same-sex marriage with incestuous marriage by saying that both take place “between consenting adults,” they “don’t hurt anybody,” they are both “subject to discrimination,” and that there is “no rational reason” for their prohibition. “Gays and lesbians do not choose their orientation and people do not choose the parents to whom they are born,” he adds, in a staggering leap of logic.”

Unfortunately Allen’s argumentative skills are lacking in the piece. She is unable to muster a defense against writer Keith Pullman, whom Allen refers to as  “adult incest advocate” except by using the words “staggering leap of logic.” I have not visited Pullman’s website nor do I have any interest in his arguments advocating the legalization of incest, but I find it interesting to see supporters of gay marriage who base their arguments on civil rights squirm when the same arguments they used are turned against them to justify practices which they find as heinous as the religious find gay sex. Allen concludes her piece stating flatly, “Supporters of incest are not part of the marriage equality movement,” but does little to explain why that’s the case.

In her article Allen’s sole weapon that separates gay marriage from incest is power. She quotes incest survivor McKenzie Phillips, ““[T]here really is no such thing as consensual incest due to the inherent power a parent has over a child,” she said. “So I wouldn’t necessarily call it a consensual relationship at this time,” although a year earlier she described sex with her father John Phillips as just that on Oprah. Allen quotes psychotherapist Robi Ludwig on Phillips’ incest, “But you can’t say it’s consensual, because there’s always a power imbalance when it comes to a parent and child,” even when both parent and child are both adults.

It’s no surprise that Samantha Allen resorts to the issue of power, since Leftist thought is based on the assumption that the unequal distribution of power underlies all conflict. In fact the imbalance of power between the sexes is one reason why traditional Feminism has been opposed to marriage. Since men always had more power in our society it was impossible for women to be treated fairly in marriage. It’s only recently that feminism has evolved to accept marriage, and usually only within the context of gay marriage.

But power is a poor choice against incest. It fails to address the issue of incestuous siblings, for example, who lacked the “power imbalance when it comes to a parent and child,” yet I doubt that Allen would support incestuous marriage between adult brothers or a brother/sister pair with equal power. By using power imbalance to ban marriage between parent and child, the usage of the term implies that marriages require a balance of power. Since power can take many forms this opens up a whole new arena for restricting marriage.

Leaving aside the issue of the subjectivity of power (Who defines it? The State? The marrying parties themselves?) this usage of the power c0uld ban marriages between adults of differing financial backgrounds, since the wealthier party in a marriage would have more power than the poorer one. It would ban marriage between adults of different ages, since an older, more experienced partner would conceivably have more power than a younger less experienced one. Alternately the younger person in such a relationship could have more power since youth is valued more highly in our society than age, putting the older spouse at a disadvantage. Finally the imbalance of power would ban all marriages between whites and minorities since white privilege by definition gives the white person more power than the minority.

The result of this would be laws banning marriage between whites and non-whites, between social classes, and between those of different ages. Congratulations Ms. Allen, you’ve recreated the restrictions of Victorian England or the the American South prior to the 1970s.

The only way for a progressive to avoid the slippery slope that ends up undermining her argument supporting gay marriage is to give up on the concept of traditional marriage entirely and take the libertarian view. There any number of adults of varying sexes can have contracts, and the age of consent becomes the line at which a child is recognized as being old enough to be a partner in a binding legal contract. Religions are then free to continue to marry as they see fit. If a Mormon sect wants to marry one man to multiple women, so be it. Similarly if the Catholic Church refuses to marry two women it is free to do so because of religi0us freedom. The role of the State then becomes the enforcer of contracts, a role that it has had throughout history and one that does not come into conflict with religious and personal freedom.

The problem for progressives like Ms. Allen is that they seek to expand the role of the State in people’s lives, the opposite of libertarians. While a libertarian believes the government should be limited and as small as possible, the progressive views government as a tool to create a society based on progressive ideals. There is little difference between progressives on the Left and conservatives on the Right in this regard, since both see the State as a means to their different ends. This is why government ballooned under Reagan in the 1980s and Bush in the 2000s, just as it has grown under Obama over the past 6 years. It also explains why progressives have encouraged censorship and curtailed basic freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion under Obama just as the conservatives did under Reagan in the 1980s.

But keeping the government in the marriage business will present logical dilemmas such as incestuous marriage or polygamy, making sure the ground beneath the feet of progressives is icy and sloped. Advocates for such unpopular views simply need to follow in the footsteps of the progressives and wait for legal cases and popular opinion to swing their way. In the meantime those on the Right including libertarians such as myself will enjoy watching progressives like Allen rocket down the icy slope.

The Council Has Spoken: January 16, 2015

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