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Suggested Articles/Essays (These articles reflect the AmblesideOnline Advisory's worldview. Feel free to substitute if you prefer. Preview for content; these are articles written for adults about controversial topics; articles about gender issues, in particular, should be screened.)

Diversity/Tolerance

The Downside of Diversity the "diversity paradox" - "a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings. . . Some critics have found his prescriptions underwhelming. And in offering ideas for mitigating his findings, Putnam has drawn scorn for stepping out of the role of dispassionate researcher. "You're just supposed to tell your peers what you found," says John Leo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. "I don't expect academics to fret about these matters.""

Why We Need to Tolerate hate hate laws threaten free speech": "Hate crime laws are generally sentence enhancement laws, imposing harsher sentences on crimes motivated by bias. They ensure that assaulting someone you hate because of his personality quirks is a lesser crime than assaulting someone you hate because he belongs to a particular, protected demographic group. In other words, when you're prosecuted for a bias crime, you're prosecuted for your bad thought and beliefs as well as your conduct. Once convicted of a hate crime, you may even be subject to mandatory thought reform: In Massachusetts, you're required to complete a state sponsored and designed "diversity awareness program" before being released from prison or completing probation. Deface someone's property for the wrong reasons -- bigotry or a bad attitude toward a protected group -- and your thoughts become the business of the state. "

Censorship as Tolerance censorship didn't stop Hitler: "In modern-day Europe, Spinoza's insight has not so much been forgotten as turned on its head. There is a pan-European consensus, fertilized by multiculturalism, that tolerance and peaceful coexistence require the restriction rather than the protection of freedom of speech. This has led to the mushrooming of hate-speech and so-called anti-discrimination laws that criminalize expressions characterized as 'hateful' or merely 'derogatory' toward members of religious, ethnic, national, or racial groups. . . Hitler himself was prohibited from speaking publicly in several German jurisdictions in 1925. None of this prevented Streicher from increasing the circulation of Der Sturmer, or Hitler from assuming power. The trials and bans merely gave them publicity, with Streicher and Hitler cunningly casting themselves as victims. Perhaps even more important, when the Nazis swept to power in 1933, they abolished freedom of expression. Nazi propaganda became official truth that could not be opposed, ridiculed, or challenged with dissenting views or new information. Such a monopoly on 'truth' is impossible in a society with unfettered freedom of expression, where all information and viewpoints are subject to intense public debate."

Feminism/Women's issues

What does the Bible say about feminism? "Feminism is a counterfeit solution to the real issue of the inequality of women in a sinful society. Feminism arrogates to itself the right to demand respect and equality in every aspect of life. Feminism is based in arrogance, and it is the opposite of the call to the born-again believer to be a servant. . . A believing woman, who is seeking to obey God and walk in peace and grace, should remember that she has equal access to all spiritual blessings in Christ. . . Men and women have a God-given privilege to fulfill the plan He has set for us. Rebellion against that plan and the arrogance that seeks to put self above God's Word result in very difficult consequences. We see those consequences in the destruction of the relationship between husbands and wives, the destruction of the family, and the loss of respect for human life. . . It is sad but true that artificial barriers that have no basis in God's Word have always divided humanity. There is only one race--the human race! Within that race are male and female, different ethnicities, different colors, and different national origins. It is sin in the heart that causes inequality. It is sin in the heart that causes men to treat women in ways that are meant to demean. It is sin that sets one person above another. And it is sin that seeks to use counterfeit solutions to counteract these inequalities. The only true cure for inequality is obedience to God's Word. If men and women would walk in obedience to God's Word, feminism would be unmasked for what it is, and the harmony that God has ordained for the relationship between men and women would result."

Gender Issues

Will, Grace, and a Decade of Change on Gay Rights "Being able to attach an individual to homosexuality has played a role, too. Data experts at Facebook showed about 70 percent of users of the popular social network has a friend who publicly identifies as gay or lesbian, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. Gallup polling conducted in May showed 75 percent of respondents said they have friends, relatives, or coworkers who have told them personally that they are gay or lesbian. 'Hollywood has made gay-rights mainstream while making Christianity seem extreme,' said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster. 'Try to name one positive portrayal of an evangelical Christian in a prime-time show right now. Conversely, you can likely name at least one positive portrayal of a homosexual character in each popular prime-time program. A decade of that has an impact.'"

An atheist identifies "the central problem with the gay marriage agenda" "The central problem with the gay marriage agenda is not that at some point in the future an unwilling man of the cloth might be strongarmed into giving his blessing to a gay union, but rather that it allows the state to do something that was traditionally considered beyond its purview: to redefine the meaning of marriage and, by extension, the meaning of the marital home, the family, and our most intimate relationships. . . In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one's mind or sticking with one's beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them."

Homosexuality: Know the Truth, Speak it with Compassion by Alan Shleman "Knowing the biblical truth about homosexuality is important because many people deny that God condemns homosexual behavior. Indeed, they go to great lengths to reinterpret those six passages. Although they're not successful, their claims sound appealing to people who don't carefully interpret the Bible. If we learn and understand these verses, it's easy to clear up this distortion. Religious arguments, however, are often immediately dismissed by non-Christians. So knowing the truth doesn't mean we learn only biblical arguments. An effective strategy also incorporates secular arguments. This includes appeals to natural law, the common good, and public health. If you can base your views on evidence that make sense even to non-religious people, you'll be able to speak with anyone. . . By treating homosexuals like anyone else, you create opportunities to speak the truth. This first principle can be put another way: When it comes to homosexuals, our desire for them is not heterosexuality, but holiness. We're not trying to make gays straight. We're trying to lead them straight to Jesus, just like we would anyone else. Once they trust Him, He transforms their life from the inside out. So to know the truth isn't merely about the truth of homosexuality - whether it's right or wrong - but the truth of Jesus and His power to transform men and women."

A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the "Gay Gene" "The human X and Y chromosomes (the two 's.' chromosomes) have been completely sequenced. Thanks to work carried out by labs all across the globe, we know that the X chromosome contains 153 million base pairs, and harbors a total of 1168 genes (see NCBI, 2004). The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that the Y chromosome--which is much smaller--contains 'only' 50 million base pairs, and is estimated to contain a mere 251 genes. Educational institutions such as Baylor University, the Max Planck Institute, the Sanger Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and others have spent countless hours and millions of research dollars analyzing these unique chromosomes. As the data began to pour in, they allowed scientists to construct gene maps--using actual sequences from the Human Genome Project. And yet, neither the map for the X nor the Y chromosome contains any 'gay gene.' . . . However, the most glaring observation is that clearly not 100 percent of the identical twins 'inherited' homosexuality. If there was, in fact, a 'gay gene,' then all of the identical twins should have reported a homosexual orientation. And yet, in nearly half of the twins studied, one brother was not homosexual. In a technical-comment letter in Science, Neil Risch and colleagues pointed out: 'The biological brothers and adoptive brothers showed approximately the same rates. This latter observation suggests that there is no genetic component, but rather an environmental component shared in families' (1993, 262:2063). In fact, more adoptive brothers shared homosexuality than non-twin biological brothers. If there was a genetic factor, this result would be counter to the expected trend."

Health Risks of the Homosexual Lifestyle "Common sx practices among gay men lead to numerous STDs and physical injuries, some of which are virtually unknown in the heterosexual population. Lesbians are also at higher risk for STDs. In addition to diseases that may be transmitted during lesbian sx, a study at an Australian STD clinic found that lesbians were three to four times more likely than heterosexual women to have sx with men who were high-risk for HIV. . . It is well established that there are high rates of psychiatric illnesses, including depression, drug abuse, and suicide attempts, among gays and lesbians. This is true even in the Netherlands, where gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) relationships are far more socially acceptable than in the U.S. Depression and drug abuse are strongly associated with risky sx practices that lead to serious medical problems."

Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality by Peter Sprigg (26 pg pdf) Myth 1 - people are born gay. . . Fact: Researchers . . from Columbia studied data . . and found even lower concordance rates of only 6.7 percent for male and 5.3 percent for female identical twins. . . Myth 4 - Ten percent of the population is gay. Fact: Less than three percent of American adults identify as homosexual or bisexual. . . Myth 8 - Homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexuals. Fact: The percentage of child sexual abuse cases in which men molest boys is many times higher. . .

The Forgotten Victims of 'Gay' Marriage from Mission America The radicals dream of connecting the dots now only marking partially-conquered territory. Like California, where by law, no schoolchildren hear any critique of homosexual or "transgender" behavior, or Massachusetts, where the Department of Education has decreed that gender confused children must have access to opposite sx restrooms and locker rooms. . . If it's not true, children are at risk. The widespread embrace of homosexuality at the very least would mess with their minds and innocence at critical stages of development. More experimentation, even for a time, will yield more STDs, more anxiety, depression, more teen angst in general. Where's a critical risk assessment? . . Fast forward to age twelve. Now Morgan and James know about sx through middle school sx ed that explains all in detail, including homosexual practices. They also learn from the usual route of TV, music and movies, where some teen stars are now proudly "gay" and storylines and songs now include same sx romance. . . Most major homosexual advocacy groups, GLSEN and others, vehemently oppose abstinence-until-marriage sx education. If kids aren't abstinent, they think it's cute. All they find horrifying is pregnancy.

Jesus Never Said Anything About Homosexuality, or Did He? very short; from Mission America Jesus is never quoted in the New Testament as having directly addressed rape, sx, domestic violence or homosexual behavior. So are we supposed to believe all these practices are okay with Him? . . . the apostles, who were taught by Christ, clearly understood that homosexuality was a sin as it has always been. When people say, 'Jesus said nothing about homosexuality,' they reveal that they really haven't understood Scripture, or Who Christ was and is.

NARTH - "a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. As an organization, we disseminate educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance."

NARTH: List of clinical studies also here What Has Been Concluded From 1000 Recent Articles On Homosexuality?; Latest Twin Study Confirms Genetic Contribution To SSA Is Minor; more listed

NARTH: Born That Way? Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. They are nurtured in equal prenatal conditions. If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay. "Because they have identical DNA, it ought to be 100%," Dr. Whitehead notes. But the studies reveal something else.

NARTH: Does "Born That Way" Mean "Designed That Way"? The "born that way" argument has now been widely refuted as false, and the current scientific consensus is that biological, family and social factors work together to set the stage for homosexuality. . . And research also suggests another scenario: in some individuals, prenatal hormones may abnormally masculinize or feminize the developing fetus. Similarly, when a pregnant woman is exposed to certain environmental pollutants which are known to have a hormone-like effect on the body, some writers theorize that sx differences are blurred in her developing fetus. The resulting gender distortions could affect the child's sense of himself or herself as male or female, and could thus account for the biological "push" in the direction of adult homosexuality. Yet although we recognize that such individuals were "born with that way" (in the sense of being biologically influenced toward a certain identity and behavior), it would not follow that they were in fact designed that way. Such a condition would represent a biological error. . . And there are also prenatally induced, non-genetic conditions that we recognize as problems, such as fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal cocaine addiction. All of the affected persons must struggle to adjust in life. But we do not respond to such conditions by assuring the person, "You were born that way, so this is who you are."

NARTH: Gender Complementarity and Child-rearing: Where Tradition and Science Agree There is no fact that has been established by social science literature more convincingly than the following: all variables considered, children are best served when reared in a home with a married mother and father. David Popenoe (1996) summarized the research nicely: "social science research is almost never conclusive, yet in three decades of work as a social scientist, I know of few other bodies of data in which the weight of evidence is so decisively on one side of the issue: on the whole, for children, two-parent families are preferable to single-parent and step-families" (p. 176). Children navigate developmental stages more easily, are more solid in their gender identity, perform better; in academic tasks at school, have fewer emotional disorders and become better functioning adults when they are reared by dual-gender parents. This conclusion, supported further by a plethora of research spanning decades, clearly demonstrates gender-linked differences in child-rearing that are protective for children. That is, men and women contribute differently to the healthy development of children. . . Promiscuity is not a myth among gay men. Gay author Gabriel Rotello noted that "Gay liberation was founded ... on a sx brotherhood of promiscuity and any abandonment of that promiscuity would amount to a communal betrayal of gargantuan proportions" (p. 112). Rotello's perception finds support in the literature. Bell and Weinberg (1978) found that 75 percent of white, gay men had sx with more than 100 different males during their lifetime, 15 percent claimed to have had sx with 100-249 sx partners, 17 percent claimed sx with 250-499 partners; 15 percent claimed 500-999 partners and 28 percent claimed more than 1,000 lifetime male sx partners. Subsequent to AIDS, instead of averaging six different partners per month, there was a decrease to four partners per month (McKusick, 1984). More recently. the CDC reports that from 1994 to 1997, the percentage of gay men reporting multiple partners and unprotected sx increased from 23.6 percent to 33.3 percent, with the largest increase among men under 25 (1999). In another CDC report. 30 percent of all gay black men are HIV positive. Forty-six percent of the study participants had unprotected anal sx during the previous months, and less than 30 percent realized that they were infected (Sternberg, 2001).

Stand Up for the Truth guest Ruth Christian The culture shift and homosexual Christians (audio podcast)

The Girl in the Picture by Emily Thomes Brief testimony of a girl caught up in the LGBT lifestyle who came to the Lord. There's an interview with her here. See also: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield ($); Sy Rogers (search YouTube); Ruth Christian's Testimony

How The Transgender Crusade Made Me Rethink My Support For Gay Marriage by Bethany Mandel Over the course of the last few months, whenever I write or tweet anything, on any topic, I usually receive a caustic social media response about my position on transgenderism. These trolls post links to my tweets about the subject and screenshots, as if showing me my own recent opinion is some sort of gotcha.

Immigration

Illegal Immigration: A Christian Perspective What makes the issue of immigration more challenging than topics like abortion or marriage is that there is not clear-cut biblical direction on the matter. Some who favor a more liberal position on immigration often point to Leviticus 19 or Deuteronomy 24 (go read them) when making their arguments in favor of an open-borders type policy. However, as Alan F. H. Wisdom, then vice president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) noted nearly three years ago, "[t]he United States is not analogous to ancient Israel. Biblical 'sojourners' [aliens or foreigners] are not easily comparable to modern-era illegal immigrants. The 'foreigners' in ancient Israel were non-Israelites who were permitted to pass through or reside in Israel. They were required to comply with Israel's laws and respect its customs." . . . However, as FrontPage also notes, with so many Mexicans able to leave their country for work and welfare, the Mexican government has little incentive to improve conditions there. And despite decades of illegal immigration, economic and living conditions for poor Mexicans have improved little, if at all. Thus, the current immigration policies of the U.S. have made us an enabler, hurting not only the American taxpayer, but the millions of poor who are still living in Mexico. Is this very Christ-like?

Critical Considerations for Immigration Reform Our immigration policies worked well prior to 1965, assuring the existing national ethnic and cultural mix and encouraging assimilation. However, in the wake of the momentous Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed with wide bipartisan support, then-current immigration policies appeared exclusionary and were decried by political liberals and many conservatives as manifestly racist or discriminatory, spurring the passage of the Democrat-sponsored Immigration Act of 1965 (Hart-Cellar) . . The result has been that poor and unskilled immigrants are often reunited with poor and unskilled relatives, producing a concatenation of relatives and the much-abused "chain migration" reportedly depopulating entire villages in Mexico while imposing mounting socio-economic costs on America. . . . The most distressing aspect immigration today is that Hispanics (unlike Asians) are not assimilating. They self-segregate into Hispanic communities to become part of a growing adversarial underclass, magnified by a Hispanic high school dropout rate almost twice that of the blacks. Tellingly, the third-generation Hispanic has a lower median income than the first. More troubling, many Chicanos actually disdain assimilation, having been taught that the Southwest was stolen from Mexico in 1848 and thus considering themselves indigenous inhabitants reclaiming Mexican territory. Predictably, the Hydra-headed monster of irredentism and separatism has appeared in the form of movements such as Reconquista, Aztlan, MEChA, and La Raza.

Swearing In the Enemy One of the suspected Boston bombers was a naturalized citizen, and the other was on his way. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a new citizen, asks how we might change the process of becoming an American to exclude those who hate America.

Sanctity of Life and Abortion

Human Personhood Begins at Conception by Peter Kreeft There is one and only one reason why people argue about the topic of this paper, whether human personhood begins at conception: because some people want to justify abortion. Therefore I begin with some remarks about abortion. Abortion is a clear-cut evil. Anyone who honestly seeks 'peace on earth, good will toward men' will see this if only he extends it to include women and children. . . . The Functionalism that is the basis of the 'Quality of Life Ethic' is morally reprehensible for at least three reasons. First, it is degrading, demeaning and destructive to human dignity; it treats persons like trained seals. Second, it is elitist; it discriminates against less perfect performers. Third, it takes advantage, it is power play, it is might over right rationalized. To see this point, let us dare to ask a very naive and simple question, a question a child might ask, especially a child like the one in 'The Emperor's New Clothes': Why do doctors kill fetuses rather than fetuses killing doctors? Fetuses do not want to die. They struggle to live. (I hope you have all seen 'The Silent Scream' and its sequel.) The answer is power. Doctors have power, fetuses do not. If fetuses came equipped with suction tubes, poisons, and scalpels to use to defend themselves against their killers, there would be no abortions.

Why my support for abortion was based on love . . . and lies One day my husband was re-evaluating his own pro-choice ideas, and he made a passing remark that startled me. He said: "It just occurred to me that being pro-life is being pro-other-people's-lives. Everyone is pro-their-own-life." It made me realize that my pro-choice viewpoints were putting me in the position of deciding who is and is not human, and whose lives are worth living. I (along with doctors, the government, or other abortion advocates) decided where to draw this very important line. When I would come across claims that life begins at conception, I would scoff. Yet I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with my defense: "A few cells is obviously not a baby, or even a human life!" I would sneer to myself. "Fetuses eventually become full-fledged humans, but not until, umm, like, six months gestation or something. Or maybe five months? When is it that they can kick their legs and stuff? . . . Nine weeks?! No, they're not human then, those must be involuntary spasms. . . It took my breath away to witness the level of evil that normal people can fall into supporting. They were talking about infanticide, but completely refused to label it as such. It was when I considered that these were educated, reasonable professionals who were probably not bad people that I realized that evil mainly works by getting good people to believe in lies. I also took a mental step back from the entire pro-choice movement. If this is what it meant to be "pro-choice," I was not pro-choice. Yet I still couldn't bring myself to say I was pro-life. . . . I was reading yet another account of the Greek societies in which newborn babies were abandoned to die, wondering to myself how normal people could possibly accept something like that. Then, a chill tore through my body as I thought: I know how they did it."

Unstringing the Violinist The well-known parasite argument; Mr. Koukl uncovers some serious flaws with this argument: First, the violinist is artificially attached to the woman. A mother's unborn baby, however, is not surgically connected, nor was it ever "attached" to her. Instead, the baby is being produced by the mother's own body by the natural process of reproduction. Both Thompson and McDonagh treat the child—the woman's own daughter or son--like an invading stranger intent on doing harm. They make the mother/child union into a host/predator relationship. A child is not an invader, though, a parasite living off his mother. . . . Thompson ignores a second important distinction. In the violinist illustration, the woman might be justified withholding life-giving treatment from the musician under these circumstances. Abortion, though, is not merely withholding treatment. It is actively taking another human being's life through poisoning or dismemberment. A more accurate parallel with abortion would be to crush the violinist or cut him into pieces before unplugging him. . . .

Bad Pro-Choice Arguments debunks pro-choice arguments: So what are some of the most popular pro-choice arguments and slogans that are deeply flawed? Here are a few: "Women have a right to do what they want with their own bodies." The fundamental problem with this objection is that it assumes that laws against abortion are primarily concerned with what a woman can and cannot do to her own body. But they are not. Why? Ask yourself a simple question: how many brains does a woman have? One. But how many brains does a pregnant woman have? Still one. The woman's body is not the issue in abortion: the baby's body is. The developing fetus has a complete set of human DNA different than the mother's. It has its own circulatory system, its own brain, its own fingers and toes and arms and legs. If it is a male, it even has a different gender than the mother. Therefore, the fetus is clearly not just 'part of the woman's body'. Laws against abortion aren't telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body; they are telling a woman what she can and cannot do with someone else's body. (Another:) "The government has no right to make laws telling a woman she can't have an abortion" Based on the argument above, it is clear why this second objection also fails: the government can and should be able to tell people what they can and cannot do to other people's bodies. It is legal for me to shave my head or to cut my fingernails or to pierce my ears. It is even legal for me to stick a knife into my leg. But it is illegal for me to do any of these things to another human being without their consent. The government rightly recognizes that the other human being has their own rights which can and should be protected by law. Thus, if the unborn is a human being, the government can and should protect it from being harmed by anyone, even its mother.

Responding to Pro-Choice Bumper Sticker Speak response to pro-choice 'one-liners': I'd also direct pro-choicers who succumb to the notion that all pro-lifers are a bunch of crazy Christians to groups like the Atheist/Agnostic Pro-Life League and Secular Pro-Life. With that, I'd check this one off the 'debunked' list. (Another:) 'My body, my choice.' I'll just go ahead and say it: I agree with this statement. It is entirely up to a person, man or woman, to decide what they can do with their own body, so long as no one else's rights are being violated. And this one-liner would hold water if and only if abortion didn't involve the body of a completely separate and unique human being who will die a violent and painful death during the process of that so-called ‘choice.' Your body, your choice; baby's body, baby's choice. (Another:) 'Don't like abortion? Don't have one.' When someone resorts to this statement, it becomes quite apparent they cannot actually defend their stance on abortion. This is the logical equivalent of 'Don't like rape? Don't rape!' 'Don't like child molestation? Don't molest a child!' 'Don't like slavery? Don't own a slave!' . . . But don't you dare tell me what I can and can't do. These statements are as ludicrous as the first.

Pro-Life or Anti-Abortion? Who Decides? What is the motive behind this unasked-for change in terminology? I would contend it has to do with the continuing attempt to bring us together with the "pro-choice" movement. And while there are people on both sides of the issue who are honestly of good will, and who care deeply about society, we as "pro-life" folks have the specific goal of eliminating abortion from society, or at very least lessening its frequency and perceived need. That of course is a huge threat to the other camp whose main concern is the "woman's right to choose." President Barack Obama, arguably one of the most blatantly "pro-choice" leaders in the entire world today, rather creepily used the 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade to express his desire to keep abortion 'safe and legal.' Here are his remarks on a day which many of us mark as one of the most tragic in world history. He rejoices for the women while we mourn for the untold millions of unborn.

Guest Post on BadCatholic The traditional pro-life position holds that human life begins at conception. That's because conception is the moment of decisive change in human existence. It's the Big Bang of human life. Science tells us that, from conception, there exists a genetically complete and distinct human life. After conception, gender and all manner of physiological characteristics are immediately in place. Before my conception, I did not exist. Since my conception, I have existed. If another person had interfered with my natural development at some point since conception, it's elementary that I would not be here. . . Choosing any moment after conception to protect human life from intentional destruction crosses a line into personal opinion. Whether government relies on the subjective opinion of scientists, judges, legislators, bureaucrats, or pregnant women, personal opinion is elevated above science. When personal opinion, ideology, or outcome-based conclusions form the foundation of a government's exercise of its paramount responsibility, rational government is endangered. Pro-choice advocates who believe decisions about abortion ought to be based on "science" rather than personal or religious ideology, should think more carefully about where they sit on the science-ideology continuum. Theoretically, they should agree that defining human life on any but the most scientifically objective factors is inherently wrong. And it's also extremely dangerous. It crosses a bright line, from basing critical governmental decisions about human life on objective factors, to basing such decisions on something more subjective. This principle endangers all the human life subject to that government's authority.

The consequences of treating a fetus as a human being various people, including Wendell Berry, each write their own response

The Left has betrayed the sanctity of life Until the last decade, people on the Left and Right generally agreed on one rule: We all protected the young. This was not merely agreement on an ethical question: It was also an expression of instinct, so deep and ancient that it scarcely required explanation. . . Although many liberals and radicals accepted legalized abortion, there are signs of uneasiness about it. Tell someone who supports it that you have many problems with the issue, and she is likely to say, quickly, "Oh, I don't think I could ever have one myself, but . . . ." or "I'm really not pro-abortion; I'm pro-choice" or "I'm personally opposed to it, but . . . ." Why are they personally opposed to it if there is nothing wrong with it? Perhaps such uneasiness is a sign that many on, the Left are ready to take another look at the abortion issue. In the hope of contributing toward a new perspective, I offer the following points: First, it is out of character for the Left to neglect the weak and helpless. The traditional mark of the Left has been its protection of the underdog, the weak, and the poor. The unborn child is the most helpless form of humanity, even more in need of protection than the poor tenant farmer or the mental patient or the boat people on the high seas. The basic instinct of the Left is to aid those who cannot aid themselves -- and that instinct is absolutely sound. It is what keeps the human proposition going. Second, the right to life underlies and sustains every other right we have. It is, as Thomas Jefferson and his friends said, self-evident. Logically, as well as in our Declaration of Independence, it comes before the right to liberty and the right to property. The right to exist, to be free from assault by others, is the basis of equality. Without it, the other rights are meaningless, and life becomes a sort of warfare in which force decides everything. There is no equality, because one person's convenience takes precedence over another's life, provided only that the first person has more power. If we do not protect this right for everyone, it is not guaranteed for everyone, because anyone can become weak and vulnerable to assault. . . And the "slippery slope" argument is right: People really do go from accepting abortion to accepting euthanasia and accepting "triage" for the hunger problem and accepting "lifeboat ethics" as a general guide to human behavior. We slip down the slope back to the jungle. To save the smallest children, save its own conscience, the Left should speak out against abortion.

The Abortion Papers: Bob Woodward unearths primary evidence The Roe v. Wade memos were found among the personal papers of the late Justice William O. Douglas, which became available to the public at the Library of Congress last year. They provide an unusual window on the private deliberations among the justices as they debated one of the most controversial cases of the 20th century. And they provide a useful guide to some of the issues that are likely to arise this year when the court hears a Missouri case that tests Roe once more. Critics of the 7-to-2 decision say the new memos support their arguments that the court was acting as a legislature in the abortion decision and that the ruling stands on shaky constitutional ground. . . In the final published opinion, Blackmun, far from acknowledging the "arbitrary" aspect of his ruling, wrote that the woman's right to an abortion is "compelling" and prevails up "to approximately the end of the first trimester." . . . Blackmun changed the opinion somewhat to accommodate Marshall's concerns, saying that after approximately the first trimester, the states could regulate abortion to protect the health of the mother. Charles Cooper, who until recently was head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and who opposes Roe v. Wade, said "it is interesting that [Blackmun] concedes that it is arbitrary. They are discussing the trimester reasoning as dictum," Cooper said. But if it is dictum, "it has become the most binding dictum in history." Cooper, who clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, then an associate justice and a dissenter in Roe, said Marshall's memo "contains no reference to anything that could be remotely characterized as a legal argument as opposed to policy considerations. His concerns are legislative and the discussion is not a constitutional discussion."

Abortion Bias Seeps Into News: A landmark Los Angeles Times investigation: A study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington showed that over a period of nine months, the major TV networks used "pro-choice" in 74 percent of their references to abortion -rights advocates and used "pro-life" in only 6 percent of their references to abortion opponents. The survey also found that abortion-rights activists were quoted almost twice as often as their antiabortion counterparts. Most frequently quoted on the air were NOW president Molly Yard and NARAL executive director Kate Michelman (16 quotes apiece). The most frequently quoted antiabortion activist was Randall Terry with 8 quotes. . . The press has a bent toward stereotyping pro-lifers. Accordingly, many readers and viewers have a decidedly limited sense of their diversity. . . Reporters may be assisting the Democrats by creating the image of a damaging rift in the Republican Party, while the efforts of pro-life Democrats to diversify their party's stance are mostly ignored. In prime-time network coverage of the 1996 party conventions, anchors and reporters brought up the Republican abortion platform controversy on 55 occasions -- but not once did they address the abortion platform debate of the Democrats in prime time.

The Prolife High Ground: Effective Responses to Prochoice Arguments Her lunch hour was over, and Jennifer was devastated. An hour earlier, she had made what to her seemed like a reasonable statement. She said she couldn't imagine how a woman could abort her baby. Immediately, she was overwhelmed with arguments supporting abortion. Jennifer was certain there were good responses to these prochoice arguments, but she couldn't come up with any. The thought that she had appeared uncaring and uninformed grieved her. If only she had known what to say, perhaps someone in that lunch room might have reconsidered the entire abortion issue. . . The most popular prochoice argument is that a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body. We can agree that everyone should have a certain amount of control over what happens to them, but, truthfully, the idea of absolute control does not exist. There are already laws limiting a woman's rights over her body. A woman is not permitted by law to commit suicide, she cannot sell her body parts, and, except in Nevada, she cannot sell her body. . . . A fall-back justification for abortion proposes that since abortion is legal, people have the right to it. A persuasive objection to this argument is that laws are not necessarily just. It is easy enough to mention laws in the past that were unjust, such as laws that legalized slavery. Just 150 years ago slavery was legal in this country. Nevertheless, many people knew that slavery was wrong and would never have considered owning another person just because it was legal. Sometimes legality is more a matter of permission than compulsion-because a behavior is permitted does not mean it should be done. Even in the case of abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a mother has the right to abort her baby, not the duty.

Separation of Church and State

The True Meaning of Separation of Church and State [Forbes requires disabling ad-blocking] Our forefathers never sought to evict the church from society. They recognized that the several states did not share uniform values. We lived and worshipped differently. The framers were a diverse bunch with wildly divergent opinions on many issues, but eliminating the very foundations of America's heritage would have horrified them. On few issues was there more unanimity. . . Episcopalians in Virginia would live amicably next to Catholics in Maryland, Quakers in Pennsylvania or Baptists in their midst. None saw cause for contention because there was no threat that others would gain dominion over them or any prospect that they might gain such dominion themselves. Rivalry was unnecessary because 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.'

Forgetting the Constitution by Thomas Sowell The assurance that "separation of church and state" is in the Constitution shows our elites' ignorance. "The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution about a "wall of separation" between church and state, either directly or indirectly. That phrase was used in a letter by Thomas Jefferson, who was not even in the country when the Constitution was written. It was a phrase seized upon many years later, by people who wanted to restrict religious symbols, and it has been cited by judges who share that wish. There was no mystery about what "an establishment of religion" meant when that phrase was put into the Constitution. It was not an open-ended invitation to judges to decide what role religion should play in American society or in American government."

Illicit Temptation/Pornography

Slave Master: How Pornography Drugs and Changes Your Brain It's the overuse of the dopamine reward system that causes addiction. When the pathways are used compulsively, a downgrading occurs that actually decreases the amount of dopamine in the pleasure areas available for use, and the dopamine cells themselves start to atrophy, or shrink. The reward cells in the nucleus accumbens are now starved for dopamine and exist in a state of dopamine craving, as a downgrading of dopamine receptors on the pleasure cells occurs as well. This resetting of the 'pleasure thermostat' produces a 'new normal.' In this addictive state, the person must act out in addiction to boost the dopamine to levels sufficient just to feel normal. . . Studies show that oxytocin is also important in increasing trust in humans, in emotional bonding between sx mates, and in parental bonding. We are wired to bond to the object of our sexuality. It is a good thing when this bonding occurs in a committed marriage relationship, but there is a dark side. When sx gratification occurs in the context of pornography use, it can result in the formation of a virtual mistress of sorts.

A Warped Worldview: Another Moral Effect of Pornography by Albert Mohler Late last year, Professor Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas argued that exposure to pornography may well influence views on the legalization of same- sx marriage. He suggested that viewing pornography leads men, in particular, to shift to more positive attitudes toward same-sx marriage. Regnerus cited the New Family Structures Survey and then reported that a majority of men who view pornographic material 'every day or almost every day' agreed that same-sx marriage should be legal. . . As they indicate, previous research had pointed to the influence of pornography exposure in developing sx attitudes. Wright and Randall argue that exposure to pornography 'activates a sx 'liberal' mind-set.' This mind-set 'embraces non-judgment toward and even approval of nontraditional sx behavior.'

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers - 1800's These remarks apply not merely to love considered in its state of desire for an object not yet obtained. They apply also to love considered in its state of indulgence, or placid gratification, with an object already in possession. It is seldom that any of our tastes are made to disappear by a mere process of natural extinction. At least, it is very seldom that this is done through the instrumentality of reasoning. It may be done by excessive pampering, but it is almost never done by the mere force of mental determination. But what can not be thus destroyed, may be dispossest--and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind. It is thus that the boy ceases, at length, to be the slave of his appetite; but it is because a manlier taste has now brought it into subordination, and that the youth ceases to idolize pleasure; but it is because the idol of wealth has become the stronger and gotten the ascendency, and that even the love of money ceases to have the mastery over the heart of many a thriving citizen; but it is because, drawn into the whirl of city politics, another affection has been wrought into his moral system, and he is now lorded over by the love of power.

Technical/Media Use

Multitasking while studying impairs learning ". . . College students who participated in the study were asked to watch a 30-minute videotaped lecture, during which some were sent eight text messages while others were sent four or zero text messages. Those who were interrupted more often scored worse on a test of the lecture's content; more interestingly, those who responded to the experimenters' texts right away scored significantly worse than those participants who waited to reply until the lecture was over. This ability to resist the lure of technology can be consciously cultivated, Rosen maintains. He advises students to take "tech breaks" to satisfy their cravings for electronic communication: After they've labored on their schoolwork uninterrupted for 15 minutes, they can allow themselves two minutes to text, check websites, and post to their hearts' content. Then the devices get turned off for another 15 minutes of academics. Over time, Rosen says, students are able extend their working time to 20, 30, even 45 minutes, as long as they know that an opportunity to get online awaits

Is Your Brain Being Wired By Technology? It all seems positive, right? Not exactly. Research shows we are exposed to three times more information today as compared to four decades ago. This information overload leads to more multitasking and forces us to push our brain to do things it was not built to do. Technology is allowing us, pushing us to do more as we toggle back and forth between projects and switch between using our personal computer and cell phone endlessly throughout the day. This high-performance demand to smoothly switch back and forth fatigues the frontal lobe, slows efficiency, and decreases performance. Multitasking contributes to the death of brain cells, takes a dramatic toll on mental processing and causes increased errors. Multitasking also leads to the build up of cortisol, the stress hormone, and stress reduces the immune system's first line of defense. Science demonstrates that the human brain is not wired to perform two tasks at once, yet we have all become addicted multitasking. Technology is rewiring your brain daily so that you are becoming more addicted to being distracted. Just like your brain's response to a drug, dopamine is released in response to technological 'pings,' such as text or email alerts. Dopamine cells respond to a reward primarily when it occurs unpredictably, and because our brains want to repeat the feelings of pleasure and euphoria triggered by dopamine, one technological 'ping' my produce a greater desire for the next. Bottom line: while technology can boost your brainpower, it can also impair the normal function of our brain, especially the frontal lobe.

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction technology's effect on education: Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks-- and less able to sustain attention. 'Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,' said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: 'The worry is we're raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.' . . . One student begins to read aloud, and the rest follow along. To Ms. Blondel, the exercise in group reading represents a regression in American education and an indictment of technology. The reason she has to do it, she says, is that students now lack the attention span to read the assignments on their own. 'How can you have a discussion in class?' she complains, arguing that she has seen a considerable change in recent years. In some classes she can count on little more than one-third of the students to read a 30-page homework assignment. She adds: 'You can't become a good writer by watching YouTube, texting and e-mailing a bunch of abbreviations.'

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime At the University of Michigan, a study found that people learned significantly better after a walk in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment, suggesting that processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued. Even though people feel entertained, even relaxed, when they multitask while exercising, or pass a moment at the bus stop by catching a quick video clip, they might be taxing their brains, scientists say. 'People think they're refreshing themselves, but they're fatiguing themselves,' said Marc Berman, a University of Michigan neuroscientist.

Attached to Technology and Paying a Price multi-tasking: Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement-- a dopamine squirt-- that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored. The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people like Mr. Campbell, these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life. While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist.

An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness internet dependence and addiction; short. We do spend a lot of time with our devices, and some studies have suggested that excessive dependence on cellphones and the Internet is akin to an addiction. Web sites like NetAddiction.com offer self-assessment tests to determine if technology has become a drug. Among the questions used to identify those at risk: Do you neglect housework to spend more time online? Are you frequently checking your e-mail? Do you often lose sleep because you log in late at night? If you answered 'often' or 'always,' technology may be taking a toll on you. . . . The problem is similar to an eating disorder, says Dr. Kimberly Young, a professor at St. Bonaventure University in New York who has led research on the addictive nature of online technology. Technology, like food, is an essential part of daily life, and those suffering from disordered online behavior cannot give it up entirely and instead have to learn moderation and controlled use.

Warning Signs of Tech Overload 7 signs of technology overload: 1. Do you always check your e-mail before doing other things? 2. Do you often find yourself anticipating the next time you'll be online? 3. When you're online and someone needs you, do you usually say 'just a few more minutes' before stopping? 4. Have you ever lied about or tried to hide how long you've been online? 5. Have you ever chosen to spend time online rather than going out with others? 6. Does going online lift you from a depressed or nervous mood? 7. Do others in your life often complain about the amount of time you spend using technology?

The Medium Is the Medium They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students. These students were less affected by the 'summer slide'--the decline that especially afflicts lower-income students during the vacation months. In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school. This study, along with many others, illustrates the tremendous power of books. We already knew, from research in 27 countries, that kids who grow up in a home with 500 books stay in school longer and do better. This new study suggests that introducing books into homes that may not have them also produces significant educational gains. . . the spread of home computers and high-speed Internet access was associated with significant declines in math and reading scores. This study, following up on others, finds that broadband access is not necessarily good for kids and may be harmful to their academic performance. And this study used data from 2000 to 2005 before Twitter and Facebook took off. . . But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer's world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher. Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.

The iPad is a Far Bigger Threat to Our Children Than Anyone Realizes Because technology moves so fast, and children have embraced it so quickly, it's been difficult for parents to control it. And when it comes to spending a childhood in front of a screen, this generation are like lab rats. The long-term impact is not known. . . the boom in iPads and smartphones has coincided with further deterioration in the physical and mental health of children of all ages. . . It's not just what children get up to onscreen that affects their overall development. It's what screens displace -- all the activities they're not doing in the real world. Today's children have far fewer opportunities for what I call 'real play'. They are no longer learning through first-hand experiences how to be human and are much less likely to play or socialize outdoors or with others.

Media Bias

They Lie About Everything: Inherit the Wind, Evolution and the Scopes Monkey Trial Details specific facts about the trial and compares how those facts were portrayed by Hollywood. "Many of us were even shown [the film Inherit the Wind], presented uncritically as a factual account of an American historical event, while in school and it remains the basic foundation for our culture's understanding of Darwinian Evolution. What most people don't know is that both Inherit the Wind and the Scopes Trial itself were both calculating pieces of propaganda. . . The prosecuting attorney, William Jennings Bryan, was interested only in proving that John Scopes broke the law, but the leading defense attorney and militant atheist, Clarence Darrow, had been trying to lure Bryan into a public debate about Christianity for years and intended to use this forum to put Bryan's Christian beliefs on trial."

Education and Culture

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture by Patrick Deneen "Our students' ignorance is not a failing of the educational system - it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts - whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about - have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.

Establishment Art's Ingrained Indoctrination and the Postmodern Manifesto by Richard Bledsoe (The first image on the page is a sculpture of a hand gesture that parents might want to preview first.) I've written before on how elitists push this ideology because it makes an effective tool of oppression. To be Postmodern is to be relativistic, cynical, narcissistic, and conformist. For those who might question such an interpretation, we are fortunate to have a document found posthumously among the papers of one of the leading advocates of this world view, French writer Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 - October 9, 2004). Hugely influential amongst those susceptible to such pedantic banter, he pretty much summed up his accomplishments with this quote: "I'm no good for anything except taking the world apart and putting it together again (and I manage the latter less and less frequently)." Derrida left behind a statement that bluntly summarizes the intentions of Postmodernism. I would suggest these days his ideas are like the water that we fish are ignorant of; propaganda so widely disbursed and unquestioned it's invisible to us, even as we move through it, and are carried along by its flow.

America's Second Civil War from Dennis Prager "Just as in Western Europe, the left in America seeks to erase America's Judeo-Christian foundations. The melting pot is regarded as nothing more than an anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic meme. The left suppresses free speech wherever possible for those who oppose it, labeling all non-left speech 'hate speech.' To cite only one example, if you think Shakespeare is the greatest playwright or Bach is the greatest composer, you are a proponent of dead white European males and therefore racist. . . Without any important value held in common, how can there be unity between left and non-left? Obviously, there cannot."

There's More to Life Than Being Happy by Emily Esfahani Smith "Meaning comes from the pursuit of more complex things than happiness . . " "Researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a 'taker' while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a 'giver.'"

The Decline in Teaching Western Civilization by Anthony Esolen ". . . students are not really interested in studying cultures other than ours. What counts for them as 'diversity' is governed entirely by a monotonous and predictable list of current political concerns. If you read a short story written in English by a Latina author living up the road in Worcester, that counts as 'diverse,' but if you read a romance written in Spanish by a Spanish author living in Spain four hundred years ago, that does not count as 'diverse.' It probably does not even count as Hispanic. If you pore over the verb system of Old Icelandic so that you can stumble around in the sagas of Snorri Sturluson, that does not count, despite the fact that the sagas are utterly different from any form of literature now written. But if you collect a few editorials written by Toni Morrison, that does count, despite the fact that they are written in English and that you have read hundreds of such."

Social Justice is 'Fake Scholarship,' Oxford Philosopher Says by Sir Roger Vernon Scruton ". . . the ideology might be grounded in truth, but it’s impossible to know because one cannot freely question its premises. Conformity to the orthodoxy takes precedence over the intellectual method, he said, something which is occurring more and more at universities. Scholarship is no longer a tool to seek truth but a means."

Muslim women

Covering Up the Plight of Muslim Women To take the case of wife-beating, for example, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has determined that over ninety percent of Pakistani wives have been struck, beaten, or abused sx -- for offenses on the order of cooking an unsatisfactory meal. Others were punished for failing to give birth to a male child. In Spring 2005, when the East African nation of Chad tried to institute a new family law that would outlaw wife beating, Muslim clerics led resistance to the measure as un-Islamic. Do things like this happen, as the panelists above said, because of pre-Islamic cultural hangovers? No, they happen because Islamic clerics worldwide have spoken approvingly of wife-beating. In 1984, Sheikh Yousef Qaradhawi, who is one of the most respected and influential Islamic clerics in the world, wrote: 'If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored, and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts.' Even the prominent American Muslim leader Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, has said that 'in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife,' and has explicitly invoked Islam in support of this view: 'The Koran is very clear on this issue.'

Living Under Sharia: The Plight of Women in Saudi Arabia This is the last verse revealed by Allah to finalize the dress-code for Muslim women when they go out of their homes. It made veiling an obligatory eternal law of Allah. Women must be responsible and veil themselves not to attract molestation by men. Due to changes brought about in Muslim countries during the European colonial period and pressures from the outside world (the U.N., Human Rights Groups and Western nations), most Muslim countries have relaxed this divine anti-women law. But many Arab countries apply it--Saudi Arabia being the strictest. In an ideal Islamic society, the divine laws of Allah cannot be violated under any circumstances. So, when a Girls School in Saudi Arabia caught fire in 2002, the Religious Police--the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice--beat the unveiled girls to prevent them from leaving the compound on blaze. Unveiled women (Hilali's 'uncovered meat') must not venture out; as a result, fifteen girls were burned alive to charred bodies. Islamic law commands strict segregation of unrelated men and women, even within the confines of home [Q 24:31]. In 2007, a group of Saudi youths caught a woman with an unrelated man in a car and [abused] her multiple times. The Saudi Court convicted her of violating the segregation law and sentenced to six months' jail and 200 lashes. The rapists were given light sentences of one to five years of imprisonment. When appealed, her punishment was doubled. Judge Dr. Ibrahim bin Salih al-Khudairi of the Riyadh Appeals Court later even regretted for not sentencing her to death. Strict Islamic societies demand that Muslim women maintain their purity, both physically and mentally. When a Saudi girl was found chatting with boys over Facebook, her father beat her before shooting to death.

Women in the Words of Prophet Muhammad by Dr. Sami Alrabaa, ex-Muslim - quotes about women from the Koran/

The Caged Virgin At the Swedish event, Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke calmly and rationally about the problem. I never know whether or not it's right to mention, with female public figures, the fact of arresting and hypnotizing beauty, but I notice that I seem to have done so. Shall I just say that she was a charismatic figure in Dutch politics, mainly because of the calm and reason to which I just alluded? She was the ideal choice of collaborator for the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh (a distant descendant of the anguished painter) on Submission, a film about the ignored problem of enslaved and oppressed women in Holland. Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote the screenplay and provided the movie's voice-over. You probably remember what happened next: Van Gogh was bicycling to work one morning in 2004 in the capital city of one of Europe's most peaceful and civilized countries when he was shot down in the street and then mutilated in a ritual fashion by an Islamist fanatic. The murderer (who had expected to become a martyr but who was only wounded in the leg by the gentle Dutch cops) left a long "martyr's letter" pinned to van Gogh's corpse by an equally long knife. In it, he warned Ayaan Hirsi Ali that she was the next target, and he gave a long and detailed account of all the offenses that would condemn her to an eternity in hell. (I noticed, reading this appalling screed when it was first published, that he obsessively referred to her as "Mrs. Hirshi Ali,"as if trying to make her sound like a Jew. Other references to Jews in the text were even less tasteful.) She has had to live under police protection ever since, and when I saw her again last week in Washington, I had to notice that there were several lofty and burly Dutchmen acting in an unaffected but determined way somewhere off to the side. I would urge you all to go out and buy her new book, The Caged Virgin, which is subtitled An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam. The three themes of the story are: first, her own gradual emancipation from tribalism and superstition; second, her work as a parliamentarian to call attention to the crimes being committed every day by Islamist thugs in mainland Europe; and third, the dismal silence, or worse, from many feminists and multiculturalists about this state of affairs.

My Life in an Afghan Harem Phyllis Chesler, 72, is a feminist scholar and a professor emerita of psychology and women's studies at City University of New York. In her 14th book, An American Bride in Kabul, she shares for the first time the story of the five months she spent, as a young bride, held prisoner in a Afghan household: ". . . I am now a Muslim--at least in my mother-in-law's eyes-but that still isn't enough for her. When she is angry at me, she spits at me. She calls me 'Yahud' or 'Jew.' When I complain to my husband, he dismisses me as being dramatic. I must escape. Looking both ways, I walk out feeling like a criminal. I board a bus and notice that all the other women are at the back of the bus wearing burqas. I am horrified, slightly hysterical. Meanwhile, all eyes are on me. I am without even a head scarf or a coat. . . I am lost and dizzy with fear. My husband is informed of my escape, and he finds me and brings me home . . ."

Abu-Ghanem women speak out against serial 'honor killings' "It was a women's revolt against the men of the family. While the men refused to cooperate with the police and forbade the women to speak, the women revealed all. They decided to put an end to the bloody circle of silence," Chief Inspector Haim Shreibhand, who was in charge of the investigation, told Haaretz. The detectives gathered testimonies from 20 Abu-Ghanem women and assembled the pieces of the puzzle together into an indictment, he said. Kamal Rashad Abu-Ghanem, 30, was arraigned in Tel Aviv's District Court yesterday for murder. His cousin Mahmoud, who was also arrested, was released for lack of sufficient evidence to file charges. Rashad Abu-Ghanem was charged with entering the family's home, in Ramle's Juarish neighborhood. His sister was alone in the house, lying on her bed. She probably knew she was about to die. He went up the stairs with a loaded 9-mm. handgun, entered his sister's room and fired nine bullets at her.

Her-Story: Ayaan Hirsi Ali (short) Ayaan Hirsi Magan Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She would move many times in her childhood, with her family eventually settling in Kenya. The common thread in all the places she lived was the dominating presence of Islam, and her upbringing was full of superstition. Her grandmother told her stories of men who could transform into hyenas. She was warned against making too much noise for fear she would awaken djinns. She was taught to be mistrustful, particularly of men. When her little brother Mahad asked her to look at something and then pushed her into a latrine, he was not punished. Instead Ayaan was punished for not sufficiently protecting herself. Perhaps most horrifyingly, she was subjected to fgm at the age of five, a torturous excision [] conducted with scissors, in an effort to keep her sx pure. Numerous people had the right to beat her. In 1992, Ali fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage. She began working as a Somali translator. During this work, she was exposed to many women who had been abused by their husbands. These women never fought back or pressed charges because such actions were forbidden by their religion. Ali was struck by the difference between refugee women and Dutch women. It wasn't that Dutch women were never abused. It was that when Dutch women were abused, their community didn't blame the women, or tell them that they deserved to be hit because they were not obeying their husbands properly. The Dutch social services would naively ask abused refugee women if their families could help, not understanding that their religion dictated that families side with their male abusers. Ali tried, and failed, to find answers in the Quran. In her book Infidel, she notes that, 'You must obey your husband if you are Muslim. If you refuse your husband and he rapes you, that is your fault. Allah says husbands should beat their wives if they misbehave; it's in the Quran.'

The Power and the Glory of Islamic Women What gives with Western feminism? Families of Muslim women rape, torture, behead, crucify, and hang them in public squares--all because they have committted the truly mortal sin of being female--yet the silence here on the behalf of these victims is deafening. . . . In Yemen on learning that his daughter had eloped with a man from another clan, a father gathered sons, brothers, uncles and cousins, and headed a convoy of twenty cars to storm the bride's new home. Upon retrieving her, she was thrown into one of the cars. As the convoy returned, and reached the edge of her village, her father hurled her to the asphalt and had every car drive over her. In Jordan, a man received a six-month prison term for stabbing his younger divorced sister thirty times. The murder, termed a misdemeanor by the tribunal, was minimized because the father of both brother and sister dropped charges against his son. The defendant was also sentenced to one week for intoxication and to two months for carrying a knife.

Yes, This Is About Islam by Salmon Rushdie "This isn't about Islam." The world's leaders have been repeating this mantra for weeks, partly in the virtuous hope of deterring reprisal attacks on innocent Muslims living in the West, partly because if the United States is to maintain its coalition against terror it can't afford to suggest that Islam and terrorism are in any way related. The trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn't true. If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side? . . . I'm reminded of the way noncommunist socialists used to distance themselves from the tyrannical socialism of the Soviets; nevertheless, the first stirrings of this counterproject are of great significance. If Islam is to be reconciled with modernity, these voices must be encouraged until they swell into a roar. Many of them speak of another Islam, their personal, private faith.

Climate change, bioethics, food issues (GMO, corporate interests, sustainability) will probably covered in science)