I have reason to believe we are all natural cowards, that it takes training and education and moral conviction to overcome our natural state.  Even if you ask experienced combat veterans about fear, they will tell you that only the truly insane are without it.  Those who are considered “brave” are the ones who have learned to manage fear, and there are precious few who can make that boast.  On the news tonight, you are far more likely to hear the lamentations of victims than you are the celebrations of heroes.

Managing fear, moreover, is easier with real belief.  When facing evil, you are far more likely to risk the consequences of death and injury and financial ruin if you believe a just God will sort out the claims of evil men in the life to come.  True believers make the best warriors, the best statesmen, and the best litigators.

Hot Tubs

This is a very odd claim, on my part, to a very small, and ridiculous, bravery, but I will make it by way of illustration: bravery is so rare we have a difficult time achieving it in even in life’s smallest and most absurd moments.

At Stanford, in the early 1980s, there was an undergraduate sort of mischief that prevailed in the arena of hot tubs.  It involved scoping out Palo Alto condominiums and homes with all the right plumbing, scaling backyard fences, mastering the controls, and then hijacking someone’s hot, bubbling water at two in the morning.  In the ideal scenario, a few coeds would be in tow.

I had such a healthy fear of trespassing that I would not have sought out such an adventure, but as a sophomore, a senior friend, (let’s call him “Dirk”) enlisted my participation.  I suppose I was flattered, at first, to be considered worthy of such hijinks, and I went along thinking, “it’s not actually going to happen. Dirk will chicken out.”

Well, Dirk did not, in fact, chicken out.  He had his towels, coeds, destination, and methods all worked out.  When we arrived, I took one look at the redwood fence surrounding the hot tub, and I protested.

“Look,” I said, “I think I’m going to pass.”
“I just keep thinking of some poor guy in his house, paying his dues, seeing a bunch of punks in his jacuzzi.  It’s not fair to him, first of all, and if he has a gun..”
“A gun?” Dirk asked. “What?  It’s a hot tub.”

In Dirk’s ethically situational world, a hot tub was simply everyone’s property and only a fastidious, nit-picking Puritan would object to making it available to everyone at all hours of the day.

I sat it out. Dirk walked up to the fence, fumed, and ultimately chickened out.  For a few weeks, Dirk let me know, in so many words, I would never amount to anything because I wasn’t brave enough to take risks.

My point here is that when one of our friends encourages us to partake in some evil scheme, small or large, it takes effort to object.  It seems to be the very story of American adolescence:  “All of my friends were doing it.”

It doesn’t end, however, with adolescence.  What would you call, for example, an FBI official who obeyed orders, from higher-ups, to keep Hunter Biden’s laptop under wraps until after the election?   What would you call a career  agent who helped the FBI spy on a candidate for the presidency of the United States?  We honor whistle-blowers because that damn little piece of plastic takes a lot of wind to fill.  The FBI is obviously full of cowards who can’t manage the fear that attends doing the right thing.  Even if you were to argue that very few, within the FBI knew anything about the agency’s abuse of the FISA court or the concealing of the Hunter Biden laptop, thousands of agents now know they work for a criminal agency — and they go right on obeying orders and collecting paychecks.

Serial Killers

For a serial killer, you couldn’t pick a better name than “Starkweather.”

It sounds downright Dickensian–elliptical enough to be credible but foreboding enough to inspire dread.  In 1958, a nineteen year old garbageman named Charles Starkweather–who stood 5’5″ with an IQ “only a point or two above an idiot“–began a killing spree that ultimately came to include 11 people in Nebraska and Wyoming.  Along the way, he brought his 14 year old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, who spent the rest of her life trying to convince the world she was not a willing participant. You can watch her story in a documentary called The 12th Victim on Prime Video.

The murders were so gruesome, involving sexual mutilation, baby-killing, and random home invasion, that Nebraskans justifiably secured the electric chair for Starkweather by 1959. Likewise, it seemed inconceivable that Caril Ann Fugate, the sullen-faced girlfriend, should be considered innocent.  Her severe countenance, and her emotional distance, didn’t speak well in her defense, and she was sentenced to life in prison.  She had been in the company of Starkweather for nine days, the first few of which were spent in her own home, with her dead parents and baby sister stashed in a backyard outhouse.  She claimed that Starkweather had lied to her, that he had claimed her family was kidnapped–that all he would have to do is make a phone call to have them killed.

Although juries, judges and repeated appeals claimed otherwise, I am inclined to believe her.  When she was rescued by the police, her first request was to speak to her parents, whom she appeared to believe were still alive.  She served her prison time with such good behavior that she was sent into town on her own recognizance, and when she was granted parole, decades later, she took a lie detector test on F. Lee Bailey’s television show and passed with flying colors.

Perhaps, too, it might be reasonable to consider basic motivation: although we are all depraved sinners, we can take no small solace in the knowledge we are not all serial killers.  These guys don’t usually work in teams.  Isn’t it reasonable to assume that an otherwise normal 14 year old girl would recoil at the idea of killing strangers and family?  Isn’t it reasonable to believe she might be afraid for her own life in the company of a man so willing to kill anyone he met?

But even if she may not have deserved life in prison, she was guilty of the normal human condition: cowardice.  Even if she truly believed her own family’s life was at stake, does that entitle to her to stand by, idly, as Charles Starkweather killed other people’s families?  Even if she risked a bullet in the back, doesn’t she have an obligation to distance herself from a murderer?   Even if she didn’t believe she had the strength to restrain him, wouldn’t there be glory in her taking a two-by-four to his head?

It’s one thing to refrain from participating in evil, but it takes courage to speak out against it and far greater courage to physically restrain it.

January 6th

I believe most Americans today are something like Caril Ann Fugate.  We are 14 year old girls paralyzed by our dimwit oppressors. We are decent people with decent motivations, but very little ability to speak out against evil, much less act against it.

For years, many of my own adult children have let it be known my own public pronouncements embarrass them.  Just what have I “pronounced?”  I have spoken out against affirmative action, reverse racism, voter fraud, gun control, illegal immigration, the killing of children in the womb, Covid lockdown hysteria, drag queen story hour, same sex marriage, effeminate pastors, and Howard Zinn style America-hatred.  I have also spoken for positive cultural change: better music, better art, a better appreciation of American history.

In some quarters, this just isn’t done.   There’s a certain sort of screeching, green-haired, Trump-hating, androgynous weirdo who declares all of these sentiments counter-revolutionary.  By way of politeness, we defer to the loudest idiot at the dinner table, and dad is making it difficult by engaging these sophomores in a debate.  (My kids don’t have green hair, in other words, but a few of them appear to crave the approval of those who do.)

Well, someday, at the Great White Throne, we’re going to be asked some version of the question, “when that moron garbage man started killing people, did you say anything?  Did you run for help?  Did you lift your hand to aid those who were being dragged away to slaughter? When that green-haired weirdo ridiculed everything you hold dear, did you speak up?  When your pastor put up a rainbow flag did you say anything?”

A lot of folks are going to have to shrug their shoulders and say, “I was trying to be winsome.”

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the January 6th protest at the capitol building. I am proud to have been there, along with MILLIONS of other Americans who sang hymns, protested peacefully, and didn’t fall for FBI entrapment schemes.  I am proud to have locked arms with fellow patriots, reminding our government we care about fair elections.  It was a glorious day, and if you are in the justice department, prosecuting people for exercising their First Amendment rights, you should be ashamed of yourself.  Honestly, arresting veterans who held Trump flags when your own department concealed evidence against Joe Biden’s son?  Before an election?  You call us insurrectionists? 

How do you sleep at night?

You folks are the government version of that killer idiot from Nebraska — and some of us won’t go along for the ride.