May 5 — Cinco de Mayo, no less — was Patheos’ 5th birthday.
Big Number Five.
I, for one, am glad that Patheos is here.
Because I can write what I want.
And think what I think.
(I mean that.)
May 5 — Cinco de Mayo, no less — was Patheos’ 5th birthday.
Big Number Five.
I, for one, am glad that Patheos is here.
Because I can write what I want.
And think what I think.
(I mean that.)
The FBI stands ready to assist Nigeria to help find the approximately 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Considering the abysmal failure of Nigeria’s government to deal effectively with Boko Haram, I think they should consider taking the offer.
What role does government corruption play in the continued successes that Boko Haram has had at killing unarmed civilians and burning down churches and schools? This kidnapping is not the first time Boko Haram has attacked a Nigerian school.
On February 24 of this year, they slaughtered 59 boys aged 11 to 18 by shooting and burning them at a government school in Buni Yadi in Yobe state, Nigeria. They also burned the school’s 24 buildings to the ground.
The government was not able to stop them, even though an attack like this must have taken quite a bit of time. The government has been unable to track Boko Haram down and kill or capture their leaders.
Boko Haram appears to be heavily armed with expensive weapons, as well as having pickup trucks, armored vehicles and motorcycles. I’ve raised the question of money before. It takes money to buy these things. It also takes money to buy gasoline, food and the other necessities of maintaining this group.
Who is funding Boko Haram?
Why is the Nigerian government unable to track them down? How can they manage to engage in sustained attacks on schools in which they murder large numbers of people by shooting them, then have the time to burn down the facilities and burn the bodies as well without the government responding?
I have no doubt that the FBI can find these people. Nigeria needs to take all the help it can get.
From ABC News:
U.S. law enforcement officials said today that the FBI is standing ready for a possible deployment to Nigeria to help find the 276 teenage girls abducted from a school, but that no help had yet been requested.
“Last week, the attorney general told U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare a report for him on the kidnapping of the 300 girls in Nigeria and also requested an assessment of Boko Haram, the militant group behind the kidnapping,” a government official told ABC News.
As many as 300 girls, ages 16 to 18, were taken from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 15, according to the Associated Press. The students had been studying for final exams at their local school.
Police said that about 53 had escaped but as many as 276 remained in captivity. The leader of Boko Haram claimed responsibility today for the kidnapping and said he intended to sell the girls in the marketplace, according to a video obtained by the news agency AFP.
We’re going to have to find another word.
That’s what happens when organized groups with an agenda do their lying thing and massage, twist and shave the meaning of a word that evokes powerful emotions into a meaningless, politicized hulk of its former self.
Words have power to evoke emotion and, with some words, outrage. Somewhere back in the first half of the twentieth century the big-time government monsters among us figured this out. Instead of accepting the plain meaning of plain words and changing their behavior, they set out, first to find substitute words that would blur the emotional response to their reactions, and then to batter the meaning of existing words into dust.
Thus, mass murder became a “final solution” which morphed into “ethnic cleansing,” while slavery and brainwashing were called “re-education.” Killing a baby was labeled a “choice” and then a “termination.” In this century, we have been treated to the spectacle of torture being called “enhanced interrogation.”
It’s all the same lie, the same manipulation, the same evil.
This manipulation of words is a separate and additional evil from the acts that it attempts to gloss over. It is an act of aggression, aimed, not at the victims of whatever it is trying to cover up, but at the sanity of society as a whole. If our words become politicized gibberish, our thinking becomes muddled and gibbering along with them.
The precise and honest use of language is the essential tool for precise and honest thinking. What the spinmeisters are doing by butchering our language is destroying the ability to think clearly of the citizens of our nation and our world.
Torture is the “final solution/re-education/choice” of the first decade of the 21st century. The deliberate destruction of our public sensitivity to torture through the use of lies and ridiculous parsing has led to the destruction of the meaning of the word itself. We have arrived at the it-depends-on-what-the-meaning-of-the-word-is- is point with torture.
We are faced with having to find a new word, even as the old one continues to be twisted, narrowed and broadened into utter meaninglessness.
What began as the American experiment in justifying torture to a population that had long prided itself on how well it treated its prisoners has morphed into the use of the word to label criminal malfeasance and taking positions on social issues that one finds disagreeable as torture.
On the one hand, we have our CIA and neo-con enthusiasts going around seriously trying to claim that water boarding a helpless prisoner is not torture because it doesn’t break bones and rupture internal organs. On the other hand, we have the totalitarian nitwits of the abortion-at-any-cost crowd at the United Nations trying to claim that the Catholic Church is torturing women by saying that abortion is the killing of an innocent child.
Top that off with a conjoined United Nations attempt to claim that the Church’s admitted malfeasance in the area of child sexual abuse by priests is somehow or other torture, and you’ve got a word that no longer means much of anything.
Did the Catholic Church torture children by transferring sexual predator priests from one parish to another? No. The Church made a hash of its own moral authority and violated everything it stands for. The Church violated civil laws and its own teachings.
Is the Catholic Church the only institution with a history of allowing sexual predators to flourish in its midst? No. Virtually every institution that I know of has done this, which would make the UN’s new definition of torture ubiquitous rather than specific. What is different about the Church as opposed to other institutions is not a matter of law. It is a matter of outrage.
The Church betrayed Christ by transferring those priests. Every bishop who did this put clericalism and the good old boy buddy system ahead of his call to be a shepherd. Every bishop who did this betrayed his calling and his Lord; his Church and its people. These bishops behaved like corporate CEOs instead of priests, and that is the outrage and betrayal of their actions.
This was not torture. As evil as torture is, this was something far worse. It was a betrayal of Christ crucified among us by the men who have vowed to represent Him in this world.
This mis-use of the word torture to try to advance political and social agendas is a specific evil all of its own. Torture as a word is becoming another meaningless victim of our desire to to do evil and not be called evil for having done it.
Destroying a word as important as torture has ramifications that go far beyond linguistics. It means destroying an idea, maiming our moral understandings and weakening our ability to think rationally.
Torture is never acceptable. Torture is an intrinsic evil. I’m going to write about this in more detail, but the American experiment in thought control via the many lies and verbal shape shiftings surrounding our use of torture against prisoners since 9/11 is an evil that is separate and distinct from the evil of torture itself.
If we are outraged by the United Nations propaganda attack of trying to claim that the Catholic Church is torturing women by saying that abortion is a sin — and we should be outraged — we have only ourselves to blame. We, the United States of America, are the ones who have destroyed the meaning of the word in order to obfuscate our own actions.
This brainwashing of the public mind by insisting that torture means something other than what it means has side effects. Evil doesn’t just stake its claim in our societies and content itself with that one spot. It is a kudzu vine that takes root and grows outward, overtaking and smothering our moral sensibilities.
The evil of lying to and brainwashing the public to accept torture by narrowing the meaning of the word into preposterous meaningless has a flip side. We are seeing that flip side at the United Nations. If a word can be narrowed into meaninglessness, the same word can also be expanded into meaninglessness.
People with agendas can use the residual emotion the word still evokes. They use this residual emotion to justify political attacks by linking the word to actions where it does not apply and than claiming a faux moral outrage against organizations, actions and even ideas they dislike.
The Church did not commit torture when it betrayed Our Lord by transferring abusing priests. That is not what the word means. The claims that the Church is today committing torture against women by teaching that abortion is a grave sin, are too stupid to try to answer. It is obvious propaganda. It demands that the public acquiesce in its own brainwashing.
But the basis for making such claims lies in the torture to which the word torture has been subjected in recent years by the social and cultural brainwashers of our own government.
The great sin — and I use that moral word deliberately — is the lie and violation of human thought that is propaganda and brainwashing by the callous mis-labeling and mis-use of powerful words. This is done first to lie to whole populations of people about matters of terrible import, and then, in its ultimate application, to get them to lie to themselves about the same things.
“They are slaves and I will sell them because I have the market to sell them.”
Those are the words of Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.
Mr Shekau was talking about the large number of high school girls that his followers abducted April 15 from their school after a firefight with government troops.
He recently released a video in which he takes responsibility for the mass abduction and says the students “will remain slaves with us.”According to a Fox News article that statement is a reference to the jihadi custom of enslaving women captured in a holy war, who then can be used as sex slaves. Mr Shekau threatened to attack more schools and take additional girls in the same video.
Reports had emerged before the video was released that Boko Haram had forced some the girls to marry after being sold for a bride price of $12.
Two of the girls are said to have died of snakebite and 20 others are reported to be ill. The Christian girls have been forced to convert to Islam.
Protesters all over Nigeria have expressed anger at the government’s failure to find the abducted girls. President Jonathan Goodluck issued a statement Sunday night saying that his administration is doing everything possible (to find the girls.)
Boko Haram gunmen raided a Cameroonian police unit that is near the Nigerian border today. They killed a police officer and freed one of their jailed comrades.
From Fox News:
An Islamic extremist leader has threatened to sell the 276 teenage girls his terror group abducted from a school in northeast Nigeria three weeks ago.
In a videotape screened by the Associated Press Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the April 15 kidnappings for the first time. He also threatened to attack more schools and take additional girls.
“I abducted your girls,” said the leader of Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful.”
He described the girls as “slaves” and said “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.” The hour-long video starts with fighters lofting automatic rifles and shooting in the air as they chant “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great.”
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled today that prayers said before the town council meetings in Greece, NY do not violate the Constitution.
Justice Kennedy wrote the majority decision which said in part that there is a historical precedent for opening legislative meetings with a prayer that the even though the prayers offered at the New York town’s council meetings were predominantly Christian in nature, they were not coercive but rather “evoked universal themes” such as “calling for a spirit of cooperation.”
From Today’s Catholic News:
Kennedy wrote that the “inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers.”
He said that unless the prayers “over time denigrate, proselytize or betray an impermissible government purpose” they will “not likely establish a constitutional violation.” He also wrote that because the town had followed a policy of nondiscrimination it was not required by the Constitution to search beyond its borders for those who could offer non-Christian prayers in an attempt to provide balance.
My pal Kathy Schiffer tagged me in the writing relay, #mywritingprocess.
Now I’m up, and this should be a piece of cake. After all, this relay asks me, a blogging politician, to talk about myself. How tough is that? Get your earplugs and eyeshades ready.
1. What are you working on?
We’re entering the home stretch with the legislative session — crazy time — so I’m not “working” on anything. I’m just running from one thing to the next. Kind of like playing a giant game of wackamole that isn’t a game. It’s my life.
In between that, and oftentimes while I’m actively doing something else, I hammer out blog posts. I try to proof read before I post, but no matter how many times I proof, I always see mistakes after I post and have to make corrections online. Then, I re-read and do it again. And again. And again.
If it wasn’t for kindly readers who give me a nudge once in a while, I would end up with some really stupid errors out there for the whole wide world to see. Some days, it happens anyway.
Does that answer “What are you working on?” Maybe not. Probably not. I am also writing a book, which is the first of three books I am going to write. But I put that on hold until June for the simple reason that it doesn’t lend itself to the stop and go craziness of end of session life.
Not that blogging does lend itself to it.
But blogging can be bent to work … most of the time.
I’ll probably have to take a blogging hiatus for a week or so toward the end of the month. I’m pretty elastic, but there are limits to how far I can stretch writing abilities.
2. What makes your work different from others’ work in the same genre?
The difference is the me that I put into it. Lots of people can write about faith. Even more people can write about politics/public life/challenges to faith. But I’m the only one who can write about it as me, with my unique viewpoint and ideas.
Egotistical as this sounds, I think that’s what makes my work special. I’m not talking only about blogging, but my work as a legislator and every other thing I’ve done in my life, including raising my kids.
I am my own unique self, as is everyone who reads this. What I have to offer to any endeavor I undertake is that essential and totally unique self, that me-ness. I honestly think that where so many people go wrong is that they try too hard to be like everyone else. If you focus on being like somebody else and doing what other people would do, you’ll end up living somebody else’s life.
I’m not the best writer at Patheos. Not even close. But I am the only writer here with my experiences, my ideas, my thought processes and unique values.
I don’t run away from myself.
That’s what makes my work stand out.
3. Why do you write what you write?
I have a sense of mission about what I’m doing at Patheos. I honestly believe that the reason I am here is what Protestants call “a God deal.” I guess you could say that I was tapped to write before Kathy tapped me for this writing relay.
I write what I write because I think it needs to be said.
4. How does your writing process work?
Maybe I should wait until I have a writing process to answer this one.
I write fast because I don’t have the option of writing slow. I can’t linger over word choices or meditate on possible reactions. I have to write it and then immediately go do something else. I basically use the same writing “formula” that I use for speechmaking.
When I first began making lots of speeches, I borrowed from something that President Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign manager once told Eleanor. Mrs Roosevelt was extremely shy and self-conscious. But because of her husband’s disability, she had to step up and make a lot of speeches on his behalf. His campaign manager gave her a bit of advice that, if you follow it, removes the terror from public speaking and writing:
“Have something to say. Say it. And sit down,” he told her.
That’s how I write. I don’t try for eloquence or even profundity. My goal is to have something to say, say it and then back off and let Public Catholic’s readers chew on it.
The identifiable process that I use revolves more around the technology I lean on to help me get things done. I have a Macbook Air 11” that literally fits in a big-ish purse and can be carried anywhere. When I’m out and about, I write with that. I use a blogging software called Mars Edit to draft my posts. I avoid writing online because I’ve lost too many things that way and because the internet can go to s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w-w with no warning.
By writing in Mars Edit, I can get it down. Then if the internet goes daft, I can wait it out by doing other things without fear of losing what I’ve written.
I have an old Mac Pro that I use when I’m at home. It is a fantastic computer with all the horses I need for the different things I do.
I use Macs because they don’t give me attitude, and they never wear out. I’ve never had a Mac go belly up on me. Not once in the all the years I’ve used them.
Passing the Torch
You’re gonna love the blogger I’ve tapped for the next installment of Writer Selfie. The Crescat, aka, Katrina Fernandez, who is my nominee for the most honest and uninhibited blogger on Patheos, is up next. I am so excited. I can’t wait to see what she does with this.
I’m not sure what to make of this.
According to The Daily Caller this interview with Margaret Sanger and someone she calls John surfaced when British Pathe, a newsreel company uploaded 85,000 of its films to YouTube. The films were originally aired between 1896 and 1976.
This particular news reel is an interview with Margaret Sanger (who the interviewer calls Mrs Sleen, or something like that) about what was evidently her call for women to cease having babies for 10 years.
I have no idea how serious she was. Was this a publicity stunt? Or did she mean it?
Nothing in this video tells us the answer.
Whatever Mrs Sanger’s purpose was in issuing this call, it appears that, at least among women in the “enlightened” West, she has been heard. Birth rates among Western Europeans are below replacement rate. The birth rate among caucasian Americans has fallen so low that they are projected to fall into minority status in a few decades.
This is ironic, considering that Mrs Sanger sold her ideas by saying that we needed to eliminate what she termed “inferiors” through “regulated birth.”
Here, for your enjoyment, is a weird little interview with Margaret Sanger.
FGM. Female Genital Mutilation.
This practice, which is widespread, involves holding down little girls while the women of a community hack away her external genitalia until they have cut all of it off. They then sew her vagina shut. They often also sew the labias shut, leaving only a small opening for urination.
Over time, the resulting scar tissue create in a permanent closure which must be forced open when the girl marries.
This terrible practice is almost universal in many parts of the Middle East, as well as Africa. it results in deaths from infection, blood loss and shock at the time of the mutilation, and deaths in childbirth later on. It also ensures horrifically painful sexual intercourse.
FGM is the ultimate chastity belt, designed to “prove” a girl’s “virtue” to her future husband. In areas where it is practiced, it is considered a necessary component of a girl’s marriageability.
Because people from the parts of the world where little girls are mutilated in this way are migrating in large numbers to the West, it is a growing problem here, as well. I passed a law banning Female Genital Mutilation in Oklahoma a few years back. The main obstacle to it was the ignorance of Okies about the practice and a disbelief that such a thing could happen here.
Added to that was the propensity to kill bills simply because they could by the paid staff which actually was making most of the decisions in both the Senate and the House. I almost lost the bill. The thing that allowed me to pass it was when the Oklahoma State Medical Association, with their massive lobbying clout, came on board and backed it.
Even though I was more than glad for the OSMA’s help, the fact that they could do this indicates the power of lobbies in our legislature, as well as the lack of concern for the content of the legislation itself. At that time, it was almost impossible to pass a bill without the imprimatur of a powerful lobbying organization.
I only mention that to make readers aware that we cannot sit back and feel superior about the barbarisms against women and girls in other parts of the world. Female Genital Mutilation is now happening in the West and we need to outlaw it and enforce those laws.
If it’s difficult to get through the blindness about FGM here in the West, it is even more difficult to step outside of cultural misogyny in the areas where FGM is considered a social requirement.
That’s why it’s gratifying to learn that the Catholic Church in Kenya has stepped out onto the cultural ice and taken a stand against FGM. No Christian, ever, should subject their daughter to this barbaric practice.
FGM is not required by any religion. Even though it is almost universally practiced in many Muslim countries, it is not a requirement of the Muslim faith.
In areas where it is the cultural and social norm, both Christians and Muslims “cut” their little girls and mutilate them this way.
This sort of mutilation of young girls is, of course, an extreme form of misogyny. It is also an expression of the grave moral injustice of the sexual double standard that has been used to terrorize and limit the lives of young girls in so many parts of the globe.
I am thrilled that the Catholic Church in Kenya has finally come out against FGM. I hope that all Christian leaders of every denomination in every part of the world will soon follow suit. Such actions are hundreds of years overdue. Silence about the barbarism of violence against women and girls is the single greatest blot on the history of Christianity.
Female Genital Mutilation is a deeply sinful cruelty against women and girls. No Christian should practice it, and no Christian should be silent about it.
The development office of the Catholic diocese of Maralal in Samburu has an active desk that is mandated to ensure that issues on gender based violence are addressed. The Church is on the frontline to fight the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation which is a harmful rite of passage, still practiced despite its negative side effects. It is one among the most common forms of gender based violence in Samburu.
Some 3 million women and girls face Female Genital Mutilation every year, while some 100 to 140 million have already undergone the practice. From a medical point of view it is unhealthy and causes adverse gynecological conditions. Some of the negative effects of the same include injury to adjacent tissues of the vagina, profuse bleeding, shock, acute urine retention, HIV/Aids infections and recurrent urinary tract Infections.
The diocese has facilitated awareness creation in Samburu County on the adverse effects of harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, early and forced marriages and sexual violence against women. The Justice and peace Department of the diocese deals with 4-5 cases of gender based violence every week.
The Catholic Church has a girl child education and Rescue Centre in Suguta Mar Mar Parish premises, located 42 kilometres away from Samburu County headquarters. The Centre accommodates girls who have escaped from their homes to find shelter there. The girls are victims of FGM, forced/early marriages and other forms of gender based violence. The sister in charge of the rescue centre Sister Fransisca Nzilani says “it is difficult to support these girls without funding. The girls depend on the rescue centre for most of their basic needs which include sanitary towels, education, stationery, food, clothing and shelter on a monthly basis”
The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the first US case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS)
MERS, which is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus (SARS) which killed 800 people in China in the 2002-03, is fatal in up to one third of the people who contract it.
Dr Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Imminzation and Respiratory Diseases said that while the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” it is still a concern because of the “virulence” of the virus and that fact that it can be transmitted from one person to the next.
The male patient had returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia on April 24, connecting from Riyadh to London to Chicago. He then took a bus to Indiana.
He experienced respiratory symptoms on April 27 and was diagnosed with MERS on April 28. The patient is said to be in stable condition and is being treated with appropriate protocols, including isolation.
Only 262 people have been diagnosed with MERS. Ninety-three of those have died of the illness. Little is known about MERS. It is believed that the virus is transmitted to humans through camels, but even that is somewhat speculative.
(Reuters) – A healthcare worker who had traveled to Saudi Arabia was confirmed as the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS), an often fatal illness, raising new concerns about the rapid spread of such diseases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.
The male patient traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, where he changed flights at Heathrow airport to fly to the United States. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to an undisclosed city in Indiana.
On April 27, he experienced respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the man visited the emergency department at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, on April 28 and was admitted that same day.
Because of his travel history, Indiana health officials tested him for MERS, and sent the samples to the CDC, which confirmed the presence of the virus on Friday.The virus is similar to the one that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in China in 2002-2003 and killed some 800 people. It was first detected inSaudi Arabia.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call the first U.S. case of MERS was “of great concern because of its virulence,” proving fatal in about a third of infections.She said the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” but MERS has been shown to spread to healthcare workers and there are no known treatments for the virus.
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