Cause and defect

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Screen Shot 2017 03 06 at 6.58.40 PMStand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.

Thanks to one day of “deadly rioting” at the nation’s capital, the nation’s elite woke up and discovered that all these months of “unrest” and “mostly peaceful protests” in some of the major cities of our nation have also been deadly and destructive, and on a vastly larger scale. We’re talking stores smashed and looted, precinct headquarters burned down with police running for their lives, civilians and police assaulted, federal courthouses attacked and cities set on fire. As I was describing that to a friend, he countered with a question.

“What caused it?” Caused it? 

“Look,” I said, “when one billiard ball hits another, thereby moving the ball  –“

“Cause and effect!” my friend declared triumphantly

“Right,” I agreed. “But human beings are not billiard balls. They have reflexes but are usually not forced to react mechanically. They have intellects, however well hidden, and free will. They do not have to react to an injustice and the victimization of some by making victims of others who had nothing to do with the previous injustice. Innocent people lost their homes, businesses, automobiles and even their lives so radical insurrectionists could dramatically demonstrate their outrage over the allegedly corrupt police and the “systemic racism” of the country they inhabit but do not love. If the rioters had been “caused” to behave that way, then why did the peaceful demonstrators not react the same way? What about the thousands of black Americans who did not demonstrate at all?

Later I wrote an email to my friend in which I posed the following question: 

“If I or a member of my family had been victimized by the police and I responded by torching your home and smashing your car, would you calmly ask, ‘What caused it?’” As of this writing, I have received no reply.

But before he left, he had said something else that festered in my memory. I had given him a book by a Catholic author for which he had politely thanked me. But a moment or two later, he suggested that maybe if the victims of police brutality had been Catholic, I would be more sympathetic to their plight. To which I composed the following reply: 

“The babies being aborted at the rate of some 4,000 a day in our nation are not, as far as I can tell, predominantly Catholics. In fact, since they are never born and baptized, they can’t be said to be adherents of any religion. Yet I, to the extent that I am able and in whatever forum I can access, champion the defense of the pre-born, while, you, on the other hand, regard their fate, if you give it a thought at all, with profound and callous indifference. You apparently have no sympathy for them, and why would you? After all, they have not rioted, looted and burned in the name of social justice. Their lives don’t matter.”

I imagine that same friend opposed the death penalty, which in the past year has been repealed in New Hampshire as in many states. How many times have we heard the brainless argument, posing as a question: “How can you be pro-life when you support the death penalty?” The simple answer, of course, is that the infants we’re trying to save haven’t killed anyone. But that somehow fails to impress the champions of “choice.” They have carried the concept of individual freedom so far as to claim the individual, not God and not the state, is sovereign over human life. The murderer may rot in a prison cell because his life does not touch ours. But the unwanted child in fetus form cramps the freedom of the woman who doesn’t want her. 

Indeed, a single-minded devotion to individual freedom has left many well-meaning pro-life conservatives and libertarians tongue-tied when accused by “choicers” of contradiction between their devotion to freedom and small, limited government and their opposition to “freedom of choice” on abortion. They fail to discern the difference between the fundamental responsibility of government to protect life and liberty and the desire of some to make the power to end human life a matter of personal “choice.” The same collectivists who would deny us choice in health care, seat belt usage or beverage choice want to make the termination of human life a private decision. That way lies chaos   —  and madness. 

Now in Manchester, the Board of School Committee has carried the right of private choice to include the individual’s right to determine what his or her own gender is, thus allowing biological males to use restrooms and locker rooms meant for females and to vie with young women in athletic competition. All the effort and legislation over so many years to create viable women’s sports programs is imperiled by this new effort to force a radical “equality” down the throats of women athletes who will have to compete with male opponents and share locker rooms with male teammates. That’s because the federal government is now everywhere and it’s “here to help us.”  

So while prayer is still allowed in private circles, let us appeal to a higher authority: 

“God help us!”

Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Thoughtful submissions welcome on topics of general interest, or specific to Manchester. Send to, subject line: The Soapbox

Jack KennyJack Kenny is a freelance writer from Manchester. He can be reached at


About this Author

Jack Kenny

Jack Kenny is a longtime New Hampshire columnist and political writer.