City of Houston subpoenas pastors’ sermons concerning Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or the ordinance allowing people to use opposite-sex restrooms.
– News report
Even the most timid person has neither the time nor the energy to be afraid of everything. We are selective about what we fear, and this choice reveals much about us. Obviously, Ebola is frightening. A communicable disease which is 60%-90% fatal, and for which there is no specific treatment or vaccine, would frighten any rational person.
Those who attempt to debunk the risk of Ebola point out how many more deaths are caused by auto accidents, influenza, malaria, etc., etc. These arguments have varying degrees of validity. For example, how will it make road accidents decrease if we ignore the danger of Ebola? Adding another risk to existing risks benefits no one.
But I would take a slightly different tack. I would ask this question: Which has killed the most victims, Ebola or totalitarianism?
The answer is undeniable. Communism has killed at least 100 million people. That is a figure you are extremely unlikely to hear from a university professor, unless you are attending one of the few conservative colleges and universities. The death toll from German Nazism and Japanese Imperialism is hard to state, because one is faced with the problem of how many of the millions of deaths in World War II are attributable to totalitarianism itself, and how many to the war it engendered. But the fact remains that because of these forms of totalitarianism, perhaps 75 million people perished.
In contrast, the current Ebola epidemic has thus far killed about 4500, though there may well be many more deaths unreported in rural areas of West Africa. The World Health Organization states that this epidemic has killed more people that all previous epidemics combined, Thus as a rough estimate, and hoping that the current epidemic will not spread worldwide, we can say that perhaps 10,000 people have died of Ebola since it was first recognized in 1976.
In short, totalitarianism has killed roughly 17,500 times more people than Ebola.
In order to interpret this number, we must also consider the likelihood that the condition will affect us here in America, or in other parts of the Western World. So-called “experts” reassure us that the risk of a widespread Ebola epidemic here is very small. I believe that the risk, though small, is not as small as the “experts” maintain.
I believe that in this case, as in so many other cases, science has been politicized. I believe that the “experts” see as their primary mission the prevention of panic.
On the contrary, anyone with a shred of common sense knows that public confidence is inspired by seeing their leaders take decisive action – for example, stopping all travelers from West Africa from entering the country until they have remained in quarantine for the full 21-day incubation period, or even longer.. Anyone with a shred of common sense knows that panic is prevented when leaders speak frankly and do not contradict themselves on a daily basis.
Instead, we see indecision, confusion, contradiction, and blaming the nurses – as if they chose to infect themselves. This misguided effort to prevent panic could not have been better calculated to produce panic and distrust of government.
While our so-called leaders fall all over themselves to reassure us of how small is the risk of the spread of Ebola, they say nothing whatever about the risk of the spread of totalitarianism – a vastly more lethal condition. And why should they say anything? Our current “leaders” – mainly Democratic but also Republican – are the very ones who continually pass new laws and issue new regulations, but almost never rescind even one of them. Why would we expect our “leaders” to alert us to the risk of totalitarianism, when they are the very ones who are advancing it?
Much has been written detailing the encroachments on our liberties being foisted on us by “liberals” and “progressives.” But sometimes one stark example is worth thousands of pages of discussion.
Texas is often considered a conservative state, and much of it undoubtedly is. But much of it is not. Houston, the fourth most populous city in the country, elected the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city. That’s not the problem. The mayor often poses for photos while kissing her partner, who is now her spouse. That’s not the problem. The mayor sponsored, and the city council passed, an ordinance supporting the civil rights of all residents, regardless of sexual orientation. But that’s not the problem either.
The problem is that, as with all forms of fanaticism and zealotry, there is never “enough.” The problem is that the mayor and city attorney interpret the ordinance as forbidding any negative comments about homosexuality or homosexuals. The problem is that these officials swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, but apparently not the version that includes the First Amendment – you know, the one that mentions such old-fashioned and obsolete notions as freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
At the mayor’s behest, the city attorney subpoenaed – that is, ordered to be turned over under penalty of law – copies of sermons delivered by local clergy that referred to Mayor Parker, homosexuality, lesbianism, same-sex marriage, gender identity, use of opposite-sex bathrooms, or similar topics.
Sermons are delivered in public and are often available online, so demanding copies of them may not be quite as obnoxious as it seems. But even worse, the subpoena also demands e-mails and text messages between the pastors and others, including parishioners. This is similar to eavesdropping on the confessional – a gross violation of both the First and Fourth Amendments. The city attorney is obviously an attorney, and Mayor Parker is a graduate of Rice University. One would expect them to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the Constitution. One would be wrong.
The Brits have an expression for an intrusive jerk who snoops into other people’s business: “nosy parker.” Mayor Annise Parker is the precise embodiment of that term.
This isn’t Cambridge, Massachusetts or Berkeley, California. This isn’t an isolated bubble of leftists. This is Houston, Texas. What do you suppose old Sam Houston would say about the goings-on in his town? I hesitate to imagine, but I know what I would say.
If the mayor and the city attorney are not stopped by an injunction, and if they are not recalled or forced to resign, then I will be deeply pessimistic about America’s future.
On the one hand, we have persons with Ebola, enterovirus D68, tuberculosis, or other communicable diseases being admitted into the country without adequate screening, or often with no screening at all. On the other hand, we have Texas, supposedly a bastion of individuality and conservative values, allowing zealots to snoop into pastors’ sermons for politically incorrect content.
In answer to our original question, clearly totalitarianism is to be feared more than Ebola. But the worst possible outcome is that we will have both: A government so power-hungry that it scrutinizes pastors’ sermons, but so incompetent that it fails to keep Ebola-infected travelers from entering the country. Have a nice day.
We surely have come a long way since Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” We have degenerated into supine cowards who say, in effect, “Take my liberty, and endanger my life as well. Just don’t stop my government checks.” You think people like that can remain free, or even deserve to be free? Think again.
But all is not lost. While the Commissar of Religion is rewriting your pastor’s sermon for next Sunday, and people are hesitant to visit movie theaters, malls, and restaurants for fear of deadly diseases, at least you can have the pleasure of relieving yourself in an opposite-sex restroom.
T. S. Elliot wrote that our civilization will end not with a bang but a whimper. But even he was an optimist. If we are not careful, it will end with a flush. How appropriate.
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