“When defending marriage is called “hate speech”, the very future of western culture is placed at risk

Thankfully, Leo Johnson, a victim of the shooting this past week at Family Research Council in Washington D.C. seems to be making a full recovery. His heroism prevented what might have been an even more frightening act of violence at FRC.

The shooter Floyd Lee Corkins II had the “evil intent to kill people who worked for this public interest organization precisely because they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and have dedicated their lives to defending the family”( Catholic Online). While certainly Corkins is to blame for this serious criminal act, many commentators have noted that this act of extremism and others like it may have been spurred on by a certain public interest group’s inclusion of FRC on a list of “hate groups.” FRC it is committed to the defense of marriage as only between one man and one woman; thus because it specifically opposes gay marriage, it has been labeled a hate group.

Obviously in the process of public discourse, disagreements between political parties, activist groups, and individuals spark heated dialogue. We discredit opponents and ourselves when any organization jumps to label another as a hate group. One of our basic American liberties is the right to free speech; but with this right comes the responsibility to use this liberty wisely.

Dana Milbank’s of the Washington Post writes this of the FRC shooting: “… this shooting should remind us all of an important truth… there are unbalanced and potentially violent people of all political persuasions. The rest of us need to be careful about hurling accusations that can stir up the crazies.”

Read A.W.R. Hawkins’ article on hate speech  from Summer 2012 Salvo here.

To read more on the events this past week at FRC, see Dana Milbank’s article in the Washington Post  and Deacon Keith Fournier’s article on Catholic Online.

Findings on Research–Two Articles on Margaret Mead

From Salvo:

Anthropological Tourists

Mead & the Young Sex Mavens by Judith Reisman

Back in the Roaring Twenties, Columbia University’s Franz Boas (1858–1942), the “father of American anthropology,” was maneuvering to break what he called the “shackles that tradition has laid upon us.” To that end, Boas supported the “field work” of young anthropology students, including Margaret Mead, who set out to prove what Boas wanted her to prove: that happy primitive people had better sex, younger, than uptight Westerners.

In 1925, the 23-year-old Mead, recently married to the first of her three husbands, went to Samoa, stayed for less than a year, and returned to the U.S. claiming that Samoan society was an “uninhibited,” free-sex society with no jealousy, no rape, and great sex. On the basis of this exploit, she got her Ph.D. and eventually became one of the most celebrated of all anthropologists.

Mead described her sexual paradise in Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), a book that caught the attention of a young New Zealand-born anthropologist, Derek Freeman. Expecting to find the sexual utopia Mead had depicted, he went to Samoa in 1940 and lived there for three years, studying and working as a schoolteacher.

To his considerable disappointment, Freeman (later a professor at the Australian National University) found that Mead was wrong. . . .

Read the entire article.


From Touchstone

Fantasy Islands

David Mills on Margaret Mead’s False Paradise

. . . .

The Margaret Mead Method, in either its original or modified form, is a very useful method . . . if you’re a creep. It proves—to the standard of the man with his pants halfway off and the woman who has gotten a better offer than her husband the couch potato will make, anyway—that sexual libertinism is natural and sexual restraint unnatural, and since being natural is always good, you ought to let go and have fun, just like the jolly party girls of the South American tribes.

This is why Coming of Age in Samoa made Mead famous. You want to have an affair with the babe next door? Well, those darling little Samoans living in a state of nature are doing it all the time, and look how happy and fulfilled and innocent they are. Margaret Mead said so. It’s scientific. You feel guilty? You’re a modern man afflicted with Judeo-Christian guilt, but just ignore it—socially constructed and unnatural as it is—and enjoy the pleasures nature and evolution have provided for you.

I am afraid this is the idea these stories almost always promote, whatever insights into the nature of a fallen creation they provide. They begin with reports of young Samoans having free and joyful sex among the palm trees, and end with middle-aged Barney desperately betraying his wife at the Hampton Inn.

Bo Charted

Bo the dog (yes, the President’s dog) recently posted on his Facebook page (yes, the dog has his own Facebook page) this shining example of civility, tolerance, and respect for those who have differing opinions.

Actually, it’s a mess. It goes off the rails right from the get-go. I guess I’ll give Bo a break though. He is just a dog, and this sort of behavior goes along with his doggish nature. File this under “Why it’s important to be able to argue cultural issues without necessarily bringing God into it” and also “How NOT to win votes or sway public opinion.” And yes I do have those files in my drawer.

Framing the discussion in such a way doesn’t allow for logical arguments like this one from Jennifer Morse:

You’ve become a go-to person on the topic of same-sex marriage. People often argue that we should just let same-sex couples do what they want, since they’re not hurting anyone. What do you say to them?

We actually are allowing them to do whatever they want. What we’re not allowing them to do is redefine the institution of marriage to be a genderless institution. We’re not allowing them to take over the primary institution of society, which defines parenthood and defines the relationships between the generations.

Many arguments around this issue are confused between the personal, private purposes of marriage and the public purpose of the institution of marriage. The public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. It’s an issue of justice that everybody in society recognizes, that these two people are the parents of the child and nobody else is. Not grandma or the babysitter or a previous boyfriend, or all the people who might possibly show up wanting to be the parent. No. These two people are the parents of the child. That’s what marriage is designed to do: to attach to the biological mother the man who is the father of her child. And the marriage institution has social and legal norms of sexual exclusivity and permanence attached to it. Those are key features of marriage.

If you look at same-sex couples, both at what they say and their behavior, neither permanence nor sexual exclusivity plays the same significant role. In other words, if you’re in a union that’s intrinsically not procreative, sexual exclusivity is not as important. Once you start thinking like that, you’ll see that everything people offer as reasons why same-sex couples should be “allowed” to get married—all of the reasons are private purposes. Sometimes it’s nothing more than how it will make them feel. It’s not the business of law to make people feel a certain way. When you see that redefining marriage is going to, in fact, redefine the meaning of parenthood, removing biology as the basis for parenthood and replacing it with legal constructions—then you see that there is quite a lot at stake in getting the definition of marriage right.

Hold On a Minute, Caulfield

Personally, I enjoy reading The Catcher in the Rye. It makes me laugh. However, when you get right down to it, Holden Caulfield’s worldview is super phony and I pretty much can’t stand it and I wish sometimes he’d just shut off his crazy brain for the good of humanity. It’s no wonder he’s so depressed. This article explains what I’m getting at quite nicely. . .

Moderns Forever Be Holden

J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

by Douglas Jones

“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.” That voice, that distinctive voice of sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield, confessing and sinning, tripping and announcing, produced more fictional grandchildren in a short time than any bodily grandfather could.

Holden Everywhere

Holden is now everywhere. Short stories. Stage. Commercials. Novels. Big screen. Home. Every contemporary writer can speak Holden Caulfield, even those who have never read of him. Holden is a dialect. In 1951, the year J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye appeared, the literary critic T. M. Longstreth prophesied, “Fortunately, there cannot be many of him yet. But one fears that a book like this given wide circulation may multiply his kind.”

In some ways, that’s a compliment to Salinger: Something he created became pervasive. In another way, it’s an insult: His art is easily imitated. Hemingway and Joyce face the same problem; Shakespeare and Dostoevsky don’t.

So many social factors have to mesh at the right moment for an artwork to dominate a culture like this, for even a brief moment of decades. Salinger’s novel accomplished this by precisely expressing the secular theology of our time, modern gnosticism.

On the surface, Salinger gave us the believable rebelwithoutaclue that teens longed for. Critic Fred Batman said of his first reading at sixteen, “I was simply dazzled. I thought the book had been written especially for me. . . . Holden has also been a personal savior of sorts.” He speaks for many.

Indeed, the novel is usually summarized as a characterization of how Holden is torn between two worlds, the tense transition everyone faces between childhood and adulthood. But in Holden, Salinger unwittingly captured the two paradoxical dogmas of twentieth-century gnosticism: sentimentalism and cynicism, perfectionistic idealism and hostility to common, material life.

For the gnostic, ancient or modern, spirit is the purity that produces a faux childish, spiritual, unearthly innocence, and body is the evil that produces the unspiritual, earthly, practical, civilized, and adult. The twentieth-century gnostic regularly denounces evil and injustice in life because it doesn’t fit his view of Edenic reality, all the while insisting that life is ugly and not worth living. He associates spirit with innocent childhood, body with evil adulthood. Thus, he simultaneously resents and embraces evil. Holden Caulfield is modern gnosticism’s poster boy.

Grandma Knows What’s Up

(Intern 2 has definitely been guilty of subjecting fellow travellers/restaraunt patrons to unwarranted excerpts of her life story, i.e she’s talked too loudly in public. She apologizes for the annoyance, and hopes the experience of listening might have proved, to someone, somewhere, educational.)

If you’ve spent enough time in a city to use its public transportation more than once, you’ve probably noticed that your fellow passengers will sometimes break up your commute with some free entertainment. Last night, the group of three or four twenty-or-so-year-olds seated behind us on the train were performing a little scene whose dialogue was audible to the whole car.

It seemed that the first of their circle of friends getting was married soon, and this had sparked their speculation on their own prospective weddings. This included a discussion of their girlfriends and boyfriends, their relatives and the relatives of their girlfriends and boyfriends, and all the dramas that had unfolded or were likely to once the differences in everyone’s beliefs and choices came to clash.

One girl, who’s boyfriend’s family came from a completely different faith than hers, had (roughly) this to say;

“No! Are you kidding me? I mean, all his family would be coming in. I’m not making them sit in a Catholic church. There’s like this stuff in a Catholic wedding where you have to promise to like, raise your kids Catholic and s—. And I’m like, not going to tell my grandma this, but I’m not really Catholic. Don’t tell her. [So we wouldn’t get married there, then my grandma and his grandma, who’ll be just as upset that we’re not getting married in a venue of her family’s faith], can just go be upset together.”


The girl and her friends were speaking in a tone that’s not uncommon today, and has likely never been uncommon at all (see “nothing new under the sun,” used below).

It’s the tone that says, “We are in touch with how the world works now and it’s adorable how those older folks just don’t get it.”

It’s the tone that says, “We already know and understand everything we need to know and understand about everything, and we bet those older folks would be just scandalized to hear what we’ve figured out.”

It’s the tone that represents the mindset that assumes, “My poor, adorable grandma totally believes I’m a practicing Catholic like her, and I’m totally clever enough to let her go right on believing that if she wants to. There’s no way she’ll ever see right through me, or hasn’t already.”

It’s an arrogant mindset, it’s a mindset that’s (hopefully) endemic to the very young, and it’s a mindset that we who have any hope of becoming reasonable adults must shed.

We’ve got to grow up.


I think that there are few educators more effective than good old life experience. Admittedly I’m not far removed from the age of twenty myself, but I can already look back at my past self and feel superior about where I’ve gotten to today. In another four or five years, I will probably cringe at what an idiot I was today and at what a terrible mess I made of this blog.

We learn things from experience.

Your grandma has, let’s say for the sake of argument, half a century’s worth of experience on you.


Half a century ago, when Grandma was twenty or some, people were still sinners.

Or, to use language our new “not really Catholic” friend might appreciate more, fifty years ago, people were still people.

People still faced the same problems we face.

People still made the same decisions we make.

People still caused problems by making stupid or wrong decisions.

People still questioned the faith they were raised in.

People still screwed up, learned from the consequences, and moved on to do better next time.

The general context and culture was different, but as fundamentals go, there’s really nothing new under the sun.

In fact, people have been people since, like, there were people.

No matter what you’ve done or what you’re doing, and no matter how scandalous you feel what you’re doing is, it could still very well be that in the past fifty years Grandma, has encountered someone who was doing something just as scandalous or more. If you get up the courage to ask, you may even find that Grandma once did something just as scandalous herself.

Grandma did not spring out of the ground as an out-of-touch old lady.

Grandma may not shock so easily as you think.

Grandma’s been there before.

Most importantly, Grandma’s learned a thing or two from having been there. She might have learned a thing or two the hard way.

Grandma can probably give you a compelling explanation for why she keeps pretty strictly on the straight and narrow these days.

To not even acknowledge where Grandma could be coming from is at incredibly dangerous at worst. At best, someone who overhears your expressing your active non-acknowledgment on the train will feel urged to comment on your words online.

In brief: not only Grandma’s disappointment is not born of her being less smart and sophisticated than you are, but you are not smarter and more sophisticated than she is.

Once again: you are not smarter than Grandma.

Grow up.

Remember that one day, we’ll see our much younger selves in our grandchildren. We might be shaking our heads at how they’re behaving, and maybe laughing a little at how they’re trying to hide it. Every day, we’ll sincerely hope that they can do better than we did.

With this in mind, we can do better now ourselves.

Life will teach us if we pay attention.

Just ask Grandma.

Sincerely yours,
Intern 2,

Hills Like White Elephants

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went to Madrid.

‘What should we drink?’ the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.
‘It’s pretty hot,’ the man said.
‘Let’s drink beer.’
‘Dos cervezas,’ the man said into the curtain.
‘Big ones?’ a woman asked from the doorway.
‘Yes. Two big ones.’
The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills.They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.
‘They look like white elephants,’ she said.
‘I’ve never seen one,’ the man drank his beer.
‘No, you wouldn’t have.’
‘I might have,’ the man said. ‘Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.’ 

Ernest Hemingway begins his short story “Hills Like White Elephants” off with this succinct dialogue exchange. Do you feel the tension already? Small talk barely masks the volumes of unspoken misunderstandings between these two characters; and these are just the opening lines – wait until you read the end. Even the stark landscape, described by Hemingway to relay exposure and excruciating heat, contribute to the agonizing atmosphere.

Terrell Clemmons references this Hemingway short story in her article in the Summer 2012 Salvo, “Harm’s Way: Men, Abortion, and Hemingway” . She reminds us that birth is not an occasion with ramifications just for women, but for women and men.

Read Matthew Cantirino’s thoughts on the article over on the blog of First Things here.