What Alan Dershowitz’ shunning says about snowflake culture and intolerance for debate


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ALAN DERSHOWITZ OSTRACIZED FOR NOT CONDEMNING TRUMP

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to an article out of Fox News. We referenced this in a program we did a few days ago. Harvard law professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, recently came out in an interview and said that he has been basically ostracized by what he thought were his own friends at high-end seasonal destination Martha’s Vineyard.

Dershowitz, a famed lawyer, lamented the efforts to eject him from social life at Martha’s Vineyard amid his outspoken criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the alleged collusion with Russia. He said, “So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from the social life on Martha’s Vineyard.”

DR. REEDER: And, by the way, it cuts both ways: he was quite the defender in what he thought were overreaches on Clinton’s impeachment on constitutional grounds. And so now he’s being ostracized in the arena of Martha’s Vineyard, which is the gathering of the cultural elite in society.

IS THIS THE PROGRESSIVES’ NEW TACTIC OF EDGING OUT OPPOSITION?

These summer months, he finds himself not invited to the wine and cheese moments and he’s lamenting it but you can also see that he’s taking advantage of this moment to point out what is happening in this continued snowflake culture where, if someone disagrees with you, what you do is ostracize them from a conversation and you exclude them from the company that you keep.

Actually, I think he’s being excluded for another reason and that reason is one of the reasons why I wanted us to go ahead and take this on today. What we’re seeing in our society is this inability to allow the First Amendment to flourish because, whenever people have ideas, ideas are expressed in words and words and ideas have consequences, and if the words and the ideas are more persuasive or more influential than yours and you want yours to succeed, then what you do is you try to ostracize it, shout it down and you try to intimidate it.

COLLEGE CAMPUSES ARE ALSO SWITCHING FROM FREE DEBATE TO NO DEBATE

We’re watching it in our college campuses which, historically, have been a place where free speech is supposed to reign with supremacy so that people are educated in the context of debate on ideas and we see that inability to allow free speech — particularly, in the progressive agenda, the socialist agenda and in the agenda of the culturally elite — they cannot stand the debate of does gender begin at conception or does gender begin when the person declares what gender they want to be and does life begin at conception or is life only sacred if the people who are having it want it because it meets the test of what is acceptable and convenient for them.

Along with euthanasia, abortion, transgender movement, the sexual anarchy of the sexual revolution and those who embrace this secular world and life view of the sovereign self as opposed to the consistent world and life view of a sovereign God and a Creator who has so established the dignity of life, and marriage, and sexuality, and work and all of those things and the right role of government, by the way, then what you do is you get rid of the people who disagree with this new agenda.

As my daddy used to say, “You can’t stand the heat in the kitchen,” when the conversation is beyond your ability to refute, what clearly makes sense?

WHEN DID A PERSON WITH A DIFFERENT OPINION BECOME YOUR ENEMY?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me go a little deeper on what you’ve just said and I’ll put it in the form of a question. What has happened in the last several decades that, when we disagree with someone on a political issue, it has gone from, “Okay, I will agree to disagree,” to today, if you disagree, “You are now my enemy and I will do everything I can to destroy you” — what’s the underlying cause?

DR. REEDER: Because social secularism — the sexual revolution, the socialist agenda — really is a religious movement. It’s an issue of where people’s hearts are. When you have a world and life view, Tom, in which the only thing that’s right is what I declare is right, and now you’re confronted with a world and life view that says, “No, there are things that are objectively right and objectively wrong. There’s something that’s good and there’s something that’s not good. There’s something that’s beautiful and there’s something that’s not beautiful. There’s something that’s true and there’s something that’s not true,” and you run into that world and life view which makes sense and which is rational and influential, then this becomes a heart issue — it is the exaltation in religion of the sovereign self otherwise masquerading as secular humanism — then you have to excommunicate those ideas.

The way that you excommunicate them is you try to intimidate people into silence, you try to marginalize them, you try to shame them or you just simply ostracize them. And Dershowitz who, by the way, clearly is no evangelical Christian but he’s in trouble because he has supported Trump’s Middle East policies, he has supported most of his immigration policies and he has exposed the overreach of the FBI situation in the special counsel probe that’s going on — which, by the way, he also did in the Clinton era — but, in today’s agenda, part of its mantra is the destruction of the current president and not the criticism of his policies, simply, and debating that, but his personal destruction so now Dershowitz is seen as an enemy and, therefore, he is ostracized.

THE FLAW IN DEBATE SHOWS FLAW IN THE ARGUMENT

Tom, I think that always exposes the weakness of an argument. Whenever someone raises their voice, not expressing emotion of their commitment to their idea, but raising their voice to express an ability to emotionally and verbally oppress the other person’s idea when they resort to profanity, when they resort to tactics of intimidation and when they resort to exclusion and being ostracized, then by and large, almost 90 percent of the time, that is the revealing of either a weak mind or a weak argument.

The people who have a good mind and have a good argument relish the discussion, relish the debate because first, they have confidence in their position and, second, because the debate will help sharpen them in their position or, if necessary, change them.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO DEBATE 

Tom, every time I preach, I always pray what we call in worship “The Prayer of Illumination” that God would bless his people and overcome the inadequacies of the preacher — that’s me — which are many and would work in the lives of the hearers so they have eyes to see and ears to hear. One of those prayers that I many times pray is this: “Lord, in these moments, from your Word by your Spirit, would you affirm what we know that is right, would you correct what we think is right but is wrong and would you teach us what we need to know and teach us what is right?” Tom, I think that’s absolutely crucial in life.

OUR FOUNDERS KNEW THAT FREE SPEECH WAS THE CORNERSTONE OF OTHER FREEDOMS

By the way, the free practice of religion and free practice of speech and the free practice of assembly, those are inseparably entwined. That’s why they’re not separate amendments but they’re part of those six affirmations of the First Amendment. I think the founding fathers were absolutely wise in putting them all together — “See, they won’t let him assemble. See, they try to control his speech. ‘Unless you say my acceptable speech, then you’re not allowed in this community.’”

Well, it’s one thing for you to have an organization and you have every right to determine who’s going to be in that organization. It’s another thing when you try to exclude people because you can’t handle their arguments within a city or within a state or within a community. And that’s what he’s experiencing and that’s what we’re seeing on our college campuses — the fragility of the secular humanist position and, therefore, the boisterous and intimidating tactics of exclusion.

HOPE IN CHRIST CAN BRIDGE DIVIDES

Tom, I have something that I would like to freely say and I would like to offer it into the public square and that’s this: God made you and the way things are going now is not the way God made them. The way things are going now is the way we’ve made them. We have brought the sin that has brought the consequences but this God Who made us for what is good and beautiful and true that we have marred with our sin, has also spoken another Word and that Word is His Son, Jesus Christ — “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only Begotten from the Father full of grace and truth.”

I’d like to announce that freely this day because this same Savior came and went to a cross, died for our sins and will not only forgive us of the guilt of our sins but will set us free from the power of sin and will set us on a journey to grow in His grace and assassinate sin instead of assassinating others and their rights. And then you can freely speak with one another with the Good News that Jesus Christ loves sinners, changes sinners — come just as you are and you’ll never leave just as you came.

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.

 

7 hours ago

Huntsville Police officer shot, killed in the line of duty — Sixth Alabama LEO slain this year

A 20-year veteran Huntsville Police Department officer on Friday evening was shot and killed in the line of duty.

The officer’s name is expected to be released on Saturday. The suspect, whose name also has yet to be released, is in custody.

Huntsville PD Chief Mark McMurray during a press conference confirmed the officer’s death, outlining that the officer was shot in the heart during a drug-related task force operation and later was pronounced dead at an area hospital. The officer was reportedly wearing a bullet proof vest when the shooting occurred.

Following Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams’ death most recently, this Huntsville officer becomes the sixth Alabama law enforcement officer slain in the line of duty in 2019.

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town of the Northern District of Alabama released a statement, saying, “All of Alabama is heartbroken again as another Alabama peace officer is gunned down in the line of duty.”

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“The Huntsville Police Department investigator, whose name will be released tomorrow, will always be remembered as a good man and a fine officer. Those of us who knew him admired his dedication and professionalism. We must now direct our prayers to his grieving family and pull together in full support of the Huntsville Police Department and law enforcement everywhere who lost another brother of the badge tonight. I am beyond grief,” Town concluded.

Governor Kay Ivey also released a statement.

“I am grieved to hear of the Huntsville Police Officer killed in the line of duty and extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to his family for their unimaginable loss,” the governor stated. “It has been an exceptionally tough year for our law enforcement community, and this will be felt across our state.”

“I will also be praying for strength for the Huntsville Police as they grieve the loss of their fellow officer, as well as for their continued protection as they keep us safe. May the Lord’s peace that passes all understanding be with the family and everyone who loved this dedicated officer,” Ivey added.

Oxford Police Department Chief Bill Partridge, who is president of the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police, tweeted, “It seems the attack on our brothers and sisters of law enforcement continues. We have lost another officer tonight to gunfire. Please keep the Huntsville Police Department and the family of the fallen officer in your prayers. This assault must stop!”

In addition to the Huntsville PD officer and Sheriff Williams, Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette, Mobile Police Department Officer Sean Tuder, Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner and Birmingham Police Sergeant Wytasha Carter have been shot and killed in the line of duty this year.

State Rep. Rex Reynolds (R-Huntsville), a former police chief in the city, posted a powerful tribute about the unmanned officer on Facebook.

“He always wanted to be in drug enforcement, that’s all he talked about as a young officer. He worked the streets diligently until he got his dream assignment,” Reynolds wrote. “Now he is the victim of a murder, killed trying to make our community safer. There are mean evil people in this world that have no respect for human life.”

“I pray for his family, our officers, our Chief that tried to provide comfort in the worst of times, and I pray for the families and the officers that graduated the police academy this morning,” he concluded. “There is no reasoning. Bad day for the good guys.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle stated, “Our City is broken hearted tonight.”

“All of Huntsville mourns along with the Huntsville Police Department and the family and friends of our fallen officer. We owe a continual and deep debt of gratitude to the men and women in law enforcement who protect our community every day. Let it never be taken for granted the sacrifice that officers make to keep us safe,” the mayor continued.

Battle advised, “We stand side by side with our police department and in the days, weeks and months ahead – have no doubt – we will use the full extent of the law to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Ivey lights official Alabama Christmas Tree

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Air Force General James B. Hecker, a children’s choir and several hundred of their fellow Alabamians gathered on the capitol steps Friday evening to light Alabama’s official 2019 Christmas tree.

The tree, standing 34-ft tall, was decorated with tens of thousands of lights as well as special ornaments marking Alabama’s bicentennial.

“Christmas is a direct reminder of the hope we find in Christ,” Ivey said in her remarks.

Caroline Blades, age 4, talked to Yellowhammer after the event. She agreed with her dad that the tree was “really pretty’ and that it “was cool to see other kids up there.”

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At the event, Ivey made sure to remember the Americans serving in the armed forces, saying, “[T]his time of year it’s important to remember the brave men and women, away from home, protecting us.”

Lieutenant General James B. Hecker, commander and president, Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, followed the governor in speaking. He said, “There is not a state in the country that welcomes their military members like Alabama.”

Watch the lighting here or below:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

11 hours ago

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson: No plans to seek higher office beyond Mobile Mayor

MOBILE — Whenever there is an opening for a high-profile statewide office, one of the names always mentioned as a potential candidate for that office is Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson.

As of late, the city of Mobile has had a good run under Stimpson’s leadership with the growth of Austal USA and Airbus Mobile while Stimpson has won two mayoral elections in Alabama’s port city. Those are the hallmarks of a potential political up-and-comer and make Stimpson a viable candidate for higher office in the eyes of some political watchers.

However, Stimpson says not to expect him to throw his hat into the ring for any higher office beyond mayor any time soon.

During a wide-ranging interview about economic development, infrastructure and education policy on location in Mobile with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Stimpson dismissed the possibility of having any political ambitions outside of Coastal Alabama.

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“We all have choices to make, and my choice was to stay married to the lady I’ve been married to for a number of years,” Stimpson said. “I’m not going to change that, and so as long as that’s the way it is, I’m going to stay right where I am. But I’m honored that somebody would suggest to think that I could run for a higher office.”

According to Stimpson, he sees one of the keys to Mobile’s success as having longevity and stability at the helm. He also pointed to situations in two of South Carolina’s major cities as an example.

“We still have a whole lot of work to do in Mobile. It takes a number of years to really understand all the dynamics of being a mayor. When I look at some of the cities that have been very successful — Greenville, South Carolina or Charleston — you have a mayor that’s been there 12 or 16, or in Charleston’s case 40 years. That won’t be me. But it does take a while, and if you start getting the momentum going and things are going right in the city, it’s important to support that.”

@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.

11 hours ago

BCA’s ProgressPAC endorses five statewide judicial incumbents

The board of directors for ProgressPAC, the political arm of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), on Friday voted to endorse five statewide 2020 judicial candidates, including in the hotly contested race for place one on the Supreme Court of Alabama.

All five candidates endorsed are incumbents.

Political observers will likely consider the endorsement of Associate Justice Greg Shaw for reelection as the only non-foregone conclusion undertaken by ProgressPAC on Friday.

Shaw faces a tough primary challenge from popular State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster). Former State Sen. Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) has also qualified for the place one race, although he has yet to announce a final decision on whether he is actually running or not.

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Additionally, ProgressPAC endorsed Associate Justice Brad Mendheim, Judge Beth Kellum (Court of Criminal Appeals, place two), Presiding Judge Mary Windom (Court of Criminal Appeals, place one) and Judge Bill Thompson (Court of Civil Appeals, place one). All are Republicans.

In a statement, Progress PAC chairman John Mazyck said, “All of these candidates have proven track records of being fair and impartial while serving on the bench.”

“Their commitment to the rule of law and conservative judicial philosophy made the decision to endorse an easy one,” Mazyck, of The Frazer Lanier Company, Inc. in Montgomery, added.

This came the same day that Windom’s campaign announced she raised the most of all judicial candidates last month, per public filings. She ended November with $269,699.89 total in her campaign account.

Windom was first elected to Court of Criminal Appeals in 2008 and has presided over that court since 2012. Prior to her first election, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney, as well as a deputy attorney general for the State of Alabama.

She stated, “When I was elected to serve on the Court of Criminal Appeals, I promised that I would bring justice to victims of crime, protect the constitution and apply the law as it is written, not create new laws or legislate from the bench. I am proud that I have kept those promises and I will continue to do so.”

The Republican primary will be held March 3, 2020.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 hours ago

Darkness in sunny California

California is plagued by unreliable access to electric power, a situation that will persist for years to come. It’s happening as part of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), one component of the wildfire prevention plans implemented by electric utilities and approved by regulatory commissioners appointed by the governor. During periods of significant wildfire threat, the utility with equipment in those high-risk areas shuts off the power to avoid starting a wildfire. The plan has been in place for years and implemented hundreds of times over the past decade. It is about as popular as you would imagine. If you’re wondering who or what to blame, California offers many targets.

Assignment of blame, of course, is divided along political lines. Liberals blame climate change, a failure to live sustainably, and unscrupulous corporations. Conservatives take aim at the California Public Utilities Commission, the governor and a housing crisis that resulted in home construction in high-risk fire areas. One-sided arguments fed by confirmation bias belie an important truth – there is no one political party or company to blame. The scariest part – we’ll actually all have to work together to solve a complex problem. And it’s going to take decades. Can we do it?

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Wildfire prevention has not been a priority. Activities that remove fuel, such as logging or animal grazing, help prevent wildfires. Logging was made more difficult in California. California law made it impossible to remove wood from state forests that was not already dead and on the ground. Air quality laws in California all but stopped prescribed burns and other treatment measures designed to remove fuel. Finally, several invasive species and diseases killed millions of trees and added to the fuel load. In many forest areas, grazing animals were banned and native species that graze have not recovered to levels that adequately manage grass and brush growth in the forests.

Other actions made management of fires more difficult and the damages they cause more severe. Road building clears vegetation and creates fire breaks while providing access to firefighters. President Clinton all but banned road building in U.S. forests in the 1990s, President Bush restored it 15 years later, and President Obama stopped it less than five years later. While fuel accumulated in the forest and road building ceased, a growing housing crisis drove new home construction in the wildfire-urban interface. Homes were constructed that did not follow state rules on building materials, fire breaks and other fire-related design criteria. And with that, the stage was set – forests full of fuel and private property nearby. All that’s needed is an ignition source.

In the tinderbox that is California, there are many possible ignition sources. Just ask Glenn Kile. In July 2018, Mr. Kile noticed a wasp nest underground in his backyard. He was allergic to wasps, so he hammered a metal stake into the ground to keep the wasps from surfacing. Sparks from his hammering ignited the largest wildfire in state history.

Sparks from power lines can also ignite a fire. Cal Fire (the state firefighting agency) investigators said the Camp Fire, the deadliest (86 killed) wildfire in California history and the costliest natural disaster in the world in 2018 ($16.5 billion in damages), was started by a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power line failure. While power lines cause a small amount (less than 5%) of the 50,000-plus wildfires started each year in the U.S., many severe fires are caused by power lines. The reason is that severe fires and damaged power lines often share a common cause – high wind speeds. High winds can damage power structures and can also rapidly spread wildfires, making them more difficult to manage.

Maintaining power infrastructure, and the vegetation around that infrastructure, is critical to preventing fire and is the responsibility of electric utilities. As was the case with other stakeholders, wildfire prevention was not a priority of utilities or the regulatory bodies that oversee them. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) repeatedly cut funding to electrical distribution improvements and tree trimming budgets, in the name of keeping rates affordable, and higher priorities like decarbonization. The CPUC also failed to immediately ensure all electric utilities implemented a wildfire mitigation plan even after it became clear that power lines posed a threat to public safety.

At the same time that regulators chose to prioritize other activities, electric utilities like PG&E were mired in distractions created by others (state mandates for renewables, electric vehicles) and of their own volition (pipeline explosions, bankruptcy filings). Already hamstrung by reduced budgets for vegetation management, PG&E served a customer base which increasingly fought them on tree removal. Using California tree laws, customers could take PG&E to court over a single yard tree. While negotiations to trim/remove trees stalled, PG&E would simply skip the tree and move to another property.

With every stakeholder distracted by other priorities, wildfires raged on with an increasing frequency and intensity. From 1980-1999, wildfires burned an average of 3 million acres in the U.S. each year. Over the next 20 years, that burn rate more than doubled to 6.5 million acres per year. The damage from these fires can be severe, especially with more than 2 million homes built in areas with high or extreme fire risk, mostly in the last 20 years.
The delayed response from all stakeholders has now turned into an urgent, all-of-the-above approach to preventing wildfires. Utilities, facing financial destruction from wildfire liabilities, plan to accelerate replacement of aging equipment and adopt new technology, among other measures. Elements of the plan, already in progress, include, but are not limited to:

● Increased weather monitoring to improve the ability to forecast conditions that result in fires and manage equipment appropriately.

● Increased frequency of all inspections of distribution poles and transmission structures, including ground, drone, helicopter and climbing methods.

● Increased vegetation management, including quadrupling tree removal year over year with a priority placed on removal of dead, drying or otherwise high-risk trees in extreme risk areas.

● Hardening of the electrical system, including replacing wooden poles with more resilient, fire-resistant poles, replacing open conductors with covered conductors to minimize sparking and undergrounding power lines.

● An increase in switches in the system, so that fewer people will have to face a planned power outage, if the line starts in an area where fire probability is low.

Even with an all-out effort by utilities to prevent fires, power will be shut off as a last resort. How often should we expect utilities to resort to this measure? A lot. Since 2013, San Diego Gas & Electric shut off power 216 times for public safety reasons.

Power shutoffs aren’t the only measure under consideration. Virtually every stakeholder, from individual citizens to state government, are taking action – some of them dramatic:

● Governor Brown, on his last day in office, signed two forestry bills making it easier to log state forest lands and to build and maintain roads in those areas. The second bill removed requirements to follow California air quality rules when doing planned burns to remove fuel from forest floors and create areas with no fuel to stop fires.

● Governor Newsom issued an Emergency Proclamation that directs Cal Fireto increase vegetation management activity. Historically CAL FIRE planned to treat some 400,000 acres but only treated about 30,000 acres.

● Governor Newsom signed 18 bills to boost housing construction. It’s not just that there is a wildfire crisis in California, it’s that so many people live in wildfire zones. Construction is needed in order to provide housing choice.

● The California Public Utility Commission sped up work on General Order (GO) 95 that includes fire hardening the electric grid with 23 new recommendations finishing work that started years earlier with a final ruling in 2017. Further work is underway to improve GO-95.

● Facing a decade of intermittent darkness, individuals will take matters into their own hands and increasingly look to maintain their quality of life during power shutoffs. Already the leading state for rooftop solar, interest in self-generating power is soaring following the PSPS epidemic, as customer inquiries into rooftop solar and storage have reportedly doubled in recent months.

● With rooftop solar plus storage coming in at $40,000 per typical home, down from the 2016 NREL estimate of $51,000, we can also expect to see sales for diesel generators ($400-$1,100) or backup generators ($7,000-$16,000) soar. Local suppliers have reported customer inquiries increased more than 1,000% in recent months.

Those measures, some of them extreme, highlight the scope of the problem. Many of the measures require a decade or more for implementation. Sweeping changes are coming. Meanwhile, to save lives, it will be dark in California every time there is a high risk of wildfire.

Corey Tyree is a Senior Policy Advisor for the Energy Institute of Alabama. Tyree is also a Senior Director of Energy and Environment with Southern Research. He directs a team of engineers, scientists, and technicians focused on innovative technology solutions for clean energy, air and water.