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Jonathan Lange: “I Was There. The ‘Right Wing’ Did Not Hijack The GOP Convention”

in Column/Jonathan Lange

By Jonathan Lange, Columnist

The musical, Hamilton, tells the story of the founding father depicted on the ten-dollar bill. Alexander Hamilton’s contributions to America are nothing short of amazing—both in their diversity and in their lasting impact.

Among Hamilton’s many accomplishments: he was the principal author of the Federalist Papers. These documents were written after the Constitutional Convention of 1887 to persuade the people of New York to ratify the Constitution it had crafted.

Hamilton penned 51 of the 85 papers in only six months. They are the best interpretive guide to the U.S. Constitution that we have. If the musical, Hamilton, does nothing more than to revive an interest in the Federalist Papers, our state and country will be the winners.

Ignorance of these papers and of the Constitution they defend renders voters impotent to hold elected officials to account for their violations of constitutional principles. Without this tool, they can only watch helplessly as the promise of America fades away from their children and grandchildren.

As Wyoming approaches the August primaries, it would be great to hear questions about the Federalist Papers asked at candidate forums. The Federalist Papers, like the U.S. Constitution they defend, are not on the fringes of American life; they are at its very core. Candidates should be expected to know and agree with their principles.

The Constitution is as centrist as it gets. No one should be labeled “extreme right-wingers” for taking time to know our common foundation and defending it against perversions. Both the Right and the Left of the political spectrum ought to stand for the Federalist Papers.

That would be a giant step forward from the petty bickering and identity politics that characterize most of today’s political discourse. Consider the press coverage of the recent Wyoming Republican Party convention.

For the past three weeks, we have been treated to a steady stream of misrepresentations of the convention’s happenings. A few of the delegates who voted with the minority on key issues have received extremely disproportionate representation in the press.

Stories and opinion pieces, written by people whom I never saw at the convention, have flipped the narrative. Almost every vote was decided by a near-70 percent majority. This is anything but a small cadre from the “radical right.” Those peddling the narrative that some “far-right party leadership” hijacked the convention are lying to you.

The delegates and the delegates alone guided the conventions decisions. First, they ratified the election results from the May 9, 2020 online convention. Second, they adopted a platform that embodies the constitutional principles laid  out in the Federalist Papers. Third, they clarified that donations intended to support this constitutional platform should go to candidates who actually support it.

If any delegate could show that the GOP platform did not faithfully represent constitutional principles, the convention would have gladly adopted any improvements needed. That deep desire to uphold and support the Constitution and the principles of Hamilton, Madison and Jay characterized the entire convention.

Those who portray this desire as, somehow, “right-wing” should be ashamed of themselves, as should those who spread lies in the media and level personal attacks against party leadership. Open and honest debate on constitutional principles would elevate public discourse. Hiding policy disagreements by incessant personal attacks does not.

One major theme of Hamilton, the musical, centers on the question: Who tells your story? Much hinges on this question. The enemies of Hamilton sought to tell his story in the worst light possible. Aaron Burr first made a personal attack on his reputation. Eventually, Burr killed him in a duel. But Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth, told his true story.

It is amazing how a man so instrumental in the formation of the American republic came so close to being lost to history. Had it not been for Elizabeth’s dogged determination to gather the facts and tell her husband’s story, this amazing man and the principles that he stood for may never have been known to our generation.

The same goes for the principles and people of our day. It is not enough to know the truth and keep it to yourself. We are all responsible for telling the story. Just because one narrative is told with a megaphone does not make that story true. The powerful and dominating enemies of Hamilton could not ultimately defeat the story that his faithful wife told.

Elizabeth’s voice was small but it was true and steady. Americans know the face of Hamilton and carry his picture in their wallet in large part because of Elizabeth’s voice.

We can honor her work by studying the Constitution that he helped to create. We can advance his cause by telling the true stories of those who labor to uphold Hamilton’s principles still today.

Jonathan Lange: ‘All Men Created Equal’ Is Creed That Founded The USA

in Column/Jonathan Lange

By Jonathan Lange, Columnist

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Two weeks ago, this column set about to rescue our common sense of morality from the false accusation that it is uniquely Christian. It pointed out that the Cardinal Virtues predated Christianity by four centuries and are understood instinctively throughout the world.

That remains true, but there is more to the story. There is also a unique contribution that Christianity has given to America. G.K. Chesterton wrote, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.” That is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” 

Few societies have ever believed a thing so radical. None had ever placed the idea at the center of its public life. Critics of America deny that we ever believed it at all. Slave states, the Indian wars, Japanese internment camps and Jim Crow seem to prove their point.

But Americans universally condemn these injustices, and more. That condemnation, wherever it is found, confirms America’s founding creed to be right and true. 

The 56 signers of the Declaration were aware from the start that their bold creed was contradicted by the very existence of slavery. Washington, Jefferson, and other slave owners, were acutely aware that their declaration, sooner or later, would require the end of slavery. They signed their names to the Declaration not in hypocrisy, but in solemn pledge to make American life—including their own lives—conform to their beliefs. 

It would take more than eight decades of strife, capped by a war that cost 625,000 lives, to right that wrong. The 13th Amendment brought America one step closer to a just society. More steps followed and still more are required. The claim that “all men are created equal,” continues to challenge every unjust treatment of human beings from Jim Crow to broken Indian treaties, to America’s total abandonment of 60 million unborn children. 

America continues both to believe that all men are created equal, and to strive against every law that would contradict it. These twin realities bring us to an even more fundamental creed. The ongoing quest to root out injustice requires belief that redemption is real. Christ died for all, and anyone can repent and be forgiven by His blood.

Human life is not about perfectionism but redemption. No person perfectly lives up to his or her own beliefs. Redemption is not about atoning for your own sins or demanding full payment from those who sin against you. It is about restitution paid by another—ultimately by God through the crucifixion of Jesus. That is the uniquely Christian idea embedded in America’s creed. 

Only when the price of justice is paid by God does forgiveness become a reality. This alone can create a space where the bonds of love grow. Without infinite forgiveness, the demands of justice are insatiable, and peace is impossible.

The turmoil in America today is not a result of imperfectly living up to the creed that, “all men are created equal.” We have struggled with this from the beginning. Turmoil results when striving for justice is cut off from its necessary grounding of forgiveness and redemption. 

Where repentance, redemption and forgiveness do not reign supreme, hate and turmoil fills the void. Lacking the grace that redemption and forgiveness provide, each person, individually, is driven into a posture of self-defense and counter-attack. Admit no wrong. Apology is weakness. Demand justice. Give no mercy. Forgiveness is betrayal. 

In this toxic stew, people are no longer defined by their humanity, but by their sins—real or perceived. No one is equal. Each seeks to dominate. 

The founders of the republic understood that without the possibility of redemption, there can be no change for the better. They understood that utopian visions of a perfect society cannot bring about the perfection they desire. To the contrary, they cause obsession with the injustices of others and willful blindness to their own.

They also knew that the grace of redemption could not be regulated by the state, but only received through the Church. So, they asserted only what was knowable by nature in their Declaration of Independence—that “all men are created equal.” The revelation of redemption through Christ was protected by the First Amendment and left to the Church alone. 

While repentance and redemption are possible only in Christ, they are the unwritten foundation of our entire republic. Without them, no reparations and no restitution will ever suffice. Our present turmoil will continue until all society is burned to the ground. 

But through repentance and redemption, human dignity is restored and the bedrock ideal of human equality is grounded in the Creator and Redeemer of all mankind.

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Jonathan Lange: The Purpose Of Identity Politics Is To Divide And Conquer

in Column/Jonathan Lange

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By Jonathan Lange, Columnist

In the opening pages of the Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn recounts how the secret police arrested millions of Russian citizens by secret midnight raids. Sleeping citizens would be awakened by the sound of their door bursting open. 

They would watch helplessly as every drawer was emptied and every mattress overturned. Eventually, they would be led away without need of guns or shackles. Terror was the tool. Neighbors who heard the crash would pretend not to notice for fear that they may be next. With each arrest the will to resist was further drained.

After recounting these methods, Solzhenitsyn noted, “how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if …people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?”

What is it that prevented the millions of Russian citizens from offering any meaningful resistance to the regime that would terrorize them for seven decades? No nation can be enslaved by direct power. Russia was divided before it was conquered. The tools of division are hatred and fear. 

Hatred is created by inventing ever-new categories of people, and setting them against one another. America’s motto, e pluribus unum (out of many, one,) must be reversed. The purpose of identity politics is simply to divide and conquer.

Divided people can then be manipulated by fear. When every man is for himself, a threat to his job or social standing leaves him helpless. Promise him that the threat will subside if he doesn’t make a fuss, and he will usually take the bait. The few who are not cowed by the unspoken threat must be made into public examples so that the rest will be too afraid to stand together. 

All it takes to counter such terror is the simple resolve to be united. “If…if…,” Solzhenitsyn continued. “If only we had stood together against the common threat, we could easily have defeated it. So, why didn’t we?” 

He answered, “We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” 

These are powerful words. They challenge us today. Do we love freedom enough? How much do we value freedom? What price are we willing to pay to keep it?

When freedom is devalued our will to defend it is diminished. If freedom is nothing more than the selfish pursuit of doing “whatever I want,” who will die in its defense? 

Don’t let freedom be cheapened. True freedom, has never been about doing whatever you want but about doing what is right. It is about living up to the highest ideals of your own humanity. Freedom to raise a family and build a just civilization is freedom worth dying for. 

What price will you to pay for freedom? Are you willing to invest serious money in your children’s education? Are you willing to teach them at home and attend school board meetings—even run for the school board—to improve their moral education?

Are you willing to spend serious money to support candidates that will fight for true and noble freedoms against those who would debase our culture and enslave us further to debt and vice? 

Recently Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, spoke in Gillette and asked a simple question of his audience: Are you willing to spend as much on the election of good candidates as you spend on coffee? The average American spends about $10 per day on coffee. Imagine that multiplied by 100 million. 

How might that capital offset the multinational corporations that incessantly divide and debase us. What if… What if…? Solzhenitsyn asked. What if we “had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand”? He concluded that it would have changed the world and prevented the misery and deaths of millions.

Will we be asking a similar question years from now? What if… What if… we had spent as much money on good rulers as we spent on coffee? What if we had spent as much time on educating our kids as we spend on entertainment? What if we had spent as much energy on loving our neighbor as we spend arguing with strangers?

The value of freedom is infinite. If we are unwilling to spend mere pocket change in its defense, we will purely and simply deserve everything that happens afterwards.

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Jonathan Lange: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

in Column/Jonathan Lange

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By Jonathan Lange, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Why can’t we all just get along? Since the L.A. riots in 1992, many have breathed out these words in despair and confusion. But, take courage! This question actually has an answer. And in the answer, there is a way forward.

Already in 1978, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put his finger on America’s problem and showed us the way forward. It was delivered by way of a commencement address at Harvard University titled, “A World Split Apart.” The audience, expecting to hear the Russian dissident criticize Soviet communism, was scandalized when he turned the tables.

With devastating accuracy, he showed how America was abusing its own freedom by wallowing in the same lies that communism forced upon the Russian people. Solzhenitsyn explained that virtue, not material prosperity, leads to freedom and human thriving. By abandoning it, America was enslaving itself.

His warning sounded strange to his audience. Many dismissed him as a quasi-religious moralist. The Ivy Leaguers counted virtue as a quaint vestige of the unenlightened past and were tossing it out of the classroom, the courtroom, and the legislative assembly.

But they were wrong. Long before Christianity came on the scene, public virtue was the single most important element of a functioning society. Plato, 400 years before Christ, first named the four personal qualities that were necessary for people to get along. These have come down to us as the Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice.

Centuries later, Christian thinkers added Faith, Hope and Love to this list. These are called the Theological Virtues because they are specifically Christian. But the Cardinal Virtues are shared by all humanity.

One of the strangest ironies of our time is that the non-religious Cardinal Virtues have been marginalized under the rubric of “freedom from religion,” while the specifically religious virtue, “Love,” has been emptied of its Christian content and perverted into a political cudgel to beat down every other virtue.

Solzhenitsyn reminded his audience that human beings are more than animals. They have not only a body, but also a spirit. That is why the virtues are absolutely necessary for human society. Without them, societies can never rise above mere animal instinct. The following survey of the Cardinal Virtues will bear this out.

Prudence (wisdom) is the mother of all virtues. It rightly directs all human action toward a good goal. To do so, it requires all people to know the difference between good and evil. It rests on our common sense of right and wrong.

Without the categories of right and wrong, good and evil, there can be no society. Yet it is precisely these categories that are denied any place in public policy. They are treated as merely personal value judgments with no basis in objective truth. “That may be good for you,” we are told, “but it is not good for me.”

Any society unable to speak with a unified voice on the subject of good and evil will never be able to get along. And, every attempt to get along, while avoiding a sober and reasonable discussion of good and evil, will only underscore how unwise and uncivilized that society has become.

Temperance (moderation) is the virtue of controlling the appetite. It recognizes that human beings have built-in needs that must be met, and that meeting these needs gives pleasure. It also recognizes that overindulgence and disordered use of these appetites will always cause great human suffering.

Four of the seven deadly sins are connected to temperance. Gluttony, greed, lust and sloth are overindulgence in food, money, sex and rest respectively. But sin, like virtue itself, is dismissed as a “religious” category. Most forget that it was as familiar in pre-Christian Greece as in the Bible.

But, the pretense that only religious fanatics condemn intemperance is a convenient strategy to divide and conquer. By it many defenders of temperance are shamed out of the public square. This leaves room for a decadent culture not only to tolerate, but to celebrate and encourage such sins.

Courage (fortitude) is the virtue that is most in short supply today. It is the virtue that overcomes personal fear in order to do what is right. It is especially necessary today because Americans have become so entangled in their appetites for public approval and economic success that the Twitter mob and the Cancel Culture can easily silence those who lack this virtue.

Think about how many politicians, teachers, church leaders and businesses have been frightened into silence, or even into public apology for speaking their mind. Solzhenitsyn put America’s lack of courage up front in his critique. She has not gotten any braver in the four decades since.

Justice (righteousness) is the final virtue in Plato’s list. It is the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due. Prudence—the intellectual ability to discern good and evil—can tell you what is right and just. Justice is the willpower to do the right thing without regard to persons.

When Lady Justice is depicted in art, she is always blindfolded because she operates without respect of persons. When money, status, or public opinion skews the application of justice, it is evil. Social justice that judges class membership but ignores individual acts of good and evil is inherently unjust.

It has been a very long time since our political system paid attention to this virtue. America has been deluded into thinking that justice requires strict moral neutrality. This lie has driven our common sense of good and evil out of the public square. This foolishness has brought us to the brink of disaster.

While the Cardinal Virtues do not establish any particular religion, their exclusion is motivated by a materialistic worldview that hates the very idea of religion. This worldview is itself a religion that denies the very spirit of humanity and has led to the slaughter of millions and the enslavement of billions around the globe.

While Solzhenitsyn knew the evils of communism, he saw clearly that it sprang from virtue-less materialism. He observed that “through intense suffering our country has achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive.”

As a direct result of that development, countries of the former Soviet Union are rebuilding their societies by an unabashed return to the virtues. Poland, Serbia and Hungary, among others, are leading by example. If America is unwilling to take their advice, Solzhenitsyn predicted that it “would be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events.”

Mobs that burn, loot and deface statues may well portend the events that Solzhenitsyn warned about 42 years ago. No society can deny human nature forever. It will either be prudent enough to listen to those who have gained wisdom through suffering, or it must undergo its own bitter lessons.

How America responds to this present hour will determine the outcome for our children and grandchildren. They will either endure great suffering or enjoy true freedom. They will also have the clarity of hindsight to judge this present generation. By Prudence, Temperance, Courage and Justice our generation can renew America’s freedom. Without these, history will be a harsh judge.

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The Humpty Dumpty Court

in Column/Jonathan Lange

By Jonathan Lange. Columnist, Cowboy State Daily

Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court’s latest adventure in legislating, has already seen enough compelling analysis to raise some troubling questions. Here’s a quick overview.

Justice Kavanaugh’s dissent showed that the majority did not interpret Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Rather the Court rewrote Title VII, inserting language that multiple previous congresses decidedly rejected. This is a “transgression of the Constitution’s separation of powers,” he wrote.

The dissenting opinion of Justices Alito and Thomas was stronger still. “There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation.” It emphasizes that our elected representatives are currently considering H.R. 5, the so-called “Equality Act,” which would amend the very law that Bostock rewrote. But rather than let the elected legislators vote, six unelected justices disenfranchised 360 million votes cast in three separate elections.

The majority not only arrogated this task to itself, but did it in the laziest way possible. It rewrote a single line of the U.S. Code that would affect 167 different provisions of federal law—but refused to reconcile the contradictions it created.

Among the 167 questions left unanswered are whether men’s access to women’s dressing rooms and sports leagues will be mandated. Whether female students and women escaping from domestic violence will be forced to share dorm rooms and living quarters with men, it didn’t say.

Patients will sue doctors both for removing healthy sex organs and for refusing to remove healthy sex organs. The majority could not be bothered to tell doctors which side will win. These, “are questions for future cases,” it said.

The evasive majority thus refused to commit itself to the logic of its own opinion—for good reason. The opinion’s fatal flaw is an equivocation in the opening paragraph.

Gorsuch wrote, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

This framing of the question assumes that a man’s right to present as a woman is hindered by the unalterable fact of his sex—he can’t help it if he’s a man. Therefore, the Court must come to the rescue and forbid an employer from taking his sex into account.

Gorsuch’s foundational claim that sex is unalterable is heretical to gender theorists. When J.K. Rowling recently said that, “sex is determined by biology,” the outrage mob wanted her canceled.

How Justices Kagan, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor could have signed onto this opinion without incurring the wrath of the same mob should be puzzling.

But, of course, no one is surprised. In our brave, new world, logical inconsistencies are par for the course. In fact, Gorsuch is not the first to opine that “sex discrimination” includes any legal recognition of the unalterable fact of sex.

The theory has been around since 1975, when he was in third grade. Moreover, his fellow Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has spent 45 years arguing against it!

Gorsuch asserts that this self-contradictory opinion is driven by strict and principled “textualism.” But he never once uses the word, “originalism.” It would be better described as “pre-textualism,” because he has no intention of determining the original meaning of the text.

First, neither “homosexual,” nor “transsexual” is, in fact, in the text. Second, multiple legislators over the course of 45 years have proposed changes in the text precisely because the text does not address homosexuality and transsexuality. Third, his concurring justices, Kagan, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor, have a long and proud history of defying textualism at every turn.

I am not pointing out anything that the majority didn’t already know. They are extremely smart and capable lawyers. Doubtless, Alito, Thomas and Kavanaugh have been reminding them of the logical, constitutional and legal problems for the past several months.

They knew full well that their opinion would require decades of litigation costing millions. They knew that countless doctors, churches, businesses and charities would be sued into oblivion.

They also could have explicitly limited Gorsuch’s theory to Title VII alone. But the majority both refused to rule out any of the 167 new applications, while also refusing to admit that they would all logically follow.

This is now a Humpty Dumpty court. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

The Bostock majority is now that master. That is all.

Jonathan Lange: The Seattle Disaster and How it Applies to Wyoming

in Column/Jonathan Lange

By Jonathan Lange. Columnist, Cowboy State Daily

CHOP, formerly known as CHAZ, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, surrounds the vacant and boarded up East Precinct headquarters of the Seattle Police Department. It is six square blocks of banana republic planted in the middle of an American city.

On June 8, 2020 after several continuous days of turmoil, a mob began to throw bricks, bottles and homemade bombs at the men and women who were there to protect and serve. Many were hospitalized. Still more were injured. The mob’s threats to torch the precinct headquarters prompted police to abandon the area.

Thriving communities are the product of building, not tearing down. For families to live together in peace and harmony, hundreds of institutions and millions of moving parts need to be painstakingly and lovingly cultivated. It is possible for a community to survive the sudden collapse of an important institution. But that is an injury it must work to heal. It cannot be the constituting principle of the community.

By emptying the East Precinct, CHOP did not rid themselves of the police, they simply established a new, untrained and ununiformed police department. In so doing, they erected barricades that disrupted commerce with the outside world.

Of course, the armed men manning the barricades will be quick to assure us that all the vehicles of community and commerce are free to enter the zone. But will the utilities themselves and trucks supplying commerce be willing to risk equipment and personnel in an area controlled by an untested and unlawful police force?

The buildings and businesses that support a community are only made possible by trusting relationships forged over decades. No father or mother wants to raise children in a community where neighbors corrupt their children. No shop owner wants to do business where his shop may be picked clean at the whim of a mob.  No police officer will be willing to risk life and limb to protect and serve neighbors and shop owners if he is targeted by revolutionaries and abandoned by city government.

That is why education, not law enforcement, remains the backbone of every community. Education is not simply the imparting of a body of knowledge. Properly speaking, it is the raising of good citizens. Technological know-how and the ability to spout the latest politically correct mantra are worthless in themselves.

Unless children are raised up to be virtuous, community is not possible. When these foundations are eroded, a community may survive for a while, but there will come a tipping point. Communities that fail to inculcate prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and love will inevitably collapse into chaos.

The occupiers of Seattle are staring into this abyss today. They seem, instinctively, to know the value of education. The two most visible activities of the occupiers are digging up the park for “guerilla gardens,” and setting up “teach-in tables.” These teaching stations offer crash courses in transformative justice and other progressive values.

Whether hasty indoctrination into social justice theory can replace the virtue that built Seattle is doubtful. But at least someone is recognizing the truth that community starts by inculcating the virtues.

That raises questions about our own communities. Are we still teaching the virtues that built Wyoming? Or, is progressive indoctrination stripping our children of the education needed to thrive? Institutions, buildings and businesses built by past generations may survive by pure inertia. But if we do not constantly renew freedom’s foundations, they will not survive for long.

Good intentions cannot redeem bad ideas. Central planning cannot make up for the suppression of common sense. The sudden appearance of a banana republic in Seattle ought to put every American citizen on alert. President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Wyoming’s people know this instinctively and work hard to raise their own children with the virtues that support freedom. What they must learn from events in Seattle is that the transmission of freedom to the next generation is a cooperative endeavor. It cannot be done alone in a bunker.

It involves not only the home, but the school; not only the school, but the library; not only the library, but Main Street. Lawyers, doctors, ranchers, rough necks, miners, mothers, teachers and preachers all have a unique and vital contribution to make in the education of a free society.

Hard work and self-sufficiency are the necessary foundation of freedom. But unless free citizens work together to build communities, they will be overwhelmed by the mob when a “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” comes to Cheyenne. Now is the time to come together. Now is the time to build.

Jonathan Lange: Torrington Court Case Says Unborn Babies Are Not Persons

in Column/Jonathan Lange

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By Jonathan Lange, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Clarissa was born on the bathroom floor, weighing only three and a quarter pounds. She arrived six weeks premature, induced by an overdose on methamphetamine, cocaine and, possibly, heroine. Her maternal grandmother scooped up the tiny baby and helped her take her first breaths.

An ambulance rushed Clarissa to the NICU where she was treated for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). She was withdrawing from the illegal drugs shared with her mother throughout her gestation.

Clarissa had her struggles, but by the love of her foster family and the skill of her doctors, she pulled through. Her rough entry into the world is now a story she has a passion to share. This bright and strong Wyoming woman knows that she speaks for others, many less fortunate. Some are still born. Others die unattended. Survivors sometimes have life-long birth defects.

Statistically, a child is born with NAS every fifteen minutes. The tragedy of America’s addiction epidemic is that it affects not only men and women, but tens of thousands of unborn persons every year. The unjust injury and death inflicted upon people with no say in the matter, cries out for justice. We, as Wyomingites, have a duty to intervene for their protection.

Exercising that duty, the State of Wyoming recently filed charges against a Torrington mother. On August 18, 2019, hospital employees called Child Protective Services after a newborn tested positive for methamphetamine. When police tested the mother, it was clear that the baby was exposed in utero. “She was charged with felony child abuse and delivery of methamphetamine to a minor,” according to the Torrington Telegram.

But, on March 26, 2020, her charges were dismissed. Public Defender David MacDonald argued that Wyoming’s statutory language does not specifically designate an unborn Wyomingite as a “child.” Therefore, the charge of delivering meth to a minor child must be dismissed. He further argued that it does not specifically call a pregnant woman a “mother.” If not a mother, she cannot be a “parent” in the eyes of the law. Therefore, she cannot be charged with parental abuse for action taken before the birth.

The Torrington Telegram headlined the story, “Charges dropped; attorney proves a fetus isn’t a person, according to state statute.” Actually, MacDonald is more modest about his achievement. Charges were dismissed when the state’s prosecutor failed to answer his brief. By default, the Eighth District Court found that the statutory language fails to stipulate that an unborn child is a person, or that a pregnant woman is a mother.

This ought to alarm every pregnant woman and every expectant couple in the state. By denying that a fetus has any legally recognized parents prior to birth, the court not only exonerated one mother of parental responsibilities, it also wiped away the corresponding parental rights for all parents.

Anybody from a medical worker, to a state agency, to a total stranger can interfere with the parent child relationship before the child is born. Neither parent has parental standing to advocate for the child.

As for the unborn child, the Eighth District Court has just wiped away any legal protection that the child formerly had under Wyoming law. If a child has no right to be protected from illegal and harmful drugs, she also has no right to be protected from murder. Should a boyfriend kill the child through battery, or drugs, the state has no authority to charge him with murder.

During the 2019 general session, Senator Lynn Hutchings introduced the Unborn victims of violence act (SF 128) to repair this injustice in Wyoming law. It would have provided statutory language that allows Wyoming to prosecute the murder of an unborn child.

Sadly, the bill was heavily amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Every reference to “unborn child” was replaced with “fetus,” and every reference to “mother,” was replaced with “pregnant woman.” The bill ultimately failed. It remains legal in Wyoming to murder an unborn child against the will of the mother.

Now, the Torrington case has shown that it is likewise legal to deliver harmful drugs to an unborn child. It has exposed the legal fiction that children can be adequately protected without legal recognition of the parent-child relationship in the womb. The Eighth District Court has now made clear that nothing short of a legislative fix will address the problem.

For Wyoming, this also means that state law fails to protect what Wyoming’s Constitution guarantees. The Declaration of Rights, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the State of Wyoming stipulates “In their [the people’s] inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal.”

Equal protection for life in Wyoming is not affected by any subjective stage of development or subcategory of human being. Regardless of whether a member of the human race may be dehumanized with terms like “embryo” and “fetus,” or humanized with words like “child” and “person,” the Constitution recognizes equality for “all members of the human race.”

In recent centuries, deeply anti-human “personhood theories” have sought to separate “human beings” from “persons.” By this sleight of hand, they have justified slavery, the Jewish holocaust, and other racist atrocities.

Wyoming’s Declaration of Rights, written after the war to free the slaves, deliberately side-steps the tainted terminology of “personhood,” giving equal protection under law to all members of the human race without regard to any discriminatory and undefined distinction between persons and non-persons.

The court should have recognized that the language of personhood theories are not only foreign to the Wyoming Constitution, they were explicitly rejected. The state’s prosecutor should have defended the Constitution’s intent to avoid the vagaries of personhood theory and stick with clear, provable statements.

The Torrington case highlights the failure of Wyoming law to adequately guarantee the protections promised in the Wyoming Constitution. Clarissa’s life reminds us that this failure is not merely theoretical. It causes tangible harm to real people with lives worth protecting.

It is past time for Wyoming’s executive branch, judicial system, and legislators to enact and enforce laws that give equal protection to every member of the human race as the Constitution expressly requires.

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Jonathan Lange: Trump Executive Order Supports Free Speech In USA

in Column/Jonathan Lange

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By Jonathan Lange, guest column

“Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy.  Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.” These are the opening words of Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, signed be President Trump on May 28, 2020. 

The Associated Press used this as another opportunity to gaslight the American people. They characterized the order as “challenging the lawsuit protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.”

Actually, the lawsuit protections written into the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA) were originally written “to restrict free speech on the internet,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If the AP mischaracterizes the Executive Order so badly, we should set the record straight.

In 1996, the Internet was still in its infancy. Netscape was the browser of choice and the fastest dial-up modems were operating at a whopping 33.6 kilobytes per second. and were among the first service providers to let a web user build his own home page. Others soon followed. These interactive computer services became the precursors of today’s social media.

Unlike a newspaper, where every word and picture had to be specifically approved by the editor, this budding technology allowed content to be published without the oversight of a general editor. This was a revolution in the free flow of information. It was also an opening for more sinister pursuits.

Disgusting, indecent and obscene words and pictures could be uploaded just as easily as family photos and decent content. The unfettered use of user-generated content threatened to poison the Internet and drive away anyone who did not want to be assaulted by obscenities and lewd conduct. Unless something was done, its power would be unusable for decent citizens.

As a powerful new tool for the social good, it was in the interest of the government to protect the Internet from antisocial behavior. But the owners of interactive computer services ran into a legal conundrum.

If they deleted even one obscene photo, they were no longer the operators of public bulletin boards, but made themselves editors. As such, they would be legally and financially responsible for all the content available on the platform. 

What to do? Unless free speech was fettered to keep obscenities from turning the Internet into a sewer, it would not be available to anyone. But if user-generated pages were placed under the same libel laws as traditional newspapers, those pages could be sued out of existence. Again, the Internet would not be available to anyone.

Section 230 of the CDA was written to address this problem. Its explicit intent is “(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and (5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.”

Under paragraph (c) titled, “Protection for ‘Good Samaritan’ blocking and screening of offensive material,” Section 230 says, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 USC sec. 230). 

After this comes the lawsuit protection. “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Clearly, the intent of Section 230 is to preserve parental rights and to protect children from “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, [and] harassing” material. Nobody ever envisioned the words, “otherwise objectionable,” to cover whatever the owner of the platform doesn’t want you to see.

It is the prerogative of print and broadcast media to disseminate, or to stifle whatever content it desires to give to or withhold from its consumers. With this right comes the responsibility to abide by decency laws and libel laws. If Facebook, Twitter, Google and the rest want these same prerogatives and responsibilities, they are welcome to have them. 

But if they do not want the responsibility of abiding by libel and decency laws, they have no business claiming the right of editors to create, stifle or alter the content that their users are generating. And yet, this is precisely what today’s social media are doing.

This is where President Trump’s Executive Order speaks. It declares, “When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct.  It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher.

The Executive Order makes no attempt to change the law. It only directs the executive agencies to give attention to applying liability protections in keeping with the entire law, not by cherry-picking isolated phrases. Thus, it directs the commerce secretary and the attorney general to petition the Federal Communications Commission to make rules appropriate to Section 230.

This provision, especially, ought to be applauded by every newspaper and cable news show in the country. Abuse of Section 230 by social media giants is a significant factor in the massive decline of traditional media outlets.

The Executive Order further directs the head of each executive agency to review the money that the federal government pays to these corporate giants. It asks for a report to be delivered to the Office of Management and Budget in the next month. The American people deserve to know how tax-payer money is spent in support of platforms that actively skew the public discourse.

The Order also directs the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General to look into unfair and deceptive practices of the social media giants. In May of 2019, the White House received 16,000 complaints from social media users. Many believe they were deceived. They were promised a platform to disseminate ideas, but instead were shadow banned by the very companies that promised to broadcast their content.

Twenty-four years ago the Internet had potential both to be a tremendous blessing and a terrible curse. That is no less true today. The world has jumped on an airplane that we are trying to build in mid-flight. 

Are interactive computer services (social media) free-for-all public forums? Or, are they simply electronic newspapers, with editors and agendas of their own? The Communications Decency Act has allowed these corporate giants to play both ends against the middle. They can advertise themselves as public bulletin boards, but rip down notices with impunity.

Ultimately, it will be the social media conglomerates themselves that will have to decide what they are. It is the job of the U.S. government to give them a clear choice. The Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, is a good step toward clarifying that choice. 

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