The First Amendment – Hide and Seek

I know I had it. Did I lose it?

“I know I put that somewhere. Where could it be?”

We’ve all probably said that more than once. We had something. It was important. But now it seems lost—forever? Most things we usually locate again. If you’re like my husband and me, the thing we’re searching for could be in a completely ridiculous place, like airplane glue in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Or right in front of our eyes, and we simply do not see it until someone says, “Is this what you’re looking for? It’s right here!”

It seems our First Amendment has done a disappearing act, too. Oh, everybody knows there is a First Amendment, and many know vaguely that it refers to freedom of speech and religion, but more and more that’s as far as knowledge goes. This is very apparent from what we’re seeing happen on our college campuses. Certain speakers cannot be invited to speak on campus, or their invitation is withdrawn after being accepted. The reason often given now is “a matter of public safety.” Students are rioting if someone with ideas they differ with dares to show up. They claim their riotous behavior is allowed under the First Amendment. Where did these young people learn the meaning of the First Amendment? From their parents? In middle school or high school? Or were they ever taught anything about it at all except what they picked up from the public rhetoric of people with an agenda?

People other than me were wondering about this, too. Brookings Institution published a survey of undergrads designed to find out how they viewed their rights under the First Amendment. You can read all about it here, but let me share a few of the results.

The term “odious” is rightfully used for what is designated as “hate speech,” but Americans can use that type of language to their hearts content, for it is protected speech under the First Amendment. However the study revealed that only 39% of those surveyed knew it was protected—44% said it wasn’t, and 16% simply didn’t know.

A question asked if an on-campus organization hosting an event is legally required to ensure that the event includes not only the speaker some consider offensive, but also a speaker who presents an opposing view—62% said “Yes” and 38% “No.” The First Amendment has no such requirement.

The majority of students (51%) also believed it was acceptable to shout and be disruptive when opposed to the ideas of a speaker, even to the point that the audience cannot hear the speaker. A FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) website article says that while a heckling shout is permissible, “Make no mistake: When a heckler thinks he or she has the right to forcibly prevent others from hearing a speaker and uses heckling as a blunt instrument to silence speech, heckling cannot be condoned as free expression.”

It gets worse. When asked if they agreed or disagreed that it is acceptable to use violence to prevent the speaker from speaking, 19% said that was acceptable behavior. John Villasenor, who conducted the survey, wrote:

These results are notable for several reasons. First, the fraction of students who view the use of violence as acceptable is extremely high. While percentages in the high teens and 20s are “low” relative to what they could be, it’s important to remember that this question is asking about the acceptability of committing violence in order to silence speech. Any number significantly above zero is concerning. (Emphasis added.)

Please, parents, if your kids are starting college, warn them about their rights under our Constitution. Don’t let them get misled and in trouble with the law because “everybody’s doing it.” If your kids are younger, teach them now to respect our Constitution, and honor the Bill of Rights. If you don’t, they may never learn about that in school.

And another suggestion: let them know that obscenity may not be protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has a lot to say about that. If more of the public, including high-profile entertainers and TV opinion shows, knew they could be prosecuted for foul language, maybe we wouldn’t have to listen to all the bleep-outs in the evening news.

Let me know if your kids are learning about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in school.

“I Feel Humbled”

Watching the news about Hurricane Harvey yesterday, I saw a reporter question a woman who had left her home, now flooded. He asked for her reactions to what had happened and what was still happening. She turned her somber face up to him and said with deep emotion, “I feel humbled.” No “why me” or “how will I survive.” Just, “I feel humbled.” And she added, as best as I can remember her words, “Anyone who doesn’t feel humbled . . . there’s something wrong.”

I don’t know that woman’s name, but I want to thank her. She has made me, sitting in my comfortable and dry home, feel humbled. May God continue to bless her.

Texas Hurricane Harvey and Floods

Rescue in Harvey Flood (Photographer unknown)

Anyone living in Texas right now is probably not spending time reading this blog. So this is for the rest of the country who will have questions from their kids. This amount of rain following a hurricane is called “unprecedented,” but is it the result of climate change? Your kids will probably be told in school that this should shut up the “climate change deniers.” Let’s look at it objectively.

Hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Harvey is a major disaster. But there have been many weather-caused disasters before this one. Why is this different? Houston has grown tremendously. It’s now called a “metroplex” rather than just a city. That means what used to be soil, is now streets, roads, parking lots, and buildings both residential and commercial. Much of the soil that previously acted like a sponge, helping to soak up the excess rain, is now impenetrable. And I read that  the water drainage, for some reason, is mostly in the direction of downtown Houston.

But, you still have this “unprecedented” rainfall. Did you know that in December, 1935, Houston’s downtown was flooded, and at Buffalo Bayou in Houston the water level measured 54.4 feet at its peak? Of course, that might have been a bit easier to deal with because you didn’t have a metroplex population of just under seven million. Another way to compare 1935 with 2017 is that the level in the same location is, at least at this time, 38 feet, which is 16 feet less than it reached in 1935. Although the rain doesn’t seem to be over yet, and the level reached this year will undoubtedly rise, give thanks for small favors.

Downtown Houston: Flood of 1935

But there is so much rain this time. Again, “unprecedented.” It must be because of global warming. Maybe not. In 1979 Tropical Storm Claudette  dumped 43” of rain on Houston in only 24 hours. In this case, Harvey has a high pressure area that is keeping it from moving on and weakening. Climate change doesn’t cause a storm to get stuck in place, high pressure above it does.

But this was a hurricane, not a tropical storm! Keep in mind that there have been only four hurricanes hitting the United States that were Category 4 or stronger since 1970,  (47 years) but in the 47 years preceding 1970 there were fourteen of them! Don’t forget that it has been 12 years, a long time—an “unprecedented” long time—without a hurricane that was Category 3 or stronger. Meteorologically speaking, we were probably due for one.

A CNN news anchor asked Bill Read, a former director of the National Hurricane Center, if he thought Harvey was as bad as it is because of global warming. You can read his full answer here, but basically he said, “No.”

Tell your kids about this so if their teachers try to lay the Harvey disaster on climate change, they can say they have some additional information to contribute. But tell them to do that as we read in Colossians 3:12:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Malice Toward None . . . Charity For All

What are we teaching our children? Would that the words of Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 2nd Inaugural Address guide us today:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. Abraham Lincoln, 1863 Inaugural Address.

Transgenderism: Parents, Don’t Be Misled

What will your baby’s birth certificate say?

The topic of transgenderism is rampant. Parents are certainly in a dilemma about what path to choose: Support it and all its ramifications, ignore it as much as possible, or take a stand against it. We’ll look at some information I’ve come across, and hope it will give personal resolve as to the right approach in your family.

I wrote in my “Back-to-School: Getting Ready” post about a Minnesota school district providing sex change treatment for a seventeen-year-old male student without informing the mother.

There is a lawsuit ongoing in Florida about a transgender teen using the name “Drew” who was born female, and transitioned the summer before his freshman year. Drew was going to school as a boy for the first time. It also meant using the boys’ bathroom. But school officials barred him from the boys’ bathroom. Drew, now 16, said he has missed class trekking to the unisex bathrooms.

Has your child expressed the feeling of being a sex different from that to which the physical attributes attest? Or wants to act on those feelings by becoming transgender? We hear about it so often now, we are tempted to take it as something that is “natural.” It isn’t.

The American Psychiatric Association calls those uncomfortable-in-their-biological-sex feelings “gender dysphoria” and states that gender dysphoria is a mental disorder. This dysfunction was previously known in the psychiatric community as Gender Identity Disorder (GIC). On their website explaining gender dysphoria it says:

While some children express feelings and behaviors relating to gender dysphoria at 4 years old or younger, many may not express feelings and behaviors until puberty or much later. For some children, when they experience puberty, they suddenly find themselves unable to identify with their own body. Some adolescents become unable to shower or wear a bathing suit and/or undertake self-harm behaviors.

And in the Treatment section it says:

A child’s treatment typically involves a multi-disciplinary team of health care professionals . . . Treatment may focus primarily on affirming psychological support, understanding feelings and coping with distress, and giving children a safe space to articulate their feelings. For many children the feelings do not continue into adolescence and adulthood. (Emphasis added.)

Dr. Michelle Cretella, President of The America College of Pediatricians, equates promoting a transgender lifestyle with child abuse. Watch an interview with Tucker Carlson, and read a full article of Dr. Cretella’s as it appeared in The Daily Signal.

Among her statements Dr. Cretella says:

Even the American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology admits that prior to the widespread promotion of transition affirmation, 75 to 95 percent of pre-pubertal children who were distressed by their biological sex eventually outgrew that distress. The vast majority came to accept their biological sex by late adolescence after passing naturally through puberty. (Emphasis added.)

Dr. Cretella also emphasized that “By 30 years following [sex reassignment] surgery the completed suicide rate was nearly 20 times that of the general population.” (Emphasis added.)

Those are a few of the medical and psychological facts—but what is a Christian to think of it when applying the Word of God? Focus on the Family, in a Position statement, says:

Not only do male and female together reflect the image of God, but their coming together in a marriage relationship to bring forth new life is used in Scripture as the deepest and most intimate analogy of God’s relationship with His people. Throughout both Testaments, God and His people are portrayed as husband and wife or as a groom and bride. The creation account found in Genesis lays out this gender-based, matrimonial picture and sets the stage for the final, eternal union of God and His people — of Christ and His bride — described in the book of Revelation.

Focus on the Family has also prepared a great free resource titled “When Transgender Issues Enter Your World: How Christians can respond with compassion, courage and truth.”

In Deuteronomy 22:5 (NIV) God says: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” I looked up a number commentaries on this passage, and although there were some differing opinions most agreed with that written by Paul Kretzmann, Ph.D., D.D., in his Popular Commentary of the Bible, Old Testament, Volume 1. He said: “The vessels and clothing referred to include all the special articles of wear and use peculiar to the one or the other sex; for the Lord did not want the children of Israel to ignore the difference of the sexes, as it had been fixed in creation.” Over the years, “The Kretzmann Commentary” has been widely received and praised for its simple, clear explanation of the Bible in language easily understood by lay readers of the Bible.

So there you have medical opinions, psychiatric opinions, and Christian opinions. Now what you believe, how you talk to your kids, how you react in your community is up to you. Pray to the Lord for guidance and strength. Please let me and others know how you will use this information.