[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your paradoxically genial host John Derbyshire with a more depressing than usual cargo of news from a world of lies and folly. Brace yourselves, listeners.
02 — "Free" contraception. Contraception is all over the news. What's this all about? The administration wants all organizations and institutions assisting employees with their health care costs to make sure that contraception is included. Now some religious organizations and institutions, most notably the Roman Catholic Church, oppose contraception on moral grounds. So the administration is telling them they have to violate their own beliefs to stay within the law.
First off I have to confess my ignorance here: I thought the Roman Catholics had lost the battle on contraception a decade or three ago. Not so: Looking up the Catechism, I see that the prohibition is still there. Part Three, Section Two, Chapter Two, Article Six, Verse 2370, quote, with some inner quotes from Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae:
Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast [inner quote 1] "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil …" [inner quote 2] "The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle … involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality."
End inner quotes, end quote. Seems plain enough to me. It's not an outrageous point of view, and in fact it was held by all major churches until recently, as things go in churches; by the Anglican Church, for example, until 1930.
It's true that less than five percent of American Catholics follow this particular teaching; but that's just an illustration of the fact that religious people everywhere don't bother much with theology. Jason Slone's excellent book Theological Incorrectness: Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn't has interesting things to say about this. Buddhists pray to Lord Buddha, even though, according to their theology, he attained non-existence, and therefore doesn't, you know, exist. Calvinists, whose church teaches that whether you go to hell or not is already pre-determined, none the less try to live good lives. And so on.
Theology is great fun for religious intellectuals, but for ordinary believers it's mostly beside the point. The point of religion is faith in a divine order, hope that death is not blank extinction, and community of fellowship with people who believe in the same gods you do and worship them in the same way. That's what religion's about. The theology is just there to provide indoor relief for intellectuals, a major aim of all human institutions since the beginning of time.
Well, the political issue this past two weeks has been religious organizations being obliged to pay for employees' contraception. The fuss blew up last week when the Department of Health and Human Services said they had to. In a presser last Friday President Obama explained that negotiations on this particular part of his healthcare overhaul had been going too slowly, so he'd ordered Kathleen Sebelius, the Health Secretary, to cut the knot and issue the order.
Obama seemed to acknowledge his political error, backing off to a position where organizations wouldn't have to pay for contraception, but insurance companies would. If Organization A insured its employees through Insurance Company X, and A objected to contraception, then X would have to, quote, "reach out" to employees of A, offering them contraception free of charge.
That contraception should be free of charge seemed to be the main thing on Obama's mind. He kept stressing it. Sample quote: "Women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women. They will no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries." End quote.
There are so many things here to object to. For one, there's the notion of "free contraceptive services," or free anything. Nothing's free. Someone has to pay. Someone has to pay for Jane Q. Public's contraception. Presumably Obama thinks the Insurance companies should pay, out of those big brass-bound chests of gold bullion they keep in their basements. This is the most primitive kind of idiot socialism. Nothing's free. Somebody pays.
Things go best when people pay for their lifestyle choices themselves, at prices set in a free market. Fortunately contraception is cheap. The number of Americans who can't afford contraception is not known to me, but I'll wager it's less than one in a hundred. And for them, free contraception is already available at thousands of clinics nationwide under President Nixon's 1970 Public Health Service Act, and for that matter also under Medicaid, mandatorily. So why is provision of, quote, "free contraceptive services" any kind of issue? Obama's call for "free" contraceptive services for women makes as much sense as a call for social security payments to old people. It's been a done deal for decades, you lying fool.
And why are employers involved in this anyway? We all know how employers got hooked to health care: It was WW2, there were wage controls preventing firms raising wages, so to incentivize employees, firms offered them health coverage as a perk.
Hey, America, WW2 is over! Japan surrendered 66 and some years ago! Tojo was hanged! Why can't Americans buy health insurance without reference to an employer? Other Americans, I mean: I've been doing it myself for 13 years.
03 — Official federal advocate for illegal immigrants. The administration has named an official advocate for illegal immigrants who believe they've been wronged in some way.
The actual job title is, quote from the administration press release, quote, "Public Advocate for Enforcement and Removal Operations, reporting to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
The lucky appointee is named as Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, a lawyer from Maryland who's spent his career so far doing pro bono work for community groups in that state. Being translated, that means he's been enriching himself from the ample funds doled out by the Legal Services Corporation, a federal government outfit that sluices taxpayer money to nuisance organizations like ACORN.
This new advocate position makes even less sense than you think. An illegal immigrant who wants to fight deportation already has recourse to innumerable agencies and federal bureaucracies eager to help him: the Administrative Appeals Office, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and all that host of pro bono attorneys — people like Mr Lorenzen-Strait in his previous work — on call through organizations like Catholic Charities and community groups funded by Legal Services Corporation. The rule with all these outfits was spelled out by Michelle Malkin, writing in National Review, quote: "It ain't over 'til the alien wins."
The U.S.A. is lush with opportunities for illegals to contest deportation orders, as lush as it is with opportunities for poor women to get contraception at taxpayer expense. As in that other case, all the administration is doing is making it lusher. We conservatives think the federal government does far too much. Obama thinks it does way too little and needs to do more, always more, always more.
Well, now the illegal alien has another friend in official Washington, and the chances he won't win are reduced even further. The miracle is that we manage to deport anyone at all.
04 — The Tyler Clementi case goes to trial. This one has me really steamed, I must admit. You might want to turn down the volume on your iPod here; I can't guarantee I won't break into uncontrollable screaming at some point in this segment.
Next Tuesday the trial of 19-year-old Dharun Ravi opens in New Brunswick, New Jersey. If found guilty, Mr Ravi could go to jail for ten years.
What did Dharun Ravi do? Well, he was a freshman roommate at Rutgers University with a chap named Tyler Clementi. Clementi was homosexual, and not a closeted one — he didn't make much of a secret of it. Why would he? Our young people are taught from kindergarten on that "gay is just as good as straight," that Heather has two mommies, that homosexuals should be "proud," and so on. My local high school has a club for homosexual students. Anyone who's embarrassed or ashamed about being homosexual hasn't been paying attention for about thirty years. And in fact, Clementi wasn't ashamed: in those first three weeks of his freshman year, he attended at least one meeting of the Rutgers students Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Alliance.
Well, a year last September, Dharun Ravi and another freshman, Molly Wei, used a webcam to secretly watch Clementi kissing a young man Clementi had picked up. After watching the video, Ravi gossiped about it on Twitter, quote: "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
Three days after that, Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge. Whether this had any connection at all to the webcam incident, is not known. That Dharun Ravi thought his prank might drive Clementi to suicide is preposterous; that he intended that result is preposterosity squared.
The homosexualists were up in arms none the less, and every damn fool politician in New Jersey joined in the hue and cry. Chris Christie, who I think less of every time he opens his fat mouth, quote: "I don't know how those two folks are going to sleep at night, knowing that they contributed to driving that young man to that alternative." They don't know that, Governor, and neither do you, and neither does anyone. They played a trivial prank; Clement killed himself; cause and effect are not obvious, certainly not established to any fair evidentiary standards.
The even more dimwitted Senator Frank Lautenberg has introduced national legislation that, quote, "would require colleges and universities that receive federal student aid to adopt codes of conduct that prohibit bullying and harassment of students." So now it's going to be a federal crime for students to pull pranks. What the hell country is this, North Korea? What's going to be the next federal offense on the statute book — forgetting to feed your goldfish?
The New Jersey prosecutors are not actually charging Dharun Ravi in connection with Clementi's death. How could they, since you'd have to be even stupider than Chris Christie and Frank Lautenberg to think that any such thing was in his mind. The actual charges are: invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and evidence tampering. The last two items are just b.s. Invasion of privacy is a reasonable description of what Ravi did, though you need to be borderline insane, which apparently New Jersey is, to think that it's a suitable matter for a full court trial with multi-year sentences in the balance.
The truly poisonous charge is that second one, "bias intimidation." This is basically a charge that Ravi had Bad Thoughts: that he looked down on homosexuals and invaded Clementi's privacy on those grounds. It's a charge of Thoughtcrime.
The Middlesex County prosecutor's office actually offered Ravi a plea deal back in May: if he'd plead guilty they'd give him five years in the slammer. If not, he'd go to trial and face ten if found guilty on the Thoughtcrime charge. Ravi turned down the deal, and the trial starts next week.
Once again, here's what Ravi did: He used a webcam to film his roommate kissing a guy. Then he tweeted that, quote, "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." And for this, we're talking fives and tens of years in jail — not really because of the trivial thing he did, but for having bad thoughts.
This is the most horrible, most shameful prosecution I've heard of for a long time. Homosexuals are less than four percent of our population, perhaps only one percent; and rather than face down the shrieking hysteria of this tiny minority, we are turning our jurisprudence upside down and wrecking the life of a harmless young man in an effort to appease the mob.
From all that I've read — and I've read a good deal about this case: Ian Parker's report in the February 6th New Yorker is a good starting point — Tyler Clementi was a chronically unhappy young man. He killed himself, for reasons not known. That's an awful thing: I speak as the father of two teenagers.
It is not the purpose of the federal government to try to prevent unhappy people from killing themselves though; nor is it the purpose of the judiciary, when such a thing happens, to hunt out a scapegoat and drag him through the courts at the behest of rich, noisy nuisance lobbies.
"You can't go to jail for what you're thinking," went the old song. In New Jersey, you can, if you're thinking unkind thoughts about homosexuals. This prosecution is a disgrace to New Jersey, a shame on the people of New Jersey and on their gibbering, pandering, fool politicians. The charges against Dharun Ravi are nothing less than totalitarian.
Now I'm going to start the uncontrollable screaming; but it's OK, I'll do it off mike.
05 — Foreign Aid follies. There, that's better.
OK, a couple of items here on Foreign Aid, a huge favorite program of American and British governments because it gives our overfed elites a warm happy glow of noblesse oblige. Radio Derb's opinion is well known: foreign aid is justified when and only when bribing the president-for-life of Trashcanistan is cheaper than carpet-bombing the presidential palace.
Foreign aid is such a huge favorite with the British government, it is one of only two policy areas excluded from spending cuts in Britain's current austerity program. (The other is the National Health Service.) They give half a billion dollars a year just to India, a nation with a nuclear arsenal, a space program, and a booming high-tech sector.
Which made Britain's government look somewhat foolish when India's finance minister Pranab Mukherjee stood up in his nation's parliament the other day to declare that, quote, "We do not require British aid. It is a peanut in our total development spending."
That put Britain's bureaucrats in a panic. They are struggling to restore the situation — that is, to go on shovelling half a billion dollars of their people's money to a nation that does not want it. The British Minister for International Development, a chap named Alan Duncan, sobbed pitifully that scrapping aid to India would, quote, "mean that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people will die who otherwise could live." Translation: Hundreds, if not thousands, of Britain's foreign aid bureaucrats would be out of work who otherwise could go on enjoying government jobs and benefits.
Over on this side of the pond, the billion and a half dollars a year that the U.S.A. gives to Egypt has been questioned by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Unlike India, Egypt is a basket-case country whose main sources of income are from tourism, fees charged to ships going through the Suez Canal, remittances from Egyptians lucky enough to have escaped the stinking place to live abroad, and that billion and a half in American aid. Egypt currently has a non-functioning government who could very well all be hanging from lamp-posts next week, next month, or next year, and who probably should be. That government, along with wellnigh the entire population, is bitterly anti-American, and the government is currently holding 19 Americans, including the son of our Transportation Secretary, for supposedly being involved in protests against them.
Well, this week Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky proposed a ten-minute vote in the U.S. Senate to strip Egypt of foreign aid until it frees the 19 arrested Americans. Quote from him, quote: "Over the last 40 years, America has lavished over $60 billion of welfare on the government of Egypt, and they act with insolence and disregard by detaining 19 of our citizens." End quote.
Yeah, maybe so, Senator, but you can't go cutting off foreign aid. I mean, it's foreign aid. Like the man said, "thousands, if not millions, of people will die who otherwise could live" — in Egypt's case, live to become America-hating, Israel-hating, fundamentalist Muslims.
Senator Barbara Boxer, acting for the administration, denied Rand Paul's motion. We shall continue to borrow a billion and a half dollars a year from China and ship it to Egypt, so they can go on hating us and beating up our citizens. It's the right thing to do!
06 — Syria. It wouldn't be right to pass commentary on Egypt without mentioning Syria. So there you are: I mentioned Syria.
07 — Pat Buchanan definitely fired. It's officially official: Pat Buchanan has been fired from MSNBC.
Pat's firing is a triumph for a coalition of totalitarian groups all determined to shut down discussion outside the narrow limits they approve. The homosexualists are in there, of course — they're always in the van of any witch-hunt against doubleplus ungood crimethink. Pat remarked on a radio show that he believes homosexual acts to be, quote, "unnatural and immoral."
Many millions of people agree with him; and his opinion is in fact the teaching of his church, the Roman Catholic Church. It was a universally held opinion among Americans until a single generation ago: see Chief Justice Warren Burger's opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986. But now it can't be said in public for fear someone's feelings might be hurt.
The black race lobbies were also active in getting Pat fired. ColorOfChange.org, an outfit dedicated to winning even more privileges and protections for blacks than they already have, did a full court press on Pat for one of the chapter titles in his latest book. The chapter was: "The End of White America." I read the book, I read that chapter. It discusses, in mild and dispassionate tones, the future demographics of the U.S.A., and speculates about how the nation will change when the European ethnies who created this country are in a minority. I've written on similar themes myself, though not as well as Pat. Apparently these are not fit topics for discussion now.
Also in the lynch mob was the Anti-Defamation League, which has been gunning for Pat for years, mainly because of his grumbling about the power of the Israeli lobby in Washington. Since AIPAC actually boasts of its influence in Washington when persuading people to give it money, this seems to me to be legitimately in the field of debate; but the ADL, like the homosexual and black activists, would prefer public silence.
Let Pat speak for himself. Here he's talking about his latest book, which came out last October, and which I reviewed for Taki's Magazine at takimag.com. Quote from Pat after MSNBC handed him the pink slip, quote:
Documented in the 488 pages and 1,500 footnotes of Suicide of a Superpower is my thesis that America is Balkanizing, breaking down along the lines of religion, race, ethnicity, culture and ideology, and that Western peoples are facing demographic death by century's end.
End quote. Note that the MSNBC President isn't just saying that he doesn't want Pat offering his opinions on MSNBC — a reasonable position for a private company to take. He's saying that Pat's views shouldn't be part of the "national dialogue." Millions of people buy Pat's books; but if Phil Griffin had his way, and the ADL and ColorOfChange and the homosexualist lobbies had theirs, Pat's books would be proscribed; or at any rate, there would be no public discussion of the ideas in them.
Pat quotes Thomas Jefferson: "Let error be tolerated, so long as reason is left free to combat it." This is probably a minority opinion now. Powerful lobbies swilling in money are out there determined that error — as pre-defined by them — shall not be tolerated. They will not permit it to be heard.
Here's what I think. I think Pat Buchanan talks more sense than an average twenty higher-paid pundits. I think he would have made a better president than Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, or either of the damn Bushes. I think the narrowing of our public discourse is choking off important ideas and trivializing our politics. I think Phil Griffin should rename his network the Leftist-Activist-Compliant Channel. I think courageous politicians should tell the homosexual lobbies and the black lobbies and the Israel lobbies to go jump in a lake.
Wait a minute: did I just say "courageous politicians"? [Laughter]
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: A high school student in Grand Junction, Colorado, has quit the high school choir rather than sing an Islamic song containing the phrase "there is no truth except Allah." The song is named "Zikr," Z-I-K-R, and it's actually in Urdu, but that phrase is in there. A spokes-weasel for the school district couldn't see what the fuss is about. He extruded the following, quote: "The song was chosen because its rhythms and other qualities would provide an opportunity to exhibit the musical talent and skills of the group in competition, not because of its religious message or lyrics." End quote. If you believe that, you must really be on a Rocky Mountain high.
Item: There's been another story, this one from Britain, about a man giving birth to a baby. You may remember four years ago, Thomas Beatie of Arizona had a baby girl; and there have been a couple of other cases in recent years. In all these stories, when you read the details, what actually happened was that the one having the baby was a woman who'd decided to pretend she was a man for some reason. In some instances there'd been sex-change medication or surgery, but obviously the womb and ovaries had not been removed. So these are women giving birth — badly confused women. If our newspapers must make stories out of this, can we at least get them to post the stories under accurate headlines: like Seriously Confused Woman Gives Birth?
Item: This one's somewhat macabre, but I couldn't resist it. Under a Missouri state law passed way back in the Civil War, the state government controls St. Louis' police force. Well, there's a movement for a ballot initiative in this year's elections, to return control of St. Louis police back to the city. The movement is named "Safer Missouri Citizens' Coalition." They've hired people to go round collecting signatures on petitions, a certain number of signatures being required to get the initiative on the ballot. So here was this fellow, 55-year-old Darryl Winston, out collecting signatures for the Safer Missouri Citizens' Coalition. The unfortunate Mr Winston was found in an alley February 7th, shot multiple times. As I said, macabre; but perhaps telling us something about our times.
Item: I'm sure you've heard that demanding voters present i.d. when they come to the polls is all a racist plot to keep the colored people down, and that there really is no such thing as voter fraud. Well, the Pew Center for the States just got through doing an analysis of voter rolls nationwide. Among their findings: 24 million voter registrations in the United States contain significant errors, 2.5 million citizens can vote in more than one state, and about 1.8 million dead people are still on the voter rolls. How much voter fraud there is in the U.S.A. I don't know: but with voter databases as lousy as that, anyone who wants to corrupt the process already has most of the work done for him already.
Item: This last one's kind of trivial, but I include it out of sheer loathing for one of the most repulsive creatures currently masquerading as a human being here in this republic, the so-called Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton is so damn reverend, he attained fame by inciting mobs to commit arson and murder, and by defaming law enforcement officers, then refusing to pay court penalties for his defamations. He also refuses to pay his income taxes. This rabble-rousing racist scofflaw is naturally as respectable as it is possible to be, and has attained great wealth. He has a secure post on MSNBC, and no doubt cities would burn if Phil Griffin tried to fire him. Well, Rev'm Al was returning to New York from a flight to Washington, D.C. and his driver was waiting to pick him up — waiting in a clearly marked NO STANDING zone. A cop asked the driver for his papers, and discovered that the vehicle, which belongs to Rev'm Al's media company, carried no registration or insurance. At this point Rev'm Al himself showed up, and immediately went into a full "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" tantrum. I'm happy to report that the vehicle at least was impounded. I'm less happy to report that Rev'm Al drove off in another car he called, laughing at yet another set of laws that don't apply to people as reverend as himself. Look, listeners, I try my best to appreciate humanity in all its richness, and not to nurse uncharitable thoughts about my fellow mortals, but with Rev'm Al it's hard, awfully hard. "Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?" I don't know if the prophet Jeremiah ever got an answer, but none occurs to me.
09 — Signoff. That's as much as I can bear to bring you this week, listeners, of this fallen world sunk in folly, and the fair face of our republic smeared over with the dung of ignorance and injustice, with the arrogance of the vile and the humiliation of the righteous. Am I more than usually down this week? Yes I am.
It hasn't been all bad, though. One bright spot this week was the publication on Kindle of my tremendous novel Fire from the Sun, which I urge you to buy for the absurdly low price of $5.99, assuming of course that you own a Kindle. This one is for the ages, folk: all human life is there.
And as a character in the book observes, quote, "the dreadful loneliness of the human soul and the pitiful disaster of human life" are "ever redeemable and redeemed by compassion, friendship and love." End quote. They can also be, if not redeemed, at least alleviated somewhat by a few bars from Gracie Fields. Take it away, Gracie.
[Music clip: Gracie Fields Sing As We Go]