France bans Down Syndrome ad from TV because smiling kids might ‘disturb’ women who had an abortion

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Years ago I was a substitute teacher just outside Chicago. There were days when I had the opportunity to join special education classes, which included kids with Down Syndrome. I am not lying when I say that those were some of the best kids I ever had the privilege to meet.

Given that experience, you can see one of the many reasons why a story out of France caught my eye just before Thanksgiving.  It turns out that a commercial by CoorDown titled “Dear Future Mom” is now officially banned from the airwaves. The reason? It might “disturb the conscience” of women who elected to have an abortion.

The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on the story Wednesday:

“Abortion is legal in most of Europe, but its proponents are bent on suppressing efforts to change the minds of mothers considering it. Witness France’s ban on a television commercial showing happy children with Down Syndrome (DS).

Produced to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day, the commercial showed several cheerful children with DS addressing a mother considering abortion. “Dear future mom,” says one, “don’t be afraid.” “Your child will be able to do many things,” says another. “He’ll be able to hug you.” “He’ll be able to run toward you.” “He’ll be able to speak and tell you he loves you.”

France’s High Audiovisual Council removed the commercial from air earlier this year, and in November the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, upheld the ban, since the clip could ‘disturb the conscience’ of French women who had aborted DS fetuses.”

Ask yourself this question: If French courts are permitted to ban a television commercial that features smiling kids because it might “disturb the conscious” of some viewers, then what is off limits?

Answer: Nothing.

Whether you agree or disagree with abortion, then I hope you can see just how incredibly terrifying this court’s logic is from a free-speech and religious liberty perspective. People often behave like the liberties enjoyed by the western world will be around forever, but that is not the case.

“But Doug!” you said, “Why should we care about France? We sort of expect that kind of thing from the French and Europe as a whole, right?”

The truth, sadly, is that every nation has Thought Police — even the U.S.

One merely needs to check out BuzzFeed’s hit piece on the hosts of HGTV’s hit series Fixer Upper. Writer Kate Aurthur founder herself a juicy target to destroy because a popular married couple is suspected of a Mind Crime. That’s why she wrote “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage.”

Shocker — Christian family belongs to a church that does not approve of homosexual relationships.

Perhaps Allahpundit over at Hotair put it best:

“The BuzzFeed piece is proof that we’re past the persuasion stage now in the culture wars, particularly as regards gay rights, and into the bludgeoning stage, where the left feels secure enough in its gains to try to strongarm the holdouts.”

Boom.

In France, smiling kids with Down Syndrome cannot appear on television. In America, Christian couples with hit television shows have giant websites trying to find ways to destroy their career.

In France, powerful legal councils keep you off the air if you  disturb the conscience of women who had an abortion. In America, liberal reporters will try to derail your television career if you “disturb the conscious” of secular Democrats.

And with that, I will leave you with a quote by John Philpot Curran:

The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” — John Philpot Curran.

If you do not think you have anything to learn from men who were born in the 1700s, then think again.

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NBC’s ‘Timeless’: Time-travel drama is standard fare, adds nothing new to genre

Because my daughter is such a fan of “The Voice,” I almost accidentally began watching the new NBC time-travel series “Timeless” since it immediately follows the “American Idol” knock-off.

Scientist Rufus Carlin has invented the world’s first time machine, but unfortunately for us all, unscrupulous former NSA agent Garcia Flynn and some henchmen steal it. Flynn’s goal is to alter history by preventing the United States from becoming a (super)power.

But unfortunately for Flynn, he forgot to take into account Carlin’s prototype time device (see below) which, although it looks much clunkier than the stolen model, works perfectly well. And even worse for Flynn — it can be used to track the stolen, newer machine’s movements through the timestream..

The first adventure takes place at the Hindenburg disaster — which still does occur, just not how we remember it thanks to our protagonists. After Carlin confirms that this point in time indeed is where Flynn has journeyed, he is joined by historian Lucy Preston and Delta Force member Wyatt Logan in an attempt to capture the renegades and the stolen timeship. Flynn’s plan in this case was to destroy the famous dirigible on its way back to Europe — as it was carrying numerous prominent Americans to the coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth.

Carlin and co. believe that since the Hindenburg still burst into flames and fell into ruins (just not the way it was supposed to) that they prevented any serious alteration of the timeline. But this is not the case: Preston discovers, once back in the present, that her mother is no longer on chronically ill, and worse, her sister no longer exists.

The best of the four episodes to air thus far was the second, where the team tracks Flynn back to the date of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. And it’s really here that the show really misses the opportunity to be radically different.

Scientist Carlin, who’s black, asks historian Preston why the team simply can’t save Lincoln from John Wilkes Booth’s bullet … in an attempt to make the future (much) better for African-Americans. It’s a rather compelling argument, but Preston adamantly refuses on the premise that they have no idea what the overall effects of such a drastic altering of events would entail.

Logically, it’s hard not to disagree with that. But wouldn’t saving our 16th president be a lot more interesting than Preston trying to figure out what happened to her sister? Or Logan trying to resurrect his dead wife? Why not examine how black Americans would have fared under a continuing Lincoln administration (and policies)?

Carlin (played by Malcolm Barrett) does a great job conveying the emotional angst over this issue — I was hoping his argument would prevail, or, at least he’d act unilaterally. Let’s face it — the stakes aren’t (weren’t) exactly small.

The problem is that “Timeless” operates under the premise of a “closed loop” time geometry — the actions of changing events in the past will affect that same timeline’s future. If saving Lincoln created an alternate timeline — the other theory dealing with the consequences of altering past events — Carlin and co. might have been more inclined to act.

By not taking big risks like saving Lincoln, sadly, “Timeless” ends up being yet another formulaic, offers-no-surprises assembly line drama.

For yours truly, it has become exceedingly difficult over the last decade or so to find a new network/cable TV offering worth sticking with. “The Walking Dead,” the most recent show I regularly watched, lasted only three and a half seasons for me, and that was stretching it. It essentially became the same thing week after week after week.

Of the three other fairly recent faves of mine — “Nip/Tuck,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Fringe” — only the last remained true enough to its origins to stick with until the end.

“Nip/Tuck” took its adult theme warning to the limit each and every week and was so outrageously different in its  first two seasons as to be must-viewing. I liken its fall to that of “Friends” — the character entanglements became so convoluted and silly that the show became an eye-roller and yawn-inducer.

“Battlestar” started out similarly; however, as I chronicled at the time at The Colossus of Rhodey, the political lecturing started seeping in. The posturing initially didn’t make much sense (the few remaining humans refuse to take advantage of a means to wipe out their killers), and later became outrageous as the writers appeared to possess no sense of moral certitude (not to mention, they seemed to wing it, plot-wise, the last season-season and a half).

Jesse Watters’ ‘Chinatown’ video: Producer crosses fine line between ‘politically incorrect’ and ‘giant jerk’

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Fox News regularly fights the refrain that it is filled with a bunch of racists and bigots. Given that, one would think that producers would shy away from material that feeds the narrative. If you thought that, then you would be wrong! O’Reilly Factor producer Jesse Watters came out with a “Chinatown” segment this week that was one of the most disgusting things I have seen on a cable news station in years.

As a staunch conservative, I will now explain to you why friends of limited government should vehemently condemn the network for putting this “political humor” on the air.

Conservatives like to think of themselves as politically incorrect, but there is a difference between speaking uncomfortable truths and being a low-life jerk. Jesse Watters does not know the difference between the two because he approached people who did not understand English, asked them culturally insensitive questions, and then exploited their inability to communicate to mock them.

That, dear reader, is not “politically incorrect” — that is mean. And for some reason people on social media do not seem to get this.

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As I told multiple individuals over the past few days, what Jesse Watters did was one step removed from asking a Chinese stranger what “Ching-Chong Ching-Chong” means. The guy literally asked people if he should bow to say hello, if it was the “year of the Dragon,” and if they knew karate. He preyed on the ignorance of an old woman for a cheap joke, and issued a non-apology apology when he was called out by millions of people with a functional moral compass.

What is extra grating about Mr. Watters is that he did what all bullies do — he went after an easy target.

Would Jesse Watters go into a Muslim neighborhood and makes “jokes” to Arabic-speaking women about washing feet in the sink? No.

Would Jesse Watters go into a community of Somali immigrants and joke about child soldiers? No.

Would Jesse Watters go into a Jewish community and joke with people who only speak Hebrew about rhinoplasty? No.

The reason why Mr. Watters created this “joke” the way he did was because he knew he could get away with it in an asian community. If he pulled that level of racial or cultural insensitivity in other areas, then he would have received a black eye and a trip to the hospital.

If you ever wondered why minority groups tend to shy away from the Republican Party, then Jesse Watters’ “Chinatown” is a great learning tool. There is nothing wrong with racial jokes in the appropriate forums (e.g., Comedy Central roasts), but it is certainly beyond the pale to use an immigrant’s language barrier as a springboard for ridicule.

‘Stranger Things’: Netflix series nails it for 80s kids

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Netflix has announced that a second season of Stranger Things is on its way, which means that if you have not checked out Matt and Ross Duffer’s creation then you should — now. Why? Because it’s absolutely amazing, especially for anyone who grew up in the 1980s.

If you ever wanted to know what would happen if a writer was able to successfully mash together the 1980s essence of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King into one project, then Stranger Things is it.

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If you loved The Goonies, then watch it. If you know what it’s like not to have helicopter parents, owned a slingshot, and went on countless adventures with your friends growing up (like I did), then check it out. The series is amazing, and everyone involved should be proud of what they accomplished.

Check out my YouTube review, and if you’ve followed the disappearance of Will Byers then make sure to let me know what you thought in the comments section below.

Hulk Hogan wins Gawker lawsuit, but $115 million can’t buy lost respect

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Coverage of the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker Media lawsuit has tended to focus on the First Amendment debate that began when the website posted his infamous sex tape in October 2012. That is certainly a conversation that needs to happen, but a very important story that should not get lost in the mix is what it means when a man refuses to take personal responsibility for his own actions.

For those who have been living under a rock for the past few years and know nothing of Hogan’s downfall, here is the abridged version of events:

  • Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) apparently struck some weird sex deal with “Bubba The Love Sponge” Clem and the radio host’s then-wife Heather Cole.
  • Video of the sexual encounters was secretly recorded.
  • Footage was leaked to Gawker and posted online.
  • A jury in Saint Petersburg, Florida, awarded Bollea $115 million last week.
  • An extra $25 million in punitive damages was awarded to Bollea on Monday.

Most people are shedding no tears for Gawker given its reputation as a magnet for smarmy jerks, but I must admit I was saddened when I read Hogan’s text-message exchange with Clem.

The New York Post reported Monday:

“All I asked you for was an answer, why did u do this to me but I got nothing from u. Now I understand you [were] never my friend and there is nothing more you could ever do to hurt me! …  Thanks for never being my friend and destroying my life. … You lie to me and . . . filmed everything that’s the only reason all of this is happening,” — Hulk Hogan, Oct. 12, 2012.

Note to Hulk Hogan: YOU — and only YOU — destroyed your life when you agreed to sleep with a married man’s wife.

For Mr. Bollea to say the “only” reason why his life was turned upside down was because Bubba “the love sponge” or possibly his then-wife sold the tape to Gawker is laughable. The wrester walks around with a gold cross around his neck, breaks one of the Ten Commandments, and then has the gall to blame someone else for his crumbling personal life.

Proverbs 6:32-34 states:

“But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

I was often teased about my general avoidance of clubs and my unwillingness to sleep around when I lived in Germany years ago. I looked at the soldiers who got 18-year-old girls they hardly knew pregnant and thought, “Is any orgasm worth that?” The answer was clear: No.

Likewise, the same question can be applied to sleeping with another man’s wife. “Is any orgasm worth the potential downfall?” Answer: No.

Hulk Hogan may have won well over a $115 million in a legal settlement with Gawker, but I suspect that deep down he will continue to feel rather miserable. He knows that he has lost the respect of millions of fans, especially those who grew up in the 80s watching him in his prime.

Money can buy a lot of things, but it can not buy back lost respect. I hope that Hogan pieces his life back together, but I predict that will not happen until he learns to accept personal responsibility for his actions.

 

Daredevil Season 2: Hold onto your principles — at any price

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The second season of Marvel’s Daredevil is finally on Netflix — and it is good. Correction: It is great. The writing is so strong, in fact, that it is hard to fathom how the creative team will be able to live up to expectations going forward. It is rare to find a show that is about friendship, family, honesty and the importance of holding fast to core principles, but Daredevil delivers on all counts.

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This is a spoiler-free review, so I will try to only address the overall themes going forward.

In short, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and pretty much every actor with decent screen time fires on all cylinders. What makes the series so good is that each character has a clear idea of his or her ideal self, but the fierce pursuit of those ideals put them at odds with friends, family, co-workers, fellow citizens, and even the rule of law.

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What would you do for your core principles?

  • Would you be willing to quit a job?
  • Would you walk away from someone you love?
  • Would you be willing to shed blood and die?
  • Would you kill?
  • Would you be willing to be hated by society?

Over and over again the writers of Daredevil look at the cast and say, “Okay, what defines these characters and how do we put them in situations where their fidelity to core principles is tested?” 

The series explores big questions about life, death, truth, justice, loyalty, honesty, integrity, redemption and friendship in every episode — but it does so with intelligence and grace.

Finally, without a doubt, Jon Bernthal nails his performance as Frank Castle (aka: The Punisher). He was given a tough role, and he crushed it. There are not really enough good things to say about his take on the character other than to tell the man to take a bow. One can only hope he makes an appearance in Luke Cage.

If you do not have a Netflix account, then you may want to consider getting one to watch Daredevil. At this point the only question is: When will Charlie Cox’s version of Matt Murdoch make an appearance on the big screen? He certainly deserves it.

 

 

Jessica Jones Season 1: Marvel scores again with Netflix

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When Netflix first debuted its trailer for the Jessica Jones series, this blog said the writers would have a dark tightrope to walk. That was Oct. 24. Now, having finally finished the series just after Christmas, it’s safe to say that Marvel once again handled a Netflix project just about as well as can be realistically expected.

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Jessica Jones is a show about “control,” but it is much more than a rape survivor’s tale as some reviews imply.

  • It’s about our ability to allow the past to control our future.
  • It’s about the control parents have over children.
  • It’s about the control siblings have over one another.
  • It’s about the control we give our friends and lovers.
  • It’s about addictions — to drugs, alcohol, self-loathing and more.
  • It’s about free will.

Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, David Tennant as Killgrave, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage deliver the goods in their respective roles. Supporting actors like Eka Darville as “Malcolm” more often than not hit the mark, and the end result is a show that nearly matches Daredevil in terms of overall quality.

Luke Cage

Jessica Jones’ one weakness is that its cast of misfits and their problems sometimes become so over-the-top that moments played for drama seem laughably absurd. Scenes involving Wil Traval’s “Simpson” and Colby Minifie’s “Robyn” tend to be the worst offenders. Unfortunately, it looks like Simpson will probably have an important role to play in Season 2.

If Jessica Jones wants to keep the momentum going, then its writers should bring in Colter’s Luke Cage as much as possible. In many ways he was an emotional rock in Jessica Jones’ unstable world. In a sea of bizarre and troubled characters, Cage was the one guy who seemed to have a semi-healthy handle on his emotional baggage.

Jessica Jones needs one character who is consistently balanced from episode to episode, and Colter lived up to the task admirably.

In short, if you enjoyed Daredevil then you should check out Jessica Jones. It’s a dark series done well, and a welcome addition to Marvel’s Netflix library.

Melissa Harris-Perry: Be ‘super careful’ when calling someone ‘hard worker’ because of slavery

Melissa Harris Perry MSNBC

I recently told a co-worker of mine that I never watch cable news outside of the office because the vast majority of on-air personalities care more about hearing their voices bounce around an ideological echo chamber than giving viewers honest intellectual discourse. It is much healthier to be alone with your own thoughts on a morning walk than to fill your head with partisan super-balls thrown out on cable news. Exhibit A: Melissa Harris-Perry’s bizarre lecture on race Monday night, which she somehow spun out of a guest calling Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan a “hard worker.”

The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday:

ALFONSO AGUILAR: But let’s be fair. If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans but Democrats. You know very well that I work on [the] immigration issue, trying to get Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has supported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez. Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is somebody who’s trying to govern.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Alfonso, I feel you. But I just want to pause on one thing. Because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role. But I want us to be super careful when we use the language “hard worker,” because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like.

One of the reasons why I generally don’t blog on individuals like Melissa Harris-Perry is because it is hard to shake the feeling that she is a very-troubled woman. It seems as though a mind would have to be particularly warped to take the phrase “hard worker” during a conversation on Paul Ryan’s job qualifications, and turn it into a finger-wagging lesson on U.S. slavery.

Guest panelist Mr. Aguilar looked generally confused at the host’s statements. His face said, “Is this happening? What the heck is going on right now? Why did I agree to be on this weird show?”
Alfonso Aguilar

It says something incredibly sad about our culture that a woman as ideologically rabid as Harris-Perry has a bully pulpit on a cable news network. Why would sane, “hard-working” Americans ever enter into politics when media personalities tasked with shaping public opinion are mostly clones of Harris-Perry? Answer: They wouldn’t.

The moral of the story here is this: Turn off your television. Read good books. Get outside and exercise. Spend time with family and friends. 

There are many rabbit holes of stupidity out there, but cable news shows possess large entrances. My suggestion is to glance inside from time to time, but resist the temptation to crawl inside. Once you fall headlong into an abyss of stupidity, it is hard to crawl out.

Jessica Jones: Marvel, Netflix attempt to walk ‘dark’ tightrope

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Somewhere out in space and time there is an alternate dimension where Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” somehow wound up on network television in the 90s, and instead of Krysten Ritter in the lead role fans got Janeane Garofalo. That is one major obstacle dodged, but there is still a challenge — walking the tightrope between “dark” and “dark for the sake of being dark.”

I was first introduced to Jessica Jones in 2001 when I picked up Brian Michael Bendis’ “Alias.” The book was part of Marvel’s “Max” line (i.e., not for children). It was incredibly well-written for a long stretch. I always thought it would make for good television. However, the one major problem any producer of a “Jessica Jones” show will have is, “How dark should it be?”

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There is a fine line between exploring evil that can lurk inside the human heart, and simply wallowing in filth just to get a reaction out of others.

Bendis, at his best, seems to be a skilled tightrope walker. Examples of failure in this regard may include Garth Ennis’ “The Boys” and the Mark Millar-Steve McNiven collaboration “Nemesis.”

Jessica Jones Police Department

Marvel and Netflix did a fabulous job with Daredevil, but it isn’t hard to imagine mindless producers saying, “Daredevil was dark and it was popular. Maybe we should go really dark with Jessica Jones!” 

If Marvel and its creative partners avoided this trap, then it is likely “Jessica Jones” will be a show worth watching. At least for now, everyone can stand up and cheer for a.) the inclusion Mike Colter as Luke Cage, and b.) the absence of Janeane Garofalo from the finished product.

‘Lucifer’ targeted by One Million Moms; Satan laughs as giant false idol of technology ignored

Fox showA nonprofit organization is targeting the upcoming Fox show “Lucifer.” The usual suspects in the media responded by mocking the faith-based organization, and guys like me just thought “God bless America! Everyone gets to say their peace and we generally do a good job of not coming to blows in the process.” However, I can’t help but wonder why organizations like One Million Moms focus on a single digital brick in the false idol that is technology. Few people seem to be paying attention to the bigger picture.

The One Million Moms website describes its petition as follows:

The series will focus on Lucifer portrayed as a good guy, “who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell.” He resigns his throne, abandons his kingdom and retires to Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals.

At the same time, God’s emissary, the angel Amenadiel, has been sent to Los Angeles to convince Lucifer to return to the underworld.

Previews of the pilot episode depict graphic acts of violence, a nightclub featuring scantily-clad women and a demon.

How many of those moms obsess over their Facebook feeds? How many of those mom’s have their eyes fixated on cell phones throughout the day? How many of their kids spend hours with their eyes glued on glowing boxes that stream video games, movies, and One Million Moms-approved television shows? The answer in each case is probably “too many.”

Fox’s “Lucifer” is a single show that will actually prompt children to start Googling questions about Christianity, demons, angels, God, Jesus and an assortment of other faith-based subjects. Perhaps I’m wrong, but my guess is that the devil probably doesn’t want young children using Fox television shows as a springboard to an introduction with Jesus Christ. Does God not possess the power to turn any evil into a greater good? Of course he does.

It seems much more likely that the bigger threat to the spiritual well-being of our culture is the cumulative effect of technology that a.) seemingly satisfies every need, b.) encourages narcissism so as to essentially render humility obsolete, and c.) cultivates pride and envy.

The false idol of technology, which seemingly caters to every want and desire, gives birth to the false idol of self (or should we say “selfie”?). The devil doesn’t want individuals thinking about his nature because it is almost impossible to do so without thinking about the nature of Christ. The devil does not want a man to know he is being tempted because knowledge of temptation presents the opportunity to display virtue.

One Million Moms may have their hearts in the right place, but their heads should be more focused the spiritual Trojan Horse before them. The Red Hot Chili Peppers (a band that probably isn’t on One Million Moms’ playlist) had much better advice in 2002 when they sang “Throw away your television.”