Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
January 31, 2010

This week's Pastor's Page will be a smorgesborg of items bearing on different issues. First off. media coverage of the Pro-Life rally at our State Capitol on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As I stood waiting for the scheduled program to begin, an elderly gentleman asked me if I thought the rally would get much coverage from the media. I pointed to a couple of men with very large, expensive-looking cameras who were hovering near the speakers' podium and I suggested that they were probably from the local press. I even ventured a guess that on the basis of the paper's past practice, they might be from the Star Tribune. Sure enough: the following morning the Star Tribune devoted three quarters of a page to a sympathetic report on the rally with two illustrative photos, one of them spread clear across the page. And the coverage in the Pioneer Press? Zilch, nada, nichts. Not a line, not a word that I could find. And no surprise there. Though the editorial policy of each of the two papers is in my judgment slanted towards the left, it's been my perception over many a year that the Star Tribune's coverage of events related to local pro-Life and/or Catholic issues has by and large been friendlier than that of its rival east of the river.
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And speaking of the Star Tribune, one of the paper's regular columnists, Katherine Kersten, a devout and extremely intelligent Roman Catholic, is known for expressing non-p. c. opinions that infuriate the left. A recent example is her colunm on Sunday, January 17th. I reprint it here, just slightly abridged.
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That's a Funny Way to Show Tolerance!
   By Katherine Kersten
   Star Tribune, January 17, 2010

African-Americans targeted for harassment. Swastikas scrawled on churches and religious books burned. Homes defaced and people hounded from their jobs because of their political beliefs.

Has the Ku Klux Klan returned? Are neo-Nazis or fundamentalist right-wing hate groups on the rise?

Guess again. This is the work of a sizable number of activists who have decided that any bullying, brown-shirt tactic is fair game in their battle to impose gay marriage on America.

One skirmish in that battle played out last week  In Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, four gay plaintiffs have sued to OVERTURN PROPOSITION 8-the 2008 amendment that California voters added to their state's constitution to ensure that marriage REMAINS the union of one man and one woman. Plaintiffs claim the amendment violates the U. S. Constitution and seek judicially imposed same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

On Wednesday, the U. S. Supreme Court rejected federal District Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to broadcast proceedings on YouTube. Defendants argued that such a broadcast would increase witnesses' vulnerability to intimidation and harassment.

What do they fear?

Take, for instance, the bullying tactics on display DURING the campaign for Pproposition 8. Supporters who put signs in their yards risked a brick through their living-room windows, spray paint on their garages and vandalized cars.  One woman reported finding her staircase covered in urine. In another case, two women parked an SUV in front of a Proposition 8 supporter's home, with an arrow and the words "Bigots live here" scrawled on the window.

Blacks were singled out for persecution, since they FAVORED PROPOSITION 8 in LARGE numbers. Time magazine cited eyewitness reports that racial epithets were used at anti-Proposition 8 protests.

Activists also targeted religious institutions, reserving special venom for Mormons. After Proposition 8's passage, at least 17 Mormon houses of worship were defaced, and a suspicious white powder was mailed to two others. At one temple, the Book of Mormon was torched on the doorstep.

Gay-marriage activists made skillful use of public data to harass citizens who DONATED to the "Yes on 8" campaign. One website, "," displayed a map that enabled activists to pinpoint the identity, employer, donation size and location of certain "Prop 8" supporters. Another site, sponsored by a group called Californians Against Hate, revealed some "Prop 8" donors' addresses and telephone numbers.  The San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times also posted search engines that facilitated targeting of this kind.

Not surprisingly, many "Prop 8" supporters were bombarded with harassing calls and e-mails. Some lost their jobs, including Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, and Richard Raddon, president of the Los Angeles Fi.m Festival. Both resigned after their private donations were publicized and activists threatened to boycott their organizations. Dozens of businesses- including hotels, insurance agencies, accounting firms and dentist offices-were similarly targeted because of their owners' or their employees' private donations.

Even ordinary folks had reason to fear. After Proposition 8 passed, gay activists mobbed El Coyote, a restaurant in Los Angeles, calling for a boycott because the owner's daughter, Margorie Christoffersen, had donated $100 in support of the measure. Shouting "shame on you, " they hurled vulgarities at diners. Though Christoffersen apologized, "boisterous street protests erupted" after she refused to renounce her stance. According to the Wall Street Journal, Christoffersen took a leave of absence.

Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, summed up the situation this way. "The same-sex marriage movement," she wrote, has revealed itelf as "a political tsunami which will brook no dissent and openly seeks to punish Americans who disagree with its new dogmas."

Events in California reveal a troubling double standard on the part of gay activists. While they demand tolerance from others, many appear to view tolerance as a ONE- WAY STREET ....[Emphasis added]
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And finally may I share with you a timely article (given a ftont-page lead-in) from The New York Times for January 20, 2010. The pace of the continuing revolution in electronic communications is so amazingly swift that parents may not be aware of the imperative need to set some LIMITS on their children's use of the electronic gadgets that just a few years ago simply didn't exist.

Children Awake? Then They're Probably Online
   By Tamar Lewin
   From: The New York Times of Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

The average young American now spends practically every waking minute-except for the time in school-using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Those aged 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does NOT count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.

And because so many of them are mullitasking-say, surfing the Internet while listening to music--they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours.

"I feel like my days would be boring without it," said Francisco Sepulveda, a 15-year-old Bronx eighth grader who uses his smart phone to surf the Web, watch videos, listen to music- AND send or receive about 500 texts a day.

The study's findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further, and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices. It found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower-grades.

The third in a series, the study found that young people's media consumption grew far more in the last five years than it did from 1999 to 2004, as sophisticated mobile technology like ipods and smart phones brought media access into teenagers' pockets and beds....

Contrary to popular wisdom, the heaviest media users reported spending [much the same] amount of time exercising as did light media users. Nonetheless, other studies have established a link between screen time and obesity.

While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users--those who consumed at least 16 hours a day-had mostly C's or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school

The study could not say whether the media use causes problems, or rather, whether troubled young people turn to heavy media use.

"This is a stunner," said Donald F. Roberts, a Stanford communications professor emeritus who is one of the authors of the study. "In the second report, I remember writing a paragraph saying we've hit a ceiling on media use, since there just aren't enough hours in the day to increase the time children spend on media. But now it's up an hour."

The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 students in grades 3 through 12 that was conducted from October 2008 to May 2009.

On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on "old" content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Young people now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cellphones, or playing games, than talking on them.

"I use it as my alarm clock, because it has an annoying ringtone that doesn't stop until you turn it off," Francisco Sepulveda said of his smart phone. "At night, I can text or watch something on YouTube until I fall asleep. It lets me talk on the phone and watch a video at the same time, or listen to music while I send text messages."

His mother, Janet Sepulveda, bought the Sidekick LX a year ago when the family computer was not working, to ensure that her son had intemet access he might need for school. But schoolwork has not been the issue.

"I'd say he uses it about 2 percent for homework and 98 percent for other stuff," she said. "At the beginning, I would take the phone at 10 p.m. and tell him he couldn't use it anymore. Now he knows that if he's not complying with what I want, I can suspend his service for a week or two. That's happened."

The Kaiser study found that more than 7 in 10 young people have a television in their bedroom and about a third have a computer with Internet access in their bedroom. [A BIG MISTAKE!]

"Parents never knew as much as they thought they did about what their kids are doing." Mr. Roberts said, "but now we've created a world where they're removed from us that much more, and parents don't have a clue what kids are listening to, watching, talking about."

The study found that young people used LESS media IN HOMES WITH RULES like no television during meals and no television in the bedroom, or with limits on media time.

Victoria Rideout, a Kaiser vice president who is lead author of the study, said that although it had become harder for parents to control what their children do, they can still have an effect.

I don't think parents should feel totally disempowered," she said. "They can still make the rules, and it still makes a difference."

In Kensington, Maryland, Kim Calinan let her baby son, Trey, watch Baby Einstein videos while she showered and made dinner, and soon moved him on to "Dora the Explorer."

"By the time he was 4, he had all these math and science DVDS, and he was clicking through by himself, and he learned to read and do math early," she said, "So if we'd had the conversation then, I would have said they were great educational tools."

But now that Trey is 9 and wild about video games, Ms. Calinan feels differently.

Last year she sensed that video games were displacing other interests and narrowing his social interactions. After realizing that Trey did not want to sign up for any after-school activities that might cut into his game time, Ms. Calinan limited his screen time to an hour and half a day on weekends only.

So last Wednesday, Trey came home and read a book, "Secret Hiding Places"-but said he was looking forward to the weekend when he could play his favorite video game Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky."

Many experts believe that media use is changing youthful attitudes.

It's changed young people's assumptions about how to get an answer to a question," Mr. Roberts said. "People can put out a problem, whether it's 'Where's a good bar?' or 'What if I'm pregnant?' and information pours in from ALL KINDS of sources." [That's for sure!]

The heaviest media users, the study found, are black and Hispanic youths and "tweens," or those ages 11 to 14.

Even during the survey, media use was changing.

"One of the hot topics today is Twitter, but when we first went into the field and began interviewing Twitter didn't exist," Ms. Rideout said.
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