July 31, 2015

Mountain Adventures

Behold the beauty:

Also, I bought a Nerf football with wings on it. Best 13 bucks I ever spent. Each of these throws is 75 yards (based on my walk-off):

Ollie got in on the gridiron action, too:

Anyone need a lift?

Of course Susie and the girls loved the Vail International Dance Festival:

And we all enjoyed Pazzo's Pizzeria in Vail:

July 27, 2015

Rocky Mountain High

July 24, 2015

'Freshman Orientation: Conform or Be Cast Out'

I commend to your attention this essay by Alec Dent, an intelligent and sensible young man who is about to begin his freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He writes about his recent experience attending freshman "orientation."
[W]e were treated to an interactive theater experience focused on diversity and inclusiveness. The actors performed four skits, each addressing a cardinal sin of the liberal perspective—racism, sexism, heterosexism, and class politics. ... Instead of showing that all people are equally deserving of human dignity, the theater group created its own caricatures: the “villains” in each of the skits were either white, male, heterosexual, middle class, or some combination of the four. 
It went downhill from there, Dent says.
One of my fellow students stood up and questioned how affirmative action is not inherently discriminatory. This student was a white male, and he shared his view (in an allegedly open forum) that it seemed wrong for race and gender to be a factor in college acceptance. What would it mean if, after all his hard work, he missed an opportunity because he was a white male?  
His question was beyond the pale. The room gave a collective gasp and started murmuring darkly. The event leaders swiftly shut down the offending student’s line of questioning, evasively answering that affirmative action was very “loose” and the quotas weren’t stringent.

The incident with the student who questioned affirmative action revealed an unspoken campus rule that we never discussed: not everybody has the ability to say when he or she is offended or upset without fear of reprisal, social or otherwise.

In a truly open-minded community, dedicated to our school’s motto lux libertas (Light and Liberty), all people would have this ability to speak their minds. What I learned that day at UNC, however, is that free speech, so fundamental to the academy, is only permitted to those who toe the “progressive” line. This exercise could have looked at our different backgrounds in an effort to cultivate true community, built on respect and politeness. Instead, we were “asked” to accept a perversion of true open-mindedness. Instead of encouraging us to each bring ourselves to the table and explore our differences cordially, we were told that some differences, namely non-“progressive” beliefs, were unacceptable. In order to be accepted, we must make our views uniform.
Is this the sort of "orientation"—on topics such as "sexual identity, religious identity, socioeconomic identity, and ethnic identity"—that the freshmen at the University of Oklahoma are receiving? Inquiring minds want to know.

July 23, 2015

'The Paramilitary Wing of Reproductive Liberalism'

Read the inimitable Mark Steyn's take on the latest Planned Parenthood scandal.

July 22, 2015

Yes, But ...

Don Willett is a Texas Supreme Court Justice who is also very active on social media (the state House of Representatives this year officially recognized him as the "Tweeter Laureate of Texas"). Here's some food for thought:

July 21, 2015

Will the Gospel Be Permissible Speech at the University of Oklahoma?

I’ll never forget a conversation I had one day in the fall of 2010. My son, at the time a high-school student who had done well on the PSAT, was being courted by the University of Oklahoma. We even attended a dog-and-pony show where folks from the OU admissions office and Honors College made their pitch.

A week or so later, standing one day in the break room at my workplace, I was relaying all this to an associate of mine who at the time was a professor at OU (he’s no longer there). “Don’t send him there,” he replied solemnly as he finished his tea. He then proceeded to discourse on the ignominies of the OU Honors College, crowning his remarks with the word “Marxism.”

So … not a great recruiter, basically.

None of what he said was surprising—we had had these sorts of conversations before. And my son, despite being a huge OU football fan (he has been to 98 consecutive home games, starting when he was six), had decided on a different school anyway.

Truth to tell, I was not disappointed in my son’s decision, given my firsthand familiarity (from my time there as an undergraduate) with OU’s many hazards and follies. In its long march through the institutions, the Left long ago captured academia, including my alma mater in Norman (see, for example, here, here, here, here, here, and, my personal favorite, here).

Dissent Will Be Punished
(Credit: The Weekly Standard)
Even so, my professor pal’s use of the word “Marxism” was memorable. And I have to say it has come to mind often lately, given OU’s partnership with a hostile foreign power likely responsible for a massive cyberattack on the United States. And of course there's the cultural Marxism on display in the new push for mandatory coursework covering subjects such as “white privilege” and “gender identity.” Not to mention the news of mandatory “diversity training” now required for all incoming OU freshmen.

Detecting a whiff of the Orwellian in this new "diversity training," I reached out to OU's new vice president of university community, Jabar Shumate, to see if he would be willing to "explore some of these diversity topics (sexual identity, religious freedom, freedom of speech, etc.)" via an e-mail Q&A exchange to be published on this humble blog. "Given the seriousness of these matters," I cautioned, "the questions would not be softballs," and to his great credit he said send them along.

So, inspired by John Fund—who recently decried "leftist 'diversity studies'" programs and urged Americans to "practice free speech July 4"—I sat down over the Fourth of July weekend and drafted these questions. (I'm writing as an OU alumnus and as a parent currently shopping for colleges, not as a representative of any organization I'm affiliated with.) I haven't heard back from Mr. Shumate yet, but when I do I will publish his answers below.

(1) Thanks for agreeing to field some questions. Even though we’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum, you and I have worked arm-in-arm for years on the important issue of parental choice in education. I can’t remember exactly when we first met, but we have worked together going back at least to my time on the Oklahoma state advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. As you have pointed out many times, ensuring a quality education for every child is the civil-rights issue of our day. Now obviously the recent behavior of some Sig Alphs there in Norman was boorish and sinful and appalling. Acting on his belief that “it is wrong to use words to hurt, threaten, and exclude other people,” OU president David Boren called the students “disgraceful” and pronounced their behavior “threatening.” He expelled them for their “leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant which has created a hostile educational environment for others.” Tell us about this new diversity training program at OU. What does it entail and what do you hope it can accomplish?

(2) I’m curious how this new program compares to or relates to other training on campus. For example, I know the History of Science Department has done some training in which students were taught that the phrase “If you work hard enough, you will succeed” is a racist microagression. Does the new diversity training embrace or reject that viewpoint?

(3) The OU student newspaper reported that one of the topics covered in the new diversity training was “sexual identity.” What exactly is meant by that phrase, and what does the training entail?

(4) Some cultural conservatives are worried about the slippery-slope implications of this claim of a “hostile educational environment.” For instance, Debra J. Saunders has pointed out that “student activists have used ‘hostile environment’ claims to try to muzzle those whose unwelcome viewpoints might ‘trigger’ feelings that make students feel less safe.” Many of us agree with Marco Rubio that “we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech.” So: What if an incoming freshman in your diversity training class stood up and gave the following oration? (Let’s say a fellow student recorded it and it went viral on YouTube and then showed up on all the news networks.)
To those of you committing acts of sodomy in the OU library or in the dorms or who are considering entering into a same-sex “marriage,” I plead with you to renounce your sin and turn to Christ. In a spirit of genuine love and compassion, I say to those of you who are in bondage to same-sex intimacy: I hurt with you over your father-hunger and your fear and your sadness and your confused “sexual identity.” But God is offering his mercy to you! I implore you to repent and believe the good news, namely, that Christ died for your sins and was raised for your justification. But it is through tears that must I warn you that, if you do not repent, you will fall into the hands of an angry God and endure the punishment of eternal fire.
Now clearly those words could be viewed as hurtful and threatening to some people. Certainly it could be argued that the speaker is creating a hostile environment. As the OU official in charge of diversity training, what would be your response to such a soliloquy?

(5) Turning from the diversity training specifically to the university community more generally, let’s consider another example. Imagine a student giving this oration on the lawn outside Evans Hall. It too goes viral and makes worldwide news.
Jesus says to everyone on this campus: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The Bible is clear that salvation comes only through “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. … And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” To quote the great OU president Arthur Evans (who was also a missionary and a pastor): “Praise for the Cross! Praise for the Cross!” So to my fellow Sooners who are Muslims or Hindus or adherents of any other false religion—those of you who worship any so-called god other than the crucified and resurrected Christ—I beseech you to repent and turn to Him. If you do not, He warns that you will be cast forever into “into the outer darkness [where] there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
That’s clearly not a microagression—that’s a full-blown macroagression. Can parents and taxpayers be confident that this student will not be expelled for his “leadership role” in proclaiming an “exclusionary” message which “has created a hostile educational environment for others”?

(6) The OU student newspaper recently reported that OU plans to construct a new study lounge for LGBTQ students in the student union. What is the rationale for this study lounge, and are there plans for any other groups to receive their own study lounges?

(7) OU has made it clear that hostile, racist, threatening chants are not allowed. One young man who has previously performed for OU students has threatened to “blow your brains out. You a f**k, n***a.” Will he or others like him be permitted to lead this chant—either live or via an audio recording—on the OU campus? Why or why not?

(8) Many Oklahoma parents and taxpayers share the view that the violation of those Sig Alphs’ First Amendment rights “revealed OU to be a place ruled by panic and prejudice.” Indeed, as attorney David French put it, “our public universities are becoming national leaders in trampling the Constitution to legislate their brand of ‘inclusive’ morality.” If a government official in Oklahoma can now decide what speech is permissible, what reassurances can you give to prospective OU students that their free-speech rights will be protected?

Those are fairly tough questions, I think, but important questions for the administration to answer—especially in a state where the people paying the freight (parents, donors, appropriators) look like this. Consider it tough love from an OU alum and big OU fan who still has three prospective Sooners under his roof.

Remember, a new Associated Press-GfK poll found (perhaps to the pollsters' surprise) that while 39 percent of Americans "said it's more important for the government to protect gay rights, 56 percent said protection of religious liberties should take precedence." Doubtless the numbers are even more lopsided in Oklahoma.

July 20, 2015

Pool Time

Lincoln and his little mini-me enjoyed some quality time in the water over the weekend.

July 16, 2015

Lankford on Senate Floor: 'Have We Really Become This Numb?'

U.S. Senator James Lankford today delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the recent discovery that "an organization called Planned Parenthood is using children that are aborted and sending the bodies of those aborted children to research facilities, sometimes for sale, different body parts, to be used in research. These are not mice, these are not lab rats, these are children. Children that have gone through the process of a horrific abortion." Lankford marveled that "this Congress would spend time today debating horse slaughter and debating orca whales, but yet we've become so numb to children that the other debate doesn't seem to come up."

Hats off to Sen. Lankford for raising the subject:

Of course, as Samantha Reinis reminds us, scandal is nothing new for Planned Parenthood. "Here are six instances of Planned Parenthood’s corruption and abuse:"
  1. Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director for Medical Services, was caught on tape detailing how organs from fetuses that have been aborted are sold for profit.
  2. Multiple Planned Parenthood counselors advised underage teenage girls as young as 15 years old to engage in risky sexual practices, like asphyxiation and beating each other, as long as it was deemed consensual.
  3. Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rockies was sued in 2014 for failing to report an abusive relationship in which a 13-year-old girl was being sexually abused by her stepfather, who forced her to get an abortion when she became pregnant.
  4. Alisa LaPolt Snow, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood, defended infanticide in 2013 as she stated that it was the choice of the “woman, family and physician” whether the infant who survived an abortion should be allowed to live. 
  5. A Planned Parenthood employee in Austin, Tex. advocated for sex selective abortion, as her client described wanting only a boy.
  6. Planned Parenthood fired a manager in 2011 after her involvement in instructing a pimp and prostitute how to get around the system. 
What will it take for some Oklahomans—prominent Tulsa donors, for example, or Republican state Rep. Doug Cox—to discontinue their association with this organization? If the ghoulish and illegal practice of organ harvesting and trafficking won't do it, one wonders what will.