An unconstitutional nanny-state overreach

This is an open letter to President Donald Trump.

Dear Mr. President,

I was dismayed when I read that you would be moving to ban flavored liquids used in electronic cigarettes, and I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision that again expands the power of the federal government and actually damages public health.

Before we even get into the policy merits, the President has absolutely no authority under the Constitution to ban flavored “vaping” cartridges. If it is a constitutional action at all, it should be handled by Congress, not the President. This is one more area where the executive branch has overstepped its authority that is rightfully belongs to the legislative branch, and Congress needs to forcefully re-assert its authority. I urge you to “Make America Great Again” by willingly giving this legislative authority back to the legislative branch.

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We need nuance and perspective on Trump

Pastor Tim Bayly makes good points here regarding the often viscera reaction to President Trump among some conservatives, especially Christian conservatives. Yes, we all know that Trump has a lot of moral failings, but recognizing the good things President Trump does does not mean you excuse his moral failings.

I have hammered the “Always Trump” crowd for their total lack of nuance, and inability to admit that Trump is ever wrong. It is incredibly tiresome to listen to the “Always Trump” crowd say “but Hillary” and find an excuse for everything he does – sometimes even changing their positions on things like free trade and gun control to support whatever Trump’s whims are at the moment. I have repeatedly condemned Christians who do excuse Trump’s personal immorality.

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Missing the point on free speech and retaliation

You have the right to free speech, but that speech may have consequences. While that attitude is legal, is it right? On some level, yes. But in our current political climate that has been poisoned by “cancel culture,” the answer is “no” more often than not. That is the point that Jason Richwine made at Quillette. Unfortunately some folks do not get it. See this comment made when a friend shared the article on Facebook:

Nearly all speech has consequences. Most of us learn that by age five. Sorry that the writer didn’t. 1A only allows us to speak without the government’s permission. It rarely provides a shield to the response to that speech.

But that misses the point, which is that society would be much better off if we could have a robust public debate without fear that someone will go complain to our employer and try to get us fired, or destroy our business or wreck our social life.

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Twitter creates an impossible standard

When you cannot win an argument, you complain to the administrators to censor your opponent. That is what we are seeing on Twitter regarding “sensitive media.” Twitter automatically hides any media with “graphic violence,” including “medical procedures.” I assume this is the logic used to hide a photo of an aborted baby I posted, one year after I posted it. The policy is dated March 2019, so was the new standard applied retroactively?

Twitter threatened to mark my account as “sensitive” if I continued to post sensitive media without marking it as sensitive. Almost all media I post is not “sensitive” by any objective standard. It is important to show the brutal reality of abortion but I do not want ALL of my photos marked as “sensitive,” because they are not. So like it or not, I am looking at self-censorship to avoid worse censorship from Twitter.

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Either the standard applies or it does not.

Either personal morality and fidelity to one’s spouse matters or it does not. If you argue that someone’s private life is not relevant to his ability to serve, you cannot suddenly change your mind and hold someone from the other political party to the a higher standard. Either the standard exists or it does not, and if it exists it applies universally. The standard does not change based on partisan convenience.

In the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, conservatives spoke out often about how personal moral character was a qualification for public office. That started to change in 2015, and many conservatives outright abandoned that standard when Donald Trump became the Republican Party nominee for President. Some even made self-righteous arguments about “forgiveness” or made ludicrous comparisons to King David in order to justify supporting Trump.

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Dealing with a flood of hate comments

After hosting the most recent version of this blog on Google’s Blogspot for seven years, I decided to move to WordPress in 2017. I did this for three reasons: WordPress has a better comment system than Blogspot, I could import my archives, and I wanted something that would be mobile-friendly. For the most part, I have been very happy with WordPress over the last two years.

For the most part. One particularly nasty troll has been posting hate messages in comments for months, sometimes as many as ten hate messages per day. I have repeatedly told him his comments are not welcome, and that his comments will not be approved on the blog. I have shut down comments completely to stop the flood of hate, but that is the only option WordPress allows for shutting down nasty trolls. The lack of the ability to fully ban trolls is by far the biggest drawback to WordPress. If not for this troll and his hundreds of hate comments, I would be perfectly happy with this platform.

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