The Battle to Escape Freedom

Of all the books I read for literature classes in high school and as an undergraduate, the one that has had the longest lasting impact on me is The Sheltering Sky. I read it as a sophomore in high school before I had ever heard of Sartre or Kierkegaard or de Beauvoir or Camus. I don’t think I knew what “existentialism” meant back then, and yet the theme of fleeing from freedom has haunted me ever since.

It sounds strange to talk of fleeing from freedom. It’s much less bizarre if we rephrase this as avoiding responsibility, but the new wording can be misleading. It’s true that freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin, but generally when people talk about avoiding responsibility they mean dodging blame. That is to say, they want to avoid the negative consequences of having screwed something up. But there’s a deeper sense in which we’re all fundamentally responsible for our own decisions regardless of whether they are good or bad or whether we are caught or not. That’s a form of responsibility that you can’t possibly avoid without sacrificing your free-will. As long as you have the ability to decide, you are the one who is responsible for that decision.

The progressive rock band Rush put it simply when they said “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Sartre was getting at the same thing when he more famously said, “Men are condemned to be free.” Political liberty, in the sense of being able to freely act on your own decisions, is something we all want to have. But moral liberty, in the sense of being the one who has to confront decisions every moment of every day, is something that we can’t really get away from, and this inescapable burden can truly feel like a millstone or a dead albatross hanging from our necks.

There are two reasons why moral freedom can feel like a burden. The first is an awareness of our own moral failings. We all like to think of ourselves as the good guy in our own private narrative. We’re each the hero of our own respective life stories, and yet we all fall short of our own self-image from time to time with no one to blame for it but ourselves. The second is the fact that we often don’t know what to do. Life is full of ambiguity and uncertainty. We constantly have to make decisions without having all the facts, and yet one of the decisions we must repeatedly make is how much time and energy to spend looking for more facts. The apparently stark difference between moral shortcomings—when we know what is right and fail to do it—and ignorance—when we’re not sure what is right and what isn’t—is actually blurry and indistinct.

When I first read The Sheltering Sky this was all new to me, and I revolted at the second half of the novel, in which Kit sabotages her own free-will and spends her diminishing reservoir of self-direction attempting to abdicate what little remains. In the years since, however, I’ve grown to think that Kit was hardly the exception, but rather the norm for human behavior.

Isn’t that exactly the function that organized religion has played throughout much of society? I’m not saying that organized religion is intrinsically or always bad, but simply that it has historically been used to fill a specific social need, which is to try and mitigate the pressures of human moral responsibility.

Victor Frankl—who was both a Holocaust survivor and an existentialist—once wrote:

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

In short: life is a test, and some people want to use organized religion as a cheat-sheet. Responding to the question of what really matters in life by being responsible entails a lifetime of commitment and a full embrace of our own moral freedom in the face of ambiguity and uncertainty. It means making no excuses and doing the best you can despite the fact that this will never be enough or knowing of yourself that you chose not to do so and living with that knowledge. It means accepting that the test of life leaves us between a rock and a hard place.

But if religion can step in and provide certainty then this burden is lifted. If you are willing to abdicate your responsibility to a priest, or a holy book, or some set of rituals then you can win the illusion of a free lunch: liberty without the awful costs associate with responsibility. No longer do you have to live a life dedicated to answering the quest for meaning, you can simply point to your religion and say “I’m not really sure what the answer is, but they’ve got it over there and I’m with them.”

This criticism has been made of religion before by atheists, but it’s my contention that atheism doesn’t mean an escape from this dilemma at all. Many of the great existentialist philosophers were atheist, but any class in existentialism is likely to start with a person who came before Sartre, Camus, or Bowles. It will likely begin with Kierkegaard, who was both devoutly Christian and fully aware of the fact that one cannot duck the great questions of life by pretending that religion can answer them on your behalf.

Living an existential life—living according to Frankl’s challenge—is just as exhausting for an atheist as for a theist, but clearly organized religion can’t serve as a source of false comfort anymore. That doesn’t mean that there are no surrogates to be found, however, and the replacement religion for most of the seemingly enlightened atheists of the West is the scientific establishment or—more broadly—academia.

Obviously science and academia are no more intrinsically evil than organized religion, but the parallels between the two are striking. Not only can they provide the same function of offering an illusion of certainty and answers to the Big Questions in exchange for our allegiance, but if you trace the ancestry of modern colleges and universities you will find they spring from the scholastics of the Middle Ages. It surprises me to no end that more people don’t question the strange garb we all dress up in for graduation ceremonies. The robes, tassels, and funny hats found in the Ivory Tower—that bastion of modern secularism—are knock-offs from the ceremonial garb of ancient Christian priesthood.

At a superficial level, American society is riven by cultural strife between traditionalist theists and progressive atheists, but if you look closer the Westboro Baptists and Richard Dawkins have a lot in common. The claim that God must certainly exist is equally untenable as the claim that He must certainly not, and both sides cling to their irrational dogma with equal ferocity while demonizing their opposition and lavishing their followers with self-righteous moralizing.

The real struggle, the one that matters, is not between atheists and theists but between the rational-minded and those who think to sacrifice their freedom for an illusory sense of certainty. This point is especially poignant to me when I read articles like “The Truth Wears Off” (The New Yorker) or “Placebos work—even without deception” (Medical Daily).

The first relates the ominous failings of the scientific method:

But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. In the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread, affecting not only antipsychotics but also therapies ranging from cardiac stents to Vitamin E and antidepressants: Davis has a forthcoming analysis demonstrating that the efficacy of antidepressants has gone down as much as threefold in recent decades.

For many scientists, the effect is especially troubling because of what it exposes about the scientific process. If replication is what separates the rigor of science from the squishiness of pseudoscience, where do we put all these rigorously validated findings that can no longer be proved? Which results should we believe? Francis Bacon, the early-modern philosopher and pioneer of the scientific method, once declared that experiments were essential, because they allowed us to “put nature to the question.” But it appears that nature often gives us different answers.

Even as proof that popular drugs are truly effective slips through our fingers, the second article details the extent to which sugar pills—which aren’t supposed to do anything at all—can actually outperform prescription drugs even when people know they are only taking a sugar pill.

Religion does not have to be the opiate of the masses, but for millennia it has been not because a political elite sought to keep the working class docile, but because human beings were more than willing to voluntarily exchange freedom for a worthless mirage of certainty in order to escape the burden of moral responsibility. Given this precedent, we should hardly be surprised that so many today are willing to exchange political liberty for safety, whether it be safety from terrorist attack or from lack of medical insurance.

It’s crucial for any libertarian to understand the extent to which people seek to get rid of their own free-will by abdicating it to religious leaders or scientific experts. The rhetoric of liberty and freedom is so widespread, that we too frequently take it for granted that the real discussion is only about how to achieve these ends, but in reality many people need to be convinced that liberty—either political or moral—is something worth keeping at all.

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Comments

  1. Randy Wills says:

    Can we assume, Mr. Lathrop, that you have never seriously considered the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change men’s lives? If so, what is your proposed antidote for the immutable, self-serving, tendencies of human nature, regardless of education, enlightenment, or environment, from which all of the evils of society derive?

    Randy

  2. John Feeny says:

    I’m not sure what to say.
    Breathtaking, unbelievable piece.

  3. Nick says:

    No longer do you have to live a life dedicated to answering the quest for meaning, you can simply point to your religion and say “I’m not really sure what the answer is, but they’ve got it over there and I’m with them.”

    —-

    Two questions come to mind:

    (1) Do you believe this “quest for meaning” can ever be concluded successfully or is it meant to be a constant striving with no end in sight?

    (2) Could not the rationally-minded point to their religion and say instead, “Based on my careful studies and thoughtful analysis of the claims of this religion, I conclude it’s claims are true.”

    You do not seem to give much credit to those who embrace religious beliefs. I assume you must be generalizing in the extreme.

    Interesting article.

    Nick

  4. Johnny Lathrop says:

    Randy-

    That wouldn’t be a safe assumption at all!

    I realize that modern Western culture is hostile to religion, that’s part of my post. I believe that those criticisms–when limted to the human institutions of religion–have some historical validity. This is sort of uncontroversial, since the Protestants believe that Catholics messed up Christianity and the Catholics believe it was the opposite. No matter who you talk to about religion everyone agrees that people can mess up the institutional side of it. That was the extent of my criticism. There was no veiled attack on all religion, and I hoped that my praise for Kierkegaard could make that clear. If I’d make it longer, Dostoevsky would have received even more praise, and there are many other brilliant Christians luminaries I could add as well.

    Nick-

    My response to you is pretty much the same as to Randy. I had some harsh things to say about religious institutions, and I can see why you would be sensitive to that. But I think if you realize my criticisms were strictly with regards to human institutions–and not even all of those!–you will see that I wasn’t actually making any extreme generalizations.

    John-

    I’m glad you liked it.

  5. Randy Wills says:

    Thanks for the clarification, John, and in that sense, I have to agree with you. Sorry that I misinterpreted your article, but there are many types and levels of “organized religion” (in fact, I’m not very “organized” myself when it comes to “religion”), some certainly not evil and many exemplifying personal responsibility. Perhaps your broad application of the term threw me off-track but I should have been a little more perceptive based on your reference to Kierkegaard. Now, if you had spoken favorably of Bonhoeffer, I would have breezed right through it.

    Randy

  6. Anonymous says:

    At it’s most basic level, doesn’t it come down to whether you believe we, and all our beautiful surroundings, came from a ‘big bang’, or from an intelligent designer? I myself, have chosen to believe intelligent design.

  7. L. Banks says:

    Your article is very thought provoking and does in some measure seek to point to the citizens of this country relying on someone else to provide for them whether it is religion or freedom. This is perhaps better known as human nature or perhaps a better description is “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I say it is human nature because thoughout history we see examples of other nations traversing this same path and of citizen’s seeking to avoid responsibility and consoling themselves for their country’s. situation by relying on the word of leaders both in religion and politics. Perhaps it is also the avoidance of reality and of admitting something is wrong because then it would mean doing something about it. It would mean perhaps suffering and loss which human nature seeks to avoid. What I do know is there are also examples of human beings who did take responsibility for their lives, their relationship to God and to their nation. Our founding fathers were religious men and men of letters and science who made the decision to bring forth this nation and design it with both in mind. The common man responded based upon the dedication and example of these men. Perhaps leadership and example are what the common citizen needs to inspire both his spirit and his mind. Thanks.

  8. Anonymous says:

    On a related topic, the ethics and morality of self-defense. This is one WND book link you should let slide through, Jeff.

    http://superstore.wnd.com/books/WND-Books/Shooting-Back-The-Right-and-Duty-of-Self-Defense-book

  9. matt says:

    Johnny, I’ll be honest in that my initial reaction was similar to Randy’s and Nick’s. I appreciate the fact that religious institutions can be messed up by men, and in fact frequently are, and religious institutions can be used by powerful forces to control and direct people. Protestants would argue that was what happened within the Catholic church at different points in history. I don’t think Jesus ever intended for His church to become such an institution, but rather a group of scattered aliens who belong to a different kingdom than any of this world.
    There are a few problems I still with your article, but one I wanted to bring up. Moral responsibility was a theme that was frequently brought in relation to one dealing with that responsibility independantly or, as you phrased it, abdicating it to religious instututions and leaders. (I realize this is not a direct quote, but your points often interchanged personal freedom and moral responsibility so it seemed appropriate here also.) What is the foundation for morality in your atheistic model? Moreover, to whom would an athiest be responsible? I ask this because you seem to portray the atheist as being more courageous in dealing with morality and responsibility than a theist. I appreciate there may be some deliniation between a theist relying on being directed by a religious institution and a theist being directed the Holy Spirit and Scriptures. However, the latter, understanding the grace and freedom provided in Christ, experience immensely more freedom while being subject only to Jesus Christ and the question of the foundation of morality and responsibility are ultimately more clear also.

    Thanks.

  10. Christian H says:

    Fantastic article! We often have an innate aversion to personal (moral) responsibility. We want to pick up one end of the stick without picking up the other. In other words, we want the responsibility when things turn out well but want to be able to pass the blame when things go badly. Religion can become a vehicle for the discovery of truth, just as academia can, but it only works if you’re the driver. Being a passenger in the vehicle doesn’t get you anywhere. In other words, you have to own it. You have to question and prove out the tenets of religion that you believe in. “Because my religion requires it” is a weak excuse for living a principle. A better answer is “because I have found it to be true”.

  11. Johnny Lathrop says:

    Christian and L. Banks-

    I’m glad you liked my post. I really liked some of your reply in particular, Christian. The concept of ownership is a perfect fit for what I was getting at, and goes back to my very favorite philosopher Socrates. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Why? Because until we consciously examine our life we haven’t actually taken *ownership* of it. We’re just acting out the prejudices, fears, and biases that we’ve picked up from genetics and our environment. We’re merely a conduit for cause-and-effect, rather than a source-point of free will.

    Anonymous and matt-

    I repsect your desires to have a debate about atheism and morality, but that’s outside the scope of what I want to talk about here. If you’re genuinely curious, then I would highly recommend Simone de Beauvoir’s “Ethics of Ambiguity” in which she tackles precisely the question you (matt) raised: how does one get a foundation for morality from an atheist system? It’s worth saying that I don’t agree with her conclusions, but I admire her efforts and respect her intellect, and that’s one of my favorite philosophical works. You should also consider Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard–who deal with many similar questions from a Christian perspective.

  12. Anonymous says:

    While we go all Mensa, the nation rots.

  13. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Anonymous at 8:14am:

    Part of this national experiment was understanding where and how civilizations and governments the world over had tried and failed. Certainly, the success of the United States of America is similarly due to our Founders’ understanding of human nature.

    Going Mensa, as it were, can save this nation.

    Unbelievably fantastic piece, Mr. Lathrop. I’ve been putting it out on The Twitters so that others may read.

    Jeff

  14. Anonymous says:

    Excellent song, intriguing how it’s written by Jewish, Atheistic, and “Objectivistic” faiths (Geddy, Leifson, and Peart, respectively)

  15. graypanther says:

    Going Mensa, as it were, can save this nation.

    Jeff, I agree entirely! and in that exact belief, I remain incessantly baffled that the GOP seems poised for every opportunity to slash and burn education – usually in the name of deficit-hawkery. Can they not grasp that highly educated people are lifelong assets to the national economy? Can they not realize that leadership of the community of nations will always be awarded preferentially to the nations with the most highly educated people? Do they want China, Japan, Korea, Singapore to eat our lunch while we go hungry??

  16. Randy Wills says:

    To “graypanther” @3:52 PM:

    The only problem is, where would you have our young people get this education that will make them more informed and responsible? In the public school system which, if I’m not mistaken, is one of the most costly, on a per student basis, in the developed world?

    In spite of the excessive spending on our public school system, the last time I checked, the U.S. ranked somewhere in the teens, relative to our worldwide peers in the areas of critical competence.

    What we need is a cost-competitive federally-funded private school program in which the parent or guardian, regardless of income, can choose between a public or private school – and yes, even if the school is affiliated with a recognized religious organization.

    Our public school system, controlled by the unions, is more of an indoctrination opportunity for the leftist-leaning “educators” than a world-class educational venue.

    Randy

  17. Anonymous says:

    Obama is highly educated, look what he’s done for the economy and the furthering of socialism.

  18. Socrates says:

    In a survey of thousands of Americans, one subset – elected officials – proved particularly clueless on questions about the U.S. Constitution.

    In fact, fewer than half could correctly answer such basic questions as “Who can declare war?” and “What are the three branches of government?”

  19. Anonymous says:

    I smell elitism in the comments. I know numerous people with a Masters who cannot spell and have bad grammar…. not to mention absolutely no grasp of American history and American government. Spare me the sanctimonious hogwash.

    The thought of all this Pell grant money being absolutely wasted nauseates me.

    “Community of Nations”,…… oh God, help us.

  20. Bill Gates says:

    I really should get me one of those college degrees. Just might make me intelligent, productive, caring and philanthropic.

  21. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Graypanther — I understand where you’re coming from, but must remind you that you may be falling into the trap that is this idea that money and educational prowess are inextricably linked.

    It’s a commonly held idea … that so long as a school district has all sorts of funding, the kids will succeed. I’d argue that it has more to do with merit-based pay for teachers and school choice, that money is only part of the equation.

  22. Hollywood is lame says:

    Jeff, I noticed in your tweets to the right there, that you watched Harry’s Law. It was REALLY good, and I was thoroughly enjoying it until she went on a conservatives and Rush Limbaugh bashing. Pathetic.

  23. What three R's? says:
  24. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Par for the course for David E. Kelley. I was underwhelmed. I was hoping that the quirkiness and legal fun that was enough to outweigh the lefty diatribes in Boston Legal would be present here. The jury’s still out on this show, so to speak.

  25. graypanther says:

    Well, Jeff, you and Randy between you set a high bar, but I think I can clear it.

    A number of years ago, for a while, I lived in Palo Alto. It’s a special city – and knows it, don’t worry – because, for median level of education of adult residents, it ranks (iirc) third or fourth in the country.

    Among those residents were, and I’m sure still are, numerous Russian, Israeli, and various Asian immigrants. Many of them are Stanford alumni, and not a few are Stanford faculty. At least one that I knew was a Nobel Prize winner in math, another was a Nobel winner in physics, and certainly there were others that I didn’t happen to know.

    As parents, fathers as well as mothers, they packed PTA meetings until it was standing room only at the back. And although their kids were receiving some of the best public education available in this country, they were scathing about its quality. The Russians in particular were appalled at the math the kids got; they were used to linear algebra or pre-calculus in seventh or eighth grade. But those parents were on those teachers every minute – and you think those kids got the education that their parents insisted on? Frankly, no, but they came close. It also bears saying that at that time (I’m not sure about now) to be hired to teach in Palo Alto middle school or high school, you needed a master’s degree or better.

    The key to public education of high quality is collaboration – ceaseless collaboration – between committed parents and credentialed teachers. Increasingly, and sadly, the committed parents are missing. And along this same line, I am totally against homeschooling, because in that case the credentialed teacher is missing, which is no better. To make progress in education, you need both. But across this country, PTAs are collapsing as the parents drop out. They turn their kids over to the schools and say “not my job.” Well, it is their job.

    How we will turn the situation around, and make parent involvement in public education the standard that it once used to be, I DON’T KNOW. I’m sure people will have suggestions that I’m eager to see. This anecdote is only intended to point out that I’ve watched parent involvement work as intended, albeit under very special circumstances.

  26. Anonymous says:

    “merit-based pay for teachers and school choice”

    and who will teach, pray tell, the illiterate, ignorant, ill-behaved, and mentally deficient/challenged? Something which legal definers have mandated as having equal right?

    Mes’laughs’ at the ‘rhetoric’ for educational solutions considering the majority who have little time in an actual classroom to see the crap which miracles are expected.

    In other way of saying the MENSA challenge, just because your MENSA doesn’t mean you can tie your shoes. Personally, I have met more ‘MENSA’ idiots,
    then I have successful, reasonable, and honorable ‘dimwits.’

  27. Randy Wills says:

    Yes, “graypanther”, you ARE talking about a very special community (Palo Alto). There may be a more elite community in the country, but, if so, it would probably be one of the greater-Boston area locales, which I’m also quite familiar with.

    In any case, I get your point, and it is a valid one, but, by-and-large, I believe that the teachers unions impedes the typical local community’s attempts to tie performance to salaries and outcomes to job security.

    But, having observed home-schooling close-up, I totally disagree with you. In most cases – of course not all – both the educational experience and the moral environment is far superior to the public school system.

    Our public school system will continue to fail our children until it finds itself subject to demise at the hands of an enraged – and engaged – public.

    As far as I’m concerned – school vouchers, home-schooling – anything is better than the average public school in terms of scholatic achievement and values reinforcement.

    Randy

  28. Anonymous says:

    On a related aspect to this topic……
    90 girls pregnant at Frayser HS in Memphis.

    And you should witness the hot potato that is the City of Memphis trying to rid itself of its public school charter and punting it to the county. Nobody wants it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what Westboro’s are, but they sure aren’t Baptists.
    Matters not what is on their sign out front, those people are wack.

    John 3……. 17 !!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    “Our public school system will continue to fail our children until it finds itself subject to demise at the hands of an enraged – and engaged – public.”

    The public is and has been enraged, but they won’t engage if it means they have to parent, ie, give up the iphone, tv, or football.

    Just as there are many examples of homeschooling successes, far to ‘never’ goes the reporting of homeschooling failures. Imagine, if you will, a home-schooled child who re-enters the public system, behind…. ouch. It happens.

    “tie performance to salaries and outcomes to job security”

    And will you let the “better” teachers then CHOOSE the “better” students? (careful here, this gets “discriminatory”)
    I know if my job, as a teacher, were dependent on the students performance, 99.9999999% of the students wouldn’t qualify to be in my class. Have you ever thought about the fact that the typically BEST teachers will receive the most difficult students?

    If “we” collectively want to point the finger of failure at the educational system, we need not point any further than the “societal” mirror.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “90 girls pregnant at Frayser HS in Memphis.”

    I am sure, based on the comments on this site, this is the Teacher Union’s fault.

  32. Anonymous says:

    For us ‘unintelligent’ I have found the coolest Bible app for our smartphones. It’s called YouVersion, it’s free, and it is very well designed and presented.
    Check it out.

    -A long time AmericasRight reader

  33. Randy Wills says:

    Hmmm. Sounds like we have one or more teachers union folks chiming in. That’s good.

    And nope, the pregnancies are a moral problem at the individual level, but I think that I also mention that as part of the problematic environment in our public school system which works against the educational process. In this case, the “societal mirror” reference above is apropos.

    However, the comments regarding the feasibility of grading teacher’s performance are rather ridiculous. The means of doing such, on a non-discriminatory and system-wide basis, are well known to our educators. The problem is union resistance to allowing them to be implemented.

    But I do agree wholeheartedly that parent participation in a child’s education is fundamental to the success of the process. Now, if in many situations, such as Frayser H.S., we could just figure who the “parents” are and force them to take financial and educational responsibility for their “esteem” offspring, that would be a huge help.

    Randy

  34. Anonymous says:

    “Hmmm. Sounds like we have one or more teachers union folks chiming in. That’s good.”

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Sans reality I stand for the entire abolition of the public system in it’s entirety. That being said, I am not foolish too not recognize the necessary evil to which the Teacher Union’s have aspired.

    “feasibility of grading teacher’s performance are rather ridiculous”

    really? Naivety defined. Come with me one day, (I have asked many a politician to do this, none have agreed) to the school where I VOLUNTEER and be humbled. I will show you the most excellent of teachers who have been burdened with the most difficult students, as they, the teacher, are the most capable of handling them. Maybe your district is different, but I have yet to see any teacher be able to choose which student is in their class.

    “The problem is union resistance to allowing them to be implemented”

    and merit based student placement is prohibited by policy (law); which has nothing to do with the unions.

    Randy, I’m asking you to broaden your understanding. From what I have read, you and I appear to have very similar theologies… look, don’t take my word for it, I, anonymous, have no weight in what I type…..

    http://www.rabbiforsenate.com/

    Read the ‘essays’ portion of the website. Try the 12/31/08 paragraph 6, for a good start.

    This is no different than medicine, just as the public/media rarely seeks the input of teachers in the trenches, rarely does the media seek understand from the doctors implementing medicine.

    Blue Letter Bible has a free app also.

  35. Anonymous says:

    “I am sure, based on the comments on this site, this is the Teacher Union’s fault.

    I am sure, based on that comment, that in no way the unions, the schools, or the teachers could play a role in presenting better decision making.

  36. Anonymous says:

    “I am sure, based on that comment, that in no way the unions, the schools, or the teachers could play a role in presenting better decision making.”

    1) LOL, you’d want educational system to define morals?

    2) “better” decision making? Save your judgment for your own glass house.
    They may have been mimicking what their last three generations ‘edified.’

    Yerch, I’d expect better sarcasm from an Anonymous.

    Anonymous.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Yerch, morals and decision making, apples and oranges.
    Fornication would be the moral,
    raise a baby on WIC? is the decision.

  38. Randy Wills says:

    My apologies to Johnny Lathrop because I’m probably moving the discussion away from the point of his article, but I really do appreciate the comments of those who disagree with something that I said. I’m not always right, and I take great pains to not offend or be offended, but sometimes I err in this respect.

    The use of the word “rediculous” is one of those instances. Also, painting with too broad of a brush is a common failing of mine. There are very few groups of persons who are monolithic in their circumstances, motivations, or beliefs, and I recognize that.

    That notwithstanding, I would continue to say that our public school system, in all too many cases, is a hinderance to providing a proper education to our youth. I happen to live in a small community which is an exception to that rule other than it actually does teach values; values that are incompatible with mine by discriminating against teachers who would question the hand of God in creation. This, in turn, provides a values-vacuum into which casual sex and self-centeredness fills with enthusiastic fervor. I think that it would be impossible in the present public school environment to teach the Constitution from the theistic perspective of the Founders, and I feel that that’s a shame because it was that perspective that gave realistic hope to the idea of a free peoples capable of self-government.

    I would also continue to contend that the unions, particularly in the metropolitan areas, make it almost impossible for even the best teachers to perform their work in a disciplined environment. Perhaps NYC and Washington D.C. are the most egregious examples. This is more a function of our social breakdown, particularly in the family stucture (or the lact thereof), than anything else.

    Thanks for pushing back on me. It helps me to rethink more carefully what I say.

    Randy

  39. Randy Wills says:

    Ugh! It’s ridiculous that I can’t spell “ridiculous”. Do I get half-credit for spelling it correctly in my earlier comment?

    Randy

  40. graypanther says:

    An easier and more durable solution will be to declare it a valid alternative spelling.

  41. Randy Wills says:

    Thanks for the idea, “graypanther”. In fact, I think that I’ll make that a standard footnote to everything that I write.

    Randy

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