Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Very Old War

For homework, I told students to research a 1786 conversation Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had in London with a representative of the Barbary Pirates named Ambassador Adja. Most students found it. Jefferson and Adams asked Adja why his government was so hostile to America which had done nothing to provoke them. His answer was reported by Thomas Jefferson and my students thusly:

that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet [Mohammed], that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim jihadi] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.

Sound familiar? It matches statements we’re hearing from ISIS today. My intent was for students to find out for themselves that Islamic terrorism isn’t new. The United States has been dealing with it since our country was founded. War with ISIS is just the latest chapter of a 1400-year-old war of Islam against western civilization. And yes, I’m teaching American History again, as I reported in my column published September 2nd. 
Evidently Adja didn’t mention the 72 black-eyed virgins with whom the slain Muslims believe they would be provided for their eternal pleasure in Paradise. When Jefferson became president in 1801, he stopped paying tribute to the Barbary Pirates and dispatched the Marines “to the shores of Tripoli” as the Marine anthem lyric goes. Marines are called “Leathernecks” because of the stiff leather collars they wore for protection against beheading by Arab scimitars. Under the command of Maine’s Commodore Preble the United States took the fight to the pirates. Southern Maine Community College in South Portland is on the site of the former Fort Preble, named for the Commodore.
Muslim Siege of Vienna

Their homework assignment for this week is to find out what happened on September 11, 1683 in Vienna. They’re good students, and they’ll come back next week knowing that a Muslim army of 300,000 gave up its siege of that fortified western city and retreated in defeat. The late Christopher Hitchens was the first modern westerner to point out the significance of that September 11th date only three weeks after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. “[The siege of Vienna] can rightly, if tritely, be called a hinge-event in human history,” wrote Hitchens in The Guardian. “The Ottoman empire never recovered from the defeat; from then on it was more likely that Christian or western powers would dominate the Muslim world than the other way around.”

And so it was — especially after Ottoman defeat in World War I — western powers did indeed dominate, until oil was discovered under much of the Muslim world in huge quantities. The independent Muslim nation-states we know today became very, very wealthy. Money is power, and several have renewed Mohammed’s goal to take over the world and make it Muslim. Some, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, try to do it covertly. Others, like Iran, do it openly.
ISIS killing unbelievers
I refuse to post pictures of their many beheadings

Although Turkey’s Kamal Ataturk abolished the last caliphate -- which was based in Turkey -- in 1924 and separated church and state there. ISIS - the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - has taken up the Muslim mantle of leadership and re-established it after the caliphate’s only known hiatus in its 1400-year war on the west. ISIS is obeying the Quran which instructs them in verse (8:12): “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”
The renewed caliphate has beheaded three Americans so far this year. Our leaders, including Presidents Bush and Obama, keep insisting that Islam is a “Religion of Peace.” Trouble is, we’re not seeing much evidence to support their claims. When I go over this week’s homework with my students, I’ll ask them if they agree.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lacking Temper

Keene NH Pumpkin Festival last month

Young men can be crazy. They commit the majority of crimes. Insurance companies charge them huge premiums because they have the most traffic accidents, usually involving more deaths and more property damage. When their baseball or basketball teams win championships, they riot and destroy property to “celebrate.” A seemingly innocuous pumpkin festival in semi-rural Keene, New Hampshire triggered such behavior as young, male college students there went wild last month.
"Celebrating" Giants victory last month

They’re also aggressive because they’re full of testosterone. That makes them good soldiers as long as rigid rules within the military keep them in line. Older men, whether superior officers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, coaches, teachers, or whatever, can temper excessive and/or destructive behavior to which young men are prone — if the young men respect them. Young women can temper that behavior too, but again — only if the young men respect them in a monogamous relationship.
Young black men are the craziest. Why? Mostly because there are few mature, older men in their lives. Back in the mid-twentieth century there were — when the black families were more intact than white families of today —  young black men weren’t any crazier than young white men or any other kind because it’s not a racial thing. It’s a culture thing, and it goes back to the “War on Poverty” in the sixties. When government started “Aid To Families with Dependent Children or AFDC, it didn’t aid families in the larger sense. It made them weaker because government effectively took responsibility for supporting children away from the men who fathered them. Millions of families were affected, but a much higher percentage of black families. Another reason is that young black men have fewer mutually-respectful, monogamous relationships with young women. Rather, they objectify women as “bitches and ho’s” to be used and abused.
When young men gather in groups, they’re even crazier. Whatever behavioral inhibitions an individual might have tend to disappear in groups. If groups morph into gangs, behavior becomes malevolent. Add guns, alcohol, illegal drugs, and degrading sexuality, should anyone be surprised when all hell breaks loose? Today’s inner cities make the wild west look tame. A typical weekend in Chicago these days has five or six killed and a dozen or two wounded - almost always young black men as both victims and shooters. For some reason, however, our mainstream media considers this a taboo subject. When a young black man is shot by a  white man, though, especially a cop, they’re all over it like flies on you-know-what.
Malignant attitudes now widespread in young, black, male subculture are glorified across America. Everywhere we see young men wearing pants low on their asses and driving around with big base woofers playing “Hip-Hop” music and shaking windows as they pass. Hip-hop “artists” who survive their destructive lifestyle into their twenties or thirties receive awards from Hollywood and fawning attention in the wider media. They’re also invited to the White House.
After two or three decades of it, Americans seem to have accepted this stuff as normal. Back in the 1960s urban riots were explained as righteous anger against racial oppression by federal study groups such as the Kerner Commission. Today’s leftists still wave that banner, but after half a century, the rest of America isn’t so quick to excuse barbarism. They’re not buying the media spin on the incident in Ferguson, especially since the facts of the case don’t support it.
Ferguson riots

Our nation’s attention is focused on what will happen when a Ferguson grand jury refuses to indict the police officer who shot a young black man. Nearby St. Louis is girded for prolonged street violence by hordes of young black men and their leftist enablers. In spite of the evidence in the case, they believe the white police officer killed him because he was racist and not because he feared for his life. That dubious claim has been fueled by liberal media outlets, by Attorney General Eric Holder, and by President Obama who met with “Ferguson activists” like the allegedly Reverend Al Sharpton on November 5th — the day after the midterm election he lost so badly.
Sharpton said the president “was concerned about Ferguson staying on course in terms of pursuing what it was that he knew we were advocating.” Hmm. “Staying on course”? On course to what? Sharpton is a notorious rabble-rouser who has stirred up riots before. Remember Crown Heights? And, he’s a close associate of both Holder and Obama. If Missouri and other areas break out in riots following the grand jury’s report, will they all be held accountable?

They should be.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Forcing Through

“I’m done torturing myself for the day.”

My wife and I often say that on those days we force ourselves through our different exercise regimens. She likes to do hers privately in front of a television screen showing people doing various strenuous moves that she copies. I prefer to do my exercises privately as well but some of it requires running, and that I have to do out on the road in front of my house, or along the waterfront near Bug Light in South Portland when we’re staying down there. Cars go by in Lovell and dog-walkers go by in South Portland, but the rest of my regimen is performed alone in my room.
I hate it all. I only do it because I feel better afterward than I would feel if I didn’t. The running part is relatively new. That I started about six or seven years ago after my brother had his legs amputated due to a condition we both have: Buerger’s Disease. I should use past tense in his case because he died of it a couple of years ago. It’s a rare, hyper-allergic reaction to using tobacco products. He’s dead because he couldn’t stop smoking. I’m alive and still have all my parts because I could. Addiction can be a terrible thing and takes many forms. I cannot run very far because I have diminished blood flow to my lower legs and they cramp up with vigorous use. So, I jog a short distance, let the blood come back, then sprint as far as I can. All this helps increase blood flow to my feet. With exertion, my legs develop what’s called “collateral flow” - the actual formation of new, small arteries, but never enough to get back to what I was born with.

Since I have to force myself to do it each day, I’ve tried hard to focus on the bright side of exercise - or should I say the slightly less-dark side. While running, for example, I’m aware that each season has its own smells. This time of year there’s a kind of sweetness in the air as leaves and other formerly-green vegetation decay, adding another layer of duff covering the forest floor. When the last autumn leaves blow across my path and I can see further into the woods, it brings back many memories. A silvery autumn light shines on bare, light-gray trunks and branches of beech trees, oaks, and other hardwoods. Gray stone walls become more visible and I remember pleasant days spent hunting with my brothers.
Kezar Lake Last Monday

We’re all going to die sometime, but I’d like to live as fully as possible until the end - and exercise helps. That’s what I think about when I force aching muscles through their paces. Entering the stage of life when people are most likely to need it, health insurance is our biggest expense. The Maine Public Employees Retirement Fund only covers about $300 a month in premiums and I have to pay an additional $1300 to cover both of us. There isn’t much left of my pension after that, so I keep working at the part-time jobs I always had while teaching. My wife still works as well, seeing clients two days per week as therapist.
President Obama promised us his Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” would bring down health care costs for everyone and reduce premiums by an average of $2500. But none of that has happened. Instead it has had the exact opposite effect. Costs are rising fast and so are premiums. The president has been hiding even greater increases until after the midterm elections were over, threatening insurance companies not to release information beforehand. The bad news of more huge increases is expected any day now.
It’s not encouraging that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel was the primary author of Obamacare. He just published an article in last month’s Atlantic entitled: “Why I hope to die at 75,” and subtitled: “An argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.”
He’s telling us we’d all be better off dead. This is the guy, brother to Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who was accused of creating the infamous “death panels” alluded to by Sarah Palin. The left ridiculed her and vehemently denied their existence, but Emanuel’s article last month would seem to lend credence to Palin’s claim. Health care will have to be rationed by government and younger, healthier patients will take priority over older, less-healthy ones.
I’ll be eligible for Medicare in about eighteen months and my wife a year after that, but more and more doctors are refusing to take on medicare patients. All these things motivate me to continue my self-torture each day.

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Maine Things

A pack of coyotes lives near our Lovell, Maine home. Sometimes they wake me up at night with their howling, especially when they’re right under our 2nd floor bedroom window. I can get right back to sleep though and the sound doesn’t disturb me. Yet if I’m woken by dogs barking outside the house next door, I can’t. Their barking bothers me and I’ve wondered why. It has something do with the coyotes being wild and hunting for a meal. When they’ve killed whatever they’re after and eaten their fill, they quiet down. Dogs, however, bark because they’re neurotic and discontented. They go on incessantly with little purpose but to spread their neurosis and discontent. That annoys me.
I hear noises at night outside our South Portland, Maine house too. Being close to the city, there’s a low-level hum that never stops. It’s like white noise though and it doesn’t disturb me. There’s a far-off train whistle I find charming, and I hear tooting from Casco Bay Lines’ ferries as they sound their horns when leaving their Portland harbor terminal on their way to various islands. Those sounds charm me too, and so do fog horns from Cape Elizabeth. Ever-present sirens are part of the urban milieu. They’re not charming, but not too disturbing either unless they’re on our street. Then I want to know what’s happening - not usually enough to put my pants on and actually go outside to look, however.
Elvis and his owners

Feathers are ruffled over in neighboring Cape Elizabeth lately. A rooster named “Elvis” is crowing too much for some neighbors. There’s a huge population of green weenies in Maine’s most affluent town, so there are lots of “Vote Yes on Question 1” to outlaw bear-baiting signs. But the Cape’s animal lovers are conflicted. The town is considering an ordinance prohibiting roosters on lots smaller than 40,000 square feet - about one acre. Presumably, Elvis’s owners live on a lot smaller than that, and if the ordinance passes later this fall, Elvis’s goose may be cooked.
King Julian
We had chickens when my kids were little, including a few roosters, and they crowed often - until we ate them, that is. We had neighbors close by, but none complained. Maybe that was because we invited them over for dinner whenever we cooked one. Those roosters were delicious - best chicken I ever ate. My granddaughters over in Sweden, Maine have a rooster they named “King Julian, and they asked their mother why King Julian is always jumping on the hens. “He likes to wrestle,” she told them. Being three and five years old, that explanation has satisfied them so far.
Claire 5 and Lila 3 play on their dirt pile

Maine’s news has been dominated lately by a vocal nurse who says she doesn’t need to be quarantined after returning from a month-long stint working with Ebola patients in West Africa. People are conflicted about her too. They admire that she went to help people with a dangerous disease, but they wonder why she insists medical quarantine guidelines are too restrictive and bad science. People in Maine are also confused by ever-changing federal government reports about what is safe and what isn’t. The Pentagon quarantines soldiers who do not have contact with infected patients for three weeks, but the CDC says Traci Hickox, who did have contact with infected patients, doesn’t have to be. Until last week, the CDC’s web site said: “Droplet spread happens when [Ebola] germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose, or mouth of another person.” Then that disappeared from the CDC web site.
Is Ebola a political issue this election season? Many suspect Obama’s CDC of putting politics before science. Nurse Hickox is a leftist Obama supporter. She also worked for the CDC, but mysteriously scrubbed that from her Linked-in profile when she challenged Governor Christie’s quarantine. Why? Democrats running our government insist that fear shouldn’t influence decisions about Ebola, and smugly claim they’re relying strictly on science. But what about their global warming campaign. For that it’s okay to use fear. Unless we switch to windmills and solar panels, polar bears will all die! Coastal cities will be flooded! The planet will boil! It’s all “settled science,” they insist. But it’s based on flawed computer projections: There’s been no predicted warming for twenty years. Ice caps and glaciers that were supposed to be gone by now are expanding. Mainers would like some global warming after last winter.
Fear is used for pipelines too. Greenie Democrats around here want marijuana pipes legal, but oil and natural gas pipes outlawed, including the local Portland Pipeline. Though it’s been moving oil safely for three generations, they’re apoplectic about reversing its flow. Study after study shows the proposed Keystone Pipeline would be harmless, but Greenie Democrats insist on studying it until they find something fearful to scream about.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Subjects Object

Something shifted in our collective consciousness this month - something basic. It’s like that old children’s story about the emperor’s new clothes. His subjects laughed because the emperor thought he looked wonderful, but his subjects saw he was naked. Our current emperor believes he’s brilliant, but his subjects think things are “going to hell in a hand basket” and “feel like they are out of control right now." While they laughed at the emperor in the children’s story, they’re not laughing now. They don't believe their emperor can or will protect them. They don't feel safe.
A speechwriter for one of the previous emperors named Peggy Noonan summed it up last week: “There’s the sense of an absence where the [emperor] should be.” His “Hope and Change” of 2008 morphed into despair and barely hanging on. When his subjects starting feeling uneasy in 2012, the emperor said: “Bin Laden is dead” and “General Motors is alive” and “al Qaida is on the run.” When al Qaida killed Americans in Benghazi, Libya, he made up a story about how it wasn’t terrorism, only reaction to a film that insulted their prophet Mohammed.” Subjects exhaled, saying, “Oh… okay.”
It was the film

This year his subjects saw internet film of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists cutting heads off Americans. The emperor’s generals warned that ISIS is more dangerous than al Qaida and the subjects were scared again. The emperor said don’t worry. They’re just “the JV team” and “not Islamic” and he can handle them with “no boots on the ground.”  But they were still scared because they lost confidence in the emperor and didn't believe him either. The internet showed more beheadings and rapes of Christian women and children and ISIS said it’s coming over here to kill and rape Americans too. The emperor’s generals said ISIS can’t be defeated without the kingom's “boots on the ground.” They worry even more when the emperor and his foreign ministers continue to insist the greatest threat to the kingdom is climate change because they're not afraid of climate change. They worry about ISIS, Ebola, their jobs, and their health care.
The emperor sensed their fear so he said he’d put American boots on the ground in West Africa to fight Ebola. He figured TV would report this instead of ISIS so he flew to Atlanta to talk with the Centers for Disease Control about Ebola. His motorcade drove to the CDC headquarters where the emperor announced that: “The chances of an Ebola outbreak in the [kingdom] are extremely low.”
Two weeks later an African flew here with Ebola. They figured the African knew he was infected and lied so he could get free American health care. The emperor’s CDC said they would “stop Ebola in its tracks” because “they knew how to handle it,” but a week later it spread to a nurse, and the next week to another nurse. The emperor’s CDC said the nurses didn’t follow their instruction with bodily fluids like blood, diarrhea and vomit. Then TV showed Dallas city workers “decontaminating” the African’s apartment and using a pressure washer to push his infected vomit from the sidewalk into the gutter. Subjects started thinking the emperor and his CDC don’t know what they're doing.
The Dallas hospital spent $1000 an hour on the African for days before he died. The emperor’s subjects worried about their own health care. They remembered the start of the emperor’s new healthcare plan for them last fall. They remembered how he lied when he said: “If you like your policy, you can keep your policy” and “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period.” The emperor put off other parts of his plan until after next week’s election because he knew his subjects wouldn’t like them either. Then, some US hospitals said last week they are thinking about withholding care from Ebola-infected Americans.

European and African kingdoms don’t let planes in from Ebola-infected kingdoms, but the emperor lets them in here and his subjects wonder why. The emperor says new airport screenings will prevent infected people from getting in, but then a doctor with Ebola was able to go right through them into New York City.

They hear the emperor is waiting until after next week’s election before he pardons millions of illegal aliens who sneaked into his kingdom. They fear he wants the illegals to be new subjects who will work for less than they do, or who won’t work at all. They worry about what else they may hear about after the election, like: Has the emperor been hiding other Ebola-infected people until after the voting is over?

They’re thinking the emperor isn’ nearly as brilliant as he thinks he is - and when they vote next Tuesday, they’re going to show him they’re not as stupid as he thinks they are.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Japanese Maple in autumn

Perspective changes with age. When I was in my twenties, I encountered rot in several places while working on my first old house - a hundred-year-old three-tenement bought for $15,000. My approach was to rip and tear until I got down to solid wood before starting to build back. I would act as if I were cutting out a cancer and wanted to I “get it all” as a surgeon might say to the family after his operation. We sold it a few years later for $23,500 and figured we did well.I had the same attitude with my second house, a hundred-fifty-year-old home in Maine I rehabbed when I was in my late twenties and thirties. We bought it for $27,500 and sold it for $63,000. Then I did the same to a hundred-fifty-year-old cape for my mother. She still has it.
Mt. Kearsarge with the Moats on the left

Around that time I got my first client as a caretaker. It was a compound with several buildings, two over a hundred years old. When I discovered some rotten areas in one building, I brought them to the attention of the owner who was in her eighties. She trusted my judgement but she had a different perspective to things. The rot was in the home she occupied every summer, a magnificent old building designed by architect John Calvin Stevens. Soil had built up over the lowest course of shingles on the uphill side and rotted them. She asked what it would take to repair and how much it would cost. I told her it would have to be dug out first and then pulled apart to ascertain how deeply the rot extended into the sheathing or sill. Then I could tell give her a definitive answer.
Zooming on the Moats for different perspective

She winced when I described the process. “How long will it last if we leave it alone?” she asked. I told her that was hard to say. The building wasn’t sagging and it could be ten years or more before it did. She nodded as I talked, then said she wanted to leave it alone. That went against my instincts to do nothing and let the rot continue, but I had given her my best advice and my job then was to accept her decision graciously. She had done the math and figured the house would likely last longer than she herself would and she was right. She died ten years later in her early nineties.
Our city house with porch

After turning sixty, my wife and I bought another fixer-upper— a ninety-year-old, single-family house that, like our first house, is in the city. We’re both semi-retired now, so we have more time to work on it than when we were young and raising kids. Money isn’t as tight either, but I approach things differently being I’m forty years older. We figured to fix it up and rent it, but we like going down there and use it as a second home. After pulling up some rotten decking on the front porch last summer, I discovered that rot had extended into some of the joists as well. I also noticed that one of the previous owners had done a repair job about thirty years ago. Rather than replace the partially-rotted joists, my predecessor left them in place, then put a new joist next to each one and nailed them together - a process called “sistering.”
Richmond Island, Cape Elizabeth Maine

Forty years ago, the younger Tom would have scoffed at that and proceed to tear the entire floor out. However, the old repair had held up pretty well and other joists were showing rot, so what did the 63-year-old Tom do? I left the partially-rotted joists in place and sistered new ones onto them, just as my predecessor had done. Then I covered them all with ice and water shield and put on new decking. The rot remains underneath, but it won’t progress - and I can sleep easy knowing it will last longer than my wife and I will.
Zooming in on Richmond Island for different perspective

Like I said: Perspective changes with age. I'm better at accepting things that are less than perfect - in myself, in others, and in many situations with which I'm forced to deal.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crisis of Confidence

A lot going on these days, no? Sometimes I think I’ve lived too long.

Twenty years ago many of my students carried various Stephen King books along with the history book I required them to bring into my class. I told them I stopped reading horror stories because real life is often scary enough. Truth is much stranger than fiction and actual events, past or present, interest me much more than any fiction.

A week later I’d just finished “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston. On the back was a comment by Stephen King: “The first chapter of The Hot Zone is one of the most horrifying things I've read in my whole life--and then it gets worse. That's what I keep marveling over: it keeps getting worse. What a remarkable piece of work.” So I brought it to class and read them King’s comment. At their insistence I read some of chapter one, but stopped after the first twenty pages. The following week, I noticed a few students carrying Preston’s book.
Ebola in West Africa

Last month, President Obama tried to calm Americans worried about a new outbreak of Ebola in Africa. He told us it was highly unlikely there would be an outbreak in the US. Two weeks later, though, it happened. This week, there were two more cases reported in Dallas, Texas. Hopefully things won’t, as King said back then, “keep getting worse.” Hopefully the CDC will do as it promised and stop the spread of this disease in its tracks.
However, the confidence expressed by Dr. Thomas Friedman in his first press conference was not evident after the nurse in Dallas became infected. He said we need to “re-think” hospital methods to prevent the spread of this very scary disease. As the federal government takes over more and more aspects of our lives, from health care to education, public confidence in its ability to administer them all competently is waning.

It’s been more than three years since I left the public schools. My thirty-four year career in them witnessed ever-increasing federal and state control over what was to be taught and how, from arithmetic to sex education to what can be eaten at lunch. Countless screwball ideas came down from unions and universities as well. Last week, I read a piece by Katherine Timpf in National Review Online in which she writes: “A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
Gender-bending programs like this have been trickling in for years and I’ve written about some in this space several times. If I were still in public education and instructed to say: “Good morning Purple Penquins” instead of “Good morning boys and girls,” I believe I would have refused. Are there objections out there in Nebraska? None I have heard. What is it going to take before people push back against relentless LGBT propaganda paid for by their own tax money and foisted on their children?
The “Gender Spectrum” curriculum, mandated in the Nebraska district, “…instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of ‘boys and girls’ so the student can learn that this is wrong.”

Wrong, mind you. Students are not being told just to tolerate other students who are confused about whether they’re boys or girls. Now it’s “wrong” to refer to the sexes in a “binary manner.” Nebraska public school teachers must now: “Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”

Two months ago, my wife and I attended my niece’s wedding in Massachusetts. When she and her husband filled out their marriage license, there were no categories for “husband” and “wife.” No-no. Not in politically correct Massachusetts. It was “Spouse A” and “Spouse B.” How did this happen?

Several years ago, Massachusetts passed a so-called “gay rights” law which slipped in language about “gender expression.” Then came a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that it was then illegal to prevent homosexuals from “marrying” one another. Leftist bureaucrats took over and changed official language pertaining to marriage - for everyone in the state, getting rid of “husband” and “wife” because those terms are wrong, I guess. They’re too “binary,” exclusive of those who claim they’re neither male nor female.
The City of Houston Texas passed an “equal rights” law that included aspects of “gender identity” and conservative groups have filed suit against it. Meanwhile, city attorneys have recently issued subpoenas demanding that local pastors turn over to the city any sermons written pertaining to “homosexuality or gender identity.” Does this not violate First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion and speech? How about Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures?
Will Houston pastors meekly comply? Will the ACLU step in on their behalf? Be interesting to see.

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