The artificial and apparent conflict between mainstream charity and LGBTQ: the World Vision incident

I sometimes experience various kinds of pressure to support or become involved in specific programs at various charities.

A few years ago, I got a Saturday phone call to support the “30 Hour Famine” (as I think it was still called then) from a local church that I often attend.  In fact, several churches I know have supported it.  The famine is a 30-hour exercise run by World Vision.

My immediate reaction was to decline.  I think a teenager’s decision to participate in a past is strictly between that teen and his or her parents.  I should not be involved.  Yet I know the double edges, about having one’s skin in the game when one is a visible pundit.

World Vision was involved in controversy in March 2014.  Apparently it announced it would not exclude from employment persons who had engaged in same-sex marriages.  This event occurred over a year before Obergefell in the US was decided, but same-sex marriage was recognized in many states and other western countries.  There are various accounts that claim that World Vision had banned all gays, or all people who would not commit to limiting sexuality to heterosexual marriage.  I think as a practical matter the policy was probably more like “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” (even as Bill Clinton had once meant it).

Under extreme pressure from some evangelicals, World Vision reportedly reversed itself in a couple days (Huffington account).  But during that time, supposedly, a large number of overseas child sponsorships were canceled by “evangelical” supporters (patheos account).

In fairness, there are other accounts that say that World Vision quickly replaced the sponsors and that this had little quantitative impact on worldwide child sponsorship as a whole. Here’s a balanced blog post.

I support Save the Children (which is secular), and back in the late 1970s I actually “sponsored” individual children for a while    Sometimes I got letters.  I was at a loss to reply.  (It’s the “skin in the game” thing again.)  I don’t sponsor individuals now.  I think this is something you either put a lot of time in to or not.  But I have Facebook friends overseas who constantly send emotion-laden sponsorship pleas.

There are many critics who think individual child sponsorship is a deceptive model.  This used to be said a lot in the 1980s.   There are legitimate questions as to the direct connection of the child to the money.  Charities do end sponsorships and switch people.  But other reports relate people having the same child for as long as ten years and being able to visit the child overseas.  That’s what I think if appropriate to expect;  sponsorship ought to be a step toward adoption and custody.  I’m not aware of any issues with gay sponsors.

I had at one time tried to include World Vision on my own charitable contribution list that I run through Wells Fargo.  I had received mailers from them.  But oddly the contribution was returned.  I don’t know why, but some charities seem unable or unwilling to work with automated systems at banks.

Churches often send older teens and college students on missions overseas, to Central America and sometimes to Africa.  Faith-based organizations help run infrastructure projects overseas.  Sometimes these organizations need to employ engineers as to do many major US companies (such as oil companies).  Dealing with countries hostile to personal practice of homosexuality can present a problem for companies and charities, as to deploying .  Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa  have hostile anti-gay laws (Nigeria is one of the worst) and in some cases American evangelicals may have participated in provocation overseas, in largely Christian countries separate from the Muslim world.

Anti-gay laws and practices overseas to result in some migrants to the US requesting political asylum, sometimes after lawful visa periods (for students or for work) expire.  It is unclear whether the current Trump administration with attorney general Sessions will try to narrow how the idea of “particular social group” may be interpreted with asylum requests.  But they probably cannot do so based on personal beliefs alone.

The local (liberal) church I know recently observed a “30 Hour Fast”, but that is renamed (from “Famine”) because the church switched to “Charity Water” as a sponsoring charity in 2014 after some teens (and even parents) objected to the controversy at World Vision.

Is fasting really an effective way to approach charity?  Of course, the libertarian leaves this to individual conscience.  Some faith-based organizations admix the service experience with one of specific religious belief. (Teens can prepare or deliver food while fasting, or even make short films.)  I don’t personally live in a zero-sum world where charity depends on giving up a Starbucks latte.  But “doing without” (as for Lent) sometimes does help people to experience walking in others’ shoes and helps build emotional resilience.   So does giving time to some organizations, even given their pimping appeals, bureaucracy and sometimes lack of transparency.  You can’t always be prepared for someone else’s bullets and then get up again.

There is tension among all these elements.  Is it more important to take care of the poor in other countries (because they have less opportunity to help themselves), or to “take care of your own” in an “America first” world?  Do personal lifestyles (appropriating personal sexuality to personal satisfaction before taking on procreation and having families) contradict the mission of charity?  You could look at the history of domestic charities like Salvation Army, too.

Older supporting legacy blog posting of mine.

(Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 3:45 PM EST)

Glenn Beck connects Bannon, Trump to Putin through Leninist ideas of Dugin

Glenn Beck took apart Steve Bannon’s remarks at CPAC (at National Harbor, MD) tonight on CNN.

Bannon talked about America as a nation and culture with borders and an identity, about economic nationalism (which could border on autarky) and “deconstructing the administrative state”.

Beck claimed that Bannon is inspired by Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, whom Beck described as Leninist (perhaps post-Stalinist) without Marxism.

There are a number of far-out essays you can find quickly on Dugin’s ideas.  It’s a little hard to unscramble them into a logical system.  But it sounds to me like a fetish (even constructing sexuality and marriage) for order and tradition for its own sake.  It is traditionalism that maintains everyone has his “right-sized” place, and enforcing that idea gives life its meaning (whether mapped onto religion or not).  It is anti-modernist, anti-creative.  It’s rationalizations resemble those of “National Socialism”, to my eyes, at least.

Is this the “cult” that has taken over the administration?  Was there some alt-right plot to use Trump to manipulate a gullible, relatively uneducated “white” labor voter base, to turn on (and silence) sophistry and elitism?  Is Trump himself a pawn in some unusual chess opening gambit?  At least Peter Thiel always opens “1 e4”.

In the meantime, both Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer have taken their falls already, but separately.  Maybe Kelly Anne will too.

Newsmax reference on Beck.

Buchanan reference.

New European Conservative reference.

Radix Journal reference.

All of this is a bit scary. It sounds like crackpotism.

(Posted: Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 at 9:45 PM EST)

Republicans begin to quibble on their climate change denial; is a carbon tax real progress?

Will a carbon tax get anywhere now?   Some Republican “elders” have recently endorsed a carbon tax, set at $40 a ton of carbon dioxide.

For Republicans to “come out” for such a tax is indeed to ratify a moral precept:  that people living today owe people to be conceived and born in future generations something.  We call that “sustainability”.  How far into the future is a good question.

But such a tax, to be reasonably effective in slowing tempering global warming, would need to be steep on drivers, maybe up to $2 a gallon of gasoline.  Given the current rural Republican base, that hardly sounds politically realistic.

I can remember the mood about gasoline consumption in the 1970s, during my own “second coming”. In fact, some time in 1971 or so, there had been reports of possible future gasoline rationing in Los Angeles to control smog.  In early 1973, there were already some disquieting signs of future “energy crisis”;  during a benchmark trip to St. Paul in May 1973 there were already speculations about the “state rationing gasoline”.

Then, almost immediately following the Yom Kippur War in early October (which I found out about on a Saturday night at the Ninth Street Center after coming back to the “City” from an overnight camping trip), gasoline lines appeared and soon President Nixon, in a national address in early November, admitted (almost in the same breath of talking about Watergate and calls for his resignation) that he “might have to ration gasoline”.  We all know that an even-odd system for days or purchase developed in many areas, and the shortage did not life until April 1974, when gasoline prices rose enough to control demand on its own.

This was a big deal for me in those days.  “Getting around” physically was an important part of my personal strategy for finding the right person(s).  At the time, I needed ready access to “the City” but was employed in “the burbs”.

As we get into retirement age, some of us note the bad karma of some of our personal consumption behaviors.  We won’t be around when “The Purification” comes, but other people’s children will be.  Sustainability has to remain a fundamental moral objective.

“Here we have some fossils who want to tax fossil fuels”.  Will the rebate go to everyone (which the GOP wants) or only to poor people?

There is another perspective to add to this.  While we want to save people’s jobs, and these include coal miners’, we have to realize that sustainability always means developing a workforce with newer skills – in this case, developing and manufacturing the hardware associated with renewable energy.  That’s also essential for power grid security, as I’ve discussed here before.

On Trump’s use of coal miners as part of his base, it’s also worthy of note that strip mining and mountaintop removal, while degrading the environment (in areas like southern West Virginia) certainly tends to employ fewer people over time.

Op-ed by Robert Samuelson Feb. 20, 2017 on the carbon tax in the Washington Post.

Site with pictures of Kayford Mine in West Virginia.

(Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 3:30 PM EST)

Update:  Feb. 26:

Here is a Cato Institute paper “The Case Against the Carbon Tax” by Robert Murphy et al.

Does quoting and analyzing “provocateur” speech (like Milo’s) make more extreme ideas become acceptable to the mainstream?

Does a pundit or columnist or quasi-journalist (and now blogger) like me “do harm” by repeating (in quotes) partially reasonable but hate-motivated arguments made by political, religious or social “enemies” of people in various marginalized groups?

The basic point made by minority activists (usually but not always on the Left) is that repetition of these kinds of points tends to make them sound more mainstream.  So more moderate politicians (elected, administrative, and judicial) are more likely to believe them, resulting in more harm to the people in the groups.

I’ve always questioned the overuse of “immutability” arguments to support “gay equality”, focusing more on libertarian paradigms, emphasizing individualism and harmlessness.  But of course hyperindividuaiism runs into bigger problems with essential inherited inequality, sustainability, and human need for cohesion (starting in the family and moving out).

I have indeed played “devil’s advocate”, to the dismay of some conventional gay activists.  In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, before HTLV-III was identified, I actually communicated by letter to some “enemies” who wanted to use AIDS as an exclusion to strengthen sodomy and gay-exclusion laws.  I was very concerned about the “chain letter amplification” theory that they had (an admission of herd effects, posting Jan. 4).  In these pre-Internet days, I developed a reputation with the Dallas mainstream media and medical community for being willing to even discuss these arguments as if they had a chance of being “truth” – I felt that they could have, even though history (fortunately, for “us”, didn’t turn out that way).

The comment is often made that “well-intended” commentators have made the supposed hate speech of provocateur (“@Nero”) Milo Yiannopoulos “credible” by even answering some of his more notorious comments with contextual analysis.  Most of his more “renowned” statements are intentionally hyperbolic, satirical, and with “grains of truth”.  Some of his statements seem like legitimate reactions to protective campus speech codes, “safe zones”, media-free zones, “trigger warnings” and the idea of “microaggressions”.  It’s gotten so “bad” that I would wonder if I could talk about White and Black as opposing forces in a chess game, when writing a metaphor, without sounding like I was race-baiting.  (Chess has been important in my life, but that’s another narrative.)   Of course, Milo has gained even more notoriety when his campus events are forced into cancellation by a “heckler’s veto” as recently happened in Berkeley.

But some of his statements also seem directed at “less competitive” people in society, especially with respect to physical or biological issues.  One of the more provocative concerned fat-shaming (as here on Breitbart).  The statement suggests that being in the company of an unattractive person lowers his own testosterone.  Maybe marginally true.  I’m reminded of how the Family Research Council made a point about lower testosterone levels in heterosexually married new fathers in trying to rebut gay marriage!

The Inquisitr tried to “mainstream” Milo’s quotes with some contextual analysis, that will work with “intellectual” people but that won’t hold on the streets.   Another more leftist site was less kind, but sill provided some background (although all of it rebuttal).   I showed this second article on my phone to a young white gay man at a social event (someone lean and “attractive” by modern gay norms), and he said the found the aggregation of them in an article just to refute them itself to be offensive.

But logical conclusion from some of the posts would be, to put it mildly, to reinforce CNN’s Don Lemon’s “pull up your pants” advice.   People from marginalized groups (or marginalized further within these groups by physical issues) presumably have some responsibility to deal with the expectations of others  on their own.  That’s not directly hateful, but it putatively does set up a social climate where people will get “left out”, even eventually in being able to find and form relationships.

But provocative speech often gains more attention because of coincidental circumstances at the time it is published or disseminated.  I found this out with a major incident when I was substitute teaching bacj in 2005 (see July 19, 2916 pingback).

We’re left, of course, with the observation that authoritarian people (Donald Trump) rally their support bases around slogans and misleading half-truths, and have no use for context.

Let us remember that Lyndon Johnson made rather disdainful remarks about “the Negro” on some of his tapes.  Times do change.

Link for review of “Real Time with Bill Maher” session including Milo on HBO.

(Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 8:30 PM EST)

Update: Feb. 20, about 8:30 PM EST

There was a lot of news about Milo today, not good.  I’ll have to sort this out.  The Associated Press has a succinct summary on Bloomberg here.  The book deal was canceled (I FB-ed to him that he should self-publish), and a speaking engagement at CPAC was removed, and his future at Breitbart may be compromised.  Milo has suggested that sometimes teens (while legally below the age-of-consent of a particular jurisdiction) provoke encounters with adults to have power over the adults.  That same idea is mentioned in my DADT-III.  Yes, it does really happen in rea life.  That statement does not promote pedophilia (but maybe “ephebophilia”).

Update: March 5, about 11;30 PM

Here’s a controversial link by a University of Chicago professor (Rachel Fulton Brown); a reply on Patheos and a blog post on “loving Milo”.

Charles Murray has had a similar problem at a college in Vermont, story.

Donald Trump turns his news conference into a combination of SNL, halftime, and real-indie film

Donald Trump’s 80-minute news conference today seemed like an SNL spoof.  Or maybe a Netflix instant play “indie film” from Breitbart Studios with Milo Yiannopoulos as the director?

CNN’s has a running text at the top, and a text transcript.

Trump repeatedly went back into entertaining ad-libs justifying his own persona.  He would back into silly issues like Hillary Clinton’s being told debate questions in advance, like cheating on a test.  He got called down for claiming the greatest electoral victory since Ronald Reagan, even for a GOP president.

Trump repeatedly blamed the media for our relations with Russia, and joked about shooting at the spy ship off the US East Coast.  (What if it had an EMP scud?)   He joked about nuclear war once (like the last movement of Vaughn Williams’s Sixth Symphony).

At one point he said “We had a smooth rollout of the travel ban, but we had a bad court.”  Did he mean “thmooth”?   (Remember, Milo likes only real men.)

When asked about the new EO due next week, he sounded like he would need to make few changes to the existing one.  He did admit that some of the DACA adult kids were good people and ought to stay.

Trey Yingst of OANN asked a question about pre-election contacts with the Russians (about the middle of the transcript) and Trump retorted with his usual “fake news” mantra.

While all this was going on,  I was on Capitol Hill, in the Library of Congress, watching a screening of “Upstairs Inferno”, reviewed today on my “Media Commentary” blog.

But at lunch afterward at the Tortilla Coast, across 1st St SE from the Capitol South Metro, as people filed in from the news conferences, stunned that a president would turn a news conference into a comedy hour.   The so-called immigrant general strike today (“day without immigrants protest”) had no effect on this restaurant.

There is plenty of material surfacing, advocating that the GOP intervene and get Trump to resign (Pence is bad for gay rights), as if that had been the GOP plan all along.  And the Left is already talking about impeachment (as with Michael Moore’s Facebook demands).

I have covered the issues of concern to those who would like to help refugees and asylum seekers.  The latest information suggests that asylum seekers (who have applied properly) have due process rights while in the country.  Future EO’s might well tighten the vetting required and perception of what immigration officers should consider credible threats of persecution in home countries.  The Asylumist has an important post from November 2015 on that point.  One important question would be, if an asylum seeker loses a case, may he or she remain legally for a while?

(Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 11:30 PM EST)

Bannon’s ideas actually mirror mine, at the personal level (but I don’t believe in crusades)

There have been several columns about Stephen Bannon’s values.  For example, Fareed Zakaria wrote on Feb. 9, “Stephen Bannon’s words and actions don’t add up.”

On Jan. 10, David Brooks wrote about Bannon’s idea of “humane capitalism” as connected to faith.

Lester Feder has a similar piece on BuzzFeed “This s how Steve Bannon sees the entire world.” (Nov. 15).

Bannon’s views on how this maps to the economic system were demonstrated in his 2010 film “Generation Zero” (review).

We could say that Bannon is critical of “casino capitalism” or perhaps “extreme capitalism” (like in David Callahan’s 2004 book “The Cheating Culture”) or even “shareholder capitalism” as Nancy Pelosi would compare to “stakeholder capitalism” – but also as compared to fake capitalism, or statist capitalism in modern post-Communist (of sorts) Russia and China.  Maybe Singapore would appeal to him.

Bannon also maps this back to individual morality.  As people (baby boomer-born) have reasserted individualism (in concert with the Civil Rights movement and Stonewall soon to follow in the 1960s), sometimes people don’t see how their self-expression and lifestyle “choice” is tied to the unseen sacrifices of others, often in a family and community context. Bannon, a former Naval officer during Carter’s Iran hostage crisis, sometimes has been critical about the lack of military service among most Americans in positions of influence (but remember Charles Moskos’s talk about needing the draft again right after 9/11);  “freedom is not free” but always contextual.

I can see in my own life,  my actions and values have meaning in the social contexts believed by others, and vice versa.  It’s all too easy to “rationalize” any value system with logic alone (look at “body fascism”),  so people often look to systems of faith and scripture for guidance.  With moderate versions of Abrahamic faiths, we usually get moral values (somewhat centered on the family, which becomes more flexible) commensurate with “humane capitalism”, compared even to what raw libertarianism or Ayn Rand’s objectivism can offer.  Libertarianism, though, would recognize “The Golden Rule”.

I find myself driven to some internal contradiction (a mental “internal server error”), which I can resolve only if I become more willing to offer “a hand up” in an interpersonal way and taking more risk than I have been willing to accept in the past.

But Bannon’s ideas go beyond personal values and beyond policy in the usual sense, to encompass ideas of holy crusades or wars, which I cannot accept.  I don’t get the connection.  I do understand that some of the Islamic world hates us, partly because of our interventionism in their lands, and partly because of the modernism of each of us as individuals.  Look at Francis Stead Sellers and David A. Farenthold, “Why even let ‘em in?

(Posted: Monday, February 13, 2017 at 10 PM EST)

What will Trump’s new security measures comprise, given his difficulty in court?

On a blog like this one, where there is an emphasis on commentary and interpretation and not just immediate news, it is difficult to keep up with breaking news in the litigation following Donald Trump’s travel ban.

Vox has coverage as thorough in the legal analysis as anyone (by Dara Lind).  I also have a lot of coverage on a legacy blog here.

Donald Trump may well issue a “simplified” Executive Order (and I hope someone else besides Steve Bannon writes it – an Executive Order, unlike a screenplay script or a blog post, has immediate and direct consequences for real people.)

The Ninth Circuit could take the case “en banc”; and immediate Supreme Court appeal doesn’t seem tactically justified yet (it would be like playing an unsound chess gambit).

My basic take is that potential migrants or refugees who have not yet set foot in the United States normally do not have constitutional rights or standing.  So an order that delays their entry is likely to be acceptable to the courts.  There are, however, some requirements in the Geneva Convention (which we actually studied in Army Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson back in 1968).  Generally, the US has been able to recognize the needs of specific religious groups persecuted abroad (such as Jews).

Did the states of Washington and Minnesota (and probably other states like New York and Virginia) have standing?  That would make sense.  Companies and universities are disrupted if the normal flow of technical expertise from other countries is disrupted.  However, large companies like Facebook and Google probably could shift more operations overseas if areas were actually secured for them.

Is there something about “the seven countries” that justifies their being singled out?  Trump’s justification seems to be that the governments of these countries are weak (“failed states”) or hostile to the United States (Iran, with which we do not have diplomatic relations), so that Trump does not accept the vetting done previously for refugees from these countries.   The countries had been named in the Obama administration.  This theory would hold even if there have been few or no domestic attacks based on migrants from these countries.  So on its face, this idea of Trump’s could pass further court scrutiny.

But it is certainly true that real terror attacks in the US (and Europe) generally have come sources other than recent migrants from these countries.  In the U.S., some attacks have come from second or later generation descendants. Some have come from legal residents.  Some (as with 9/11) were associated with overstated visas. (Peter Bergen’s analysis for CNN.)

In a meeting today with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, President Trump said that he would announced new security measures next week.  NBC News has already interpreted this as an intention to write a new Executive Order.  Pundits have compared Trump’s antics to Sandra Bullock’s character in “Our Brand Is Crisis“.  (Trump also is being called “The Rainmaker“, after John Grisham’s novel and the 1997 movie with Matt Damon.)  Donald Trump’s behavior makes his claims seem less credible, to the extent we would not know if a novel threat (such as WMD — radiological or EMP) had been intercepted, or if some new paradigm for secondarily targeting civilians was being developed by ISIS.  Trump is wrong on the “volume” of crime, but he is right (as he implied in recent statements as president) in claiming that its asymmetric nature makes it dangerous to people  (besides high profile business executives, especially abroad) who in the past didn’t perceive themselves as vulnerable to crime, especially when politically motivated. Again, Trump’s taking things personally interferes with credibility when it could really matter.

What else could these security measures involve?  One idea is also the possibility of looking more closely at asylum seekers (which I discussed recently with respect to LGBT here on legacy).  Another could trample on Internet users and companies that service them, as I warned, particularly with a post on Nov. 7, one day before the election.  Yet Wall Street did not react to this statement at all this afternoon;  tech companies did well today.

(Posted: Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 at 11:30 PM EST)

Trump may go mainstream on paid family leave debate and make it gender-neutral

There are a couple of wrinkles in the debate over workplace benefits, not only health insurance but paid sick leave and now paid family leave.  And many people are finding that their jobs, as independent contractors, offer no such benefits.

Lydia DePillis has a typical story in the Washington Post back in 2015. “She thought she was entitled to maternity leave.  After asking for it, she lost her job.” Many jobs in information technology are filled by staffing companies, where the employee is paid a “salary” with benefits from the staffing company.

Often there is some overtime (there is an hourly formula) and often there are per diems for travel.  But clients (very often state and local governments as well as the federal government) need the work to be done.  It’s much harder to make a practical case for paid family leave in this environment.  This is the job market I became familiar with throughout the 2000’s after my “layoff” at the end of 2001.

Today the Washington Post also has a story by Danielle Paqeutte reporting that Donald Trump may be considering the idea that parental leave should be gender neutral after all.  Previously, he had wanted to make only maternity leave mandatory, up to six weeks, paid for by unemployment benefits.  Now his advisers are more sensitive to gender discrimination and want to offer it to fathers, and conceivably to adoptive parents.  Paying for it may be more difficult.

I’m left personally with pondering the way that parenthood and having children became an “afterthought” in my own thinking.  That meant, for example, I was totally unprepared for the eldercare episode that would happen in my own life.  It’s really an important life activity, but the way we go about it, from a moral perspective, is disconnected from everything else.  Parenthood is a good way to become connected to meeting the “real needs of other people” in a more continuous manner.

(Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 10 AM)

Firing of transgender journalist over his personal posting about “objectivity” raises questions about personal online reputation in the media

Media columnist Margaret Sullivan reports a disturbing story in the Style Section of the Washington Post today, “How one reporter’s rejection of objectivity got him fired.”

The journalist is 32-year-old female-to-male transgender Lewis Wallace, who was fired ten days into the Trump presidency from Marketplace in Los Angeles.

Wallace was fired after a personal blog post “Objectivity is dead and I’m okay with it.”  He gives a further follow-up on his firing here.   The posts are on a site called “Medium”.  But a similar result would have happened were the platform WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or even a Facebook page.

Poytner (which offers courses in media and law and has worked with the media perils insurance issue in the past) weighs in on the larger problem with “Should journalists protest in Trump’s America?”  Poytner comes up with some scenarios, like a Muslim journalist is separated from his family by Trump’s sudden ban.  It’s pretty obvious how this can come up with LGBTQ people, as Wallace points out.

Sullivan, in her article, notes that “mainstream” media organizations generally forbid their employees from marching or carrying signs in demonstrations.  Some media companies, like the gay media (like the Washington Blade) would adjust their policies for their targeted readership and advertisers.

Now my own circumstances bear comment, and it’s best to work this problem inside out.  I am “retired”, and run my own media operations myself.  So, in a way, I can “do what I want.”  But I certain face criticism from many parties, as I have covered here before.  Some people wonder why my book and movie reviews aren’t more partial to their own struggles or previous hardships, and people do say that my tone is usually surprisingly “neutral”, even pedantic, as if I had no personal stake in their issues, when obviously (given my own past narrative) I do have such exposure.   So, people say, I actually should offer to keep my own “skin in the game” for being flayed or burned, as part of solidarity.  Sometimes this can degenerate into expecting people to take each other’s bullets.  One can say, my activity doesn’t carry its own weight.  It could be undermined in the future by Trump’s security concerns about social media in general, or if Section 230 is gutted or appealed.   I get criticized that I don’t help other people get and keep their jobs as much as I would have to if I really had to “sell”.  Then I could not afford the “pretense” of objectivity and would have to please a specific audience, and “help” real people.

For those who don’t know me, I consider myself tending toward the libertarian side of conservatism, supporting equality on social issues. but careful look at why people have the attitudes they do, strong on defense (pretty much a McCain-like Republican), and sensibly conservative on fiscal issues (like, the US must pay its bills and keep its promises). While I understand what is behind much of the anti-immigrant sentiment, were I in charge I would be much more cautious about consequences than the current president about how my policies actually would work out.

I do go to demonstrations and photograph them and film them.  But I generally don’t carry signs (although I did earlier in my life, in the 1970s, after “coming out”; I remember many late June gay pride marches).  Particularly from the radical Left, I am vulnerable to the flak, “What makes you too good to march with us?”  It’s very dangerous to pretend you are better than other people and don’t have to walk in their shoes sometimes (maybe permanently).

So, I can understand why some people (like Trump and Bannon) don’t like journalists.  Remember the little Netflix movie “Rebirth”?  We are the spectators, the kibitzers, who don’t play, who can criticize others but who don’t have to live with the consequences.  We are the Monday morning quarterbacks.  (But then, again, because we can’t pitch no-hitters, we don’t have hundred-million dollar contracts.)   We even may be the slightly Asperger-like or Spock-like “alien anthropologists” who set up social networking sites and do news aggregation to rule the world and claim this third planet from the Sun for ourselves.  (Is Mark Zuckerberg the most powerful man in the world anyway?)

To be fair, there is pure journalism (on-site news reporting) and there is commentary.  Usually they’re not supposed to mix too much, but on stations like CNN they do, where news analysts opine all the time.  The mainstream and liberal networks properly question the current president’s recklessness (which might be deliberate strategy to see what he can get away with), whereas Fox I guess is supportive.  But original reporting does have to pay heed to objectivity.  Remember how journalists like Brian Williams have gotten into trouble.

I actually would be interested in working with organizations ranging from Vox to OAN, but I would have to separate my coverage from my own personal narrative, which works because right now I control my own operation myself.

In a posting, here May 20, 2016, I had already linked to a long narrative of my own issue with “conflict of interest”, as is covered in Chapter 3 of my own DADT-III book, sections 2 and 3 here (PDF).   In the early 1990s, I was working for a life insurance company that specialized in sales to military officers.  Given my personal history and the political climate at the time (over Bill Clinton’s settling into “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) I felt that my plans to write a book on the military ban and bring in a personal narrative could present its own kind of “conflict of interest”.  That became a major theme in my life in the 1990s, which continued in the 2000s when I worked as a substitute teacher, leading to another incident in 2005 documented in section 06 of the book excerpt.

I do believe that there are facts.  There can be alternative interpretation of fact, but “alternative fact” is an oxymoron.  Journalists do need to report all the facts (as the Cato Institute showed up with the statistics on crime committed by refugees in the U.S)

I think the problem comes in the slant or interpretation of facts.  Do we report on others as if they were free-standing individuals, or as if they were members of groups and inherit all kinds of advantages and disadvantages (including marginalization) based on their belonging to these groups?  And how do we deal with people in our own lives?  It does get personal.

(Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 5:15 PM EST)