Monday, January 23, 2017

"Alternative Facts"

I am irritated that the phrase "alternative facts" is being used to describe "lies."  The concept of alternative facts actually seems useful to me, if it means factual information contextualized differently, rather than fabrications.

There are lot of circumstances where opposing sides of an argument use the same set of factual information to uphold their position.  Here's an example: Planned Parenthood says that only 3% of their services are abortions.  They also say that they serve 2.5 million patients and perform around 300,000 abortions each year, which means that about 1 in 8 Planned Parenthood patients will receive an abortion.  That means that 12% of Planned Parenthood patients receive abortions.  However, the way Planned Parenthood crunches their numbers is by counting every service, rather than every patient, so while 12% of their patients receive abortions, only 3% of the services provided to their patients are abortions.  So every woman who gets a pap smear, an STI test, and a breast exam counts for three separate services.  And any patient who gets a pregnancy test, an abortion, and a birth control prescription counts for three separate services, as well.

Alternative facts: it is true that abortion comprises only 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood each year.  It is also true that 12% of Planned Parenthood patients receive abortions.  It is also true that Planned Parenthood provided over 300,000 abortions last year.  Heck, it's even true that Planned Parenthood committed over 300,000 abortions last year, if that's how you'd like to style things.

Depending on the point that you want to make, you can use actual facts to support a variety of claims.  There is no call, no call at all, for styling lies as alternative facts.  Period.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Diversity Isn't Enough

An idea that I've been kicking around in my head and in conversations for a while now is the idea of diversity.  Clearly, in a country with as many different people groups as the US, diversity is a good thing.  It's good to have children's books with diverse characters.  It's good to have many kinds of people in positions of power.  It's good for everyone to see people similar to them represented in media.

However, the majority of the Democratic party seems to have decided that diversity is not just a good thing, but rather that it is the good thing.  The highest ideal of the mainstream Left appears to be diversity.

I said in my last post that all people are created in the image of God and deserve respect as image-bearers of God.  Justice, respect, and full participation in personhood for all people is the goal we should be aiming for.  And diversity on its own doesn't accomplish that.  If anyone is making diversity their highest goal, they are falling far short of justice.

Follow my logic: if diversity is the highest goal, a company with a black, female CEO and non-white people as 60% of their labor force is a paragon of virtue, even if they pay low enough wages that full-time front-line workers qualify for food stamps.  If justice is the highest goal, it's clear that company is failing miserably.

I am certainly not saying diversity is irrelevant.  And I would be horrified to have my words used to justify ignoring the topics of inclusion and marginalization.  However, excellent representation of minority business owners at the top of a morally bankrupt system that further enriches the wealthy at the expense of the poor is a meager kind of progress.

We can do better.

And justice for all.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Are you still reading after the title?  Good on you!  In case you were not abundantly clear about this, I'm a white person, so I am not the expert on Being Black In America.  There are, however, lots of really great things on the internet about Being Black In America.  It is beholden on us, the white people, to pay attention to the experience of black people.  It is beholden on us, the Christians, to work for justice for all people, especially those most marginalized.  And in case the link between those sentences is not clear, black people are marginalized.

Whatever our political leanings, we all need to align ourselves in agreement with the Spirit of God and say, "All people are created in the image of God, and all people deserve respect as image-bearers.  All lives matter."  And after we're done saying that, we need to stand up and say explicitly, "Black people are created in the image of God, and black people deserve respect as image-bearers.  Black lives matter."

And, dear hearts, if it's hard for you to say "Black lives matter," take a deep breath and sit with that difficulty.

It is ok to feel uncomfortable.  It is ok to struggle.  It is ok to admit that this racial-justice-thing is unnatural for you, and there are no easy answers, and you don't enjoy thinking about it, and you'd rather just focus on the positive and get on with your day.  I validate your feelings.  You are entitled to all of your feelings.

But it is not ok for white people to sweep the issue of racial injustice aside and gloss over it because we feel bad.  Black lives matter to God.  Black lives need to matter to people who are following God.

Are you ready to get to work?

On seeing the racist world that influences us.
A test of your implicit bias for and against people who look similar and dissimilar to you.
How about looking up your local branch of Showing Up for Racial Justice to see what they're doing?