Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "More than a warlord," July 21, 2001

PRO-LIFE CELL OUT? Some pro-lifers are selling out their convictions by supporting stem-cell research. That's Charles Colson's complaint in a Wilberforce Forum statement-that some have given in to "the temptation to do evil that good may come." "The impulse to support embryonic stem cell research is grounded, to our great detriment, in a utilitarian moral calculus that is dangerous and wrong-headed," he wrote. "It's the sort of thinking best left to … [those] who apparently recognize no moral limits. It is, in fact, Kevorkian's bargain." Mr. Colson argued that to meet the needs of the sick without "the clinical vivisection of our own kind" requires research toward more ethical sources of stem cells: "If life is to have meaning at all, then our nation's commitment to the 'sanctity of human life' in all its forms must be unequivocal." SINGING A DIFFERENT (SASKA)TOON: Say the wrong thing in Canada-even from the Bible-and get raked over the coals for "hate speech." Hugh Owen bought an ad in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that carried Bible verses condemning homosexuality. It featured an icon of two stick figures holding hands with a circle and slash through it. As a result, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ordered that he and the paper pay $1,500 each to three homosexuals who complained about the ad, according to The Ottawa Citizen. The ruling complained that the biblical references, such as one from Leviticus, "suggest more dire consequences and there can be no question that the advertisement can objectively be seen as exposing homosexuals to hatred or ridicule." StarPhoenix publisher Lyle Sinkewicz told the paper the ad was a freedom-of-speech issue, but he doesn't plan to appeal: "I wouldn't do it again, that's for sure." University of Western Ontario law professor Ian Hunter complained to the Calgary Herald of the severity of censoring Mr. Owen's ad. "If Mr. Owen cannot express his opinions through a paid ad in the StarPhoenix, can he express them from a street corner soapbox?" he wondered. "From the pulpit of a church? Should he get himself elected in the House of Commons? Do we have the right to express anti-consensus views anywhere in Canada?" 'LIKE YOU, I'VE SUFFERED': Tammy Faye's back-and she's crusading for gay rights. Jim Bakker's ex-wife showed up at Tampa's annual PrideFest party as keynote speaker and led the crowd in a chorus of "Jesus Loves Me." She compared her personal problems in the wake of the PTL scandal to the tribulations claimed by homosexuals. "Like you, I've suffered," she said. "We've all been misunderstood. We've all been made fun of. But I'm not going to allow people who don't like me to rent space in my brain." The Bakkers divorced while he was serving prison time on wire and mail fraud convictions. Tammy Faye's second husband is Roe Messner, who built the Heritage USA religious theme park; he was convicted in 1995 of bankruptcy fraud and sentenced to two years in prison. POLITICAL POWER AND ELECTRICITY: California Gov. Gray Davis hired two $30,000-a-month Democratic spinmeisters to help him through the power crisis. Columnist Walter Williams isn't surprised, saying voters' minds have been kept away from the electricity shortage and focused on prices. "Here is a state that has already had rolling blackouts and is facing more blackouts in the months ahead," he writes, "not to mention losses of millions of dollars in taxes as businesses start leaving California, taking jobs with them, because they cannot get reliable electricity. Yet a recent poll shows that most Californians do not believe that there is an electricity shortage." Meanwhile, Gov. Davis is cranking up his reelection campaign. His website features a photo of him next to actor Martin Sheen, who currently stars on The West Wing, along with links to "tips on saving energy." BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE: Will HarperCollins' planned treatment of C.S. Lewis's Narnia match its handling of the Little House books? Eli Lehrer writes in an essay for the America's Future Foundation that the latest additions to the Laura Ingalls Wilder saga are politically correct hash. Daughter Rose Wilder-Lane, a feisty libertarian, put the original books together and inculcated the series with her philosophy. "Just as Lewis presents a vivid imagining of Christianity's fundamental beliefs in a fantastical world," Mr. Lehrer explains, "the original Little House books tell lively stories of frontier life centered around important conservative and libertarian themes: self-reliance, Jeffersonian natural-law theory, the value of entrepreneurship, family values, the right to keep and bear arms, and the importance of local institutions." Unfortunately, Mr. Lehrer complains, Melissa Wiley and Maria Wilkes inherited the series in the late 1990s. Since then the series has taken on the expected liberal worldview, mixed with lousy storytelling. Yet Little House is profitable and the books keep coming.

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