February 16, 2017

Ideological investigative journalism

By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, February 16, 2017
Ideological investigative journalism

I think there is a need for ideological investigative journalism. By this I mean a form of journalism that examines the ideology (faulty belief system) that lurks behind journalism, often slanting reports and thereby ignoring or misrepresenting truth.

Consider these examples.

A few weeks ago this book was published: Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer. Written by veteran journalists Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, the book is a true crime story about Philadelphia abortionist and drug dealer Kermit Gosnell who murdered hundreds (perhaps thousands) of born-alive infants by “snipping” their spinal cords with scissors. Gosnell is now serving three consecutive life sentences without parole.

But mainstream journalists didn't dare to challenge the sacred cow of abortion, so they initially gave the trial of Gosnell a pass (until public outcry). This is abortion-friendly ideology at work. We should be grateful to McElhinney and McAleer for courageously challenging this ideology.

Yet things get worse. As the authors report, Gosnell was also given a pass by “pro-choice” politicians and bureaucrats who kept health inspectors at bay. This served to enable Gosnell's grizzly work in a grungy, cat-feces-laden “clinic” staffed with unlicensed “professionals,” resulting also in the deaths of two women. (The doctor even collected severed babies' feet as trophies.)

Back to the book itself. Gosnell quickly climbed to #4 nonfiction bestseller status (#3 on Amazon) but the New York Times excluded it from the top 15 non-fiction list. Go figure.

The citizen's group Accuracy In Media astutely reports: “It is the media’s duty to report the facts, the whole truth… not merely the facts that align with their own biased agenda.” Gosnell co-author McElhinney sums up the situation thus: “The media doesn’t want this story to see the light of day because it shines a negative light on abortion.”

Moving from abortion-friendly ideology at work, let's get more controversial and closer to home. Consider LGBTQ-friendly ideology at work in Canada.

Remember Steinbach's gay pride parade?

CBC News visited Steinbach apparently to cover community views concerning the upcoming gay pride parade (because, yikes, not everyone agrees with the beliefs of the LGBTQ community). Four people were interviewed. Three pro, one con. The one who is con was an old woman who suffers from dementia.

Happily, the CBC deleted the interview with the dementia-stricken woman, thanks to local citizens who expressed concern. Still, the original CBC story had over a thousand shares. Moreover, the revised story only presented pro voices.

Remember the concerns about security at Steinbach's gay pride parade? The original concerns arose out of the parade route going near a construction zone. Later media reports made it seem like the concerns were due to Steinbach's community of anti-gay terrorists.

Remember Steinbach's vigil for the Orlando massacre (the massacre in which Omar Mateen shot 100 gays and lesbians and killed 50 in a nightclub)? The Carillon covered it with a front page article (that spilled over onto page two), an editorial, plus a couple letters.

But no editor or reporter or letter writer (besides a later letter from me) mentioned anything specific about Omar Mateen's motive, i.e., that he was a Muslim jihadist who publicly expressed allegiance to ISIS. Nadda. Nothing.

Yes, we were told there was a terrible massacre at a gay club, which is truly terrible. And then we were told we've got to have more inclusive attitudes about sexual orientation and gender identities, and we should be more accepting of district-school-related issues advanced by the local LGBTQ community.

Wittingly or unwittingly, this was a manipulation of public mourning and outrage in the service of LGBTQ ideological ends. The unspoken suggestion/ implication was that those who disagree are at fault or responsible for the murders at Orlando. But Mateen and ISIS are at fault.

More could be said about Canada's push for Medical Aid In Dying (a.k.a. physician-assisted killing ideology), the Women's March on Washington (abortion-friendly ideology again), and the U.S. election surprise (anti-conservative ideology), but space does not permit.

Ideological investigative journalism—it's what we need in our so-called “post-truth” times.

(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College, Otterburne, Manitoba.)

February 02, 2017


By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, February 2, 2017


The recent Women's March on Washington (often crude and vulgar) is probably more aptly described as a March for Abortion Choice. As such, it should encourage us to think carefully about the so-called “pro-choice” view on abortion.

Here is some food for thought.

● From Kelsey Kurtinitis, board member of Personhood Iowa and pro-life activist:

I am a woman, and yet the Women’s March on Washington does not represent me.

This is not because of any prejudice I hold—I do not hate women, nor do I suffer from any “internalized misogyny.” No, the Women’s March does not represent me because they have chosen not to.

You see, the Women’s March only believes in the pro-choice buzzword when you choose to agree with them.

● From Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director (and Planned Parenthood 2008 “Employee of the Year”), now pro-life activist:

I hear people chant, “my body, my choice” or “mind your own uterus.”

You would think that after all of the medical technology and scientific breakthroughs that people would understand that we aren't talking about your body. And we certainly aren't talking about your uterus. We are talking about the scientifically proven individual human being that is inside your body.

These chants would only make sense if a woman aborted herself. But she doesn't. She aborts another individual. And that's who we are talking about in the prolife movement.

● From Terry O'Neill, president of the “pro-choice” group NOW (National Organization for Women): “abortion care, no less than contraception, is an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

(What follows are my words.) Huh? Really? Notice the underlying principle of O'Neill's view: I can kill a human being to prevent my heartbreak if this human being will die a natural death.

Notice, too, the logical implications: This opens whole new avenues of “care” to prevent our heartbreak over the elderly, the ill, the homeless, the starving, etc. How? By killing them!

● Objection: But difficulty in policing and enforcing abortion law would render it useless.

Reply: We should note that it is difficult to police and enforce laws against, say, texting and driving, but the law works to discourage texting and driving. The point: if an action kills or threatens to injure innocent others, a law against the action is not unreasonable, even if not 100% effective.

We have room to be creative here. Perhaps a law against abortion should (a) criminalize late-term/ gendercide/ disability abortionists only, not women pressured into abortion, plus (b) help women so pressured (just as our anti-prostitution law criminalizes pimps and johns, not the women pressured into prostitution, plus helps the women get out of prostitution).

Most abortions are due to social problems, whereas abortions for the horrific circumstances of rape, incest, or when a mother's life is threatened account for a small percentage only.

Social problems require social solutions, not the killing of children.

● From Frederica Mathewes-Green, pro-life activist and past vice-president of Feminists for Life America:

In time, it’s going to be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against children. Future generations, as they look back, are not necessarily going to go easy on ours. Our bland acceptance of abortion is not going to look like an understandable goof. In fact, the kind of hatred that people now level at Nazis and slave-owners may well fall upon our era.

Future generations can accurately say, “It’s not like they didn’t know.” They can say, “After all, they had sonograms.” They may consider this bloodshed to be a form of genocide. They might judge our generation to be monsters.

One day, the tide is going to turn. ... The time is coming when a younger generation will sit in judgment of ours. And they are not obligated to be kind.

● Note to responsible adults/ parents: Logical dullness and moral callousness seem to be kindred spirits—don’t be duped by them. For our children's sake.

(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College.)

Note to critics: Please read my other articles on abortion before offering your criticism. Thanks.

January 18, 2017

Transgender ideology

Covers: Canada edition (left), U.S. edition (right)
By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, January 19, 2017

Transgender ideology

The January 2017 “Gender Revolution” edition of National Geographic magazine signals a popular embrace of transgender ideology. Popular or not, I have concerns.

First, a couple clarifications.

Clarification 1. All people, including people who identify as transgender, deserve respect, compassion, plus protection from bullying and violence.

Clarification 2. To identify as transgender is to feel one's personal/ gender identity does not correspond or fit with one's birth sex (i.e., the sex allegedly “assigned” at birth). Transgender ideology says such feelings are true, good, and should be expressed.

Here are four concerns.

Concern 1. Faulty immunity from criticism.

Many persons dismiss criticisms of transgender identity merely because the critics are alleged to be “transphobic.” But such a dismissal commits the ad hominem fallacy (i.e., the mistake of attacking the arguer instead of his/her arguments, when doing so is not relevant).

Criticisms should be accepted or rejected because of the criticisms' merits or lack thereof, respectively, not because of the critic's personal idiosyncrasies.

Concern 2. Absurd implications due to elevating feelings over fact.

Reason carefully used with evidence should put a check on feelings that are sometimes out of touch with reality. Remember anorexia nervosa, the disorder in which a person feels overweight when in fact isn't, so diets to a dangerous extreme? Here reason shows feelings, though sincerely held, can be untrue.

But now, for many, feelings are trump. Consider Bruce (“Caitlyn”) Jenner. He is a man who feels he is a woman and so has had plastic surgery to “feminize” his face and throat, has taken hormones to grow breasts, and may undergo genital surgery to remove his testicles plus use his penis to construct a “vagina.” But he isn't a woman. In view of the dangers with sex change (in transgender-friendly Sweden the rate of suicide for those who have sex-change surgery is 20 times greater than normal), isn't this like offering liposuction to someone with anorexia?

Significantly, if my feelings about myself are sufficient justification for my identity, why stop at transgender (e.g., a man identifying as a woman)? Why not trans-age (an adult identifying as a child)? Why not trans-species (a human identifying as a dog or cat or dragon)?

Upshot: Feeling as a sufficient guide to reality reduces to the absurd.

Concern 3. Moral incoherence.

Ethicist Andrew T. Walker and Bible professor Denny Burk astutely critique National Geographic’s feature article (written by pro-transgender journalist Robin Marantz Henig) as follows:

“The final page of Henig’s article celebrates the mutilation of minor children with a full-page picture of a shirtless 17-year old girl who recently underwent a double mastectomy in order to ‘transition’ to being a boy. Why do transgender ideologues consider it harmful to attempt to change such a child’s mind but consider it progress to display her bare, mutilated chest for a cover story? Transgender ideologues like Henig never address this ethical contradiction at the heart of their paradigm.”

Walker and Burk continue: “Why is it acceptable to surgically alter a child’s body to match his sense of self but bigoted to try to change his sense of self to match his body? If it is wrong to attempt to change a child’s gender identity (because it is fixed and meddling with it is harmful), then why is it morally acceptable to alter something as fixed as the reproductive anatomy of a minor? The moral inconsistency here is plain.”

Concern 4. Non-permanence of transgender identity.

It turns out that a child’s transgender identity isn’t fixed. According to psychiatrists Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh, there is “little evidence that gender identity issues have a high rate of persistence in children.”

Walker and Burk add: “In fact, about 80 percent of children who experience transgender feelings completely resolve their difficulties without any intervention after they reach puberty.”

Dear parents/ responsible adults: For our children’s sake, don’t be duped by transgender ideology.

(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.)

Further reading:

  • Camille Paglia, Lesson from History: Transgender Mania is Sign of Cultural Collapse (7 minutes).  Author, art professor, feminist, and cultural commentator Camille Paglia speaks on the current transgender mania, the wisdom of early medical and surgical intervention (calling it "child abuse"), and how the explosion of gender identities is a recurring sign of cultural collapse throughout the history of civilization.

January 04, 2017

Gay Q&A

By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, January 5, 2017

Gay Q&A

Last week The Carillon deemed Steinbach's gay pride parade the 2016 event that's had the “greatest impact” on our community and called for more conversation and understanding.

I submit the following questions and answers with the hope they will be helpful.

1. Aren't you homophobic if you have concerns about homosexuality?

No, a phobia is an irrational fear or hatred of something. It's possible to have reasonable concerns without being phobic.

Logic note: To dismiss someone's arguments expressing reasonable concerns about same-sex sex solely on the grounds the arguer is allegedly homophobic is to commit the ad hominem fallacy (the mistake in reasoning of attacking the person instead of his/ her argument when doing so is not relevant).

2. Are there any reasonable concerns about same-sex sex?

Yes. There are reasonable concerns about medical and mental health. See my column “Is promoting same-sex sex wise?” (see too my critics' objections and my replies).

3. Aren't people with same-sex attractions born that way?

Nature probably plays an important role that varies for different people. But social and psychological factors have a role, too.

Logic note: Being born with propensities isn't sufficient reason for acting on those propensities let alone making them the core of one's identity. I may be born with propensities for greed, incest, or sex with multiple partners, but this isn't enough to justify my acting according to, or identifying with, these propensities. Born that way doesn't mean acting or identifying that way. More reasoning is required.

4. Doesn't science show homosexuals are genetically determined to be gay, like black people are genetically determined to be black, so questioning gay identity is unjust—as racism is unjust?

No, the gay-is-like-black analogy is faulty. Though same-sex desires are not chosen, gay identity is a social construct that involves decisions to embrace/ identify with those desires (so being gay is not wholly determined, unlike race). Moreover, some/ many gays change to various degrees (unlike race). Also, various health concerns are associated with same-sex sex (unlike race). See my column “Is being gay like race?

5. Doesn't Jesus command us to love our neighbours (including gay neighbours)?

Yes. Nevertheless, Jesus also tells us that the moral law continues to stand and He even intensifies it. The moral law includes sexual purity, which limits sex to one man and one woman within marriage.

6. So, what would Jesus do?

Jesus would help and stand with the marginalized and downtrodden, and He would say go and sin no more. Love and truth are not mutually exclusive.

See my columns Jesus and homosexuality,” “The Golden Rule,” and “Love versus platitudes.”

7. Are there resources for people who have unwanted same-sex sexual attractions?

See these books, too: Wesley Hill, 
Washed and Waiting, Mark Yarhouse,  Homosexuality and the Christian (in Steinbach's Jake Epp Library).

8. Are there resources that address the Bible and homosexuality?

Yes. See these books: Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? and Joe Dallas, Speaking of Homosexuality (in Steinbach's Jake Epp Library).

Also see Wesley Hill's video Homosexuality: A Christian View.

9. But I've viewed Matthew Vines' YouTube video and read his book—isn't Vines' pro-gay biblical revisionist view the way to go?

No. Vines is a bright Harvard undergraduate student, but he has no academic credentials and his arguments are unsound.

Read or view the following:

○ Ed Neufeld's essay “Homosexuality and Gay Marriage in the Bible: A Response to Matthew Vines” (Dr. Neufeld is professor of New Testament at Providence Theological Seminary).

○ Matthew Vines' video debate with Michael Brown (Brown's PhD is in Semitic languages): Can you be gay and Christian?  (See too Brown's follow-up article.)

○ Preston Sprinkle's “Review of Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian (Sprinkle has a PhD in New Testament).

I hope the above Q&A furthers Steinbach's 2017 conversation and understanding concerning gay-related topics.

Note to critics: Please study the above articles etc. (and my replies to critics) before offering criticism. Thanks.

(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.)

Further reading:

Same-sex marriage