Archive for the ‘Free Speech & Censorship’ Category
This is the kind of stuff I used to read about in biographies of people who survived persecution in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. I can’t believe it’s happening here, and so many Americans are still asleep!
Remember when you lived in that America where you had freedom of expression? Well, it’s easy to imagine that the old America doesn’t exist any more with the story of the Secret Service agents that harassed a Twitter user because he dared criticize President Obama.
Tom Francois is an outspoken critic of President Obama on Twitter and has some 12 thousand followers that watch his every Tweet. (@Tom_Francois) But apparently his fans aren’t the only ones hanging on his every Tweet.
As Tom found out, the Secret Service has blown in a “follow” to Tom’s feed, too. But instead of laughing as Tom makes funny photoshopped, anti-Obama images and reveling in Obama’s many scandals, the Secret Service was watching and making plans to come pounding at his door to harass him for his political opinions.
On April 11, 2013, he heard relentless pounding on his door shouts of “Police!” The officers introduced themselves as members of The Secret Service and asked if they could “take a look around.”
Since Tom had nothing to hide (and he didn’t want any return visits) – he complied fully with their request. He even signed a consent to search his premises AND an “Authorization To Review Medical and Mental Health Records!”
They asked Tom if he ever left his state or traveled to Washington, D.C.
One Agent asked Tom if he has any intentions of “whacking” the President.” To which Tom replied- “Of course not. I wish him no harm. I disagree with his policies and actions and I make no bones about it. It’s my First Amendment Right and I intend to exercise it.”When I spoke to Tom he said, “Yes, I am EXTREMELY critical of Obama in my posts, but I never cross the line and threaten his being. EVER. It’s just the idea of Obama’s Secret Service intruding on my life when they knew I wasn’t really a threat.”
The Secret Service had a thick FBI file- filled with screenshots of hundreds of posts. Said Tom, “I flat out told them ‘I have NEVER threatened Obama’s life! Yes, I despise him as you can plainly see, but I have that right!’ They actually ADMITTED and agreed with me that I hadn’t threatened Obama.”
They had run a background check and discovered that Tom legally owned two guns- and they asked to see them. Tom showed them his firearms. They asked, “Are they loaded?” Tom replied in the affirmative. “What good are guns if they aren’t loaded?”
So why harass Tom? “The Secret Service officers claimed that “they were concerned that since I have a large Twitter following, and the things I said could be acted upon by some nut case out there! What the hell? They turned my life upside down for THAT?”
Tom didn’t refuse the search because they just would have gone and gotten a warrant. “They would have proceeded to tear my house apart. No thanks. I have nothing to hide. They left empty-handed and my house is still intact.”
When they left Tom’s house, one Secret Service Agent ‘advised’- “Keep in mind, if you step over the line, we’ll come back for your guns.”
After the “visit” to Tom, the Secret Service also visited Tom’s 22 year old daughter- terrifying her and making her fear for her father’s safety. She asked them what they were going to do with the information about her Dad. They said they were going to “turn it over to Eric Holder- he has the last word on what to do, if anything.”
Notice that the raid on this innocent American came only four days before the Boston marathon bombing. While Islamic extremists were planning to kill people in Boston, the government was all worried about a Twitter user that made funny photoshopped pictures of Obama.
Is this America any more?
I guarantee there wouldn’t be a problem if they had been referencing Allah and allowing the kids to pray five times a day facing Mecca.
A Louisiana lawman is livid over the federal government’s decision to cut off funds for two programs to help troubled young people, all, he says, because he refused to sign a pledge to bar prayer or any mention of God at their meetings.
Julian Whittington, the sheriff of Bossier Parish, La., told Fox News the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights defunded $30,000 for their Young Marines chapter as well as a youth diversion program. Federal officials objected to a voluntary student-led prayer in the department’s youth diversion program and an oath recited by the Young Marines that mentions God, according to Whittington, who blasted what he considers the government’s “aggression and infringement of our religious freedoms.”
“We were informed that these are unacceptable, inherently religious activities and the Department of Justice would not be able to fund the programs if it continued,” Whittington told Fox News. “They wanted a letter from me stating that I would no longer have voluntary prayer and I would also have to remove ‘God’ from the Young Marine’s oath.”
I must have missed the part of the 1st Amendment that mentions forcing groups to surrender their free speech and religious practices in exchange for federal funds.
“I flat said, ‘It’s not going to happen,’” he told reporters. “Enough is enough. This is the United States of America—and the idea that the mere mention of God or voluntary prayer is prohibited is ridiculous.”
Whittington further emphasized that he’s more concerned about the censorship than he is the lost funds.
“The money is not the issue,” he stated. “It’s the principle of the matter. What is going on here? Who is dictating what can or can’t be said in Bossier Parish?”
Thankfully, they’re not about to cave any time soon:
Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington was greeted with loud applause and shouts of “Amen” when he said he will not remove God from the Young Marines program during its 27th class graduation ceremony today.
The program has lost about $30,000 in federal funding because of a voluntary prayer cadets recite.
“He doesn’t need the politicians,” Lindea McCroix, who’s 9-year-old daughter Savannah Truelove graduated. “God will take him through it.”
The department has never received a complaint about the voluntary prayer, which states “… I will set an example for all other youth to follow and I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon my God, my Country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines…”
The prayer has been a part of the program since its inception 10 years ago. A random audit showing the federal funding sparked the controversy.
“We’ve never had one complaint from anybody for anything,” Whittington said, noting the department tried to compromise with the Department of Justice, which said God must be removed in order for federal funding to continue.
“I said, ‘Keep it. We’re not doing it. Game over.”
This is the kind of crap that the KGB would pull in Soviet countries. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
On Thursday the Examiner provided an exclusive report indicating that the Obama administration had implemented a covert program beginning in 2009 that was intended to spy on conservative, evangelical Christian churches.
That program involved infiltration — sending in government operatives to join churches for the purpose of data collection. The government snoops would keep their eyes and ears open for criticism of the Obama administration, talk of Tea Party participation, conversations about gun ownership, and a number of other issues.
But a special report issued today by Fox News indicates that the program went far beyond infiltration and snooping. The IRS was used to harass Christian churches if they were identified as places where large numbers of anti-Obama citizens congregated for worship.
The Obama administration, according to the report, considered any public criticism of administration policies to be political in nature and should therefore impact whether or not these congregations were allowed to gain or keep their tax exempt status.
Daniel Blomberg and Eric Rassbach explain at Fox News:
What most people don’t realize is that the IRS has been acting as the speech police for decades. Ever since 1954, when then-Senator Lyndon Johnson pushed for a law enabling the IRS to punish non-profits who opposed him politically, the IRS has been in the business of government censor. What’s worse is that one of the biggest targets of this censorship has been religious people and houses of worship. In fact, one of the IRS’s first targets in the 1950s was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was subjected to a searching IRS audit because of his religious advocacy for civil rights for African-Americans.
The IRS of course has the crushing power to deny or revoke the non-profit status of a synagogue, church, or mosque if it says something the IRS decides is too “political.” But it can also put houses of worship and other religious organizations through the wringer of intrusive, costly, and time-consuming audits.
There are two ways the targeting works. One way is for an outside group, often one that is anti-religion, to file a complaint asking the IRS to investigate a church they don’t like. The IRS responds to the complaint by opening an investigation and asking the church often hundreds of questions about its activities, with the threat of revocation of non-profit status. This is what lawyers call “selective enforcement” and it is unconstitutional. No one should be singled out in this way, especially because of collusion between the IRS and outside groups with an ax to grind.
The second way the censorship starts is for IRS officials to take their lead from high government officials, including the President, to decide which groups to target for disfavor. This is apparently what happened to the “tea party” groups, but religious groups have also been targeted in this way.
Don’t believe it? Just ask Billy Graham. Last fall, the famed Christian evangelist publicly advocated on behalf of a ballot measure in his home state of North Carolina, taking a position that the President and other high government officials publicly opposed. The tax man was knocking at the door almost immediately. And while the expensive, time-consuming audit eventually ended without any finding of wrongdoing by Graham, a message was sent to every other religious group that might oppose government policy: the IRS can use its audit powers to harass you or shut you down simply for saying what you believe. That kind of intimidation is wrong–and unconstitutional.
If this bill was being written to protect the religious rights of Muslims, I guarantee he wouldn’t have a problem with it.
Congress is taking action on religious liberty in the military, a story that was originally reported by Breitbart News. New legal language passed a key committee this week and next goes to the full House and then the Senate; it could become federal law later this year.
[...] The first amendment was offered by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). It protects the rights of chaplains to speak and pray in a manner consistent with their faith, such as ending a prayer in Jesus’ name. This amendment passed by voice vote.
A second amendment was offered to create “atheist chaplains,” as Breitbart News reportedearlier this week. This mockery of the chaplaincy was proposed by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), pushed by groups often hostile to Christians and observant members of other faiths. The committee rejected this amendment by a vote of 43-18. The military already provides secular counseling to service members, while chaplains are by definition religious and spiritual counselors.
The third amendment is the most consequential. Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) offered an amendment specifying that the religious speech and actions of all service members is a protected right, and that the Department of Defense will enact regulations to allow and accommodate those beliefs in both word and deed.
The Obama Administration “strongly objects” to a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have protected the religious rights of soldiers – including evangelical Christian service members who are facing growing hostility towards their religion.
The amendment was authored by Rep. John Fleming, R-La. It would have “required the Armed Forces to accommodate ‘actions and speech’ reflecting the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs of the member.”
The Obama Administration said the amendment would have a “significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.”
“With its statement, the White House is now endorsing military reprimands of members who keep a Bible on their desk or express a religious belief,” Fleming told Fox News. “This administration is aggressively hostile towards religious beliefs that it deems to be politically incorrect.”
Now the White House is openly threatening to veto the bill altogether if it includes religious protections:
The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. [...]
The SAP includes a veto threat: “…if the bill is presented to the President for approval in its current form, the President’s senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill.”
In other words, Obama says he will veto any bill that forbids his appointees or officers from telling a soldier that he cannot mention Jesus during prayer or have a Bible on his desk, or that keeps those appointees from telling a chaplain (who is an ordained clergyman) what religious teachings he is allowed to give in worship services, or what spiritual counseling he can give to another soldier.
Ambassador Ken Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, tells Breitbart News:
President Obama is waging a war on religion. He and Chuck Hagel are denying the most basic rights to those who put their lives on the line to protect all of our rights. It is shameful and appalling. I am confident that congressional leadership will show courage to stand up for our troops against this radical assault on religious liberty in the military.
This is the most compelling expression yet of the aggressive approach of the Obama-Hagel Defense Department to soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are observant Christians or devout members of other peaceful faiths, as seen in Breitbart News’ previous reportsregarding the unconstitutional infringements of one of America’s most treasured, fundamental rights.
School Cuts Off Valedictorian’s Mic, Threatens His Naval Academy Appointment For Mentioning God And Constitution In Speech
Valedictorian’s mic cut off as he made impromptu speech about value of the constitution
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What happens when the star student dares to think for himself and speak from the heart instead of from a pre-approved script? The government-run school censorship brigade swings into action.
He was one of the most quiet and softspoken students of the Joshua High School graduating class, and what the valedictorian wasn’t allowed to say at commencement exercises is making national news.
“Most people have never ever heard me speak much less see me smile,” said Remington Reimer, as he addressed the large crowd gathered Thursday at Owl Stadium.
And then, the Burleson resident began what would have appeared to have been a traditional graduation speech – thanking his parents and naming special teachers that have helped him along the way and telling the crowd how proud he was of his class and how close they all were.
He discussed perseverance in life, and told fellow graduates its the finish that matters. He then told a story about a runner who finished a race with a broken leg. He added that, years from now, it wouldn’t matter that he was valedictorian or first in his class but, rather, that he and his classmates finished the race and finished well.
Nice words. Nice kid. Another graduation day in America.
Then Reimer discussed his faith and thanked God for “sending His only son to die for me and the rest of the world.”
Reimer, who has secured an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, talked about free speech and the U.S. Constitution and how that “yesterday, I was threatened with having the mic turned off and…”
And then the mic was turned off.
[...] Another Facebook posting emailed to the Burleson Star clarified what Reimer had said after the microphone was cut off:
“We are all fortunate to live in a country where we can express our beliefs, where our mics won’t be turned off, as I have been threatened to be if I veer away from the school-censored speech I have just finished. Just as Jesus spoke out against the authority of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who tried to silence him, I will not have my freedom of speech taken away from me. And I urge you all to do the same. Do not let anyone take away your religious or Constitutional rights from you.”
The crowd roared with enthusiasm and Reimer sat down.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop with censorship. Afterwards, the principle apparently threatened to put his future in jeopardy by disparaging his character to the Naval Academy, where he had been recently accepted:
A Texas high school principal threatened to sabotage a valedictorian’s appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy after the student delivered a speech that referenced God and the U.S. Constitution, the boy’s attorney alleges.
Hiram Sasser, director of litigation with the Liberty Institute, said Joshua High School principal Mick Cochran threatened to write a letter to the U.S. Naval Academy disparaging the character of Remington Reimer.
“It was intimidating having my high school principal threaten my future because I wanted to stand up for the Constitution and acknowledge my faith and not simply read a government approved speech,” the teenager said.
Sasser is now representing the teenager and is calling for the Joshua Independent School District to issue a public statement exonerating him of any wrongdoing.
He said the speech was edited and reviewed by four different school officials – including an officer in the JROTC. Sasser said the censorship violated federal and state laws.
[...] The following day the principal met with Reimer’s father and informed him “that he intended to punish Remington for his perceived misdeed.”
“Specifically, he threatened to send a letter to the United States Naval Academy advising them that Remington has poor character or words to that effect,” Sasser told Fox News.
After consulting with a school attorney, the principal temporarily retracted the threat, Sasser said.
“The principal said he wanted to try to ruin him for what he did – for talking about the Constitution and his faith,” Sasser said. “I don’t know if he’s going to be able to continue to be the principal of that school.”
Soldier Punished For Beliefs? In Hot Water For Reading Books By Conservatives
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I bet if he had been reading the Koran nobody would dare tell him to stop.
Four days ago, Todd Starnes reported:
A veteran member of the U.S. Army Band said he is facing retribution and punishment from the military for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his car, reading books written by conservative authors like Mark Levin and David Limbaugh, and serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party.
Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a 25-year Army veteran and conservative Christian based at Fort Myer in Washington, believes his outspoken opposition to gay marriage prompted higher-ups to take a closer look at his beliefs. The recipient of an Army Commendation Medal and a soloist at the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford, Sommers said his core beliefs are enough to mark a soldier for persecution in today’s military.
[...] Sommers’ troubles began last April when he was told to remove pro-Republican, anti-Obama bumper stickers that were on his privately owned car.
The stickers read: “Political Dissent is NOT Racism,” “NOBAMA,” NOPE2012” and “The Road to Bankruptcy is Paved with Ass-Fault.” That sticker included the image of a donkey.
His superior officer told the solider that the bumper stickers were creating “unnecessary workplace tension.”
“The types of stickers on your car were creating an atmosphere detrimental to morale and were creating unnecessary workplace tension,” the officer wrote in an Army document obtained by Fox News. “A Soldier must balance their personal feelings with the mission of the U.S. Army. Even the slightest inference of disrespect towards superiors can have a demoralizing effect on the unit.”
Attorney Wells said once he got involved, the military backed off of filing a formal reprimand.
“He’s allowed to have those bumper stickers on his car,” he said. “The DoD regulation allows it. There was nothing obscene about it.”
During the summer months, Sommers came under fire for reading the works of Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and David Limbaugh.
Sommers was reading Limbaugh’s “The Great Destroyer” backstage at a U.S. Army Band concert at the U.S. Capitol. A superior officer told him that he was causing “unit disruption” and was offending other soldiers.
“I wasn’t reading aloud,” he said. “I was just reading privately to myself. I was told they were frowning on that and they warned me that I should not be reading literature like that backstage because it was offensive.”
In another episode, he had been caught backstage reading a copy of Levin’s “Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America.”
Sommers said he was told to refrain from reading the book “while in uniform or within sight of anyone from the band.”
“This is the first time since (my superior officer) indicated I had offended others with my choice of reading material, that I was officially counseled about it,” he said. “The statement took my breath away. I was speechless.”
In spite of those incidents, the Army promoted the soldier in September to the rank of master sergeant. But the promotion would also mark the launch of an effort by the military to punish the soldier.
His promotion coincided with a controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A. The company’s president told a reporter that he was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting traditional marriage. Gay rights activists pounced- calling for a boycott of the Christian-owned company. And some Democratic officials vowed to block Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants in their cities.
In response to that, Fox News Channel host Mike Huckabee launched a national Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to rally support for the restaurant chain.
“I was inspired by Gov. Huckabee’s appreciation day,” Sommers told Fox News. “And since I wasn’t able to participate in the event, I decided to serve Chick-fil-A at my promotion party.”
It’s a long-standing tradition within the U.S. Army Band for promoted soldiers to host a party for their fellow troops. So the soldier decided to have Chick-fil-A cater the meal.
“My family likes Chick-fil-A and we like what they stand for,” he said. “I can make a statement and at least express a religious point of view at my promotion party – theoretically without any fear of reprisal.”
The soldier also tweeted about the party: “In honor of DADT repeal, and Obama/Holder’s refusal to enforce DOMA act, I’m serving Chick-fil-A at my MSG promo reception for Army today.”
He also tweeted to radio host Mark Levin: “@Marklevinshow ‘luv ya, Mark! Fellow Virginian & MSG, Army. Being promoted today, serving Chick-fil-A @ reception in honor of DADT repeal.”
Both tweets were cited in an official military document.
“As a Soldier you must be cognizant of the fact that your statements can be perceived by the general public and other service members to be of a nature bordering on disrespect to the President of the United States,” the document stated.
Sommers said he paid for the party with personal money, not government funds.
“I had no idea a Chick-fil-A sandwich would get me in trouble,” he said.
He was later summoned by a superior officer, who the soldier said is openly gay, and was told that unidentified individuals were offended by the tweets and some considered them to be racist.
Sommers was reprimanded, threatened with judicial action and given a bad efficiency report. An investigation was also launched.
“It’s an obvious attempt to set him up and force him out of the military,” Wells said. “They recently did an NCO evaluation that effectively torpedoed his chance at promotion and he could be forced out of the Army.”
As a show of support, Sarah Palin encouraged troops to post pictures of themselves with books by conservative authors:
On Saturday, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin urged soldiers to post pictures of themselves reading books written by conservatives like Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and David Limbaugh. Palin did so after an “outrageous” report surfaced that revealed the U.S. Army was punishing a soldier for reading books written by conservative authors.
“Whether you agree or disagree with this soldier’s opinions, I think we can all agree that the apparent retribution he faced for proudly reading certain authors is outrageous,” Palin wrote.
Sommers’ Army superiors were not amused. He has now been brought up on trumped-up charges in retaliation:
A member of the U.S. Army Band who said he was reprimanded for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party and reading books written by conservative authors like Sean Hannity is now facing Article 15 charges – which cropped up shortly after he went public with his complaints.
Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a decorated soloist with the Army Band, is being charged under a federal law that permits commanding officers to conduct non-judicial proceedings for minor offenses.
Sommers is accused of giving a superior officer the wrong date for a doctor’s appointment. He’s also accused of failing to carry out an order. In order to comply with that order, Sommers would have had to disclose private information about his autistic son’s medical records.
The charges were handed down one day after Sommers told Fox News that he was facing discrimination and persecution because of his conservative political and religious beliefs.
“The timing does seem strange,” retired Navy Commander John Bennett Wells told Fox News. “It’s suspicious. No matter what’s happening it looks like a graduated attempt to build a case against him on some really ridiculous charges.
Wells is representing the 25-year veteran who, until last summer, had a spotless record.
“Common Core” will force schools to teach kids only what they need to know to pass standardized tests. Much of the content is worthless at best and at worst, highly inappropriate for kids.
Robby Soave gives us an overview at The Daily Caller:
Common Core’s English standards stress nonfiction over literature. By grade 12, 70 percent of what students read should be informational rather than literary. Supporters of the guidelines say an increased focus on informational texts will better prepare kids for post-college employment.
Many of these nonfiction texts come from government websites and promote the findings of various government agencies.
Some might find the texts a bit dry. (And that’s without including “Kenya’s Long Dry Season.”)
Here are a few recommended informational texts.
- “Invasive Plant Inventory,” by the California Invasive Plant Council. This is just a list of invasive plant species in California.
- “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” by the U.S. General Services Administration. The executive order was made under President Bush’s administration, and calls for efficiency and sustainability to be driving motivations in resource management.
- “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While assuredly a fascinating read, The DC News Foundation was unable to review “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” because the website was hacked.
- “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. This report from 2009 explains that the federal stimulus helped to stabilize the economy and asserts that there is no link between deficit spending and inflation.
Good-bye, Tom Sawyer! Hello, “Recommended Levels of Insulation.” Or, if you prefer, Marxism mixed with soft porn:
I must admit that I would have been too embarrassed to teach Julia Alvarez’s sexually explicit novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, to the college students I have taught for over twenty years, much less to ninth- and tenth-graders, as many Georgia high school teachers have been instructed to do.
Some high school teachers also have a problem with its overtly feminist and leftist-leaning ideology. The men are portrayed as weak drunkards, continually cheating on their wives.
For example, there is a drunken New Year’s celebration of “the triumphant announcement. Batista had fled! Fidel, his brother Raul, and Ernesto they call Che had entered Havana and liberated the country.” No indication in the novel that Fidel and Raul turned out to be tyrants, or Che a mass murderer.
The novel has explicit descriptions of masturbation and intercourse, but I’m too embarrassed to quote those.
The novel is taken straight from Common Core’s “Text Exemplars” for ninth and tenth grades. Although the “exemplars” are officially intended to be suggested readings, educrats take the suggestions literally. They know that they have to prepare students for the national tests being rolled out in 2014/2015.
[...] Even my question in private to the school board member (who claimed to love “literature”) about the fact that informational texts like EPA directives will be replacing a large percentage of literary works was met with the retort, “So how many times do you use Beowulf? Graduates need to learn how to read informational texts in order to be able to read instructions at work.”
No doubt, high school students sharing his opinion would rather read Alvarez’s unchallenging polemical and titillating prose than Beowulf or Paradise Lost. No doubt, her novel will bring them up to speed on politically correct figures and sex tips. The accompanying EPA directives will teach them how to scan boring texts for required instructions at their “21st century” jobs where they will do tasks that require little concentration or independent thought.
Last month, it came out that the IRS had demanded that an Iowa pro-life group seeking tax exempt status provide details about “the content of the members of your organization’s prayers,” and warned them not to protest Planned Parenthood if they wanted their non-profit status approved.
Now, an audio recording reveals that an IRS agent in Texas actually warned a pro-life group not to share their faith with their clients:
The IRS scandal is deepening as a new tape has been released today showing a disturbing phone call the Internal Revenue Service placed to a non-profit organization.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a pro-life legal group, made the audio available today of IRS officials telling a group that provides support to women in abusive pregnancy situations to keep its faith to itself. In the recorded phone conversation, an IRS agent lectures the president of the organization about forcing its religion and beliefs on others and inaccurately explains that the group must remain neutral on issues such as abortion.
ADF is providing legal representation for the group — which did not receive its tax-exempt status until last week after waiting nearly two and a half years after applying for it.
“The IRS is a tax collector; it shouldn’t be allowed to be the speech and belief police,” said Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “The current scandal isn’t new but has merely exposed the abuse of power that characterizes this agency and threatens our fundamental freedoms.”
Holy cow! They illegally got phone records from CONGRESS??
HH: The idea that this might be a Geithner-Axelrod plan, and by that, the sort of intimation, Henry II style, will no one rid me of this turbulent priest, will no one rid me of these turbulent Tea Parties, that might have just been a hint, a shift of an eyebrow, a change in the tone of voice. That’s going to take a long time to get to. I don’t trust the Department of Justice on this. Do you, Congressman Nunes?
DN: No, I absolutely do not, especially after this wiretapping incident, essentially, of the House of Representative. I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room.
HH: Wait a minute, this is news to me.
DN: The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives.
HH: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
DN: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know…
DN: …members of Congress talk to the press all the time.
HH: I did not know that, and that is a stunner.
DN: Now that is a separation of powers issue here, Hugh.
DN: And it’s a freedom of press issue. And now you’ve got the IRS going after people. So these things are starting to cascade one upon the other, and you have the White House pretending like they’re in the clouds like it’s not their issue somehow.
Nune backtracked the term “tapped” later, confirming that although phone records had been obtained, none of the lines were actually tapped:
The DOJ admitted to obtaining call records from a phone used by the AP in the House press gallery, which is … different from tapping a room used by congressmen to talk shop. How Nunes confused the two, I have no idea. [...]
So he was sloppy in confusing obtaining phone records for wiretapping, and what he meant by the cloakroom is that, I guess, if a congressman in the room called up to an AP reporter in the press gallery, the DOJ would know about it from the gallery phone’s records.
The Washington Post confirmed that “The subpoenaed phones records included personal and office lines for several national security reporters and editors as well as “the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.”
Either way, this is still a monumental abuse of power which serves to chill freedom of the press and intimidate potential sources and whistleblowers who might now think twice about speaking to the press.
Somebody better be going to jail over this.
Gay activists have been putting pressure on the Boy Scouts for years, but they finally started to get results when they targeted BSA’s large corporate donors and infiltrated the National Executive Committee with members willing to undermine the BSA from within. Fearing losing their funding, the Boy Scouts have now partially caved to allow gay scouts, but not Troop Leaders. It’s obvious that won’t be far behind. The wall has been officially breached, and the bullies of the gay lobby won’t be satisfied until they’ve been brought down completely.
If ever there was a week to quietly announce a major organizational change, this is it.
A spokesman with the Boy Scouts of America on Friday announced that the 103-year-old organization is set to lift its long-standing ban on openly gay youth members but will continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.
However, as Reuters notes, the group’s board “still has to vote in May on whether to ratify the resolution.”
If the vote goes through, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” Deron Smith, the organization’s spokesman, told Reuters.
Former Eagle Scout John Stemberger writes at the Washington Times:
Virtually every news story on this topic erroneously frames this issue as the Boy Scouts “bans gays” or “discriminates against gays.” This is simply not true. Contrary to what the media might report, the Boy Scouts do not discriminate against homosexuals. The BSA membership application does not even ask about sexual orientation.
[...] The fact is that veterans of Scouting will tell you there are currently Scouts and adult leaders in uniform who have same-sex attractions and who are in good standing with the program. They are discreet, though; they are private, they are discerning, and most of all, they conduct themselves appropriately in front of other young boys. Further, there has never been a witch hunt in the BSA to find or remove its members with a same-sex attraction.
So if homosexuals are already allowed in Scouting, then what is the national controversy about?
The real issue is this: Homosexual-rights activists are not satisfied with membership in good standing and being allowed to fully participate like everyone else. They want to be able to openly promote homosexuality. They want to promote a gay-rights political agenda. They want to act out publicly and be “loud and proud.” They want to inappropriately inject sex and politics into the BSA program, where children as young as six years old are involved. Not on this dad’s watch. This behavior and open homosexual conduct is exactly what the current BSA policy prohibits, a prohibition that we as parents demand that the program reaffirm if it wants our continued support.
[...] Former U.S. Rep. Richard T. Schulze, Pennsylvania Republican, a recipient of the rare Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, recently commented, “What kind of a message are we sending to our young people if the very leaders who are teaching Boy Scouts to be brave cannot even find the courage to stand firm and avoid caving in to peer pressure from Hollywood and political activists?”
I could not agree more.
It’s sad that an institution which has taught boys to stand up for moral principles and against the tide of moral relativism has allowed themselves to be compromised for the sake of money. That’s exactly what this boils down to – and it will destroy them. They may keep their big donors, but thousands of churches and other charter organizations will simply dissolve their charters rather than risk the wrath of gay bullies and potential lawsuits.
Krauthammer Warns: Gay Marriage Case Could Lead to All-Out ‘Assault on Religion’
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Last summer, lesbian journalist and activist Masha Gessen admitted in a radio interview that the purpose of pursuing gay marriage is to destroy the institution of marriage entirely:
“It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago.
I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally… I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three… And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.”
The end point of liberalism is a coercive secular state in which the religious have no meaningful rights. American church leaders are kidding themselves if they think the gay-marriage juggernaut is going to stop at civil marriage. It won’t. It will quickly travel past court houses to churches, demanding that all religions bless gay marriages.
Denmark casts a shadow of this future, where the gay-marriage juggernaut has smashed through church doors. Last year the country’s parliament passed a law requiring all Lutheran churches to conduct gay marriage ceremonies. “I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married,” said Manu Sareen, Denmark’s minister for gender equality. Reluctant bishops have to supply ministers to satisfy the right whether they like it or not.
Iceland and Sweden have similar arrangements. Since many of the bishops are in the tank for gay marriage anyways and since these churches are “state” churches, this pressure generates little news. But it is instructive nonetheless. Where gay marriage exists, religious freedom gradually disappears, to the point where ministers have to choose between serving as secularism’s stooges or facing societal oblivion.
In America, this pressure will take the form of “discriminatory” churches losing government grants, permits, and participation in programs. It will be the death of religious freedom by a thousand little cuts here and there: canceled speeches of religious figures at state universities, lost HHS grants, the refusal of city governments to recognize churches that don’t permit gay marriages, “hate crime” legislation that extends to opposition to gay marriage, and so on. All of this will have the effect of pressuring churches into blessing gay marriages. A law forcing priests and ministers to preside at gay marriages won’t need to be passed; the invisible law of indirect governmental pressure will do the trick.
[...] The goal of the gay-marriage juggernaut is to make Christians pariahs, as irrelevant to public life as racists. It doesn’t have to pass a Denmark-style law to force churches to conduct gay marriages; it can achieve the same end through punitive political correctness.
And so it begins….a local station just aired an entire report making excuses for the bomber because he’s “young” and “misguided.” Claimed that it’s his age that’s the problem. Claimed that his motive is “unknown.” Totally ignored the fact that the pedophile butcher that he worships as a prophet encouraged his followers to follow his violent example. I’m SO sick of the media in this country bending over backwards to give violent radical Islamists a pass!
On Rush Limbaugh’s Friday program, fill-in host Mark Steyn reminded listeners of Limbaugh’s Tuesday comments predicting the media would “circle the wagons” for Islam if it turned out that the suspects in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing Muslims, saying that the prediction will come true.
As it turned out, the suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were indeed Muslims, and Steyn, author of “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon,” said the media wagon-circling would begin “any moment now.”
“As we now know, these guys are Muslim,” Steyn said. “One of them was Muslim. He’s dead — he died in the early hours this morning. The other guy, still on the lam, is Muslim — Muslims from Chechnya. And so, as usual, any moment now we’ll start to hear, ‘Oh well, these are just lone wolves,’ as Rush said. ‘They’re not typical of anything.’ None of these guys are ever typical of anything.”
“Why would Chechen refugees, who’ve been locked for nearly two decades in a bitter, violent conflict against the Russian government, harbor such anger against the United States that they’d want to carry out a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon?” Politico asks.
“The answer is far from obvious,” it concludes.
Those few lines sum up the whole problem with our war on terror. A Muslim terrorist attack by Muslim terrorists? Why? The political establishment has spent decades choosing to ignore the basic facts. Then each time it’s baffled when the obvious happens.
The motives are obvious enough.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s YouTube channel had a playlist titled “Islam” and another playlist titled “Terrorists”. That should be obvious enough even for Politico.
This disconnect between our alleged bad behavior and the motives of the jihadists is starkly obvious in the case of the Boston terrorists. If Chechen Muslims have a beef with anyone, it’s the Russians. When jihadist terrorism became a problem in Chechnya, there were no “hearts and minds” campaigns, no solicitous outreach, no infusions of foreign aid, no apologies for past sins, no careful adherence to the laws of war, the Geneva conventions, or human rights, no courting of imams to provide insights into the wonderfulness of Islam. The Russians employed torture, assassination, group reprisals, and in the end ringed Grozny with artillery and left it in ruins. In the two Chechen wars the Russians killed around 150,000 people. In fact, Russia has been killing Muslims since the 18th century, and occupied Muslims lands in Central Asia for 80 years under the Soviet Union. So tell me, Senator Rand Paul or Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, if our foreign policy misbehavior explains jihadist hatred, how is that two centuries of Russian violence against Muslims is ignored, and all our blood and treasure spent to liberate and help Muslims count for nothing?
No more convincing are the other rationalizations for Muslim violence. Lack of education and economic opportunity exist all over the world, but African Christians and animists, or Indian Hindus and Buddhists don’t commit acts of terrorism with anywhere near the same frequency as Muslims. Plenty of people across the globe live under oppressive dictators who routinely violate human rights, and they don’t turn to terrorism against distant strangers in response. Tibetans aren’t donning suicide vests or bombing marathons. Millions and millions of impoverished everywhere don’t kill innocent people in random attacks in countries far from their homes. Every excuse for Muslim violence collapses beneath the weight of such facts. Meanwhile, the one factor all these killers––rich or poor, educated or not, politically oppressed or otherwise––have in common, Islam, is preemptively rejected as the explanation for the violence.
This “willful blindness,” as Andy McCarthy calls, has become dangerous. It reflects the arrogance of secular materialism, which has discounted religion as a mere life-style choice, usually benign––unless you’re talking about gun-toting, racist, misogynist, homophobic evangelical Christians, or racist, land-grabbing Zionist Jews. No, it’s about psychological trauma caused by globalization, or Islamophobia, or insensitive insults to Mohammed, or Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, or anything and everything other than the numerous passages in the Koran, hadiths, and 14 centuries of Islamic jurisprudence and theology, which clearly and consistently set out the doctrine of violent jihad against infidels.
So expect in the coming weeks the same old commentary about foreign-policy blowback, or two-bit psychological analyses of personal trauma, or Israel’s sins and Bush’s wars, or American intolerance and xenophobia, or our need to “reach out” and “engage” and “respect” and “understand” the fanatics who don’t want our outreach, tolerance, or respect, but our deaths. In short, expect more public reasons for the jihadists to believe we are weak and corrupt and thus deserving to die.
Three years after declaring that the war on terror is over, Obama is discovering that the terrorists apparently never got his memo.
The day after the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon, investigators discovered that the bombs were made from pressure cookers:
Pressure cookers – possibly activated remotely by a cellphone – are believed to have been used to make the crude bombs that sent deadly shrapnel hurling into a crowd of onlookers and competitors at Monday’s Boston Marathon, experts told Fox News.
Doctors treating some of the 176 injured victims believe the explosives were packed with deadly shrapnel, including pellets, nails and sharp metallic objects – with some patients having “40 or more” such fragments embedded in their bodies.
Pressure cookers, it turns out, are a favorite IED component used by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East, and Al Qaeda provided the instructions for making a pressure cooker bomb in their latest magazine. CNN claimed that it’s a “right wing signature,” but the facts show otherwise.
The deadly bomb attack on the Boston Marathon highlights what may be a growing threat to American cities — the use of IEDs to target large gatherings, inflicting mass damage with a device that is difficult to detect.
Security experts say the use of IEDs is becoming a preferred tool of terror in both domestic and global attacks — or attempted attacks — against the United States.
“The reason to use an IED or multiple IEDs is that you’re trying to create an oversized impact, and as much panic and disruption as possible,” Bill Braniff, the executive director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, told FoxNews.com Tuesday.
Despite these threats, Andrew McCarthy observes that our anti-terror efforts in the US are being hampered by political correctness:
The prosecutor who put the terrorists in the 1993 World Trade Center attack behind bars says the kind of counter-terrorism needed to stop horrors like the Boston bombings is now “a dirty word’’ because of fears of profiling and racism.
“We have made the study of the ideology of our enemies basically verboten,’’ Andrew McCarthy told Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.’’
“If you don’t understand what motivates the enemy there’s no way that you can anticipate what the enemy is likely to do next and protect yourself from it.
“Islamist organizations in the U.S. have made it much more difficult to do the kind of counter-terrorism that we’ve done since 9/11 that is based on intelligence.’’
Meanwhile, Democrats are busy blaming the Boston attack on….the sequester. No joke. See Rep. Hoyer and Rep. Becerra. Barney Frank is using it to argue for Big Government spending. They’re so classy, these people…exploiting a tragedy for political gain.
The trial of the century is underway, but the media seating looks like this:
Why? Because the man on trial is an abortionist.
Kermit Gosnell is a monster.
He drugged patients that came to him for late term abortions and would leave them for hours, waiting for their babies to be born so he could kill them by snipping their spinal cords with a pair of scissors.
He killed at least one woman, but did absolutely nothing to try to save her and abandoned her after the paramedics picked her up.
A former worker at the clinic testified that Gosnell’s gruesome practice of snipping babies’ necks “gave me the creeps.” She knew the babies were still alive because she witnessed one baby “jump” when he was stabbed in the neck, and other who’s chest was still moving even after his spine had been severed.
Gosnell told one teenage assistant, “That’s what you call a chicken with its head cut off.”
Another former employee recalled a baby who screamed after surviving an abortion, only to be killed later.
Gosnell kept the remains of at least 47 babies in cat food containers and other receptacles around his office. He kept their severed feet in jars. Some of the babies were disposed of down the toilets, which would frequently back up from body parts.
The Pennsylvania Health Department deliberately ignored complaints and refused to investigate them for years.
His clinic went 17 years without a health inspection, until an FBI raid in 2010 revealed a gruesome sight:
They found moaning women covered in blood-stained blankets and jars with severed fetus feet, according to the 281-page grand jury report.
The grand jury report that lays out allegations against Gosnell has an entire section called “How did this go on so long?” The simple answer is politics.
Pennsylvania’s health department stopped routine inspections of abortion facilities in the state after Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, became governor in 1995.
Health department lawyers “changed their legal opinions and advice to suit the policy preferences of different governors,” health department official Janet Staloski said in grand jury testimony. In this case, she said the state didn’t want to be “putting a barrier up to women” who wanted abortions.
The reason they avoided inspecting abortion clinics is the same reason the media avoids reporting on their atrocities: they want to protect abortion-on-demand, no matter how many people get hurt or killed.
Because Gosnell was an abortionist whose victims were premature babies, the media covers up his atrocities as if they never happened. His crimes don’t serve their political agenda. His tortured victims are brushed under the rug.
Even Connor Friedersdorf from The Atlantic argues that this story should be front-page news:
The grand jury report in the case of Kermit Gosnell, 72, is among the most horrifying I’ve read. “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors,” it states. “The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.”
Charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, Gosnell is now standing trial in a Philadelphia courtroom. An NBC affiliate’s coverage includes testimony as grisly as you’d expect. “An unlicensed medical school graduate delivered graphic testimony about the chaos at a Philadelphia clinic where he helped perform late-term abortions,” the channel reports. “Stephen Massof described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, ‘literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.’ He testified that at times, when women were given medicine to speed up their deliveries, ‘it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.’”
[...] One woman “was left lying in place for hours after Gosnell tore her cervix and colon while trying, unsuccessfully, to extract the fetus,” the report states. Another patient, 19, “was held for several hours after Gosnell punctured her uterus. As a result of the delay, she fell into shock from blood loss, and had to undergo a hysterectomy.” A third patient “went into convulsions during an abortion, fell off the procedure table, and hit her head on the floor. Gosnell wouldn’t call an ambulance, and wouldn’t let the woman’s companion leave the building so that he could call an ambulance.”
[...] Inducing live births and subsequently severing the heads of the babies is indeed a horrific story that merits significant attention. Strange as it seems to say it, however, that understates the case.
For this isn’t solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers. Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn’t make national headlines?
But it isn’t even solely a story of a rogue clinic that’s awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions! If I were a city editor for any Philadelphia newspaper the grand jury report would suggest a dozen major investigative projects I could undertake if I had the staff to support them. And I probably wouldn’t have the staff. But there is so much fodder for additional reporting.
One pro-abortion blogger was unusually candid about why she and her fellow leftists wouldn’t cover the story:
[T]hose of us who are pro-choice must worry that this will restrict access to abortion: that a crackdown on abortion clinics will follow, with onerous white-glove inspections; that a revolted public will demand more restrictions on late-term abortions; or that women will be too afraid of Gosnell-style crimes to seek a medically necessary abortion.
What if Dr. Kermit Gosnell had snipped the spinal cords of puppies whose owners and brought them to him to be put down? What if he had murdered teenage girls whose parents didn’t want them anymore, and stored their severed feet as trophies in jars? What if he had used a gun as a murder weapon? Would the media have ignored him then?
Consider how the media praised Dr. Tiller, a late-term abortionist who was murdered. The only difference between Dr. Tiller and Dr. Gosnell was the location of the baby and the method of execution. Dr. Tiller made sure the babies’ head stayed inside the birth canal as he punctured their skulls and vacuumed out their brain matter. Dr. Gosnell delivered them live, and then severed their spinal cords with a pair of scissors. What difference does it make? Both inflicted excruciating pain and death on innocent, helpless infants.
Planned Parenthood, which pretends to condemn Gosnells’ actions, has already admitted that they support killing infants who survive abortion. President Obama voted multiple times as a senator to deny medical care to babies who were born alive after a botched abortion attempt.
All of them deny a baby’s humanity and unalienable right to life. The only difference is that Dr. Gosnell found an especially gruesome way to speed up the process.
The Left and the media (but I repeat myself) support infanticide both inside and outside the womb, at any and every stage of pregnancy and immediately after birth. That is why they are trying to ignore the Gosnell story. They secretly support him. They consider him a warrior for the sacred cause of a “woman’s choice” to kill her own child.
They’ll throw him under the bus when it becomes politically necessary to do so, but make no mistake: they honestly see nothing wrong with what he’s done. Their view of human life is no different than his…and that’s a very scary thought.
The Moral Relativist Left in Canada isn’t outraged by the practices of murdering women and sexually mutilating children. But they are outraged if someone dares to call these abuses “barbaric”:
Cultural relativism has reached a new point of absurdity in Canada when the “barbarity” of female genital mutilation and honor killings is questioned and becomes a controversy.
A recently introduced manual by the Government of Canada intended to teach newcomers about Canadian values and Canadian society has been met with ongoing hostility from left-wing Canadians and politicians over the choice of words in describing female genital mutilation and honor killings. Jinny Sims, the immigration critic of the opposition New Democratic Party of Canada, suggested the word “barbaric” might “stigmatize some cultures.”
[...] Taking up the relativist banner was also none other than Justin Trudeau, front-runner for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, and son of the infamous Canadian Prime Minister who brought multiculturalist policy to Canada. He attacked the Conservatives for using the term “barbaric,” and suggested that the term was a “pejorative” and that “there needs to be a little bit of an attempt at responsible neutrality.”
“Neutrality” on murder and sexual mutilation? Are you kidding me???
Recently, I penned an article about an Amnesty International initiative: an art project for which the organization had commissioned artists and designers to address the devastating problem of female genital mutilation, or FGM – using 8,000 paper rose petals. The petals had been gathered as part of a petition action to bring attention to – and to end – the practice of FGM, and were each signed by a member of the public who participated in the petition. It was a laudable project, and I said so.
Amnesty responded with great appreciation for my story – but took exception to one detail. I had called FGM “barbaric,” and, said an Amnesty official, “we try not to use this word.” In an e-mail, she explained, “The use of the word ‘barbaric’ suggests that the people who do this are less than human, which isn’t so because they are being led by social pressure which is what needs to be fought. So we avoid using this word to not judge the people.”
Overlooking the fact that “barbaric,” which means simply “uncultured,” “uncivilized,” or “uneducated,” does not quite suggest “less than human,” I could not help but wonder about the “not to judge them” part. After all, if you set out to change a thing – a behavior, a place, a custom (and especially if you set out to end it) – haven’t you already implicitly expressed a judgment? And how is calling a custom, a practice, “barbaric,” conferring a judgment on the people who perform it?
[...] If, say, a Park Avenue Protestant family carried out FGM on their daughter, that, too, after all, would be barbaric. And anyone would be right to say so. But barring the use of that word, should we use another one, like “different?” But wait – isn’t “different” somewhat alienating, as well? Does it not imply a judgment?
And so on. At this rate, the only workably acceptable term would seem to be “normal” or “okay.”
And it is not.
These are the times I worry that we stand upon a precipice, and fear for the ideas and the ideals that form the fundament of civilization and democracy. We censor words and language, as Howard says, bending our knee to the tyranny of political correctness, concerning ourselves more with the sensitivities of the perpetrators than the lives and safety of the victims.
Some things are just EVIL, and SHOULD be called “barbaric!” There’s no other way to describe them! But according to the Left, the only thing that’s “barbaric” is criticizing the EVIL practices of an EVIL “religion” that glorifies misogyny and child abuse!