What Americans think is right and wrong

A Gallup poll surveyed what Americans find morally acceptable and unacceptable.  From The Atlantic:

What do we learn from this?

I’ll start:  Pornography comes out as worse than abortion, sex outside of marriage, and the death penalty.  Nearly two out of three Americans consider pornography to be immoral?  So how come that’s such a profitable industry?   Contrary to Plato, to know the good is not the same as to do the good.  That is, immorality is not due to ignorance that something is immoral, nor to a belief that the bad behavior is actually good.  Furthermore, we have fallen so far that sometimes our knowledge that something is immoral can make it more desirable and, perversely, more pleasurable.  C. S. Lewis writes about the “tang” of transgression.  (Lord, have mercy!)

What else?

HT:  Matthew Cantirino

Flashing headlights to warn about traffic cops

A driver coming from the opposite direction flashes headlights at you.  You slow down.  Sure enough, when you go around the corner you see a highway patrolman with a radar gun.  That stranger with the flashing headlights saved you from a speeding ticket.  Is that a good work, an example of loving one’s neighbor?  Or is it aiding and abetting illegal activity?  (I remember as a teenager mentioning that I flashed a warning about a speed trap, and my aunt jumped all over me, whereupon I felt ashamed.)

At any rate, I guess there is a law against that in Florida, though a judge in that state just tossed it out.  Flashing your headlights to communicate counts as free speech:

A judge in Sanford ruled Tuesday that a Lake Mary man was lawfully exercising his First Amendment rights when he flashed his headlights to warn neighbors that a deputy had set up a speed trap nearby.

That decision is another victory for Ryan Kintner, 25, who sued theSeminole County Sheriff’s Officelast year, accusing it of misconstruing a state law and violating his civil rights, principally his right to free speech.

He was ticketed Aug. 10 by a Seminole County deputy, but Kintner alleges the officer misapplied a state law designed to ban motorists from flashing after-market emergency lights.

Circuit Judge Alan Dickey earlier ruled that that state law does not apply to people who did what Kintner did, use his headlights to communicate.

On Tuesday the judge went a step further, saying people who flash their headlights to communicate are engaging in behavior protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“He felt the police specificially went out of their way to silence Mr. Kintner and that it was clearly a violation of his First Amendment free speech rights,” said his attorney, J. Marcus Jones of Oviedo.

via flashing headlights: Sanford judge rules in favor of motorist who flashed his headlights – Orlando Sentinel.

So it’s legal.  But is it moral?

Just post the Second Table of the Law?

A judge in a Virginia lawsuit over posting the Ten Commandments in a public school has proposed cutting out the first few that are about God and allowing the rest of them to be displayed.  (The so-called “First Table” is about love of God; the “Second Table” is about love of neighbor.)

Could the Ten Commandments be reduced to six, a federal judge asked Monday.

Would that neutralize the religious overtones of a commandments display that has the Giles County School Board in legal hot water?

That unorthodox suggestion was made by Judge Michael Urbanski during oral arguments over whether the display amounts to a governmental endorsement of religion, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by a student at Narrows High School.

After raising many pointed questions about whether the commandments pass legal muster, the judge referred the case to mediation – with a suggestion:

Remove the first four commandments, which are clearly religious in nature, and leave the remaining six, which make more secular commands, such as do not kill or steal.

Ever since the lawsuit was filed in September amid heated community reaction, school officials have said the display is not religious because it also includes historical documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

“If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn’t it make sense for Giles County to say, ‘Let’s go back and just post the bottom six?'” Urbanski asked during a motions hearing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

“But if it’s really about God, then they wouldn’t be willing to do that.”

via Cut Ten Commandments down to 6? – Roanoke.com.

(The discussion uses Protestant numbering, rather than the Catholic and Lutheran numbering, which considers “no other gods” and “no graven images” to be part of the same commandment, counting two commandments against coveting, one about property and the other about relationships.  By that reckoning, the First Table contains three commandments and the Second Table seven.)

If we are to post the Commandments in the public square, would this be a solution?  Would it be better than nothing? Or would nothing be better?

The rainbow-colored halo

President Clinton was hailed by the liberal media as “the first black president”–on the basis of his soulfulness, sexual appetites, and other racist stereotypes–even though there would be an actual black president a few years later.  Now Newsweek is hailing President Obama as “the first gay president” with a cover story by Andrew Sullivan about alleged affinities between being biracial and being gay.  (Never mind that gays had been disillusioned with the president for not doing anything for them until his recent announcement that he support gay marriage.)

I think this is ridiculous journalism and unfair to President Obama.  What gets me, though, is the cover.  In an extreme version of media hagiography, both of Obama and of gays, the president is adorned with a halo.  A rainbow-colored halo.

Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama’s Gay Marriage Evolution – The Daily Beast.

We have recently discussed homosexuality and gay marriage, to the point of exhaustion, so let’s not talk about those subjects as such.  Let’s talk about the halo.

In what has to be one of the  most dramatic turnarounds in moral and cultural history, gays have acquired the status of sainthood, while those who oppose homosexuality have acquired the status of evil villain.  Homosexuality used to be considered a mental illness; now homophobia is considered the mental illness.  Gay sex used to be considered a vice; now it is assuming the status of a virtue, while disapproving of gay sex is considered a vice.  Conservative Christians have liked to think of themselves as “good” (despite their own theology); but now they (or we) are demonized.  Gays, though, wear a halo.  Not that everyone believes this, but this is the projection of both the elite and the popular cultures, whose influence is permeating everywhere.

How do you account for this turn-around?  How did it happen?  Why? Are there lessons that Christians can learn from this before the persecutions begin in earnest?  And, to play the Newsweek game, might Christians someday become the “new gays”?

Fact-checking humor

David Sedaris is a humor writer who has a standing gig at National Public Radio news shows.  His schtick is based on his array of personal experiences, such as the time he once worked in a department store as Santa’s elf.  But NPR got burned when it turned out that Mike Daisey’s expose of conditions at an Apple Computer factory in China was largely made up.  And now it has come out that some of Sedaris’s anecdotes–including his  time as an elf–did not, strictly speaking, actually happen.  Sedaris says his material is “real-ish.”  So now NPR is undergoing a crisis of conscience about the extent to which they should fact-check Sedaris’s funny stories.

The David Sedaris dilemma: A fine line between ‘realish’ and real – The Washington Post.

Fiction, of course, by definition is made up.  Sedaris presents his stories as experiences, though the nature of humor is going to require exaggerations, caricatures, and embellishments.

Do you think NPR is being responsible or over-scrupulous?  What is the difference between what Sedaris does and what Daisey did?  Could you propose some guidelines for NPR?

President announces his support for gay marriage

President Obama’s position on gay marriage has evolved to the point that he’s now all for it.  That’s what he told ABC News.

One reason he cited was his Christian faith.  “You know, we [his wife Michele and he] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.”

Will this help him or hurt him politically?  It would seem to bolster his progressive base, which has been somewhat disillusioned with him, while social conservatives are not likely to vote for him anyway.  Then again, support for gay marriage seems to be the cultural wave, with polls showing that more and more Americans are willing to change the very nature of marriage to accommodate homosexuals.

President Obama Affirms His Support for Same Sex Marriage | ABC News Blogs – Yahoo!.


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