Friday, March 12, 2010

IN Touch: A Threat to Our Rights (update)

Back in January, I posted my most recent entry for The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog. In the weeks following the publication of that post on the IN Touch blog, an interesting and heated discussion followed in the comments section of the IN Touch site. I don't know how long The Indianapolis Star keeps those comments, so I decided to copy them here for posterity (note that I deleted a mistakenly duplicated post and corrected a few odd formatting errors that made some text hard to read). Unfortunately, real life and work intervened and I wasn’t able to fully participate in the discussion as it kept going. Nevertheless, the discussion is interesting, especially the chance to see how someone vehemently opposed to gay marriage (or perhaps gay rights in general or even the very concept of “gay rights”) frames the issues and arguments.

First, go back and read my original post. Then check out these comments.

IrishKevin (January 27, 2010)

Michael, I agree wholeheartedly with your post.

No one, to my knowledge, has EVER truly explained how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages, affect their own families or end civilization as we know it.

The proponents (supporters) of SJR-13, I am sure, would NOT agree to amendments such as banning divorce, requiring pre-marital counseling, or other amendments which would "protect" their traditional marriages. They jump up and down about protecting marriage and family while they themselves have been divorced and remarried. It seems to me divorce is a MUCH bigger threat to marriages and families than same-sex marriages are. And after all, these fundamentalist legislators should remember that Jesus did say what God has brought together let NO MAN put asunder. But hey, they only follow the parts of Jesus teachings that are "convenient" for them, yet they call themselves devout Christians. What a laugh.

However, I think we all know that the usually cast of characters are really out just trying to score political points with their fundamentalist base, so they can keep getting re-elected. If they spent as much effort trying to solve the REAL problems facing Indiana and stop worrying about same-sex marriages, maybe they MIGHT actually accomplish something of value, instead of wasting their time on stuff like SJR-13 while they are in session.

But hey, these "family value" legislators just want to bring up this issue every session so they can keep getting elected and keep coming to Indianapolis on the taxpayer's dime, stay in hotels, dine out and waste MORE time accomplishing NOTHING for the citizens of Indiana.

Mick Lee (February 1, 2010)

As usual, supporters gay marriage claim that "No one... has EVER truly explained how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages". And, as usual, the key words are "has ever truly explained". What this means is that they get to decide what is "truly". It would doubt few that our writers don't believe such explanations could exist in the first place.

Well, the truth is such explanations are out there easy to be found. Anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant or dishonest. Our writers may not like them. They may say they don't meet their approval or their logic. But they are there. Just surf the web.

IrishKevin (February 1, 2010)

So tell us Mike [ed: I believe that IrishKevin meant Mick, not Mike; see below], how does same-sex marriage affect YOUR marriage, YOUR family, YOUR well-being?

Come on Mike, tell us, and be specific. I don't want some generic answer from the groups who go down to the Satehouse but never really say anything relevant. They are the ones who NEVER explain HOW same-sex marriage will affect them, their familes or their well-being.

So, since you take issue with that, I want to know how it directly affects YOU. Come on, tell us.....(if you can).

Michael Wallack (February 1, 2010)


Thanks for reinforcing my point. You tell me that explanations are "out there easy to be found". Yet, like the proponents of the proposed constitutional amendment who testified to the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee, you don't tell us what those reasons are, either. A legislator being asked to amend our constitution shouldn't have to surf the web for a rationale; proponents of the amendment should put their rationale up for scrutiny and debate. In this case, that was not done.

Michael Wallack (February 1, 2010)


Are you asking me or did you mean to ask Mick? For my part, same-sex marriage will have absolutely no effect on me, my marriage, or my well-being.

Mick Lee (February 2, 2010)

What has escaped Michael and Kevin is that I had accused the other writers of dishonesty and bad faith. You never "truly" heard how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages? It's because you don't want to. It is easily done with a few clicks on the web and the fact that our industrious writers have little interest in doing so demonstrates they have little curiosity into why anyone would think differently than they do. Our writers really don’t want to debate “gay marriage” at all. In other words, the subject isn't really the subject. Something else is afoot. Our writers' real goal is to leave the door open for some court to decide the whole issue for everyone else. Given the Hoosier electorate, that is the only way "gay marriage" will become legal in Indiana.

IrishKevin (February 2, 2010)

Re: Mike Lee. Mike, you wrote "You never "truly" heard how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages? It's because you don't want to."

Then you say it is out on the web. I am not asking that. I am asking YOU. How does same-sex marriage affect YOU, YOUR marriage and YOUR family. You seem concerned that "some court to decide the whole issue for everyone else"...So tell us how it will affect YOU.

So I would like YOU, and the others who scream that same-sex marriage will DESTROY our state and our Nation, to tell me HOW it will destroy your marriage... How will it destroy our state, our nation, our families and civilization as we know it? Those opposed to same-sex marriage make those claims but they NEVER say how their own marriages or lives will be affected. And by the way, they DON'T say that on the WEB either.. they just make the same stupid rants that they have to protect traditional marriage and family values, yet they TRULY NEVER say how same-sex marriage will "destroy" traditional marriage... so please TELL US....

Michael Wallack (February 2, 2010)


Actually, I think that you're missing the point. Look at the last paragraph of my original post. You will see that the issue is NOT whether Indiana should allow gay marriage; the issue is whether we should amend our Constitution. Perhaps the issue of same-sex marriage should be open to the courts (just as a lot of civil rights rulings were left to the courts) or to a future legislature. But amending the Constitution would prohibit a future legislature from dealing with same-sex marriage or civil unions.

The other point that you miss is that I said that at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, none of the proponents of SJR 13 endeavored to identify the perceived threat. I'm happy to debate the merits of those perceived threats, but it is the obligation of those proposing a constitutional amendment to come forward with the arguments; it isn't the obligation of the opponents to both "find" the arguments and then defeat them.

Jeff Lint (February 2, 2010)


I think it is you who doesn't want to debate this issue. You say the arguments are out there defining how "same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages" yet you can't cite a single argument. I have heard and read a lot on this issue and like Irish Kevin I have never heard anyone explain how same-sex marriage harms much less destroys traditional marriage, "truly" or otherwise. If this issue is as clear as you seem to think it is why can't you present any evidence? If you're arguing that some of your fellow Hoosiers should be denied rights belonging to others you need a better argument than no argument at all.

IrishKevin (February 2, 2010)

Michael, I met to ask Mick, (and I inadvertently wrote Mike). In fact, I responded again to him and again wrote Mike instead of Mick.

Based on what you wrote in your original posting, I assumed that you were not affected in any way by same-sex marriage, just like NO ONE ELSE'S marriage, family or well-being would be affected by same-sex marriage, despite what Advance America and the other organizations claim.

Mick Lee (February 2, 2010)

Our writer is certainly right to say that same-sex marriage is already prohibited by state law. The citizens of Indiana have already spoken. So why fool around with the state constitution? Precisely because some court will all by itself constitutionalize the issue and place it beyond public discourse in rendering its own decision. That is, with the right case before it, the judicial branch of government can and will amend the Indiana constitution all by itself.

Many if not most within gay activist community are putting their hopes for these circumstances to transpire. The apprehension of their opponents is that gay activists will attempt an “end run” around the Indiana voters and legislature by appealing to a receptive court.

Michael makes a curious statement when he writes: “do we really want to start amending our bill of rights with provisions that serve to restrict, rather than enhance, those rights?” It the first place, Michael serves up a planted axiom that what is referred as “gay rights” actually exist. This is in the very least debatable and far from a settled consensus. In the second place, Michael misses an important function of the bill of rights.

Rights, as we possess them, protect us from the naked strength government. They serve to protect the Hoosier populace from the coercive power of those who think society should be remade according to their lights. Such “reforms” are always presented as benevolent changes. But the means is tyrannical.

Contrary to assertion of some, marriage is not a vehicle to collect benefits. The sentiment of Hoosiers along with millions over the globe is that marriage is one man and one woman for the nourishment and protection of children. Yes, there are different other kinds of families. But all these possible “family” constellations are not the same nor do they possess the same strengths and weaknesses. Quite frankly, most are maladapted to the needs and demands placed on them--especially in the modern age. It is the accumulated experience and wisdom over the centuries that has shown us what works and what doesn’t. We do not wish to subject ourselves to court imposed social experimentation just to resort to reinventing the wheel. This could only be done by state imposed coercion against the liberty of Hoosiers. The marriage amendment is an assertion of the populace that they are a free and self-governing people rather than witless subjects of a handful of men in black robes.

Yes, social dyads called gay marriages will always exist among us. But the question before the larger society is which family constellation will we recognize and to which will we extend our assistance. Gay pairings will always exist; but the larger society has decided that it is not its job nor is it in their interest to aid in preserving them.

Jeff Lint (February 3, 2010)


Please explain how "same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages". If you can't explain how this happens I don't see how you can justify denying the same civil rights to your fellow citizens that you enjoy.

Mick Lee (February 3, 2010)

A few years ago, before his "sudden" parting of ways with the Star, RiShawn Biddle and I had a lengthy exchange over several letters on just the subject of how gay marriage would damage (note, I did not say destroy) traditional marriage. I introduced the concept of "social ecology" and Mr. Biddle kept true to his libertarian views and refused to believe that what was going on around him could crack into his life. I view human being very much social beings for whom their culture is very much the air they breathe. Mr. Biddle believes in a radical individualism by which the person is critically separate from society.

On these grounds, Mr. Biddle and I kept going around in circles. I ended my side of the exchange citing empirical evidence from Holland and the Scandinavian countries where gay marriage was established in law.

The evidence revealed that fewer marriages were formed over time and fewer with each passing year. Cohabitation became the norm. Such arrangements are inherently unstable in that they were less likely to culminate in marriage and were prone to dissolve in a matter of a few months to a few years.

For the children, the failure of families to form or to be laid waste often leads to a number of crippling pathologies-often throughout their lives. In theory, these alleged "self contained individuals" should have remained detached from the trash around them. As life is really lived, this just isn't so.

Mr. Biddle granted there may be certain "pychic effects" (a term I rejected) in broadening what is considered as marriage but these were irrelevant to the principle of personal liberty.

My counter is that the Lord gave us our liberties so that we may carry out our duties. Liberty must be "for" something. Liberty doesn't live for itself nor is it an unqualified license to harm others while enjoying one's liberty. It was Abraham Lincoln who championed this concept of liberty and it was for these same reasons he objected to the institution of slavery. Lincoln reasoned that a man who is a slave is a man who is unable to honor is mother and father and thus unable to keep the Commandments.

A sin is often times not a malicous act of evil. Instead, it is often the illicit use of something intended for good. Gay activists often point to all the good things that come out of gay marriages. I this I have no doubt. It of no surprise that good things come out of the wrongful application of marriage — an institution meant for good. What would truly be surprising would be if nothing good came out of it. Yes, marriage is meant of the mutual love and companionship of two individuals. But marriage is also for the issue, nourishment and protection of children. Yes, many gay partners are raising children and do so well. Yes, some heterosexual couples never have children and have no intention of doing so; but they enjoy an intense passion with each other. But these are distinct minorities within the norm. The childless couples are in a marriage because each has bound their generative sexuality to their partner so that it will not be shared with another. Parents for a child are necessary but are not sufficient. Parents are not gender interchangeable. A child needs both and male father and female mother. That family constellation provides the optimum condition for children to grow — especially if both the mother and father are the biological parents. That so many heterosexual marriages are bad does not lend legitimacy to gay couples claiming marriagehood. Most homosexual couples do not have children in the first place. Those gay couples that do raise children lack the complimentary aspects of male and female caregivers.

I well understand the agony and isolation homosexuals continue to suffer in our society. The pain many heterosexuals inflict on gays for the sake of fun and enjoyment of hurting them is a sin against God. But conforming marriage to one's circumstances is not necessary to be a member and conversationalist of the moral community.

I say all these things with my beloved gay son in my heart. I will never reject him and only wish him well. He and his lover will always have a welcome place at our table. Nevertheless, things are as they are.

IrishKevin (February 3, 2010)

Mick, I see you have responded to Michael, but not to me, which is okay, as I really did not think you would answer my question as to how same-sex marriage directly affects YOU, YOUR marriage and/or YOUR family. I still stand behind my original assertion the no one who opposes same-sex marriage TRULY indicates HOW same-sex marriage will "destroy" their OWN marriage, the institution of marriage, or how it affect their families or bring an end to civilization and the human race.

So I guess you will continue to pontificate and avoid direct answers. That is fine, I am done as well as you clearly don't have an answer.

I also could pontificate as to WHY this country is a REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC, as opposed to a TRUE Democracy, and WHY Jefferson, Madison and the rest of the Founding Fathers did that to protect the minority from the TYRANNY of the majority. But I guess you don't know or understand any of that. Maybe you and the rest of the supports of SJR 13 should go read Madison's writing on why he feared the tyranny of the majority, and why we ELECT representatives, and have courts to PROTECT minorities from the majority voting away their rights. Maybe you need to go study a little more U.S. History, Civics and Political Science.

I would bet it would have taken a LOT longer for southern states to get rid of the "Jim Crow" laws if the citizens of those states were allowed to vote on them. The State legislatures and courts took the actions necessary to protect the minorities because the "majority" would have voted to maintain the status quo.

Allowing fellow citizens to VOTE on taking away OTHER citizens rights is VERY DANGEROUS and the VERY REASON we have elected officials and courts. This is NOT a true democracy. And as much as YOU and others would like to vote away rights of fellow Hoosiers, I am glad that there are SOME legislators in Indiana who understand the implications of that.

Mick Lee (February 4, 2010)

How shall “gay marriage” impact my marriage? Well, Kevin, I am an old man — married for over fifty years. And I am probably not long for this world. At least in my case, the question is misapplied. I assure you that a certain hardening of the “concrete” that forms the bonds between my wife and myself took place some time ago — long before the notion of “gay marriage” made its first appearance. (Yes, there was a time when even gay activists thought “gay marriage” was an outrageous idea — nothing more than a “red herring” and a fantasy floated by their opponents to divert attention from the real issues of discrimination in housing, employment and peaceable public protection.) . However, I have more than a casual interest in the kind of world I will leave behind and in what happens to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who come after me.

I am sure you are quite proud of your civics lesson; but, given the maturity of your writing flair, it is my guess that I had written much more multi-layered manuscripts on the Federalist Papers and the Constitution before your father dripped from your grandfather’s seed. But we need not go down those roads. The fact is your discourse begs the question.

You and your compatriots insist on the protection of your right to marriage. You also insist that no majority has the authority to take away your right. The problem, however, does such a right even exist? When the Federalist Papers were written and the Constitution ratified, the rights of Afro-Americans and the franchise for the Jews were subject to active debate — however imperfectly. In other words these questions have a long pedigree going back to the Founding. But at no time until these recent days has the “right” of homosexuals to marriage ever been advanced or argued in any forum. As I alluded to before, for most of the history of gay activism, leaders within the movement regarded the subject of “gay marriage” a phony issue invented by religious zealots to scare off the public. Even they thought the notion of “gay marriage” a contradiction in terms and hardly enviable in pursuit of their rights as homosexuals. It has been only recently that a “right to marry” has been put forward. In addition, many within the homosexual media insist that such a marriage should not be expected to conform to “heterosexist” norms.

You cannot manufacture a “right” nor is it safe to make the attempt. Neither can a majority take away what you never had to begin with. You certainly are right that we heterosexuals have allowed ourselves a lot of crap in our sexual adventures and marriages since the Second World War. But is precisely the point. When the radical liberalization of divorce, it was also argued that why should it make any difference to you and your marriage if the Smith’s down the street separate and divorce? The answer is that divorce was not kept at a small 10-15% as predicted — instead it reached slightly over 50%. This is a matter of indifference to many but it was a crippling disaster for a least one third of the children (many put the figure higher) resulting in a number of pathologies our society has yet to grapple with.

I have made my case plainly. The empirical evidence points out that broadening the legal definition to include gay marriage spikes in fewer marriages taking place and the increases failure of the formation stable families. Many will reply that that is their problem — not mine. I suggest that attitude is short sighted. One way or another it will become your problem.

You may well have gay marriage established in law sooner or later. I would bet on sooner. But we will not be the better for it.

IrishKevin (February 5, 2010)

Mick, it is not MY right to marry that I am concerned about, as I happened to have been married for over 30 years to my wonderful wife, but it the RIGHT of my gay son I am fighting for. He is entitled to the same "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" as I and my wife have had.

The problem with SJR-13 is not that it is trying to "protect" marriage, as its supporters claim, but the wording, if you read it, is also intended to PREVENT civil unions as well. So those who say they are supporting SJR-13 to "Protect" the "sacred" institution of marriage are disingenuous, (as in hypocrites and bigots) since they are also against CIVIL UNIONS, and allowing gay couples who want to commit their lives to each, from enjoying the same CIVIL benefits, such as tax breaks, the right of Social Security benefits, and the over 1500 other state and federal benefits that married couples have that gay couples can NOT have. And please don't use that tired argument that those benefits can be achieved by creating contacts, because most of them cannot.

My gay son did NOT CHOOSE to be gay, he was born that way. So why should he not have the same chance at love, commitment and family as my straight sons and daughter have? Because some people think it is okay for the majority to VOTE away his right to have the committed relationship my straight kids can have? Well I don't happen to think so, even though you don't seem to like my "writing flair". (THAT'S TOUGH, by the way, I don't care.)

The majority CANNOT be allowed to vote on the rights and privileges of the minority. And they SHOULD NOT be allowed to vote DISCRIMINATION INTO the Indiana Constitution.

The Indiana constitution says "The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens."

So you can pontificate all you want. You can criticize my writing style or "writing flair", all you want, but allowing citizens to vote rights AWAY from a group and puting into the constitution WRONG and DANGEROUS. Maybe we should allow the citizens to vote away the rights of those who belong to the Muslim religion as well, since the majority seem to think they are all terrorists anyway.

So I guess you and I will have to agree to disagree, because I don't care if you agree or not, Gays are entitled to have the same long-term commitments, the same loving relationships and receive the SAME benefits from entering into a commitment MARRIED relationship as straight couples do, and NO ONE has the right to simply VOTE that away.

Gay married will NOT destroy traditional marriage, will NOT destroy traditional families will NOT destroy society, not matter what you and others opposed to it claim. And I happen to think this is EXACTLY the kind of tyranny of the majority that Madison warned about, whether you think so not.

SO I will continue to speak out against the phony Christians, who hide behind Bible verses to support their position, and the bigots who simply don't like gays, and the mass of uninformed citizens who won't take the time to educate themselves, but who rely on the bigots, hypocrites and phony Christians to form their opinions on the topic. Your time has passed, as the MAJORITY of those UNDER 30 support the right of a gay couple to get married. So it may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen, and those opposed will see they are on the WRONG side of this issue.

Mick Lee (February 19, 2010)

Mr. IrishKevin

1.) I have pointed to empirical evidence that those nations which have recognized "gay marriage" suffered a numerical decline in the formation of marriages and increases in failure in the formation stable families. This seems to be a matter of indifference to you. One can only assume that the original guest ion of "how would gay marriage effect your own marriage?" is really a matter of indifference to you. Come hell or high water, you are for gay marriage. Period. This qualifies as being a hypocrite.

2.) Marriage is what is known as a "pre-existing" institution. It existed long before any state and will exist long after the disappearance of any nation. No government has the authority to "redefine" marriage and it is an attack on liberty to do so.

3.) You totally fail to account how a "right" that no one--including gays--advocated anytime and anywhere before just recently, suddenly becomes something you merely assert exists as if it were self-evident.

4.) It is well documented that as individuals age they become more conservative. The first such phase occurs upon marriage. It is further compounded with the arrival of children. It is an inescapable phenomenon that people do change their political and social views as they pass through the milestones of life. Don't assume those under 30 will not change their minds on this issue.

4.) You assume the worst about your opponents. You more than clearly indicate that you believe who hold different views on this issue than you do are evil. This is not a mark of the pluralistic society we are supposed to cherish.

5.) Your writings display a serious seething of hatred and bile. You are dangerous. On this basis alone, most people will not listen to you. You should reflect on this. It is only hurting you.

IrishKevin (February 21, 2010)

I have to laugh at your "emperical evidence". You claim that marriages in Holland and the Scandanavian countries are down and that more couples are co-habitating ONLY because of gay marriage. So heterosexual couples are co-habitating because of gay marriage. WHAT A LAUGH! Your "evidence" falls apart Mr. Lee. Divorce is UP and couples are co-habitating here in the U.S. as well, and we don't have gay marriage as law. So the "emperical study doesn't hold water, as they say. The researchers would have had to eliminate EVERY OTHER reason for co-habitation to blame it only on gay marriage.

SO sorry, that research is, as they say, B.S.

While YOU have failed STILL failed to show how gay marriage affects YOU, your family OR society. (As I said, your study is bogus). The fact that more couples are co-habitating in Holland and that Holland allows gay marriage do NOT relate.

So yes I AM angry, when my son gets treated as a second class citizen by people like YOU, Mr. Lee. I have to come to the conclusion that maybe taxes in this country are "unfair", as all those Tea Party loonies keep shouting. So I will join their shouts... No equality, NO TAXES. Maybe the gay community should stop paying taxes until they receive same equal treatment, rights and privledges of ALL citizens. You don't want gay marriage? Then maybe you should pay the taxes of those whose RIGHTS you are denying.

Mick Lee (February 23, 2010)

Mr. IrishKevin

It is typical for pro-gay marriage folk to disparage the Holland studies. What is interesting is in their own way they admit the findings of the study. The error they make is that they assert marriage and co-habitation as equivalent associations. They are not. Cohabitation is inherently instable. Couples who cohabitate are two to three times more likely to break apart. The built in component in cohabitation is the avoidance of commitment. Marriage, in contrast, is a pledge of commit to one another and to provide nourishment and protection to the children they will have.

The pro-gay marriage folk have long worked to decouple child raising from marriage in the public mind. To a large degree, they have succeeded. This denaturing of marriage of one of its central purposes has made marriage simply one of several arrangements two people can make use. An option if you will. Those areas in Holland and Scandinavia which are the most receptive to same-sex marriage also have astonishing rates of out of wedlock births: 60to 80 percent. The simple fact is sociologists in both Europe and North America recognize being born out of wedlock carries a number of social pathologies which we have yet to begin to deal with.

Many such you snort in contempt at such studies. It is simply axiomatic to you that it just can�t be that gay marriage is responsible for any effects on heterosexual marriages. You point to all the other forces in our social sphere the just must be the cause of the destruction of marriage. Yet you produce no studies which refute the Dutch findings. The correlation is there that points to the increased acceptance of gay marriage and the decline in the formation of heterosexual marriages. You casually assert that the correlation is meaningless.

You fail to account just where this so called right to same-sex came from. Gay activists during the 1960’s through the 1980’s ridiculed the whole idea of gay marriage. They said that gay marriage was a scare tactic invented by religious zealots to drive people away from the real issues. Gay activists told us they were interested in nothing of the sort. Were the religious zealots right all along?

You are unhappy that I have not stated how the adoption of gay marriage would effect me. The flaw in your challenge is that you want a “micro” answer to a “macro” question. Dramatic social changes effect masses of people and it is only in observing large numbers of people one can assess how changes have impacted the population. Some families will be the epitome of the “new world”. For other families, change will bypass them for one reason or another. What we do know is the liberalization of the divorce laws and the introduction of effective contraceptives were supposed to be business of individuals. Yet in a very short time, these two things became everyone’s business. Marriage became less binding. Contraception made recreational sex outside marriage possible —  making sex and marriage less exclusive to each other. You may regard these as good changes; but you cannot deny what was once individual became everyone’s task to deal with.

As I wrote before, your hatred is palpable. I distrust you and can only be suspicious of what more you will want if you get what you want this time. What exactly would you do to us if you could?

As far as withholding taxes, I say go knock yourself out. You will have some interesting conversations with the I.R.S.

IrishKevin (February 24, 2010)

Mick Lee wrote: "As I wrote before, your hatred is palpable. I distrust you and can only be suspicious of what more you will want if you get what you want this time. What exactly would you do to us if you could?"

Do to US? So it is YOU against the world? I think your paranoia is showing.

Actually, the only people I "hate" are hypocrites, bigots and racists. I don't hate those who are "mentally challenged" (i.e. stupid), since they cannot help the fact that they can't grasp reality and basic truths or that they can be influenced so easily by those who have agendas.

However, I am not to fond of liars either actually.

So if you think I hate you, then you can decide which category you fall into. Based on your rants, you should be able to figure it out.

Interesting stuff, no? So what do you think?

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Monday, January 25, 2010

IN Touch: A Threat to Our Rights

My thirteenth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. As I've said previously, I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.
On Jan. 20, the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee considered SJR 13, which would amend the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and prohibit the General Assembly from legislating civil unions in the future.

Proponents of SJR 13 talked about the need to "protect" marriage and spoke about "threats" to traditional marriage. Yet neither the sponsor of SJR 13 nor any of its proponents identified those threats from which marriage must be protected. Not one of them even tried to explain how failure to amend the Constitution would have a negative impact on their marriages or families. Not one of them explained how failure to amend the Constitution would solve crises faced by Indiana, such as taxes, budget shortfalls, education, decaying infrastructure, crime and poverty. Yet they were all so concerned by this phantom threat that they want to amend not just the Constitution but the Bill of Rights.

Take a few minutes and read the Indiana Constitution (while most of us are familiar with the U.S. Constitution, how many can honestly say they are familiar with Indiana's Constitution?), in particular Article I (the Bill of Rights). Our constitution (especially the Bill of Rights) largely focuses on either the structure of government or the rights granted to Hoosiers. Do we really want to start amending our Bill of Rights with provisions that serve to restrict, rather than enhance, those rights? Do we really want to amend our constitution now in order to make it harder for future generations of Hoosiers to enact laws that extend rights?

The current issue is not whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in Indiana; it is already prohibited by state law. The question is whether we, as a people, are so threatened by the possibility of same-sex marriage that we are willing to amend our constitution to address that perceived yet unidentified threat, and whether we want our Bill of Rights to restrict rather than grant rights.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

We Live in a Truly Sick Society (update)

As I mentioned when I updated my earlier post about the comments on the website of The Indianapolis Star regarding the attack on Rep. Ed Delaney, I decided to see what kinds of comments were left on the websites of the local TV stations. Here is a delightful sampling of the opinions of some of the members of our community (I’ve reformatted the posts into single paragraphs):

First from WISH-TV (CBS affiliate):

space1999: I don't want to sound negative, but in a peaceful country, its tough to get abused everyday by the lawmakers who do nothing except shop and spend money, so you might see more of this, in a revolution, you see a lot of this action as we go to football games and talk stocks in dockers while overseas our kids get murdered fighting for this. Its one thing to fight for land and food, but its another to fight for a football game and a stock.

Ready: That's right, .... We...... you ... me ... and everyone else has let this once great country go to hell . We're all just sitting around looking at each other, doing NOTHING . Think it's time for a civil war ? Can't wait much longer or we'll have no chance of recovering .

Guest: Dems cleaning up the mess again, funny how short our memories really are. Ever since Mr. Clinton, a Democrat I do believe, passed a bill that said, every american should have the right to own their own house. Well, as we can all tell by the high foreclosure rates they shouldn't be allowed. Takes about a good 4-5 years at least to default on a home which just happen to be during a Republican term. Good thing Obama is promising "change" all he has brought is another messed up blackman's checkbook.

revolutionisnear: If your a serviceman you should be ashamed you walked the democratic line. Dems have never supported our troops they have always condemed them. This country is on its way to a 2nd revolution because politicians on both sides are stealing from americans and americans are tired of it so you might want to start accepting that. From one serviceman to another

dude: i'd say this is just one of many such attacks in the mos to come. americans of all parties are feedup with politicans. liberalism is a cancer in america that must be stopped. the 2.3 million protestors who went to DC to protest obama recently shows americans have joined hands to fight this adminstrations war against american values. every poll out there says its going to be the end of liberals up for reelection reguardly of why party their in. time to stand up and fight for america, its worth saving from these dem liberals we got in their now. and if its a repub liberal which there are a few, throw them out too. CONSERVATIVES ROCK !!!!!! Palin 2012 [Comment: I like how Dude manages to inflate the inflated estimates of the size of the 9/12 tea parties up to 2.3 million; right-wingers inflated the number to 1-1.7 million; the actual number appears to be about 70,000.]

dave: Delaney is a punk who deserved a beating. Dont all politicians?

dave: ALL politicians need their ***es beat! Mendenhall did a good job on this one. Multiple fractures of the orbital socket - NICE! Mr. Delaney will be fine and eventually go back to his nice big house and rubbing elbows with the hoity toiters during a nice big expensive lunch. If i got jacked up somewhere like out on the Monon Trail and was in the hospital for days - id lose my job.

lisa: Well, let's hear the whole story about the lawsuit. Is it ok for someone with clout and $ to bankrupt a family and force a woman to work 15 hours a day to feed 2 little ones. That is worse than a couple broken bones and bruises. Those will heal, this family will never heal. Is he proud as a person and senator to say what he did to this family and put it on his record that is the kind of person he is?? What goes around comes around, he should have waited til life caught up with the senator - he would eventually suffer. Now this poor family has to suffer even more because of this senator who claims he is for helping people. WHy didn't he consider this family as humans instead of going after them/destroying them? Obviously he has no conscous just a goat with no face. All for lining his greedy pockets like the majority of politicians

Whack-a-mole: great comment. There is saying, "Never mess with a man's family or money". I do not feel bad for the senator because he went after both. I am also dissapointed in the self righteous comments from the upperclass individuals. Wait till you are in desperate times and we will see how high up in the air your nose sticks


Now let’s see what people had to say on the website for WRTV (ABC affiliate):

Obvious: I am just saying that an older man in the front seat of a car, parked in a secluded place, with a younger man (wearing a wig) sitting in the passenger seat?  Sounds like more was going on than real estate advice.

Obvious: I'm not arguing that the "vendetta" is behind the beating, but maybe, just maybe the initial reason for the "hook-up" was less than honorable.

Heyyyy: A red wig... a PT Cruiser... a secluded area? One of two words come to mind. "Weird" is one of them. You guess what the other one is.

Guest: The property was locked and sealed and sold at auction and the state kept the money....... ......hellllllllllo...........that would be enough to make me want to hurt the guy after 26 years. Just another story of the politicians in this town doing wrong to people and getting away with it.

Union Buster: maybe this slim bag lawyer had whats coming to him

Mr Conservative: Lawyers killing lawyers... there is a god...

rocko: Just another scumbag attorney getting what he deserves!

Craig: I can't wait to hear how this turns out. Another politician caught!

Guest: This was an indecent act of sex in the park that went wrong

Next there is WTHR (NBC affiliate) which has far fewer comments (the comment feature appears to be more difficult to use):

Guest: Now get the guy a good lawyer and show that representative/lawyer what it feels like to have some slime attorney drag him through the legal process.

Finally, WXIN (the Fox affiliate) has far fewer articles on the attack and those articles don’t appear to have a comment feature enabled.

One final note: Apparently, the attacker’s family has set up a website where they are soliciting money for a legal defense fund. I’m not going to link to the site because I don’t think they deserve the publicity. It is interesting to note, however, that on the legal defense fund page, there is absolutely no reference to Rep. Delaney. The page thanks people for their prayers and best wishes for the attacker but apparently his friends and family couldn’t be bothered to extend their own prayers and best wishes to Rep. Delaney. Classy.

Anyway, take another moment to remember that the posts that I’ve copied reflect a viewpoint within our community. Hopefully, that viewpoint is simply a loud, obnoxious minority. But I think that we need to be alert that their may be more people who have such venom and that the current political rhetoric (witness the tea parties) may be emboldening them to action and not just words.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

IN Touch: Mean-Spirited Comments or We Live in a Truly Sick Society

My twelfth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. As I've said previously, I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.

In the past, I've complained about editing when posts have made it into the print edition of The Indianapolis Star and even some of the online versions. However, this time, the editing problems are much worse than usual: The last several paragraphs, including my conclusion, have all been deleted without explanation. I don't know if it was intentional or an error. I've written to the editorial staff to ask that this be corrected, but so far I haven't heard anything (and the edited version is still online). I'm going to reprint my entire post in the format that I wrote it. I'll indicate where the post on the the IN Touch blog stops.

Before diving into the post, I thought that it was worth giving those of my readers not from the Indianapolis area a brief bit of background about the incident at the heart of this post. On Saturday morning, Ed Delaney, an attorney and first term Democratic Representative in the Indiana General Assembly (his wife is a major player in Indiana Democratic politics), went to an Indianapolis suburb, apparently to meet a potential new client who wanted Delaney to look at some property the "client" was interested in acquiring. It turns out that the potential client was another attorney, Augustus Mendenhall, who has apparently been harboring a grudge against Delaney since approximately 1983 (yes, you read that right, 1983) when Delaney was peripherally involved in litigation against Mendenhall's father. Back then, Indianapolis' prosecutor (and future mayor) Stephen Goldsmith, was going after porn shops in the city. Delaney represented a major developer that was apparently upset about a porn shop near its shopping mall. Goldsmith sued Mendenhall's father who owned the property where the porn shop was located and eventually succeeded in closing the porn shop (and seizing Mendenhall's property), but the prosecution was overzealous and was partially overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court (the seizure of property was the issue). Mendenhall sued Goldsmith, but lost. That is obviously a very abridged version of the story (and is taken from bits and pieces that I've read; I haven't done any real research into the back story).

So, with that as background, here is my IN Touch post:
By now, I’m sure that most of us have heard about the attack on Rep. Ed Delaney. Others who know Ed better than I do have and will continue to write about the kind of person he is, the service that he has provided to the community, and the senselessness of the attack. Instead, I want to focus attention on some of the comments posted on the website of The Indianapolis Star in response to the attack on Rep. Delaney. Take a moment and read these comments and then ponder what those comments say about the state of our society.

no2bama666: a liberal anti american politican, and being an attorney, hmmm, sounds like a double header beating this one's tush haha. well you live a life of hurting other ppl, an one day its your turn to be hurt, his day finally came.

acyl72: It is unfortunate that this moron could not even maintain his gun properly. Otherwise we'd be rid of one more crooked politician. If they won't go for term limits maybe we could use a more permanent form of term limit.

taytertott: What is the problem? One crook fighting another crook. Looks as if this may be an eye opener to some of these rude lawyers, and politicians. Your not safe even from your own. Now think about that when you treat some one from the street like crap. Sorry this man is hurt but Karma has a way of rearing it's head. Once again politicians interfering where they don't belong.

scooterbug300: [Delaney] was the slime ball attorney for a greedy developer who used his money to buy Goldsmith to drive out a business he did not want near his mall.

MB451645: So, if you shoot a police officer in the head, some scumbag lawyer uses the intent to kill defense. If you punch out a scumbag liberal Democrat piece of dung, it's attempted murder? We're in big trouble.

[this is where the post ends on the Star's website]

no2bama666: seems pretty obivious de laney was dirty and did something crooked. de laney didn't get charged with anything, but he doesn't have a good history behind him. he may have gotten off very light for what he did to this man's father. there are times a good beating is the only way to balance things out even if it is illegal. lots of things are illegal and we all break laws everyday.

cabinetguy: I can think of several politicians that need the same treatment, the entire system needs an attitude adjustment to say the least.

katldy73: Politicians think they are untouchable. Well they aren't. Your actions always have consequences.

Jennevieve67: I hope he hires the most savvy attorney he can find and I hope this attorney beats this political power hungry man at his own game. Sometimes you can push to hard and then someone pushes back. I think the wrong man is in jail....

CombatSoldie: Nice thing about this story is that everyone involved is an over educated democrat. Mendenhall is a law school grad who is a practicing lawyer. He is upset over DeLaney (D, husband of Ann) was the attorney (working for the Simon Mall, btw they are democrats, very rich ones) would not allow a porn shop. Too bad more democrats will not do the same type of attacks. It would clean up Indiana.

I worry that these sorts of comments are, in part, the result of the general nature of uncivil discourse that we’ve been watching in the political arena; or perhaps, the uncivil discourse is the product of a society that tolerates comments like these. But we, as responsible citizens, need to stand up and say enough is enough. Thankfully, for each of these horrible comments posted on the Star’s website, a number of other comments critical of these viewpoints were also posted. So perhaps all hope for civility is not lost.
I think that losing those last few comments, not to mention my conclusion, really lessens the impact of the post.

Since submitting my post to the Star yesterday, I've continued to follow some of the comment threads. Here are two more that caught my attention:
rebts: masses too stupid so we take their porn away because we know what is good for them, dems think masses are too stupid and therefore violence will happen to them... maybe since he was a dem he thought he should be able to do anything and it would be OK because he was a dem..but the other dem thought the same thing and then violence happened, yeah,...correlation..

combatsoldie: The masses will use violence when speech is silenced. These days the elite dems believe that the masses are too stupid and have to ruled.
Do these comments represent just a small, fringe element of society or are they indicative of a much wider problem?

Update (Nov. 6, 2009)

Here are a few more comments posted on the website for The Indianapolis Star:
icecis: Politician's lie WAYYY more than lawyers do......While politicians are not Kissing babies in their momma's arms, the minute mom turns their back, their stealing the kid's Lollipop. I believed every word Aug said in the Partly shown video of his statement after arrest. I sympathize with the pain of the Victim at his Age, and how terrifying it must have been for him and family...Delaney was in the hospital less than 48 hours though. Still not excused....Aug is going to do time, but if he gets Attempted Murder and 110 years in seriously moving out of the U.S. IM done with corruption in this country and good people and families getting screwed because people cant tell the truth and do the RIGHT thing. If that had happened 20 years ago, this would have never happened. Delaney, Id be at church this weekend praying Dateline doesnt get hold of this story and doing some footwork and be thankful that newscasters in this City dont have alot of Gusto for "intriguing" stories.

icecis: There's corruption in the governement. This story is alot more than the news. Ever think some of the news might be a little corrupted too and obviously ....the news for all purposes are going to take the victims side, as they should.......but Delaney sureeeeee likes that camera right now............Still not excusing the act of weakness mendenhall had and the terrible beating.....but Delaney aint a saint here, he's lying and exxagerrating thru his teeth and eating it up for the camera. I sound cruel?? Yah. maybe. Corruption is everywhere. Corruption is in the news too, to sell votes and papers. WE aint hearing it all folks. Aug, Id trust you with my kids any day of the week. My boy's middle name is yours and you've always been my hero, .......and his too. Hang in there.

lastrep: Democrats are lauding the jamming as a life saving event while on the way to escort unborn babies to their death.

LifeLongIndyMan: I wonder how many of these tea-bagging bible belters are saying to themselves "Man.. the one time God has to jam a gun it's a democrat and a lawyer.. dagnabit.."
These comments got me curious, so I decided to see what kind of comments were left on the websites for the local TV stations. If possible, those comments are even worse. I'll post a follow-up with some of that vile insanity soon.


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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IN Touch: Sick Kids in Class (update)

Last Friday, I posted my most recent entry on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog. The good news is that my post was published in today's print edition of The Indianapolis Star. The bad news is that, once again, my post was been edited in a way that removes part of the point that I was trying to make (note the entire last paragraph that was omitted). So, just for the hell of it, below is my original post. I've lined through the parts that were omitted from the printed version and underlined additions made by the Star’s editorial staff. What do you think? Were the changes made by the Star's editorial staff appropriate? Do they change the meaning?

As we go through the process of debating the merits of various proposals for health-care reform, we should also take the time to examine certain hidden health-care-related societal costs.

We hope that, when faced with a sick child, most parents would keep that a sick child home from school and take the child to see a doctor. But how many parents can't do this keep their child home because they don't have alternate child-care arrangements? And what are the ramifications of sick children being sent to school because a parent can't stay home with the child? Similarly, how many children stay sicker longer or return to school earlier than they should because the family cannot afford to see the doctor or pay for medicines? And what is the cost to society for sick children attending school and no doubt sickening other children?

We teach our children not to steal or cheat. When it comes to their classmates, we teach them not to fight or hurt one another. But how many parents extend that teaching to include a responsibility not to expose a classmate to germs?

As a society, we don't tolerate violent children. So why do we tolerate parents who send sick children to school? And what can we, as a society, do to help those parents and their children learn right from wrong and be in a position where the child can be safely kept home from school when necessary without forcing the family to make unacceptable sacrifices?

And what can we do to help schools with budgets determined by the number of children in attendance? Schools should not be encouraging sick children to attend classes so that the school can receive additional funds.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

IN Touch: Uncivil dissent

My ninth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. As you'll see, it continues the theme of my last few posts for this blog. My absence from IN Touch was due largely to the difficulty that I have with finding topics that I feel that I am capable of competently discussing, in 150 or so words, without losing my "voice".

I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.

A disturbing trend from the 2008 election is now infecting our political discourse. One of the things that has always distinguished America from much of the rest of the world was the civility of our political discourse. Sure, voices get raised and passions aroused, but we've largely avoided inflammatory speech and incitements to violence.

Until now.

Blame for the current trend in political hate speech with bullying and shouting to drown out debate and discussion can, I believe at least in part be traced back to the Republican campaign rallies where cries of "kill him" and "terrorist" directed at Barack Obama went unchallenged by Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

Now, we see people threatening their congressional representatives, hanging officials in effigy, using vile and racial epithets to describe politicians, shouting and pushing instead of talking and listening, and preventing those who disagree from being a part of a civil debate. And don't forget people like Glenn Beck who "joke" about killing politicians. (Beck actually staged a faux poisoning of Nancy Pelosi on TV.)

Screaming, yelling, bullying, fighting, death threats and acts of violence may be a fact of life in many political systems, but they are not part of the American tradition. Anyone who truly values our system and sense of democratic ideals must stand up and help put an end to this orchestrated slide into anarchy. If we don't act soon, how long will it be before some crackpot decides that assassination or terrorism is a legitimate tool of political dissent

One other thing about this post is worth noting. Here is how a part of my original post (as submitted to The Indianapolis Star) was written:
I believe, at least in part, be traced back to the Republican campaign rallies where cries of "kill him" and "terrorist" directed at Sen. Obama went unchallenged by Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.
However, when posted on the IN Touch site, this clause underwent some subtle, but perhaps significant revision:
I believe at least in part be traced back to the Republican campaign rallies where cries of "kill him" and "terrorist" directed at Barack Obama went unchallenged by Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

Do you see the difference? It took me a moment to notice it, too. In my original version, each of the three people mentioned was identified by the title he or she held at the time in question and the person's last name. In the version posted by The Indianapolis Star, each of the three gained a first name (no big deal). More importantly, however, then-Sen. Obama lost his title (and didn't gain another one) while both Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin kept their titles. This is particularly odd given that President Obama still has a title and former Governor Sarah Palin does not. There may be some simple journalistic rule of which I'm not aware, but I want to be sure that no slight was intended (either by me or by The Indianapolis Star).

I've asked the editorial staff of The Indianapolis Star for an explanation of this editorial change.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

IN Touch: Germ Factory Lessons

My eighth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.

This week I've received two notices from the Carmel-Clay Public Schools providing information about the swine flu (oops, the H1N1 flu), including reminders about hand-washing and the school district's policy on when children should be kept home from school (fever of 100 degrees or higher).

We've made sure that our children understand that the flu is serious and that simple precautions can help keep them healthy.

What I don't understand, however, is why, if the school district is concerned enough to send numerous emails to parents, no attention is being paid to the flu by teachers. When I asked my children if any teachers had told them about the flu or reminded them to wash their hands or cover their mouths if they coughed or sneezed, they told me that the teachers hadn't said anything.

It seems to me that the schools need to make a concerted effort to be sure that the germ factories (also known as children) in their charge remember take those simple steps that can help prevent the spread of illness.

Update (May 2, 2009): This post was printed in The Indianapolis Star on May 2, 2009.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

IN Touch: Double Standard

My seventh post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site as posts there tend to receive a fair number of comments and getting involved in the discussion can be fun (or frustrating). And for the record, I did not choose the title (it is the second time that the Star has chosen "Double Standard" for the title of one of my posts [see Double Bailout Standard]); my choice for a title was "Hypocrisy in filibustering judicial nominations" but I guess that wasn't quite punchy enough. The Star also added paragraph breaks where I hadn't. Oh, well.

President Barack Obama has nominated Judge David Hamilton of the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Despite receiving the endorsements of Sens. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar, Judge Hamilton's nomination hearings have been delayed by Republicans.

Now, Sen. Inhofe, R-Okla., says he will filibuster the nomination because of Judge Hamilton's ruling in the Statehouse prayer case. However, Inhofe has previously opposed the use of filibusters against presidential judicial appointments. In 2005, he called the compromise allowing the use of filibusters in extraordinary situations a "travesty."

More importantly, in 2003, Inhofe made the following statement about Democratic plans to filibuster one of President George Bush's judicial nominees: "If successful, their effort will amount to a de facto amendment to the Constitution. This outrageous grab for power by the Senate minority is wrong and contrary to our oath to support and defend the Constitution."

So, just to be sure that I understand correctly, it was an unconstitutional "outrageous power grab" by Democrats to filibuster a judicial nominee but it is perfectly acceptable for a Republican senator to filibuster a Democratic judicial nominee.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

IN Touch: Abortion Ruse

My sixth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. I've decided to go ahead and continue re-posting those entries here (but go ahead and visit the Star so that their advertisers can try to sell you something; newspapers are having a tough enough time these days). This post borrows a bit from the post "Keep Your Religious Doctrine Out of My State's Laws" that I posted back in January 2008. Almost everything in that prior post is still relevant today.

Despite claims to the contrary, the intent of Senate Bill 89 is to make it more difficult to obtain an abortion. Patient safety is simply a ruse. Both history and language support this conclusion. SB 89 is essentially a re-working of similar bills from previous years. Last year, language to require hospital admitting privileges for abortion providers was part of a bill that also required physicians to tell women that a fetus might feel pain (despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary) and that legislated an answer to the theological debate about when life begins. This year, the provisions were simply split into separate bills (SB 89 for hospital admitting privileges and SB90 for fetal pain and beginning of life provisions).

Moreover, if SB 89 was really about patient safety, wouldn't the language be broadly inclusive of all invasive outpatient procedures rather than being limited to abortion? It is worth asking whether doctors performing other types of surgical or semi-surgical procedures at outpatient clinics around the state must also have admitting privileges. If a plastic surgeon performs liposuction or an ophthalmologist performs a LASIK procedure at a rural clinic, must those doctors have admitting privileges at the county's hospital? What about an oral surgeon performing a root canal?

The list of procedures performed at outpatient clinics is long and many are more dangerous than abortion. Yet, so far as I am aware, in none of those other instances must the doctor have hospital admitting privileges. Furthermore, if patient safety were the goal, wouldn't there be an exception for emergency situations where the life of the woman was in jeopardy?

In essence, SB 89 is simply another thinly disguised attempt to keep abortions legal while making them impossible to obtain.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

IN Touch: Check the Facts First

My fifth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. As an experiment, I've decided to go ahead and re-post that entry here (but go ahead and visit the Star so that their advertisers can try to sell you something; newspapers are having a tough enough time these days).

The debate over the economic stimulus package highlighted a problem in our political discourse that has been exacerbated by 24-hour news programs, talk radio and the Internet, but which, thanks to the Internet, can be readily addressed. Obviously, the need for public education about important national issues is critical; a well-informed electorate is essential to the proper functioning of our government. So, too, is an open and honest debate, not just among our elected leaders but among citizens as well.

However, we as a society need to be careful when engaging in those discussions to do so based on accurate information. All too often during the discussion of the economic stimulus package, people would rely upon certain talking points that made for very effective rhetoric but were devoid of accuracy. Some legislators made unsupportable claims or allegations that were then parroted by members of the media, who either did not fact check or crossed the line from news to opinion.

It is easy to just assume that anything we hear or read is true. But it is also easy to take a few extra minutes and fact check a claim before relying on it to make a decision or form an opinion. How many people took the time to go online and read the stimulus bill or seek out what the other side had to say to be sure they were able to weigh both sides of the argument before forming that opinion? To be an informed and intelligent electorate, we each have the responsibility to exercise some independent thought rather than just accepting and regurgitating talking points, especially without being sure that those talking points are, in fact, accurate.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

IN Touch: Reminder to Republicans

My fourth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. Oh, and in case you missed it, my third post ("Ties That Bind Us") was published in The Indianapolis Star on Sunday, January 25, 2009.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

IN Touch: Ties That Bind Us

My third post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. I wrote the piece as I listened to President Obama's inaugural address.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

IN Touch: Frivolous

My second post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. I wrote the piece last week, but it didn't make it onto the website until yesterday. (Incidentally, my proposed name for the post was "Frivolous Lawsuits Not Newsworthy".)

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Monday, December 15, 2008

IN Touch: Double Bailout Standard

My first post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

The Indianapolis Star IN Touch Blog

I've agreed to start writing for The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog (my profile is available at the bottom of this page). I'm not quite sure yet what I will write about on IN Touch (as opposed to this blog), but I will provide a link to my IN Touch posts. The real challenge for me in writing for IN Touch will be to keep my posts short. Some people have told me that I'm a bit long-winded. I have no idea what they're talking about. But IN Touch wants posts to be in the neighborhood of 150 words. I find that I burp and 150 words show up on the page, so trying to limit my thoughts to that degree of brevity should be an exercise in both writing agility and frustration.

I've written my first IN Touch post already (on the spike in gun sales following the election). Unfortunately, that first post, which I was able to write very quickly over a bowl of lunchtime chili, ran to almost 400 words (and I felt as if I'd only scratched the surface of what I wanted to discuss). So, before I submit the post, I need to try to find a way to reduce it to the CliffsNotes version. This should, if nothing else, prove ... um ... interesting?

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