Revisiting the switchblade ban’s repeal

If you are going to respond to a letter to the editor, you need to respond to what the author actually wrote. Setting up a straw man and knocking it over accomplishes nothing.

On August 12, I had a letter to the editor published in the Herald-Times disagreeing with a staff editorial that bemoaned the repeal of the ban on switchblade knives. A week later, a letter to the editor appeared challenging my reasoning, specifically my claim that “the Constitution requires that a switchblade ban serves a ‘compelling state interest.'”

There is a major problem with this rebuttal: I never said that. In fact, the word “constitution” does not even appear in my letter. I was making a philosophical argument about the limits of government power and where it is appropriate for government to step in and regulate something. Since I didn’t make a legal or constitutional argument about the switchblade ban, the alleged constitutional standard about “suspect classes” is completely irrelevant to the point of my letter.

As with the comments under my letter, the author asks what I think about vaginal ultrasounds or regulations that clinics that prescribe abortion pills be held to higher standards. Honestly, I do not have an opinion on either question. The compelling state interest in regulating (and ideally, criminalizing) abortion is to protect the life of the unborn baby. That is a classic libertarian position – you can swing your fist until it touches my nose. In this case, the nose touched is that of the unborn baby as he or she is killed by dismemberment for profit.

Was an innocent man sent to prison by lies?

It was a shocking accusation – a nine year old girl claimed she was raped and sodomized by her father. He was arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison, where he has been for fifteen years. After he had been in prison for six months, she recanted her story and said she made the accusations under duress, fearful of beatings by her mother who, for some reason, wanted her to accuse her father.

This all started in 1997. Now, in 2013, the girl is still campaigning to have her father’s name cleared. Her story has been consistent for fifteen years – she says the abuse never happened and she lied because of fear. Despite a lack of physical evidence, the jury convicted Daryl Kelly based on Chaneya Kelly’s graphic testimony. But should fifteen years of denials by a woman who is now twenty three years old hold some weight?

The prosecutors in the case are standing by their conviction, even though all indications are that a tragic mistake was made here. While abuse of power by prosecutors is frighteningly common, for the sake of argument let’s assume that the prosecutors were motivated only by a desire to protect this girl and they genuinely believed Mr. Kelly was guilty. Sometimes, mistakes happen – even with the best of intentions.

Making a mistake is forgivable. None of us are perfect and we are often wrong. Refusing to admit that mistake – and fighting tooth and nail to prevent the mistake from being corrected – is not. Is it possible that Ms. Kelly told the truth at the trial and has been lying for fifteen years? Perhaps, but it is not likely. The prosecutors are not interested in justice. They are interested in their pride. They are interested in having an unblemished record – justice be damned. That is unforgivable. That is evil.

Looking in the mirror at our own sin

Can someone please explain to me why a near-pornographic “dance” on a MTV “awards” show is shocking? Is this any different from what Britney Spears was doing ten years ago? Is this any different from what Madonna was doing twenty-five years ago?

Folks, we live in a culture that has been rotten since the “free love” era of the 1960’s. People who are up in arms about a twenty year old woman dancing in a sexually explicit manner on cable TV are upset about three drops of water on the kitchen floor while the whole city is under four feet of water.

Our twenty-something sons and daughters are regularly and frequently “hooking up” with strangers they have never met before and will probably never meet again. For those over 30 who may think that means getting together to shoot the breeze, “hooking up” is what we used to call a “one night stand.”

Hardcore pornography on the Internet is available through the click of a mouse, where the most obscene perversions you can imagine (and a lot you have never imagined) can be found within seconds.

Our culture needs a revival, and that revival has to start in the church. We wag our fingers at a naughty pop singer all day long but we refuse to do a thing about the rampant sexual immorality in our church pews. We are saturated with sexual immorality. All that pop singer did was make us look in the mirror.

Explaining my position or wasting my time?

Are Leftists illiterate, or are they just liars? Is there a limit to how many times Leftists will ask a “question” and pretend it has not been answered previously?

When my most recent letter to the editor was published on August 12, the first comment was this:

“Maybe Scott Tibbs will someday tell us what is the good reason for the government to ban gay marriage?”

Of course, that had absolutely nothing to do with the topic of my letter, which was about the state legislature reversing the ban on switchblades. When another individual responded to my letter with a letter of her own, the same HTO user made the following comment:

But Scott also argues that same sex marriage should be illegal but steadfastly refuses, despite multiple requests, just refuses to explain why. The reason he won’t answer is the answer would expose him and others like him to the charge of being a Christian Taliban.

This is a flagrant lie. I have explained my position many times. I have explained my position multiple times in the old HTO comment system, though all of those have been erased since HTO moved to a new system in July. I posted an explanation of my position on July 12. The kicker here is that the very same person who now falsely accuses me of never explaining my position responded to my post.

I also explained my position in letters to the editor in 2008 and 2009, as well as a guest editorial in 2006. I have explained my position many times on my blog over the years, though I do not expect him to have read those posts.

I was going to respond to the dishonest “question” about my position on same-sex marriage, but I decided it was a waste of time. When the “question” includes an accusation that I have refused to answer the “question” in the past despite having done so many times over the years, why should I bother answering it? After all, when I answer the “question,” my critics will simply claim that I have refused to answer the “question” the next day or the next week.

You see, this “question” is not a question. Leftists who are “asking” me a “question” do not want and answer to their “question” – and they never have been interested in an answer. This is a propaganda tool designed to attack me, nothing more. Leftists ask “questions” over and over despite the fact that I have answered their “questions” many times, and then pretend that I have refused to answer them. It is a dishonest smear tactic and those using it do not deserve the respect of a legitimate answer. They do, however, deserve to be called out for their brazen and shameful lies.

Chemical weapons in Syria?

We know that al-Qaeda is part of the revolution against Bashir Assad. Is it unthinkable that they would gas civilians themselves in order to get Western nations to help them?

There’s no doubt that Assad is an evil tyrant. But we need to be VERY careful about what we do here. There are no good guys in this conflict.

Twenty years in Bloomington…

Twenty years ago today, I moved to Bloomington to start my freshman year at Indiana University. I certainly didn’t think I would still be here in 2013, but God had a better plan for my life than I did. These days there is less hair on my head and a lot more gray in my beard, but I have been very blessed in my life.

Of course newsworthy stories should be covered…

Last week, three men were arrested after they allegedly jumped a 19-year-old on his front porch and beat him up. He suffered significant injuries in the beating. What made this of particular interest is that two of the three men who allegedly committed the crime are John Mellencamp’s adult sons, Speck and Hud.

You may have noticed that I underlined “men” and “adult” earlier. That’s because, while the three two alleged attackers are technically teenagers, they are also legal adults and will be tried as such. One of the things that really annoys me in crime stories
is when adults are described as “teenagers,” because that paints a very misleading picture about the suspects. It may be technically accurate to call them “teenagers” but it would be exponentially more truthful to call them what they are – adult men.

With that out of the way, Bob Zaltsberg offered a defense of the Herald-Times’ coverage of the story, explaining that there are other noteworthy things about the suspects that makes it worthy of the front page of the newspaper. (See those stories here and here and here.)

Come on. If two of the three men accused of a vicious three-on-one beat down were not the sons of a world-famous musician who is a Bloomington native, would this story have been covered as prominently as it was? Do I really need to ask that question?

Look. What makes this story newsworthy is two of the three men are Mellencamp’s adult sons. The Herald-Times is in the business of covering local news and providing customers with the news they want to read about. There is nothing wrong with that – but the H-T needs to be honest about why this is being covered. This is about the Mellencamp name, which sells newspapers and brings more visitors to the H-T website to see the obnoxious popover ads. It insults the intelligence of the readers to pretend it is anything other than what we all know it to be.

A terribly wicked letter and a mirror into our own hearts

And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. — Jeremiah 32:35

When the utterly disgusting scan of a letter anonymously delivered to the mother of an autistic child went viral, people were shocked at the inhumanity of the woman who would write such terrible things about a child. Unfortunately, none of us were able to see our own shame in the words of the letter and how it reflects on us.

It should be no surprise that the cowardly “mother” refused to sign her letter. When something is done anonymously, it is almost always done to hide shameful and despicable behavior. This is why discourse on the Internet is often so filled with hatred and venom, because people writing those things do not have to attach their names and reputations to what they are saying.

But we should not be surprised or shocked by the inhumanity of the letter, even by the suggestion that the child be murdered so that his organs can be harvested for others in need. As ghoulish as that suggestion is, the author is simply following along with the culture of death created by an unlimited “right” to abortion. After all, 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are aborted.

What this woman wrote is evil, yes, but she is only repeating what our culture tells us every day. Down Syndrome babies, autistic babies or babies with other defects should be aborted because they will not have a good “quality of life” – when the real reason is that the parents do not want to deal with the challenges of caring for a special needs child. We hear that the elderly or the terminally ill have the right to “die with dignity” when the real reasoning is that they have a “duty” to die so they are not a “burden” to their families or to society .

Right here in Bloomington, a newborn baby was murdered 30 years ago. Baby Doe was born with a defect, where his esophagus did not connect to his stomach. He could have been saved with an operation but his parents refused because he had Down Syndrome. Offers to adopt the baby so he could live were rejected – the bloodlust had to be quenched. Baby Doe suffered horribly and died of starvation and dehydration.

It is easy for us to look down on the woman who wrote that terribly wicked letter and think she is a sub-human puddle of slime and filth. But what she is really doing is forcing each and every one of us to look in the mirror and we do not like what we see. Condemn her, yes – but we need to condemn ourselves too. We are all guilty. All of us. We all have blood on our hands.