The word ‘tolerance’ gets thrown around a lot these days.  Often, it is being screamed by someone demanding  someone else be more tolerant of some belief or behavior.  In many cases, I’m not sure the term is being applied properly.  Before we get started, let’s have a look at the definition of the term tolerance, as provided by Merriam-Webster:

tolerance: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; the act of allowing something.

Obviously, there are other definitions, but this is the one which applies to our discussion here.  Tolerance, in my opinion, includes the ability to accept things with which we might not agree or understand.  Sadly, the term is generally not used this way in current discussion of politics and social issues.  “Tolerance” to many exists only when others agree with and argue for their view of the world, no matter how narrow it might be.  There are many behaviors which I simply don’t understand, but I have come to accept that people that indulge in those behaviors are still good people and have a right to conduct themselves in the way they see fit.  Whether I understand it or not does not matter.  I just have to accept it.  However, I do not have to go out of my way to support the behavior, only the person.  In addition, I was raised to “mind my own knitting”, a Georgia way of saying that I should look to my own house and not worry about what others are doing, as long as they aren’t causing others harm.  One example is homosexuality.  I don’t understand it at all, but I accept that I have many gay friends who are great people.  I want them to be happy and not have to worry about being treated like second-class citizens.  I’m not likely to show up at a Pride parade, but I’m not going to judge anyone based on their choice of partners.  And, simply put, it’s none of my business!

The antithesis of tolerance is intolerance, another term which gets used a great deal these days, usually in conjunction with some political disagreement.  The way it gets used now includes a suggestion of hatred on the part of the person accused of intolerance.  It is important to remember that disagreement does not necessarily imply hate.  It is sad that we have come to a place in our discourse where this simple fact has been forgotten.  I have seen with increasing frequency those who claim to be tolerant being quite intolerant.  This has been going on for many years, but has really become a major issue since the presidential election.  I have said for years that no one is less tolerant than a leftist, and they are showing it to be true.  I can’t understand how anyone could vote for Hillary Clinton.  But I accept that some people felt like she was the better option.  This single fact does not change my opinion of people who I know personally.  If we were friends before the election, your vote isn’t going to change it.

Unfortunately, I have not seen the same level of tolerance from the left.  I should be used to it, since it’s nothing new.  I mean, we’re supposed to tolerate all religions, but Christians can be insulted at will.  We’re supposed to tolerate so-called alternative lifestyles, but anyone who simply supports traditional marriage is attacked and labeled as a bigot or homophobe.  We’re supposed to celebrate people of different cultures, but those of us who are proud of our Southern heritage, warts and all, are labeled as ignorant racists.  Gun owners are called a litany of names.  All of this is perfectly acceptable to so many “tolerant” individuals, because they don’t have to tolerate that with which they do not agree.  As aggravating as this is, it has gotten so much worse since the election.  I have been called everything but brother, only because of the way which I voted.  The pure hatred which spews forth on social media from the left is disturbing.  It is coming from people whom I thought were more mature than that, people who have been outspoken but respectful in the past.  It sent people who were already intolerant right over the edge.

There are many things which we should never tolerate:  racism, sexism, religious persecution, etc.  But attacking people’s intelligence and moral character over their vote is really just shallow and immature.  It smacks of sour grapes.  In closing, I’ll say this: if you’re going to yell and scream about tolerance, you better check yourself and make sure you’re being tolerant.  You don’t have to like it or agree with anyone, but you do have to accept their right to an opinion.  You never know, they might be right.



Why can’t we just get along? Here’s one reason…

From what could be called our “mission statement” above, one can see we’re primarily blogging here because we’re frustrated with the lack of logic, reason, and just good ol’ common sense in what currently passes for public discourse. What I’d like to discuss today is one of the most common logical fallacies. If you haven’t noticed it already, you’ll see what I am about to illustrate used very routinely, and almost never called out as incorrect.

But first, let’s address the more general — what is a logical fallacy? In short, it is an erroneous argument; an error in logic. It’s not necessarily related to what you are saying, but more of how you are approaching the debate. These errors have been categorized and defined for thousands of years now. Seriously, thousands of years… Greeks were writing this stuff down in years we end with “BC”. Intrigued? Research Aristotle. Plato. Stoicism. Also check this out. It’s an intellectual rabbit hole, but I find it fascinating.

Aristotle wrote about ignoratio elenchi, which he considered to be a somewhat “catch all” term for certain logical fallacies related to what I’d like to discuss today, which is called Straw Man. The British also refer to it as “Aunt SalIy”. It can be simply defined as the misrepresention of an opponent’s position. For example:

  • Person A: I feel the medicinal use of marijuana should be legal. 
  • Person B: How can you possibly be in favor of decriminalizing marijuana? Obviously, you just want to get stoned all the time.

To some, the faulty logic of the above needs no explanation. Being in favor of medical cannabis is rather obviously not the same as stating marijuana should be as easily found and as loosely regulated as Cheetos. Unfortunately, this type of erroneous thinking is everywhere. If you have read my last blog post, you will remember I used healthcare as an example in my discussion about what consitutes a right as opposed to a need. On another similar social media discussion not long after posting those thoughts, I was informed the following:


“From your above post, I can “infer” or “deduct” that you believe poor people do not deserve healthcare as a right…..”

“Anyone that thinks the rich should get healthcare while the poor die, deserves to acquire a deadly disease, have their healthcare taken away, and die slowly, as that is what they are doing to the poor.”

“As it is obvious that you do not believe healthcare is a right for anyone if it will cost you a dime of your treasure or a moment of your time, I continue to infer that you are an immoral, evil person.”


All of the previous are perfect examples of Straw Man arguments (with a topper of Ad Hominem for a hint of spice). My point was simply healthcare is not a right. A need? Of course. A right? Nope. I never once addressed economic status. Rich people versus poor people? Not discussed. I never said people don’t deserve healthcare. I said people do not deserve healthcare as a right. Frankly, I feel if a person cannot distinguish between those two statements, they should go back to every teacher they’ve ever had and profusely apologize. An apology complete with wailing, gnashing of teeth, and maybe even self-flagellation. This person attacked arguments I did not make; ergo, his arguments are invalid. Summarized: “You’re arguing against what I didn’t say.” If one were to point out the error in logic and the offender recognize and acknowledge the same, a productive discussion could then possibly move forward. Experience shows the previous statement to be hopelessly optimistic. Such attempts are usually met with further illogical reponses, and remembering a movie quote from Gene Wilder.

When you see the straw man, look for this as well – is the argument being made from a position of ignorance, or deliberately? It is painfully obvious the above examples illustrate ignorance. The most frustrating type of ignorance as well, when the one positing such a wave of illogical garbage is absolutely convinced of both their intellectual as well as moral superiority. Usually, as in this case, quite falsely on both counts, I might add. In all honesty I hold the deliberate practice of this error in more contempt, as it is usually the type purpetuated in political discussions. A perfect example?

  • Donald Trump: “We must have strong borders and not let illegal immigrants enter the United States.”
  • Media/political opponents: “Donald Trump is a racist!”

I have a special contempt for the deliberate use of this as a tactic of demagoguery. This is Goebells-level propaganda, and it sickens me. Almost as much as it sickens me to see the sheer number of people who fall for this type of rhetoric. I may address my thoughts on that in a future post. Those thoughts center on the failings of our educational system, which are many. But, I digress…

Watch out for the straw man. He’s everywhere.

I do hope my ramblings here were informative, and maybe help you realize this error in logic when you see it. Trust me, you will.

As always, rational discussion is welcome – please comment, and if you are so inclined, forward a link to this post on your social media of choice.

Taking the Oath

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

This is the oath sworn by people when they become a naturalized citizen of the United States.  If you’ve ever seen one of the ceremonies where they actually recite this oath and become Americans, you know that it is a powerful moment.  The recent controversy over immigration has been on my mind.  I’ve wondered why anyone that goes through so much to get into this country wouldn’t just go ahead and become a citizen.  I’ve been doing some research on that subject, and came across this oath.  I’ve seen it before, but it has been a while, so I read through it again.

If you stop and think about what a person is actually saying when they take the Oath of Citizenship, you realize how profound a thing it is to become a citizen.  Take a moment to read it and think about what it means.  The very first sentence requires you to renounce any allegiance that you have for a foreign government or leader.  No matter where you were born, where you came from, or what form of government that you lived under, you are saying that you will no longer follow that leader or form of government.  That alone is a powerful statement and a step not to be taken lightly.

But then it goes on to say that you will obey and defend the Constitution, that you will bear arms against our enemies or serve the Armed Forces in a non-combatant role if required, that you will work for the national good if required, and that you will do all of this of your own free will.  Wow.  That is quite a commitment, especially for someone not even born here.  How much love for a place and hope for the future must you have to take this oath?  Seems like quite a bit to me.

In thinking about what this means, I was struck by the fact that so few of our elected leaders live up to what we require of naturalized citizens.  I don’t think that most of them have even read the Constitution, much less are willing to support and defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic, or bear true faith and allegiance to it!  Some of them have actually borne arms on behalf of the United States and they are to be commended.  But they are the minority.  Can you imagine any of the self-important performers in Hollywood taking this oath?  How about the faux-intellectual media hacks that tell us what to think every night?  No chance.

Here’s something to ponder: would you take this oath today?  Read it and think about it.  Go line by line and ask yourself if you would do what it asks you to do.  Would you make this commitment, knowing all the benefits and hazards of living in a free society?  Could you do it without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion?  I know that many of you reading this would do it without reservation.  But the sad truth is that far too many native-born American citizens would not. Far too many of us have forgotten what it truly means to be a citizen of the United States.  Thankfully, the naturalized citizen that takes this oath and native-born citizen that believes in what it stands for are what keep this country strong.

You keep using that word…

Of the many societal ills from which we are currently suffering, the highest on my radar is how words and terms are constantly being redefined. This is solely for propaganda value in my opinion. Rational and logical discourse have been overtaken by inflammatory, deceptive manipulation for decades now. This has permeated many aspects of our nation, with the government/mainstream media as the chief offender. I do consider them to be essentially the same; the media has long since abdicated any pretense of impartiality. They are the de facto communications arm of the Democratic party.

That being said, the word du jour is “right”. What is a “right”? I dare say if you were to ask a group of random people, you would be hard pressed to find 10% who could adequately define the word as it relates to politics and society. According to and their legal dictionary, it is defined as “…an entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process, or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal.”

In that previously mentioned random group of people, some would no doubt mention “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. Here are those words in more complete context:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal, that

they are endowed by their Creator

with certain unalienable Rights,

that among these are Life, Liberty

and the pursuit of Happiness —

That to secure these rights, Governments

are instituted among Men,

deriving their just powers from

the consent of the governed…”

No one could make a credible case the founders of our country chose their words with carelessness. In the case of the Declaration, once the issue was formally brought before the Continental Congress by Richard Henry Lee on June 7th 1776, a committee was chosen to prepare a written declaration. Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were the assigned members. Jefferson wrote in 1823 the committee “…unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections…I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress.” There is a great deal of original source material on this subject if one wishes to find it — my purpose is not to chronicle the history of the document, but to illustrate it was written with many revisions as well as under great care and attention to content. Rather, my purpose is to discuss some of those words in detail to illustrate the concept of rights.

  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident”: My translation? What follows should not require translation, explanation, or justification. They exist as surely as the sky is above us and the earth is below, and they cannot be rationally bargained or dismissed.
  • “…that all men are created equal”: Self evident? Yes. What many do not realize is that in historical context, it was a very controversial and shocking statement. How it is discussed today is usually completely out of context. We were then ruled by the British Crown, headed by a king. Royalty justified their authority as being given unto them by God. They were created superior, meant to rule, every word and decision they uttered carrying the will of the Almighty, with no limit, and your purpose as one created inferior was to be ruled by them with no questions asked. To put pen to paper and state “all men are created equal” was no small affront to the ruling class; it was a shot across the bow! I may write an entire post on this topic alone in the future. For now, I leave you with this: The key word in that phrase is “created”.
  • “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”: Now, we’re getting into the heart of the matter. This may be the most rebellious phrase in the entire document. You have rights as long as I decide you have them, according to a king of that time – that was the standard of the day. With those words, the Colonists were essentially saying “…here’s a list of things you have no legitimate power to control, and we dare you to try. We have them because we exist, they were given to us by God, not you, and you cannot take them away”. This was in theory and practice a giant extended middle digit to the king, accompanied by a hearty “up yours!”
  • “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”: Now, we’re listing those specific things over which they felt the king had no authority. Life – my life is mine, given to me by God. It is not yours to dismiss with a wave of the hand and an “Off with his head”. Liberty – In short, freedom. You cannot capriciously decide how free I am; I am free because I exist, to do as I wish under the laws of God. Pursuit of Happiness – much has been written about the meaning of that term as written in this document. Without writing another book, I will say I believe it to be in agreement with another phrase used both by the First Continental Congress as well as in the Constitution, that being “life, liberty, and property”. Others may disagree.

But again, what is a right? How often do you hear or read someone proclaiming “…it’s my right!”, or ” I have a right to (fill in the blank)!”? There is a difference between a “right” and “what one thinks one should have”. More often than not, those screaming the loudest today are usually crying for the latter. How can you tell them apart? It’s really not that hard once you think about it. Rights are those things you have, whether a concept like the right of self-defense, or a reality like the right to own property which you earned. The key here is this – no one gave it to you; you already have it, either by your very existence, or because of your toil and treasure.

This can be stated more clearly in the inverse: If what you hear someone proclaiming as a “right” requires someone must give it to them, it is not a right! It may be something one feels no one should be without, but if it must be taken away from someone else to give it to you, then it is not a right, it is a nice-to-have.

Before we go further, a short lesson in logic:

Just because one states something is not a right

does not mean they are proclaiming no one

should ever have that something.

That is an illogical argument which

is so prevalent it has a name:

Straw Man.

For an excellent description of

this logical fallacy, go here.

I’ll give you a decidedly hot-button example: Health care. You will have no problem finding those who state people have a right to health care. It simply isn’t true (take a deep breath, see the previous paragraph). For one to have a right to health care, someone will have to give it to them. That means the work, time, services, products, and money of someone else, either directly or indirectly MUST be given to someone else simply because they exist, and those who provide those dollars, goods, services, man-hours, etc. are not compensated. Except for the lobbyists and the politicians, of course; but I digress.


We have a word for the legal requirement

under threat of force to provide from

one’s time and treasure

with no compensation.

It’s called slavery.


Remember, the subject of this discussion is centered around the definition of rights, not a discussion of health care. I chose that as an example because it is a very current topic at this time in our history.

Substitute the topic du jour when you hear it into the previously mentioned formula and my belief is you’ll find very few actual “rights” are being discussed. More often than not, you’re actually trying to be intimidated and propagandized into going along with giving up more of your labor and/or liberty to the government so they can enslave more of us in the shackles of dependency.

Don’t fall into the trap of their demagoguery. Know your rights from your nice-to-haves!