Free Speech is for Jerks

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Screenshot of the blog “The Baconfat Papers”

Recently an Edmontonian man was charged with hate speech for a blog he wrote called The Baconfat Papers (www.sunrayzulu.blogspot.com). The blog has been removed, but I found some of his articles via Wayback Machine.

Now, while I hate racism and think it’s evil (and this guy’s blog was especially despicable — basically at the Westboro Baptist Church level), if a guy wants to write a racist blog, he has the right to do so. That’s free speech, and free speech is for jerks too. If you are offended, don’t read it.

If a guy writes a blog which physically threatens someone or calls for others to physically hurt someone, that’s different. That’s no longer free speech of course, since someone’s life may be in danger.

I don’t know if the author of Baconfat, Barry Winters, actually physically threatened anyone; maybe he did. If he did, yes he needs to be charged — but not with hate speech.

“Hate Speech” is one of those ambiguous terms that confuse the issue and leave too much room for abuse. If Barry Winters physically threatened someone, then let him be charged specifically for that. Or, if he called for others to physically hurt someone, let him be specifically charged for that. But if he just wrote a bunch of blogs about how he hates Natives and gays, so be it — that’s just his opinion. It’s evil and wrong, and you can either write to him and tell him why he’s wrong, or, more wisely, just ignore him. There are plenty of guys like Barry Winters out there. They pose no threat unless we give them a platform. And the way to remove their platform is to ignore them — not remove free speech for everybody. Because in the end, who will it be that defines “Hate Speech?”

~Further reading…

He may be Canada’s ‘ultimate troll,’ but should Edmonton blogger be charged for spreading hate?

Progressive Conservatism

This is What it’s Like to be a Race Baiter in Alberta

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Explaining Postmodernism (Book Review)

ep Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault by Steven R.C. Hicks (which is available for free here) is a well written and fairly easy to understand critique against the train wreck that is postmodernism.

I am not completely finished this book as I want to read through the philosophical sections slowly so that I can pick up everything. For me, this is not a book that can be read quickly as there is lots of new information that I don’t want to overlook.

Hicks blames Immanuel Kant for getting the whole thing started with his theory of perception. Kant opposed objectivism and reason because we people can never know reality apart from the mediator of our senses. The chair is red because the light reflects off of the chair and some colours are absorbed while others reflect into your eye which converts the info into electrical impulses and sends them to your brain and hopefully nothing goes wrong along the way. But is the chair really red? Really? Who knows? You certainly don’t, because according to Kant, you only live in your head. “The key point about Kant, to draw the analogy crudely, is that he prohibits knowledge of anything outside our skulls” (Hicks, pg. 41)

“Once reason is in principle severed from reality, one then enters a different philosophical universe all together.” (Hicks, pg. 41) There can not be absolute truth if reality exists apart from one’s perception of reality. I cannot declare that there are only two genders if that claim is solely based on my subjective perception of reality. If that claim is true it has to be objectively true regardless of my observation, or even my existence.

I agree that Kant went to far in limiting us to “our skulls,” but I would argue that we are indeed limited to the physical universe — our senses may show us what’s real objectively, but only within the universe we have access to. Kant criticized objectivity in defence of God. We can see what we see because God gave us the senses to see it, but that does not mean we are seeing things as they really are, but rather, only as how our God given senses allow for. We can take that too far and limit ourselves only to our heads, but we can also take objectivity too far when we deny that things exist beyond our ability to sense them. We can’t prove that God exists with the scientific method, but that doesn’t mean God does not exist. Postmodernists hold to the “limited to the skull” theory, not to defend God, but to attack any and all truth claims. But, as Hicks argues in the book, it is impossible to live in a world where nothing is objectively true.

After the first chapter, Hicks goes deeper into the philosophical background which produced postmodern thought. If you are not interested in all that, then I recommend reading at least the first chapter of this book. In it, Hicks gives a good overview of what postmodernism is as compared to modernism and pre-modernism (briefly illustrated in this chart, from pg. 15)….

chart 001

So far, it’s a good book. And as I say, if you’re not interested in all the philosophy, at least read the first chapter. Perhaps when I’m finished reading the whole book I’ll update this review.

 

Progressive Conservatism

I think the best definition of Conservatism is this: The conservation of the progress which has already been made. And when I write “the progress which has already been made” I’m not just referring to the last thirty years; I’m referring to the last five hundred years. When talking about individual people, thinking in terms of decades is fine, but when we are talking about civilizations, we must talk of centuries. Think of what the western world was like before the Great Reformation, and compare that to today. Would we ever want to go back?

Yet, it would seem some people in the western world today really do want to go back. Read this article entitled Want Equality? Curtail Free Speech. Yes, some useful idiot actually wrote that. Now, these morons would call themselves Progressive, but when one writes, “Our Government should look to criminalise not only Islamophobia, but racist rhetoric and the criticism of feminism and LGBTQAA+ rights,” that’s anything but progressive — it’s regressive.

In Canada, a motion (M-103) was passed recently which directs the government to investigate and act against Islamophobia. Now, when I type that word, Islamophobia, on my computer, my spell-checker red flags it. Why? Because it’s not a real word. And that is the problem with M-103 — it uses a term which is not properly defined. What exactly is Islamophobia? If we break the word down and define the parts, it means: an irrational fear of the ideas of the Islamic religion.

When I encounter those who defend M-103, every time I find that they are unable to distinguish the idea which is Islam from the followers of Islam (Muslims). That’s an important distinction — one is an idea, and the other is a group of people. If we want to live in a free society we must be able to criticize ideas. Martin Luther created a freer society when he openly criticized the state of Christianity in his day. It was not easy for him to do that, and because he did, we now live in a society where we are free to criticize. But, for how long?

Listen to Canada’s Heritage Minister defend M-103 in this video. She only gets confused…

Another good example is the exchange between Ben Affleck and Sam Harris on the Bill Maher show…

Once upon a time there was a political party in Canada called the Progressive Conservatives. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s actually a very good term. Progressive conservatism is the idea that, while we do want to progress socially, we do not want to do so at the expense of the progress which has already been made. What has made the western world the best society to live in so far in human history? Where does our wealth come from? What economic system has allowed us to become so wealthy? (Hint: free market capitalism.) Where do our freedoms come from? What system of government has allowed us our freedoms? (Hint: a system in which the rights of the individual are elevated over the group.) We need to conserve those things and protect them from those who would dismantle them while trying to create their utopia in which no one will ever be offended.

White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions Revisited

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Life through the eyes of a SJW

What do you get when you combine feminism, leftism, and missions? You get the website: A Life Overseas. Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh there. There are some good articles on the site. It’s kind of like the Woman’s World of missionary blog sites. They do, however, give voice to what I think are some fairly stupid viewpoints.

There was once an article posted on the site which inspired me to write this: White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions. The Life Overseas article was written by a woman who was deeply offended when she discovered an Asian missionary to not be really Asian at all. The reason she thought he was Asian was because he used a pseudonym for security reasons. She had high respect for that missionary and his teachings. That is, until she found out he was a white male. Oh the humanity!

I criticized that article outright and called it for what it was: racist. The article was removed because, as this woman exposed the white man for not being an Asian man, she also compromised his security. Here is an excerpt from that article…

If you are an overseas worker in a certain East Asian country, you will have probably heard of [evil white missionary]. He is a theologian and missiologist who writes and blogs about contextualization. Many people I know read his articles, and as an Asian person myself, I was pleased that people were paying attention to an Asian perspective. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that…

[Evil white missionary] was actually a white man.

When I found out, I was shocked, but my shock quickly turned to irritation and my irritation to indignity.

Why is a white man posing as an Asian, and speaking as an expert on Asian issues?

And why does the Western church profess to grasp the inner workings of faith within a culture that is not its own?

Cultural Appropriation?

You can read my other article to see how I feel about “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation”.

But now, a new article has been posted on A Life Overseas written by the same author. And I think it might even be more stupid than the first one.

The author, calling herself Grace Lee, is now claiming the entire western missionary movement is racist. Her evidence: her hurt feelings.

Here’s an excerpt…

Something is rotten in the state of Western missions when the very communities that are meant to proclaim God’s inclusiveness seem to make people of color feel other and less than.

And another…

There was that time I heard about an all-expense paid retreat for women on the field. Excited about the possibility of a fun and relaxing trip away, I found the promotional video online and eagerly watched it. But my heart sank as the video only featured frame after frame of white women. I knew immediately that this retreat was not designed with me in mind. I was not even on their radar, much less on their screen.

So, basically what she is saying here is, “There were only white women in the video, and that hurt my feelings, and so therefore: Racism!”

Then there was the time that our missions agency was considering mobilization of internationals. Leaders from around the region gathered together to discuss the pros and cons of such an endeavor. I and other minority members expressed our apprehension of recruiting locals into a primarily white organization, citing concerns about expansionism and assimilation. I was thankful that we were given a voice in this decision. But I was mistaken. Instead of hearing our reservations and taking time to reflect on the alternatives that we suggested, a task force was immediately formed at the end of that meeting to move ahead with the plan.

I don’t know, maybe her ideas simply weren’t any good. The reader isn’t given enough information to develop an opinion. We just have to trust her that it was racism.

Her accusation is quite extreme: “Something is rotten in the state of Western missions…” And if you’re going to be making that accusation, you need some hard evidence to back it up. But you don’t see that in her article. All you see is her hurt feelings.

I can understand that the makers of the women’s retreat video were insensitive by not including any non-whites in the video. But, under what circumstances was that video made? Was it a high budget project filmed in the USA? Or, was it filmed by some missionary ladies with an iPhone in someone’s backyard? Maybe there were only white woman available.

Grace Lee provides no evidence of real racism. All she provides is her hurt feelings and a demand that the reader acknowledge her feelings as sufficient evidence. The real world simply doesn’t work that way.

Did Grace Lee try to sign up for the women’s retreat and then receive an email stating that she was not welcome because she wasn’t white? That would be real evidence. But I assume she never tried to sign up because the promo video was enough to send her down into the pit of despair. I wonder what she would have found if she went to the retreat. A bunch of racist white women (who for some odd reason decided to be missionaries in non-white countries)? I doubt it.

You can’t expect equality of output where there is no equality of input. But that’s what SJWs demand: equality of outcome. We need to deal with injustices as we see them, case by case, individual by individual. To accuse the whole Western missions world of racism is complete nonsense. Historically, Christianity has been centered in the white nations, so of course there will be a larger number of white people in missions. Over time this will change, but until it does, falsely accusing people of racism, and slandering respected missionaries (like the not-Asian white guy mentioned above), will only cause unneeded, unnecessary division.

When one criticizes this SJW behaviour, the response is never, “I disagree with you and here’s why…” rather, it is, “You’re wrong and shame on you!”

Manufacturing false victimhood through hurt feelings trivializes the suffering of true victims by victimizing the trivial. If you want to make accusations of racism you need to provide real evidence (something that would stand in a courtroom) and only then can we stand together to denounce those guilty. Hurt feelings, generalities, and vague examples of what may or not be racism are not only insufficient, but will do much damage to the unity of the Church on the mission field.

In other words: grow up, develop a thicker skin, and stop being offended at everything. Oh, and having a sense of humour doesn’t hurt either.

Further reading: “White Privilege” in Missions. Really?

Unconscious Bias…

P.S. If you believe you are guilty of white privilege, then never fear! There is an online course to cure you of your toxic whiteness. For only $297 U.S. you don’t have to be an evil white S.O.B. anymore! Click here to sign up!

White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions

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Never leave home without it.

Every once and a while I come across a bizarre negative attitude towards the white western missionary. I’m not referring to atheists or multiculturalists criticizing western missions; that’s to be expected. Rather, I am talking about missionaries criticizing other missionaries.

I’ll read or hear terms such as “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation” being used by missionaries to criticize white missionaries and accuse them of things they are simply not guilty of: colonialism, white supremacy, and negative paternalism. They get upset at the fact that white missionaries will presume to teach, rather than learn, in non-western nations. They lament at how white missionaries don’t seek to empower the local peoples. In most cases, these accusations are are all unfounded.

Western missionaries have access to resources which non-western nations simply don’t have yet. Western Christianity is also older and more experienced. Of course westerners will come as teachers. That does not mean they don’t respect the native culture, are unwilling to learn, or are unwilling to empower local people.

The terms “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation” did not evolve in the common market of language and ideas. They come straight out of the minds of leftist, Marxist university professors. And they certainly have no place on the mission field.

I like this definition of “white privilege” from the Urban Dictionary:

The racist idea that simply being white benefits people in some unexplainable way, and that discriminating against white people is not only okay, but enlightened and necessary. The excuse some extremists use to justify pretty much any level of racism, as long as it is coming from people of color. A young American woman died because in college she was brainwashed into believing that her white privilege would protect her from being run over by a bulldozer.

I understand, and agree with, the idea that missions is not about introducing western culture into non-western nations. There are few things I dislike more that hearing Hillsong music being sung by locals in their own language, when there own native music is so much more beautiful. But, I’ve met many missionaries, and I’ve never met one who was trying to push western culture into their host nation. (In fact, when I do hear the Hillsong music, it’s because the youth in the church wanted it – Hey you guys! Stop trying to appropriate sub-standard Australian worship music!) Many new missionaries come with western ideas, which they try to implement, but they soon learn what doesn’t work and they adapt. This whole idea of “white privilege,” “white supremacy,” and neo-colonialism is, in most cases, not true. (By the way, western culture is indeed moving in on Asian nations, but it’s anything but the missionary’s fault. Blame Coca Cola, Pizza Hut, or Ariana Grande.)

So first, let’s address the “white privilege” claim. All who live in the west are privileged – the rich and the poor – the natives and the immigrants. No other culture in human history provides the opportunities, safety, and freedom that the west provides. And this privilege did not fall from the sky. It is the result of centuries of hard work by all the men and women who built the western nations. It is the result of Christianity (which is really the elephant in the room when it comes to white privilege). Historically, the western nations have been predominantly white, and although that’s still true, it is changing now.

I live in Cambodia, but spent most of my life in Canada. There are many races and cultures in Canada, and all of them are privileged to be there. Many first generation immigrants do very well for themselves. That’s true today and it’s true historically. Good culture creates privilege. It’s nothing negative and it’s nothing to feel guilty about. Yes, privileged people can use their advantages to oppress others, but is that what white missionaries are doing? Do western missionaries misunderstand the host culture simply because of their privilege? That’s strange reasoning. Is a doctor only fit to heal people if he himself has suffered their sickness?

Where you start in life is not necessarily where you’ll end up. The decisions you make today determine where you’ll be tomorrow. Snapshot views of cultures are meaningless if you ignore the past and the future. Missionaries, white and brown, enter into other cultures, and bring their privilege with them, to create new opportunities for the native peoples – opportunities which include both the spiritual and the physical. When Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more,” was He trying to make His listeners feel guilty? Or, was He telling them to use their “privilege” to the benefit of others?

Western privilege is a direct result of Christianity. What would you expect to happen to a culture which adopts the Christian faith and submits to Jesus? Poverty and war? The missionary’s job is to expand that culture to the nations. Yes, some cultures really are better than others.

As for “cultural appropriation”, I’ll start by posting this video to show how stupid that idea is…

In the video the black girl is angry because the white guy has dreadlocks, which is a black hairstyle. It’s obviously stupid and the girl is just being a bully. This is an extreme example, but extreme examples best illustrate how stupid some ideas really are.

If I see a Cambodian wearing jeans and a t-shirt, should I be upset that he’s trying to appropriate western culture? If I learn the Khmer language and dress in Cambodian traditional clothes at a wedding, am I wrongfully trying to appropriate the culture? I though we were supposed to learn to understand the culture. What if I marry a Cambodian woman? I did, by the way. And have kids who are half white and half Asian? Which we did. Now I’m really confused.

Ideas like cultural appropriation only work to divide rather than unite. Just like calling racism where there is none. Just like labelling privilege as negative and something to feel guilty about. Like using broad meaningless terms such as “systemic racism” or “white supremacy”.

frostIf we are going to combat things like racism, we can’t just use broad terms like “systemic racism”. Which systems are racist? Who, in those systems, are making them racist?

Protestors often don’t have the answers to those questions. They just know that racism is everywhere, and it has to be stopped, and it is the result of white privilege. But when asked where specifically the racism is, they don’t know.

When I saw this picture, posted by Christian author Michael Frost on Facebook, someone in the comments posted a picture of the KKK in a church with a banner saying, “Jesus Saves,” in the background. So, a decades old photo of white racists is an example of systemic racism today? Can we have a more recent example? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but you can’t fight your enemy if you don’t know where he is.

I sincerely hope that the leftist, Marxist ideology which is corrupting much of western culture today doesn’t find a home in the mission field. We are above racial distinctions out here. Our racial differences are merely a background reality – it’s not a forefront issue. Don’t make it one. We work together, missionaries and locals, to build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

My article here is far from perfect, and as I think about the issue more, I’ll probably add more. For now I’ll just publish it as it is (no one reads this blog anyway).

August 27, 2016 ~ A Brief Addition…

Something else came to mind that I wanted to add.

I think it is apparent to all now that the center of Christianity is shifting away from the west and toward the south and the east. If you need statistical evidence of that you can read Philip Jenkins’ work The Next Christendom. Here’s a quote from the first couple of pages of that book:

We are currently living through one of the transforming moments in the history of religion worldwide. Over the last five centuries, the story of Christianity has been extricably bound up with that of Europe and Europe-derived civilizations overseas, above all in North America. Until recently, the overwhelming majority of Christians have lived in white nations, allowing some thinkers to speak of ‘European Christian’ civilization…

Over the last century, however, the center of gravity in the Christian world has shifted inexorably southward, to Africa and Latin America. Today, the largest Christian communities on the planet are to be found in those regions. If we want visualize a ‘typical’ contemporary Christian, we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria, or in a Brazilian favela. In parts of Asia too, churches are growing rapidly, in numbers and self-confidence. As Kenyan scholar John Mbiti has observed, ‘the centers of the church’s universality [are] no longer in Geneva, Rome, Athens, Paris, London, New York, but Kinshasa, Buenos Aires, Addis Ababa, and Manila.’ Whatever Europeans or North Americans may believe, Christianity is doing very well indeed in the global south — not just surviving but expanding.

This doesn’t mean that western Christianity is doomed to destruction; perhaps we’ll see a revival sooner than we think. But, I believe it’s safe to say that Christianity will grow much more in the south and east before it makes a comeback in the west.

Perhaps in the future, Asian missionaries will travel to the west and do the very same things western missionaries do today, but better. They will have matured in the Christian faith far beyond where we’re at today and they will be greater teachers as a result.