Randa Jarrar and free speech


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

PROFESSOR MALIGNS BARBARA BUSH ON TWITTER WITH NO CONSEQUENCES

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last week, we spent some time remembering Barbara Bush and her passing and the Bush family. When we were doing that program, you said that now was not the time to critique her life. We’ll leave that for the biographers later down the road. When we were doing that program, it was the time to remember her, embrace the family and pray for the family.

However, there was one individual out of Fresno State University, a professor who didn’t take your advice. She went to Twitter and she said some rather vile things that I’m not going to repeat here but I’m sure many of our listeners have heard about these in the news. But, as a professor of Fresno State University, not only did she say these vile things, but she also bragged about the fact that she had tenure at this university and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

“I’m making $100,000.00 a year,” she said, “I will never be fired. I will always have people wanting to hear what I have to say.”

DO EMPLOYERS HAVE RIGHT TO CURTAIL SPEECH?

DR. REEDER: And, of course, her president of the university said hey, this is a matter of free speech, and I affirm that, by the way. I think the president is right. Now, the president has the full authority to determine employment boundaries on speech and what is appropriate and that’s obvious because that’s why she immediately affirmed her tenure, saying, whatever your boundaries are, anything you create now cannot affect my employment because of my tenure. Now, boundaries previously established could — that’s getting in the weeds on tenure.

However, there’s a couple of things that come up from this and one is the freedom of speech does not mean we affirm their speech, but we affirm their freedom of speech but, secondly, we also affirm that employment can be conditioned on the content of your speech so it is absolutely appropriate, when you employ someone, to have standards of conduct, including speech that is acceptable and unacceptable.

Another side issue to this, this is why I don’t believe in tenure. In fact, every good teacher I’ve ever met is not a big supporter of tenure and the reason why is, one, they have a constitutional right to freedom of speech, but they also recognize that the university has a right to determine the extent of speech in their classroom and then, three, they know, I don’t need tenure. Good teachers are always desired. You don’t need tenure to keep your job; you just need to do a good job.

AS CHRISTIANS, HOW SHOULD WE TEMPER OUR SPEECH, BUT NOT OUR MESSAGE?

Tom, whenever I hear this kind of ugly and destructive discourse in public, I’m immediately challenged, first of all, as a Gospel minister and, secondly, as a Christian. I’m so grateful I have the freedom to share the Gospel in public arenas, but I also understand, when I’m on someone’s podium, they can determine what they want spoken on that podium or not — they have that freedom as well.

We know that this program is devoted to analyzing events from a Christian world and life view, propose this analysis to the listeners and then provide Gospel decisions to it. We know that people have the freedom to cut it off or ignore it or challenge it. That’s perfectly appropriate.

However, what about when we speak in public and how we speak in public? Well, for me as a Gospel minister, I’ve recently been challenged on this. There are many podiums I’ve gone to surrounded by people and symbols that I would not want to be identified with but, just like the apostle Paul was surrounded by all of those idols at Athens, he went to the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart and the only solution to the heart is the reconciling power of the Gospel but you have to determine how are you going to say it.

IS THE GOSPEL OFFENSIVE?

The Gospel is offensive to the natural mind, but does that mean we have to be offensive in the way we talk? The content of what I say may be offensive in the Gospel because nobody wants to be told they’re a sinner in need of repentance and reconciliation to God. Nobody wants to be told those things unless the Lord is working in their heart.

I love the picture of Jesus the sower — He’ll go all over the field to sow the seed. He is willing to be called names, not so veiled names, when He sits down to eat with prostitutes and tax gatherers. They’re making innuendo about why would He be sitting with prostitutes because he is seen sitting with prostitutes, which he has to do if He’s going to share the Gospel with prostitutes.

The apostle Paul, where he’ll actually use quotes from the philosophers he’s confronting at Mars Hill in order to bring them to repentance and he goes after the issue of their heart. I also noticed that, no matter what the case, that there is non-discriminating casting of the Gospel wherever they go. And you know the message is going to be offensive, but you also note that they don’t personally try to be offensive. The only time we see the stiffening of their language is when they challenge those who would condemn what they do when they go to people who need to hear the Gospel.

TREATING OTHERS WITH DIGNITY HELPS THE GOSPEL HAVE POWER

The question for me is never where will I speak — I will speak anywhere I have the opportunity — the question is really what do you speak and how do you speak? And I know the Gospel is scandalous but I try to tell myself, “Don’t be scandalous. Try to treat every person with dignity.”

Whether I am in an LGBTQ forum surrounded by their symbols or recently when I spoke to a historical event surrounded by symbols and others, I try to keep the main thing the main thing: identify sin, here’s the solution, the Savior, and here’s what the Savior will do in your heart and from your heart into your relationships in life so that the culture can be changed all around us. And know this, that every time you share the Gospel, you’re planting Gospel seeds that may not bear fruit then but may bear fruit later.

Secondly, always know this: When people do come to Christ through the proclamation of the Gospel, there’s a party in Heaven — angels rejoice — and it doesn’t matter whether the person that is saved was promoting and practicing sexual immorality, or whether they were racist or whatever because every time they’re saved, angels rejoice. It’s only the elder brothers of self-righteousness that question it.

CONVERSIONS BRING JOY IN HEAVEN AND HOLINESS TO SOCIETY

And also know this: that, while there’s rejoicing in Heaven, there is also the blessing of the landscape of culture that is gradually changed through the changing of people so that, as I’ve recently said, a culture of repentance and reconciliation can replace the culture of chaos and destruction.

Oh, I long for the new heavens and the new earth where we don’t have to deal with the consequences of sin any longer and where the victory over our sin will be in consummation and completion when Jesus comes again. So, I just end this program, come quickly, Jesus, but until You come, help us — unlike this example in Fresno State — help us to speak truth freely, courageously, but thoughtfully in the public square and please bear fruit for your glory and the salvation of others.

ALFIE EVANS: AN ALARMING EXAMPLE OF WHAT STATE OVERREACH IS TO COME?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to Liverpool, England, where the parents of another toddler, this time Alfie Evans, are being told, “You cannot take your son to another hospital in another country for further treatment.”

DR. REEDER: So, Tom, just as we have had to address what is the right use of the right of free speech and how, as Christians, we need to take advantage of it, here is another right, natural right, that is foundational to a culture and that is the supremacy of the rights of parents to take care of their children, now superseded by the state. Are there times that this should happen? Yes. But is this the time that it should happen and is this time in England — and, by the way, perhaps in the United States as we see tomorrow — is this time revealing that, instead of a state in an extraordinary moment having to step in for the benefit of the child, is this an example of state overreach beyond the parent, not for the benefit of the child but for the benefit of the state and its financial resources?

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

44 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.