Rod Dreher

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How To Fight The Trans Cult

Hey, I’m in Nashville today at the Southern Baptist ERLC event, so please forgive the light posting. I want to bring to your attention an extraordinary letter from a reader who writes about how he fought the transgender cult that briefly seized his daughter’s imagination. He’s responding to a letter another reader wrote about how this thing has her child in its grips, and the local school authorities are fighting her, the mom, over it. I want to share it with you in case it is helpful to you in your situation. I have edited it slightly to protect privacy:

I wrote you a week or so ago about my experience with this sort of thing in [xxx] County. I absolutely know where this person is coming from and I feel her pain and frustration . The only thing I can tell her, if she has the stomach for it, is to get almost downright combative with the counselors in the school and any psychologist that her teenage daughter sees especially if she, the parent is paying for it. I would keep the pressure on these counselors and their bosses, principals and superintendent as well as school board members. I would usually do it in private and not in any type of open session. In my case it paid off on a few levels.

1) I got to learn how this all worked. How the policies were formulated and where the counselors were all coming from and what they were facing and why they were doing what they did. I learned that the counselors were being reactive more than anything else. They just wanted to keep the peace in the school and they wanted to avoid incidents like bullying, or self-mutilation. Apparently “cutting” was a big thing with a lot of these female to male tans-cultist types prior to their announcement that they were crossing over, or out and out breakdowns. I had one counselor tell me that the sexual tension, etc. amongst teens these days borders on the criminal.There are no more taboos.

2) I made a few psychologists’ lives nightmarish for essentially outing them for not following protocol on hormone therapy recommendations.It helped that I come from a family of physicians and as such I had a lot of physician family friends, including a professor of psychiatry. I was aggressive on this end. I would ask these psychologists who advocated hormone therapy if they understood any of the metabolic effects of introducing large amount of testosterone into a still developing female’s body, and if their recommendations took into consideration the long-ranging effects of this sort of thing, and if their malpractice/E&O insurance covered it. I told them if I found out that if (he) in anyway was going to help facilitate my daughter into any of this, that he would be hit with a lawsuit and possible criminal charges. It helped that another parent going through the same thing was a trial attorney.

3) You are going up against a very powerful lobby and their believers. Other trans types are very aggressive and are instructed to be by other transgenders as well as advocacy groups. I would get calls at my house at all hours of the night. I had my house egged, a window broken. I had an advocacy group threaten me and my lawyer friend/ally/parent with a civil rights suit until the lawyer said “put up or shut up” – that was actually fun, because we actually had a better case against them then they had against us.

Rod, I have been in the negotiating and deal making business since I graduated from college in 1991. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve seen scams and scams that were nothing more than disguised attempts at negotiation. This trans cult to me smelled like a scam and a “thing” as my Wall Street friends would call trends, as soon as I experienced it and the more I learn about it.This parent though, needs to understand that she is in for a tough and wild ride. The recent convert is usually the most enthusiastic about their belief. She needs to stay true to her beliefs as much as her daughter is staying with hers for the time being.

She does not need to be combative [with her child], and there are even certain accommodations that you can make. In my daughter’s case, she wanted to start me calling her by her new male name because she said she would no longer answer to her given name. Instead of fighting with that, I made a counteroffer. Since her given name and the new male name both started with the same letter, I said “ Okay, I’ll call you ___, but I’m not going to call you by the boy name because, a) I really don’t like that name and b) I still don’t buy that you are a boy in a girl’s body.” When she agreed to that, as a negotiator, I knew that I had her compromise her “belief.”

Finally, at the end of last year she came to me on her own after coming home from her first semester in college looking like my daughter. She finally admitted that she was a girl. I did not press the trans issue with her too much. I needed to keep peace at home. I had two other kids, and I was not turning my home into a hot war zone. I pressured all of the so-called experts, made them try to defend their positions on established fact and gave them fair warning that any parenting interference, any advocacy of drug prescription or surgery that was not backed by sound medical evidence or need would make their lives miserable.

In subsequent correspondence, the reader told me that this trans thing is a much bigger fad than many adults realize. He mentioned family members in a particularly conservative Southern parish who told him it’s all the rage in the local public school.

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And Now, The Cajun Army

A great question. Look at what these amazing people are doing:

A new group called the Cajun Army is hitting the streets across South Louisiana, helping people with recovery efforts.

Similar to the Cajun Navy, who provided countless water rescues when flood waters were at their highest, the group offers a ‘more boots on the ground’ approach to help those in need.

Suzanne Foret recently enlisted and joined fellow soldiers to gut a home on Lake Avenue in Baton Rouge.

“It feels really good to get out there and help each other and help out other people and get this situation handled,” Foret said. “We’re taking care of each other. Louisiana takes care of each other and that’s what we’re doing.”

Volunteers are not just coming from Louisiana. The group started a week ago under the command of Chris King and two of his friends. Now thanks to social media and a walkie-talkie phone app, the force is now about 3,000 volunteers strong from all over the country.

“We’ve got people in Wisconsin, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida,” King said. “We got all kind of people that are connected with us working behind the scenes from computers.”

Join the Cajun Army here, for folks without boats.

Who said civil society is dead? Not here in south Louisiana. We’re poor in many ways, but richer than most folks in others.

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The Disaster in Denham Springs

This morning I drove out to Denham Springs, in Livingston Parish, where 90 percent of the homes were flooded. I had not been there since the flood, but tried to deliver my older son to a house-gutting crew (had the wrong address, apparently, and didn’t make the connection). My wife, who has already been there, told me, “Nothing you’ve heard prepares you for it.” This is true. I don’t know why it’s true, but it’s true.

We crossed Highway 190 over the Amite River, which caused all the flooding. We kept motoring into Denham, stunned by how high the water line was on businesses, even though we were quite far from the river. You get a real sense for what it means when people say, “It never flooded here before, so we didn’t see this coming.” Start at the riverbank and go east, and you keep going and going and going, and still, there was the water.

Then you turn off into one of the subdivisions, and it looks like a freaky tornado went through. All the insides of people’s houses are there on the curb in giant nasty mounds, taller than a man. But the house stands. It’s as if a twister went through and destroyed everything, but left the frames of the houses. If you think of it that way, you can better understand the magnitude of the destruction. Imagine a tornado had covered the entire state of Massachusetts, and pulled the insides out of every house in the state, but left the frame standing. That’s what we’re talking about in south Louisiana right now.

You don’t really get that sense from seeing still pictures of houses with piles of

Meredith Waguespack

Meredith Waguespack

people’s lives out front, or from watching brief clips of riding down streets showing this. You have to get into those neighborhoods and start driving, and driving, and driving. It’s the same thing, for miles in most directions.

Getting out there, I understood the irreplaceable value of the Cajun Navy. The water rose so fast that there was no way for many people to get out in time, or even to know that it was coming. Without the men of the Cajun Navy, the suffering of the people would have been immeasurably greater, as there was simply no way for public officials and first responders to get to everybody in time. The area of the disaster was simply too vast, and the speed with which it was upon us gave no time to prepare for rescues.

On the way back to Baton Rouge, I stopped by SFT, a local t-shirt maker, to pick up some Cajun Navy t-shirts. Meredith Waguespack (left) designed them and sells them online. You can buy one here. She says that $15 from every one sold goes to flood relief through the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s fund to restore the Baton Rouge Food Bank, which was nearly wiped out by the flood. It’s a great way to celebrate the strength of Louisiana and its people, and to restore a local agency that feeds the hungriest in our city. Meredith says they’ve already raised $30,000 for the Food Bank through the online sale of these t-shirts.

I’m headed to Nashville tonight to the ERLC meeting, and will be proudly wearing my Cajun Navy t-shirt, and telling anybody who asks about the heroism and dedication of these men to our community.

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The Yahrzeit of Paw

Ray Dreher on his deathbed, August 2015 (Photo illustration by Rod Dreher)

Ray Dreher, days before his passing, August 2015 (Photo illustration by Rod Dreher)

It was one year ago today that my father died at 81.

May his memory be eternal.

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Hey Newton County, This Is America

This is ridiculous:

More than 600 people packed inside a Georgia court house for a three-hour town hall condemning a proposal for a new mosque — a marathon meeting filled with bigoted insults and reassertions of well-disproven myths.

The Monday night public forum in front of the Newton County Commissioners grew loud and rowdy as speakers voiced their concerns about terrorism and their fear of the Muslim-American community.

“We have already seen bombings and beheadings,” one resident said during her time in front of the crowd, according to WXIA. “Eight years ago, our U.S. government got a Muslim president who has put Muslims in power.”

President Obama is a Christian.

These Muslims bought their land fair and square, for the sake of building a mosque. This is America. They are Americans. They have the right to build a house of worship there. Those angry Georgians need to listen to Russell Moore (see above).

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Mucker’s Diary, Second Edition

The view outside Mr. Ray's house, with all of his belongings on the street (submitted by reader)
The view outside Mr. Ray's house, with all of his belongings on the street (submitted by reader)

From a reader:

My family are members of Istrouma Baptist church, my son graduated from Sequitur and my daughter is in her 3rd year at Sequitur as a freshman. My husband and I are big fans of your writing and The American Conservative. We appreciate so much you shining a light on our hurting region, but also the efforts of our resilient people who, in my opinion, are giving our nation a view of what it looks like to ‘love your neighbor’. The following is our story from yesterday’s muck.

Jeff, my daughter and I worked on a disabled elderly man’s home yesterday with three ladies from Arkansas, who came down for the week to help where they could. We worked beside of men and women, young and old, black, white and Hispanic, business owners, people whose homes had been flooded, Church of Christ, Baptists, and non-denominational people. One lady from Mandeville was a breast cancer survivor and had had a double mastectomy last year. It was hot, moldy, wet and stinky. We mucked through 6 inches of poo water, which this sweet man had been living in for 8 days, and none of us knew the others.

A precious group of people had brought food to the neighbors on Mr. Roy’s street the day before and they found him sitting in his wheelchair in his kitchen all alone. He has lived in his house for 30 years and because his son lives in California really didn’t have anywhere to go. All his neighbors had been flooded as well and tried their best to get him to leave, but he refused. A plea went out on Facebook to help this man and one helper came, then two, then three and so on….

I read your article with Brian’s essay the day before where he quoted Rudyard Kipling’s If poem. I remember memorizing that poem as a young child and thought, Yes! I want to “keep my head about me” while we live our new normal.

I confess I failed miserably “keeping my head about me when others lose their own” when I cried as I tried to vacuum the water out of his living room for over an hour. Many thoughts and emotions were pouring over me but the one the Lord wanted me to hear the loudest was this: The Bible tells us we are chosen, loved, redeemed, forgiven, adopted, blessed, and marked….in order to bring Praise to His Glory. This flood has given us multiple opportunities to bring God glory, yes?

I prayed as we dumped all Mr. Roy’s worldly possessions on the side of the road for God to bless Mr. Roy in mighty ways in the days, weeks and months to come. I prayed that we would be a people, who in the midst of great sorrow and hard work, would rise and shine and show this lost and hurting world that our joy comes from the Lord-not material things that can be gone in a matter of minutes. I prayed that God would cleanse me of my pride and give me a new zeal to go and tell about our good and gracious God.

Mr. Roy’s house is not completely finished, but our team made huge headway and hopefully he has decided to leave. Our sweet FB friend found him a furnished safe place, but he has to make the decision to go.

My story could be written hundreds of times over because I believe what we experienced yesterday is happening on every street in every flooded neighborhood all across southeastern Louisiana.

It is. A friend of mine was part of a mucking crew that went to an old man’s trailer. The place had been flooded, and needed mucking bad. The old man would not let them take out the carpet, or anything. It seemed to them that he believed that if he could hold on to everything, he wouldn’t lose any of it. The truth is, by trying to hoard it all, he was going to lose it all eventually to the mold.

The trauma here is severe. But so are the mercies.

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Problems That The Other America Has

Screenshot from TheAtlantic.com
Screenshot from TheAtlantic.com

The reader who sent this in says, “I can’t even.” Nope, neither can I. Excerpt from The Atlantic.com’s piece:

When Trevor MacDonald started chestfeeding about five years ago, he didn’t know anyone who had attempted it, nor had any of his doctors ever encountered someone who had. In fact, he was shocked that his body could even produce milk. As a trans man—someone who was assigned female at birth but has transitioned to identifying as male—he was born with the mammary glands and milk ducts required for lactation, but he’d had his breasts removed. Once he had his baby, his care providers supported his desire to nurse, but it was up to him figure out how.

MacDonald began blogging about chestfeeding from his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and soon discovered a whole community of transmasculine people around the world in the same boat, looking for guidance. For trans men and transmasculine folks, putting a baby to their chest to suckle can lead to complicated feelings about their gender. Many lactation support services are available for “nursing mothers,” which sounds unwelcoming to men and non-binary individuals. And many trans people say doctors don’t understand their bodies or experiences.

I am not interested in understanding the bodies or experiences of women who think they’re men who are bitching because nobody understands what it’s like to want to suckle your child at the breast you had cut off.

What I am interested in is trying to get inside the head of a coastal elite media that is obsessed with decadent crap like this. I think we can safely say that the people in J.D. Vance’s book aren’t readers of The Atlantic.com (one of my favorite websites, by the way), nor are most people in my part of the world who are out there mucking houses, feeding flood victims and doing their laundry. I get that. No magazine or web publication can be all things to all people all the time, nor should it try to be.

But if you read The Atlantic, The New York Times, and other publications edited by coastal elites, you would think that the travails of transgenders was the worst social problem facing America today. The bizarre degree of coverage and interest says little about transgenders and everything about the priorities of the media gatekeepers.

Last year, Gallup found that Americans massively overestimate the percentage of Americans who are gay or lesbian:

The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian, little changed from Americans’ 25% estimate in 2011, and only slightly higher than separate 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population. These estimates are many times higher than the 3.8% of the adult population who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Gallup Daily tracking in the first four months of this year.

Well, yeah, of course. Because the news media are disproportionately interested, even obsessed, with all things LGBT, you can hardly blame people for assuming that.

I’m not trying to pick on The Atlantic, which publishes a huge variety of articles daily, and which publishes the great Emma Green, though I imagine an LGBT person is far more likely to see himself or herself in the pages of that site than any of my neighbors here on the bayou are. And this is true of the elite media, period. I’m very sensitive to it right now because I keep hearing from readers and friends all over the country that if it weren’t for this blog and for reports from Facebookers in south Louisiana, they would have no idea how bad things are here on the ground, and what people are struggling with.

I submit to you that most people in the elite media are far more concerned about the difficulties of a breastfeeding transman than they are with the struggles of a single mom in Appalachia trying to keep her kids from falling into opioid addiction, or the flood victims from Livingston Parish who tear up when you give them a package of toilet paper (this really happened), because they have nothing, not even that. I believe that our colleges are turning out graduates who are trained in the obsessions of the professoriat, such that they cannot even see their own country anymore.

As I keep saying, I am not for Donald Trump, and think he does not have what it takes to be president. And I’m certainly not for Hillary Clinton, who is the epitome of what’s wrong with our Establishment. But this kind of thing — showcasing the woes of the chestfeeding freakshow — is what makes me glad that the Trump people are throwing a brick through the Establishment’s window. Elites in Washington, New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood spend more time worrying about whether or not a transman can get his (“his”) baby to suckle at his absent breast, and society’s shameful indifference to that, than they do worrying about most any struggle in the daily lives of poor dumb rednecks and coonasses in Jesus Land.

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School Helped Trans Cult Steal Her Daughter

This is a guy, though saying so is probably a thought crime (kutena/Shutterstock)
This is a guy, though saying so is probably a thought crime (kutena/Shutterstock)

A reader writes:

I want to thank you for your articles on the transgender issue. As you can see by the subject line, this is something I am dealing with daily. I agree with you that there is so much detrimental influence on teenagers and children to express themselves in this way, it is completely overwhelming. It is not only overwhelming to the child, but to the parent as well. The nightmare of the situation is that the people you are supposed to trust; teachers counselors, administrators, will do nothing to inform you about what your child is doing while he or she is at school. Not only that, but they are encouraging and promoting this whole phenomenon. By the time I got a hint of what was going on with my daughter, I could do nothing to stop it. My daughter lives in a fantasy land of her own creation and the school’s continual nurturing. The advice I received from the school was to become a member of PFLAG or other similar groups so I could support my child and her decision.

I refuse to do this. My daughter is a girl. She acts like a girl when she is not consciously doing her boy act. I was very relieved to see in your article that were other parents out there who felt as I do, because according to the media, all parents should support their child’s decision to express themselves how they truly are. Case in point, the tv show ” I Am Jazz”. There is almost nothing to the contrary and I have felt very isolated.

My question to you is, in your research, have you found any groups for parents like me? Parents who refuse to give in to all of the lies? If you have would you please reply to me and send me their link or email address? I would be very grateful for support from other like parents in this very difficult time.

Readers, if you can help her, please post the information in the comments section, or send an e-mail to me (rod — at — amconmag — dot — com) that I can pass on to her.

In this heartbreaking and infuriating piece, a woman named Emily writes about how gender ideology activists and pusillanimous school administrators destroyed the charter school her kids attended. The camel’s nose is always “we have to do everything possible to stop bullying.” Excerpt:

With heavy heart, I too, pulled my children out of this school. This is the grade school that all of my children attended for the last thirteen years. We enrolled our oldest the first year the school was in operation and have made many decisions for our family based on our commitment to it. Our family is now struggling to pay private school tuition for seven children and will be doing so for the next 12 or more years. And we’re not the only family to walk away; many others have decided not to return for the upcoming school year. Applications to the school dropped precipitously for the first time in its history. The distrust runs deep and the school will be forever changed.

Of course, the entire US public school system is now facing the same gender ideology push we did last year. Obama’s transgender directive was delivered to every public school in the nation last May and ensures that this battle will play out many times over in the 2016-17 school year. Though I understand that our school was put in a difficult position and sympathize with that, ultimately I’m disappointed with their choices. Public schools have a duty to maintain a welcoming environment, which requires neutrality on some issues. An even more basic duty that was ignored by our school was to simple scientific facts and data. How ridiculous it was to hear our high school science teacher argue that biological sex is a subjective concept!

This experience has changed my life and I have committed myself to speaking out against gender ideology wherever I see it, but especially when it puts women, girls and students in danger. Going forward, I refuse to be intimidated and my resolve to speak the truth has only grown as the proponents of this lie act more and more boldly. I hope parents across this country will join me in defending our children against policies that subject them to harmful ideas and dangerous situations. Your child’s body and soul are at stake – Do not be afraid!

Note this part especially:

Students in the school were not immune to what was happening. Multiple kindergartners were pulled out of the school due to the confusion (and even trauma) they experienced from watching a boy “transform” into a girl. Five-year-old children know there are differences between boys and girls and this was beyond their ability to comprehend. Parents reported that their kindergartners were asking if they could grow up to become the opposite sex. The high school saw similar confusion. Two girls spoke out at a board meeting, claiming to be gender non-conforming. The GSA club focused its efforts exclusively on the transgender issue and papered the walls of the high school with signs stating that “Sex Does Not Equal Gender.” There was much discussion at lunch and on the playground of the transgender issue, even among the younger children. My fourth-grader chose not to talk about it all after he determined he was in disagreement with most of his friends. Parents started wearing bright purple buttons to school every day indicating their support of gender ideology. They were impossible to miss and prompted questions from many of the students.

Don’t think it’s not eventually coming to your school. And then?

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Leviathan Vs. The Cajun Navy

Cajun Navy, via Teespring.com
Cajun Navy, via Teespring.com

A friend who has been doing flood relief work in the Baton Rouge area writes, “Remember when I said there was never an emergency the state couldn’t add a layer of bureaucracy to?” He points to a news story showing a Louisiana state legislator wanting a law to regulate the Cajun Navy, the impromptu collection of citizen boatmen who rushed into the flooded areas to save people. From the story:

Jonathan Perry, a Republican state senator is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit fee for citizen-rescuers to bypass law enforcement into devastated areas, according to a report from WWL-TV.

Perry represents Senate District 26, comprised of Vermilion Parish and portions of Acadia, Lafayette and St. Landry parishes.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” said Perry in a radio interview, per WWL-TV. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of someone going out to rescue someone and then not being able to find them (the rescuers) and, secondly, there’s a cost.”

Some who took part in the rescue parties have spoken out against the proposal, including Dustin Clouatre of St. Amant.

“How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn’t make sense to me,” said Clouatre to WWL-TV.

This is ridiculous. If this law passes, it will be widely disregarded in the next flood, as it should be. The Cajun Navy represents the best of Louisiana’s civil society, because it’s the outward sign of an inward state that Louisiana people carry within them. That law would be like Mayor Giuliani’s trying to ban jaywalking in New York City. It’s trying to go against the Tao. Won’t work.

Caleb Bernacchio, a Baton Rouge native who has family rescued by the Cajun Navy, writes about how there’s no way to bureaucratize this kind of thing. Excerpts:

[Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre] envisions relationships that exist between friends, family, and total strangers, that are active in a more subtle way in daily life but which are most apparent in strong communities when disaster strikes. In Baton Rouge and Denham Springs, total strangers gave of their time and resources, sometimes putting their own lives at risk, to help those in need. And in similar communities around the world, on a daily basis communal bonds are evidenced by the way in which fellow community members give assistance to those in need in a manner that extends beyond economic calculations. This type of virtuous care is vital to the well-being of community members, yet it often goes unnoticed.

MacIntyre argues that as human beings we are always vulnerable to threats that make flourishing precarious and that we can only really flourish by relying on the virtuous care of friends, family, and often total strangers to give to us when we are in need. The response to the recent floods gives ample evidence of the strength of of virtuous networks spanning the communities of southern Louisiana. But maybe not surprisingly, the localism of the relatively rural population of southern Louisiana also offers an example of the parochialism and “irrationality” derided by elites in the wake of the Brexit vote. While economic models can largely capture increased economic efficiency stemming from globalization, economists struggle to explain the type of widespread cooperation, apparent in southern Louisiana, and described by MacIntyre in terms of networks of giving and receiving.

More:

Mainstream economist often dismiss the type of virtuous behavior on display in southern Louisiana as irrational, or attempt to reduce it to some sort of utilitarian calculation, as if members of the “Cajun Navy” were tacitly performing cost/benefit analyses each time they came across someone in distress. MacIntyre argues that the economic theory is unable to account for the role of genuinely common goods that transcend the distinction between egoism and altruism. The failure of economic theory to explain the virtuous behavior exemplified in the wake of the floods in Louisiana is directly related to the bankruptcy of political discourse in the United States and Europe.

What many pundits, economists, and gleeful proponents of globalization fail to understand is that relationships of gratuitous giving and receiving that form the basis of virtuous communities are often threatened by disintegration and marginalization as a result of globalizing economic policies. These virtuous relationships and personal bonds are required for local communities to subsist and for individuals to flourishing, especially when they are in need. MacIntyre, in Dependent Rational Animals, points to threats to communal integrity stemming from consumerism and reduced job stability, both making virtuous relationships, and therefore actual human flourishing, more precarious.

Read the whole thing. It’s an important short essay that deserves wide distribution.

It sounds petty to people outside the state for us to be irritated by things like the Red Cross not letting people come into shelters to pray with folks (pray, not proselytize), but prayer and religious observance is part of the natural, organic way of life in south Louisiana. Telling people they can’t go into shelters to comfort people with prayer is one the spectrum of a legislator wanting to regulate the Cajun Navy.

Say, if you want a t-shirt with the Cajun Navy logo of the photo illustrating this post, go here to order. All proceeds go to the Louisiana Red Cross.

UPDATE: The Louisiana state senator who proposes the regulation says he has been misunderstood. He explains it from his point of view in this video.

Walter Olson isn’t really buying it. Excerpt:

I’m trying to give Perry’s explanation a charitable reading — I guess he hopes something like a TSA preclear process will give police or authorities more confidence than they now have in letting licensed/approved amateurs past barricades and perimeters. But it’s pretty easy for me to imagine that this will change the incentives in a future emergency so as to give the police/authorities reason to be more aggressive in creating and enforcing barriers/perimeters than they currently are.

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Norcia Earthquake!

Screen grab from CNN

Screen grab from CNN

CNN reporting catastrophic earthquake in central Italy.  The epicenter is very close to Norcia. The monks are reportedly okay, and in the piazza with people. This tweet shows damage inside the basilica at the Norcia monastery:

Here’s a shot I took last time I was there of the statue of St. Benedict in the piazza there, with the basilica behind him. I will update this post once I’ve heard from our friends there. I have also put out a line to Marco Sermarini to see how the people of San Benedetto del Tronto have made it through the night.

IMG_6379

UPDATE: Monks safe (and so are Marco’s people in San Benedetto del Tronto), but the basilica at the monastery did not fare so well:

“At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a community growing in fame because of their prayer life and their brewery, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service.
Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew, and “on feast days we get up earlier” to pray, he said.

“All of the monks and the monks’ guests are safe,” he said. But the Basilica of St. Benedict suffered “considerable structural damage” and the monastery will need repairs as well.

Within a half hour of the first quake, Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people “because it is the safest place in town – around the statue of St. Benedict.”

While no buildings collapsed, it is obvious that many homes are no longer habitable, he said. The monks have set up a reception desk to help meet their neighbors’ needs.
The basilica, he said, is closed pending an inspection by civil engineers, who were to arrive the afternoon of Aug. 24. However, Nivakoff said, “the facade seems to have detached” from the rest of the building and major repairs are likely.”

UPDATE.2: The monks are temporarily abandoning Norcia for their own safety. This just went out from the monastery:

Dear Friends,

After a careful study of the developing seismic situation in our region of Italy, as a precautionary measure, we have decided to transfer our community to Rome.

The monks of the international Benedictine headquarters at St. Anselmo in Rome have kindly offered our monks a place to remain during this period of uncertainty. We would be grateful if you added the monks of St. Anselmo to your prayers for their generosity during our time of need.

While the community is in Rome, two monks will remain in Norcia to keep watch over the basilica and monitor the developing situation. They will avoid danger by sleeping in tents outside the city walls.

We strive to maintain the order of the Rule even during the most difficult of circumstances, and this transfer, while disruptive, will ensure the safety of our monks and grant us all the peace to continue to practice our monastic life.

Please continue to pray for our community, and consider giving a gift (https://en.nursia.org/donations/) to help our effort to rebuild.

The Monks of Norcia

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