Disney’s New Maleficent Still Works to Separate Men and Women

If you don’t mind spoilers, read my review of the recently released movie Maleficent here in The Federalist, “Maleficent: Once Upon a Screed.”

The movie is supposed to be a reinvention of the 1959 Disney classic Sleeping Beauty — from the witch Maleficent’s point of view. But something essential to the original allegory is completely missing from this hash-up.  That would be the determination of Prince Phillip to unite with Princess Aurora despite the forces of evil — personified by the fearsome witch Maleficent — that tried so hard to separate them.  That struggle is what made the original story so enchanting and captivating.  The new spin portrays Maleficent as a sympathetic and good-hearted fairy gone bad and preaches the tagline:  “Evil is Complicated.” (See the trailer above.)  But, in the end, this “new” propagandized Maleficent  ultimately has the same old agenda: the separation of men and women.  Only this time, you’re not supposed to notice.

 

Was Enforced Silence the ACLU’s Agenda all along?

After reading Charlotte Allen’s blog on “The Left’s War on Free Speech,” it’s difficult to conclude that the so-called progressives at the American Civil Liberties Union were ever much dedicated to free speech.   More likely, they’ve been committed to squashing it.   And now it seems the time is ripe for them to do so.  Allen quotes several advocates for curbing the right to think out loud.  In part, she writes:

The watchword was that of one of the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), who wrote: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is…enforced silence.-  

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is …enforced silence. Here is author William D. Cohan, writing in the Huffington Post to wonder “if there should be limits to saying or writing whatever you please in online forums that can sully someone’s reputation with impunity and impair his or her ability to make a living.”

This sort of thing should make us all shudder.  Allen continues:

Cohan’s Huffington Post piece is titled “How Much Free Speech Is Too Much?” His answer:

 “What’s clear is that we’re are at a crucial moment where the ability of technology to permit instant, unvetted and unfiltered commentary is running head-first into the justified concerns of those whose reputations can be torn asunder unfairly by it. It’s a conundrum for sure and one that needs some serious sorting out.”

He’s not the only liberal to complain that America’s 1st Amendment allows just plain too much free speech.

Cohan echoes the voice of tyranny  quoted in The Singing Revolution: “Whenever you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.”

In fact, free speech is a use it or lose it proposition. Keep talking!

 

 

 

Follow up on Maya Angelou’s “Why I kept my Baby”

My last post on the recently deceased Maya Angelou produced some interesting feedback, and I’d like to address it.  Despite Angelou’s personal pro-life story, a lot of the eulogizing over her can seem unsettling because she lent her voice to fundraising for Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion promoter out there.  Even though I was aware of Angelou’s political leanings, I was not tuned into her support for Planned Parenthood, and certainly not the extent of it.

But Angelou’s personal story of a crisis pregnancy and the nurturing of her child still captures my imagination.  And I think it ought to be better known publicly, especially in light of this irony.

I was also drawn to Angelou’s story because it connects two underlying themes of my blog:  Relationships and Influence.

Angelou’s joyful relationship with the son she may never have known had an enormous and positive impact on the trajectory of her life – and therefore also on the lives and relationships of all those around her.  It’s a shame that she didn’t preach more about what she practiced then – about her openness to the humanity of the unborn and our innate relationship with them. Given her influence, doing so could have spared the lives of many children and prevented the brokenness of many would-be mothers. As a supporter for Planned Parenthood, she, sadly encouraged the opposite.

Influence has many facets.  Whether we have influence ourselves, or whether we cede influence to someone, what we do with influence is a huge responsibility.  It’s a shame that Maya Angelou chose to lend her influence and her name to an organization that stood against all of her best instincts.  After all, she told Family Circle Magazine that she kept her baby because “I knew there was somebody inside me.”  Somebody.

The fact is that support for abortion was de rigueur in Angelou’s political sphere.  The tragedy is if there was room for different views there, she very well may have kept to her instincts and promoted life instead. 

So, one can only wonder:  Why?  Why did she go on to support an organization that certainly would not have recognized her unborn son as “somebody?”  And if she had been a pregnant teen under the circumstances today, would she have kept her baby?

I don’t know the answers, but I think it lies somewhere in the intersection of relationships and power.  Was she pressured?  Was she simply asked to headline PP fundraisers?   Would she have ever initiated such a thing on her own? Or, is it possible that in the end, she simply lent her influence in order to preserve her influence and to avoid alienating those around her?  I can’t help but suspect it’s the latter.  The effects of influence coupled with the innate human fear of isolation — being cast out — cause people to morph all the time.

I think paying close attention to these dynamics in ourselves and others is the key to helping turn things around for a more open and life-affirming society.

Maya Angelou: “Why I Kept My Baby”

What a beautiful story, which was retrieved and posted by Feminists for Life in memory of Maya Angelou who died this past Wednesday, May 28.  It is reprinted from a Family Circle Magazine piece that ran on October 8, 2001.  Please click on this link: “Why I Kept My Baby” and you’ll also find an extraordinarily joyful picture of Maya Angelou with her adult son, Guy.  This is a story more people should hear.

In short, she said:

I’m telling you that the best decision I ever made was keeping that baby! Yes, absolutely. Guy was a delight from the start — so good, so bright, and I can’t imagine my life without him. . . Years later, when I was married, I wanted to have more children, but I couldn’t conceive. Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16? Praise God!”

It’s no wonder that when mothers are encouraged to develop deep bonds with their children — particularly when the children come as surprises — that societies function better.  When mothers are discouraged from doing so through abortion, societies get sick. This causes sorrow and bitterness and loneliness to grow and envelop the culture, as we see happening in around us today. But a love that welcomes every child is contagious and healing to all.  That’s the real wealth we need to “spread around.”

Social Media, Loneliness, and Isolation

Two recent articles in the Federalist are related to this blog’s theme of “relationships, power, and freedom.”  Both articles are packed with insights and I highly recommend you click on the links below and read them.

The Loneliness of Not Knowing Ourselves by D.C. McAllister and What Abortion Selfies Tell us about American Community, by Ben Domenech explore how social media seem to have made people more isolated, not less.  Ironically, social media can provide only a faint illusion of connection with others.  For too many, it’s become little more than veil for loneliness, making it even worse.  One danger is that as  people become more alienated and isolated, they become more susceptible to manipulation and control.

Without the real connection of being in the physical presence of others, McAllister, notes, we cannot really be known either to ourselves or someone else.   We can’t really share.  She adds:  “And that is what we want. That is what human connection is all about. It’s being known. This is one of the great themes (and great comforts) of Scripture. We are known by God. Before we were born, he knew us (Jer. 1:5), he knows us better than we know ourselves (Rom. 8:27), the Shepherd knows his sheep (John 10:14), our Creator has searched us and knows us—and still loves us (Psalm 139).

Earlier this month, Ben Domenech reflected upon the decision of an abortion counselor to film her own surgical abortion and try to put a positive spin on it by posting the video to the internet:

“The concept of the abortion selfie is in some ways an inevitable consequence of an increasingly atomized culture. Consider instead the lure that would motivate one to seek to share this moment, and then to share in the reaction to this moment from social media, and then to share again in the reaction to that reaction in the pages of Cosmo. This is an individual seeking out the affirmation and attention of others – for good or ill, it is an attempt to find a community, a grasping for a sense of belonging.”

And I believe he is exactly right.  Her act was not only destructive of life and so much else, but it was also an act motivated by an urge for attention and validation, a craving for community. My hope is that as we better understand this motivation in human beings, we might learn how to breach the walls and overcome the forces that separate us.

 

“The Singing Revolution:” Freedom Through Song, Part V

The trailer below will give you hope. It’s all about how the Truth will out:  through the ripple effect of people speaking freely to one another.  When people develop trust in one another, when they have common bonds and can express that in real friendships, no oppressor can hold them back.

The documentary, The Singing Revolution tells an amazing story of the people of Estonia, a small Baltic nation that suffered under both Hitler and Stalin  and survived the yoke of communism.  The film tells how the Estonian people came together in a show of mass defiance against their Soviet overlords before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  They spontaneously met at an outdoor concert hall to sing forbidden hymns and national songs.  Over 300,000 showed up and there was no shutting them up.  Here’s a telling line:  “Once you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.  The ghost gets out of the bottle.”

The Singing Revolution testifies that real freedom is beyond words. It’s music.  It’s felt as a song in our hearts.  Once out, it’s irrepressible.  But it can only happen in civil society that allows for ideas to be cross pollinated, a society in which there is common respect for the rights of others to live and let live.  Fake freedom is the “unfreedom” that comes from being sold a bill of goods that basically says:  “You don’t need to worry about food, housing, etc., just sign your soul over to the authorities.  They’ll tell you what you may say and may think.”

It’s easier to preserve and press on for freedom when you are emboldened by knowing who your friends are.  The enemies of freedom know this.  That’s why they employ political correctness as a silencing technique: to make it more difficult for us to get to know people or to reach out to them.  It separates people from one another so that they can’t easily unite in freedom, but instead build walls that isolate them.  This allows our relationships and knowledge to be suppressed and controlled.   We should take note of the Estonian people’s response to this:  to reach out anyway and share the song in our hearts.

For more on “The Singing Revolution,” go to their site by clicking here.  Also, please click here to visit The Global Museum on Communism.

 

 

 

How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State

Have you noticed a recent push to keep single people single?  It’s out there.  Click here for my latest essay at The Federalist:  “How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State.”  It  examines advice given across the board to all single working class mothers:  “Don’t get married.”  Specifically, a recent article at Slate, co-authored by two feminist legal scholars, states that single mothers should “Just say no” to marriage.

So what’s with that?  Of course marriage is a choice and it’s impossible to discern whether or not the choice is a good one without knowing all of the  details and circumstances in any given case.  But the Slate piece comes down almost as a manifesto claiming that these moms ( never mind their children) are better off going it alone.

But if we step back, we can see a bigger picture emerging.  It’s as though individuals in our society are being nudged today towards isolation, away from human companionship that is autonomous and real — and pushed into a sterile form of “community” in which the state calls all of the shots in our lives.  Perhaps that’s why it seems those pushing big government agendas seem unfriendly — and even hostile — towards strong personal relationships.

Here’s an excerpt from the Federalist piece:

Strong relationships are about teamwork:  real communication, real cooperation, real trust, and real fellowship.  How might individuals seek to cultivate these things?  They can, you know, if government gets out of the way.  And teamwork is about self-sacrifice, which is a dirty word these days.  Yes, strong relationships may be difficult to produce.  But that’s what makes them strong.  The blacksmith analogy is apt:  the tempering of the iron in the fire – as with a relationship through trials — will give it shape and strength.

But the really dirty little secret statists would rather you not know is this:  strong relationships of mutual self-sacrifice yield the greatest prosperity of every kind – spiritual, emotional, and material – for everyone.

The hunger for strong family relationships will persist.  Social engineers can only offer weak “communitarian” relationships as cheap imitations for the real thing, which, in the end, is real, human love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Doctor-Patient Relationship IS the Practice of Medicine”

I was so pleased when a friend sent my way  this Wall Street Journal op-ed written by a physician who spells it out:   Obamacare is essentially all about meddling in the doctor-patient relationship.

Here are some excerpts from the fantastic essay by Daniel F. Craviotto, Jr., an orthopedic surgeon from Santa Barbara, California:

“In my 23 years as a practicing physician, I’ve learned that the only thing that matters is the doctor-patient relationship. How we interact and treat our patients is the practice of medicine. . . . So when do we say damn the mandates and requirements from bureaucrats who are not in the healing profession? When do we stand up and say we are not going to take it any more?

I don’t know about other physicians but I am tired—tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not. We as physicians continue to plod along and take care of our patients while those on the outside continue to intrude and interfere with the practice of medicine.

We could change the paradigm. . . . “

Thank you and Bravo Dr. Craviotto!

The doctor-patient relationship is just one of many personal relationships under attack today by power elites.  All big government programs aim to meddle in personal relationships.  They have the teacher-student relationship in their crosshairs, the parent-child relationship, the merchant-customer relationship, the neighbor-to-neighbor relationship.  Every personal relationship you experience.  That’s what dictators from time immemorial have sought to control.  That’s why they silence you through the dictates of “political correctness” which is just another word for coercive persuasion.

By meddling in relationships the cliques that run the bureaucracies usurp our personal power and freedom in order to bloat themselves.  In the meantime, they demand we support their habit of getting drunk on power.

All of us need to change the paradigm.  We need to “stand up and say we are not going to take it anymore,” as Dr. Craviotto urges his fellow physicians.  This means not allowing political thugs and bureaucrats to meddle and interfere with our personal relationships — our relationships with our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our classmates, our doctors, or anyone else in our personal lives.

Freedom of association is  under attack as never before.  Preserving it is probably the first — and last — line of defense for all of our other freedoms.

Everyone Should Take a “Propaganda 101″ Class to Understand How they are Manipulated

Lots of folks have been scratching their heads wondering how genderless marriage — which seemed just a fantasy on the fringes just  a decade or so ago — so quickly became a reality of American public policy today.  There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. A few of them include activist judges, the monied LGBT lobby, and  President Obama’s disingenuous “evolution” on the subject after being elected.

But the bigger picture shows something very different, very calculated, and decades in the making.  It’s possibly been the biggest propaganda campaign in human history.

Do you believe the biggest manipulators who push same sex marriage really and truly care about the canard they label “marriage equality?”  I don’t.  In fact, it seems more likely the power elites among them have simply been engaged in a social experiment, testing the limits of propaganda and how easily people can be controlled and manipulated, even to the point of accepting an implausible idea. Of course, “marriage equality” is a great test case for them, because it could pave the way to ending family autonomy, giving them greater control over the relationships of others.

Are you familiar with the term “availability cascade?”  It’s related to Richard Dawkins theory (The Selfish Gene, 1976) about “memes:” that any idea injected into public discourse can potentially spread like a virus and change the culture in much the same way that genes replicate and evolve.  Of course, to make it work you need an unwitting citizenry.

I think the only way around this is a proliferation of education and information on the subtle techniques of coercive persuasion. If our society produced lots of non-partisan webinars and classes taught by citizen-activists on “Propaganda 101″ people could be exposed to the  uses and abuses of social psychology so that they’re not such easy targets.  More on that in a later post.

In 1999 the Stanford Law Review published “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation,” an article co-authored by Cass Sunstein and Timur Kuran.  Sunstein served as Obama’s regulatory czar during 2009-2012.  Kuran is an economist and author of Private Truths, Public Lies:  The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (1995) a fascinating look at how our individual willingness — or reticence — to express our real beliefs is what drives all of public opinion.

In fact, our willingness to say what we believe is what drives all public opinion.  All of it.  Yes, what you say or don’t say to your co-worker, classmate, or neighbor makes a difference in how they perceive the world.  At the epicenter of the ripple effect is our daily conversations in our daily lives.

The coddling of an idea like “marriage equality” through repetition — and the suppression of dissent — projects the illusion that “everybody’s believing it.” People shift their “beliefs” to conform to what they perceive everyone else believes.  Soon enough you’ve got a chain reaction.  It’s a bandwagon effect that’s helped along by political correctness  which, through the threat of smearing and isolating anyone who speaks “out of line,”enforces that illusion by creating a spiral of silence. In essence, this teases out a reverse bandwagon effect in dissenters.