Sexual assault, due process and protecting students

Last week BBC Radio ran a segment about sexual assault at American universities, and efforts to combat it. The lead was a personal story from a woman who was allegedly raped, who was traumatized by the university’s requirement that the alleged rapist must be permitted to face her. What was not mentioned was the accused rapist’s Sixth Amendment right to “be confronted with the witnesses against him.”

Here is the obvious dilemma: Someone who has been the victim of a violent crime – especially rape – will understandably be traumatized by facing her accuser, but the right to face one’s accuser is a critical part of due process that protects both the integrity of the system as well as the rights of the accused, whether innocent or guilty.

We do know that false accusations take place. The most famous false accusers of the last thirty years are Tawana Brawley and convicted murderer Crystal Gail Mangum, both of whom fabricated stories of “rape” out of whole cloth. Both were exposed as liars and frauds, but not before ruining the lives of the men falsely accused. Our criminal justice system presumes those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty, but in the case of sex crimes that is often ignored – and that has led to terrible injustice against innocent people.

But a more obvious question is this: Why is the university handling something like this, instead of handing it over to the civil magistrate? If a crime may have been committed, why not separate the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim while the case is adjudicated by the criminal justice system instead of a university’s disciplinary system? The best a university can do is expel someone, but they do not have the authority to impose criminal punishment.

Finally, it was mentioned that conviction rates are “too low.” This is not a game, where we are trying to improve a player’s statistics. The goal should be justice. In some cases, that means a conviction. In some cases, it does not. It may well be that too many rapists are getting away with their crimes (and that is probably the case) but the goal should never be a specific result. That is the goal in totalitarian regimes that have no respect for civil liberties, but should not be the goal in a nation founded to protect people from an abusive government.

Lying to your customers is not good business

If you make a business decision that will cause your customers an inconvenience, is it better to be forthright about why you made the decision (namely, that this is best for the company) or is it better to lie to your customers and claim that reducing services will improve customer service?

Last week, I went to a local business only to find out that the service I needed was no longer offered, but that it was offered at the other location on the opposite side of the city. (I am intentionally being vague because the point is more important than shaming the business.) The paper I was handed explained that the change was made to improve customer service. This was a flagrant and shameful lie.

I understand that the business may have needed to make the change in order to improve internal efficiency. I understand that having each location specialize in specific services is likely helpful to the operations at both locations. But to claim that completely eliminating an important service that thousands of people use annually was done to “improve customer service” is simply laughable in how obviously false it is.

While I am unhappy with the loss of service, I am far more unhappy with being treated like some sort of mindless sheep who will buy whatever spin the business throws my way. Honestly, how stupid do you think I am? Do you actually think I am so gullible as to believe your obviously dishonest reasoning for the change?

Sometimes changes need to be made, but it is never smart to lie to your customers.

We need to stop defending "traditional marriage"

Advocates of same-sex marriage often ask those who defend “traditional” marriage if they support the tradition where the law treated women like they were less than human, or the tradition that did not allow people of different races to marry each other, or the tradition that allowed polygamy. These are legitimate questions and illustrate the fundamental problem with defending “traditional marriage”

We need to be honest here: Those of us who oppose same-sex marriage are not doing so to defend “tradition.” We are defending God’s model for marriage: A lifelong, monogamous union of one man and one woman. When we leave God’s Law out of it, we lose ground because we exchange a rock-solid and eternal standard for a standard that flows like sand.

No we are not defending polygamy, because Jesus Christ said in Mark 10:6-9 that marriage is the union of a man and his wife, not three or more. We are not defending laws that banned interracial marriage because the anger of the Lord burned against Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12 for their racist objection to Moses marrying a black woman. We are not defending marriage where the woman is treated as chattel because Scripture commands husbands to love their wives sacrificially in Ephesians 5:25-31.

Finally, if opponents of same-sex marriage are serious about protecting the sanctity of marriage as established by God, then we need to get serious about opposing divorce, especially the scourge of no-fault divorce that has devastated both the family and society, not to mention the lives of countless precious children.

Everyone knows that the reason we oppose same-sex marriage is because Scripture prohibits homosexuality, so Christians need to stop hiding behind the facade of “tradition” and start confessing our faith by admitting openly that we want to see marriage defined by the state as it was meant to be recognized by God.

We need to stop being cowed by the fabrication of “separation of church and state,” recognizing that all law is based on morality and there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits laws based on Christian morality. We need to call out as absurd that the text of the federal and state constitutions somehow mandate recognition of same-sex marriage when the men who actually wrote the documents would be horrified by the argument that what they wrote forces us to recognize homosexual marriage as a “constitutional right.”

Basically, we need to present our arguments with honesty, integrity and bravery.

No one is forcing anything on anyone with HJR-3

Bloomington Herald-Times, February 25, 2014

Here is a question worth answering: Given that the motivation for passing HJR-3 is primarily religious, why should people who do not believe as Christians do be subject to this law?

While we are not a “Christian nation,” we do have a rich and well-documented history of roots in the Christian faith. Furthermore, all laws are based on morality of some sort. The constitutions of this state and nation do not prohibit laws from being passed on religious morality – they prohibit government from respecting an establishment of religion. Those are two very different things.

In addition, many of the same people who object to Christian sexual morality being the foundation for marriage policy have no objection to arguing that Scripture mandates government confiscating wealth to give to the poor. Not only is this argument hypocritical, but it would undo the welfare state if taken to its logical conclusion.

No one is forcing anything on anyone with HJR-3. This amendment will not ban sodomy (and there is no serious proposal for an anti-sodomy law on the table) and it will not ban homosexuals from living in a “committed relationship.” What HJR-3 does is prevent state government from recognizing the union of two men or two women as a marriage, just as the state does not recognize a plethora of other unions (such as polygamous unions) as marriages.

What recognizing homosexual marriage would do is put state government in the position of placing a stamp of approval on sodomy. This truth is self-evident. Once the state recognizes the union of two men and two women as a “marriage,” the state is declaring that sodomy is on the same moral footing as the procreative union of a man and a wife. Up until very recently, it has been universally understood in Christiandom that sodomy is a rebellion against the sexual order established by God.

The reason that a constitutional amendment is needed is to prevent a renegade judge from declaring that same-sex marriage is a “constitutional right” under the state constitution. That would be nearly impossible under state law if we pass the marriage-protection amendment.

It is true that this could well be decided federally, and I fully expect that eventually the Supreme Court will declare that it is “unconstitutional” to not recognize same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, it is absolutely absurd to suggest that the men who wrote the 14th Amendment intended to put “marriage equality” into the U.S. Constitution. Historical context matters.

So why push this amendment, if we are destined to lose this battle (absent a major spiritual revival) in the long run? The answer is simple: It is the right thing to do. It is the right thing because it is loving to refuse to approve of homosexual sin as a “marriage.” It is the right thing to do because homosexual “marriage” represents a real threat to religious liberty and freedom of association. Finally, it is the right thing because it is an act of obedience to God’s sexual order.

Affirmative action in the NBA

This is just plain absurd. Jason Collins is not a very good player. He has never been a very good player. He has always been below average at best, by NBA standards. Now he’s old, and way past his prime.

He was signed only as a token, a mascot and a public relations gimmick. He might as well be “Token Black” on South Park. If Jason Collins was heterosexual, he would not have a job in the NBA. This is affirmative action, nothing more.

Hiding the blood on our hands through censorship

Printed in the Indiana Daily Student, February 19, 2014

To the Editor:

Sarah Kissel called for a “common-sense approach to defending decency” in response to the Center for BioEthical Reform’s display at Florida Gulf Coast University. While Kissel may believe that the graphic photographs of aborted babies are indecent, the real indecency is that our legal system allows these innocent lives to be exterminated in the first place.

Kissel is both right and wrong to object to the Genocide Awareness Project’s comparisons of abortion to the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity. She is wrong, in that the abortion industry has killed over 55 million unborn babies since 1973 in the United States alone. Whether done as part of some nefarious conspiracy or as 55 million individual choices, the death toll is still the same and deserves to be considered in the same light.

Kissel is right, though, that abortion is not the same as these other atrocities – because far more innocent lives have been extinguished by the abortion industry than were extinguished by the Nazis or the Soviets.

Turning the signs inward is an illegal, unconstitutional violation of free speech. Neither the government nor a state-supported institution are permitted to engage in content-based censorship of “offensive” speech. The sole purpose of the free speech protections in the First Amendment is to protect speech on divisive political and cultural issues. Turning the images inward amounts to a cover-up to protect the abortion industry and to protect supporters of abortion “rights” from inconvenient truths.

Kissel may have read about GAP display here at IU in the Fall of 2001. In the twelve years since, local pro-life activists have stood at the corner of Kirkwood and Indiana with signs purchased from CBR. I have seen minds changed and I have seen people shocked by the images of what really happens in an abortion.

I hope the day comes when the graphic images of aborted babies are never seen again, but as long as babies are being ripped limb from limb (including every Thursday right here in Bloomington) those images are needed to expose the truth about the reality of “reproductive choice.”

The perils of social media: Don’t feed the trolls

It is expected that candidates for elective office (even at the local level) will have social media profiles. Having at least a Facebook fan page and an official Twitter is considered as much of a “must” as a campaign website – and some candidates and elected officials branch out to Tumblr and Google Plus as well. But while these social media services present opportunities, they also present dangers.

Obviously, one such danger is being a Carlos Danger and disgracing yourself on a national stage like Anthony Weiner did. Other elected officials and candidates for office have posted outrageous things, if not as crass as what Weiner did. But even if you are civil and appropriate, social media presents unique dangers.

Social media allows a candidate to directly interact with voters, who can share updates with their own followers and friends. Social media also allows your content to spread quickly, as people share it with their own friends and followers. It can be used to get media attention and to stimulate people to action on legislation or issues generally. But the ability to interact directly with voters and followers can be a negative.

The first rule of social media for candidates and elected officials should be this: Do not feed the trolls. If you take a stand on a highly contentious issue (especially a social issue) you can expect your opponents to react in an emotional way, blasting away at you via comments or mentions. For every one person who responds rationally, you will get a dozen who respond incoherently and emotionally.

When a politician responds directly to trolls, he lowers himself to their level and magnifies the importance of his critics. When a mayor, a state senator or even a Congressman publicly responds to someone on social media, he highlights that person and increases that person’s notoriety. It can make a politician look petty and thin-skinned when he engages directly, and it can harm that politician’s reputation if he quotes obscene things that trolls say – especially when he quotes tweets from trolls that contain the “F word.”

What you do not want to do is make a bunch of Internet cranks many times more important than they are. (And usually, they are not important at all, until they are elevated by a politician’s public response.) Instead, it is better to use social media to spread controlled messages, point people to your website, or direct followers to take action. Getting into a back and forth with trolls and cranks gives your serious opponents ammunition to use against you. Worse yet, it almost never helps, except among the truest of true believers – and you do not need to court those people anyway.