Reporter Editorial: In Defense of Ann Wentworth

My latest in the Fond du Lac Reporter:

I haven’t read the books Ann Wentworth objects to.

Maybe they’re inappropriate for middle school, maybe not (though author Julie Halpern’s comment that Wentworth is “full of hate” certainly reflects poorly on her book’s worth).

But Wentworth’s critics don’t seem to have read them, either—they just hate her for raising the subject at all.

Parents should absolutely judge whether schools should expose their children to certain content, and when they’re ready for it.

Schools making it easy for children to stumble upon controversial material in its care rob parents of that choice. Promoting independence and free inquiry is great, but that hardly means schools must or should provide every topic or author imaginable.

Parents troubled by certain material are condescendingly told to “take care of that within their own families” (translation: if we give your kids questionable stuff, it’s your problem), but why shouldn’t parents who want their kids introduced to more adult subject matter be the ones to take the initiative and go to the public library or Waldenbooks?

Yes, some kids mature quicker than others, but communities shouldn’t shy away from setting parameters for what’s generally appropriate for certain age groups. People will naturally disagree on the details, but that’s democracy — better to let each side argue the merits and let the chips fall where they may, than to stigmatize the open discussion of ideas, especially where our kids are concerned.

Indeed, demanding wholesale indifference to what schools should put on their shelves is much closer to thought control than anything Wentworth has done.

Wentworth has been smeared as not taking responsibility for her own child’s upbringing, but the opposite is true: This whole controversy arose because she’s more attentive than the rest of the town. Even so, no one parent can possibly know the content of every single book in the library; that’s supposed to be the responsibility of the people stocking the shelves. It seems to me normal people would be grateful that she’s alerted them to the possibility that maybe that job isn’t being done.

And don’t be too quick to assume that the job is being done right in Fond du Lac. In April 2007, I was part of a small group of local Republicans that was permitted to examine the district’s library database. We found that left-wing books outnumbered right-wing books four to one, including “The I Hate Republicans Reader,” by Clint Willis and books by fraudulent filmmaker Michael Moore and fringe philosopher Peter Singer, who says “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person.”

The School Board was not interested in rectifying the bias at the time. If they have done so since, I am not aware of it.

It’s no surprise that the School Board doesn’t care about Wentworth’s concerns, but it is shocking that her petition calling for a new content rating system and a committee to examine book content has received a paltry 30 signatures.

Really? A city of more than 40,000 people only has 30 interested in closer scrutiny of controversial material in our schools?

Ask yourself why none of Wentworth’s critics have said, “These books actually are age-appropriate, and here’s why.”

The first answer is that you’re not supposed to question the Fond du Lac School District. Ever.

Second, lots of parents don’t like to be reminded that someone is paying closer attention to their kids’ education than they are, so they choose to instead tear her down as a bad parent. Fond du Lac should be so proud.

UPDATE: As usual, the comments are a treasure trove of unintentional hilarity – ultra-partisan hacks Pan “Cobweb1780” Zareta and DelScorcho ignore what I write and instead thoughtlessly snipe about partisanship and “censorship.” Ever notice how rarely liberals even make an effort to argue honestly?


Bias & Censorship at the Fond du Lac Reporter

Groups and websites like NewsReal and the Media Research Center do great work holding the big dogs of the mainstream media—the New York Times, CNN, the networks, NPR, etc.—accountable for lies and sleaze, but there is another manifestation of media bias that gets far too little attention: local media.  My mother, Peg Freiburger, recently wrote an editorial to our local paper, the Fond du Lac Reporter, about legislation giving Planned Parenthood greater influence in Wisconsin public schools.  The letter’s path to publication raises serious questions about the objectivity of America’s most influential newspapers.

It responds to a February 12 news report, yet wasn’t published until April 2.  That’s because Mom originally submitted it on Feb. 14 (the original version of the letter appears below the fold).  She waited until March 1 for it to be published or for reaction from the Reporter, which she never received, then emailed an inquiry about the letter’s status to Managing Editor Michael Mentzer.  No response.  She waited some more, then sent a second email to Mentzer on March 10.

Mentzer finally responded a couple days later via phone.  Incredibly, he claimed the editorial staff felt “uncomfortable” printing the allegations in her latest editorial, that she needed to provide more evidence, and that the line, “It is pathetic that in Fond du Lac we have a county health officer and a county board…” cut too close to slander and libel.

At Mentzer’s request, Mom resubmitted the letter on March 16, this time with a link for her every claim.  She did not hear back for the next several days, and resubmitted it on March 22.  On March 23, Mentzer responded, stating he hoped to run it in the next several days, though election letters had priority.  On April 2, it finally appeared—under the title, “Planned Parenthood makes money on birth control,” a name that conveniently downplays the letter’s main objections to Planned Parenthood, and the organization’s connection to Wisconsin public schools.

This is perhaps unsurprising, given that Mentzer has in the past advocated greater government power to punish those who “distort information” in public.  But since when do local newspapers in general, and the Fond du Lac Reporter in particular, vet or take responsibility for the content of independent opinions?

Answer: they don’t.  Personal attacks on private citizens, slanderous mischaracterizations of opponents’ beliefs and actions, and factual claims that range from demonstrably false to at least debatable have always run rampant in the Reporter.  This is to be expected—the very point of an opinion page is to represent all the points of view in a community, to let the readers duke it out amongst themselves.

Click here for many examples of what the Reporter has traditionally published; here are some of the most blatant rhetoric that goes far beyond the content of Mom’s letter, which the powers that be initially thought too objectionable to print:

Rea Dunca, 6/14/06“How are these people [opponents of same-sex marriage] different then from Muslims who blow up hundreds of people in the name of Allah?”

Leah Woodruff, 7/7/06“Just when it seems that Fond du Lac is accepting its growing diversity, people start writing racist letters directed toward hard-working, law-abiding citizens.” [In response to a 7/5/06 letter by Elizabeth Van Bommel, which argued not for racism, but against illegal immigration.]

Brent Schmitz, 8/8/06“Why then, does Mr. Fountain use the quote to try to force his religion on suffering and dying Americans who need the cures this research can provide?” [In response to Steve Fountain’s 8/4/06 letter, which argued against embryonic stem cell research using this quote, and making no reference to religion.]

Julie Labomascus, 9/10/06“I wish to thank the two ladies who wrote the letters about 1950s morals and the male/female union. Both of you probably intended these letters to be serious, but they were so full of inaccuracies that they were the funniest things I’ve read in a few weeks. Thank you again for the laughs.” [This is the letter in its entirety. The author makes no effort to demonstrate what inaccuracies she’s referring to.]

Peter Cloyes, 11/28/06“I have nothing but contempt for the parents who are trying to have the book [I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou] removed from the [Fond du Lac High School] curriculum. They are clearly moronic bigots.” [The parents objected to the book’s explicit rape scene, not its racial aspects.]

Call the opinions of local officials “pathetic,” and the editor gets cold feet.  But calling your fellow citizens bigots?  Accusing them of factual inaccuracies you don’t even list?  Comparing them to terrorists?  No problemo!

Mentzer’s “concerns” about this letter’s conduct seem like cheap excuses not to publish a strong conservative opinion about a serious local controversy, not a real, consistently-applied quality control policy.  Does he really mean to suggest that the Reporter fact-checks every single opinion piece it prints?  If this was the norm, very little would ever be published on newspaper opinion pages across the country!

It’s safe to say that many people who don’t read the New York Times, USA Today, or the Washington Post do read their local papers.  And who keeps an eye on them?  How often does bull like this go on nationwide?  If Mom hadn’t pestered Mentzer with follow-up emails, would her letter ever have seen the light of day?  How many conservative views are snuffed out because their authors are less persistent, or because newspaper editors are more bold in their censorship?

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  Likewise, the apathy of the people is the Left’s best friend.  Media bias, educational indoctrination, corruption in local government, or leaders who disregard the interests and values of their community—it all happens and continues because inattentive, unconcerned populaces let the powerful get away with it.  And if all politics is local, then we can’t expect real, lasting change at the national level if we don’t open our eyes and demand standards in our own communities.

Continue reading

Flashback: The FdL Reporter’s Double Standards

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see what evidently doesn’t violate the Fond du Lac Reporter editorial board’s sensibilities:

Kristopher Purzycki, 6/2/06—“The law has no place for ‘logic’ that promotes the removal of freedom from the private lives of citizens!”

David E. Beaster, 6/6/06“I suspect that Mrs. [Anita] Anderegg would have all of us to believe that we would be better off under a feudal system where the concentration of power would be in the hands of a group of elitists.” [In response to a proposal to reduce the size of the Fond du Lac County Board from 36 members to 18.]

Rea Dunca, 6/14/06“How are these people [opponents of same-sex marriage] different then from Muslims who blow up hundreds of people in the name of Allah?”

Leah Woodruff, 7/7/06“Just when it seems that Fond du Lac is accepting its growing diversity, people start writing racist letters directed toward hard-working, law-abiding citizens.” [In response to a 7/5/06 letter by Elizabeth Van Bommel, which argued not for racism, but against illegal immigration.]

Maria Kohlman, 7/13/06“I felt the Reporter did a wonderful job with the story, then someone like you had to come along and rip it apart with your racist comments.” [In response to the same letter.  The Reporter reprinted this letter on 7/18/06.]

Brent Schmitz, 8/8/06“Why then, does Mr. Fountain use the quote to try to force his religion on suffering and dying Americans who need the cures this research can provide?” [In response to Steve Fountain’s 8/4/06 letter, which argued against embryonic stem cell research using this quote, and making no reference to religion.]

A.G. Keberlein, 8/14/06“This march to war was orchestrated by an inept Republican administration that lied to all of America about the need for such a war.”

John P. Stoltenberg, 8/21/06“The definition of fascism in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is as follows: Fascism, a philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism…The Bush Administration perfectly fits the definition of fascism.”

Julie Labomascus, 9/10/06“I wish to thank the two ladies who wrote the letters about 1950s morals and the male/female union. Both of you probably intended these letters to be serious, but they were so full of inaccuracies that they were the funniest things I’ve read in a few weeks. Thank you again for the laughs.” [This is the letter in its entirety. The author makes no effort to demonstrate what inaccuracies she’s referring to.]

Jan Starks, 10/4/06“Yet it is groups such as this that seek to dishonor the memory of the fallen for a political advantage.” [Objecting to local pro-lifers who held a pro-life rally at Veterans Park.]

Ryan Long, 10/17/06“There is no logical reason for this ban [on same-sex marriage]. Its supporters will come to the polls simply because gay people make them sick.”

Steve Fero, 10/30/06“I’ll vote ‘no’ on the gay marriage ban amendment. It seems to me improper to use the Constitution to codify petty bigotries.”

Joseph E. Malson, 11/14/06“By voting ‘yes’ [on Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment], you are saying it’s OK to discriminate against someone because you don’t like who they are. Plain and simple. That’s who you are as a people.”

On 11/26/06, the Reporter published a letter by Adam Kempf, arguing that not recognizing same-sex marriage is equivalent to banning interracial marriage. The letter was heavily plagiarized from a 2/12/05 Washington Post editorial by Colbert I. King.

Peter Cloyes, 11/28/06“I have nothing but contempt for the parents who are trying to have the book [I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou] removed from the [Fond du Lac High School] curriculum. They are clearly moronic bigots.” [The parents objected to the book’s explicit rape scene, not its racial aspects.]

Kenneth Bounds, 11/28/06“Nazis didn’t allow the Germans to read books, either. Way to go, Fond du Lac!”

Samuel McIntosh, 3/8/07“It seems to me the only reason we are in Iraq is the oil, and to take out a puppet leader gone awry, but that’s only because he has oil.”

Ted & Hedy Eischeid, 4/1/07“Mrs. [Linda] Clifford has an outstanding legal record, one of integrity and intelligence. Unfortunately, her opponent, Annette Ziegler, has clearly violated the Judicial Code of Conduct multiple times.”

Harold Gudex, 4/9/07“Seventy percent of us want out of this illegal war. It is based on lies.”

Brent Schmitz, 12/14/07“Mr. Freiburger seems to devalue debate and disagreement within the American political sphere. Evidently, only conservative teachers are worthy of community support and funding, as per the veiled threat he makes at the end of the letter.” [In response to my editorial here; my rebuttal is here.]

Mom Takes on Planned Parenthood

My mother, Peg Freiburger, had an important editorial in Friday’s Fond du Lac Reporter:

A news article in The Reporter (Feb. 12, by Sharon Roznik) on 2009 Assembly Bill 458 requiring changes to our school’s sex education instruction leaves out the most important information.

Planned Parenthood (PPH) has been a strong supporter and has spent much time and money lobbying for this bill.

Why? This bill now allows Planned Parenthood as agents of the state under the Department of Health Services to come in to our schools and teach their version of “healthy sex” to our kids (SECTION 10. 146.89 (3r) (e)).

You know, the same organization that has been caught on video in Appleton, in Milwaukee, and other clinics across the country giving false information to young girls regarding whether her baby has a heartbeat, what the dangers of abortion are, and failing to contact authorities in cases of rape to girls as young as 13.

A recent report from International Planned Parenthood Federation advocates children age 10 and over “be given extensive sex education, including awareness of sex’s pleasures.”

Why does PPH do this? For the money! The more sexually active our children are, the more money PPH makes selling birth control, STD medications and abortions.

In 2007 in Wisconsin alone, more than $5.4 million was taken through our tax dollars and given to Planned Parenthood. Part of this was used so girls as young as 15 could receive free birth control, without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

It is pathetic that in Fond du Lac we have a county health officer and a county board of health member/pediatrician who apparently find this acceptable for our children.

Those who support such a thing should read the bill. Then they could explain to the community why it is OK to have a bill that will not allow school employees to tell Johnny that he shouldn’t have sex with multiple partners (Section 4, 118.019 (2) (a) (9) (b)), why they are supporting an organization that has stated that religious groups, such as Catholics, “deny the pleasurable and positive aspects of sex,” (Fox News link above), and why they support an organization that had Valentine’s Day cards this year with condoms on the front and “I like playing with you” written on the inside.

Even though this bill is now law, we in Fond du Lac can do something about it. Since the state has deemed it necessary to take away our local control as to what we want our children to learn about sex, we can opt to remove sex education completely from our schools.

Let’s devise other local programs to help our kids deal with the pressures and consequences of sex before they’re ready. Let’s develop a community program outside the schools that reflects the faith and values we hold dear in our community.

Right on cue, our old friend Cobweb1780 (AKA unintentional Daily Kos parody Pan Zareta) responded in the comments with this brilliant insight:

The implication of this comment is the writer would prefer kids be kept ignorant about sex. That ignorance is somehow preferable to knowledge about the reality of sex too young.

Of course, to come to this conclusion, Cobweb has to completely ignore the letter’s main point, all the sleaze surrounding Planned Parenthood – including criminal conduct – and the supporting evidence Mom provided.  “The implication of this comment is the writer would prefer kids be” subjected to the influence of an organization willing to ignore statutory rape and promote dangerous personal behavior to sustain their profits.

Further, Mom doesn’t say she’s against age-appropriate sex education in public schools.  She is arguing for the people of Fond du Lac’s right to decide these matters for themselves, not be dictated to by radical, out-of-touch politicians in Madison.  But if the state insists upon giving our money to Planned Parenthood, and subjecting our kids to their twisted “values,” then looking outside of the school system for their sexual education is the preferable alternative.  Cobweb is free to disagree if she likes, but that doesn’t entitle her to mischaracterize others as believing in “ignorance.”

In Defense of Hillsdale

As usual, there are a handful of criticisms of my Reporter editorial about free speech, most of them not worth addressing—the usual assortment of illogic & dishonesty (FDL54935—one of the liars referenced in my editorial—is a conservative?  Yeah, right).  One, however, warrants a response, as this isn’t the first time it’s reared its ugly head, and it won’t be the last:

DotingDad: “I wonder: when does he have time to do his schoolwork, since he is constantly writing these long-winded letters to the editor? Maybe Hillsdale is just about right-wing indoctrination, and as long as you subscribe to that, you’ll pass all your courses.”

Yes, Hillsdale College is a conservative-leaning school, but it’s also an honest one.  Its mission is to provide students with a solid grounding in the foundations of Western civilization—Greco-Roman philosophy, Judeo-Christian morality, the political ideas of the English Enlightenment and the American Founding, and classical free-market economics.  To be sure, genuine study of these things generally leads to ideas more in line with American conservatism than with progressivism.  However, that’s a sign not of how biased Hillsdale is, but of what a radical departure progressivism was from pre-20th-century thought, as well as how factually inaccurate much of mainstream education is.

Most public schools are presented as impartial institutions with no aim beyond offering students a well-rounded knowledge base and preparing them for adulthood.  Ideology is disseminated—sometimes overtly, sometimes by stealth—to an unsuspecting, often-apolitical audience, their parents forced to support the school with their tax dollars, the teachers state-approved authority figures in the lives of impressionable minors.

Hillsdale, however, is honest about its mission.  The school’s emphasis on classical thought (which, as anybody actually familiar with the professors and the classes can guarantee, is a far cry from RNC propaganda) is out in the open; anybody considering Hillsdale is free to apply or not with full knowledge of its mission.

At most colleges, you can barely swing a dead cat without hitting some washed-up Marxist or an ex-Black Panther, and odds are he’d have tenure.  K-12 public education has more than a little propagandizing of its own to answer for, too.  Rest assured, if DotingDad is really that concerned about education, he’s barking up the wrong tree.

Freedom of Speech

My latest Reporter editorial:

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I’m glad to see Michael Mentzer take a stand against the lies and venom that have come to dominate online forums—civil discussion is almost always an exercise in futility, and the only education you’ll receive is a crash course in human nature’s dark side.  It’s genuinely disheartening to discover what our neighbors are capable of with a digital secret identity.

However, I believe important distinctions must be made, and lines drawn, in how we respond.

The Fond du Lac Reporter absolutely has the right to insist its users attach full names to whatever they say on their forums, as well as to delete whatever comments and ban whichever users they think have crossed the line.  That’s not tyranny; it’s a private institution’s right to set the terms under which one may use its services.  Like the Trace Adkins song says: “Son, the First Amendment protects you from the government—not from me.”

But when government enters the picture, things change.  Mr. Mentzer expresses hope for new laws punishing “online users who lie with malice, falsify and distort information for their own ends, and intimidate with the intention of limiting or denying freedom of speech to others,” with violators “identified, tracked down, charged, fined or jailed.”

Libel is already punishable, if a demonstrably-false statement can be shown to have damaged the victim in some way.  But not all lies are created equal—in response to my last editorial, one of’s anonymous commenters accused me of plagiarism.  Prior to that, another cited “sources” to claim I’m “barely making it through community college.”  They’re bald-faced lies (just look up Hillsdale College sometime), but have I been damaged?  Of course not; I’m not about to lose sleep over some loser with an abundance of bandwidth and free time. (“Sources” tell me my fan is really Roman Polanski.  See how easy it is?)

The point is, a lie’s credibility matters to its potential impact—and anonymous, poorly-spelled claims made via communication technology tailor-made for the lazy just won’t cut it.  In the event that such attacks do manage to harm someone, I’m confident the proper authorities will be able to unmask the culprit.

As for “falsify[ing] and distort[ing] information for their own ends,” Mr. Mentzer has (sadly) just described much of American politics.  We have entire industries—publications, websites, advocacy groups—dedicated to spreading “the truth,” and rarely is there a consensus on what that truth is. So how could this possibly be enforced, without some government decree or administrative body established to conclude just what the “official” facts are on any given topic?  I cannot believe we would want to start down that road.

We encounter similar problems with intimidation.  Like libel, intimidation by threat of violence is already actionable, and short of that, clamping down on “intimidating” speech—and giving Uncle Sam the leeway to decide what’s “intimidating”—is another scary road that would create more problems than it would solve.

The federal and state Constitutions grant the people broad freedom of speech because our forefathers knew free and open communication was an essential bulwark against tyranny.  Whenever people are given freedom, some will abuse it, but as they say, bad speech is best countered by good speech, not government force.

Treat with caution any temptation to “fix” liberty’s imperfections, for as history shows, such endeavors always bring about more than we bargain for.  For all the beauty and wisdom our First Amendment has made possible throughout history, the occasional blemish is a price I’ll gladly pay.

Healthcare, Hatred & Hypocrisy

The Reporter has published my latest flagrant act of speech.  Here’s the Director’s Cut:

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Barack Obama’s national healthcare plan [PDF link] has met tremendous opposition—polls show ObamaCare becoming less popular the more America learns about it, and townhall protests have many politicians cowering under their desks.

It’s easy to see why—the Congressional Budget Office contradicts Obama’s cost predictions almost as soon as he makes them. His promise that you can keep your current plan contradicts his campaign-trail desires to use a public option as a bridge to single-payer.  Despite claims to the contrary, says ObamaCare will cover abortions, and the Congressional Research Service says it’ll likely end up covering illegal immigrants.  Countries like Canada are moving away from government and towards the free market to remedy their disastrous nationalized systems.

The Left is retaliating as they always do: demagoguery.  House leaders Nancy Pelosi & Steny Hoyer call the protesters “un-American.”  Pelosi makes blanket statements about protesters “carrying swastikas.”  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls them “evil-mongers.”  The media routinely insinuates that anti-Obama sentiment is really just anger over a black man in the White House.

As usual, liberals are lying—most of the Obama-Hitler comparisons have come not from conservatives, but from followers of Lyndon LaRouche, a fringe figure who supports a single-payer healthcare plan even more extreme than ObamaCare.  MSNBC pondered the racism of those bringing guns to townhalls—while running selective footage hiding the black skin of the armed person in their video.

And lest you think their anti-hatred sentiment is sincere, recall the antiwar protests of 2002 onward, where Bush-Hitler comparisons (plus plenty of anti-Semitism) were all the rage (no pun intended).  Pelosi felt differently about “shouting down” opponents then—she told a group of Code Pink extremists: “I’m a fan of disrupters.”  As the Sweetness & Light weblog recently noted, there are over 16 million Hitler references at the liberal weblog Daily Kos—an organization embraced by Obama, Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Barney Frank.  Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Robert Byrd, Rep. Keith Ellison, and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann have all compared Republicans to Nazis.

Indeed, it was the “Lion of the Senate,” the late liberal icon Ted Kennedy, who arguably did more to debase modern political discourse than anyone in recent memory, with his famous screed that ““Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of the government.”

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe endorsed Michael Moore’s fanatic, lie-filled Fahrenheit 9/11, whose DC premiere was attended by “Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Montana Sen. Max Baucus, South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, New York Rep. Charles Rangel, Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, and others.”  Moore also attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention as the personal guest of President Jimmy Carter, who called Fahrenheit 9/11 one of his favorite movies.

Obama himself saw no problem exposing his children to the bigoted Rev. Jeremiah Wright for years, or numerous relations with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist Will Ayers, including a 1995 political “coming-out” party, a favorable review of one of Ayers’ books in 1997, and more.  In 2008 he routinely said his opponents would say Obama “doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency.’”

Have some protesters acted badly?  Sure, every movement has its loons.  But so what?  It’s ridiculous to think the conduct of some conservative in Vermont should reflect on another in Wisconsin, and as anyone who’s ever tried to calm down Crazy Uncle Billy at Thanksgiving dinner should realize, it’s insane to expect that Michael Steele or Rush Limbaugh can somehow enforce behavioral lockstep among every member of a movement comprised of millions of people.

Indeed, if you think only bad movements have extremists, look up abolitionist John Brown sometime.

What matters is the character of the majority and the responsibility of the leadership, and here conservatism leaves liberalism in the dust.  For instance, a few fringe conservatives embrace the Obama birth certificate conspiracy, but most—the Republican National Committee, National Review, Human Events, the American Spectator, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, John Hawkins, and more—have rejected it.  Can the Left say the same about “blood for oil” in Iraq, or President Bush’s National Guard service?

Savagery is at the Left’s core (as a stroll through the comment threads on can confirm).  It’s all about intimidating dissenters into silence.  Yesterday’s cherished hallmark of democracy is today’s intolerable act of treason.  Don’t fall for their lies—and don’t let them get away with their own sins.

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Once again, the comment section is a merry menagerie of missives from morons & malcontents (with a couple much-appreciated exceptions)—you’ve got the inability to distinguish between sweeping generalization and specific statement of fact, or between ordinary expression of disagreement and genuine hate speech; the standard-issue big business boogeyman (sorry, guys, but not quite), blurring the distinction between “reform” and a specific plan of “reform,” a groundless insult toward Hillsdale College (a conservative school, yes, but I daresay you’ll find more ideological diversity—both among faculty and students—here than the average state school) and my personal favorite, Marvin49’s suggestion that I’m a plagiarist.  Again we see that Internet anonymity does wonders for the dissemination of slander.

Stupid Things People Say About Conservatives

Unlike the Reporter’s distinguished clientele, Jay Morris’s response to my civil unions editorial manages to remain calm and address things I’ve actually written.  Still, our Harvey Milk fan’s attempts to show I am “disgruntled” and “didn’t really do any research” fall flat:

Unfortunately, Mr. Freiburger apparently has not reviewed what is required in Wisconsin to obtain a “marriage license,” including the facts that: (a) once applied for, the license only has a 6 day waiting period before being effective; and (b) that only one person need reside in Wisconsin for at least 30 days.  Thus, the “scant” requirement to obtain Domestic Partnership benefits in Wisconsin far exceeds the requirements to obtain a marriage license and more benefits than provided by the Domestic Partnership laws.

I fail to see the relevance here.  I’m not claiming these new civil unions are easier or harder to qualify for than civil marriage; I’m saying exactly what my original point sounded like: it will be easy to scam these civil unions.  Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen, while not predicting fraud, recently said, “even for those who already get benefits for their partner through their employer, there is a huge advantage to applying to the registry.”  You could say that people can scam civil marriage, too, but the reality is that it is much more common for non-romantically-involved people of the same sex to live together than those of opposite sexes.  In any event, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Morris for not devoting a larger share of my 600-word limit to a side issue.

Even when debates with liberals aren’t vicious and juvenile, they can carry a distinct air of surrealism—Mr. Morris strangely claims that my comments about “the so-called rights gay couples are allegedly denied” show that I “neglected to review Wisconsin law at all,” since the marriage amendment “includes a ban on any relationship between same-sex couples that is ‘similar to’ marriage.”  Perhaps our friend shouldn’t be so quick to cast stones over insufficient research, inasmuch as he apparently didn’t even read the piece he’s rebutting in full—in which I discuss the “2006 Marriage Protection Amendment, which prohibits the state from recognizing ‘a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.’”

Mr. Morris attempts to prove the amendment threatens gays by quoting Wisconsin’s former (disgraced) Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.  What he doesn’t mention: after the election, the AG was singing a different tune from what she said as a Democrat candidate:

In one of her last official acts, outgoing Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager has declared that Wisconsin’s recently enacted constitutional ban on same-sex marriage does not prohibit public or private employers from providing domestic partner benefits.  In a six-page opinion released Wednesday, Lautenschlager also told Madison City Attorney Michael May that the constitutional amendment does not strike down anti-discrimination protections for domestic partners.  Lautenschlager wrote that “it can reasonably be inferred” from the language of the amendment “that neither the Legislature nor the people intended to invalidate domestic partnerships when they adopted this provision.”

Also intolerable to our friend is the fact that gay couples seeking to arrange benefits themselves via wills and power of attorney pay much more than the cost of a marriage license.  First, I still maintain that, while full replication of everything civil marriage offers may be impossible, gay couples still have access to far more than the gay lobby, such as the lying charlatans of Fair Wisconsin, would have you believe.

Second, I again reiterate my point that many of these benefits “were created to aid couples raising children on just one parent’s income, and are thus irrelevant to gay couples (as well as to dual-income straight couples).”  To be completely honest, I think it would be interesting to do a full review of civil marriage in America and reassess every benefit, and see which should be preserved, which should be changed to apply only to single-income couples or couples with children, and which should be done away with entirely.  So I hope you’ll excuse me for not feeling guilty for denying gay couples some provisions I don’t necessarily believe straight couples need either.

Third, as I’ve also said time and time again, it’s certainly possible to change laws and streamline processes for achieving these things in amendment-compatible ways.  A few years back, Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson endorsed just such a measure in Colorado.  I note that Dobson hasn’t received much goodwill from the gay Left for his efforts.

Jay has one last complaint about my “so-called article” (what does that even mean?  Guess I spoke too soon about maturity…): “the rule of law is always up for debate – particularly when the law violates other laws, like equal protection clauses of the primary source, The United States Constitution.”

I’m still trying to decide whether or not this is a weak attempt to dodge my point, or if Jay is really this obtuse.  His so-called analysis (see how dumb that sounds?) appears to confuse “laws” with the principle of “the rule of law.”  The former means any given law on the books, be it a constitutional provision, act of a legislature, or duly-enacted referendum.  Of course these are “always up for debate;” I never suggested otherwise.  The latter is the principle that the process by which we make and change laws is something to be respected, that we (to quote myself again, since Jay apparently missed it the first time) “cannot pick and choose which of its provisions to enforce and which to violate, no matter what they may personally think about them.”  Don’t like a law?  Get it repealed.  But as an American, living under the protection of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin, you have no moral right to simply ignore what it says.  That goes double for those in public office, like Governor Jim Doyle, who swear [PDF link] “to support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices to the best of their ability.”

No matter how much I despise abortion and wish to see it banned, I don’t want such a ban to come via the Supreme Court.  Because I respect and value the rule of law.

However draconian limitations on how close to Planned Parenthoods pro-lifers can protest may be, you won’t see me violate them.  Because I respect and value the rule of law.

Regardless of what I may think of any given tax—because I think it unjust, excessive, or I disapprove of the purpose for which it is raising funds—I would never dodge it.  Because I respect and value the rule of law.

Jay Morris gave it the good old college try, and delivered a response a cut above most of my critics.  But as we see, that’s still not saying much.

The Liberal Playbook: Gay Marriage

The Reporter has published my latest commentary on civil unions in Wisconsin, predictably bringing angry liberals out of the woodwork.  It’s interesting to note how predictable, one-note, and disinterested in what’s actually said, these guys generally are, and it’s important for conservatives to know what logical fallacies, sleights of hand, and personal attacks to expect when stepping into the ring with a liberal.

Take, for instance, the assumption that religion plays a leading role in my opinion, despite never being mentioned.  Liberal orthodoxy dictates that virtually no conservative opinion, especially on social issues, can possibly be held in good faith, so there must be an ulterior motive—in this case, hatred of gays and religious dogma.  Liberal orthodoxy further dictates that the slightest hint of religion (real or otherwise) in an opinion or discussion is something to be feared and immediately disqualified from consideration.

The other main objection is that, without civil unions, gays are denied equal rights.  I reject this premise entirely, for several reasons, the short version being just as I said in the article: “Many of the so-called rights gay couples are allegedly denied, such as hospital visitation and power-of-attorney related issues, are either already available to gays, easily achievable without creating new government relationship statuses, or were created to aid couples raising children on just one parent’s income, and are thus irrelevant to gay couples (as well as to dual-income straight couples).”  Moreover, I say “so-called rights” because most marriage benefits are not “rights” at all, but rather provisions offered as part of a contract.

I made clear that same-sex marriage was not the issue at dispute in my letter—the main topic was this measure’s constitutionality.  However, you’ll find that same-sex marriage advocates tend to struggle with the concept of “staying on topic,” and will completely skip your argument, instead jumping straight to why you’re evil for not supporting gay marriage.  If you refuse to let them change the subject and insist on staying on topic, you will be mischaracterized as either ducking the question or admitting defeat.

Regardless of whether or not you actually said anything demeaning towards homosexuals, no matter how much you insist you also want gay people to be able to visit their ailing partners in the hospital, you should still expect condescending lectures about how gays are people too, how homosexuality is predetermined (both propositions I accept, by the way…not that these armchair psychiatrists care), etc.  You will be psychoanalyzed with utter certitude, your opinions attributed to fear, hatred, or ignorance.  References to violence against gay Americans, black segregation, and even al-Qaeda will be thrown about with reckless abandon.

How do they know?  They just do.  They care, you don’t.  Bigot.

Also be prepared for raw hatred & childishness, such as casual references to “half-baked turd[s] of imflammatory mush” (this gem, incidentally, is from the author of the Daily Kos entry linked above, and once responded, badly, to another of my letters, noteworthy for its hypocrisy: she claims she doesn’t “want to write in anger.”).

You may even have outright lies told about you, and you may see long-simmering grudges boil over—bravely aired behind veils of anonymity, naturally.  “FDL54935” says:

Mr. Freiburger got his 15 seconds of fame since his parents went WAY overboard on a school issue. The man (Calvin) is one of the weakest writers in this community. If my sources are correct, he is barely making it through community college. I know times are tough and this is an issue that needs to be debated, but please limit editorials to those with an IQ over 75.

The issue to which our zip code refers is the case when a Fond du Lac High School teacher complained about my saying “God Bless America” over the school intercom, which the administration subsequently lied about.

Now, maybe Mr. Code was misled by news outlets that falsely reported my family was angry over the school’s speed in handling the matter, rather than their dishonesty.  Maybe he’s been lied to by propagandists whose sham reporting completely distorts the incident.  Then again, perhaps he’s the one doing the lying…after all, he’s angry enough about it to lie about my education, citing “sources” that probably don’t exist.  The real school I attend isn’t a community college, is nothing to sneeze at, and I think making Hillsdale’s Dean’s List for the second year in a row is a little better than “barely making it through.” (By the way, if you have the audacity to defend yourself by citing such facts, you can probably expect to be accused of bragging at some point, too.)

Hmm, it almost makes you wonder whether or not FDL54935’s got some kind of personal connection to the Fond du Lac School District…(crazy thought, I know.  The educational community is much too professional for that sort of thing, right?)

Hatred, anger, condescension, childishness, demonization, and persecution are all the rage (no pun intended) among the modern American Left, including the gay marriage movement.  For some liberals, I suspect, the root cause may be an insecure need for self-affirmation; for others, it is a manifestation of the liberal impulse to delegitimize opposing speech as soon as possible, to give it as little consideration as possible.  The Left wants to intimidate, not deliberate.

Don’t let them.  Don’t let yourself be shamed or silence by a movement that’s not exactly pure as the new-fallen snow itself.  Never apologize for believing that marriage matters.

America’s Christian Heritage

My latest letter to the Fond du Lac Reporter:

George Ciesla’s April 19 letter illustrates a growing problem in America: severe confusion over our nation’s identity.  Is America a “Christian nation”?  What does that phrase even mean?  Let’s try to set the record straight.

As of 2008, 76% of Americans identify themselves as Christians [PDF link].  Accordingly, Christianity has shaped American life since the beginning.  So “Christian nation” is a perfectly legitimate descriptive term.

Furthermore, we are founded in significant part upon the Christian idea that every person is created equal, loved equally by the God who made us all.  In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson said government’s purpose is to secure the inalienable rights “endowed [on us] by our Creator.”  In his Farewell Address, George Washington called religion an “indispensable support” to political prosperity, warning us not “to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”  Ben Franklin proposed opening the Philadelphia Convention each day with prayer, because he believed that “God governs in the affairs of men,” and he feared the prospect of forming a government solely “by Human Wisdom, and leav[ing] it to chance, war, and conquest.”

In his landmark work Democracy in America, French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville explained that democracy tends to cause each person “to be occupied with himself alone,” but religion combats self-centered narcissism by drawing man “away from contemplation of himself” and imposing “some duties toward the human species or in common with it.”  Modern research demonstrates Tocqueville’s point—in Who Really Cares, Syracuse University Professor Arthur Brooks finds that “religious people are far more charitable than nonreligious people.”

Were all the Framers Christians?  No, but many were, and even those who didn’t accept Christ (namely Franklin and Jefferson) believed in a higher power and recognized religion’s importance to any free society.  Nobody familiar with their writings can deny this—many, many more examples can be found in books such as America’s God & Country Encyclopedia of Quotations by William Federer and God of Our Fathers by Josiah Richards.

To deny America’s Christian heritage, revisionists often cite the Treaty of Tripoli, which states America is “not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”  What they don’t tell you: the treaty was an (unsuccessful) effort to appease the Muslim pirates of the Barbary Coast (to whom President John Adams also agreed to pay protection money) attacking American ships at the time—hardly comparable to the scores of public statements and private correspondences that reveal the mark of faith in our forefathers’ thinking, not the least of which is our very Declaration of Independence!

True, the Constitution does not mention God.  True, we have a separation of church and state.  But both statements are irrelevant.  Mr. Ciesla mishears the phrase “Christian nation” as “Christian theocracy” or “Christian government,” but it means neither.  It’s a statement about our ideals, history and culture—not our government.  Maybe the problem is liberalism’s view of government: they idealize it as the solution to everyone’s problems, so they cannot imagine that any part of the nation can be considered separately from the state.

The Founders guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience for all Americans, and rightly so.  They wanted to prevent the state from persecuting churches and churches from oppressing the people, but despite what today’s secular revisionists may tell you, they never intended to keep religion stuffed inside pews and living rooms, never to be seen in the public square.  They never meant to purge religious thought and speech from political debate.  There’s nothing “prejudiced” about telling the truth about our heritage…but there is something “un-American” about suppressing it.