Monday, April 30, 2007
That comparison was brought on by an editorial on another web site, in which a guy named Cenk Uygur said that the number of people recently killed at Virginia Tech was trivial in comparison with the number of people killed on an average day in Iraq.
Now, based on Uygur's figures (in which he calculated that approximately 85 people were killed in Iraq every day), I calculated that about 124,000 people had been killed in Iraq since the war began. I calculated that that was approximately 1/4 of 1% of the nearly 49 million unborn children killed in the United States by means of legal abortion since Roe v Wade legalized abortion in January of 1973. I pointed out that not one of those unborn children had ever deliberately threatened or harmed anyone, whereas many of the people who had died in Iraq had died because they were in the process of trying to cause harm to others.
Now, one might think that it would take a huge number of people in order to kill 49 million people, even if they took 34 years (from 1973 until now) to do it. But one would be underestimating the ruthless efficiency with which the abortionists operate.
In one article at Pharma-Lexicon.com, dated January 13, 2006, it discusses an ABC News Nightline episode in which ABC Profiled a 70 year old Arkansas abortionist named William Harrison. According to the article, Harrison himself estimated that he had performed more than 10,000 abortions during a period spanning more than 30 years. Hmmm, let's see. Divide 10,000 by 30, and you're still left with about 333 killings every year. So if this guy took 3 or 4 days off every month (Sundays, presumably), he was basically killing one unborn child every day, and he did so month in and month out for 30 years or so.
To put this into perspective, consider this: As of 9/19/2006, an article published by US Today stated that our troop levels at that time consisted of approximately 140,000 troops. If each one of our soldiers killed as many people on a daily basis as William Harrison had killed during his 30 years as an abortionists, then the average daily death toll in Iraq would be 127,726, not the 85 claimed by Cenk Urguy. (140,000 x 333 per year / 365 days per year.)
What kind of mentality does it take for a person to kill 10,000 or more human beings during the course of one's lifetime? The kind of mentality which enabled Dr. Harrison to describe the unborn children he'd killed as "blobs", despite the fact that he saw the corpses of his victims and therefore must have known from personal experience that they were not undifferentiated blobs of tissue. The kind of mentality which would cause Dr. Harrison to describe the women for whom he had performed abortions as "born again". If that isn't enough to turn your stomach and boggle your mind, then you have no stomach and no mind.
But I don't know why I should really be surprised by Dr. Harrison's attitude. Once one has committed evil a few dozen times, what's left of one's conscience shuts down and it becomes utterly incapable of experiencing anything resembling guilt or remorse. One may even develop a pathological Messiah complex and begin to see one's murderous acts as acts which bring redemption and rebirth, just as Harrison's use of the term "born again" seems to suggest.
You know what's great about old abortionists such as Harrison? They eventually die of old age and they have to face the One who made them. It isn't a question of whether or not they will face God's justice. It's just a question of when.
On that day, I would not want to be Dr. Harrison. I would not want to have to explain why I had abandoned the healing arts in order to dedicate more than 30 years of my life to the utterly artless and contemptible act of repeatedly killing innocent human beings for money.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The other day I was at the Barnes and Noble bookstore. As is sometimes my habit, I picked up several interesting looking magazines to read while enjoying a drink from their coffee bar.
On this particular occasion, I'd picked up a recent issue of National Geographic. There was a cover story on the historic Jamestown settlement in Virginia. In addition to discussing numerous negative environmental changes which were unintentionally brought about as the result of that settlement, the article discussed the hardships those settlers experienced, partly because they had been forced by circumstances to settle on a peninsula which was poorly suited for the sustenance of human life due to lack of access to healthy drinking water.
Numerous people starved to death after settling in Jamestown in 1607 (particularly during a time, roughly 3 years later, described as "the starving time"). Those who survived or tried to survive sometimes did horrendous things in order to do so.
It was bad enough that numerous settlers were forced to eat dogs, cats, rats and mice. Some even ate shoe leather, which is pretty hard for any normal person to imagine. But what really seems to attract a lot of attention from various bloggers and professional writers is the lurid tale of a settler who killed his pregnant wife and ate her in order to satisfy his hunger. It's alleged that he cut the woman into pieces and salted her body so that he'd have something to eat. It's also alleged that he tossed his unborn child into the river after ripping the unborn child from its murdered mother's womb. He was ultimately tried and executed for his crimes.
Liberals seem to love the dark version of the story of Jamestown because they think that it helps them to undermine the idea that the founders of our country were good and moral people. I have to agree that if indeed all of the claims about Jamestown are true, then admiration for those early settlers may be misplaced and inappropriate.
However, at the risk of unintentionally sounding like an advocate of moral relativism, it should be noted that these were not people who just arbitrarily started committing horrible acts for no better reason than a lack of morals and human decency. They were starving! Most of the settlers around them were starving and dying. Who among us knows what dark things we might do if put into a similar position? Malnutrition can deprive the brain of its needs just as easily as it can deprive other bodily organs of their needs. If some of the Jamestown settlers acted as if they were insane, it's quite possibly because they were in fact insane as a result of lack of adequate food and water. I'm not trying to justify what they did, but one doesn't need to try to justify an act in order to try to properly understand it. Admiration might be inappropriate, but I'm inclined to think that pity would be very appropriate. There seems to be a lot of evidence that many of those settlers wanted nothing so much as to return to England, and they would have done so if they had been able to do so. But returning to England wasn't simply a matter of booking a return trip on the next flight. Transatlantic trips were hard enough even for reasonably healthy people in those days, and the Jamestown settlers were hardly healthy people.
In any event, what I find significant is the simple fact that so many people who tell and recount the tale feel compelled to mention the fact that the woman killed for food was pregnant. It seems to me that people mention that aspect of the story time and time again because they feel that it adds significantly to the ability of their readers to fully appreciate the horror of what happened during "the starving time". I agree. But why should that be a significant aspect of the story? If advocates of legal abortion are to be believed, the removal of a fetus is no more significant than the removal of an unwanted and unneeded bodily organ such as an appendix.
If the Jamestown woman killed by her cannibalistic husband had had her appendix removed during the process of killing her, and if she hadn't been pregnant, do you think that the removal of her appendix would have been mentioned in most accounts of the incident? Would that detail have evoked the level of shock and outrage evoked by the knowledge that she was pregnant when she was murdered? That seems very unlikely to me.
All murder is reprehensible, but most people seem to reserve a particularly intense level of horror and disgust when a person kills a pregnant woman. Why? The answer is obvious. Because it's murder times two, since two people (the mother and the unborn child) are both killed.
Despite 34 years of pro-abortion propaganda, we instinctively know that the death of an unborn child is a serious and tragic matter, whether the unborn child is killed by a hungry and cannibalistic settler in Jamestown or by the disciples of Charles Manson (who killed Sharon Tate when she was pregnant) or by a young female executive who rationalizes her decision to get an abortion by arguing that not doing so will jeopardize her chances of having a successful and upwardly mobile career.
It doesn't even have to be a death due to a deliberate homocidal act. Numerous women mourn unborn children lost to miscarriage. Do women typically mourn the loss of their appendixes when they get appendectomies? Of course not. Women who miscarry do not say "I lost my blob of fetal tissue". Regardless of the age of gestation at the time of the miscarriage, they say, "I lost my baby!" Respond by saying, "No, you just lost an insignificant blob of fetal tissue," and you are likely to get slapped in the face.
It's counterintuitive to argue that an unborn child is nothing more than one of many body parts in a woman's body. It's equally counterintuitive to say that the question of whether or not a particular fetus is human hinges on whether or not the fetus is wanted. All material entities have an objective nature which is completely independent of how we may or may not feel about those entities. If one could change a human being with an objective right to life into a "blob" with no such right, solely through an act of wishful thinking and redefinition of terms, then none of us would be safe from homocidal assault.
Whether it takes place in 1607 or 2007, the death of an unborn child is a tragedy, and doubly so when it occurs as the result of a person's deliberate decision rather than an unpreventable miscarriage.
Romanticizing events such as the founding of Jamestown is indeed a big mistake. But the crimes against humanity committed by those early settlers (and, indeed, by all European settlers put together) pale in comparison with the crimes committed by those who, during the past 34 years, have contributed to the deaths of more than 40 million unborn children! In very few of those instances can the killers legitimately argue that they were forced by circumstances beyond their control to kill so that they might literally survive.
It's so much easier (and so much lazier) to focus on the faults of people who lived and died three or four centuries ago than it is to look in the mirror and honestly appraise our own current and ongoing flaws in a supposedly civilized society.
It's time to stop romanticizing abortion and covering up the nature of what happens during an abortion with misleading slogans and abstract euphemisms pertaining to "choice". Take a close and honest look at a photo of an aborted fetus, if you dare. You will not see a "choice". You will see the bloody, dismembered corpse of a very small and vulnerable human being.
Your religious convictions or lack thereof will have no bearing whatsoever on what you will see in that photo or in a 3D ultrasound image of a living unborn child. Liberal lies notwithstanding, the case against abortion does not rely on sectarian religious doctrines. It is a matter of solid scientific evidence which we as a society ignore at our peril.
Since when does being smaller and more vulnerable cause a person to forfeit his or her right to legal protection from homocidal assault? If anything, one would think that the vulnerability of a person would increase the level of our collective moral responsibilities towards that person.
Not so, replies the typical liberal. In the typical liberal's inverted, some might say perverted value system, an unborn child's weakness and vulnerability constitutes a justification for abortion.
Despite their incessant talk about "compassion", it ought to be clear that liberals are semi-secret believers in the dangerous idea that "might makes right". The woman is much bigger and has more friends (since the unborn child has never lived long enough to meet any potential friends), and the woman can express herself so much more articulately than her unborn child can, so by definition, liberals think that anything she wants to do to "the least of these" is perfectly permissible.
Think about that for a moment, and then think about the high degree of probability that you, too, will eventually become equally weak and vulnerable if you live on this earth long enough. Then pray that when they put you into a nursing home, the nurse or doctor assigned to your care isn't the kind of idiot who thinks that the vulnerability and weakness of one's intended victim is a justification for homocide.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I am not an advocate of theocracy. Neither is Dr. Keyes, in my opinion. But he understands, perhaps better than most politicians today, that there is a direct connection between a nation's moral values and the concept of inalienable human rights which so many Americans take for granted.
Mr. Keyes states, "There is no secular basis for maintaining this republic." I agree with that statement.
The concept of "inalienable rights" which are "endowed by the Creator" is intrinsically theistic. The founders of this nation did not invent those rights. Our founders merely acknowledged the existence of natural law rights which they believed had existed ever since the creation of Adam and Eve. In doing so, they laid the moral foundation for this nation.
None of this is to say that our nation is or ever has been perfect. But our imperfections have been attributable precisely to the fact that we have not always lived in a manner which was consistent with the principles upon which our nation was founded.
Slavery was radically inconsistent with those principles. Over time, more and more Americans began to recognize the discrepancy. Eventually, that growing recognition led to the great conflict which led to the abolition of slavery.
I believe that the same thing will ultimately happen in relation to the abortion issue.
Of course, there are some clear differences between the two issues, such as the fact that there was a very strong geographical component in the battle over slavery, whereas that is not so much the case with regard to abortion. Certainly, it seems unlikely that there would ever be a Civil War over the issue of abortion. Not one involving physical armies, at any rate. But there certainly is an ideological war going on, and there are a lot of philosophical parallels between the abortion issue and the slavery issue.
If those of us who value human life in all of its manifestations ever hope to win the war against abortion, we must have strong leaders. Not men and women who merely give lip service to the pro-life movement as a means of appeasing us and advancing their own personal agendas, but articulate and intelligent men and women who passionately believe in pro-life principles, even to the extent that they are willing to sacrifice their own political careers if that is what it takes in order to take a stand for the truth. In my opinion, Alan Keyes is that kind of man.
Mr. Keyes understands that human rights are ultimately derived from the natural law which God has placed in each person's heart. Without an understanding of the divine origin of human rights, our rights are in constant jeopardy, because they are subject to the whims and changing tides of public opinion.
In many cases, the inane arguments now being used to rationalize abortion could just as easily be used to deprive you and me of our God-given rights. That is something which concerns all Americans, not just women and not just physicians and not just judges. We cannot afford to stand on the sidelines.
I strongly encourage you to visit the web site for Mr. Keyes' organization Renew America, and I strongly encourage you to give serious thought to the issues he raises.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Cenk says that the number of people killed on Monday at Virginia Tech is tiny in comparison with the number of people who have been killed in Iraq since the war began. Therefore, he argues, we ought to be far more angered and disturbed by the war in Iraq than by the Virginia Tech killings. Based on the aforementioned premise, Cenk says that those who believe that the war in Iraq has been worthwhile are "adept at rationalization".
Cenk seems to be particularly adept at comparing apples to oranges and pretending that there aren't significant differences between two superficially similar situations.
The only person who could be legitimately described as an aggressor and a threat during the Virginia Tech incident was the criminal, Seung-Hui Cho (or Cho Seung-hui, as he has sometimes been called).
That's vastly different from the situation in Iraq, inasmuch as many of the people killed during the Iraq war (including those who were fighting U.S. troops on behalf of an evil tyrant named Saddam Hussein) were in the process of trying to to kill other human beings at the times of their deaths. It would seem to me to be more than a bit disingenuous for Mr. Uygur to compare the two situations. If I were the parent or sibling of one of the slain Virginia Tech students, I believe that I'd be more than a little bit offended by Mr. Uygur's apparent inability to tell the difference between an enemy combatant or a suicide bomber and an innocent college student who died solely because he or she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Some would also argue that using the Virginia Tech incident in order to score political points is a bit insensitive, considering that the families of many of the victims of that killing have not had adequate time in which to mourn their dead.
Nevertheless, regardless of how one feels about the timing or appropriateness of Cenk's argument, it is an interesting argument which raises equally interesting questions.
Cenk's argument is particular interesting because he goes beyond the literal numbers and argues that we should also consider the emotional impact of a death in a particular country by comparing how that death compares to the overall population of a given country.
Based on his premise, the death of a person in a country of 500 people would be twice as devastating to the residents of that country as the death of that same person in a country with a population of 1,000 people.
That premise is highly debatable. In real life, the emotional impact of a person's death has a lot more to do with how intimately involved people were with that particular person and how much they liked or disliked the person than with anything which can be measured numerically.
In real life, people sometimes develop close attachments to people who don't even live in their own countries. Conversely, they often fail to develop such attachments with their nearest neighbors.
Therefore, I frankly think that Cenk's idea of "emotional equivalency" is inane. He's trying to measure things which cannot be measured empirically, or which (at the very least) cannot be measured using his crude method of measurement.
Nevertheless, in this article, I'll discuss his idea in order to see how that idea is applicable to the topic of this article.
Since Cenk is apparently into numbers, I would like to suggest that he compare the total number of people killed by violence in Iraq since the war there began with the total number of unborn children killed by legal abortion in the United States ever since the war on the unborn began in January of 1973.
According to a statistics page on the National Right to Life site, the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973 is 48,589,993.
Some might object that the NRLC is a "biased" organization, but their carefully documented figures were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, neither of which could be accused of being biased in favor of the pro-life cause.
Historically, the Alan Guttmacher Institute has been the research arm of Planned Parenthood.
So if you have a problem with the statistics shown on the NRLC web site, take it up with the CDC, the Alan Guttmacher Institute and Planned Parenthood.
Cenk says that the war in Iraq can be blamed for an average of 85 deaths per day. Cenk further argues as follows:
In Iraq today, 85 people were killed or found dead. The United States is more than ten times as large as Iraq. The 85 dead among 26.7 million Iraqis is the equivalent of 955 killed in a population of 300 million Americans.If Cenk's literal figure of 85 per day is correct, then the Iraq war has taken 31,025 human lifes per year, in an average year of 365 days per year.
And this is an average day in Iraq. Some American politicians go around pretending that Iraq is just fine and that we are making lovely progress in that country. Imagine if there 955 people killed in open warfare in this country - everyday!
Since the Iraq war has been going on for just slightly longer than 4 years, that would mean that the total number of fatalities from that war were slightly more than 124,100 people in all. Now, that figure seems a bit high to me, based on figures I've seen elsewhere (on liberal web sites, no less). But let's give Cenk the benefit of the doubt and assume that the high figure is correct.
A little bit of math (done in Excel) reveals that 124,100 is .26% of 48,589,993. One fourth of one percent, in other words.
Logically, if Uygur is correct in thinking that one's anger and outrage over unjust killings should be directly proportional to the total number of victims, then the American war against unborn children should make us approximately 400 times as angry as the war against Iraq.
But of course, we're still talking about literal numbers. Cenk says that we should also consider the number of deaths in proportion to the total population, in order to fully understand the emotional impact of such deaths.
If Cenk's premise is correct, the emotional impact of losing those 31,025 in Iraq is comparable to the emotional impact Americans would feel if we had lost an average of 955 people per day, or 348,575 people per year.
If 85 deaths in Iraq have the same devastating emotional impact as 955 deaths would have in the U.S. (as Mr. Uygur claims), then each death in Iraq is the emotional equivalent of roughly 11 deaths in the United States.
That would mean that it would take 4,324,764 deaths in Iraq for those deaths to have the same emotional impact in Iraq as 48,589,993 deaths in the United States, if indeed emotional value is something which can be calculated solely on the basis of the percentage each death represents in relation to the total population of a given country.
At a rate of 85 deaths per day (the literal number mentioned by Cenk Uygur in his article), it would take 50,880 days, or approximately 139 years, for the number of deaths in Iraq to equal 4,324,764 deaths.
Of course, that's assuming that Cenk's whole "emotional equivalency" theory is valid. And it's assuming that not one more abortion ever occurred in the United States during those 139 years. In reality, even though the annual abortion rates have gone down some, people are still aborting unborn children in this country at a rate which makes the rate of war-related deaths in Iraq seem ridiculously trivial in comparison. If the status quo regarding war-related deaths in Iraq and abortion related deaths in the U.S. were to both remain the same, Iraq would never catch up.
It also bears mentioning that one Wikipedia article says that the entire population of Iraq is 26,783,383. If the number of Iraqis killed during the Iraq war matched the number of unborn children killed in the U.S. since 1973, there would be no more Iraqis. With no more Iraqis, it would be a bit pointless to try to calculate the emotional impact of yet another death in relation to the overall population of Iraq, since the country would have no population.
In fact, it would take approximately 1.8 times the entire population of Iraq in order to equal the 48,589,993 unborn childen who have died in the U.S. as the result of legalized abortion. During the past 34 years, American abortionists have killed enough people to almost completely populate two countries the size of Iraq.
Any way you look at it, whether you buy into Cenk's "emotional equivalent" argument or not, the number of people who have actually been killed in Iraq since the war began is absurdly miniscule in comparison with the number of people killed legally in U.S. abortion clinics.
(Keep in mind, also, that the figures from the CDC and the Alan Guttmacher Institute don't even include the young women who were told that legal abortion was a "safe procedure", only to be severely injured or killed in those clinics due to poor sanitation and other manifestations of incompetence.)
Now, I know what you're probably thinking. You're thinking that I'm the one who's comparing apples to oranges. You're thinking that it isn't appropriate to compare the deaths of people who have already been born to the deaths of people who are still in utero. And that's understandable, because the only way that one could argue with any plausibility that it wasn't valid to compare the number of abortions to the number of deaths in Iraq or Virginia Tech would be to base your argument on the classic liberal claim to the effect that unborn children are not really human beings, or that they are, at the very least, merely "potential" human beings.
The latter phrase, by the way, amounts to linguistic sleight of hand. If an unborn child is in actuality a human being, then by definition, there's no need to add the qualifying word "potential" to the statement. If someone calls an unborn child a "potential human being", he's really saying that the unborn child isn't really a human being yet. So why not just say that? Because science has advanced quite a bit since abortion was legalized 34 years ago, and most pro-choice people now know that if they just flatly stated that unborn children weren't human beings or that unborn children were not biologically alive, they would sound like idiots.
Unborn children are indisputably members of the human species. (Just check their DNA if you don't believe me.) Unborn children are indisputably biological life forms from the moment of conception. Unborn children are not "potential" human beings who are "potentially" alive. They are not "potential" anything. They are what they are. They are human beings, and they are alive, until evil people decide that they are entitled to snuff out those human lives.
But some people say that it isn't enough to merely be human and alive. Such people claim that it's necessary to manifest certain traits (which unborn children ostensibly don't display) before one can lay claim to the right to life. That argument was advanced during the years prior to Roe v. Wade by a Stanford professor named Michael Tooley. His line of thinking led him to entitle that essay "In Defense of Abortion and Infanticide". Notice, particularly, the last two words in that title. If that doesn't send chills down your spine, it's because you have no spine.
When we start setting up a gauntlet of arbitrary conditions people must meet before they deserve to be given the same fundamental rights as other human beings, we open a Pandora's box which has the potential to lead to even greater evils than we have experienced thus far.
Of course, you can feel free to ignore sound principles of logic. That's your prerogative,
Feel free to believe the classic liberal claim that the unborn child is an undifferentiated "blob", and to ignore the contradictory evidence available to anyone who bothers to look at a 3D ultrasound image of an unborn child in utero.
Feel free to parrot the classic line to the effect that a woman has the right to "control her own body" and to conveniently ignore the fact that the body which is killed during an abortion is the body of a different human being, with his or her own gender and his or her own unique genetic code.
Feel free to ignore the ample scientific evidence cited by Dr. Thomas Verny in his book The Secret Life of The Unborn Child, in support of his claim that unborn children are capable of cognitive development, emotional development and even communication while they are still in the womb.
Feel free to ignore the fact that Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Jesse Jackson have all acknowledged that human life begins at conception, in spite of the fact that they all describe themselves as "pro choice".
Feel free to rationalize the killing of helpless unborn children by talking about how important legal abortion ostensibly is if we are to preserve gender equality and all of those other things which our society apparently values more highly than it values human life. And ask yourself if those same arguments would hold any water if one used them in order to rationalize the killing of newborn infants.
Feel free, as good and loyal liberals, to continue to parrot all of the classic pro-abortion arguments, despite the fact that most of those arguments wouldn't hold enough water to fill a thimble.
But don't expect me to be impressed by such stupid arguments. I regard legal abortion as America's holocaust --- a holocaust which has taken far more human lives than Hitler ever dreamed of taking.
Like it or not, it is primarily the Democratic party which has been responsible for the continuation of that holocaust.
George Bush is not perfect. The Republican party is not perfect. In some respects, both have been a real disappointment, especially for pro-life people such as myself. But at least the Republicans have given lip service to the idea that unborn children deserve protection, which is a lot more than most Democrats have done.
Could I find fault with the way Bush has handled the war in Iraq? Sure. After all, I'm hardly a big fan of war. When I was called before my local draft board shortly after graduating from high school in 1974, I successfully persuaded them to grant me official status as a conscientious objector. I based my arguments on the scriptures.
My views on war have become a little bit less extreme over the years, but only a little bit. I still regard war as a method of last resort. I still think that American leaders of both parties are far too quick to resort to warfare without adequately exploring all of the peaceful alternatives first.
But the bottom line is that the tragedy of war (in Iraq and elsewhere) pales in comparison with the tragedy of a practice which has taken nearly 50 million innocent human lives. I will never knowingly vote for someone who does not acknowledge that legal abortion is a national tragedy which must be opposed and brought to an end. If my only choice during the next national election is to vote for a pro-choice Democrat such as Barack Obama or a pro-choice pseudo-Republican such as Rudy Giuliani, I may just choose not to vote at all.
(Who would I vote for, if given the chance? Alan Keyes. So far, he's the only well-recognized person I know of who actually seems to have some integrity when it comes to the most important moral and ethical issues of the day.)
Cenk Uygur and his fellow liberal broadcasters describe themselves as "young Turks". In light of the fact that they side with the political party which promotes legal abortion, I think that nickname is particularly fitting.
After all, as one article at Wikipedia reveals, the original Young Turks are said to have been responsible for what has often been described as "the Armenian Holocaust", the "Great Calamity" or the "Armenian Massacre". Maybe it's just me, but I personally wouldn't have chosen to name my own group after such people, anymore than I would have called my group "the Hitler Youth" or "the Red Brigade".
But who knows? Maybe the sort of people who would describe themselves as liberals (thereby allying themselves with the defenders and perpetrators of legal abortion) have no problem with the idea of identifying with people who perpetrated evil acts against the Armenian people.
It bears mentioning that the original Young Turks were apparently Muslims and most of their Armenian victims seem to have been Christians. Make of that what you will, but I am personally inclined to suspect that Cenk Uygur's inexplicable admiration for the original Young Turks plays a role in terms of motivating him to speciously argue that killing Iraqi soldiers and fanatical suicide bombers during the course of a war designed to liberate that country from the evil tyranny of Saddam Hussein is morally equivalent to the acts of a madman who recently killed 32 innocent Virginia Tech students for no apparent reason other than his belief that they were rich and spoiled.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
On the subject of gun control, I should say from the outset that I'm hardly what one would call a "gun fanatic". I've never owned a gun in my life, unless one counts the BB guns which were given to me as gifts when I was very young. The last time I used a gun was more than 30 years ago, when my father took me hunting for rabbits and squirrels (with a .22 rifle) and quail (with a shotgun). I have no relationship whatsoever with the NRA.
So it isn't any vested interest, pertaining to guns, which causes me to point out the inanity of the tired and specious arguments once again being trotted out in favor of stiffer gun laws. According to the gun control people, if we just abolished the Constitutional right to bear arms, incidents such as the recent massacre at Virginia Tech would be abolished or significantly curtailed.
Hmmm, let's examine the plausibility of that argument.
The killer, Cho Seung-Hui, killed 32 people, plus himself. Depending on who you believe, somewhere between 15 and 30 additional people were injured. (Actually, the highest estimate I've heard, in terms of nonlethal injuries, was 29. But I'm being generous for the sake of this argument.)
Horrible? Of course. Tragic? Absolutely. Preventable? Perhaps. But eliminating every handgun from the planet would not have prevented Cho Seung-Hui from killing numerous people. He would simply have found another way to do it.
People have been killing one another since time immemorial. Elizabeth (Erzsébet) Bathory, for instance, is a Hungarian countess believed by some to have killed hundreds of young women. Even the lowest estimates of her killings surpass the number of people recently killed by Cho Seung-Hui. Did Bathory use guns in any of those killings? No. It's arguable that shooting her victims would have been far more merciful than the shockingly cruel methods she used.
Wikipedia says that the total number of fatalaties in the Oklahoma City bombing was 168, and the total number of injuries was more than 800 people. (For those without ready access to a calculator, that's an average of 56 killings per person plus roughly 266 additional injuries per person, based on the fact that there were 3 killers involved.)
Would illegalizing guns have prevented that tragedy? No. Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier didn't need guns in order to kill and injure far more people than Cho Seung-Hui ever dreamed of killing.
One of the primary ingredients in the bombs used in Oklahoma City was fertilizer. Strangely, I don't see the gun control crowd calling for the illegalization of fertilizer.
The debate over gun control is not an abstract academic exercise. The outcome of that debate is of vital importance to our society's future.
The problem with misdiagnosing a problem and prescribing a false and ultimately useless solution is that the real solution is overlooked or minimized.
Blaming the tool with which a killer chooses to kill is idiotic. Many items which can be used to kill also have benign uses, some of which can even be used to save lives. (Fertilizer, for example, is useful in growing crops and combatting famine.)
The real issue, it seems to me, is a matter of the human heart. Cho Seung-Hui was seething with hatred. (If you don't believe me, just look at the photos he sent to NBC, or read the sick things he had written.) So why weren't his obvious mental problems addressed long before things got to this point?
At one time, there was what might be called a Christian consensus in this country. It wasn't universal, of course. There's never been a time in history where that was the case. And we've had our blind spots (as in the case of slavery and racial bigotry). Nevertheless, there was a time when there was an overall sense of unity in our communities. Shared moral values enabled us to speak out boldly against things generally regarded as sinful.
Now, thanks to constant activism on the part of the ACLU and other liberal groups which distort and misconstrue portions of our Constitution, we live in a society where "tolerance" has become a euphemism which is synonymous for the complete absence, on the part of many people, of anything resembling a backbone. God forbid that we should be called "judgmental".
Ironically, it never seems to occur to liberals that criticizing people for being "judgmental" is in itself judgmental. Moral relativism is an intellectually untenable philosophy, for the simple reason that it is next to impossible for a moral relativist to live life with perfect consistency and integrity in the real world.
The very concept of injustice is in itself a value judgment. Yet liberals constantly complain about injustice while simultaneously undermining the sense of morality which makes concepts such as "justice" and "injustice" comprehensible. To believe that standards of behavior can be violated, one must first believe that such standards objectively exist.
There were ample signs during the past several years that would have indicated that Cho Seung-Hui was a danger to society. But people chose to ignore those signs or minimize them, until it was too late, because doing so might have seemed "intolerant" in our current political climate.
In short, we as a society blew it. Cho Seung-Hui was a man in crisis, and a clear danger to society, but we chose to look the other way. Now we no longer have that luxury.
There are far worse things than being "judgmental", and refusing to take a stand against evil is one of those things.
There is no question at all that Cho Seung-Hui committed a horrible crime. He will answer to God for that crime. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes when he is forced to do so. But I also wouldn't want to be in the shoes of those who could have stopped and helped Cho Seung-Hui a long time ago, but chose not to do so because they were too wrapped up in their own lives and too blinded by the delusional rhetoric of liberalism to respond appropriately to the ticking time bomb in their midst.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Looking at this individual tragedy, questions are raised. Why did the killer do it? Why didn't campus security do more to protect the students on the campus? What can be done to reduce the likelihood of such incidents happening in the future? What would it feel like to be trapped inside a building with chains across the doors, helplessly watching one's fellow students and teachers die like flies at the hands of an insane killer? How does a person recover from such a traumatic event and move on with life?
Those are valid questions. Some of those questions need to be asked. Others are bound to be asked, whether they need to be asked or not. But this incident is just part of a larger picture. In order to ask all of the right questions, one needs to think beyond this one incident and think about what the incident represents in the light of eternity.
That's right. Eternity. It's one of the most difficult words in the English language, because it represents something (whether real or unreal) which none of us have ever personally experienced, except in our dreams.
Sooner or later, unless something unprecedented occurs in order to completely change the natural order of things as we know it, we all must die. We may die peacefully in our beds at a ripe old age. We may die quickly, violently and prematurely at the hands of a mad gunman or a political terrorist. There are numerous ways in which to die, but death is nonnegotiable and universal. We will all die. And then what?
Some say that life is random and devoid of any deep meaning. They say that any ideas to the contrary are delusional. They say that a human being is little more than a biological machine, destined to return to the dust in a fairly short period of time. They say that we might as well have as much fun and enjoyment as possible while we remain alive, because life is short and we have nothing better than this to look forward to after we die.
And then there are those of us who are pinning our hopes and dreams on the idea that there is a God who can be trusted. We believe that God is preparing a heavenly place for those of us who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We believe that the real delusion is the idea that life is random and ultimately meaningless. We believe that the trials and tragedies of this demonstrably imperfect life on earth are merely a temporary detour on a road which leads to an inconceivably joyful state of existence in a perfect world where time never ends.
Yesterday, I was in a crowded elevator, and I was talking to a guy who lived in my building. I expressed the idea that this latest incident was yet another example of the flaws of this fallen world. I said that I was looking forward to spending eternity in Heaven, which would be infinitely better than anything this world had to offer.
A woman in the elevator spoke to me directly, telling me that she thought I was "ungrateful" for the good things this world had to offer. I thought, and still think, that that was a strange thing for her to say. It does not follow from the fact that I believe that we live in a fallen world that I don't appreciate the good things this life has to offer. Life here is not always a miserable thing. Sometimes there are times when it is great to be alive on this earth. But I believe that the pleasures of this life pale in comparison with the infinite joy which awaits us in Heaven.
Karl Marx said that religion was "the opiate of the people". I think that he meant that promises of heaven were often used by unscrupulous leaders in order to anaesthetize the population so as to manipulate them into accepting the status quo even when the appropriate response was to rise up and rebel against unjust leaders.
It sounds reasonable, in theory, but I think it's demonstrably false. It doesn't follow from the fact that one believes in heaven that one believes in the need for complacency when one is confronted with evil. In fact, quite the opposite. A firm belief in heaven makes one painfully aware of just how far this world and its leaders fall short of God's ideal. We may not be able to fully implement God's kingdom here on earth, but the Lord's prayer seems to strongly suggest that that should be our goal and our prayer.
It's interesting to note that Marx's revolution (based on a weak philosophical foundation which discounted the necessity of God) ultimately failed; whereas the American revolution (led by men and women with strong religious beliefs) led to a political system which, despite its imperfections, is still thriving today.
Being "heavenly minded" does not have to mean that one is "of no earthly good". On the contrary, it is only by keeping our eyes fixed on heaven that we can do our part in order to bring about God's kingdom "on earth, as it is in heaven".
With that thought in mind, I'd like to share a poem I wrote not long ago.
© Mark W. Pettigrew
When time is at an end, my friend,
then life begins at last.
No longer bound by future dreams
or memories of the past.
When time is at an end we’ll see
an end to death and misery.
No tears will ever stain a face,
and all our pain will be erased.
When time is at an end, my friend,
then minds will heal and hearts will mend.
Then hidden truths will be revealed.
No longer will they be concealed.
When time is at an end, we’ll hear
the sound of trumpets far and near.
And songs of everlasting praise
will grace our nights and fill our days.
When time is at an end, the Lord
will comfort those who He’s restored.
A privilege it will surely be
to praise Him for eternity.
NOTE: To download additional Christ-centered poems I've written (stored online in the form of PDF files which can be downloaded from a public SkyDrive folder), visit this link, then select the poem in which you have an interest, and then click the Download button.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I've seen bits and pieces of other movies (such as the nauseatingly violent Pulp Fiction) with which Quentin Tarantino has been associated in the past. But I've never paid to see one of his movies. It's unlikely that I ever will. From what I've seen, he's a perpetually adolescent, mentally disturbed individual who thinks that gratuitous violence represents the epitome of the movie maker's craft.
On one level, I'm rather glad that he's able to make movies. If he didn't have that outlet, it's likely that he'd be acting out his disturbing fantasies in real life, and we'd have another Jeffrey Dahmer on our hands.
Apparently, however, Quentin's friend Robert Rodriguez is responsible for the Planet Terror portion of Grindhouse, which features the aforementioned machine gun leg. Guns, girls and gams. What a combination. Maybe we should call it a "gamgun".
Meanwhile, there's a recent MSNBC story about a criminal named Gregory Daniels. Gregory's prosthetic leg allegedly fell off while he was trying to swipe a 1,500 pound ATM machine. Apparently, in the real world, prosthetic legs are a bit of a liability when it comes to activities involving extreme physical exertion. Yet, Rodriguez would have us to believe that it would be feasible for a woman to effectively wield a gamgun as a weapon, even though she has not spent months and months training herself to use such a weapon, and even though it is far more likely that the gamgun would fall off at the most inopportune moment, just as Gregory Daniels' prosthetic leg fell off during his attempted escape from the police.
Sure, I know that movies are often escapist fiction which feature scenes which could never happen in the real world. I enjoy such fare from time to time. But the fantasy movies I've liked, such as Lord of The Rings or Star Wars, have generally had an undercurrent of morality. Grindhouse, on the other hand, is a movie which revels in its sleaziness. I feel sad for people who have nothing better to do than pay to see such movies.
As for those who would object that I have no business criticizing the movie unless I've seen it from beginning to end, I can only respond by saying that I don't have to gargle battery acid to know that doing so would be bad for my health. But I should probably watch my words here. If Rodriguez and Tarantino ever read this blog post, they'll probably see it as a source of inspiration, and their next movie will feature someone who prefers battery acid to Scope.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
It may surprise those who know that I am a strongly committed Christian to know that I've been periodically checking out the articles in Rolling Stone ever since I've been in high school, back in the 70's. So I think it's important to explain something.
I was never a fan of Rolling Stone magazine. From the very start, it was clear to me that the folks at the magazine despised everything I stood for as a Christian.
In the old days, Rolling Stone was the most visible and successful hippie publication, for people who worshipped at the shrine of rock 'n roll, so-called "free" love (also known as fornication and adultery), and plentiful use of illegal drugs.
Over the years, Rolling Stone magazine seems to have changed, but only slightly. On the rare occasions when I pick up an issue to browse through its pages, I've noticed that ads pertaining to marijuana-related products (such as T-shirts) seem to be less common than they used to be. But the publication's defiant rejection of biblical morality is pretty much the same as it always was. Which means, of course, that anyone who thinks there's anything new or radical or cutting edge about the magazine is ignorant of its long history.
Some Christians think that a Christian should never, ever open the covers of such a magazine and look inside. I think I understand why they feel that way. They're afraid that if they do so, they'll be tempted and tainted. They may even fear that exposing themselves to ungodly ideas will cause them to fall away from God and lose their salvation.
Personally, I have never believed that the proper response to godlessness in our culture is to fear it. The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear.
Admittedly, I haven't yet conquered fear in every area of my life. (Perhaps it's because my experience of perfect love has been less than perfect.) However, if I'm going to be afraid of something, it's going to be something more substantial than an opposing point of view.
As a Christian, I know what I believe, and I am confident in my own salvation. I have taken a stand against godless behavior on many occasions. Therefore, it does not jeopardize my own faith for me to read an article which promotes ideas I find abhorrent. On the contrary, it only serves to make me more and more aware of just how corrupt our culture has become. It makes me aware of how much we Christians need to improve our strategies if we hope to reach the lost.
It also makes me aware of just how much anti-Christian bigotry our kids are exposed to these days.
For example, in this month's issue, there's an article by Jeff Sharlet, pertaining to a youth ministry called BattleCry. To read the article one would think that Ron Luce, the leader of the ministry, was the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. So I visited the group's web site, when I got home, to see how that site compared with what I read about the group in Sharlet's article. And here's what I read:
The world today is in a battle for its identity. Evil forces are creating a sick culture of hate. But they will not succeed. In order for His Word to prevail, we must make our own culture of hope and love stronger.
"Hope and love". Yeah, I can see why Sharlet finds that to be scary.
Rolling Stone has never been a serious journalistic publication. It's a publication for people who think that marijuana and LSD are doorways to wisdom and enlightenment. It's a publication for people who think that the "Girls Gone Wild" videos which celebrated inebriated debauchery ought to have received the Academy Award. It's a publication for people who think that an idiot like Iggy Pop deserves the amount of ink they dedicated to him in this issue. It's a publication for people who think we have a constitutional right to participate in wild sexual orgies, and to abort any children conceived during the course of those orgies. Is it any surprise that the writers for Rolling Stone are frightened by people who oppose their godless value system? Not to me, it isn't. When subscriptions are at stake, the rhetoric gets nasty, and people get sloppy with the facts.
Speaking of being sloppy with the facts, I thought it was particularly funny when Sharlet's article characterized the late Keith Green as a "country musician".
Country? Are we talking about the same Keith Green who wrote and recorded tunes such as "You Put This Love In My Heart"? I'd never claim that Keith's music was heavy metal, but it certainly wasn't country music, either. Pop or rock music, yes. Not country. Elvis Presley is "the King of rock 'n roll," and even Elvis sang more country music than Keith Green ever did.
Now, I freely admit that I never even heard of BattleCry before today. So for all I know, there may be some aspects of that ministry which deserve to be criticized.
Still, I kind of have to wonder. If a so-called journalist for a music magazine can't tell the difference between country music and the Christian pop music of Keith Green, how likely is it that he's able to tell the difference between a neo-fascist youth group and an organization that simply seeks to encourage young people to take a stand against immorality?