Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pope Benedict, condoms and misquoting by the media.

"The Pope endorses condoms for male prostitutes to stop HIV." That's the gist of media reports over comments the Pope allegedly made about condoms and HIV prevention. I was surprised and to a degreee skeptical. Was it more nuanced that? But as more media reported it I wondered what was going on. Turns out it wasn't a nuanced endorsement of condoms but a blatant distortion of what he had actually said and a bad translation to top it off.

The moral of the story? Maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when the mainstream media deals with controversial social issues. They often don't report and/or misrepresent significant parts of the story.

Here's a good explanation of what actually happened and what was said.

This past weekend, in a particularly embarrassing journalistic feeding frenzy, the mainstream media fell all over itself to see who could most egregiously misquote Pope Benedict XVI.

For those who are unaware of the “controversy”: On Saturday the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an excerpt from an upcoming book, Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times. The book, which is slated to be released in English by Ignatius Press tomorrow, is essentially a long interview with Pope Benedict by journalist Peter Seewald. In it, Seewald engages Benedict in a discussion of the Church's take on condom use, particularly in Africa.

Violation of journalistic ethics.
The editors at the usually reliable L'Osservatore Romano made two critical errors. First, they decided that they would be the only major news source in the world to violate the book's strict press embargo, releasing Italian-language excerpts from the book before the official launch date.

Secondly, they inexplicably decided that they would only publish a tiny segment of Benedict's statements on condom usage, without any context whatsoever.

What Pope Benedict actually said.

Here is the quote that has drawn so much attention:

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

This paragraph doesn't strike me as at all ambiguous. Benedict is merely pointing out that when people like prostitutes use a condom, it can be seen as a faint glimmer of responsibility, a tiny baby step on the road to moral recovery. And he goes on to explicitly rule out condoms as a solution to HIV/AIDS, pointing out that the epidemic will only end when human sexuality is understood in its proper context of faithful and responsible human love.

Of course, for those who delight in mischaracterizing the Church's position, this was all the opening they needed. The internet was instantly ablaze with headlines like “Popesays condoms acceptable 'in certain cases',” and “Pope Endorses Condoms for Male Prostitutes For AIDS Prevention”. Our personal favorite is this story from Britain's The Telegraph, which claims, impossibly, that “after decades of fierce opposition to the use of all contraception, the pontiff will end the Catholic Church's absolute ban on the use of condoms.” What?

Fortunately, The Catholic World Report released its own excerpt of Benedict's remarks with the surrounding context (and a proper translation), which makes the Pope's original meaning abundantly clear:

People can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man's being.

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

There is little mistaking the Pope's meaning in this quote (be sure to read the entire excerpt). He points out that condoms can't possibly be halting the spread of HIV, since the disease is rampant where condoms are widely available. He notes that even secular sources agree that a condom-only solution is no solution at all, and points to the “banalization of sexuality” as the primary culprit for the spread of AIDS.

But what is truly unacceptable here is the fact that L'Osservatore Romano omitted the clarifying follow-up question, where Benedict assures Seewald that condoms are not “a real or moral solution,” and reiterates that their usage is often just a “first step” toward a truer morality. If that quote had been released along with the more ambiguous preceding one, this entire firestorm might have been avoided.

At any rate, this entire controversy appears to be yet another media frenzy about … nothing. Once again, the Pope made some highly intelligent, nuanced remarks about a controversial subject, remarks that ham-fisted reporters across the globe proved completely incapable of processing.

But don't expect any retractions from the media anytime soon. It labors under the delusion that the Church stands in the way if a modern, evidence-based solution to the AIDS epidemic. The reality is that it is the international AIDS Establishment, with its billions of dollars of funding and its rigid sex-at-all-costs ideology, that has not only failed to stop the epidemic, but has actually encouraged its spread.

The Pope and his Church view Man as a creature, only a little lower than the angels, who is capable of sacrificial love and sexual self-control. The AIDS Establishment (along with the population controllers and the pro-abortion groups) view Man as nothing more than an intelligent ape, subject to the same selfish behavior and uncontrollable ruts as his lower brethren.

The media, unfortunately, is firmly on the side of the apes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The truly big crisis facing America...and it's not the state of the economy.

Time magazine and the Pew Research Center commissioned a survey of American attitudes and behaviors as they relate to marriage. The article is entitled, "Who Needs Marriage: How an American Institution is Changing." The article starts with juxtaposing the marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles which ended in disaster and the engagement of her eldest son Prince William and talks about how attitudes have changed.

In fact, statistically speaking, a young man of William's age — if not his royal English heritage — might be just as likely not to get married, yet. In 1960, the year before Princess Diana, William's mother, was born, nearly 70% of American adults were married; now only about half are. Eight times as many children are born out of wedlock. Back then, two-thirds of 20-somethings were married; in 2008 just 26% were. And college graduates are now far more likely to marry (64%) than those with no higher education (48%).

Their conclusion?
What we found is that marriage, whatever its social, spiritual or
symbolic appeal, is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used
to be. Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or
professional success or respect or even children — yet marriage remains revered
and desired.

If nothing else the story highlights the moral confusion which exists in our society and prevalence of moral relativism. The damage done to a society and individuals when marriages break up is well documented. We think we can do without it but we can't. And we actually realize that deep down. We have an innate desire for it even when we don't embrace it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taxes, gay "marriage", comp sex ed, abortion funding, medical marijuana, etc. all up in the air after election.

It's only starting to sink in how big a shift this election was in terms of make up of the Minnesota state legislature and its orientation on social and family issues. If Dayton wins and we have a DFL governor and a legislature controlled by Republicans, we'll continue to see gridlock on many issues. The governor has a lot of power to control what ultimately gets passed into law. (DFLers in the legislature know this only too well despite having overwhelming majorities in both Houses the past 4 years.)

But the governor doesn't have the power to pass things. And that's what is key from our standpoint. Many of the issues we're concerned about were in danger of getting passed into law with a DFL-controlled legislature and liberal governor. Now with the seismic shift in the political center of the legislature, the governor isn't even necessary to stop things.

Take for instance, gay "marriage". Whereas its proponents were looking to pass it in 2011 if the DFL controlled both Houses and the governor's office, now there's no chance it could even get close to passage in either the state House or Senate. The same is true with many other social issues. The political center has shifted dramatically in the legislature. The state Senate in the past session was often for a particular social issue by a 10 to 15 margin. That's now flipped. In the House, there's probably a 20 vote shift on many issues.

Remarkably, the Senate is now more conservative than the state House, which has never been the case in the 22 years I've been around the legislature. I'm sure liberals in the Senate will be gunning to recapture control in 2012, but I think that's going to be tough though certainly not impossible. I wonder if many incumbent DFL senators won't run again. They're at the age where they were thinking about retiring anyway and being in the minority for even two years will only give them added impetus to step aside. Will they want to take the risk of running for re-election, not capturing the majority, and being stuck in the minority for another four years, not just two years.

With President Obama in the White House and possibly a liberal, DFL governor in St. Paul, I don't think the public will be in a mood to do a reverse political tsunami in 2012. It maybe status quo at the legislative or even some conservative pick-ups which means Republicans will keep control of the state Senate and maybe gain a seat or two. Similar in the House.

There is also an interesting dynamic at play with a possible liberal governor and conservative legislature which is different from the reverse scenario in play while Pawlenty was governor. Liberals want to pass things and raise taxes but they can't, even with the governorship, if the legislature doesn't want to pass those things. That's different from the previous scenario where the conservative governor acted as a goalie and stopped liberal initiatives. This is a recipe for gridlock and gridlock is preferable to lots new spending and programs.

The current scenario clearly opens the door for a marriage amendment, something which the public supports and pro-marriage supporters are much more passionate about than gay "marriage" supporters. That's what our polling done in 2005 and this past summer showed us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Every vote counts. Just look at Minnesota House. If 343 voters had switched votes to Democrat House candidates, DFL would control House outright.

I always tell people every vote counts and usually reference the example of Minnesota House races where 100 votes or less can decide a race.

That was definitely the case in the 2010 elections, particularly for the Minnesota House. As of today, the Republicans control the House by a margin of 72 to 62.

An analysis of the
election returns from the Secretary of State's office finds that a switch of 174 votes in five House races would have given the DFL joint control of the state House with House Republicans. 67 to 67. With another 169 voters switching from Republican to Democrat in another district, Democrats would have had out right control. Another way of looking at it -- if 679 more people had voted for the losing candidates in six races it would have switched outright control in the House to the DFL.
  • In 1B, long time representative DFLer Bernie Lieder from Crookston lost by 131 votes out of 12,932 total votes cast.
  • In 15B, an open seat in St. Cloud, the Republican King Banaian is ahead by 10 votes out of 10,971 votes cast.
  • In 25A, another open seat, Republican Glen Gruenhagen won by 336 votes out of 16,262 votes cast.
  • In 25B, a Northfield seat, the incumbent DFLer David Bly is behind by 31 votes out of 17,783 votes cast.
  • In 27A, the incumbent DFLer Robin Brown from Albert Lea area is behind by 58 votes out of 14,973 votes cast.
  • And in 42A, DFLer Maria Ruud from Minnetonka lost by 107 votes out of 17,281 votes cast.

And it's not just DFLers who lost narrowly. Incumbent DFLers' Denise Dittrich in 47A won by 264 votes out of 13,905 votes cast. In 26B, Patti Fritz won by 151 votes out of 13,085 votes cast. And in 20B, Lyle Koenen won by 165 votes cast out of 16,634 votes cast.

Every vote counts just ask George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pro-marriage efforts boosted by Minn. GOP takeover

Gay marriage foes boosted by Minn. GOP takeover
Star Tribune
PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS - Gay rights activists in Minnesota thought 2012 would be the year they could finally make a serious push for gay marriage in the state, but a surprise Republican takeover of the Legislature has them back on the defensive instead.

Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, said Thursday his group will push for a statewide vote in 2012 to ban gay marriage and civil unions in Minnesota's Constitution. Previous efforts to do so in 2004, 2005 and 2006 met a firewall in the strongly Democratic state Senate, but that liberal majority crumbled in Tuesday night's election.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We are having problems sending emails today. So, here is a press release.

Minnesota Family Council

For Immediate Release Contact: Tom Prichard 612.600.3136

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Political tidal wave hits Minnesota.

Minnesota state House and Senate move dramatically in pro-life, pro-marriage direction.

MINNEAPOLIS - "The tidal wave came to Minnesota yesterday with both the state House and Senate shifting control to conservatives. This is certainly the biggest change I've witnessed in over 20 years working at the state legislature. The Minnesota legislature is now decidedly more pro-life and pro-marriage."

"We look forward to working with the new legislature on pro-life, pro-marriage legislation in the future," said Prichard.

“MFC would like to thank the tens of thousands of social conservatives who headed our calls, emails and mailings to vote their pro-life, pro-marriage values," said Chuck Darrell, Director of Communications. "MFC/MFI made approximately 500,000 calls across Minnesota encouraging voters to vote their biblical values and protect marriage. MFC also distributed 250,000 Voters’ Guides, almost half of which were distributed to 1,200 churches.

“This dramatic change in both houses stops efforts to legalize gay marriage dead in it's tracks," said Darrell. "Recently, backers of gay marriage have been boasting that Minnesota is on the 'verge' of legalizing gay marriage. Apparently not, as the people have responded by electing pro-life, pro-marriage majorities in both the house and the senate,” said Darrell.

Minnesota Family Council is the state’s largest non-partisan pro-family organization. Its mission is to strengthen the families of Minnesota by advancing biblical principles in the public arena.

Minnesota Family Council, 2855 Anthony Lane S, Suite 150,Minneapolis, MN 55418

Copyright © 2010, Minnesota Family Council

Homosexual marriage judges ousted in Iowa

Des Moines Register

"Three Iowa Supreme Court justices lost their seats Tuesday in a historic upset fueled by their 2009 decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry.

Vote totals from 96 percent of Iowa's 1,774 precincts showed Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit with less than the simple majority needed to stay on the bench.

Their removal marked the first time an Iowa Supreme Court justice has not been retained since 1962, when the merit selection and retention system for judges was adopted."


A stunner. GOP wins both house and senate.

A stunner: State GOP wins both house and senate.

Some races are still very close, however it looks like the GOP has captured both houses of the Minnesota legislature for the first time in more than a generation.

From the Star Tribune

"In a stunning victory, Republicans swept into the majority in the Minnesota Senate for the first time in more than a generation and by early Wednesday had followed that by also taking control of the House. The dual victories left many of the state's top DFLers speechless, and erased months of optimistic projections that the party would buck a nationwide trend toward Republicans. Even Republicans, who gained confidence with each passing hour as key races broke their way, said the results exceeded even their giddiest predictions."


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ferment on the Left.

Even before the polls have closed the political left is already engaging in the introspection which normally comes after a bad election. One interesting column by Michael Lind at Salon points out that center left, social democrat parties in Europe are losing big time.

The setbacks Democrats are poised to suffer in the midterm election have to be viewed in a trans-Atlantic context. The backlash against Barack Obama and the contemporary Democratic Party is part of a global wave of popular disapproval of social democratic parties that abandoned their traditional working-class constituents in order to woo bankers and professionals.

Parties or coalitions of the left hang on to control in Norway, Spain and Austria. But every major country in Europe -- Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- is now ruled by the center-right. From the Baltic to the Mediterranean, social democratic parties are crumbling.

For most of the 20th century, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats were the model for center-left parties elsewhere. In September’s election, the Swedish Social Democrats received only 30.9 percent of the vote, their worst showing since 1914. Earlier in 2009, Germany’s Social Democratic Party suffered its worst electoral defeat since World War II, winning only 23 percent of the vote. In Sweden, Germany and elsewhere, Social Democrats are losing voters to populist parties of the right, Greens and hard-left parties.

I question whether they're crumbling because they've moved too far to the right. Based on his analysis, these voters would be going to ever more left wing parties. I don't know that that is happening. I wonder it's rather a case of realism. The welfare state is unsustainable and they're open to moving away from it.

His last paragraph seems to fit the make up of modern Democrat Party in the US. It's more concerned with ideological goals rather the traditional bread and butter issues of the middle class.
...In the U.S., as in Europe, the upper-middle-class activists and intellectuals of the center-left devote far less energy to traditional social democratic issues like social insurance and the minimum wage than to non-economic causes like renewable energy, mass transit, the new urbanism, gay marriage, identity politics and promotion of amnesty for illegal immigrants. On both continents, conservatism is becoming more downscale while progressives are increasingly upmarket.

As I've said elsewhere, the middle class is moving towards the Republicans while the Democrats are made up, increasingly, of the very poor who are dependent on the government to a large degree and, as Lind describes them, "upper-middle-class activists and intellectuals of the center-left." A closer look at much of what they advocate for will only scare off more middle class folks.

Distortion and misrepresentation of my writings by Birkey opened door to national audience.

The liberal bias of the mainstream media is well documented. Whenever I'm interviewed, the story is usually slanted in a liberal direction. I've come to expect that.

What I've generally found though is the writer or reporter usually fairly quotes or represents what I said even if the overall story has a liberal slant. But such was not the case recently with Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent, a
left/liberal, pro-gay, alternative media newsblog and his reporting of the bullying controversy in the Anoka Hennepin school district.

In this instance, Birkety distorted and misrepresented what I had actually wrote in a blog post.

First, Birkey wrote that I said, "... the students are dead because they adopted an 'unhealthy lifestyle.'" If you look my blog post, I said no such thing about the tragic teen suicides in Anoka Hennepin.

Second, Birkey wrote: "Prichard asserts that the suicide death of 15-year-old Justin Aaberg was not due to anti-LGBT bullying." Again, I never wrote or asserted that. What I did say, which he actually quoted later in his article, was “Whatever the exact reason for Justin’s suicide it’s an enormous tragedy..."

And finally, he quoted me as saying, " that “homosexual activists” share in the blame when LGBT students commit suicide because “they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle.”
"Again, I never said that in my blog post.

Certainly Andy is free to vehemently disagree with me and write the kind of news story he wants, but he crosses an ethical line and damages his own credibility as a reporter when he distorts and misrepresents what a person actually says or writes.

I remember dealing with a reporter from the now defunct homosexual newspaper "Equal Times". Though the reporter, I'm sure, disagreed with me on most things, I found her a fair journalist. She quoted me accurately and I respected her for that.

An interesting side note to Andy's distortion of my blog post comments was it ironically opened the door for me get my views out on the bullying controversy nationally on CNN's Anderson Cooper's 360 program.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rasmussen: Election is referendum on Democrats more than vote for Republicans.

I found an interesting column by pollster Scott Rasmussen who says the election is more a vote against Democrats than for Republicans.

Rasmussen writes:

Voters today want hope and change every bit as much as in 2008. But most have come to recognize that if we have to rely on politicians for the change, there is no hope. At the same time, Americans instinctively understand that if we can unleash the collective wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

In this environment, it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn't win, the other team lost. Heading into 2012, voters will remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so.

Elected politicians also should leave their ideological baggage behind because voters don't want to be governed from the left, the right, or even the center. They want someone in Washington who understands that the American people want to govern themselves.

I think Rasmussen has a point. Voters haven't gotten the change they expected from Obama. Though ideology or philosophy is what guides individuals and in this instance political parties. If Republicans stand for less government I'm not sure how they can leave that ideology behind. The key question is: Will Republicans stand their ground rather than continuing the expansion of government but just more slowly than the Democrats?