Conform or Desist: the Bozeman School Controversy

In an article I posted yesterday, I laid out the reason why a club (a group of people who join together to promote a specific agenda) must, by its very nature, be exclusive. A club can’t admit nor tolerate those who advocate for competing ideologies. If it does, then it has lost its focus and become something different than it was. This is true no matter the type of club or what it stands for.

Specifically, I addressed the situation in Bozeman, MT, in which certain high school students had “challenged” the FCA, a school-recognized Christian athletic club because the club was not “inclusive”. I argued that the club had every right to maintain its position because everyone has the absolute right of association (disassociation). If people must associate with others they don’t want to, then people with power and backing can force viewpoints on others who might disagree with them.

There is, however, also the very distinct possibility that the students who are making the complaint really don’t want to join the club. It is entirely plausible that this whole brouhaha is designed to literally quash the message that is “offensive” to them. In fact, I’d lay odds on that the real intention here is not to persuade the club to accept members who have variant lifestyles, but to force it to change its base message or to drive it out of existence entirely.

This is a common tactic used to stifle opposing viewpoints. It can be summed up like this.

“You have said something which I don’t like and find objectionable. I do not want to consider what you said and refuse to make any personal changes if I find your statement valid in any way. Because I find it objectionable and refuse to consider it, I am left with only two choices: withdraw from the conversation and disassociate myself from you and/or attempt to use force to shut you up so that I don’t have to hear what you are saying.”

It is not my intention here to make any moral judgments about the issue of homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, or what constitutes a marriage. Although I do have strongly held beliefs about these issues, I don’t consider them to be the issue at stake, instead they are the narrative used to avoid addressing the core of the issue, which is the liberty to speak what you wish and to associate with whomever you want. This is the point which has triggered the complaining students.

From reading numerous news articles about this controversy, it appears that the students could join the group if they wanted to, even if they disagreed with its message. It appears that they did not make the effort, instead went to the school authorities to effect a desired outcome. It appears that they have been successful, winning a ruling that the club must either drop the offending language and become “inclusive” or lose official status if they keep it. However, if a lawsuit is brought against the school over this issue, it will probably be forced to recognize the club as legitimate—regardless of the club’s policy.

I will say it again. Freedom of association and the freedom to speak one’s mind are probably the two most important rights we have. In that order, I might add. We should be able to choose who we associate with (disassociate from) and we should be able to say what we think without having to be afraid that someone is going to use force against us because they don’t approve. Unfortunately, the Bozeman students who started this ruckus don’t understand what that means.

Ironically, the students may have shot themselves in the foot, since there has been considerable interest shown in the club after this controversy began. From the Chronicle:

“Statewide FCA has about 350 student members in college, high schools and middle schools. After the controversy broke in Bozeman, he said, about 48 kids showed up at the FCA meeting, a huge increase.”

Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

Clubs and Inclusiveness: A Mutual Incompatibility

I was watching NBC News (KECI) out of Missoula, Montana, this morning (11/14/2019) when I noticed a tidbit on their news feed scroller. I may not have the words exactly right, but it’s close enough for anyone to get the message.

“Bozeman High School students are challenging a Christian club (FCA) for not being inclusive.”

A news article from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle can be seen here.

It would be easy to lose focus here by condemning this club for discriminating against the ‘disaffected’ students. It would also be just as easy to excoriate the students for attempting to impose their own agenda onto the club. It would be futile to try to produce some type of common ground between them so that all the participants could be happy and satisfied.

A club, any club, has to be exclusive, prejudicial, and discriminating. Every club, no matter what its religion, philosophy, purpose, bent, or goal MUST ABSOLUTELY determine what it will be and who will be part of it. By its very nature, a club is an exclusive group of people who band together to accomplish a certain pre-defined task. It simply can’t be any other way.

Think about all the myriad things that individual people have an interest in. Immediately relevant to this discussion are religion and lifestyle, not always mutually compatible. Sports, gardening, social activity, philosophical thought, guns, sewing circles, etc., etc., and on and on and on. The list is endless. However, no matter WHAT the club is involved in, it always has one purpose: to promote the interests of its members.

Let’s look at one easily defined category—chess. Chess is a game unlike any other and there are millions of people around the world who are fascinated by it. Innumerable clubs have been set up in order to bring people together who are interested in playing and have a desire to improve their skills.

World-wide, the one thing in common among all the groups, however, is that they are all dedicated solely and completely to the game of chess. Nothing else. It is an exclusive club. Non-devotees need not apply.

Imagine the consternation and chaos that would ensue if someone from outside the club wanted to join, but was determined to force the club to allow members who wanted to play Tiddly-Winks. Both are games, after all, so there shouldn’t be a problem. Except for one thing—when a chess club starts importing other games into its structure, it no longer is a chess club. It has morphed into something different which might satisfy some people, but will repel the true believers, who will likely tender their resignation from the club.

Every club has ground rules about who it will accept, what the focus is on, how that focus will be accomplished, how the rules will be enforced, why someone will be asked to leave, et al. These rules may be written or not. They may be formal or not. They may be set in stone or subject to constant change, but the one thing which can’t be denied is that they provide a structure so that the club can operate under its original charter.

As pertains to the situation in Bozeman, if the excluded students actually succeed in joining the club, they have two choices—change themselves to fit the parameters of the club OR change the club to fit their own preferences. In the case of the first, they will, by conforming to the rules, become part of the club as it was originally designed. In the case of the second, the club will become something else.

As far as the club is concerned, it also has two choices—either continue to exclude certain persons and thoughts from its structure OR to allow and accept competing ideologies which will inevitably dilute its message. In the case of the first, someone’s feelings are going to be hurt because they are not given access due to their refusal to conform. In the case of the second, the “Christian” part of the club will simply disappear and something antagonistic to it will appear.

Regardless of belief and opinion, the right of certain people to disassociate themselves from others ought to be ironclad and unassailable. No one person or any group of persons should be required to associate with anyone else who promotes or holds an incompatible viewpoint. Freedom of association (or disassociation) should be the preeminent right accorded to everyone. Otherwise, we become a society in which personal beliefs and opinions become weapons to force others into submission to ourselves and our agendas.

The True Nature of Politics: Part 2

A few days ago, I posted an article which began with this statement. “Hypocrisy in political life is not uncommon. In fact, most people pander to it in one form or another.”

In the article, I made some general statements about the way the two main parties attempt to use either the federal or state governments to get what they want. If the federal government will be more accommodating, then that is the one supported. If the states are more agreeable, then they receive the backing. This principle applies across the board. Both parties participate in the exercise.

Political hypocrisy also appears in individual form. Take, for instance, the recent revelation that Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, wore ‘brownface’ and/or ‘blackface’ numerous times in his past. Trudeau, a master politician, reacted to the “outing” in the same manner as a young child caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better, but I didn’t and I’m really sorry. I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn’t have done that. I should’ve known better. It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time but now I recognize that it was something racist to do and I’m deeply sorry.”

This can be summed up in eight short words. “Mom, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” My question is why should anyone believe him when he says he has learned the truth and repented of all his sins. He is a politician, after all. Why did he suddenly become apologetic once he was caught? Had he previously been doing some deep soul-searching about the issues troubling his soul? Was he waiting for a good opportunity to unburden himself? Or is he simply playing the game as he has learned to do, hoping that this will all blow over and things will be rosy once more?

But I digress. The real target of this article is Don Lemon, CNN anchor, who never hesitates to get in a dig about Donald Trump if he can. Lemon has not missed a chance to denigrate, criticize, or condemn the president for any perceived social faux pas, misstep, or crime, since Trump began his campaign for the office. However he was quick to jump to the defense of Trudeau as seen in this from Zero Hedge.

“Wow, a leader apologizing. It seems odd, doesn’t it?” Lemon reacted. “Because we have one who doesn’t.”

The CNN panel also offered a defense for Trudeau, with commentators stressing that “context matters” and stressed that Trudeau’s photo was vastly different from Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1986 blackface photo.

Before wrapping the segment, Lemon offered more praise for Trudeau’s ‘heroic’ apology (he’s laying it on a bit thick here), and insisted that it “does mean a lot” to him.

“I do have to say this before we go: think about it however you want to think about it. When someone apologizes- wow!” Lemon said to the panel. “We don’t often see that here, especially in a world leader who is saying ‘I should’ve known better and I’m sorry.’ You can feel about it however you want, but that, to me, that does mean a lot.”

Rather than looking at Lemon’s attitude toward Trump, let’s consider what he had to say about another liberal politician, Ralph Northam, the Democrat governor of Virginia, who did exactly the same thing as Justin Trudeau, but with different results. Lemon ripped Northam up one side and down the other, using words such as, “disgusting”, “offensive”, and “It deeply hurt people like me.”

Why was Trudeau’s “blackface” episode different than Northam’s? Why did Lemon accept Trudeau’s apology as sincere and heroic, yet he blasted Northam’s as disingenuous?

“There’s no way he didn’t know what he [Northam] was doing when he posed for that picture ― a picture that is a slap in the face to Americans of color ― quite frankly to every American,”

Don Lemon’s hypocrisy is showing. Badly. Inconsistency on this scale catches up—sooner or later. Eventually it gets to the point where no one believes anything you say.


I want to wrap this up on a good note, so I will say that Justin Trudeau really is pretty good at dressing up and playacting. He should have gone down that career path. Heck, I might have even gone to see his movies.

The Drive to War, Next Phase: Part 2

More questions concerning the bombing of the Saudi oil processing facility at Abqaiq. See my previous post for the beginning of this discussion.

If the Houthis, on whom the Saudis have been waging war for over four years, performed this operation, then there is no need for more speculation. It was a straight-forward military tactic to inflict injury on an opponent in a war. End of story. If it brings the Saudis to a point where they are willing to negotiate an end to the war, then more power to the Houthis. In fact, hit them again. Harder, this time.

But, if the Houthis did not do this, then why did they say they did? Why was that declaration immediate unless they knew in advance that it was going to happen? If they knew in advance that it was coming, then who told them? If someone else told them and they agreed to claim responsibility for it, then what was promised to them for their cooperation? Furthermore, if someone else was responsible for the attack, what was their rationale and purpose behind it?

Perhaps the Houthis actually did execute a high-tech, perfectly synchronized, flawless attack on an enemy’s territory which was supposedly “protected” by the most modern defensive weapons available. Or not. I am highly skeptical. My inclination is to think that another party is involved here. This has all the earmarks of a false-flag designed to persuade and coerce the US (and the American people) into waging yet another Middle-East war. So far, I haven’t seen any evidence presented which makes me think I ought to change my mind. I simply don’t believe the official narrative.

It is easy to focus on the question of who did it and try to pinpoint the perpetrator. The far more important one, though, is who benefits from the action. Cui bono? Merriam-Webster defines the phrase as, “: a principle that probable responsibility for an act or event lies with one having something to gain.” No matter what, the party which would gain the most by having the US attack Iran is unquestionably the state of Israel, with Saudi Arabia tracking closely behind it.

Politically speaking, it is not in Israel’s interest to have widespread peace breaking out in the neighborhood. If this did happen and the antagonistic parties started working out their disagreements civilly and peacefully, then the police state in power in Jerusalem would have less justification to maintain their policies of brutal repression and the continual drive for military dominance and superiority. Where’s the money in that? If the US attacked and destroyed Iran, Israel would have no viable competition left to challenge its dominance in the region.

Neither is it in the Saud’s interest to negotiate a cease-fire with the Houthis, since that would infer a catastrophic defeat of the Kingdom by a vastly inferior foe. This perception alone might be enough to cause a “regime change” and a course correction within the government of the House of Saud, something which the powers-that-be are not willing to tolerate. If the US attacked and destroyed Iran, the price of oil would go up astronomically, conferring an immediate financial benefit on the Saudis which they desperately need. That is, if anyone else could afford to buy it.

Considering this, it’s easy to imagine that either the Israelis or the Saudis (or both) orchestrated this singular event, in the hopes that the US would then jump in and destroy Iran or that it would draw attention away from the fact that the war in Yemen is going badly for Saudi Arabia. Neither of these is far-fetched. The kicker is that if the US doesn’t respond in the hoped-for manner and refuses to attack Iran, then the whole operation has been a colossal failure on the part of the perpetrators. One can hope.

I would like to believe that the Houthis actually did execute this attack and that they can use it (and more like it, if necessary) to drive the Sauds to the negotiating table. Ending the war in Yemen by inflicting severe injuries on the Saudi apparatus is a desirable benefit. My gut instinct, however, tells me differently.

The Drive to War, Next Phase

Who recently bombed the Saudi oil processing facility at Abqaiq, which purportedly cut Saudi Arabia’s oil production in half? Will this event become a catalyst for war with Iran, instantly blamed even though the Houthis in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack? Since Saudi Arabia is not part of NATO nor does the United States have any mutual defense agreement with the Saudis, why is it necessary for the US to retaliate against Iran.

One thing which is not questionable is that if the US and the Saudis, with direct or indirect assistance from Israel, do attack Iran, the price of oil will skyrocket across the globe. Gas prices would spike as a result, perhaps increasing as much as four or five times the current amount. The possibility of gasoline costing $12-15/gallon or even as much as $20/gallon is not out of the question.

One consequence of such a scenario is that the average consumer would drastically cut back on the purchase of gasoline, making non-essential driving a thing of the past. Many, such as myself, would find it extremely difficult to pay for the additional cost of simply driving to work. It is quite probable, in fact almost certain, that world-wide commerce and industry would experience a massive shutdown, causing millions to either lose their jobs outright or going on temporary layoff. Temporary being subject to the system righting itself, of course. No telling how long that would last.

Will the US go to war with Iran? I have included links to five articles by analysts, here, here, here, here, and here, which attempt to explain what really happened. They are not in agreement as to who pulled the trigger. My own opinion is that there is more here than we are being told. Reach your own conclusions.

The consensus appears to be that an all-out assault on Iran will not happen over this incident. I tend to agree with that, but understand that there are particular individuals (neocons, Israel-firsters, war profiteers, power-brokers, etc.) who do want the war to happen, regardless of the cost. Even if no war occurs over this incident, the odds are that something else will happen in the near future to precipitate it. The whole region of the Middle East is virtually a tinder-box, just waiting for a spark of ignition. Or, as Alex Utopium might have put it, “If this was a cardboard box, it would have “Fragile” stamped all over it.”

The good news is that President Trump seems to be reluctant and averse to attacking Iran. Since he is a professional businessman instead of a professional politician, he probably understands the cost of such a venture far better than his “advisors”, who only understand the use of political power. Appearances are deceiving, however, and it’s best not to take him at his word.

The bad news is that he may not be able to withstand the pressure and might give in to the constant drumbeat for war with Iran. In many quarters, John McCain’s legacy still has a life of its own. “Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb, Iran.”

The upshot is that we simply do not know what is going to happen and are not able to affect the outcome to any significant degree. All that we can do is to continue living as we are and hope that this will all be sorted out in a way which is beneficial for the world as a whole.

The True Nature of Politics

Hypocrisy in political life is not uncommon. In fact, most people pander to it in one form or another. Both Republican conservatives and Democrat liberals are united in one thing—their shameless inconsistency whenever pet issues are brought up and their support for “righteous” or “virtuous” government whenever it is convenient. See Jacob Hornberger or Laurence Vance for examples of this. See my own articles here and here.

Let’s look at a few issues hotly debated today—abortion, drugs, immigration, and guns. Should these be controlled and regulated by the Feds or by the various states? Sadly, both factions believe that one or the other should hold the controlling reins, depending on what is at stake and the popular political opinion on that specific issue.

For the purposes of this article, Democrats will include anyone who is generally left of center, liberal, and/or progressive. Republicans will include anyone who is generally right of center and conservative. Keep in mind that these are only generalizations on a large scale and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint(s) of any single individual.

Democrats are in favor of the federal government controlling the abortion issue. Roe v. Wade cannot be tampered with or weakened in any way. Any state law which attempts to circumvent it must immediately be stopped. The federal blessing of abortion on demand must be maintained at all costs, no matter what.

Democrats are also in favor of the federal government controlling, regulating, restricting, and/or outlawing and prohibiting guns. In fact, as time brings more mass shootings, the calls for the Feds to “do something” only grow louder. For them, this issue, like abortion, is much too important to be left to the states.

However, when it comes to drugs and immigration, Democrats are usually quite vocal about wresting these issues away from the Feds and allowing the states full control over them. Quite often, liberal-leaning states find themselves at odds with Fed policy on these.

Republicans, on the other hand, tend to favor smaller, more local government when the issue is abortion (Roe v. Wade must be overturned) or guns (the ultimate state’s rights issue), but are in a hurry to grant the Feds a huge amount of power when the conversation turns to drugs (outlaw them all, especially the harder ones like heroin, cocaine, and meth).

For Republicans, immigration also comes under the purview of Federal control, not so much because it is Constitutionally mandated to the Feds, but because the states, especially the liberal ones, simply can’t be trusted to do what is “right” about the limitless hordes pouring across “our” borders.

There are countless others which could be compared in the same way, but I think I have made my point. Both factions adamantly favor federal control over some issues, while vigorously supporting state control over others. The only difference is which side of the political divide one stands on.

Best of Times, Worst of Times

About ten days ago, I started having trouble with my internet connection. Sometimes it would work just fine, the way it was supposed to. Other times, I’d have to fiddle with it, restart the computer, reset the modem, etc, to get it going. Finally, a week ago, it stopped completely and nothing I could do had any effect, so I called the ISP to rectify the problem.

It took a few days before a technician could get here, so my wife and I had a small holiday from the electronic demands of the Internet. Except for the fact that I couldn’t pay bills or juggle the money in my bank account, it didn’t bother me much at all. After the first shock of going ‘cold turkey’, I settled down with a good book (actually a large book of short stories by various authors) and managed to pass the time pleasantly reading. That’s something I haven’t done in a long time.

When the technician showed up yesterday, she swapped out the modem and the radio receiver at the antenna and, voila! Instant gratification again!! Back to the digital drug of looking at anything I want to!!! And my wife is able to view Pinterest at will, which she is happy about.

Nevertheless, I was born before there were computers, grew up with a black box on the wall called a telephone, never knew what the Internet was until the early 90’s, and while I have to admit the advantages of modern technology, I could just as easily go back to a time without all that new-fangled stuff. Being without it was an inconvenience, but it didn’t come anywhere near destroying my life.

If the electricity ever goes out for good, I’ll just start living like the Amish.