Matthew Balan

Peggy Noonan interrupts media blackout on Gosnell trial

Matthew Balan
By Matthew Balan

April 3, 2013 (Newsbusters.org) - The Big Three networks' morning and evening newscasts still haven't covered the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell as of Monday morning. ABC, CBS, and NBC have maintained their coverage blackout despite the graphic witness testimony and the in-your-face courtroom antics of Dr. Gosnell's defense attorney during the first two weeks of the proceedings. The Philadelphia physician is charged with murdering seven newborn children at his decrepit abortion facility.

This glaring omission by the broadcast networks would have continued, if Peggy Noonan hadn't provided the first mention of the murder trial on Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC. The Wall Street Journal columnist spotlighted the "haunting and disturbing story of this doctor", and pointed out how coverage has been "hard to find."

Fill-in host Chuck Todd raised the abortion issue during a panel discussion on the Sunday morning show that included Noonan, senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, and former Republican Congressman Tom Davis. Todd first hyped how "North Dakota's Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country" and how "there's been a lot of movement, and they're all in red states...of banning abortion at certain times – at 20 weeks or less."

The NBC journalist then turned to the former Reagan speechwriter and wondered if "abortion and the life movement could be what motivates evangelicals again" as same-sex "marriage" becomes an issue that is "splitting Republicans a little bit". Noonan replied by shifting the discussion away from the recent state-level restrictions on abortion and bringing up the decades-long moral debate, with the Gosnell case as prime example:

PEGGY NOONAN: Actually, that's not my question. Here's the thing: this issue will not go away – abortion. It is a – a constant agitating of the American soul. You mentioned the – the legal move that was made in one of the states to cut off abortion after six weeks. The real story this week is the haunting and disturbing story of this doctor in Philadelphia, Gosnell, who is being tried this week. And if you wanted to watch the testimony, it was hard to find, but if you wanted to have a sense what was happening, you could find it on the Internet or in the local papers.

This was a man who had an abortion mill that was, in fact, a death mill for babies essentially born. He's being tried now. We'll see how it goes. But this is a story that is haunting about the implications of decisions made by courts. This decision – the abortion issue will not go away if you think it is the taking of a human life. And so, it's going to stay there and get itself worked through in the courts again and again.

The columnist is on the mark about the difficulty of finding news coverage of the Gosnell trial. The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of the few outlets that has provided regular reporting since the trial began on March 18, 2013. In a March 30 report, correspondent Joseph A. Slobodzian documented the confrontation between Jack McMahon, Gosnell's attorney, and Assistant Medical Examiner Gary Collins during the latter's testimony: "The byplay between Collins and McMahon got steadily more heated until Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart had to warn them. McMahon appeared to be seething when at one point, Collins stood, ripped one of the lawyer's charts from an easel, and began creating his own exhibit." A few days earlier, McMahon and the prosecutor shouted back and forth at each other over the issue of a toxicology report, as reported by NBC Philadelphia.

Later in the segment, Todd asked Axelrod a slanted question about the 2012 presidential race: "The issue of reproductive rights was something you exploited in your campaign in Colorado and Virginia in particular. That's probably why you carried those two states in your opinion, right?" He also wondered, on the broader question of social issues, whether "Republicans [are] pushing the envelope too much, and is there going to be – you saw it as a snap back."

However, when former Rep. Davis highlighted that "actually, the country has moved slightly right" on the abortion issue, the NBC host replied by acknowledging that "technology...had moved the country right." In other words, it's gotten harder for pro-abortion activists to dehumanize the unborn because of the advent of detailed ultrasound scans.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion from Sunday's Meet the Press:

CHUCK TODD: If it wasn't for gay marriage this week, what happened in North Dakota on abortion – and I want to get all – all of your takes on this – would have been, I think, the big social issue. North Dakota's Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country – six weeks – would ban abortions. Now, when he signed it, he admitted that legally, it probably is not going to stand up to a legal challenge, but I want to show you there's been a lot of movement, and they're all in red states – David Axelrod, by the way – on this issue of – of banning abortion at certain times – at 20 weeks or less. That's the map we have, on the board, of all the states that have done 20 weeks or less – an abortion ban. Every single one of them, by the way, were states that were carried by Mitt Romney.

[NBC News Graphic: "States That Have Passed Legislation Banning Abortion At Or Before 20 Weeks: ID, AZ, ND, NE, KS, OK, AR, LA, IN, AL, GA, NC; The Washington Post/Guttmacher Institute/NARAL Pro-Choice America"]

Peggy Noonan – this issue of abortion – as gay marriage falls as an issue, that maybe it's now splitting Republicans a little bit. You could see Jeff Flake was uncomfortable just talking about the issue. Abortion and the life movement could be what motivates evangelicals again, could it not?

PEGGY NOONAN: I don't know. Actually, that's not my question. Here's the thing: this issue will not go away – abortion. It is a – a constant agitating of the American soul. You mentioned the – the legal move that was made in one of the states to cut off abortion after six weeks. The real story this week is the haunting and disturbing story of this doctor in Philadelphia, Gosnell, who is being tried this week. And if you wanted to watch the testimony, it was hard to find, but if you wanted to have a sense what was happening, you could find it on the Internet or in the local papers.

This was a man who had an abortion mill that was, in fact, a death mill for babies essentially born. He's being tried now. We'll see how it goes. But this is a story that is haunting about the implications of decisions made by courts. This decision – the abortion issue will not go away if you think it is the taking of a human life. And so, it's going to stay there and get itself worked through in the courts again and again-

TODD: I was going to say, it does seem that there is a strategy now that Republican governors and these Republican-controlled legislatures are basically trying to push the Supreme Court to retake up abortion in some form.

EUGENE ROBINSON: Well, yeah, I think they want the Court to retake up abortion. And, look, I think Peggy is right that abortion won't go away the way gay marriage, I think, will go away in a few years. And I think – and we'll get past immigration. The best we ever get to on abortion is a truce. The country is – is divided-

TODD: What's the new truce?

ROBINSON: Well, we're in one of those periods where, maybe, the – the, sort of, truce line –  people are trying to move it one way or the other. But ultimately, people who are opposed to abortion, because they believe it's murder – it's very hard to compromise on that. It's very hard to say, well, you know, you go ahead and murder, if that's what you believe. That's not what I happen to believe, but it is what people-

TODD: And yet, David Axelrod, the issue of reproductive rights was something you exploited in your campaign-

DAVID AXELROD: Yes-

TODD: In Colorado and Virginia in particular-

AXELROD: Yes-

TODD: That's probably why you carried those two states in your opinion, right?

AXELROD: Yes – well, and you look at the gender gap in – in the election and so on. These were motivational issues for people on our side as well.

Let me make a final point on your first point, though, about all these social issues. What's interesting to me is these were once wedge issues for Republicans. Now, some of them are working as wedge issues against Republicans, and it shows a shift of attitudes. Now, abortion is a separate discussion for the reasons that Gene just mentioned, but generally, there's been a drift on – on some of these other issues.

TODD: That – Tom [Davis], I have to say, that does seem as if every other time the culture war has percolated over the last two – generation, it was something that would favor Republicans. Does it? It's not necessarily something that favors Republicans-

DAVIS: No. In politics, it's race, ethnicity, culture before you get to economics at this point. And even many groups who agree with Republicans on some of these social issues – the branding on ethnicity, and if we talk about immigration – is so bad, they won't even look at Republican candidates. So, it works in the Democrats' favor in many of these cases. Abortion is a different matter. You look at abortion – actually, the country has moved slightly right, and Americans are very conflicted.

TODD: Technology would move – it had moved the country right.

DAVIS: Of course-

TODD: The question is, are – are Republicans pushing the envelope too much, and is there going to be – you saw it as a snap back.

NOONAN: Look, Ruth Bader Ginsberg herself last week was quoted as saying she thought Roe versus Wade – I'll miss the word – was a bit of an overreach, in terms of – of the way the Court did it, leaving this issue not settled democratically; not settled in legislatures and by the people and referenda; but being imposed on them. When you have a great, terrible moral issue, and you impose a certain thing on people, you will cause a half century's riling.

TODD: Well, yeah, I'm going to – go ahead, David.

AXELROD: No. I mean, I think it's a polarizing issue; it's a difficult and troubling issue; but I think the politics are more complicated, and there will be a backlash to those kinds of initiatives.

TODD: And it's – it's polarizing within the party sometimes as well. Thank you all for part one of this roundtable.


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

‘It’s a miracle’: Newborn girl survives two days after being abandoned in a field

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

The survival of a baby who was abandoned by her mother and left in a field for two days has been described as "a miracle" by the doctor attending the newborn girl.

"She had been left alone naked, and weighed less than a kilogram, in part because she was so severely dehydrated," said Doctor Barbara Chomik at the hospital in the northern Polish city of Elblag, according to a report from Central European News.

"It is a miracle that she survived under those conditions for so long. It is simply a miracle," Dr. Chomik said.

The report said that the child's mother, Jolanta Czarnecka, 30, of Ilawa in northeastern Poland, had concealed her pregnancy from friends and fellow workers, and had given birth in a field during a lunch break, then returned to work.

When blood was noticed on her clothing, the woman at first claimed she had accidentally given birth in the toilet and the baby had gone down the drain.

However, when investigation found no evidence supporting her claims, Czarnecka admitted to having given birth to the child in a nearby field and leaving her there.

When searchers found the child, two days after her birth, the little girl was dehydrated and covered with insects.

Czarnecka is facing charges of attempted murder for allegedly abandoning her child.

Czarnecka, who has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against her, could be sentenced to five years in prison if she is convicted.


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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

To the Christians who think 50 Shades is all sorts of awesome: Please, stop and THINK

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By Jonathon van Maren

It’s pretty depressing when you realize that, in 2014, many people seem to think that destruction of human dignity is a small price to pay for an orgasm.

I suppose when I write a column about a book that just sold its 100 millionth copy I shouldn’t be surprised when I get a bit of a kickback. But I have to say—I wasn’t expecting hundreds of commenters, many saying they were Christian, to come out loudly defending the porn novel 50 Shades of Grey, often tastelessly interspersed with details from their own sex lives.

People squawked that we “shouldn’t judge” those who practice bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM), and informed me that “no one gets hurt” and that it “isn’t abuse” and said that it was “just fantasy” (as if we have a separate brain and body for fantasy).

Meanwhile, not a single commenter addressed one of the main arguments I laid out—that with boys watching violent porn and girls being socialized to accept violence and torture inside of a sexual relationship, we have created a toxic situation in which people very much are being hurt.

In response to the defenders of this trash, let me make just a few points.

  1. Not all consent is equal.

People keep trumpeting this stupid idea that just because someone consents to something or allows something to happen, it isn’t abusive.

But if someone consents to being beaten up, punched, slapped, whipped, called disgusting and degrading names, and have other things done to them that I will choose not to describe here, does that make it any less abusive? It makes it legal (perhaps, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less disgusting or violent.

Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey? If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

Anyone who works with victims of domestic and sexual assault will tell you that just because someone permits something to happen or doesn’t extricate themselves from a situation doesn’t mean it isn’t, in fact, abuse. Only when it comes to sex are people starting to make this argument, so that they can cling to their fetishes and justify their turn-ons. Those women who defend the book because they think it spiced up their sex life are being incredibly selfish and negligent, refusing to think about how this book could affect other women in different situations, as well as young and impressionable girls.

In the words of renowned porn researcher and sociologist Dr. Gail Dines:

In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Christian [Grey of 50 Shades of Grey] is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.

The most likely real-world ending of Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of black and blue. The awful truth in the real world is that women who partner with a Christian Grey often end up hightailing it to a battered women's shelter with traumatized kids in tow. The less fortunate end up in graveyards.

  1. 50 Shades of Grey normalizes intimate partner violence…

…and sickeningly, even portrays it as romantic and erotic. Amy Bonomi, Lauren Altenburger, and Nicole Walton published an article on the impact of 50 Shades last year in the Journal of Women’s Health. Their conclusions are intuitive and horrifying:

While intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 25% of women and impairs health, current societal conditions—including the normalization of abuse in popular culture such as novels, film, and music—create the context to support such violence.

Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including: stalking (Christian deliberately follows Anastasia and appears in unusual places, uses a phone and computer to track Anastasia’s whereabouts, and delivers expensive gifts); intimidation (Christian uses intimidating verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as routinely commanding Anastasia to eat and threatening to punish her); and isolation (Christian limits Anastasia’s social contact). Sexual violence is pervasive—including using alcohol to compromise Anastasia’s consent, as well as intimidation (Christian initiates sexual encounters when genuinely angry, dismisses Anastasia’s requests for boundaries, and threatens her). Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat (“my stomach churns from his threats”); altered identity (describes herself as a “pale, haunted ghost”); and stressful managing (engages in behaviors to “keep the peace,” such as withholding information about her social whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger). Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse.

Our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence—one of the biggest problems of our time. Further, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.

  1. Really? Sadism?

I notice that commenters rarely break down what the acronym “BDSM” actually stands for: bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. If they did, they could no longer make the repulsive claim that “love” or “intimacy” have anything to do with it.

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The definition of sadism is “enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain, especially sexual enjoyment from hurting or punishing someone…a sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others.”

As one of my colleagues noted, we used to send sadists to a therapist or to prison, not to the bedroom. And 100 million copies of this porn novel have been unleashed on our society informing people that getting off on hurting someone is romantic and erotic. It is a brutal irony that people who scream about water-boarding terrorists are watching and experimenting with sexual practices far more brutal. As one porn researcher noted, some online BDSM porn promotes practices and behaviors that would be considered unlawful under the Geneva Convention if they were taking place in a wartime context.

It seems the Sexual Revolutionaries have gone from promoting “safe sex” to “safe words”—just in case the pain gets too rough. And none of them seem to be volunteering information on just how a woman is supposed to employ a safe word with a gag or bondage headgear on.

But who cares, right? Just one more casualty on our culture’s new Sexual Frontier.

  1. “It’s just fiction and fantasy and has no effect on the real world!”

That’s total garbage and they know it. I’ve met multiple girls who were abused like this inside of relationships. Hotels are offering “50 Shades of Grey” packages replete with the helicopter and private suites for the proceedings. According to the New York Post, sales of rope exploded tenfold after the release of the book. Babeland reported that visits to the bondage section of their website spiked 81%, with an almost 30% increase in the sale of things like riding crops and handcuffs.

I could go on, but I won’t. As Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah noted, “It’s like a juggernaut. You’d be surprised to see how very ordinary these people are who are coming in. The book is just an explosion of permission for them to try something new in the bedroom.”

  1. What does this book and the BDSM movement say about the value of women and girls?

I’d like the defenders of this book to try stop thinking with their nether-regions for just a moment and ask themselves a few simple questions: What does sadism and sexual torture (consensual or not) say to our culture about the value of girls? What does it say to boys about how they should treat girls? The youth of today are inundated with porn and sexually violent material—is nobody—nobody—at all worried about the impact this has on them? On the girls who are being abused by boys who think this is normal behavior—and think it is normal themselves?

Dr. Gail Dines relates that when speaking to groups of women who loved the book, they all grow deathly silent when she asks them two simple questions: Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey?

If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

__

This book and the sadism it promotes are an assault on human dignity, and most of all an assault on the worth and value of girls and women. Please consider the impact you will have on your daughters and the vulnerable and confused people around you when you read and promote this book. Anastasia Steele is, thankfully, a fictional character. But real girls are facing these expectations and demands from a culture that elevates a sexual sadist to the level of a romantic hero. Ask yourselves if you want their “love” and “intimacy” to include sadism and domination, or real respect.

Because you can’t have both.

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Ryan T. Anderson

,

New York Times reporter: ‘Anti-LGBT’ people ‘deserve’ incivility

Ryan T. Anderson
By Ryan Anderson

As I recounted Monday at The Daily Signal, The New York Times reporter Josh Barro thinks some people are “unworthy of respect.” Yesterday Barro doubled-down and tweeted back at me that “some people are deserving of incivility.” He argued that I am such a person because of my views about marriage policy. You can see the entire exchange on my twitter page.

What Josh Barro says or does doesn’t really affect me. I’m not a victim, and I’ll keep doing what I do. But incivility, accepted and entrenched, is toxic to a political community. Indeed, civility is essential for political life in a pluralistic society.

It also has deep roots.

The Hebrew Bible tells us that all people are made in the image and likeness of God and have a profound and inherent dignity. Sound philosophy comes to a similar conclusion: as rational beings capable of freedom and love, all human beings have intrinsic and inestimable worth. And so we should always treat people with respect and dignity—we should honor their basic humanity. We should always engage with civility—even when we sharply disagree with them. Faith and reason, the natural law and the divine law, both point to the same conclusion.

Just as I think the best of theology and philosophy point to the conclusion that we should always treat people with respect, so I think they show that marriage is the union of a man and a woman—and that redefining marriage will undermine the political common good.

The work that I’ve done for the past few years for The Heritage Foundation has been at the service of explaining why I think this to be the case. Bookish by nature, I thought the best contribution I could make to public life was to help us think about marriage. So while my early work after college was in philosophy and bioethics, and my graduate coursework was in the history of political philosophy, I put my dissertation about economic and social justice on hold so I could devote myself to this debate at this crucial time.

Along with my co-authors, a classmate of mine from Princeton and a professor of ours there, we set out to write a book making what we considered the best philosophical argument for what marriage is and why it matters. Our book seemed to help the Supreme Court think about the issue, as Justice Samuel Alito cited it twice. The reason I’ve written various and sundry policy papers for Heritage, and traveled across the country speaking on college campuses, and appeared on numerous news shows (including, of course, Piers Morgan) is that I know the only way forward in our national debate about marriage is to make the arguments in as reasonable and civil a spirit as possible.

Some people, like Barro, want to do everything they can to shut down this discussion. They want to demonize those who hold contrary viewpoints. They want to equate us with racists and claim we are unworthy of respect and ought to be treated with incivility. This is how bullies behave. In all of recorded history, ours is the first time where we can have open and honest conversations about same-sex attraction and marriage. This discussion is just beginning. It is nowhere near being over.

All our fellow citizens, including those identifying as LGBT, should enjoy the full panoply of civil rights—the free exercise of religion, freedoms of speech and press, the right to own property and enter into contracts, the right to vote and have a fair trial, and every other freedom to live as they choose, consistent with the common good.

Government redefinition of marriage, however, is not a civil right—nor will redefining marriage serve the common good. Indeed, redefining marriage will have negative consequences.

We make our arguments, in many fora, as transparently as possible. We welcome counterarguments. And we strive to treat all people with the dignity and respect they deserve as we carry on this conversation.

One of the most unfortunate parts of my exchange with Barro last night was his reaction toward those who identify as LGBT and aspire to lives of chastity. They freely choose to live by their conviction that sex is reserved for the marital bond of a husband and wife. Some of them also seek professional help in dealing with and perhaps even diminishing (not repressing) their same-sex sexual desires.

I have written in their defense and against government coercion that would prevent them from receiving the help they desire, as New Jersey and California have done. Barro describes my support for their freedom as “sowing misery…doing a bad thing to people…making the world worse.”

There really is anti-LGBT bigotry in the world. But Barro does a disservice to his cause when he lumps in reasonable debates about marriage policy and the pastoral care that some same-sex attracted persons voluntarily seek out as, in his words, “anti-LGBT.” If we can’t draw a line between real bigotry and reasonable disagreement, we’re not helping anyone.

This debate isn’t about restricting anyone’s personal freedom. However it goes, people will remain free to live their romantic lives as they choose. So too people who experience same-sex attraction but aspire to chastity should be free to lead their lives in line with their beliefs, and to seek out the help they desire. We can have a civil conversation about which course of action is best—but let’s leave aside the extremism.

Barro asks, “Why shouldn’t I call you names?” My answer is simple: you should not practice the disdain and contempt you claim to abhor.

All my life, I’ve been educated at left-leaning institutions. Most of my friends disagree with me about these issues. But they’re still friends. And their feedback has made me a better person.

My final tweet to Barro is where I still remain committed: “people on all sides of LGBT debates and marriage debates need to find a way to discuss these issues without demonizing anyone.”

Reprinted with permission from the Daily Signal, where you can find Ryan Anderson's Twitter exchange with Barro.


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