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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Chris addresses the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation and declares war against hate at Elon University... with his FIFTH article for American Thinker!

Hmmm... let's see...

This past week has seen the writing of my second-ever work of short story fiction (while stranded in a motel room along with Tammy the Pup during Hurricane Florence) after trying for decades to crack that art, work begun on a one-act play, finally started plotting a children's book(?!?). And now, it's article #5 written for American Thinker!

Has the Muse roared back from her exile, or what? For awhile I thought she had gone sailing off the cliff in a convertible accompanied by Dignity a'la Thelma and Louise, but anyhoo...

"There's Poisoning the Well, and Then There's Borking the Well" is my take on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination for the United States Supreme Court. However, that's just the peripheral matter of a way bigger issue: that for sake of partisan power there are some - and I'm looking at you in particular, Senator Feinstein - who are enthusiastically willing to trample upon a millennia of legal tradition in abandoning the rule of law. And when that is allowed to transpire, all of us as a people suffer its consequences.

From the article:
The machinations currently deployed against Brett Kavanaugh stem from a heart of darkest cowardice. If his detractors cannot prevail on purely rational and intellectual grounds, then they will do so playing to the basest hysteria and hate. There will be no satisfying their bloodlust until Kavanaugh's haggard, weary face is up on the telescreens, accusing himself of crimes against Big Sister that he never committed. So it is that the yet to be substantiated claims of Ford and Ramirez are now enough, we are told, to override fair and due process. Strangely, this principle never seemed applicable to Juanita Broaddrick, but I digress.
But... that's not all, folks! Because something else gets touched on in my new article and this one is much more personal.

It is this: that in the article I'm calling attention to the fact that Elon University - the college I could once be proud to call myself an alumnus of - is now harboring, employing and celebrating someone who has been taking an active part in the harassment of many innocent people, for no reason other than their holding to political beliefs she does not agree with.

Megan Squire, an Elon computer sciences professor, was revealed earlier this year to be an Antifa activist. She is, for all intents and purposes, an enabler of domestic terrorism.

Yeah, I said it. I went there. And from where I'm sitting it's plenty enough cause for myself and other alumni to withhold our contributions to Elon.

Again from the article:
The ol' alma mater already lost my contributions earlier this year – a consequence of Wired revealing that one of Elon's computer professors is Antifa activist who has been compiling a massive database of anyone she deems Lebensunwertes Leben.  That means "Republicans," "conservatives," "Alt-Right," "white supremacists," and pretty much everyone listing starboard of Friedrich Engels.

Megan Squire is not only still employed at Elon, but applauded.  Last week Squire delivered a "Distinguished Scholar Lecture" about her work supplying the Southern Poverty Law Center with information about their common enemies.  This is the same Southern Poverty Law Center whose "hate list" has been used to target innocent people for assassination.  Curiously, Squire's work is totally absent any analogues from the left of the political spectrum.  A "scholarly oversight," no doubt.

Once upon a time, Elon University was a place that encouraged freedom of ideas and vigorous debate. But as ideological homogeneity has prevailed upon "the most beautiful campus in America," that time is now past. The school that welcomed Margaret Thatcher to dedicate its student center in 1995 would probably have the Iron Lady arrested for trespassing were she still with us.

In good conscience, I can no longer contribute to a school that has embraced intellectual intolerance and has abandoned reason for capricious "feelings." Neither can I endorse my college when it continues to have among its staff a gleeful provider of resources for domestic terrorism. But still, I held out hope that sanity there might yet prevail.
As ever, in conveying my thoughts for publication I do my best to steer away from partisan labels and identity politics. As I told a colleague today: "I deal in ideas, not ideologies."

But regardless of where you're coming from on the political spectrum, I like to believe that very, very few of us are comfortable with the knowledge that anyone is being targetted for harassment, intimidation and much worse because of their opinions.

Does Megan Squire believe herself justified in painting her enemies in such broad strokes?  Is she a fitting representative of the Elon University community in doing so?

Regardless of whether she does, well... I've no other way to put this. At times I have encountered truly hate-filled people. Like neo-Nazis (got shot at by a gang of them) and the Westboro Baptist Church (had to spent several hours with them one hot summer night in a small television studio).

From where I'm sitting, there is not a shred of difference between the "God Hates Fags" idiots and Megan Squire. One just happens to have a computer science education and a better web page.  And also potentially has had her work lead to the injury of others if not worse.

When the objective is hatred, the semantics matter none. And there can be no excuse or justifying that hatred.

So, President Connie Ledoux Book and the trustees of Elon University: in keeping with the school's expressed beliefs in diversity of ideas and backgrounds and that the school should be a safe environment... when are you going to dismiss Dr. Megan Squire from the computer sciences department?

Because having a hate-filled extremist in your faculty, and one so enthusiastically applying her work toward damaging and destroying the lives of others, is the kind of thing that - not to put too fine a point on it - might dry up the alumni contributions. It sure has mine. Having seen some of Dr. Squire's Twitter account, I cannot understand how anyone's life can contain so much anger and hatred. Much less that of a Ph.D.

As far as Squire's work from a purely academic perspective is concerned: she may be brilliant at Python databases but the bias factor of the data itself is so irredeemably out of whack that it's utterly useless beyond a political agenda. Raw data is supposed to be neutral, impartial, agnostic... and Squire's methodology is a betrayal of all of that and more. In short: she is not a serious scholar. That alone would merit reconsidering her status as a member of the faculty.

Having such a malicious person intent upon causing grief to others certainly does not reflect well at all on whatever vestige of Christian values remain from the college's founding under the oaks in 1889.

Which is more important: the reputation and integrity of an institution that many of us still hold dear in our hearts and memories? Or protecting an enabler of domestic terrorism out of some passing fad of "resistance"?

So... "Long live Elon"?

What is it going to be?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The News & Record has banned me from leaving comments

Okay, to be fair, there has not been any formal notification of exile.  But having attempted to make comments with five different browsers and automatically being directed to a Facebook "blue screen of banishment" with each one, it's safe to say at this point that I am now persona non grata from adding to reader commentary on the News & Record website.  It was discovered two days ago and no correspondence has been returned from their staff about it so, looks like I've been dispatched to the hinterlands... or at least those where Greensboro, North Carolina's "newspaper of record" is concerned.

As for why the banning has taken place: if it was in violation of terms of service, I can't find a single example.  And I went back through the past few months, from around late spring when I began leaving comments on their published letters, editorials, and some published articles.  Not once was I rude or condescending or suggesting that any other commentator was being an idiot or imbecilic.  I strived for both respect and also intelligent conversation to move discussion forward, instead of promoting one ideology or another.  The image at the right is a screengrab of a typical exchange, involving a former News & Record editor and myself.  If anyone spots any inconformity with the rules of polite society, I would appreciate understanding how.

More likely though, it is nothing more or less than the News & Record editorial staff exercising censorship against those expressing opinion contrary to a leftist bias that grows more apparent with each passing day.  And other commenters have suggested much the same.  In the words of one:
"They also check our FB pages out. I like your thoughtful comments on N&R. I have been attacked by a few on the left but I try not to be snarky. They love to censor anyone who might be right leaning."
I have to concur. It also goes a long way in explaining why there seems to be a 10 to 1 ratio of anti-Trump letters published compared to any conveying anything positive about the man. Given that the vast majority of the News & Record's eleven-county coverage area went solid red for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, the remarkable proportion of letters condemning the man (often on the most ridiculous of grounds) is suspect.

As for what I plan to do so far as the News & Record - the newspaper that I began my writing career with by way of all those letters and occasional op-ed piece and religious articles of mine that they began publishing just before my senior year of high school began - is concerned, there is no doubt at all.  I will do nothing apart from this blog post.  I'm not even in the Greensboro area anymore, but just "peeking in" every so often to see how transpires events there.

Mostly however, it's because the News & Record as a newspaper is dying.  It's been bleeding away readers in recent years like a sliced-open artery.  Advertisers are fleeing, and the Sunday classified ads are no longer the small volumes of separate section.  A few years ago the page width of the newspaper editions was slashed drastically.  Staff has been let go.  There is talk of shuttering the once-imposing News & Record headquarters in downtown Greensboro.

None of these are indicators of a healthy and vibrant newspaper enterprise.  Not even charging money after ten free articles a month on their website is going to prop up this failing business.  Maybe outside (read as: "foreign", parse that as one may) interests might subsidize the News & Record, but the days of being supported by its own community are numbered.

This is what happens when a daily news publication pitches itself as "the journal of record" for an area - an assumption that demands total dedication to impartiality - and instead becomes a propaganda broadsheet.  In the case of the News & Record it has turned into a progressive outlet to the far left of old-school Pravda.  It is, not to put too fine a point on it, NOT an unbiased and impartial news outlet.  It can no longer be trusted and if it ever could, those days are fast receding in the rear-view mirror.

(Incidentally, when I was traveling on a meandering journey across America recently, I visited the offices of many small-town newspapers and not a one of them wasn't thriving.  Why were they so strong?  Because they committed themselves to news, and with keeping themselves above any social or political agenda.  But political agenda is all that the News & Record is motivated by now, apparently.  Being snide and condescending and sophomoric and insulting the readers only goes so far before there is blowback.)

So, why should I be upset that I've been banned from making comments on the website of such a newspaper?  The News & Record is going to be dead in a few years anyway.  All that will remain are microfiche and piled-up copies in the dusty storerooms of the Greensboro Public Library and at UNC-Greensboro.  And an empty edifice in the downtown of one of the largest cities in North Carolina.  Grim, mute relics of a newspaper that was once acclaimed, respectable, and trusted.

That, and lots of unemployed reporters and editors and managers.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Equal Justice: The Legend of Herkenbald

Law, we are told even in fifth grade, is something that applies to all without respect to wealth or status.  And then a few years later the same notion gets drilled into our mushy skulls during civics class as high school freshmen.  It's a noble ideal, and we like to think that the world follows America's example as a model of how under the rule of law, there are none deemed greater than others.  Rich or poor, celebrity or obscure, politically affluent or peanut gallery... it doesn't matter.  Here we are all equally accounted and equally accountable.

And it is all a damnable fantasy and we all know it.  Even if we don't talk about it.

I suppose the current situation with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is in my mind tonight.  As of this writing some former classmate during the early Eighties is alleging that Kavanaugh did something, or other, whatever.  She's due to testify before the Senate next week.  It's already grounds enough, however dubious, to have a number of elected officials and many commentators in the media demanding that Kavanaugh withdraw himself as a nominee.

Huh.  Funny.  I remember many of these same people insisting in 1998 that President Bill Clinton's sexcapades were inconsequential.  That his "character didn't matter".  That it was all "sex lies" whatever that is supposed to be.  If it didn't affect his performance as President of the United States then it shouldn't be on the radar.

These same people went down to the mat tooth and claw to fight for Bill Clinton.  Now they demand that Brett Kavanaugh be stricken from consideration for the Supreme Court.  All on the word of an individual whose integrity has been questioned by her peers and students, and is now found to be an anti-Trump activist at least at some point recently.

Maybe it's just me, but a semen-stained dress is a lot more incriminating than high school gossip from thirty-five years ago.  That a heap of Kavanaugh's former fellow adolescents are now vouching has been made out of whole cloth circa September 2018.

Don't even get me started on the obscene double-standard in regard to the allegations of foreign interfence on Trump's behalf in the last election and the uranium sale that we know happened with the blessing of Hillary Clinton.  One is fast becoming an unsubstantiated scandal that has lost all meaning for most Americans.  The other supplied nuclear material to those who would do harm to this country.

But, none of those particulars are really germane to this post.  I'm discussing the greater tragedy across our system of justice.  Namely, that justice is not impartial.  It plays favorites.  It has become a commodity for sale to those with pull.  And it's not supposed to be this way.

Which brings us to the legend of Herkenbald.

It was something introduced to me when I was in Belgium many years ago.  And ever since I've thought that it's a tale well worth telling to students here.  It should especially be shared in law schools, and in police academies, and with anyone who takes it upon himself or herself to become involved in the judicial process at any level.  It is, in my mind, the perfect parable of incorruptible justice.

So, what is the legend?

Herkenbald is said to have lived around 1020.  That is when he was a judge serving the people of Brussels, anyway.  And he was renowned far and wide for the wisdom of his decisions.  He was also famous... or infamous... for how serious he took his duties.  Everyone, no matter their station, was beneath the same shadow of immutable law.

And then came the day when Herkenbald, after many years of faithful service to his people, was very old and taken with grave illness.  He was moved to a bed in the hospital, to wait for the end.  And yet, he insisted that he be allowed to carry out the task appointed him long before.

Toward the end, Herkenbald heard a commotion outside of his room.  With hesitance, the great magistrate was told that his own nephew had taken a maiden against her will and committed rape.  Herkenbald commanded his subordinates to bring his nephew to his bedside.

However, the subordinates disobeyed, and took measures to hide the nephew.  And for whatever dumb reason, five days later the nephew came to the hospital on his own and entered Herkenbald's room.

Herkenbald was friendly and kind to his nephew.  He was very glad to see the young man, here at the end of his own days.  He bid his nephew to come and sit beside him.

And that's when Herkenbald grabbed the youth, held him with all his remaining strength as he pulled out a concealed dagger, and slit his own nephew's throat wide open.

His nephew's body collapsed to the floor.  The act discovered even as Herkenbald's breathing grew shallow, the bishop was summoned to hear his confession and to deliver last rites.  But Herkenbald refused to confess to the murder of his nephew.  It was not murder at all, the judge told the bishop.  It was the administration of justice.  His nephew had raped a woman and thus forfeited his life.  The law was without question in the matter.  A crime had been committed and punishment must be meted out.  And that is what Herkenbald had done.

Outraged, the bishop refused the final sacraments to Herkenbald.  The legend says that just as the bishop was storming out of the room, Herkenbald called out to him.  Then Herkenbald blew the high clergyman a holy raspberry: upon his tongue was the sacramental Host.  He had been given communion by the highest of all judges.  And then, his tasks fulfilled and a proverbial "up yours!" to the Bishop of Brussels, Herkenbald died.

Now if that's not a hardcore myth to convey to apprentice practitioners of the law and to veteran judges and constables alike, then by all rights it should be.  The legend of Herkenbald is the perfect morality tale about the law.  It is an admonition to judges and to politicians and to all who would hold sacred the rule of law in a society.  It is a reminder that though man and his schemes are inescapably fallen, there is an incorruptibility that must be striven toward without favor.

That photo is a depiction of Herkenbald slaying his nephew.  The statue itself decorates one of the churches in Brussels.

Maybe there needs to be a sculpture of Herkenbald in the United States Capitol Building.  Perhaps in the Rotunda, where every member of the House and Senate might see it.  And in the United States Supreme Court Building.  And in every courthouse in America.  And in law school textbooks.

After all, Lady Justice carries a blade.  Herkenbald actually used his.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Catholicism in Crisis: Thoughts from an outsider

The Roman Catholic Church as we know it will no longer exist... and sooner than later.

Bookmark this post, because it is something I would wager serious money on.

Four people I have long known, good Catholics each, have left the Church in the past two months.  One walked out and left after the minister delivered a homily that literally begged parishioners to ignore the massive scandal involving homosexual abuse on the part of Church clergy.  And it's only going to get worse.

Consider this: Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano - one of the most respected Catholic officials in the world - is now for all intents and purposes a fugitive in hiding from his own Church.  Ever since blowing the lid off of the abuses and now stating that Pope Francis was actively involved in covering up the behavior when he was still Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, Vigano has been a hunted man.  Sought after by those in allegiance to Pope Francis.

I defy anyone to tell me that there is something right with that picture.

Meanwhile Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington (shown in photo with Pope Francis) has tendered his resignation and many are speculating he's going to flee prosecution in the United States by taking refuge in the Vatican and fighting extradition.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report on molestation by priests going back decades is... well, damning. Decide for yourself if that's a double or even triple entendre.

And still Pope Francis is clamming up.  He has, in the parlance of The Godfather, "gone to the mattresses".  Along with most of the rest of the Church higher-ups.

The demands by Catholic laity and clergy alike for Francis to step aside is growing almost geometrically.

None of this bodes well for a faith that is the last enduring institution from the time of the original Roman Empire.  Indeed, what we are witnessing before us, unfolding in real time, is the worst crisis to hit the Catholic Church since that morning Martin Luther woke up feeling pokey and took a hammer to the Wittenberg church door.

As a historian, I find this fascinating.  As one who is not Catholic, I find this tragic on too many levels than can be readily counted.

So, it's like this: Pope Francis must resign.  There must be an unprecedented audit of as many of the abuses charges as possible.  The Church must vigorously turn over all evidence of abusive clergy to the proper authorities for legal prosecution.  This has to be done worldwide.  Not even Francis himself should be allowed to be exempt.  There must be drastic reform of the priesthood including... yes... ending the prohibition against marriage.

Roman Catholicism can either take unprecedented aggressive steps toward addressing its problems and in doing so continue to endure.  Or it can remain on the course that its present leadership has determined it will maintain.  In doing so it will drive itself into self-destruction and Catholicism will become no greater a presence in this world than the Shakers and the Huguenots are.  At present there are two remaining Shakers.  I doubt that Catholicism will shrink that small... but neither will there be converts rushing to the baptismal font.

Just some thoughts from one who is not a Catholic, yet enjoys deep friendship with many Catholics.  And not a few of them have shared very similar concerns and asked that they might be conveyed.

Monday, September 03, 2018

New article at American Thinker: "The Pursuit of Happiness in the Trump Economy" PLUS: Photos of my knife-making father!

To those of you arriving at my blog today from American Thinker, greetings!  And I have something to show y'all a bit further down.

Yup, my fourth article (so far) for American Thinker is published today.  "The Pursuit of Happiness in the Trump Economy" is some musing about how the biggest payoff from the decreased taxes and rebounding manufacturing is that more Americans are already enjoying more money and just as important more time for leisure activities.  Which can mean their families or their hobbies... or activities toward improving their circumstances.  And that is where the true progress of our culture comes from in great part.

And if you've read it already, you know how much I share about my late father, Robert Knight.  And how he found his true calling as a knifemaker.  Since he's written about so much in the piece, I thought it would be neat to share some photos of him and his handiwork...

Dad in his shop.
Smoking his pipe and contemplating
his next project

The knives Dad made from railroad spikes were his favorite to make.  Also the ones of his most in demand.  He also made knives from horseshoes and industrial ball bearings.  If it was metal, he found a way to make it malleable and given a good sharp edge. And made to look pretty darn elegant, too.