Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pornography has no place in civil society

I was recently asked to contribute an opinion piece on pornography to the Murray State News. Here it is. Also, a link is provided to see the opposing perspective and the responses.

Somehow we’ve been conditioned to believe that pornography is a matter of free speech, personal freedom and privacy and that any restrictions would undo the First Amendment. People like Larry Flynt tell us that banning it could lead us down the wrong path. As if the path our pornified nation is already on could get any more jaded.

Pre-Hefner America perceived pornography to be incompatible with public decency and civility. Post-viagra America is now picking up the pieces. Study after study shows a clear connection between pornography use and sexual crime. According to Jan LaRue, attorney and pornography expert, “86 percent of convicted rapists have admitted to regular use of pornography; 57 percent admitted imitating pornographic scenes in the commission of their crimes.” Between 1960 and 1999 "forcible rape" increased by 418 percent according to the U.S. "FBI Index of Crime".

Gene Abel of the New York Psychiatric Institute studied convicted rapists and found, "One-third reported that they had used pornography immediately prior to at least one of their crimes." Charles Linedecker author of Thrill Killers, a Study of America 's Most Vicious Murders, reports that 81 percent of these murderers ranked porn as their primary sexual interest. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice reported 148,110 victims of rape or sexual assault.

The idea that porn is victimless is now about as convincing as saying that long-term exposure to carcinogens isn’t linked to cancer. Women become demeaned and devalued. They are objectivized as playthings whose sole purpose is to fulfill someone’s twisted fantasy. A certain percentage act on their fantasies, but nearly all porn addicts are hindered from developing healthy relationships with woman according to psychologist Gary R. Brooks, author of The Centerfold Syndrome. Brooks says that porn promotes distorted images of women and fosters an obsession with visual stimulation.

Listen to how it affected one former student at Eastern Kentucky University: “Many people think looking at pictures of naked women is a progressive thing to do. It’s progressive all right,” said Angie.* “It gets worse and worse. And soon watching is not enough.” Angie dropped by her boyfriend’s apartment on campus where she caught a glimpse of a sex scene on TV. She confronted him, but he said it “was just a guy thing.” Later that night that scene became Angie’s worst nightmare as her boyfriend raped her at gunpoint. Angie escaped with her life, but she still has scars.

Other women aren’t as fortunate as Angie.

In the 1980’s more than 30 women died at the hands of a porn addict whose descent into sexual deviancy began when he discovered dirty books in the neighbor's trash. His name was Ted Bundy and violent sexual acts accompanied his murders.

Just before his execution in 1989 Bundy said: "There are those loose in [your] towns and communities, like me, whose dangerous impulses are being fueled, day in and day out, by violence in the media, in its various forms -- particularly sexualized violence ... . There are lots of other kids playing in the streets around the country today who are going to be dead tomorrow, and the next day, because other young people are reading and seeing the kinds of things that are available in the media today."

How many more Ted Bundy’s are in the making right now? How many more vulnerable woman and children have to be exploited and hurt before something is done? Porn advocates can wrap themselves in the First Amendment all they want, but their vacuous arguments leave them just as exposed as the Emperor and his New Clothes.

It’s time to tell the charlatans that porn has no place in civil society.

*last name withheld “Defeating Depravity,” The Southeast Outlook, summer 2004

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kentucky College Scholarships: Smart Kids Need Not Apply

In a stroke of Kentucky genius, State Auditor Crit Luallen (D) recommended to a panel studying college affordabilty that Kentucky should reconsider merit-based college scholarships. The AP reported today that Luallen said, "Kentucky cannot afford to give money to people who don't need it."

Apparently, academic performance should not be considered in awarding scholarships, only socio-economic and minority factors.

That's right kids: Forget about hard work and good grades; from now on, Kentucky's Robin Hoods will make sure that your parents are encouraged to make less money and throw away your report cards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Your Honor, I plead liberalism": David Hawpe on political ideology as an extenuating circumstance

David Hawpe doesn't mess around. When he is defending corruption among his ideological allies, he rolls out the big guns.

In today's column, he defends State Rep. Tom Burch, who is facing ethics charges for using his influence to benefit a constituent in a child custody case, and appeals to the medieval poet Dante in doing it. Burch, says Hawpe, can be forgiven his actions since he was well-intended:
I invoke here the words of the one truly great president of the 20th Century, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who insisted, in his 1936 presidential nomination acceptance speech, "Governments can err, presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales."
To Hawpe, liberals are by definition well-intended, unlike those distasteful conservatives, who are motivated only by greed and selfishness. But even greed and selfishness can be excused as long as it is a liberal who engages in it.

Not only does Hawpe defend Burch, he defends Don Blandford, the former speaker of the Kentucky House who was sent to jail for over five years for accepting bribes:
Now let me say right up front that Blandford, BOPTROT notwithstanding, is one of my legislative heroes.
Why? Because Blandford pushed through the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA). He did it by physically stopping the House clock on the last day of the legislative session to avoid that inconvenient little constitutional requirement that legislation can't be passed after 12:00 a.m. of the last day, but hey, he meant well.

It seems somehow fitting that, in arguing that liberals should be excused for their bad actions simply because they are liberals, Hawpe should invoke the author of a book called The Divine Comedy.

We doubt a judge would be as impressed as Hawpe if Burch appealed to his political ideology as an extenuating circumstance. And we doubt Blandford, who has serve his sentence, is slapping his forehead wishing he had pled liberalism.

You wonder if it is arguments like this that caused Dante, in the part of his book about Hell, to place journalists where he did.

It's not a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Let's see now, what do you think people would say if several gays walked into a religious neighborhood and the people in that neighborhood got out into the street shouting profanities at them, and saying, "And we don't ever want them coming back. Do you understand all that homosexuals?! Do you understand?! I'm talking to you people! Stay out of our neighborhood if you don't like us."

How long would it be before major newspapers would condemn these religious people for their intolerance? In seconds, I mean?

Ask this as you look at the response of these gays to a few Christians who unwisely made their way into a gay section of town, apparently with evangelical intentions. I mean, like, what were they expecting? Tolerance?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gay rights groups target Lexington and Louisville for gay marriage protests

For Immediate Release
November 12, 2008
Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

Pro-gay marriage groups plan protests at city halls in Lexington and Louisville this Sunday as part of a nationwide protest against the decision of California voters to do what 30 other states have done: retain the definition of marriage that has prevailed for millenia.

"Protesting against the normal democratic procedures of our system of government is nothing new for these groups," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation. "Historically, they can only win when they go behind the backs of voters and short-circuit the court system by convincing liberal judges to make political rulings in their favor. When they actually have to follow the legislative or voter referendum processes, they usually lose."

Cothran said the passage of California's Proposition 8 and similar measures in Arizona and Florida, which retain the definition of marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, sends a message that voters simply don't want to be told by special interest political groups that they have to abandon their whole system of morality.

Cothran said The Family Foundation will be monitoring the language used at the demonstrations. "The rhetoric of some of these groups approaches hate speech," he said. "We'll be paying attention to whether they practice what they preach about tolerance."

"I think the success of these measures shows that, although people want to be respectful of the way other people lead their lives, they're tired of the hateful language and being called 'bigots' simply because they believe in marriage the same way everyone has believed in it for thousands of years."

The Family Foundation was at the forefront of the movement to pass the 2004 Kentucky Marriage Protection Amendment, which voters ratified by a record "yes" vote.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

From Baptist student to cross-dresser: U of L encourages transgenderism

University of Louisville's official student newspaper, The Cardinal, profiled a male student who is changing into a woman with the support of our Commonwealth's flagship, tax-supported university. U of L has committed to gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to drag shows, campus organizations, and special departments for the support of transexuality. Read the article here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

National election results regarding gambling

Across the nation, Nov. 4 was a good day for opponents of gambling expansion and state-sponsored casinos – there were more victories than defeats in both large and small venues.

The greatest victory was in Ohio. Voters there rejected a $600 million casino proposal in southwestern Ohio. This was the fourth statewide vote in Ohio since 1990, with the casinos losing every time. Tens of millions were spent on each side of the issue as the southeast Indiana casinos engaged the expansionists as they tried to protect their marketing region. In other words, the people of Ohio simply became pawns as casino tycoons battled for their turf. Fortunately, southern Ohio will not have to deal with all the damage local casinos bring into an area.

In other positive actions, voters in Guam rejected casinos for resorts on the island and Massachusetts citizens voted to eliminate dog racing by Dec. 31, 2010. Maine, in its third such vote in recent years, appears to have rejected yet another casino, although the count has yet to be certified.

The major loss of the day was in Maryland. Voters there approved slots for three counties, the city of Baltimore and one state park in the western panhandle. Expansion opponents said their next stand would be taken on the local level where counties and the city must change local zoning laws to allow casino gambling, and sanction the location. This too will likely become a major struggle.

A second general area of law where opponents of casinos lost was with regard to loss limits. Missouri, the last major casino state to set limits to protect gamblers, lifted its loss limits of $6000 per day. This many years long battle saw the opponents finally overwhelmed by unlimited money spent by the casinos advertising campaign and the seductive promises of more revenue for community colleges as the enticement. Betting limits were also raised from $5 per hand to $100 at the casinos in Colorado. Again, the promise of revenue in day’s hard economic times, without considering the source of the money, carried the day. Casinos in Las Vegas spent over $7 million to get this law changed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why Obama won

Barack Obama won for several reasons:

#1: When people are likable it's hard to believe they're radical.

#2: When you have a likable candidate and a less likable candidate, and there is apparently little that sets them apart on the important issues that are being discussed in the race, the likable candidate wins.

#3: When values issues are ignored by the "conservative" candidate, they can't help him--or hurt his opponent.

#4: When the so-called "conservative" candidate is running in the shadow of a so-called "conservative" incumbent, and the so-called "conservative" incumbent doesn't actually govern as a conservative--and the so-called "conservative" candidate has a flawed record on conservatism himself, then people can be excused for rejecting so-called "conservatism".

#5: The candidate with the consistent message (e.g. "hope") beats the candidate whose message is still a mystery to voters on election day.

#6: When the more liberal candidate runs on tax cuts he looks like the less liberal candidate.

Why conservatism was not a casualty of yesterday's election

The victory of Barack Obama in yesterday's election is already being called by some (notably those in whose interest it is for people to think such a thing) a "repudiation" of conservatism. Here are several reasons why that isn't so:

#1: McCain was far from a classical conservative.

#2: McCain did not make the election a referendum on conservatism, in fact, other than supporting the troops, he ran away from traditionally conservative issues.

#3: Although a very high Democratic turnout resulted in narrow losses on ballot initiatives that restricted abortion, same-sex marriage bans passed in states Obama won--Florida and California.

#4: In California, although 95 percent of black voters went for Obama, they supported Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage 70 to 30, indicating that even Obama voters were socially conservative.

Kentucky goes against the flow on election day

For Immediate Release
November 5, 2008
Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

Kentucky goes against the flow of the rest of the country on Election Day

Despite the fact that the liberal Democrat won the presidency yesterday, that didn't stop voters in Kentucky from voting conservative, according to a state family advocacy group. "There were some important conservative wins yesterday in several races," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky.

"Despite the wave of support for the more liberal candidate in the national race, many conservatives kept their seats and several new candidates ran on conservative positions on issues."

Cothran cited several races that indicated that conservatism on social issues is alive and well in the state. "There were several conservative pick-ups in the State House, as well races in which an outgoing conservative was replaced by another conservative."
  • In the 3rd State House district, a conservative Republican replaced a liberal Democrat--former education committee chair Frank Rasche.
  • In the 22nd House district, conservative Democrat Wilson Stone won, replacing the more liberal Rob Wilkey.
  • In the 9th State Senate district, a more outspoken conservative Republican, David Givens, replaced outgoing Richie Sanders.
  • In Senate districts 1 and 23, conservative incumbents held off strong challenges from more liberal Democrats.
In congressional races in the state, Kentucky voters also turned back a challenge by the more liberal Bruce Lunsford of Senator Mitch McConnell despite hopes from national Democrats who had hoped to unseat the Republican leader of the U. S. Senate. In both the 1st and 2nd congressional districts, the conservative Republican defeated the more liberal Democratic challengers.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Questions to take with you to the polls

The pinnacle of another political season is upon us and about the only thing that Kentuckians can agree on at this point is that they are ready for it to be over. The presidential race and its non-stop coverage unofficially began two years ago, leaving even the most politically interested among us exhausted. Our homes have been inundated by TV and radio ads, automated phone calls and political mailers. We’ve heard campaign speeches and watched the debates. Yet there are still many “undecided voters” – an interesting bunch, considering the wealth of candidate information available. But the question every citizen must answer is what precisely is it that we are deciding on?

What are the most important issues facing our commonwealth and nation? Who is best to lead on these issues? What kind of a nation are we and what leaders will protect the things we cherish? These are all critical questions. But in the day where political promises have saddled us with $11 trillion in debt and burgeoning federal programs are projected to bust within decades, we also ought to consider the role of government, what it can and cannot do for a free people. Politicians come and go, but our Commonwealth and nation will remain. Just what it looks like after their tenure is another question altogether.

Our Founding Fathers were wary of big government. In fact, after living under England’s heavy hand, they disdained it. They believed that freedom is incompatible with big government and liberty is best maintained by strong self-government. George Washington said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” James Madison, the architect of the Constitution said, "The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” The Founders’ theme was freedom and they recognized that overarching government was incompatible with it.

What is our theme today? What, if anything, are we willing to fight for? And just what is it that we are living for? What is it we expect our leaders to do once in office? Every political season has a way of forcing the big questions, similar questions our founders faced some 232 years ago when Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration explains who we are and what we are about better than anything. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Do we still believe that key phrase today? That there is such a thing as truth; that there is a God who created us and endows us with rights? It is no mistake that Jefferson prioritized life as the first of our unalienable rights. Without it, all other rights are meaningless. Since 1973, our nation has an abysmal record on life where abortion has denied that fundamental right to over 46 million unborn American children; a million alone last year and 4,315 of those were in Kentucky. What is liberty and what is the pursuit of happiness without life? Indeed, when perverted notions of liberty usurp life, we are left with a dubious kind of happiness.

Of all the issues, the sanctity of life is foundational. America has been engaged in a civil debate since Roe v. Wade and it’s time – even past time – that this issue be resolved to reflect the values of our Founders. Of course there are other important issues at stake, but our challenge, like Jefferson’s, is to prioritize and determine what the most important issues are when we vote on Nov. 4, because without our first right, we wouldn’t be going to the polls in the first place.