Category archive

Jonathan Lange

Jonathan Lange: Cheyenne’s Baby John Doe Mystery – Will DNA Technology Solve It?

in Column/Jonathan Lange
10248

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Cowboy State Daily reported last Monday that the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department has partnered with Othram labs to reopen a 33-year-old murder investigation. (Wendy Corr, “Laramie County: Wyoming Investigators Reopen 1988 Dead Infant Case” April 12, 2021)

Using the new technology of Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing©, they are working to solve the case of a “Baby John Doe” who was found in west Cheyenne in 1988.

Rapid developments in DNA sequencing are opening cold cases all over the world. Just a year ago, a similar case was solved in Meriden, Connecticut. The newborn had been left under a tree two months before Baby John Doe was found in Cheyenne.

When the DNA trail led police to his mother, she told them that “she’d been waiting 32 years for the day [when] police would be knocking on her door regarding this incident.” Her reaction revealed a simple truth: The solution that she found in a moment of panic neither resolved her problems, nor ended the matter.

My heart breaks for the child who was killed. But it also aches for the decades of mental torture that his mother must have experienced. Thankfully, this mother’s path to healing was opened by the application of DNA sequencing.

I pray for the mother and father of Cheyenne’s Baby John Doe. They, too, have an opportunity for healing that remains hindered so long as the truth remains hidden.

The similarity of these two cases led me to perform a simple internet search to inquire how many others there might be. In less than a second, I found dozens of cold-cases from all over the nation where newborns were left to die anonymously. Undoubtedly, each of these cases will be solved as genetic databases become more and more complete.

Until now, these sad stories only reached the national news in those rare cases when parents were located by traditional forensic means. Today we are standing at the beginning of a tidal wave of mysteries solved by emerging DNA technologies.

To get an idea of how large this wave might be, I consulted one Wyoming Ob-Gyn physician. I learned that he encounters patients on a monthly basis who have complications from self-procured medicinal abortions at home.

Occasionally, there are signs of a live birth, but the patient denies having had a baby. That’s only one practitioner in one city. Multiply this by twelve months in a year, and nearly three dozen such doctors in Wyoming and the potential numbers are staggering.

Each one of these women represents a case in which the State’s best efforts have failed. They did not receive information about the law and the many ways that Wyoming’s agencies, non-profits and safe-haven laws could have helped them avoid this crime and the guilt that followed it.

Each newborn was a Wyoming citizen who was not afforded the protections promised in Wyoming’s Constitution. Each father either failed to care for his child or was never informed of the pregnancy and given the chance to step up.

Wyoming can do better. That starts with opening our eyes to the problem. For years politicians have been pretending that such things do not happen in our state. That is no longer tenable.

Wyoming just passed SF 34 Born alive infant-means of care into law. It’s time for the Board of Medicine to create policies that ensure its enforcement. SF 34 addresses failed abortions, but it does not cover babies like little John Doe. Currently, Wyoming has no procedures in place for doctors to report obvious signs of birth without a baby. The Board of Medicine must address this also.

We are deluding ourselves if we believe that continued cover-ups help these mothers. Reluctance to investigate helps no one. Justice is not only beneficial for the victim. Justice is also beneficial for the perpetrator.

An ancient king named, David, learned this lesson and wrote of it when he tried to cover up his crimes. “[W]hen I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). His cure was found in confession: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5).

As DNA sequencing technology becomes ever more accurate, many more hidden crimes will be brought to the light. Rather than fearing this revelation of the truth, we should embrace it.

It is painful to face our failings, but it also opens a powerful path to healing. Jesus died for the crimes of all. He rose from the grave to give new life to all. He placed his Church on earth to forgive the sins of all who are repentant. By God’s grace, the revelations of DNA technology will give countless people an opportunity to hear and receive this forgiveness.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: Everyone Should Make A Promise To Wyoming’s Children

in Column/Jonathan Lange
9547

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Promises made between husband and wife are exchanged in weddings all over the world as a public declaration of the bond of love. Families, communities, lawmakers and churches are called to support and help in the keeping of these vows. The marriage bond is at the very heart of communal life.

There is another bond of love that is equally at the heart of community life. This bond comes into existence whenever a new human being is conceived. This bond between parents and children, however, does not enjoy the same public celebration and ceremonial declaration as the marriage bond. It is unspoken, but just as obligatory.

One result of the unspoken nature of the promise to our children is that families, communities, lawmakers and churches are not as conscientiously aware of their role in helping to keep the promises. Sadly, many children face serious harms as a consequence of forgotten promises.

In an effort to raise public awareness and to stand for America’s children, a new coalition of community leaders has stepped forward. “Promise to America’s Children” wants to make explicit the promises to which every child is entitled. It is a partnership of eighteen national organizations and scores of state advocacy groups.

PromisetoAmericasChildren.org articulates the promises made to children both by parents and by the communities that support them. It addresses three aspects of a child’s existence—mind, body, and relationships. In all these areas, political and ideological agendas should take a back seat to the real-world needs of children. This means three promises that parents make toward children.

First, parents promise to nurture and honor young minds as they grow, protecting them from harm, instilling values, and providing the best opportunities for success. Second, they promise to develop and protect young bodies as they grow, affirming the dignity and worth of bodies that have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Third, they promise to honor and uphold the parent-child relationship, recognizing the infinite worth of their children and caring for them with unconditional love.

Communities also have obligations toward children. The village does not raise children—particular parents do. Nevertheless, the village is obligated to support parents and children in this sacred undertaking. Policy makers, in particular, should promise to set aside any agenda that would undermine their obligations to children.

“Promise to America’s Children” enunciates ten specific promises that government officials should make. They oppose anything that would undermine a community’s obligation to children. Their promises also fall under three headings.

“PROTECTING CHILDREN’S MINDS” means, among other things, that “Every child deserves to be protected from being used in or exposed to pornography, graphic sexual content or activities as well as from being exposed to it in media and on the Internet.” Therefore, “all public-school sexual education programs should be opt-in, voluntarily chosen by parents.” Also, “Every child deserves the right …to affirm or not affirm messages or ideas that violate their beliefs or conscience.”

“PROTECTING CHILDREN’S BODIES” means that “Every child deserves safety and privacy in sex-specific spaces.” Likewise, “Every child deserves the opportunity to participate in fair and safe athletic competitions.” Most especially, “Every child deserves the opportunity to be affirmed… in their biological sex, and to be supported as they mature through puberty and other normal adolescent changes that shape their maturity and reproductive capacity.”

Finally, “PROTECTING CHILDREN’S RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR PARENTS” is foundational to the care of both body and mind. Adoption laws, foster care, and assisted reproductive technologies should be regulated with the full acknowledgement that “Every child deserves a relationship with his or her mother and father.”

Furthermore, “Every child deserves to have his or her parents informed of and involved in important life decisions. Authority figures (including teachers, counselors, or medical professionals) should not withhold information about a child’s sexual activity, development, or identity from parents or take any action that undermines the parents’ role in guiding the child in these areas.”

By these simple promises, policy makers can protect Wyoming’s children from the ravages of the culture wars. So long as American citizens disagree on the most fundamental aspects of society, the least that legislators can do is to prevent adults from using children as cannon fodder. This is done by empowering their parents, who love them most of all.

The “Promise to America’s Children” was launched barely a month ago. Already Senate President Dan Dockstader (R-Afton) and Vice President, Larry Hicks (R-Baggs) have given their pledge to Wyoming’s children to support and protect them in Wyoming law. It would be well if all ninety of our legislators and all five of Wyoming’s executive officials joined them. Their promise to America’s children would make Wyoming a better place.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: Prepare to Stand With Andrew Brunson

in Column/Jonathan Lange
9446

By Jonathan Lange, columnist

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Generations of Christians have heard these words on the day of their confirmation. It is an experience shared by many—although that cultural heritage seems to be fading. But fewer still are aware of the context of these words.

This verse is from the biblical book of the Revelation. They are spoken “to the angel of the Church at Smyrna,” an ancient city in Asia Minor. Its modern name is “Izmir, Turkey.” And, for 23 years it was the home of missionary, Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine.

On an October day in 2016, they arrived home to find a note summoning them to the local police station. This note was the beginning of a two-year ordeal that neither of them anticipated, nor were they prepared for it.

It is as if the ancient words spoken to the angel of the Church at Smyrna were spoken directly to Andrew. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation” (Rev. 2:10).

Upon arrival at the police station, they were informed that they were being arrested for deportation. However, rather than boarding a plane for the U.S., they were herded into a detention center. Norine was released after 13 days, but Andrew’s ordeal was only beginning.

At first, Andrew was worried that he would be unjustly deported from his decades-long work as a missionary. Soon that fear was replaced by its opposite—a fear that he would never be deported, but would instead spend the rest of his life in a Turkish prison. The Erdogan government had just survived a military coup attempt, and falsely accused Brunson of crimes against the state.

Brunson had always conducted his Izmir mission openly and legally. He had always steered clear of involvement in the power struggles of Turkish political factions. Nevertheless, he was accused of being a terrorist, a military spy, and an organizer of the recent coup. They were all lies, but they were useful lies. They supplied the Erdogan government with propaganda to paint Christians as traitors and “haters of Turks.”

After Norine’s release, Andrew was moved to solitary confinement in another detention center, then to a high security prison. There, isolated by culture, nationality, and life experience he felt the utterly alone in his Christian faith. “It broke me,” he humbly admits. It brought unexpected feelings. He lost the sense of God’s presence and grace, and wondered if God had abandoned him.

It was in the middle of these dark days that he discovered a truth that he is now sharing with anyone who will listen: Don’t follow your feelings about God. Just follow God. His words are true whether you feel their truth or not.

From this new perspective, Andrew came to see that prison was not abandonment by God, but an assignment from God. “I was doing nothing,” he recalled, “Just sitting in prison and trying to hold on. But people were praying all over the world.”

Sometimes your greatest value to the community is simply to be the object of prayers. On occasion, God calls people to great and mighty deeds, but more often mere endurance and keeping the faith under pressure is God’s only assignment.

Brunson’s assignment of endurance ended as quickly and as unexpectedly as it began. On October 12, 2018, just over two years after his arrest, he was falsely and irrationally convicted of terrorism and sentenced to prison. Then, in a face-saving move, the Erdogan government told him he could leave the country while he appealed the sentence. Within 24 hours he and Norine were sitting in the Oval Office with President Trump and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.

The arrest that was meant to intimidate other missionaries and the tiny community of Turkish Christians had, instead, brought international attention to their plight. For Andrew and his faithful wife, it has both taught him much and given them a platform to reach millions.

On March 24, the Wyoming Pastors Network (WPN) is giving the people of Cheyenne the opportunity to hear them personally. While Andrew is in town for a conference, the WPN has partnered with Christian supporters to offer a free presentation open to the public.

That Wednesday at 9:00 AM., Andrew and his wife, Norine, will tell their story at the auditorium of Calvary Chapel, 9209 Ridge Rd. This is not a church service, but a talk—with plenty of opportunity for questions and answers. One need not be Christian to attend. All are invited to this informative and encouraging presentation.

Jonathan Lange: ‘No Such Thing As A Free (School) Lunch’ – Let’s Get Wyoming Education Right

in Column/Jonathan Lange
9180

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Governor Gordon’s recent “State of the State” address urged legislators to address Wyoming’s education program in the long term. “This is far more than a budget issue,” he said, “and I want our stakeholders and our communities to be involved in establishing a plan and vision.” Wise words.

It was refreshing to hear the governor go beyond the worn-out bromides that the only way to serve Wyoming’s children is through budget increases. He noted that: “Education is changing.” No doubt, he was talking about the seismic effects that COVID-19 had in driving students online and masking them once they returned.

But changes in educational attitudes had been underway long before COVID-19 crushed funding sources, scattered communities, and muted voices. Increasingly, parents have been calling for reformed educational structures that are more responsive to local voices and family values. When Zoom brought classrooms under the watchful eye of parents everywhere, it only accelerated that trend.

“People want, and need, more opportunities and approaches,” Gordon said, “Wyoming needs to respond.” He is not the only one saying it. This year’s legislative session has a flood of education bills filed for introduction. Nearly 10 percent of more than 400 bills under consideration deal with education. 

As legislators begin the task of sorting through this stack of bills, let us reassert some basic pillars of education. These should be the drivers of educational reform, not mere afterthoughts.

First, the education of minor children is not the primary responsibility of the state, but of the parents. This is—and must remain—the bedrock principle of every decision that the legislature makes. To follow the governor’s call for the involvement of “stakeholders and communities,” in the law-making process means to recognize that the principal stake holders are the parents themselves.

This is not a departure from the Wyoming Constitution’s requirement that “The legislature shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of a complete and uniform system of public instruction.” Rather, it reminds the legislature that this constitutional provision was written by Wyoming parents and for Wyoming parents.

Wyoming’s school system should not serve the interest of the state—or any other actor that might coopt the education system to advance its own agenda. Our legislators must not be overawed by the slick slogans of monied lobbyists claiming to speak for the children. This is especially true when those voices would overpower the voices of parents themselves, as though lobbyists and bureaucrats are better equipped to love children than their own parents.

Second, policy makers and parents alike know that “there is no such thing as a free (school) lunch.” Money, whether received from a national education organization or bestowed from a government agency, will inevitably come with strings attached. Those strings must be disclosed with full transparency in order truly to count their cost.

On the other hand, parents and policy makers must remember always that this money did not come from the government, but from the parents and grandparents of Wyoming students. For legislators, that means faithful stewardship of hard-earned dollars that were taken from their students’ homes. For parents, it means demanding that your dollars be controlled locally. 

The third principle is subsidiarity. While acknowledging that community cooperation is necessary to accomplish some educational tasks, subsidiarity demands that such cooperation take place as close to the parents as is possible for the task. 

Sometimes, it means that education dollars should be put directly into the hands of the parents themselves. When parents find that their child needs something that the local school cannot provide, parents should be given the option to be refunded some of their tax dollars to compensate for the expenditure. 

It is simply unfair to expect parents to pay twice—once for an education product that they cannot use, and again for the education that their child truly needs. Legislators should not second-guess such a parent’s assessment of what is necessary for his child. To do so is arrogantly to deny the first principle of education. 

Of course, refunds of government money can easily be laden with strings that violate the principle enunciated above. Legislators should be careful to restrain themselves from the human tendency to use such money to manipulate parents. When possible, such refunds are better accomplished by tax credits than by refunded taxes.

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that conservation of the status quo is not the same as conservatism. Legislators and parents should take this watershed moment as an opportunity to reassess every aspect of Wyoming’s education policy. The principles of child-centered, parent-driven education are what need to be conserved, not past compromises. 

Parents, in cooperation with legislators should work to reject progressive harms that have become baked into current law. As the governor said, “Wyoming needs to respond.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: We Should All Shun Cancel Culture

in Column/Jonathan Lange
8923

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange

“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews.

How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”

The elitists who run the cancel culture say those words are offensive. For the crime of posting them on social media, Gina Carano, of Mandalorian fame, will never work at Disney again. For good measure, United Talent Agency also dropped her as a client.

Lucasfilm justified its vicious virtue signaling by saying that Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Ordinary people, like me, are flummoxed. Just like Carano, we have “liked” and “shared” and “retweeted” this very meme for months. Out of respect for the horrific sufferings of the Jews, we say their names. We are appalled that German civilization, at the apex of high culture, could so quickly fall to such depths of barbarism.

We solemnly vow, “Never again,” with meaning and determination. We are not content merely to condemn dead villains who no longer have power to kill. We are, rather, intent on rooting out their evil ideas—ideas that perverted an entire culture. Only by critiquing their worldview can we be equipped to stand against totalitarianism even when its purveyors no longer wear jack boots and brown shirts.

How Lucasfilm and its cancel culture masters can pretend that this is somehow “denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities,” boggles the mind.

In a search for answers, I turned to Wikipedia. That crowd-sourced repository of left-leaning information helpfully explained: “Many critics interpreted the post as comparing American conservatives to Jews in Nazi Germany.”

Apparently, comparing American conservatives to Jews denigrates Jews. Wow!

To quote a meme I recently read, “How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”

Antifa operatives spent the summer bullying minorities, burning their businesses and pressuring police to abandon the innocent poor to the terrorism of lawless gangs.

All the while, they called their opponents “Nazis”—and got away with it. Celebrities and politicians that fawned over their agenda and supported their riots were lionized, not canceled.

But when Gina Carano identifies with Jews who were brutalized and vandalized by their fellow citizens, the Twitter mob proves her right by mercilessly attacking her own person and career.

This is “viewpoint discrimination” on full display. Some viewpoints are rewarded while others are bludgeoned into silence.

The central point of the meme that got Carano canceled is that the Nazi government did not begin with direct action against the Jews. It began by encouraging common citizens—even children—to do their dirty work for them.

They did this with a combination of propaganda and a weaponized legal code. Propaganda convinced once-civilized Germans to turn against their neighbors. An unjust application of the law turned a blind eye to assaults on Jews, but prosecuted their attempts at self-defense.

We see these same dynamics at work today. It is up to common citizens to recognize when they are being propagandized by the gatekeepers of information. Media sources that incite citizens to hate each other should be turned off and tuned out.

Likewise, it is incumbent on all of us to stand against unequal application of the law and every misuse of the justice system. “Liberty and justice for all” is not just an empty slogan. It flows from the proposition that all men are created equal. And, it is a bulwark against the evils of the cancel culture.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: Cheney Must Regain The Consent Of The Governed

in Column/Jonathan Lange
8814

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

The Declaration of Independence was not an exercise of raw political power. It was, rather, an assertion of principles. It had no legal standing in a British court. Nor was there any standing army to enforce it. Its only power was the power of persuasion. Its authority depended entirely on whether its words were, in fact, true.

The American colonists could have taken up arms against Britain without a single word, as Japan infamously attacked Pearl Harbor. But that would have been wrong. It is not that some international law requires insurrectionists to justify themselves in writing. It is, rather, an internal law—written on the heart. They were motivated by “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”

There is a common and universal sense of justice shared by every human being. This common sense reflects the judgment of “the Supreme Judge of the world.” The founders appealed to him to judge their actions. As Abraham Lincoln would put it decades later, “my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”

Universal truth, justice before the Supreme Judge, and respect for a common sense of these things—these are the fundamental principles of the American Republic. On this foundation America was built.

Our founders’ “respect to the opinions of mankind” was not only for foreign countries. It was primarily about American citizens. After a brief introduction, the opening words of the Declaration assert three “self-evident” truths: 1) “that all men are created equal;” 2) “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights;” 3) that “Governments… [derive] their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

There are two kinds of right and wrong. The first is that which is self-evident. These are universal principles that known by all through our shared humanity. The second are laws and customs that are necessary to the functioning of society but are neither universally true nor perceived by some common sense.

“Thou shalt not kill” is a principle of the first sort. “Drive on the right side of the road” is a law of the second sort. The consent of the governed bridges the gap between these two kinds of laws.

This universal principle is necessary because “all men are created equal,” and no single person, or class of persons, has an inherent right to dictate laws of the second sort. Rather, equal citizens give consent to certain representatives to negotiate such necessary but variable rules.

Power exercised without the consent of the governed is tyranny. It doesn’t matter whether that person was duly elected, fraudulently elected, or seized power by force. Elections are the usual way to determine the consent of the governed. But an election is not a substitute for that consent.

If those governed no longer consent—or never did—there may be laws that allow for a recall petition. Such is the case with Governor Newsom in California. In Wyoming there are no such laws. Is that the end of the story? Not in principle.

Principled representatives do not need to be coerced into the right thing. The right thing is to maintain the consent of the governed. This principle precedes elections and outweighs any subsequent question of policy.

Last Saturday, the GOP’s state central committee voted overwhelmingly to censure Representative Cheney and to petition her to resign. This unprecedented action seriously calls into question whether our duly elected representative still has the consent of the governed.

If the question were answered purely by the power of man-made laws, and divorced from the principles of the Republic, Cheney would simply ignore the voters of Wyoming and continue to exercise the power of her congressional seat for two more years.

But if the question is about principle, Cheney should then want to do everything in her power to ensure that Wyoming’s lone representative in Washington regains the consent of the governed. That, and only that, would constitute “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” This should be true of any representative of the people’s will—from the president on down to the precinct committeeman.

How can this principle be upheld? First, Cheney should come home and stand before her constituents. If the rightness of her stance is solid, she can confidently expect to regain the consent of her constituency. If not, resignation would be the only honorable thing to do.

Resignation would allow her to stand by her own principles while also upholding an even higher principle. By it, she could reaffirm that the consent of the governed is a principle more fundamental to the Republic than any subsequent person or policy.

Without the consent of the governed, the Republic itself will cease to exist.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: ‘Salt Of The Earth’ People Are Wise To This Cynical Game

in Column/Jonathan Lange
8717

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange, columnist

“History, faith and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.” – President Joseph R. Biden, Inaugural Address.

Measuring by the nastiness of cable news and the party spirit of national newspapers, America is more deeply divided than at any time in living memory. The division may run as deep as at any time in history.

Yet, for all the rancor, there remains a deep longing for unity.

In fact, more than a mere longing, Americans are actually united on several key points. All people across the political spectrum long to see a resurgence of dignity, respect and neighborliness. I have never met anyone who wants the bitterness, fury and “exhausting outrage” that surrounds us. No lover of America can possibly be pleased with the incessant chaos that poisons our world.

Take a moment to reflect on this fact. Test it with your neighbors, families and friends. See if you can find someone who does not wish for universal recognition of each person’s dignity and respect. I don’t think you will find such an animal.

If I am right about my supposition, it should lead you to ask a follow-up question: If nobody wants the chaos and division we are experiencing, why can we not put an end to it? Who or what is hindering American unity?

Know this first, it is not the occupant of the Oval Office. Honest observers of the culture must admit that today’s rancor has been escalating across five administrations, at least. For three decades, every president has been vilified by political opponents as the incarnation of evil itself.

While this is a great fundraising strategy that whips the base into a fury, it does nothing to help Americans either understand or resist the true forces of evil that are pushing America toward the cliff. This is by design. Enemies of the American people want us to fixate on personalities. In that way, they can distract good-hearted citizens from finding commonalities that build unity.

The fact is that the forces dividing America have played us like well-tuned fiddles. They use caustic “identity politics” to set mom-and-pop Republicans, Democrats and Independents at one another’s throats so that they can advance an agenda against all Americans, regardless of who occupies the White House.

But salt-of-the-earth people are getting wise to this cynical game. More and more Americans see the real threat to America. It lies in armies of lawyers, advisors and agency officials scattered across Washington, D.C. who hem the president in on every side. They withhold information, dishonestly spin facts, slow-walk presidential orders, criminally leak to a compliant press, and generally abuse government power to manipulate the president into advancing their agenda, not ours.

While the occupant of the White House is not completely inconsequential, it is the worldview of unnamed bureaucrats—more than the man in office—that does the most damage to American ideals. As good neighbors from both parties awaken to this fact, it gives us an opportunity to unite against a common enemy.

The first step toward unity is to reject identity politics with a vengeance. This is not only necessary toward reducing the rancor of public discourse. It is also necessary so that we can get off the merry-go-round of personal vilification and start addressing the real problems.

If you think anyone who voted for Donald Trump is a threat to America, stop it! If you think insulting President Biden will help America, you are dead wrong. If you won’t listen to someone unless he first admits that the election was fairly won, or if you refuse to call Joe Biden your president, you will not be inviting honest engagement, but playing into the hands of your enemies.

Remember, the real enemies of America are enemies of Democrats as much as they are enemies of Republicans. They want nothing more than partisan simplification: “two legs bad, four legs good.” Such behavior only leads to a blanket condemnation of everything that one administration does and a blank check for whatever the other administration does. This fatally short-circuits debate, and naively ignores the forces manipulating both administrations.

America united to defeat fascism in World War II, and to defeat communism in the Cold War. Common Americans accomplished this despite the evil forces that were tearing us apart in the decadent 20s. Anti-God, anti-family, anti-freedom forces are on the move today.

As in the past, common Americans can defeat them if we refuse to let them divide us.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: Lange: Cheney rushed to judgment, Lummis finding the facts

in Column/Jonathan Lange
8638

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Both women of Wyoming’s congressional delegation are in the national news.

Only weeks after Liz Cheney’s re-election as the GOP conference chair, she faces a removal petition signed by 107—over half—of her colleagues. Lummis, on the hand, was publicly criticized by 78 members of the Wyoming Bar who published an open letter claiming that the very first vote of Wyoming’s first female senator, Cynthia Lummis, was “wrong.”

Both the recall petition and the open letter are related to former President Donald Trump. But that is where the similarity ends. Cheney’s troubles stem from her decision to defy 70 percent of her constituency and vote to impeach Trump only seven days before the end of his term. Lummis, in effect, did the opposite. She voted against the certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes pending an investigation.

Much ink has been spilled on both sides of the issue. Was the election legitimate or illegitimate? Were President Trump’s actions in contesting it right or wrong? Kip Crofts, former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, published a thorough and thoughtful article on the subject in the Cowboy State Daily. If his reasonable call for investigation ever comes to pass, America will learn the answers to these questions. If not, only the historians will know. Either way, time will tell.

My concern, however, is the present. Will we have the patience and self-discipline to find the facts that can allow us to rise above the frenzy? Or will we abandon rationality for mob rule.

The bloody streets of France’s reign of terror are the real-world consequences of mobs that ride the wave of emotion and rage. Such irrational destruction is denounced in the world’s best literature: Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Rigoletto, to name a few. Harper Lee wrote of the injustice of the southern lynch mob in, To Kill a Mockingbird. All these warnings recall the hasty trial of Jesus and his unjust treatment in the courts of Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate.

Wise Solomon warned us, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Western jurisprudence has spent centuries developing procedures and traditions designed to slow the rush to judgment enough that truth might prevail. Look back on recent history and remember how many lives and livelihoods were destroyed by rioting mobs chanting slogans that were, too late, proved false in a court of law.

Against this measure, Cheney’s vote is indefensible.

The articles of impeachment make numerous assertions about “facts” that are by no means proven. Take this portion, for instance: “…incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn Constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 election…” In the space of a few lines, there are at least three unproved assertions.

First, breaches to Capitol security barriers began nearly a half-hour before—and two miles away from—where the President finished speaking at the Ellipse. Were these people motivated by words that they could not have heard? Second, these provocateurs were obviously not “members of the crowd he had addressed.” Third, do we know their objectives? Where they the same as—or even compatible with—the objectives of those who arrived later to find the security barriers already moved aside?

On the day that Cheney claimed to know these facts, the FBI was only seven days into its investigation. Since then, evidence to the contrary has mounted. It took a special counsel 30 months to disprove the “Russia collusion” theory. That, alone, should have cautioned Cheney from trusting the week-old accusations from her party’s opponents.

Cynthia Lummis, on the other hand, took a more careful posture. Her vote against the certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes judged them to be neither fraudulent nor legitimate. She voted for more investigation, not less. It was a vote for a 10-day emergency audit to establish facts and address the legitimate concerns of tens of millions of voters.

Those who signed the open letter invoked the rules of the Wyoming Bar in their criticism. Does the Wyoming State Bar agree with them? Is it true that Lummis has a duty to “publicly affirm the legitimacy” of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes before she hears any answer to the legitimate concerns raised by Pennsylvania’s own lawmakers? Or is Lummis right in saying, “Each of us has a solemn duty to ensure that the slate of presidential electors we certify is beyond reproach, respecting the people’s voice and upholding the Constitution.”

Cheney condemned before there was even the possibility of investigation. Lummis’ critics want her to “publicly affirm the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 Presidential election” without investigation. Both fall into the same frenetic rush to judgment.

Mob rule is based on snap judgments. Civilization requires time for the deliberative process to find out the truth. Only then can justice prevail.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: Free Speech: How Protecting Obscenities, Stifles Truth

in Column/Jonathan Lange
8416

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) that established the “fighting words doctrine.”

When Walter Chaplinsky was arrested under New Hampshire’s public obscenity law, he sought protection under the First Amendment. He claimed that calling the town marshal, “a G-d d-mned racketeer,” and “a d-mned fascist,” was protected speech.

Justice Frank Murphy penned the unanimous decision of the Court, “There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.

These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting’ words—those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

The “fighting words” doctrine says that the First Amendment protects the expression of every idea. It does not protect words that are merely intended “to inflict injury” without elucidating the truth.

Notice that public obscenity laws harmoniously existed with the First Amendment for more than 150 years before the Supreme Court even thought it necessary to explain why.

It does not require a linguistic scholar to know the difference between lewd, obscene and the insulting words on the one hand, and words that convey thoughtful content on the other.

Fighting words attack the person without addressing the argument. A schoolyard bully does not give rational justifications for his wrongs. He merely changes the subject by irrationally insulting his accusers. SCOTUS remarked that such common sense had “never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.”

Then, on April 26, 1968, Paul Cohen was arrested in the Los Angeles Courthouse for wearing a jacket that said, “F— the Draft.” Like Chaplinsky, he contested California’s offensive conduct law on First Amendment grounds.

This time, SCOTUS overturned the “fighting words doctrine” in a 5-4 decision. Justice John Harlan, writing for the majority, scuttled 180 years of First Amendment jurisprudence with the silly assertion, “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”

While the “fighting words” doctrine saw an objective, well defined difference between the obscene and the noble, the Cohen decision claimed it was purely subjective. The common sense that ad hominem arguments “are no essential part of any exposition of ideas” was inverted so that they now are sacred speech.

This ruling unleashed a flood of obscenities and verbal assaults on the unsuspecting public. In 1977 Cohen was cited as a reason to permit Nazis to chant Jewish insults and carry the swastika through Skokie, Illinois—a community of holocaust survivors. In 1978, the Federal Communications Commission lost its ability to keep obscenities off the air; and in 1986 public schools lost their authority to prevent students from screaming “F— you,” in the halls of education. In 1992 the Court unanimously struck down long-standing prohibitions against the KKK’s cross-burning.

Have you ever wondered how American culture has gotten to the point that total strangers are permitted legally to scream vile obscenities in your face while policemen in riot gear stand by passively?

It was not that Americans petitioned their legislators to permit lewd, obscene, profane, libelous, and insulting words to become part of the public discourse. It happened, rather, because the same court that gave you Roe v. Wade overruled common sense.

Before blaming candidates or movements, or accusing one another of debasing public discourse, we should remember our history. It was five men in black robes who foisted this ugly world upon us. And the evil didn’t end there.

Their twisted logic led, inevitably, to so-called “hate speech laws.” Now there are certain ideas that cannot be expressed without public penalty. Florists, bakers, clerks and printers have been devastated by lost business, government fines and legal costs just for expressing the idea that male and female are not interchangeable.

Meanwhile, the law permits these same people to be bullied with words like, “hater,” “bigot,” and “Nazi.” Such words contribute nothing to the discovery of truth. Rather, they are meant as verbal assaults and incitements to economic and social violence against their targets.

In 1942 Justice Murphy asserted, as a matter of timeless common sense, that the First Amendment protects the expression and defense of every idea as a valuable step towards discovering the truth. But the First Amendment does not protect the utterance of every possible obscenity because “fighting words” do not elucidate the truth.

Now, only 80 years later, the case is reversed. Nonsensical, vile and intentionally injurious words are fully protected speech while the expression of certain ideas—even in the kindest possible terms—is strictly forbidden. SCOTUS’ 1971 scuttling of obscenity laws was supposed to protect free speech. Instead, it has crushed the speech that matters most: the assertion and defense of the truth.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jonathan Lange: How Christmas Brings the World Together

in Column/Jonathan Lange
8060

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Christmas is, without a doubt, the greatest unifying holiday on the world’s calendar. In these days of turmoil and division we cannot do better than to think on this blessed unity during these holy days.

First, consider how Christmas unifies us on a cultural level. It remains one of the few holidays that all Americans celebrate together. Globally it stands with Easter as the only two holidays that are celebrated on every continent. On December 25th of each year people from Siberia to South Africa to San Francisco set their minds on a singular event that forever changed the world.

Christ’s birth made such an impact around the globe that nearly every person alive can name the number of years since his birth without a moment’s hesitation. While scholars may quibble about whether the ancient calculations were completely accurate, it cannot be denied that the year 2020 intends to count the years since Jesus’ birth.

For all the time before Christ, civilizations marked time by the establishment of a new local kingdom. Judea might note the year as, “the 39th year of King Uzziah.” Next door, Israel had a different king; and that same year was called the first year of King Jabesh (See 2 Kings 15:13).

With rare exceptions, that is no longer the custom. Rather, nations the world over all count back to the date of Jesus’ birth. We acknowledge this every time we put the letters “A.D.” after the year. These initials stand for the Latin words “anno domini,” which are translated, “in the year of our Lord.”

This reveals the second of Christmas’ unifying qualities. It declares that Jesus is the king of all the earth. While the ancient world knew of great and sprawling empires like those of the Persians, Greeks and Romans, never was there a single man ruling over the entire globe. The birth of Christ changed all that.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). The “King of kings and Lord of lords” was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger (see Revelation 17:14 and 19:16).

Of course, the principalities and powers of this world are always attempting to achieve a one-world government. By the exercise of raw power through vast stores of wealth, they believe that they can solve the world’s problems if only they can control one more lever of power. Yet, the more power they gain, the more misery spreads.

Jesus’ lordship is not like that. He rules not by raw power, but by self-sacrifice. The Creator was born as a man to give His life as a ransom for the sins of the world. What sets Jesus apart from every other king and lord is that he knows the true cause of the world’s division.

The hate, anger and lust that destroy and divide us are not caused by the differences among us. They are caused by the sin within us. So, the unity that Jesus brings to the world is not accomplished by the mere shuffling of power, wealth and status. The unity that is the true hope for the world is brought about by addressing the problem of sin. For Christendom, that means repentance.

This is what makes Christmas truly unifying. Unity begins when each of us, individually, stops blaming others for the evils around us. When we face up to the greed, lust, anger and ill will in our own hearts, the Christ-child comes with His forgiveness to reconcile us to all those who are around us.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it well. “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts.” Jesus brings reconciliation not by forcing others to treat us differently, but by changing our own hearts. This permits us to love and be loved despite our sins.

When sins are real and cause real harm, forgiveness cannot be mere sentimentality. Real forgiveness comes at a high price. That is why Jesus’ lordship over the world was brought about by his own self-sacrifice. By paying the debt that we cannot pay, He reconciles us to one another by restoring what others stole from us by their sin and by restoring to others what we stole from them. This, and this alone, brings unity and good will to the world.

As you celebrate the birth of Jesus, seek out the true unity that He came to bring.

“O come, Desire of Nations, Bind in one the hearts of all mankind; Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, And be Thyself our King of Peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Go to Top