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How I feel about my many liberal friends

If you have suffered abruptly ruptured friendships and precarious family relationships because of politics since Obama, you are not alone. You are among most people, especially if you have any independent, conservative, patriotic, or traditional pro-America beliefs. Obama brought with him the most divisive political atmosphere since the early Cold War, and his believers implemented that divisiveness with astounding aggression.

Here’s a small example.

A couple years ago I sold a really neat “vintage” National Park Service ranger hat to a lady in Texas via an online auction site. She was thrilled with the hat when it arrived, as it was described accurately, packed carefully, and she paid a fair price for it. She was happy about the exchange until she looked me up and saw what I believe. Suddenly she became unpleasant and full of nasty comments; about me, not that hat. Just to be sure, I used one of the many online services to look into her background, and sure enough, she was a rabidly partisan person who brooked zero disagreement. She judged me not by the happy transaction that had caused our paths to cross, but by whether or not I toed her political line.

Here’s another small example.

In early 2016 I was in detailed discussions with a woman in Vermont to buy her small business. It was perfect for what I can do and like to do, and for one of my kids. We got down to brass tacks, and she encouraged me to get my own website ready. I sent her the purchase contract and we set a mid-2016 date to meet and consummate the transaction. And then all hell broke loose. She had looked me up online and went from being an interesting and likable person to a hate-filled, snarling, angry jerk. The deal was off, because I had the “wrong” ideas, none of which had anything to do with the business we were going to transact.

And I am not even mentioning the many actual friends I have had, some for over thirty years, who have disavowed me, walked away from me, harangued me and then abandoned me, because I calmly disagreed with their assertions about politics and culture. It pains me even now to think how these paragons of virtue and open-mindedness behave so poorly, so intolerant of other views. Apparently traditional views that were A-OK in America for 220 years suddenly became so toxic and so, so bad, that anyone espousing them automatically had to be excommunicated, shunned, thrown overboard, humiliated, attacked, and so on.

It’s a crock o’ crap.

Since the 2016 election, liberals seem to have gone collectively lemming-like over a cliff and down into a pool of fiery, angry hate. Whether it is on a street where someone is simply wearing a MAGA hat (I don’t own one yet, but I do plan to get one; Nick Sandmann inspires me), or at a Trump rally, or on a social media site, liberals engage in physical violence, vandalism, and constant bullying of people they simply disagree with. They have worked themselves into a fantastically intolerant lather over election results they dislike, and gosh, they spare no one a full flaming if that person disagrees with them!

Even old friends who love them!

FakeBook’s censorious purge of conservative and independent voices (while retaining true haters), as well as Twitter and Instagram’s ongoing war on independent thinkers and conservatives (while allowing the Hamas terror group’s account to remain), is the natural result of all that intolerant hate for ideas and people who are not in lockstep with liberalism.

And of course I could do the same to them. I think liberalism is a cancer on America. I think the national Democrat Party has become the party of sedition and treason, that it has declared open war on America and its citizens, and that you can easily make the case for outlawing the party and legally punishing its members. I think Obama is an arch criminal who should swing. But all that does not mean I hate my liberal Democrat friends who liked or even adored Obama. That’s their business. I am not going to judge them because they made a mistaken choice about politics.

Here is a simple meme I made up tonight, from one of my favorite movies, “Some Like it Hot,” a truly subversive and pro-tolerance movie that still makes me involuntarily laugh out loud like a bleating camel or a braying donkey. This meme sums up my approach to remaining friends with liberals who, despite their best efforts to ruin our decades-long relationship, I still love and can still enjoy.

I’d say this is a model for how America should work. How it used to work. Tolerance, people, tolerance. We should still all be in the same boat, headed in the same direction, and at least respectful of one another. After all, nobody’s perfect.

I am crying over spilt milk

Whether FakeBook causes, accelerates, or encourages the split-up of long standing friendships and friendly acquaintance-type relationships is a subject of endless discussion.

People who for many years, even decades, shared affection for and cheerful enjoyment of one another’s company and personality are now not talking, communicating, or sharing. Instead, one party has abruptly broken off entirely, leaving the other party bemused, hurt, and or frustrated. The drama can be plain silly, because we are talking about adults here who post histrionic things like “If you voted for ________, then just un-friend me, now, please, I beg of you.”

Or it can be more subtle, with people hitting the “ignore” button on a relationship, pretty much tossing the friendship away without the pain of actually breaking off.

This one-sided dynamic plays out most visibly on FakeBook because “likes,” comments, and the number of “friends” are actual numeric measures of a relationship’s quality. And when you start seeing a numeric down-trend in one area, you often see the actual end coming quicker and quicker.

And what is the primary cause of these fractured friendships?

Why political differences, naturally.

Do you recall the poll done about eight or ten months ago (Pew, Gallup? I don’t recall which firm did it, but it was a real polling firm and the results are believable), which showed 39% of self-identified liberals can and will live with a conservative, versus nearly double that for conservatives willing to live with liberals?

That poll showed what many of us have observed personally for some time, and increasingly over the past year: Political correctness has destroyed liberals’ ability to live up to the qualities they claim ownership of, like being tolerant, open-minded, and accepting of differences.

PC has become so intense that now simply belonging to the wrong political party, driving the wrong vehicle, or EVEN HAVING THE WRONG SKIN COLOR is grounds for heaps of burning hatred and criticism. Nothing about this behavior is open-minded. It is not tolerant. And watching people walk around with a burden of hate for all kinds of classes of people makes them look and feel a lot like the other side, the KKK or neo-Nazi side, who are ALSO intolerant and violently hateful.

While the few decades-long friends I and others I know have lost through FakeBook were not violent people, their visceral hatred still burned bright.

Where someone’s burning hate becomes physical violence is a subject for philosophy books, because gut instinct tells you that one naturally follows the other. Seemingly uncharacteristic behavior for the loving and gentle relationship we had enjoyed lo these many years, even decades, suddenly there was the hatred, the intolerance, the violent words, and then the break.

Not one conservative I know of has broken off with the liberals in their lives (because they are liberals), via FakeBook or any other way, but the number of liberals who have broken off with people who are not liberals is legion and legendary.

These liberals’ behavior is the very definition of intolerance.

Do you ever wonder why there is no ‘world peace’?

I do wonder now, and I always have wondered since I was a kid, when the Vietnam War was going strong.

Well, part of the answer to why there is no world peace is that those people who most assiduously claim ownership of being peaceful are those who in personal practice are the least peaceful.

During the Vietnam War, being pro-peace meant being against American war-making in Asia; but those same anti-war people were not against Asians making war against other Asians, or against America. So they were not really, truly pro peace. They were simply anti-America, despite living in and enjoying America.

One test of being peaceful is your ability and willingness to accept differences between one’s self and other people without getting angry, hateful, judgmental, accusatory, or violent. When that inability to accept others turns to intolerance, why then…there is an absence of peace. And you are not a peaceful person. And it is self-evident to those around you.

And no, demanding that people adopt your way of thinking is not being tolerant. Humans have been doing things a few certain ways for thousands of years, and if you want to deviate from that, then asking for tolerance is fair. Demanding acceptance, acquiescence etc at the cost of breaking off (a form of coercion and violence) is unreasonable.

I am crying over all this spilt milk, because to not cry is to lie to myself, and to make pretend that certain unhealthy dynamics are not happening.

I am sad at the lost friendships, whether mine or those of friends of mine, for sure. I am also sad about an America that has everything, certainly more than any other country, and yet is being torn apart by violence and hate in the name of “peace” and “tolerance.”

The relationships between fellow Americans are being torn apart, over what?

This is spilt milk, and I prefer to cry over this now and have a positive, healing, peaceful conversation with someone about this, rather than later cry over something else being spilt as a result of no attempts at healing having been made and the logical outcome of hate and intolerance come to fruition.

Happy Birthday, Pennsylvania!

333 years ago this week, Pennsylvania was born, when King Charles signed the Penn Charter, granting William Penn millions of acres of land in the New World.  Ever since then, Pennsylvania has been a leader in religious tolerance, democracy, and citizen liberty.  Contrast our liberties with, say, adjoining states New York and New Jersey.  ‘Nuff said.

Condolences to the Mowery family, who lost former state senator Hal Mowery this week.  Hal was a gentleman, cheerful, intelligent, thoughtful, charismatic, and without question the best looking man to ever serve in the Pennsylvania legislature.  He will be sorely missed.

Stepping Across the Barricade: I’m 47, Married, Religious, and Love My Gay Friends, Daggonit

Stepping Across the Barricade: I’m 47, Married, Religious, and Love My Gay Friends, Daggonit

By Josh First

July 31, 2012

1) I do not hate, dislike, or otherwise work against homosexual people.
2) Since my college years I have known casually and also been close friends with many gay people, both women and men. I love my gay family members as well as a couple of my gay friends.
3) I am not gay, I am not attracted to men, but rather have always had a “thing” for older women. Now that my marriage is closing in on 20 years, I’m finally getting what I always lusted after: An older woman.
4) I have stood up for gay people, in the office during my professional career and during social situations in college, since I was in my teens.
5) If I were to see a gay person being physically attacked for the simple reason that they were gay, they could and always can count on my immediate involvement and intercession on their behalf. I’ll physically defend your right to be gay and free from harassment and assaults, and I’m a tough brawler.
6) I believe that people are born gay, that it is not a choice at least most of the time, and that God made gay people the way they are; more power to them. Someone had to fill Isaac Mizrachi’s shoes, and it sure isn’t going to be a knuckle dragger like me. I admire anyone defending our nation with a gun, gay or straight.
7) Be gay if that’s what you are. Live. Be. Enjoy the free air as much as I or any other person enjoys it. You are just as entitled to it as any other human. I don’t care if you are gay.
And…8: During the two times I have run for public office (U.S. House PA-17th District, 2010, and PA Senate – 15th District in 2012), I have taken open, strongly worded policy positions against discrimination against gay people in the work place, in the application of government benefits, and in equal protection of the laws of the land.

Given the forgoing, you would have to be a lunatic to say that I am anti-gay, bigoted against gays, or somehow an anti-gay crusader.

And yet, all these things have been said about me, and much worse, over the past week since I dared to raise a nuanced policy discussion about preventing the sexualizing of children. In sum, to recapitulate what started the ruckus, I support the Boy Scouts of America policy of not sexualizing their kids. In terms of gay people, it means that open displays of sex, discussing being gay, gay-ness, gay acts, and other human sexuality in general are all off limits, forbidden, and utterly unacceptable. Because these are, after all, children. This applies to gay, straight, and pedophile adults. Think what you want, but keep your thoughts to yourself.

My child is not going to be a battleground in this culture war issue. Homosexuality is sexuality, and sexuality of all sorts does not belong in the scouts nor around little kids. People pushing sexuality make me uncomfortable for obvious reasons, whether they are straight or gay. Sexuality is a private matter. Kids and sex don’t mix. 

Sexuality is sex; it is not race, religion, etc. no matter how much culture war proponents want to say it is. That’s the problem with culture wars. Demands are made of others to suspend belief, suspend reason, suspend debate and just kowtow, or die. 

Once again, to recapitulate, it is my opinion that talking about sex or sexuality with children who are not your own, especially in the Boy Scouts-type setting, is unacceptable. Adults, sex, and kids do not mix.

Unless the kids are yours and you are parenting them by describing human sexuality. Or, if you consent to having the “birds and the bees” be described for your kids at school by a professional in a public setting.

A few reasons probably account for the heaps of criticism on the position I took. First, gay people generally want to be accepted like anyone else (why wouldn’t they?), and they mistakenly believe that someone is singling them out for unfair treatment in a policy discussion like this. A second reason may emanate from straights who support gays’ right to be free from intimidation, harassment, and discrimination, and these fine folks believe, mistakenly, that any criticism of gays (even criticism that is leveled equally at both gays and straights) is automatically unfair and out of bounds. Another reason may be simple politics, as in “I will attack you and destroy you and harass you and demean you and lie about you if you say something I disagree with.”

Reading those comments, we had all three reasons at work.

What does it mean to be gay?

Well, being gay means that you are attracted to people of your same sex or gender.

Only you know how you feel about sex, unless you tell someone, or act flamboyantly in ways that convey your sexuality (or perform sex acts where others can see them). For gay men, this may mean acting effeminate, dressing in women’s clothes, or adopting modes of communication that tell other men that they are attracted to them. For straight men, conveying your sexuality usually results in charges of sexual harassment. At the very least, you’ll have been known to have ‘hit’ on someone.

The point is, unlike skin color, which is obvious to all but the blind and accounts for race and ethnicity, and religion\creed, which can be observed many different public and private ways, being gay or straight is not something that can be publicly observed under normal circumstances.

Which is one reason why I supported adding being gay or being perceived as gay to Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination laws.

The bottom line is this: Sexuality is not race, ethnicity, religion, or creed. Human sexuality is a thing unto itself, and usually it is taboo. We have taboos against incest, sex with animals, and until recently, homosexuality. In recent times, we recognized that private sexual relations between consenting adults are their own business, and that they must be accorded the same protections as anyone else when there or out in public.

In free societies, we ensure that minorities of all sorts are free from discrimination, because discrimination undermines the promise of equal protection and opportunity for all citizens. Minorities are defined as being different than the Protestant majority formed by the Europeans who settled America. If someone tells you over the phone that they are African American, you can then later on compare them to a European American’s skin color and see the difference, and measure their minority status. Religion is often strongly correlated with race and ethnicity, and ethnicity is often strongly associated with certain names. Thus, many names (Goldberg, Rosenberg, Stein, McCloud, etc.) give a hint about the person’s place of origin, potential ethnicity, and religious affiliations, however tenuous or committed.

Gays have the misfortune of being in a category that should be protected, but which cannot be easily verified, at least without the removal of some clothing and the performance of acts that must by necessity for all citizens occur only in private among consenting adults. Verification is going to be a challenge.

There are those of us Americans who are raising our kids to be both tolerant of others, including gays, and also be religious and modest. This means they are taught that some subjects cannot be discussed in public, but that everyone is entitled to the American dream. It means that we expect others to display the same inhibitions that we exhibit, and to respect our boundaries as they expect us to extend respect to them.

However, American public life is increasingly coarsened and with it the standard for public discourse is lowered. One measure is how Hollywood continues to abuse its power of persuasion and suggestion with movies glorifying violence and sadism. Another example is the blurring of private and public lives, where innately private acts are displayed in public. This means that some people now believe that they may, nay, even must, be able to force upon you their own beliefs, practices, and thoughts. Even if they are offensive to you as much as you accord them the right to be and do what they will. They demand such respect even while simultaneously stating that you yourself believe in only stupidness and bigotry.

Which gets to the conclusion of this essay: Tolerance is a two-way street. And tolerance does not mean acceptance. No one has the right to demand that someone else adopt their way of thinking or risk being called a bigot. You cannot do it with religion, and you cannot do it with sexuality. People have a right to have comfort zones, to have beliefs. Gays have a right to be free of discrimination. And parents have the right to say that they do not want Little Johnny knowing that men are attracted to each other like Mommy and Daddy are, and all the discussion that such attraction entails. There is no easy answer to this, as one side must gain and the other must by necessity lose in such a situation. Picking sides means no further dialogue, with each side manning its barricades. Some friends have let me know which side they are on, and they exclude me from that side, which I think is both illogical and unnecessary.

I like to view myself as someone who has stepped over the barricades and extended a hand of friendship to the other side. Demanding that I drop my discomfort, or that I kowtow and say certain words to make someone else feel as though they have won, well, that just prolongs the conflict, because it’s not right. Given the preface above, I wonder how many gays will say the same for my religious belief system. Or am I the only one who needs to be tolerant?

Boy Scouts of America: Straight, Narrow, and Correct

Boy Scouts of America: Straight, Narrow, and Correct

By Josh First

July 19, 2012

The Boy Scouts of America still believes that it is wrong to sexualize children, and they get kudos for that self-evident necessity.

Today the BSA is attacked in an editorial by the Patriot News, the regional newspaper for central Pennsylvania, on this issue. By excluding men, women, and “children” who openly profess their (gay) sexual habits to little kids, the BSA is allegedly an oppressive organization, according to the staff at the Patriot News.

This issue has nothing to do with bias, oppression, or discrimination any more than sexual harassment between adults has anything to do with bias, oppression, or discrimination. Sex is sex is sex. Gay or straight, sex is sex.

And it is just plain wrong to sexualize children. It’s called pedophilia when adults do that. Adults hauling kids out into the woods to talk about sex is the beginning of pedophilia. Pedophilia is rightly criminal.

If being gay were like having non-Caucasian skin color or a different religion, there would be an issue. But being gay is just like being straight: It’s about sexual behavior. Sexual behavior is a deeply personal, private thing. The only way someone is going to know that you are gay or lesbian is if you tell them. When you tell them, you’re talking about sex.

Despite thoroughly covering the subject, the Patriot News staff haven’t learned anything from the Sandusky child-rape affair. The main lesson from that catastrophe is that adults, sex talk, and kids just do not mix. It leads to sex between adults and kids; it leads to pedophilia.

If it’s sexual harassment for adults to talk about sex with other adults who don’t want to hear it, then it’s the very definition of criminality for an adult to talk about his or her sexual interests and activities with little kids.

Especially in a remote setting. In tents. Away from parents. Away from other adults.

And how do little kids know they are gay, anyhow? Unless they have been sexualized by an adult already, little kids just don’t know what sexual behavior is yet. Recently, a little boy was kicked out of school for singing “I’m Sexy and I Know It” in front of other kids, and especially in front of little girls. If responsible adults know that sexual behavior has a place that isn’t in school or public, then why do we have adults pushing for adults to explain the mechanics of their sexual behavior to little kids in a tent in the woods?

BSA maintaining a non-sexualization policy is the right thing to do.

If advocates of gay and lesbian lifestyles want to get their message across, then they should invite others to join them in a neutral, public place to present their views. If the public shows up to hear what they have to say, then that’s their audience. If no one shows up, then that’s their audience. Or, in the alternative, they can do what my wonderful gay and lesbian neighbors, friends, and family members do: Live by example.

My neighborhood has many gay and lesbian citizens living here, and they are fantastic, exemplary citizens. Great neighbors. I trust them around my kids.

But I would not trust them, or any straight adult, who wanted to take my kids away to the woods to talk about sex. That would make me mad. I would be suspicious at least. What would be next, a physical demonstration of their beliefs? Like what Jerry Sandusky did?

The Patriot News needs to issue a recall of their opinion piece on this subject; recant their faulty logic and twisted thinking. Whatever your opinion is about people who are gay and lesbian, and I council tolerance, the place to discuss and discover one’s sexual interests is not in a BSA tent with a Scout leader or chaperone showing you the way.

Why isn’t the Koran ‘hate speech’?

After a stroll down the international headlines this Sunday morning, one thing I took away is that Muslims really hate non-Muslims, and they are motivated by the explicitly hateful, violent, sexist, racist words of the Koran.

In the Koran, Christians and Jews are called “pigs,” “monkeys,” “donkeys,” and “cows,” and incitement to kill Christians and Jews is rife throughout this supposedly “holy” book.

You gotta ask yourself: What kind of a “holy” book calls for genocide against people of faith who are your next door neighbors and work colleagues?

To me, in my innately American mindset, a book that calls for the murder and enslavement of Jews and Christians is more Satanic than holy.

Think about how the Biblical prohibition against male homosexual sex is treated by the general media: Open disbelief! Open rejection! And excoriation for any American who says they believe in the injunction. But somehow the Koran’s calls for murder and rape are acceptable to the same people who cast aspersions on the Bible?

And you gotta ask yourself: What kind of government do we have, at the local, state, and national level, that allows the Koran’s cruel hatred to be broadcast?

Somehow, Americans have been brainwashed into being so open-minded that they now accept the viciousness of the Koran to stand on an equal basis with the Bible, and to be taught in our schools.  We may be reminded that the Bible, both the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Scripture, are the basis for Western Civilization and all that is good in America.  There’s no equivalence between the Bible and the Koran.

Americans are now so tolerant that they are tolerant of the grossest intolerance. That makes no sense, and is turning the whole principle of openness on its head. At some point, America has to stand for something, and standing against genocide is probably a pretty good place to begin.

Does this tolerance of intolerance make sense to you, logically? Why are we allowing the Koran’s open intolerance of everything that is America to infiltrate America and shape its culture?

Near my home is an Ahmadiya mosque, recently opened in an old Lutheran church. The cross still stands on top of the building, but the gradual conversion of the outward signs is taking place.

It’s not an alarming experience, however, as Ahmadiya Muslims are about as popular in Pakistan as are Jews and Christians, which is to say that their faith is officially outlawed, and their members are subject to murder, rape, and forced conversion (a la the Koran).

Ahmadiya Muslims are a different bunch. They have found the peaceful aspects of the Koran to inspire them, and they have largely written out the racist aspects. If Islam were so widely configured, then it would be a movement that fits into America.

However, as it stands today, the Koran is the worst of modern hate speech, advocating unimaginable cruelty, genocide, sexism, and bigotry. Why does the Koran receive preferential treatment?

Isn’t it time that our elected leaders stand up and demand that the Koran be treated the same as any other book?