Monday, February 13, 2017
Trump and relationships
I too have had conflicts with people over Mr Trump but I have found that by saying that Mr Trump amuses me I get a much better hearing. I then say that I can see his faults but his constant upsetting of applecarts amuses me -- and that can lead to a reasonable discussion. I am often even able to counter some of the Leftist propaganda against him
Political differences have come a major sore spot for all friendship groups in recent times - now that the world has changed so significantly. Brexit and Trump have challenged families, lovers and pals in the most intimate of ways.
There's evidence that politics can even tear relationships apart. Don't just take it from me; this week an American woman announced that she was divorcing her husband of 22 years, all because he fell for Trump! "It totally undid me", she said.
I expect she's exactly the same sort of liberal who preaches unity over division, and "hope" over hate, yet happily bins her husband because he doesn't hold her beliefs. The hypocrisy is astonishing, and doesn't set a good precedent for how we should treat others with conflicting ideals.
What I've found is that it's actually healthy to sit around the dinner table, wanting to punch each other. In general, people tend to avoid debating politics because of the friction it causes. But friction is positive. If you're angry, you're having to think. Debate expands the mind, and is the only way to shift politics.
When people shun others because of their views, it's as if they're saying "politics define you". But I've never thought this to be true.
The average person does not subscribe to political parties to be "bad", as many liberals see Conservative types. Most people - left and right - vote for the same reason: to make society better. What they differ on is how this can be achieved.
And ultimately, people are not fixed products, as the American woman's divorce suggests. She decided it was over with her husband after he told friends over lunch of his intentions to vote for Trump. Surely, if this was so terrible, she could have talked it over with him - instead of cutting all ties? She could have even swayed him over to the Democrats.
Ben Shapiro: The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority
Ben Shapiro takes on Ben Affleck and the myth that only a tiny minority of Muslims worldwide are radical.
Is that sermon political?
by Jeff Jacoby
SHOULD PASTORS preach politics from the pulpit? Or should houses of worship be kept rigorously politics-free?
Compelling arguments can be made both ways.
Religious leaders should answer for their words and deed to a higher authority - higher, even, than the IRS.
On the one hand, it is the role of religious leaders and churches to guide and instruct their flocks - to articulate the spiritual values that believers are expected to uphold and to show how those values apply in every area of life. Clergy at churches, synagogues, and mosques have always spoken out on issues affecting their worshipers and the larger society. Many of the most transformative causes in American history - independence from England, the struggle against slavery, opposition to abortion, the civil rights movement - were shaped by the involvement of religious leaders.
On the other hand, millions of Americans believe strongly that a house of worship is no place for politics, and that clergy trivialize the word of God by trying to make it fit a partisan template. The teachings of Christianity (or Judaism or Islam or Hinduism) are not Republican or Democratic. There are religiously devout liberals, and there are religiously devout conservatives. They can often be found sitting in the same pews and listening to the same sermon, and many would be livid to hear their spiritual leader deliver an overtly "red" or "blue" message from the pulpit. In a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of respondents said houses of worship should not endorse political candidates.
But while the pros and cons can be debated, federal law long ago settled the question as a matter of law: Nonprofit charities, including religious organizations and houses of worship, are not allowed to endorse politicians or take sides in elections.
According to the IRS, because churches are exempt from paying taxes under the Internal Revenue Code's Section 501(c)(3), they are "absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." A church violating that ban can have its tax-exempt status revoked.
The prohibition has been in the tax code for more than six decades. It was an act of payback engineered in 1954 by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson after a couple of tax-exempt organizations in Texas published and distributed pamphlets opposing his re-election bid and urging support for the Democrat challenging him in that year's primary. Under the Johnson Amendment, tax-exempt charitable organizations would henceforth be barred from endorsing or opposing any candidate. LBJ wasn't targeting houses of worship. But freedom of speech and expression in houses of worship has been inhibited ever since by Johnson's act of retribution.
It's time to fix that.
Legislation was introduced in Congress Wednesday to soften the Johnson Amendment by allowing 501(c)(3) institutions to make overtly political statements as long as it's done "in the ordinary course of the organization's regular and customary activities." Religious and other tax-exempt groups would still be barred from contributing money to campaigns or political parties. But ministers or rabbis or imams who wished to sing the praises of one candidate or speak out bluntly against another would be free to do so without having to fear Washington's wrath.
The bill, dubbed the Free Speech Fairness Act, "would essentially get the IRS out of the speech police business," says Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious-liberty legal defense group. The legislation's purpose isn't to encourage political speech in houses of worship - only to once again make the option clearly legal. It is unconstitutional, Stanley argues, for the IRS to have "the power to monitor, censor, and punish a pastor for something he says from the pulpit."
In truth, examples of overt politicking in churches aren't all that hard to find. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both took their presidential campaigns to Sunday-morning pulpits. Plenty of pastors urged their flocks to vote for - or against - one of the candidates, undeterred by the threat of IRS action.
But so long as the 1954 law remains on the books, the threat of persecution is real. When evangelist Bill Keller raged in 2007 that "if you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan," Americans United, a prominent advocacy group, urged the IRS to investigate his tax status. Similarly, observes legal scholar Keith Blair in the Denver University Law Review, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's incendiary political sermons in support of Barack Obama put his church's tax-exempt privilege in jeopardy.
Presidents of both parties have used the IRS to harass opponents. Even if the Johnson Amendment didn't raise profound free-speech questions, it would still be a constantly ticking threat, ready to be detonated by any White House with a malicious streak.
Charitable groups should again be allowed, as they were allowed until 1954, to decide for themselves what political opinions they wish to express. Do politics belong in church? There will never be a unanimous answer to that question. But on this, perhaps, left and right can agree: The answer shouldn't come from the tax code.
Secret shame of domestic and family violence among LGBTI community
The report below is from Australia but there have been similar reports from the UK and the USA
ONCE Russ Vickery came out as gay at the age of 42, it didn't take long for him to meet an "absolute charmer" and fall into his first same-sex relationship.
Looking back Mr Vickery realises he met his partner at a time when he was not quite on top of this game, coming out of a 17-year marriage and dealing with custody issues.
"Looking back ... it was very typical of a DV type of situation," he told news.com.au. "This knight in shining armour comes in and makes life look fantastic. "None of the real violence started probably until six months in."
Domestic violence within same-sex relationships is not often talked about, among Australians generally or within the gay community.
Like many others in the LGBTI community Vickery had no idea domestic violence happened at the same rate in same-sex relationships as in heterosexual relationships. "It's not something within the community that's actually talked about a lot," he said.
Mr Vickery said his partner took advantage of his newness to the gay scene, telling him "arguments happen" and the behaviour was typical of two blokes living together. "I had nothing to gauge that on," Mr Vickery said, adding deep down he felt something was wrong but wasn't sure.
"I had three kids ... and he would say things like `you're really lucky to have me, if I wasn't around nobody would be interested in you'.
"Looking back at it, you realise how silly you are but because it's your everyday life, you just don't know any different."
He said the first sign of trouble happened the night of his ex-partner's birthday. "He told me that he had never had a birthday cake or any form of celebration so of course I go out, get him a cake, take him to a silver service restaurant for dinner."
Afterwards Mr Vickery said his partner wanted to go and have some drinks with his mates at the local pub but because he had to work the next morning, Mr Vickery decided to go home early.
In the middle of the night Mr Vickery was woken up in a fright after his partner came home drunk and dived on to the bed. "I told him to p*** off because he scared me, but he started ranting and raving," he said.
When Mr Vickery tried to calm him down, his partner lashed out. "He smashed me in the face, he broke my nose," he said.
Amid his shock, he remembers trying not to let his blood drip all over the white carpet while he made his way to the bathroom.
"My nose was across my face ... I didn't have the courage to try and straighten it and he was at the door saying `I'll fix it' and `sorry', that it would never happen again.
"I couldn't go to work, I had two black eyes and a broken nose, that was the beginning of it. There were many others."
Mr Vickery was in the relationship for five years and endured many other violent incidents including the time his drunk partner grabbed a knife and held it at his throat for an hour.
The 58-year-old said he finally decided to leave the abusive relationship after one particularly shocking incident when his partner threw him down the stairs in front of his children.
"I broke bones and was in hospital for two operations and that really was the culmination of the relationship," he said.
Even after it was over, Mr Vickery said he was self-harming and one night he almost committed suicide, sitting down with a bottle of valium and vodka. "You start doing the work for them," he said. "The only thing that stopped me was I looked up and saw a photo of my kids."
Mr Vickery said he didn't want his children find him that way in a couple of days time. "That was the bottom of the barrel but there's only one direction to go from there and that's up."
Mr Vickery managed to deal with his past and has now developed a cabaret show The Other Closet with new partner Matthew Parsons, exploring the issue of domestic violence within gay relationships.
Mr Parsons, who has also experienced domestic violence and is a research officer specialising in LGBTI domestic and family violence at La Trobe University, said studies had shown same-sex couples experienced violence at similar rates to heterosexual couples.
But there are specific myths that get in the way of people recognising abuse within the gay community. "When things do come to light, it turns out (the abuse) was disclosed to multiple doctors, teachers and others," Mr Parsons told news.com.au.
In one case, Mr Parsons said the children had told many people they were being locked in a closet while their mother was being abused, and the woman had also told a number of professionals, but because she was in a lesbian relationship, no action was taken.
"There is this pervasive myth that when it's two women it's not that bad," Mr Parsons said. "When it's between two men, there's this pervasive myth that a real man would stand up for himself, and surely both men would be abusive towards each other.
"When it comes to trans relationships, there's lower expectations about what trans people should expect from life, that if they are in a relationship at all, they should feel lucky because who would love someone like that? There's a lot of disgusting (views)."
There is also a reluctance on the part of LGBTI people to reveal what is happening to them. "There's this idea that we've spent so long as a community getting people to see our relationships as valid and legitimate and that we're not mentally ill people," Mr Parsons said. "To say that our relationships are sometimes toxic, just like yours (is difficult)."
It can also be harder for those in same-sex couples to leave relationships as they may not be able to rely on support from family members who disapprove of their lifestyle.
Many in the community are also reluctant to talk about domestic or family violence while the same-sex marriage debate is in full swing. Mr Parsons had even seen publicity for The Other Closet used on promotional material to support the arguments of those against marriage equality.
"They see it as proof of why we shouldn't be able to get married, but (domestic violence) happens in much greater numbers among the heterosexual community and they're not questioning why they get married," he said.
Mr Parsons said addressing violence was difficult when homophobia seemed to be ingrained in the community and stopped things such as same-sex marriage being accepted.
When it comes to family violence, Mr Parsons said young people's reports of being assaulted by family members were sometimes ignored because it was accepted that parents were entitled to have traditional views.
While it's not yet clear how prevalent this type of family violence is, Dr Philomena Horsley of La Trobe University said LGBTI people could be at greater risk of assault from family members due to entrenched homophobia.
"Anecdotally, many people in the community, of different ages, have reported that coming out to family is a potential trigger for family-related violence," she said.
Victorian research suggests that young LGBTI are more likely to be homeless than other young people. "This finding suggests a greater proportion of young LGBTI people face violence at home and have to leave, or are rejected and need to leave, or are kicked out when they disclose."
Helping LGBTI people to recognise and reject domestic and family violence is one thing Mr Parsons and Mr Vickery hope to encourage through their show The Other Closet. "I'm prepared to expose myself on the stage so that other people can recognise those feelings" Mr Vickery said.
Interestingly, when the show was staged in Sydney, heterosexual women made up half the audience. "After we did the show, we know of six people who left relationships, those are the ones we know about."
Mr Vickery said nowadays people did have more access to services and were more confident about seeking them out, but there still weren't many specific services for LGBTI people.
"It's getting better but needs to get a whole lot better," he said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.