Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Partial Response to Professor Kevin Lee

This is an incomplete response to an essay posted  to ssrn by Professor Kevin Lee.

The key phrase “Culture of Death” in the title of Professor Lee’s essay was popularized by Pope John Paul II in his important 1995 encyclical, EvangeliumVitae (“The Gospel of Life”).  The encyclical is divided into four chapters.  Sections 7-28 comprise the first chapter, “The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood Cries to Me from the Ground.”  After a review of the Biblical account of the first murder of Abel by Cain in sections 7-10, John Paul catalogues in section ten several contemporary attacks on life on which attacks his encyclical expressly does not concentrate:  threats from nature exacerbated by human indifference; results of violence, hatred, and conflicting interests; poverty, malnutrition, and hunger because of unjust distribution of resources; armed conflict; reckless tampering with ecological balance; criminal spread of drugs; and promotion of sexual activities involving grave risks to life.  On none of these does John Paul concentrate.  

Rather, beginning in section eleven, John Paul focuses his attention on a particular form of attack on life:  attacks affecting life at its most vulnerable, earliest and final stages.  John Paul writes of abortion and euthanasia.  These attacks on life are all the more serious because they “are carried out in the very heart of and with the complicity of the family—the family which by its nature is called to be the ‘sanctuary of life.’”  John Paul then turns his attention to the causes of this situation including moral uncertainty fostered by many and serious social problems, which leads to section twelve of the encyclical, the section in which John Paul introduces the phrase “culture of death,” providing Professor Lee with a catchy title for his essay.

In section twelve, John Paul identifies a structure of sin that spawns the emergence of a “culture of death.”  The problem is a “society excessively concerned with efficiency.”  This “culture of death” amounts to a “war of the powerful against the weak.”  The lives of the very young and the very old, lives that “require greater acceptance, love and care” are “held to be an intolerable burden.”  The “culture of death” is a culture that values life only so long as it can “contribute to the bottom line.”  If a particular life demands more of human society than it can give back, then that life has no net value and must be eliminated.  This is the “culture of death” of which John Paul wrote. 

The phrase “culture of death” appears eleven more times in Evangelium Vitae, most of those recurring in the first chapter.  The phrase appears for the second time in section nineteen, which addresses the roots of a “remarkable contradiction” between contemporary global proclamations of human rights and the practice that the “very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.”  John Paul identifies one of those roots as “a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of ‘the strong’ against the weak who have no choice but to submit.”  This concept of freedom supports a “culture of death”:  “the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages.”  Section twenty-one seeks “the deepest roots” of “the culture of death” and finds “a social and cultural climate dominated by secularism” that “produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence.”  John Paul argues in section twenty-four that this darkening of the moral conscience of a society that “encourages the ‘culture of death’ is exacerbated by the media that confuses “between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life.”

In section twenty-six, John Paul notes “signs which point to” the ultimate victory of life over death.  These signs appear even in societies that are “marked” by the “culture of death.”  The phrase “culture of death” appears twice in section twenty-eight, the final section of the first chapter, in which John Paul sums up the “clash” between the “’culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’” and emphasizes our duty to choose between the “’culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death.’”

The phrase “culture of death” appears once at the end of chapter two, “I Came That They May Have Life,” which reflects “on the Christian message about life.”  In section fifty, John Paul analogizes the “dramatic conflict between the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’” to the “cosmic disturbances” experienced at the Cross on Good Friday.  The phrase “culture of death” appears once in chapter three, “You Shall Not Kill — God’s Holy Law.”  In section sixty-four, John Paul focuses on end of life issues.  John Paul identifies “one of the more alarming symptoms of the ‘culture of death,’" which is “an attitude of excessive preoccupation with efficiency . . . which sees the growing number of elderly and disabled people as intolerable and too burdensome.”

The three final uses of the phrase “culture of death” are in the final chapter four, ““You Did It to Me — for a New Culture of Human Life.”  In section eighty-seven John Paul stresses the need for the “service of charity” as “the ‘culture of death’ so forcefully opposes the ‘culture of life.’"  In section ninety-five, John Paul again stresses the “dramatic struggle between the ‘culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death,’” which presses the “need to develop a deep critical sense, capable of discerning true values and authentic needs.”  The final use of the phrase appears in section 100 in which John Paul acknowledges that “[t]here is certainly an enormous disparity between the powerful resources available to the forces promoting the ‘culture of death’ and the means at the disposal of those working for a ‘culture of life and love.’"

Thus, the “culture of death” discussed by John Paul in Evangelium Vitae relates entirely to abortion and euthanasia.  What does all of this have to do with firearms?  Perhaps nothing – firearms are used neither to abort babies nor to euthanize the elderly or infirm, at least not commonly.  This is not to say that John Paul was not concerned about gun violence, it is rather to say that he did not express that concern in his “culture of death” discussion in Evangelium Vitae.

Professor Lee looks at three aspects of firearms.  The first is their intrinsic nature.  Professor Lee offers the opinion that the “firearm is, in its essence, a weapon.  It is intrinsically violent since it is brought into existence . . . to bring about the potential of a violent act.”  It certainly is the case that firearms make especially effective weapons of violence, but that is a particular use, not necessarily inherent to their essence.  Firearms are inherently high-velocity projectiles.  Many, but not all, high velocity projectile machines are very useful as destructive weapons.  For example, very low caliber firearms are not very effective as destructive weapons.  Of course, people probably have always used projectiles as weapons.  Likewise, people probably have always used projectiles for sport.  There is a fine line between throwing a rock as a weapon and throwing a baseball for sport.  The same physics that permit a catapult to be used as a weapon permit the lacrosse player to use a stick for sport.  Likewise, firearms can be used in war and can be used for target shooting.  “Destructive force” is not inherent to the firearm.  It is incidental.  The power that permits high velocity and accuracy at great distance also makes many fire arms dangerously destructive, but not inherently so.  Of course, a particular firearm can be designed, more or less, for destruction, which actually makes the point that destruction is not inherent to the firearm.

Professor Lee reports that the firing of a firearm is pleasurable precisely because of its potential for destructive impact.  I certainly am in no position to deny Professor Lee’s personal experience.  I can only describe my own.  I would compare my pleasure at striking a target at distance with a firearm to the pleasure of “shooting” (pun intended) a basketball through a hoop at distance.  In both cases, the level of the pleasure is directly proportional to the distance.  Of course, the firearm provides the unique opportunity of hitting very, very small targets at very great distances.  I cannot think of anything that compares to this.  Professor Lee relates the “widely reported sensation” of “a satisfying feeling of the power one gains over the weapon and the target.” Professor Lee expressly declines to cite much in his essay, but I would find at least one citation in support of this widely reported sensation to be helpful to my understanding. He says that this feeling is intrinsic to the firearm.  This is the firearm “fulfilling its purpose.” As I have suggested, this experience of the inherent purpose of the firearm is not universal.

Finally, it may be beneficial to consider this subject based on a balanced view of the facts.  Professor Lee’s essay indicates that gun slayings in the United States are growing.  But gun slayings in the United States actually are on the decline.  Most homicides in the United States are committed with handguns.  Such homicides are at historically low levels.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Obamacare: What Might Have Been

This is my attempt to learn some hopefully non-partisan lessons from the Obamacare fiasco.  The overarching lesson is of such long standing in our culture as to have become almost a cliché, but it is true – that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. 

We all know that, and yet with Obamacare, political expediency was allowed to trump any and all other concerns.  To enact Obamacare, recent presidential campaign promises of transparency, public comment periods, and televised debates were slain in their cradles and replaced by secrecy, backroom deals, and midnight votes.  Zero buy in was sought from the other side of the aisle, and none was given.  The predictable product of this process was an unworkable hash of legislation, public response ranging from ignorance to outrage, and political opposition, especially when the inevitable difficulties arose,  ranging from schadenfreude to scorched-earth warfare. 

We will never know what might have come of Obamacare if things had been done well.  Would the public have been more accepting?  Would the political opposition have been more willing to reform rather than insisting on repeal?  I’m sure Obamacare’s sponsors console themselves with the belief that things would have been no different, but we’ll never know because they, even while they held all the cards, chose the quick way rather than the right way. 

I do see a hopeful contrast in Marco Rubio’s approach to immigration reform.  If he wanted to, he might be able to take a page from the President’s playbook and ram something through Congress (with an assist from Democrats).  But he’s so far refusing to do that.  He’ smart.  He knows that if his reform proposal is to succeed in the long run, he will need bi-partisan buy in.  He not only is giving a respectful hearing to the opposition, he is slowing things down and taking time to assure that all concerns are addressed.  He firmly believes that our immigration system needs reform, but he knows that bad, rushed reform is worse than no reform at all. 

How much better off we all would be if we had that kind of mature, reflective judgment, be it Democrat or Republican, in the White House.  I appeal to both parties to be careful in your selection of candidates for 2016.  Please pick someone who understands that American public life is more than political power.  Pick someone who understands that we all must live together and that the political opposition is a brother with a different point of view to be considered, not an obstacle to be hurdled or an enemy to be vanquished.  If two such candidates are nominated for 2016, then come 2017, we’ll all be better off than we are right now, no matter how the next election turns out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why are Rich People so Bad?

I had a bit of an epiphany this morning.  But before I tell you what it was, first let me explain a little about my background so that you can understand how striking this flash of insight was to me.  I am a Christian. Many would call me a "fundamentalist."  I am one of those many.  (You might have to think about that one for a second.)  I have been in fundamentalist churches for so long now that I am fairly steeped in certain Christian doctrines, probably none more than the doctrine of the depravity of man.  Like a drumbeat, I've heard (and read) for the almost forty years of my Christian life that mankind is fallen. The most common proof text for this sad proposition is Isaiah 64:6.  But that's far from the only biblical text that focuses on mankind's shortcomings -- from the third chapter of the Bible (Genesis 3) on, it's pretty much all sin, all the time.

I may be a bit more tuned into mankind's sinfulness than most -- memorizing Paul's epistle to the Romans as a teenager was quite formative for me. That first part of the "Romans Road," that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," locked in pretty early with me.  Plus there's my personal experience.  I might just be more sinful than most.  That brings me to another point -- I didn't really need the Bible to tell me that people are less than perfect (to put it mildly).  Everything about my existence told me that people are bad. We lock our doors at night; as children, we're told not to talk to strangers; these days, we take extraordinary efforts to "safeguard our personal information" -- all of which is smart because people are indeed unreliable at best, and downright nasty at worst.  Of course, not all people are bad all the time, but some people are bad pretty much all the time, and all people are bad at least some of the time.

So it does not surprise me when people behave badly.  But here's the epiphany that struck me this morning: "Poor people are fallen, too."  Let that sink in for a second.  I don't even know how I thought of it.  The controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins had me reflecting on whether it was merely another faux controversy created by political correctness run amok, and somehow that line of thinking led me to political correctness in general, which got me thinking about certain groups of people whom we're not allowed to criticize, and suddenly I realized that poor people are one of those groups.  But this post isn't about political correctness.  It's about how I had to be surprised to find that poor people fit the universal definition of mankind that I have had drummed into my brain for decades.  After all, I've never had to remind myself that rich people are sinners. As I reflected on my own surprise at this realization that poor people aren't sinless saints, I remembered a time when I articulated my own bias against the rich.  I was a newly-minted lawyer, and my wife and I were buying our first modest house.    That is a dangerous combination.  I kept trying to amend the form contract documents, and the real estate agent with whom I was working finally boiled over with frustration and swore at me.  Eventually cooler heads prevailed, and I joked with her about how if it was this hard to sell a small house, I can't imagine how much trouble she must have when a million dollars are on the line.  Her unexpected answer:  "You'd be surprised how gracious rich people can be." And now that I think of it, that's been almost universally true in my own life, too.  Pretty much all the rich people I've known have been okay, no worse than the rest of the lot anyway.

So why did I, of all people, assume that rich people would be harder to work with than someone of modest means like myself?  Well, the idea that "rich = bad" is drummed into us by the popular culture.  In any movie we watch, particularly including Disney films, if a wealthy character pops up, we can pretty much mark him down as a "bad guy."  If a character's poverty is noteworthy, then that character will likely have some nobility about her.  This anti-wealth current has become so strong in our society, that one apparently effective way to run against a political candidate these days is to point out that he's rich.  And so in the last presidential election cycle, we had President Obama spending millions of Hollywood's money to convince us that Mitt Romney was rich, which we already knew.  And this message stuck even though everybody who actually knew Mr. Romney seemed convinced that he was exceptionally kind and generous, as far as people go. And I apparently bought it, too, as reflected by my response to the real estate agent more than twenty years ago.

So what's the point?  I think the point is that when we make public policy, we should do so keeping in mind that all people, including poor people, are fallen and will behave badly, especially if not properly incentivized. We adopt public policy today as though poor people have some kind of inherent nobility that prevents them from engaging in anti-social conduct, even when we make it exceptionally easy for them to fail.  For example, giving Obamacare subsidies without income verification.  Are you kidding me?

Anyway, this is a tough subject to write about, as you can tell from the title of this post.  I thought about an candid title like "Poor People are Fallen, Too," but I thought "who'd read that?"  So I titled this post as you can see.  Apologies for the "bait and switch" -- I'm not perfect, either.  This topic seemed so problematic to me that I had decided not to write about it, until I read this story about food stamp recipients stealing so much food that they cleaned out a Wal-mart in Louisiana when the EBT system temporarily went down.  Apparently the limits on those EBT cards are absolutely essential.  After my reflection today, I've decided to try to control within myself the societal bias against the rich.  I've also decided to remind myself that all of us, rich and poor alike, must be constrained by law to prevent us from taking advantage of our fellows.  Bummer.  We live in a fallen world, a universally fallen world.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Unseemly Republican Begging

We humans seem to be natural beggars.  We don't need to teach our children to beg.  We already know how to beg when we learn to talk:  "Please can I stay up one more hour?  Please, please, please will you buy me the toy I want?"  When it comes to begging, children have no shame.  Sometimes we even think it's "cute." But there's usually nothing cute about adult beggars.  You know, like the guy who begs his girlfriend to take him back after she dumped him?  We're tempted to say "have some dignity, and move on, man!" Well that's what I want to say to Republicans.

They keep begging the Democrats to talk to them, mostly about the budget.  The Republicans dutifully pass a budget every year.  They used to try to engage the Democrats in budget talks.  But the Democrats, in the person of Harry Reid, have just said "talk to the hand."  The Republican budgets end up right where all of the other legislation they pass ends up, on the scrapheap of Harry Reid's ignoring.

It's easy to see why the Democrats don't like to talk to the Republicans about the budget (or anything else). The Democrats know that it will not be an easy conversation -- the Republicans will want to cut spending. They might even want to balance the budget (eventually).  To say the least, that would not be easy.  It might even be quite unpleasant.  Better just to ignore the budget process altogether (which is why the Reid Senate usually does not even bother with passing a budget) and fund current levels of spending through a "continuing resolution."

So what do the Republicans do?  Do they say, "No, let's stick with the orderly budget process -- you Democrats pass a budget and we'll work our differences out in conference"?  No. The Republicans acquiesce, as they always do.  If the Democrats want to scrap the budget process and fund the government by continuing resolution, so be it!  At least the Democrats will have to talk about the continuing resolution!

That's where you're wrong, oh you groveling Republicans.  When it comes to the continuing resolution, the Democrats say it's "non-negotiable."  You Republicans just agree to fund present spending levels or "talk to the hand."  So what do the Republicans do?  They beg. In recent days, they've  passed four continuing resolutions to fund the government, each one requiring successively smaller concessions from the Democrats. Most humiliatingly, the Republicans' latest version would require the Democrats to talk with them.  Seriously, look it up.  The Republicans just proposed a law begging the Democrats to talk to them in a special conference committee.  What do the Democrats say to all this?  "Talk to the hand."  They've already declared it dead on arrival.

Now perhaps I'm being a bit too hard on the begging Republicans.  I can see why they feel vulnerable and weak.  They repeatedly try to compromise to fund the federal government.  The Democrats repeatedly say "talk to the hand," and what does the mainstream media say?  They say "the Republicans are shutting down the government!"  And so the Republicans beg to avoid blame.  They seem not to understand that the begging is pointless. It's pointless because the Obama administration and the Democrats in the Senate doing his bidding wanted the government "shutdown."  They knew that CNN would "blame" the Republicans, so the Democrats were going to shut down the government unless they got a "clean" (i.e. everything they wanted and nothing they didn't) continuing resolution, and that's what they did.

Well, hopefully the embarrassing begging is over now, Republicans.  Your worst fears have been realized. The Democrats have ignored you and shut down the government.  CNN and MSNBC are blaming you and will continue to blame you.  You can't change that now, and you never could.  So, please, have some personal dignity.  Get up off your knees.

The Democrats have done their worst to you. That's a fact. That can't be changed.  So get up, and move on. Why not try this -- how about playing the cards you've been dealt?  Pass a series of funding bills, funding various parts of the government, not necessarily at current levels, but at whatever levels you think appropriate.  Let those bills pile up on Harry Reid's desk.  If CNN squawks about some side effect of the "shutdown," just point to the bill that would fund that part of the government and say you've already solved that problem.  It won't be long before the Democrats will be anxious to talk to you.

You see, you earn the respect and cooperation of opponents, not by begging and appeasement, but by saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and standing on principle.  Try it, you'll like it.  But whatever you do, PLEASE stop begging!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Non-negotiables: Handling my personal #debtlimit

I hate to publicly air my family's dirty laundry like this, but here goes.  Our family finances are in trouble.  I make less money today than I did in the late 20th century, but our expenses have skyrocketed since then. Predictably, we've accumulated a debt that we may or may not be able to repay, but that's not the worst of it.  The real problem is that our debt is growing at an unsustainable rate.  And the bank has taken notice.  We are almost out of credit.  When we hit our limit, circumstances will force draconian changes on us.

The solution is obvious.  There is only one thing to do.  We must convince the bank to raise the credit limit on our credit card.

Things have gotten so bad that my wife, bless her heart, suggested a family conference to discuss what to do about it.  I have to give her credit for "thinking outside the box," but when I heard what she had in mind, I had to put my foot down.  She had a long list of ideas:  1) maybe we could eliminate or scale back our cable and cell phone services; 2) perhaps we could choose the higher deductible health insurance option to lower our premiums; 3) maybe we should temporarily scale back or suspend the money we've been contributing to the local boy scout troop; 4) maybe we should cancel the lawn and maid services and start doing our own cleaning and yard work; 5) perhaps we could eat out less often or not at all; 6) maybe we should cancel the new furniture that we just ordered yesterday.

Apparently she doesn't understand that I am a man of principle.  When I make a commitment, I stand by it. Each of those expenditures she wanted to cut were decisions that we had made together.  I'm willing to talk about scaling back future purchasing decisions, but I told her in no uncertain terms that the one thing I will not negotiate over is whether we should pay the bills that we have already racked up.

She quickly agreed that we had to pay back our accumulated debt, but she tried to convince me that cutting ongoing expenditures is not the same thing as reneging on financial commitments.  If only it were that simple. For example, we've had cable tv and cell phone service in our house for decades.  Can you imagine how disruptive it would be to eliminate some of the channels that we've grown accustomed to watching?  The same goes for all those other expenditures.  She tried to argue that we might not have ANY cable tv if we don't choose a plan that we can afford before it's too late.   But I stuck by my guns.  We've already made those spending decisions, and those are in the past.  There's nothing we can do about that.  Those expenditures must continue to go forward as they have for years. Principle demands as much, and I am a man of principle.

Now, hopefully, she'll end her unprincipled obstructionism so that she and I can work together on a real solution -- convincing the bank to extend us more credit.  One thing is for sure:  I won't engage in any more family conferences to talk about that other stuff.  I'll maintain my integrity to the end.

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Justice for Trayvon

As most trials do, the Trayvon Martin case  involves the clash of two perspectives.  Martin's perspective clashed with Zimmerman's, with deadly results.  From Martin's perspective, he was being following by a "creepy *ss cracker" (Trayvon's words).  From Zimmerman's perspective, he was keeping an eye on a dangerous stranger who looked like he was "on drugs or something" (Zimmerman's words). Both probably were right.

Martin found Zimmerman to be creepy.  The prosecution, which managed to prove little else in the case, might just have raised a jury issue on Zimmerman's creepiness.  Finding both the law and the facts arrayed against proving the crime they had charged, the prosecutors (with assists from the judge) resorted to putting Zimmerman's character on trial.  They portrayed Zimmerman, with at least some success, as a frustrated cop wannabe on a power trip.  Maybe he was.  One could understand why Martin found being followed by such a man to be "creepy."

From Zimmerman's perspective, Zimmerman thought he was keeping an eye on a dangerous stranger wandering around in his neighborhood. He may have been right.  While the jury didn't get to hear this, we know that Trayvon was outside his home neighborhood at the time because he was on his third suspension from school, this time for drug possession.  An earlier school suspension for writing obscenity on a locker also involved a search of his backpack which turned up a watch, a bag of women's jewelry, and a "burglary tool" i.e. a screwdriver that Trayvon claimed belonged to a friend whom he refused to identify.  We also know that Trayvon bragged about engaging in (and winning) multiple fights and that he was seeking to obtain a firearm.  Martin's brags about his macho exploits caused his friend to text Trayvon some good advice: "Boy don't get one planted in ya chest." Tragically, that wise advice went unheeded.  Finally, and the jury was allowed to hear this part, Zimmerman's observation that Martin appeared to "on drugs or something" was correct -- marijuana (the very substance he had been suspended from school for possessing) was in his system at the time.  In summary, contrary to the picture painted by the media, Trayvon was not a young man that you would want to meet in a dark alley, yet that is pretty much what Zimmerman did.

So what happened when these two perspectives clashed?  The overwhelming evidence indicates that Martin confronted Zimmerman and beat him while Zimmerman screamed for help until Zimmerman finally shot Martin to death.  So what would "justice" look like when the creepy cop wannabe meets the young punk thug?  Only Heaven knows for sure.  Our criminal system cannot make "justice" out of these circumstances, and it doesn't even try.


What our criminal justice system does is draw some bright lines that the creepy cracker and the young thug must not cross in their interactions with each other.  Zimmerman felt threatened by seeing Martin wandering through his neighborhood, but even assuming that Martin was the dangerous figure Zimmerman thought he was, there is nothing illegal about a young thug wandering through a gated community.  Martin crossed no legal line by being there.  Similarly, Martin may have been creeped out by being watched by Zimmerman. But, again, Zimmerman's watching Martin crossed no legal line.  Those who are clamoring for Zimmerman's head must be doing so because they think it SHOULD be illegal for a private citizen to be armed while keeping an eye on a stranger in his neighborhood, but it's not, at least not there.

The legal lines designed to allow the creepy cracker and the young thug to coexist were crossed when the first punch was thrown.  The jury apparently thought that punch was thrown by Martin, and the evidence amply supports that conclusion.  So Zimmerman was found "not guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt, which clearly was the correct legal result.  Was it "justice"?  I'm sure it doesn't feel like justice to Martin's family and friends, but it's the best our criminal legal system can do.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Boston bombers were Chechen terrorists? Oh, never mind!


“And maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.”  (1 Peter 2:12 NET Bible)

On Monday, April 15, at 2:50 p.m. a bomb exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon. A second bomb exploded a few seconds later.  I heard about it shortly thereafter and posted the following facebook status at 3:38 p.m.:  “At the Boston Marathon? What's wrong with people?”  Not one of my better posts – just a gut reaction on the spur of the moment. 

I reacted quickly, but the left reacted even more quickly.  By 3:22 p.m. Charles Pierce of Esquire.com had already “cautioned” us against “jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism” and warned us “to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts.”  The implication was clear enough – this looks like the work of right-wingers.  Pierce did not have to speculate alone.  Later that evening Michael Moore initiated a series of tweets implying the same thing that Pierce had.  Moore suggested that he could put “2+2” together, a backhanded insult to anyone who didn’t reach the same simple conclusion that he had.

And so it went for days.  You probably saw the same coverage that I did – the talking heads perched on the edges of their chairs atingle with the anticipation that some right-wing nut might have been responsible for this.  Typical was the April 17 CNN piece asserting that the pressure cooker bomb formula has been used, not only by Islamic terrorists, but also “has been adopted by extreme right-wing individuals in the United States.”  Seriously. 

Well, now we know that the bombers were Chechen terrorists after all.  So should we expect the sheepish apologies to start flowing as fast and furious as the slanderous innuendo?  Of course not.  I guess Michael Moore has “apologized” in his own way – he tacitly acknowledged that he had slandered the right by tweeting a lame joke about his error.  I guess the victims of his false speculation aren’t worthy of a real apology.  It’s almost as though the left-wing media apparatus is channeling Roseanne Roseannadanna with a collective, “Oh, never mind!”

So be it.  We all have a tendency to assume the worst about those who differ from us.  We even have words for that tendency—words like “prejudice” and “bigotry.”  I’m certainly not immune, so I suppose that I shouldn’t throw stones.  But I do pray that the next time I publicly assume the worst about a group and am proven wrong that I will have the decency simply to apologize, without jokes and without excuses.  Now that I’ve written this, I suppose there might be someone there to help keep me honest.  I hope so.