Weekly Review

Starbucks Bans Porn, Self-Selecting Age, Teacher Fired Over Pronoun, Planned Parenthood Legal Victory, and Remembering Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Mark Heard, Andrew Lytle

Starbucks Bans Porn. Starbucks announced two weeks ago it will block porn sites on its in-store Wi-Fi service. The decision comes after more than four years of pressure from a group called Enough Is Enough (EIE), founded by Donna Rice Hughes. EIE launched a campaign aimed at McDonald’s and Starbucks in 2014. Other national chains — including Panera Bread, Subway, and Chick-fil-A – already have filters that block pornographic sites. Starbucks will start blocking porn immediately. A company spokesperson announced the change to Business Insider in an email on Nov. 28: “To ensure the Third Place [in addition to home and office] remains safe and welcoming to all, we have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019.” A Gallup survey released in June found 43 percent of Americans think pornography is morally acceptable, up from 36 percent in 2017. Men ages 18 to 49 had the biggest jump: from 53 to 67 percent in the past year.

Age Selection. If you can self-select your gender, why not your age? That was the logic of 69-year-old Emile Ratelband of the Netherlands. He wanted his age to be 20 years younger, and he petitioned Dutch courts to allow him to self-determine his age, since the law there allows people to self-determine gender. The court, however, rejected his request. Ratelband plans to appeal the decision.

Teacher Fired Over Pronoun. According to Newsweek, “A high school teacher in Virginia has been fired after refusing to refer to one of his students using his preferred pronoun.” Peter Vlaming, a French teacher, was fired after he disobeyed orders to refer to a ninth-grade student as a male following a gender transition. Vlaming said his Christian faith prevented him “in good conscience and faith…to refer to a female as a male.” He said he would avoid female pronouns and use the student’s new, legally changed name. Vlaming’s attorney Shawn Voyles said, “Tolerance is a two-way street. My client respects this student’s rights. He is simply asking that his rights be respected as well. The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board adopted one viewpoint and required Mr. Vlaming, at the cost of his job, to repeat that ideology, repeat that viewpoint. That’s where it’s compelled speech. That’s where it violates his First Amendment right he still retains as a public employee.”

Planned Parenthood Legal Victory. Even with newly appointed justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood won an important legal victory this week. The Supreme Court refused to take up two funding cases that lower courts decided in Planned Parenthood’s favor. Planned Parenthood successfully sued the states of Louisiana and Kansas for dropping the organization as a Medicaid provider. The states appealed, but by refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court lets the lower court decision stand. Planned Parenthood will get tens of millions of government dollars as a result of the decision. Justice Clarence Thomas, in a rare written opinion, dissented from the court’s decision. Justices Gorsuch and Samuel Alito joined his dissent. However, Chief Justice John Roberts and newly seated Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the majority.

Milestones. Russian dissident and Nobel Prize winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born 100 years ago today. To read a BreakPoint on the 40th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s famous speech to Harvard University, click here…. Novelist and agrarian Andrew Lytle died on this date in 1995. His best known novel, “The Velvet Horn,” a book with powerful Christian themes, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1957. He was also a teacher and editor who was an early mentor to Flannery O’Connor…. Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal (the letter “S” [***] in Morse code) on December 12, 1901, at Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland. Many cultural historians cite this date as the beginning of the modern media age…. Later this week: the birthday of musician, producer, and songwriter Mark Heard, who was born December 16, 1951.

 

Image: Google Images


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