Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Step-Daughter Nightmare" from KIDNAPPED TWICE

                                      
Our marriage was the second marriage for each of us, Alan and me.

The situation with Alan’s daughter was a nightmare. Telephone calls from her mother came every day many, many times a day. This woman’s foul language was terrible.

Before the daughter was taken away from her, there were many traumas. One was the mother’s bringing the daughter up to Alan’s house, sitting her daughter down and telling her that she would be living with us now. The mother left and then called us within 10 minutes, saying she was going to kill herself.

I left Alan with his daughter and went to the mother’s house. She was writing a will and let me in. Shortly thereafter, her brother came in. We both sat there with her, talking for a long time. She then went back up to Alan‘s house, and I gave her some supper. She said she was going on vacation the next day with her daughter. Alan and Alan’s mother and I gave her some money toward the vacation. The next morning, she called Alan’s mother and us and told us all to rot in hell!

When the daughter was with her mother, she rarely made it to school on time, if she made it at all. The school was alarmed, and they would call us.

We would sit in our car on the next street down from the mother’s house after returning the daughter after a visit. We sat there with the car windows open in case the daughter would cry out.

The local drugstore owner had the mother arrested because she had attacked the owner and broke her glasses.

On one particular Father’s Day, she called Alan and told him to pick up his daughter’s Father’s Day gift. When he went there, the mother attacked him, hitting him, slapping him while his daughter hid under a table. Alan was always afraid that she would take off his eyeglasses, as he could not see without them.

The mother would wait for Alan to drive on the main street in town and then try to seduce him. When that didn’t work, she would revert to hitting him. She would tell anyone who would listen that her father had sexually abused her. It got to the point that if she were on an elevator, any man who lived in that town would not get on the elevator with her.

Later, when the court told her that because she had been abused she was probably abusing her daughter, the mother changed her story and said that maybe she was never really abused. What she put her father through during his life with her madness was terrible. He in fact was a good man.

There was never a day without her abusing all of us. There were people who believed her stories. She was very good at convincing people that she was abused by everyone. She always needed a new audience to tell her stories to.

Just to set the record straight, she left Alan. He did not leave her. Actually, Alan and his mother helped her buy a house and set her up in a video store business. She was suing him for divorce at that time.

From the first day that Alan received temporary custody, I got up every morning and got his daughter ready for school and drove her there. At her lunch break, I would leave work and go to the school parking lot to make sure she was not taken. Everyone was walking on eggs, including the teachers and the supervisor. I would pick the daughter up after school. I took her to karate, to dance classes, and to any after-school activities, and then I parked outside to protect her. Her mother was constantly saying that she was going to take her. We all had to go to be evaluated by many different psychologists

We also had to retain an attorney. A court-appointed attorney was appointed for the daughter. The mother claimed she was indigent, so she, too, was appointed a court attorney. She went through many attorneys.

All this went on for months. During this time, the mother came to our front door late one night. She broke through the front door glass with a brick to get in. I had the daughter go to the bathroom and lock the door. I called 911.

The mother was arrested for this, so we had more court appearances. The daughter was telling more and more to her attorney, the psychologists, and us. She did not want to see her mother at all!

The court tried supervised visits at the Child Protective Service in a private room. This produced more trauma, taking her there every week. She wanted her mother to admit to everything that she had done to her, before she would even think of forgiving her. This was not happening, and the mother’s actions were alarming to the weekly visits’ supervisor, so these visits were stopped.

At a subsequent hearing, the judge took my testimony and that of several others. I reported that the counselor who interviewed my step-daughter told Alan and me that she was surprised that the girl did not want to see her mother ever. The counselor then told us she would try to arrange that the girl need not see her mother for awhile. I reported this in the courtroom. The judge reacted to the first part of what I reported and failed to hear the clarifying statement at the end of my sentence, “for awhile.” The judge later claimed that I had misled the court, to my embarrassment.

The mother blamed me for everything, which was expected. We were trying to give the daughter as normal a life as possible, considering the situation. As I will relate below, the daughter has continued to be a problem.
 
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We are serializing here KIDNAPPED TWICE: Then Betrayed and Abused. This memoir by Mary E. Seaman and me tells of a terrible childhood and the slow recovery from it Mary has made. It is published by Outskirts Press and available from OP as well as from other on-line booksellers, like amazon.com and bn.com.

You are invited to view my other site, http://writeyourbookwithme.com.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Amusing Aunt Lila


My writing partner, Kathy Blake Shields, has submitted her manuscript for publication by Outskirts Press. The book, Home is Where the Story Begins: A Memoir of a Happy Childhood, will be published in 2015. It has many humorous and insightful anecdotes. Three more stories about her aunt Lila she just recently related to me, too late to publish. Here they are:


Aunt Lila was taken out to a fancy restaurant in our neighborhood. She was served the usual courses: salad, entrée, soup, dessert. She was not wholly pleased, however. She called the waiter over and said to him, "Tell the chef that I make my soup at home just like he made this, but I add only one can of water."

Not-so-lovable Aunt Lila watched the firemen attack with hoses and axes a fire that had started in her house. She was unhappy with their methods. She told the Chief, "You can stop what you're doing now, and I'll save the foundation."

Even Aunt Lila’s parrot was hard to get along with, although---like Lila---it would greet her guests with “hello.” Lila's niece, Pamela, would stick her finger in the bird’s cage, then withdraw it quickly before the irritated parrot could bite it. Aunt Lila warned Pamela that one day she would be a little too slow or the parrot a little too fast. Not long after, that day came. Pamela, bitten, screamed. Then came another sound: Aunt Lila's parrot actually laughed! Eventually, the parrot was given away, having embarrassed Aunt Lila one too many times, in the presence of company, with words that had it had learned from a previous owner, a laborer on the railroad.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Writing with THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE


 
Originally written and published a century ago by Cornell University Professor William Strunk, Jr., and updated decades later by E.B. White, this classic text on writing, The Elements of Style, has guided myriads of writers and editors, its fourth edition having been published in 2000.



Here are excerpts from the “little book,” with its original words in boldface, followed by my own examples and comments:


ELEMENTARY RULES OF USAGE

1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.
A dog’s life, Tom’s pen, Charles’s paper


2. In a series of three of more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.
This, that, and the other


3. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.
It is best, at least most of the time, to avoid parentheses.


4. Place a comma before a conjunction introducing a co-ordinate clause.
This is often done incorrectly, and yet it is important.


5. Do not join independent clauses by a comma.
This is often done incorrectly; it is important.


6. Do not break sentences in two.
Be sure. Not to. Or only rarely!


7. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.
Trying to write well, you should heed this rule.


ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION

8. Make the paragraph the unit of composition: one paragraph to each topic.

9. As a rule, begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; end it in conformity with the beginning.

10. Use the active voice.
Active: She wrote the poem. Passive: The poem was written by her.


11. Put statements in positive form.

12. Use definite, specific, concrete language.

13. Omit needless words.

14. Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
Loose sentences are distinguished from periodic ones, where the meaning becomes clear only at the end.


15. Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form.
Parallelism in sentence structure.


16. Keep related words together.

17. In summaries, keep to one tense.

18. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.
Easier said than done.

 

Under each section of this valuable book appear examples and discussions. There is much more to the book, available from, for example, Amazon. Look for THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, by Strunk and White.



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Dr. Cooper (douglas@tingandi.com) is a retired scientist, now a writer, editor, and writing coach. His first book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, was published by Outskirts Press in 2011 and is available from Outskirts Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, in paperback and ebook formats, also available are two memoirs he subsequently co-authored, The Shield of Gold and Kidnapped Twice, and two memoirs he edited, High Shoes and Bloomers and But…at What Cost. On Twitter, he’s @douglaswcooper. His editing and coaching site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Risky Riding etc., from KIDNAPPED TWICE

Starting with those Sunday rides and later on, after my having had many near-death experiences due to Alan's poor driving, I realized that no one wanted to ride with Alan.

Alan and the men who worked at the farm markets in New York City would drive down and back to the markets. Having ridden with Alan as the driver, the worker riding with him on many occasions jumped out of the truck and yelled to me, "I'm alive! I'm alive!"

I was working for a real estate school, putting on the courses for people to get their real estate licenses. They had installed a phone in my apartment as their business phone, because I was the district manager. This phone was listed. Alan's wife obtained that number and started calling it and hanging up, at all hours of the day and night.

The next spring, the company I worked for closed. That summer, Alan asked me if I could watch his daughter during the days when he was to have her, so that he could work.

I took care of the daughter when she was with her father. His wife decided I could take care of her every day, which was fine with me. She thought the more I took care of the daughter, the more I would want to leave Alan. What was really happening was that the daughter and I were having a great summer.

Every day during that summer, the soon-to-be-ex-wife would call many, many times a day. Alan and his daughter would go away on vacation, and I would stay at his house. His wife threatened many times that she would burn the house down.

When school started, his daughter would get off the bus at his farm three or four days a week. I was working at that farm by this time, so the daughter would sit in the packing house office to do her homework.

When her homework was done, I would take her up to Alan's house, and we would have dinner. Then I would take her back to her mother's.

There came a time when everything changed. The daughter started telling us what her mother was doing to her. I shall return to this below.

Last week, I tried to tell Douglas, my writing partner, about what my minister had said to me years ago, but I did not explain it correctly. Rev. Duryea said that I would have only a few good friends who knew that when they asked me to tell them the truth, I would tell them the truth, no matter what the subject. He said that many people want to be told what they want to hear, not necessarily the truth.

To try to tell the story of my husband’s family is not going to be easy.

SOME WIN; ALAN AND I LOSE

The two elder brothers, my husband’s father and uncle, owned the farm. My husband’s uncle just wanted to do the outside work, and his father took care of financial matters and the inside work. At that time, it was primarily an apple farm. The farm supported everyone in their extended family, which expenses included their homes and everything that a home needs, such as fuel, gas, electric, upkeep, and taxes. This was the way it was for years. The uncle’s son, who worked outside, stayed on the farm; the other elder son– my husband, Alan– went to Cornell University but also worked on the farm. No one was rich, but everyone got by. Unfortunately, Alan’s father and uncle were growing further apart, as each year went by.

The idea arose to start a water supply company, as there was an abundant amount of water on the farm. The water company needed tanker trucks, wells, tractors, a building, and– of course– customers. They started delivering water for drinking and water for pools. The water company was created to subsidize the farm, as there were just too many families being supported by the farm. The water company was owned by my husband’s father and uncle. The bookkeeping was done by Alan’s father’s wife and Alan’s brother’s wife.

The water company took off and was doing very well. The farm was still paying for everything that it had been supporting. Eventually, the water company started paying for the fuel for the trucks and for a few other items. The bank that was funding the farm had a meeting with all the people involved and stated that the water company was draining the farm financially and needed to start paying some rent for the building it used that was on the farm and also start paying the taxes.

I think that meeting was the beginning of the end. The water company people did not feel they should be paying rent or taxes. In my eyes, no one stopped to think that the water company had been started with farm money. Who would not want to own a company that was started by and paid for by the farm and had originally been meant to subsidize that farm?

So, we have my husband and his uncle and his uncle’s wife, who was the outside worker, and his son, who also worked outside, and me. As the water company got bigger, the farm got into more debt. The names on the farm [the owners] were my husband and his brother, his father and mother, and my husband’s uncle and his aunt. It is important to understand that at this point all these people were responsible for the farm debt.

The names on the water company, the owners, at that time were Alan’s uncle and father. No one knew just what the water company was doing, except for Alan’s father and father’s wife and Alan’s brother and brother’s wife! The uncle and his wife, his son, and Alan and I were working, trying to get the farm back on stable financial ground.

This is about the time that the water company decided to sue the farm to force it to file involuntary bankruptcy so they could buy it back cheaply. It was a terrible time. Alan was told by his brother to get a job at Wal-Mart, as the farm would be auctioned off. Alan and I were told that the others would then go to the auction and pay ten cents on the dollar for what they wanted!

After many months of legal fighting, Alan and I went to the bank to ask what we should do. The bank’s advice was to stop the lawsuit and have the family members sign off from the farm, which relieved them of debt, and Alan and I would get part of the farm and take responsibility for the debt. So the water company got their building and all the trucks and inventory and land; Alan’s mother and father got their home; his brother got his home plus an apple farm that was on the land; his uncle and aunt received their house; and their son received his home. All of this they received free and clear of any debt. All of this had been collateral for the farm loan previously. The brother also took ownership of Alan’s mobile home that is still being rented out today.

What did we receive, Alan and me? We received the remainder of the farm, our house that is and was in need of repair, along with $1.5 million of debt. Alan’s brother and father had to pay $250,000 to the uncle for his share of the water company. Alan and I were the only ones left in debt. Does anyone see the unfairness of this picture? Even so, the water company members still think they were dealt a bad hand!


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We are serializing here KIDNAPPED TWICE: Then Betrayed and Abused. This memoir by Mary E. Seaman and me tells of a terrible childhood and the slow recovery from it Mary has made. It is published by Outskirts Press and available from OP as well as from other on-line booksellers, like amazon.com and bn.com.

You are invited to view my other site, http://writeyourbookwithme.com.

"But...At What Cost?" Final Chapter

There’s not much in politics that doesn’t matter to me. I admit it; I’m obsessed with trying to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong for mankind and our country. I like to debate issues and usually demand a rationale for any belief anyone might have… and I sometimes get snippy. I apologize for that, but I am very passionate about my point of view and truly want explanations for opposing views. I want to understand the reasons for conflicts of belief and I get rather annoyed when folks can’t or won’t explain their reasoning. That’s when I get frustrated and angry and might shoot from the hip – which I always regret.

I fear I will lose friends and maybe family members over things I’ve said in this book. For that reason, putting my honest opinions on paper is the riskiest project I’ve ever attempted. I have so much to lose and so very little to gain. I know I won’t change minds (not enough minds, anyway), yet I am compelled to defend my positions in hopes of dispelling some of the false perceptions, I believe, are created and maintained by the political class and the “elite” media.

I feel that we are being indoctrinated into a belief system that will eventually destroy the most important things America stands for… equality of opportunity, personal freedom, and a strong expectation for moral, ethical behavior from every citizen.

I hate what is happening to our culture. I fear my grandchildren will accept the new, untraditional “wisdom” as wise. I want them, and everyone, to consider the natural consequences of following Progressive policies. Below (in no particular order) I summarize some of my concerns for the future of American society.

The freedom I enjoyed as a kid was instrumental to my growing up and figuring things out for myself. Everyone learns much better by “doing” than by being told what to do. Having that freedom as a kid taught me (and all of us back then) how to fend for ourselves, compromise and develop leadership skills. Now, adults are expected to jump in and solve all children’s disagreements, and explain, explain, and explain. Please give kids a chance to figure things out for themselves. Let them be exposed to different points of view and deal with life’s realities on their own, as much as possible. We need thinkers and doers, not the flock of sheep our current culture is creating.

In response to a program on National Public Radio, a good friend, Jean, and I had a great conversation about on-campus rape. We were told by a victim that rape is on the rise on most college campuses. It seems she, the victim, was raped by a friend she trusted while both were in a drunken stupor (no date-rape drug involved). I said, “You know, I don’t feel as sorry for her as I probably should. The guy was really bad to do it, but they were both so drunk, I think she was somewhat responsible for her own fate.” Jean agreed and added a few points of her own – girls dressing so provocatively these days, for example.

I get it; we’re old and operating under the old rule set, but shouldn’t everyone expect more date-rape under the new rules of sexual freedom? And isn’t this kind of “rape” very different from a stranger-rape in a back alley at knifepoint? Neither Jean nor I excuse the behavior of the college man, but damn, if so many college women weren’t so free with their favors and didn’t drink to excess, this wouldn’t happen as frequently.

Since civilization began and cave men dropped their clubs, women have borne the primary responsibility for sexual activity… because of our natures. As much as we would like men to be just as responsible, many aren’t – especially when alcohol is involved. No, it’s not fair; life isn’t fair, but supposing that acting promiscuously and being drunk doesn’t “ask for it” is naïve … and makes the women almost, I repeat, almost as much to blame. Irresponsible behaviors DO have consequences.

Women have been trained to believe by the feminists and the laws made subsequent to feminist influence that saying “no” is enough. Well, maybe it should be enough, but it’s not. Women can’t continually give mixed signals and then expect drunk men to recognize when “no means no,” particularly when both are too drunk to articulate their own names. Having such ridiculous expectations is silly and dangerous. Common sense has left the campus, so “rapes” have increased. DUH! By the way, no one on NPR expressed our point of view, at all.

If I hadn’t been at my smiling grandmother’s side while she was washing Uncle Donald’s feces-covered sheets, I might still be a Democrat. Having a hard-working, ordinary family who overcame some pretty extraordinary circumstances without whining taught me a lot about whom to admire. Every time I compare my mother and grandmother to Sandra Fluke, the recent whiner-in-chief for feminists, I feel like slapping Ms. Fluke (and her ilk) across the face. How dare she think of herself as a victim of “a war against women” because her contraceptives aren’t free? It’s laughable.

America’s past is replete with heroes, real heroes who overcame hardships that are nearly incomprehensible to young Americans. Yet, today’s Dems all seem to promote “victimhood” as a way of life. No, Ms. Fluke, in the real world, seeing oneself as a victim is usually the precursor to failure – not success.

That’s exactly what Sandra, Al, and Jesse and all people who promote the victim-mentality have done to our culture… convinced way too many people they’re helpless and need government interventions to survive. If that were true, I’d join your cause, but it simply isn’t true. It’s political hyperbole.

People fare much better when they think their goals are attainable despite real (or imagined) road blocks. They need optimism, not excuses… or at least a balanced, reasonable view of their chances to succeed. They need examples of everyday heroes like their great-grandmothers, not political benefactors to solve their problems.

I think black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass said it best in his speech “What the Black Man Wants” in 1865:


“Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, ‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall. I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall.

And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go. If you see him going to the ballot box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone – your interference is doing him a positive injury.”
In other words – Douglass’s point was: just get out of our way. It took a while, but as a nation, we did. And black Americans made greater strides, in a shorter amount of time, than any other racial group in history. (See Race and Economics by Walter E Williams.) All we did prior to the sixties was to get out of the way (and not everyone did get out of the way), and that is when the greatest strides were made. The employment rates for blacks in the thirties were higher then, than they are now. How can that be explained? Quite easily, I think. If you leave people alone, most will do what they have to do to feed the kids. Most people are responsible despite any hardships they have to bear… and most black people (before the welfare state) strove to overcome all the hardships of poverty and discrimination that came their way. If you want heroes, look no further than blacks born and raised between 1865 and 1965. They may have been well-intentioned, but “positive” interventions can hurt as much as negative ones do.

Many sociologists have offered explanations for the decline in black success rates with most citing discrimination as a major factor, but none withstand scrutiny when the high black success rates of yesteryear are compared to the lower black success rates now. What Frederick Douglass said in 1865 is as true now as it was then. Just get out of the way and let the chips fall where they may. He understood human nature. He recognized that “positive” interventions (i.e., affirmative action) can damage as much as negative ones (i.e., discrimination).

It wasn’t until the government tried to manipulate positive outcomes that the decline of the ghetto culture began in earnest. Were there other contributors? Certainly, but, to my mind, none affected the moral decline of ghetto dwellers more than the excuses and entitlements they were offered.

Nearly every Progressive “make nice” policy promoted by the Left has had devastating effects on the freedoms of the majority. I’m an atheist, so I’m a minority, but I’m not the least bit offended by a Christmas tree in the public square. I don’t need a pro-atheist sign posted next to the manger. And Jews don’t need a menorah – at least not any Jewish folks I know. This is, by far, the silliest Leftist contrivance I’ve ever heard and makes atheists look petty and ridiculous. That any court would accept such a frivolous lawsuit shows the depths to which our Liberal judges have fallen. I’m going to go out on a limb here: any person who is offended by a Christmas tree and/or equates its presence to the establishment of a government-sponsored religion needs a brain transplant. I just can’t think of a more petty complaint, yet many kids on our nation’s campuses are “buying in” to the whole phony issue. A holiday tree? Come on! I worry for these kids… and everyone else who falls for the hype. Any argument on this issue is so utterly shallow, sophomoric, and unnecessary, it’s embarrassing.

The funny thing is that most people in this country are extremely tolerant and accepting of other points of view and either agree with each other or agree to disagree on most issues. Only when one view or the other becomes a political talking point do we get irrational. Without the rhetoric, people tend to get along with each other. I don’t know one atheist (except the ones on TV who spout this nonsense) who gives a damn how many Christmas trees line the streets of our cities. In fact, most of us celebrate Christmas and have our own trees. The Christmas tree crisis is pure politics intended to divide and conquer.
Politics is a very dirty, divisive business. There are few good guys engaged in it. Some started out okay, but power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. That’s why we are so lucky our founders recognized that fact and tried to protect future generations from the powerful.


Every time we allow a bureaucrat or a judge to decide what building materials we can use, what color we can paint our houses, how tall our grass can be, how much electricity should be available, what fish to protect, where we can build and where we can drill, which science is valid, or whom we must like and whom we must fight – we lose a freedom! It is essential to eliminate the collusion between politicians and special interest groups AND essential that voters recognize that the collusion exists primarily to maintain political power. They are not looking out for us or our country; they are looking out for themselves by appealing to the ignorant masses. That’s how Progressives think of us, you know – as people to be manipulated and controlled. Look at their history; it’s what they do.

“What shall we do with the Negroes?” “Nothing” was and is the correct answer. They must do it for themselves – just as they and we have always done until the Progressives started their meddling.

Thank you Frederick Douglass, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams, Ben Carson and all black Conservative thinkers whom have experienced the debilitating effects of Progressive policies and continue to warn against them. Thank you Fox News Channel and The Blaze, for airing Conservative voices; and thank you Rush, Greg Gutfeld, Dr. Krauthammer, and too many more to mention for being those voices of reason.

You all give me hope for my grandchildren’s future in America.

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We have finished serializing here Judith Axtell's BUT...AT WHAT COST: A Skeptic's Memoir. This story of her ascent from an emotive liberalism to a rational conservatism is published by Outskirts Press, and available from OP and from other on-line booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com.

I am proud to have coached Judy and edited her book.

See also my web site, http://writeyourbookwithme.com.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Alan and I Ally" in KIDNAPPED TWICE


Over the years, Alan became a close friend. He would come to my house for dinner and go out with Bruce and myself for dinner also. When I would go up to the hunting camp to help them post the property and cook for everyone, Alan would be there. All of us would go out to a local place where people went to hear music and dance. Alan was always quiet and respectful to me; he never tried to hit on me, which made me respect and like Alan.

We had many conversations about many things. We became comfortable with each other and good friends. I was always sad for Alan, as he never had a girlfriend.

The following events changed all of our lives forever.

I was working at the Police Department and for the Town. During this time, I met a pretty girl, and we became friends. I decided to introduce her to Alan. They met and started dating. As time went by, I started to see things about her that were very upsetting. By the time I realized there was something really wrong, I did not know what to do.

Bruce and I spoke about this. He said it was too late to say anything, as Alan had asked the girl to marry him. And, as the story goes, they got married!

Shortly after that, the friendship I had with Alan’s wife weakened. She would only contact me when they were having problems, which I would not get involved in, so the friendship ended totally. Soon afterward, they had a baby girl.

Then my relationship with Bruce ended, and I did not see Alan for quite a long time.

My son had told me that Alan was having a bad time, because his wife had left him. As fate would have it, a few weeks later I saw Alan walking along into a local pizza restaurant. I stopped and went in to talk with him. That started a new chapter in my life.

Shortly after I ran into Alan, he and I would get together to talk. We would take rides on Sundays, go for walks, always talking about both of our lives and about what we thought about the future. His soon-to-be-divorced wife was making as much heartache as she could. Little-by-little, his daughter and I became friends.

We started by going to the park to feed the ducks there. Her mother thought that the more time she sent the daughter to be with Alan, the more I would not want the daughter around. The daughter and I became very close. As more time went by, though, I started to realize that there were a lot of problems with the daughter.

When Sundays would arrive and she would have to go back with her mother, there would be terrible upset. Crying and screaming that she did not want to go back, she would tell me about beatings and other awful things going on. I told Alan, but he was not listening. The mother had already broken two answering machines with her long, ugly messages.

It all came to a head the day my lawyer called me to set up an appointment to write my will.

The daughter was sitting at my kitchen table and started crying hysterically. I hung up with my lawyer and asked the daughter what was wrong. She told me that her mother had made her write her will because if she ever told anyone what her mother was doing to her, her mother would kill her.

During that summer of 1988, I pretty much took care of Alan’s daughter. I knew her mother well enough to know that she was thinking that I would not want to spend a summer taking care of a seven-year-old. She was wrong. Being a person who had been abused, I could spot a troubled child.

I had the seven-year-old enjoy each day she was with me. As time went on, she began to tell me some horrendous things. When I would tell her father, he really did not believe me. So I began to record conversations with the daughter when she would discuss her treatment by her mother.

As fall came and school started, on most days the seven-year-old would get off the bus at the farm. I had quit my other job and started working at the farm, so that I could be there for this little girl. I still had my apartment, but I also set up the guest bedroom in her father’s house so that I could sleep there when the daughter was there.

Things were getting worse. Her father and I would have a terrible time on Sunday evening to get the daughter into the car to take her back to her mother. It all blew up in February of 1989, when we had brought the seven-year-old an unfinished toy box that we all could work on to finish. The mother did not think that anyone had the right to buy anything for her seven-year-old unless it went through the mother.

Thus began the mother’s keeping the seven-year-old from the father. This went on for a couple of months. The court ordered her to let Alan see his daughter on weekends and Wednesdays after school. During one of these Wednesdays, she got off the bus at the farm, and I saw what turned out to be a third-degree burn on her neck. It was a cigarette burn. That was it! Child Protective Services gave temporary custody to the father. Finally.


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We are serializing here the memoir KIDNAPPED TWICE: Then Betrayed and Abandoned, by Mary E. Seaman and myself and for which I served as coach and editor. It tells of her difficult recovery from a childhood of abuse. Outskirts Press published the book, and it can be obtained in paperback and ebook formats from OP and from amazon.com, and from other on-line booksellers.

My other site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com

"Don't Give 'em an Inch," Ch. 30 of BUT...AT WHAT COST

As I write this, I am forced to recognize the profound political ignorance of the common man. I have been the common man (okay, out of deference to the feminists – the common woman), and the more I studied the political history of the twentieth century and on into the twenty-first, the more apparent my ignorance became to me. I’m all but convinced, our nation, as I knew it to be a mere fifty years ago, has succumbed to a political paradigm which has few moral aspirations and little chance of long-term economic success.



I don’t think we are bound toward an Orwellian “1984” or Stalinist-type communist state, but enough so, that we should study very seriously the underlying tenets of today’s progressivism. David Horowitz in The Black Book of the American Left states, “… the quest for social justice, pressed to its logical conclusion, leads inexorably to the totalitarian result. The reason is this: to propose a solution that is utopian, in other words impossible, is to propose a solution that requires coercion and requires absolute coercion.”


Horowitz goes on to quote Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty, “It is just not true that human beings are born equal; … if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position; … [thus] the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently.”

That would describe all our affirmative-action mandates. To treat any group differently under the law is inherently unfair and, in my opinion, unconstitutional. To favor a whole racial or ethnic group is not only unfair, but assumes racial or ethnic inferiority doesn’t it? Our Constitution demands equal treatment under the law – not sometimes, for some people – but at all times, for all people. That is just; that is fair; that is moral. Treating people differently under the law is not just; it is not fair; it is immoral.

We recognize the immorality of discriminatory practices. Frankly, it blows my mind that most Democrats in this country are willing to accept the kinds of restrictions that favored whites over blacks in the past, to favor blacks over whites now. Granted, it’s not slavery, but Asians and whites are definitely discriminated against for college entrance – and in many work places where Jesse and Al show up to blackmail the companies. Racial discrimination is never a moral choice. It’s as if the civil rights community is more about “getting even” with Whitey, for his past sins, than about equal opportunities.

The thing is: most people would like nothing better than a world free from racism, ethnocentrism and discrimination of all kinds; utopia would be nice, but we gotta stay real. Equality of outcomes is not possible, no matter how hard any government tries to accomplish it. As Ashley said when he was twenty-one and trying to discourage my idealism, “As long as there are people, some will always be more competent than others, and some will always have purely selfish motivations.”

As much as most people want to live in a utopian village where birds sing and all people are selfless, fair, and congenial, there will always be some out-of-tune birds and selfish people. To think otherwise is misguided and naïve. To think utopia is something that can be achieved by changing our legal standards of right and wrong to match the social expectations of each discrete groups is not only naïve; it’s wrong. Most people know instinctively what is fair and what is not; it is not fair to favor or disfavor any racial or ethnic group over another – ever! The legal standards of judgment must be the same for each and every individual – regardless of group identity and regardless of what each group stands for.

Conservatives tend to be realists by nature and big-time believers in either the Bible or our Constitution (or both) as the standard for moral expectations and legal precedence. The Bible’s allegories have much to do with natural human inclinations, both good and bad; The Bill of Rights and the Constitution reflect most of those very same moral values.

The details of allegories or documents, which are inevitably signs of the times in which they are written, are not nearly as important as the underlying intents of the writers: to establish a set of moral values or legal standards for the community at large to follow.

When I was younger and had less life experience, I questioned how the Bible could recommend both “an eye for an eye” and “turn the other cheek.” Well, I know now – it depends on whether justice or mercy is paramount; and that’s, in part, why we have so damned many laws trying to describe all possible circumstances and establish which right takes precedence over another. Obviously, some standards (laws) need to be somewhat modified to comply with the knowledge of the times, but it’s imperative not to undermine the basic intents of the Constitution when modern legal precedents are tweaked to meet modern needs. The details of our ever-changing cultural beliefs mustn’t infringe on the founder’s basic intention – to protect the people from the government.

Determining legal priority is a very sticky business – as shown in a recent Arizona attempt to establish the right of religious freedom over the right not to be discriminated against by those with religious objections to their practices. By the way, this was never proposed as anti-gay legislation as stated by the media – it was offered to protect the right to freely practice one’s religion. One right was infringing on another. It was clearly a precedence argument, nothing more.

Governor Brewer had it correct in that religious freedom is rarely undermined in Arizona, so they probably didn’t need a new law to address it. Besides, this whole hooha was politically contrived by gay activists… as if there were hordes of gay people being refused service. That’s not happening, and even if it does happen on occasion, so what? Go somewhere else. Personally, I wouldn’t want to hire anyone who didn’t want to be hired. These things take care of themselves in a free-market system. These days, there’s no need for special treatment for anyone – not for blacks, not for gays, and not for religious fundamentalists. Any time the government intrudes to favor one group over another, everyone else loses a bit of freedom.

Our freedom of speech, for example, has been trampled by political correctness. We always use “yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” as the primary example for limiting speech. Personally, I can’t think of anything more elementary; any nitwit can agree with that. But, that was not the kind of speech with which our founders were concerned. Their intention was to prevent government tyranny… by ensuring everyone can say anything they want to say. It doesn’t matter if it’s “not nice.” The Constitution protects the people from their government – not so much from each other. That’s the intent we must keep in mind in the midst of a tweaking exercise.

But look what’s happened under the Progressives (both Republicans and Democrats): a word can put you in jail… not only yelling “fire” with the intent to injure, mind you, but merely having said the “N-word” in the midst of a fight can turn an ordinary argument between two people into a “hate crime” and double your time in jail. Where in the Constitution is the government given permission to have “word” and “thought” police? That’s what it’s come to – the long arm of the law can now reach down your throat or into your brain to determine your intentions… and prosecute, if your intentions are deemed “unacceptable” or “different” by the powers-that-be. Klan members, as hate-filled as they may be, must have the same freedom to speak and gather as anyone else. If they don’t, then no one will be free from government tyranny.

Consider the reasons behind the proposed Arizona legislation again. If there were ever a case of “no harm, no foul,” this was it. There were plenty of alternative bakeries and wedding photographers around to serve the needs of gay couples.

Never should have gone to court! Yet, there we were, waiting with fangs bared to see the outcome. First, religious beliefs can be just as wrong-headed or misguided as any other personal belief, so they shouldn’t really be granted any special dispensations (even though the Constitution does so). The complaint of the original lawsuit was discrimination. The defense was based on religious freedom.

To me, this case was much broader: what constitutes discrimination? And more to the point – do proprietors have the right to NOT enter a contract? There are many reasons folks might not want to work for someone – some misguided, some not – but is it not a basic human right to refuse someone service whether your reasons are religious or not? Do we want the government to determine what is a “reasonable” complaint? I don’t. I want the freedom to choose my clients. I don’t want to bake a cake or take pictures for a Klan party… and NO, I’m NOT comparing gays to the Klan. There are plenty of individuals with whom I’d rather not do business, which I guess is legal… as long as that individual isn’t black or gay. Then, apparently, my right to refuse is voided because they are members of a legally favored group and, as such, can sue me. That’s the coercion Horowitz and Hayek were talking about.

It wasn’t until the anti-discrimination laws were on the books that these commercial/personal freedoms were in danger. As much as we should and do detest “Irish need not apply” signs, should it not be the right of any employer to hire anyone he wants? Should the government be allowed to force me to hire a Klan member? It’s the same issue… our leaders probably wouldn’t do that because the Klan is certainly not a favored group, but what if……? Do you want the government to control with whom you are allowed to do business or hire? As a culture, we are so far beyond the need for anti-discrimination laws, it is counterproductive to have them. Do you know what happens to businesses that discriminate? They lose business – and probably fail… and that’s good enough for me. We don’t need more damn laws that result in less tolerance and further alienation… and are in direct conflict with our Constitutional rights to free speech and association – including in the context of business practices.

What’s next? Well, our Liberal politicians and judges and justices are continually trying to undermine our personal freedoms. By definition, Liberals, Socialists, Statists, Progressives, or the Left (whatever you want to call them) want a strong central government. They think they know better than the people and must control them, but…at what cost?

It is essential that all citizens retain their Constitutional freedoms. Fortunately, for us, our founding fathers were particularly keen at recognizing mankind’s worst traits and tried to protect future generations from those in power, by strictly limiting the government and giving the power to the people. Too many of “we the people” are now willing to relinquish that power to the bureaucrats in Washington – to let them make our decisions for us.

Think about this: by outlawing hate speech (don’t say the “N-word“), they have opened the gates to control all speech… and they are doing it in history books, in literature – everywhere, not necessarily by decree, but by limiting exposures to authors through Common Core initiatives. How dare they change the words of Mark Twain to something more politically correct! That’s censorship… and it changes historical realities.

Our states are being coerced or nudged (by offering federal funds) to follow Common Core standards to indoctrinate our kids into a socialist belief system. If you enjoy your freedoms and want your children to be exposed to and debate opposing ideas and ideals, I think you had better question these tactics before it’s too late. We want to encourage “diversity of thought,” don’t we?


To continue along a different path – I consider everyone with whom I choose to associate a moral person. Some have had abortions; some would never. Some are against homosexual marriage; some are for it. Some totally support the Second Amendment; some don’t. Some are Democrats; some are Republicans, and some are Independents. Some are church-goers, and some are atheists, but all are moral… or I would disassociate myself. They differ mainly in the extent to which they are willing to arbitrate our basic freedoms… for the common good. That’s the big question. Ultimately, which system of government serves the “common good” best – being forced to yield to the biases of the Left (or Right, if they are the ones in power) or having the absolute freedom to choose whom to serve or not serve?

I think the “diversity” mantras are severely flawed. There is no moral equivalency between a cultural Muslim belief in Sharia law and our cultural belief in equal rights. I had an opportunity to compare the two up close and personal. I found out a Muslim woman student of mine was routinely beaten by her husband. She had stopped coming to class, and I had asked her friend (another Muslim woman student) if something was wrong. She told me. I told her we had agencies that could help if she wanted it. “Oh, no, no. Can’t say.” Amina clearly was afraid to get involved. We had many cultural discussions in that class – even about sexual practices and gender roles. They were enlightening conversations for all – a Korean, a Columbian, a Pakistani, and me, an American. Many cultural expectations were different, but acceptable to all of us, except for Amina’s extreme lack of freedom. We loved her, but didn’t approve the culturally imposed restrictions on her life choices at all.

Our political ruling class does us no favors when they skew the beliefs and motivations of the opposition. It’s usually hyperbolic rhetoric. People who believe such outrageous generalities are… well, hopelessly gullible and easily manipulated – Dave!

Connie revealed some comments her Liberal friends had made about Tea Partiers. Her friends are smart, but thoroughly indoctrinated into the “Tea Partiers are radical, anti-women, anti-gay, and anti-black people” dogma of the Left. According to the Left, Tea Partiers are pretty much anti-everybody except white, rich capitalists. It’s as if Democrats have two separate brains – one for real life, and one for politics… and never connect the two. Aunt Tillie is great until she joins the Tea Party or criticizes our President’s policies… then she inexplicably becomes a racist? It’s crazy.

The vast majority of us in the Tea Party are not anti-people; we oppose Progressive, big-government policies. We have, I might add, well-thought-out rationales to back up those beliefs.

To begin with – we don’t favor rich people; we just don’t hate them. I think most, if not all of us, opposed the corporate bail-outs. We want free markets to prevail, not the whims of a political group. The government must not be allowed to choose the winners and losers.

Next, as a group, Tea Partiers are very far from being radical. They are the antithesis of radical; their values are rather old-fashioned and traditional. Unlike the “Occupy” groups, they don’t leave behind messes, attack the police, break store-front windows, or spit on detractors. All most Tea Party activists do is to carry a few signs and hand out Constitutions.

Third, Conservatives are said to have a “war on women.” This belief appears to have been generated by the radical, pro-choice feminists. I don’t know why any woman would engage in a war against herself, but that’s their belief: we Conservative women are all too ignorant to recognize the error of our ways, I guess. Well no, we’re not ignorant; we have different priorities. I already covered the abortion issue and remain very wishy-washy, so I will not get into it again. However, there are other angles to cover.

To my mind, the war on women Democrats cite never existed. Republicans as a group never opposed equal pay for equal work. They had different priorities and opposed feminist’s anti-housewife rhetoric, but never equal pay. Anyway, what needed fixing was fixed and the pendulum has swung to the point that men and boys are now being discriminated against. By refusing to accept the inherent differences between the sexes (in competitive and impulsive tendencies, for example) and issuing rules that favor feminine behavioral tendencies in our classrooms, they’ve turned “nature” up-side-down and delivered way too many “hyperactivity” drugs to normal boys. Social engineering by drugs? Please! The list is long and sad because feminist dogma is wrong and bad!

There are inherent differences between men and women and those differences should be applauded and managed fairly, not by strangling boys with unnecessary meds or enforcing Title IX sports participation “equality.” Is there anyone out there who believes the numbers of men and women participating in college sports should be the same, when by nature, far more men than women want to participate? How crazy is that?

“Equality in paychecks by group” – have any of you Democrats out there ever considered what that means? That’s what you voted for, so think about it. The Supreme Court outlawed quotas, but that’s essentially what Progressive activists strive for – and what we’ve mostly got: equal pay for unequal work.

Any discrepancies in pay – I’ve heard every amount from 77 – 90% on the dollar for women – can be easily explained by an individual’s choice in careers, years of experience, and the numbers of hours individuals are willing to work. The wage numbers represent all women versus all men, without accounting for the jobs more men than women are likely to have.

In other words, damn the realities, the mean incomes must be the same regardless of what one chooses to do or how effective he/she is at doing it. When one compares men and women actually doing the same job for the same number of hours per year, with the same amount of experience, men and women usually get paid the same amount of money. That should be the comparison, but that is not the comparison Progressive feminists cite. They are comparing apples to oranges. Hey, if you want a female hairdresser’s pay to equal the pay of a male engineer, that’s your prerogative, just understand that equal pay for unequal work is, in its essence, socialism – “to each according to his/her needs.”

And then there is the Left’s anti-gay rallying call against Republicans. Being against gay marriage is NOT being anti-gay. This issue strikes me as wholly contrived. Gay activists sound to me like three-year olds demanding a cookie, being refused, and then shouting, “You don’t love me.” There’s no nexus between the refusal and the kids’ response. One has nothing to do with the other. Sorry, kids, I love you, but you can’t have the cookie. We’re running out of cookies.

A change in the definition of marriage is primarily a slippery-slope problem… and an economic one. It has nothing to do with who anyone likes or doesn’t like. Granted, some people have a problem with gay sex. The thought makes them very uncomfortable, and many consider it abnormal, perverse, and wrong. I do not agree with them, however – and neither do most Conservatives or Tea Partiers I know. Even those from the Religious Right, who do think of the act as sinful, tend to judge the sin, not the sinner. Put another way, most of the Religious Right are not anti-gay so much as pro-traditional family.

I came very close to quitting the Tea Party when one (I repeat one) man in our group of 30 started spouting off about “the perversity.” I approached our leader and said I wouldn’t remain in the group if he was representative of the majority. She agreed that he was out-of-line, and I think she spoke to him about it. He was less objectionable in the future, anyway.

I subsequently talked in depth on the subject with a few fundamentalist Christians in our group. I explained my point of view – that being anti-gay was a lot like being anti-blue-eyed people. That’s when they said, “We judge the sin, not the sinner. We are all sinners and all deserve respectful treatment.” I knew these people and had no reason to doubt their sincerity; it was a frank and open discussion.

I probably didn’t convince them “the act” wasn’t immoral because fundamentalists adhere to many of the details of Scripture as opposed to the broader, generalized principles of the Bible; however, I did make some inroads into their dogmatic adherence with the “what is morality?” argument. A sexual act between two or more consenting adults doesn’t infringe on the rights or well-being of anyone else, so therefore, should not be deemed illegal or immoral. To me, being “immoral” requires actual damage to someone other than the subscribers to the act… and for both my fundamentalist and Democrat friends – “damages” should go well beyond being personally offended. A sexual act can be circumstantially unwise, unusual, or icky, maybe, but certainly not immoral if done by consenting adults without marital infidelity.

I must say at this point, I find the public displays of hyper-sexuality that many marchers in gay pride parades exhibit quite icky and wholly counterproductive to their cause, but I wouldn’t necessarily call the marchers immoral, just wrong-headed. However, I do think anyone exposing his/her children to such activity is making a wrong, if not immoral choice. I draw a line where children are concerned. Shouldn’t the marchers use some common sense and draw a line, too?

Seems to me, it would be much more advantageous to march as doctors, dentists, athletes, teachers, builders, and ditch diggers than to reinforce all the negative stereotypes, but that’s me – I don’t appreciate public displays of blatant sexuality by gays or straights.

My objection to changing the definition of marriage is based on the fact that every developed culture has recognized the need for marriage only as it applies to men and women. As do all other mammals, people couple to procreate. I don’t know exactly when this coupling was first sanctioned by the tribe leaders, but marriage between a man and one woman or many women has been officially sanctioned by some entity since modern civilization began. Why?

I expect it was necessary to keep males at home and protect the women and children from abandonment. Even plural marriages, though some may also measure status, still ensure the security of the family. Once a marriage contract is codified, the guys have to bring home the bacon, no matter how often they go elsewhere to spread their sperm. In the words of Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?” Not much. Love is weakly joined to marriage in our culture – not necessary, but highly desirable. Though we may promise to love and honor and all that good stuff, legally and historically, marriage always has been the primary means to make men do the right thing and take care of their wives and progeny. Men get sex; women and children get fed. It’s a contract that enables and assures a stable society… if those long-standing rules provoked by the natural differences between men and women are followed.

The surprising irony of this debate is that many of the same feminist activist groups who devalued heterosexual marriage and women’s roles in it are many of the same activist groups fighting for gay marriage “rights” today. Given the reasons marriage was officially sanctioned in the first place – to protect women and children – and the fact that marriage is, in today’s culture, nearly irrelevant to having sex for most people, I’d say marriage is becoming pretty much passé as a desirable or necessary social institution. That seems particularly true for gay couples, most of whom will not raise children together. That’s the reality.

Besides, most of the same responsibilities and benefits are available to gays by contract and/or civil unions – excepting a few important ones such as the transfer of social security benefits and the joint filing of income taxes.

So let’s face the facts: gay marriage “rights” have less to do with love and commitment, which can certainly be accomplished without validation from a church or government, and more to do with financial security (same as straights).

As far as I can tell, our natures have not changed. Men are still more promiscuous than women tend to be (though I admit, since the feminist movement, women seem to be catching up in that area). With rare exceptions, women are still better at nurturing than men. Men are better at discipline than women. Men are hunters; women are gatherers. Men Are from Mars... but those inborn traits that distinguish the sexes from each other also tend to complement each other – especially in survival-of-the-species areas (i.e., child-rearing roles within the family group).

There are, of course, exceptions and degrees to which any individual will lean, plus the ever-changing culturally induced expectations that will influence each group; however, the natural genetic differences between the sexes persist and will always persist. Why ignore them when they are so beneficial to family life and community success?

My only real objection to gay “marriage” is the presumed need for it. How will its official status benefit society? Because there are more women and usually a lot of children to protect in plural marriages, sanctioning plural marriage might have more practical benefits than sanctioning gay marriage. Frankly, I don’t give a damn who sleeps with whom or with how many they sleep, but federal laws need to have a universal purpose besides making a minority group feel good.

What is the difference between Kate and Allie, two straight women, living together for financial benefit versus Gwen and Maddie, two gay women, living together for financial benefit? Is it the fact that the latter couple love each other and have sex together? That’s the only difference I can see. So, what’s to stop Kate and Allie from wanting the same benefits Gwen and Maddie have? Each couple has the same needs, so should they get the same benefits? I’d say they should, if we use the same reasoning gay marriage advocates (mis)use. That’s the slippery slope we’re headed down… and it will cost the government, thus taxpayers, a lot of money.

As far as marriage for gay males is concerned, I can hardly think of anything more unnecessary. I’ve been to a wedding between gay males, and my friend in that particular union had as many sexual liaisons at highway rest stops after his marriage as he had before – which numbered plenty. Sexual commitment between gay males is quite rare, I think. At least that is what one of the grooms and other gay male friends have told me. Both in the partnership are male and therefore tend to forgive those biological drives toward promiscuity that all males tend to have. The partners love each other… but sexual monogamy in a gay marriage is seldom a requirement as it usually is in a heterosexual marriage.

So, I wonder: if a marriage doesn’t have any expectation for monogamy and therefore doesn’t reduce the spread of AIDS and other STDs – which is a legitimate government concern – why should the government sponsor or encourage it?

There is also the likelihood that male couples share a higher income than women couples do. As stated earlier, this is not because of discrimination, but because of their chosen career fields. Anyway, most male couples probably don’t share the same circumstances that heterosexual couples do – not the same circumstances that initiated the tax breaks for heterosexual couples. They will not create children and will rarely raise them together. Traditionally, women have been the ones who put aside twenty years or so to raise children, or, if they did work, accepted lesser paying jobs because they needed to stay home more often. That’s why the government gave women a break – allowing them to reap the rewards of their husband’s Social Security earnings upon his death.

There was a reason for society to reward these partnerships with tax and Social Security benefits. Until very recently, initiatives and incentives that supported the traditional roles in marriage were advocated for a good reason. Everyone knew that’s the way it was and is supposed to be. It’s nature’s way, but I guess the leaders of the clan decided a long, long time ago that Mother Nature sometimes needs a little help to make men and women do the right thing, so provided some carrots and sticks.

Do you see where I’m going here? There is no need for the government to provide carrots and sticks for couples not intending to raise children. There is no societal benefit to providing incentives for gay relationships – not back in the old days, and certainly, not now in a culture that has a “whatever” attitude about nearly everything. Divorce rates are near 50%; live-in rates are higher than ever; and in some communities the out-of-wedlock birthrates stand at 72%. Seems to me we’re about to encourage the wrong group.

I was for gay marriage before I was against it. On a purely emotional level it seemed “fair”… until I thought about it. After some thought, with “equal rights” (fairness) being the only criterion, anyone can see Kate and Allie are entitled to the same benefits marriage provides – and so are sister wives, and so are any other couples (mother and son) or groups (a hippy commune or a religious sect) who deem themselves financially dependent on each other. That’s “fair,” but should we go there? I don’t think so.

Neither should “love” (or sex) be the salient requirement of a marriage contract. Remember, anybody can have sex with or live with anyone they choose… this fight is about incentives and entitlements from the government – which were originally intended for only those planning to raise children together. Maybe having children should be the basis for any entitlements. After all, in today’s culture of marriage devaluation, and having a national debt of over seventeen trillion dollars, we should be looking for ways of eliminating unnecessary entitlements, not for ways of adding to them.

I approve of marriage. It usually requires two people to successfully raise children. Yes, it can be any two people, but it is surely best if the inborn traits of those two people are biologically designed for rearing children together. Now, we live in a culture that has devalued marriage between a man and a woman by throwing money at single mothers, and is aiming to further devalue it by throwing more money to any two people or group of people who claim they love each other.

Perhaps the reader should visit some of these cultural realities. Do you really want to encourage the current trend toward the irrelevance of marriage as an institution? Which culture do you want… the one that follows Mother Nature’s plan and recognizes the societal benefits of traditional marriage, or one that ignores nature to favor the supposed “rights” of the self-interested? Laws have cultural and economic consequences and we best address them logically, not emotionally.

Equal rights are very important to all of us, but “rights” obtained by taxing other people must be measured and defined in the context of societal need versus fiscal responsibility, at the least. There needs to be a cost/benefit analysis before handing out favors to self-interested individuals or groups. To me, this is NOT a “rights” issue; it’s a “wants” issue. Do you know how fast we’ll go broke if everyone feels entitled to (and gets) everything he wants?

To help put this “problem” in perspective, I have a Gram story to relate. Many years after my grandfather died, Gram met a special man. They wanted to get married, but would lose some financial benefits if they did. They moved in together. It was a hard decision for them because they’d be “living in sin.” Gram even asked me if I cared…. No, being a practical person and unencumbered by the teachings of the Bible, I’m sure I cared a lot less than she did. The point is: they had options and were free to make a choice. They had the “right” to live together without benefit of marriage. Marriage was, to them, at that time, the cultural and religious expectation, but they had the “right” not to follow that tradition.

Now, there is hardly any cultural expectation for marriage (even we grandmothers expect our grandchildren to “sleep around” first) unless the couple intends to have children. In this aspect, marriage was never a “right;” it’s always been a cultural expectation. A “right” just as often allows an individual to avoid convention, or avoid an expectation – in other words the right not to be coerced into an activity. So far, Big Brother can’t force you to get married – only to take care of your kids. Count your blessings. Bottom line on gay marriage: it’s so far down on my list of “things I care about,” I don’t know why I addressed it. Well, yes I do – because almost everything politicians, especially Progressive ones, hype are contrived issues to gather and maintain voting blocs – not to advance equality or solve real problems.

Read the Constitution and check out the Amendments. The first ten (our Bill of Rights) are all protections from government interference – protections that are being stripped clean by Progressive “anti-discrimination,” big-government policies.

Take a look at some court dockets and peruse some of the outrageous lawsuit settlements. How many of them would you say are frivolous? And how many of those are the result of Progressive policies? Which party does the lawyers’ group, The American Bar Association, support? Our courts are filled with cases that in days gone by would have been laughed out of court – just like the “discrimination” case in Arizona should have been. And, by the way, as any case claiming “discrimination” in the opposite direction should have been. A gay proprietor should have the right to refuse to enter a contract with a Bible-thumper too. It wouldn’t be a good business decision, but hey – no harm, no foul. Beyond that, even if the would-be customer, gay or Catholic, might be harmed, the sellers of goods and services should have the legal right to abstain, except in exigent situations.

We’ve got to get back to using the sense we were born with and stop looking for government solutions to everything. Power tends to corrupt. Lawyers and politicians have selfish motivations to encourage alienation. Lawyers want business and pols want votes. Alright, alright, not all of them, but in general, their powers need to be curtailed, not broadened.

Don’t give ‘em that inch!

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We are serializing Judy Axtell's BUT...AT WHAT COST: A Skeptic's Memoir, which I am proud to have edited and to have served as her coach. It has been published by Outskirts Press and is available from OP and from amazon.com and bn.com and other on-line booksellers.

My other site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com