Ground Rules


Dear Les,

This is my second open letter to you in this forum. The first one was in response to your question about why I don’t respond to your postings on your Facebook wall.

This one is about your responses on mine. I have said in the past that you are free to comment, but that has changed. From now on, I request that you to adhere to ground rules. I will explain.

You will recall, a recent exchange, which went like this:

Terrell: “‘The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” ~ Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.”

Les: “It would be horrible if it were true, but she never said it. You obviously got this from an unreliable source. Actually Margaret Sanger was against abortion.”

Terrell: I provided my reference, The Wide Risk of the Culture of Death, from the Discovery Institute, which gave the name of the book, authored by Margaret Sanger, containing the quote.

Les: “Obviously, the group you took the quotation from took it out of context.” You went on to cite a lengthy excerpt from the book by Margaret Sanger. Your excerpt included the Sanger quote verbatim.

Terrell: I thanked you for verifying that Margaret Sanger did in fact make that statement. I noted that your first response had been incorrect, offering you an opportunity to explain yourself.

Les: “Yes, she said it, but you took it out of context to make it sound like she supported abortion. I had tried to look up the quotation, but could only find it attributed to her by anti-abortion groups. There were no references to it from any other source, and none of those who stated it gave the original source.” You admitted being “mistaken,” and continued to assert that the quote had been taken out of context, while kindly noting that you believed I had made an honest mistake.

I don’t think I made a mistake at all, Les. You did. And it’s a show-stopper for me. Because what you did in this discussion thread is dismiss any respect for objective truth and abandon good faith in communication. There have been shades and hints of this in past communiques, but in this one it’s become overt and obvious.

Here is your reasoning, using your own words:

Les:  “I … could only find it attributed to her by anti-abortion groups.” [therefore] “… she never said it.”

Instead of communicating in good faith, you just made something up. And when that came to light, you shifted focus:

Les: “Yes, she said it, but you took it out of context to make it sound like she supported abortion. … So, yes, I’ll admit she said it, and that I was mistaken. But you were mistaken to imply that she was in favor of abortion, when she was not. “

I had given no context for the quote, Les. But your attempt to contextualize it contextualized you. You have forfeited credibility with me.

You have stated, and I’m quoting you directly, “I just don’t have the chutzpah to say that my moral grounding is based on ‘the Truth’ and everyone with a different moral grounding must therefore not be based on ‘the Truth’.” What this means is you offer no grounding for judging right and wrong outside of yourself.

Your code may allow you to make stuff up, but mine doesn’t. Therefore I’m asking you not to comment on anything I post until we establish a common code for determining right and wrong. I realize that will likely be a challenge for you, but I believe you’re capable of it. If you are unwilling or unable to abide by this, you can remove me from your list of Facebook friends. You initiated the connection. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you want it to remain.

There’s one subject I will discuss. And that’s God. I’d rather talk God than politics any day, anyway. I’ll talk God with you for two reasons:

  1. God is what you need. He knows you. He loves you. He’s provided a way for you to know him. Just like me, you have fallen short of the mark of perfection, which means you’re separated from the God your heart longs for. But God has made a way for you and me to be forgiven. I’ve taken it, and you can too. Regeneration and redemption are yours for the taking, friend. I’ll talk about God all you want.
  2. You identify yourself (“strongly”) as Jewish. I identify myself as Christian. We have a common reference point in the Hebrew Bible. I’ll talk about the God revealed there anytime.

But that’s all. Until further notice. This is not a game or a competition. It’s a matter of life and death. Yours.

And the choice is yours.

7 Comments on “Ground Rules

  1. Yes, I did make a mistake. I should have asked you 1) the purpose of your posting, and 2) the source. I apologize for not doing so. I do NOT think it was much of an assumption to think that you labeled the quotation as being from the founder of Planned Parenthood, in order to connect it to your dislike of that group. Since the only thing that Planned Parenthood does that you apparently disapprove is abortion (a very small part of the services they provide to millions of women, and for which no federal funds are used), I presumed you wished to tie Margaret Sanger’s comment to abortion. (I haven’t read you being against most of their work which is birth control, HIV testing and cancer screening). If I was mistaken in that assumption, then I’m sorry.

    But if I’m not mistaken and you were trying to tie her quotation (clearly taken grossly out of context), then either you didn’t know that she was against abortion OR you were deliberately trying to mislead the readers of your post. In either case, you were wrong and you are the one who should admit her mistake.

    Finally, I know that God loves all people and created us in God’s image. God expects me (and all of us) to be the best person I can be. God expects me to acknowledge when I make mistakes, to ask forgiveness from any person I have wronged and to do all I can not to make the same mistake again.

    I don’t need to be redeemed. I don’t believe that God sent a sacrifice to earth to redeem mankind, in fact, the story of Abraham and Jacob is really a story against human sacrifice. I certainly don’t believe that Jesus was anything other than a great person who tried to bring goodness to the world and preach against the tyrannies of his day (Rome and a religious hierarchy that was too powerful and out of control). On the other hand, I have respect for Christians who believe in the divinity of Jesus (as well as Muslims who worship the same God, but believe in the divinity of Mohammad). I do not have respect for people who try to force their faith on others or who do not respect another person’s faith. We are all children of God. God loves us all, and God has given us all an opportunity to make this world a better place. If we don’t we (and our descendants) are the one’s who will suffer, not God.


  2. So, are you going to answer my questions to clarify whether you were either misinformed about Margaret Sanger or deliberately trying to mislead the readers of your post on Facebook?


  3. As I thought: You were deliberately trying to mislead your blog readers that here statement was about abortion. I admire your obsession with the cause (against abortion). I don’t admire your twisting the truth to suit your agenda.


  4. Les, friend, I mean this respectfully and compassionately. Your problem here is not with me. It’s with the facts: (1) Margaret Sanger wrote, “‘The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” (2) Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood.

    You can silence me, shut me down, or shoot me dead, but those facts won’t go away.

    I don’t know why this issue drives you to react to me as you do, but I would point you to a more pressing reality, with which you must ultimately contend. That would be the person of Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.”


  5. Ms. Clemmons (sorry for the inappropriate salutation earlier),

    You missed another of Ms. Sanger’s quotes, and from the same source no less. She states in Chapter 10, “Contraceptives or Abortion?”:

    “While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.”

    Ms. Sanger was a huge champion of a woman’s right to choose to become pregnant or not. And that is as far as her opinion on choice went.

    As to her statement regarding dead infants, I think it is a bit like the biblical prohibition on wearing poly/cotton dress shirts: it was part of the overblown, flowery language of the day. Samuel Clemons’ language, too, sounds stilted and harsh to the modern reader. I believe her larger point was that a family with fewer children was a family with healthier children.

    Lord, help me, if, one day, my blogs and emails are read without their associated emoticons!

    Thank you for reading and considering. I pray that your passion will not interfere with the truth.

    James Neil


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