Archive for July 2010

Abolish the Electoral College. Screw the Dakotas.

Posted: Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 11:39 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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It occurs to me that we are doing a lot of tinkering with the political system right now, without doing much thinking at all.  The people of California voted overwhelmingly for Proposition 14, a reform that abolishes party primaries.

Proposition 14 would create a “top two” primary in which candidates of all party affiliations run on one primary ballot. The two candidates who win the most votes, regardless of party, would face off in the general election. The system would not apply to presidential primaries.

The new system is supposedly better because it is open to all voters.  I suspect that it passed with strong support because Americans have always had a distaste for political parties.  But no one really has any idea how this is going to work.  Pass it, and then see what’s in it.

I am not sure it’s going to make a big difference, except that it will effectively shut out third parties.  Under the current system, third parties could get a candidate on the ballot if they could register 100,000 voters.  To be sure this rarely happens, and third party candidates almost never win.  Under the “top two” system, they will have little hope of a place on the final ballot.

Another reform in the works is the National Popular Vote Initiative.  The Electoral College makes it possible for a candidate to win fewer popular votes than another candidate, but still be elected President.  That happened in 2000 and would have happened again in 2004 if Kerry had carried Ohio.  A lot of people think this is a very bad thing.  The NPVI is intended to correct it.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the states have exclusive and plenary (complete) power to allocate their electoral votes, and may change their state laws concerning the awarding of their electoral votes at any time. Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).

This is very clever.  Since it is very hard to amend the Constitution, but very easy to change the way states allocate their electoral votes, this would leave the Electoral College in place while rendering it powerless.

It is based, however, on a premise for which little argument is offered.  The premise is that a majority of popular votes is more legitimate than a majority of electoral votes.  There is no reason to think that this is so, under the Constitution.

The Constitution checks the power of popular majorities in several ways.  A majority of votes in the Senate may represent a small majority of the nation’s citizens.  That is a very effective way of protecting small states and less populous regions against “the tyranny of the majority.”  If you think it’s a bad idea, ask the Canadians why they can’t get a constitution.  The Supreme Court allows five of nine old people to overrule 309,865,000 American citizens, minus five.  Ask the NPVI people if they are offended by that.

Moreover, majority rule is itself a compromise between moral principle and efficiency.  If every single person is morally equal, why is the consent of one or a few to the next President or any policy of less weight than the consent of the many?  Only because an insistence on unanimity would be unworkable.

There is nothing morally wrong with the Electoral College.  Of late, however, it has been causing problems.  It has been pretty easy to tell who won a majority of the national popular vote in Presidential elections, but not so easy to tell who won Florida or Ohio.  That created a brief constitutional crisis in 2000, and a lot of leftist conspiracy theories in 2004.  Maybe it’s time to consider something like the NPVI.

Before we do, we ought to note what we will lose.  If George W. Bush had lost North and South Dakota in 2000, Gore would have won without Florida.  If Bush had lost the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming in 2004, Kerry would have windsurfed into the White House.  With the Electoral College functioning as it always has, candidates for President have to campaign in small states.  Living in Aberdeen, I got to see Obama and shake hands with Bob Dole.  George W. Bush and Ms. Clinton landed on our soil.

If we really go to a system of direct popular election (however indirectly) that is likely to change.  No one will give a rat’s ass about the Dakotas.  Of course the larger states don’t have to worry about that when they pass the NPVI.  Maybe the Midwest should give that some thought.

Majority Want Indy Marking in Debates

Posted: Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 9:18 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Most of South Dakota’s mainstream media scrupulously avoids ever linking back to us blogs. I thus don’t expect the Mitchell Daily Republic to pay much attention to this post.

But maybe they ought. Following MDR boss Korrie Wenzel’s decision to exclude Independent B. Thomas Marking from the U.S. House candidates’ debate at the Corn Palace Festival on August 28, I posted the following online poll:

Should SD media include Independent candidate for U.S. House B. Thomas Marking in live public debates with candidates Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Kristi Noem?

Your responses, dear readers:

  • Yes: 115 (78%)
  • No: 32 (22%)

Voting was pretty steady through the week. I didn’t detect any poll-sandbagging effort from the Marking grassroots (does such a group exist yet?) or from any Operation Chaos mercenaries from either of the other campaigns.

A few potential interpretations of these numbers:

  1. Those darned liberals reading the Madville Times just want Marking on stage to confuse and split the anti-incumbent vote (hey, not that I’d mind).
  2. Voters want to see if Marking will dare the same zingers face-to-face with the big dogs as he’s willing to lob on YouTube.
  3. (I like this one best): Voters want every candidate, regardless of party, to have a fair chance to make their pitch to the electorate.

Mitchell Daily Republic, 78% of this poll sample join me in urging you to change your mind and invite Mr. Marking to the Corn Palace stage with Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Kristi Noem. And other South Dakota media, consider the possibility that South Dakota voters might actually want to hear from every candidate on the ballot.

Mary Francis Berry Explains How the Race Card is Played

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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Back a few posts ago, intrepid and cherished reader, Bill Fleming, accused me in these terms:

KB, when you downgrade true acts of racism into a buzzword (playing the race card) and say it’s all politics, you are denying the problem.

Bill was objecting to my point that the Left was using the race card in its attacks on the Tea Party Movement, just as Breitbart was trying to use the race card to attack the enemies of that movement (in this case, the NAACP).

In fact I thought this whole story was not about racism at all, but about the political use of the race card.  I now have my suspicions confirmed.

Professor of Political Poker at the University of Pennsylvania, Mary Frances Berry, explains at Politico how the race card is played.

Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness.

I am not as sure as Professor Berry that this charge is proving effective, over the long run.  But I am sure she is right that “There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans.”  I couldn’t have put it better.  It is politically safer, however, to accuse a smaller group of racism than to make that same accusation against the opposite party as a whole, let alone most Americans.

Professor Berry lets the cat out of the bag.  The Tea Party people are no more and perhaps less racist than Americans in general.  The charge of racism, like the equally bogus charge of encouraging political violence that was the last card played against them, is a purely cynical strategy.  It puts the Tea Party folks on the defensive, and distracts readers and viewers from the economy.

That’s politics, and I am not particularly offended by it.  It’s hypocritical and dishonest but reasonably benign if, that is, racism is really not a serious problem anymore.  I fervently hope that’s true.  If it isn’t, using the race card in this way is surely analogous to crying wolf when there is a real wolf out there.

Either way, Professor Berry has, for reasons beyond my comprehension, exposed the cynicism and dishonesty of the Democrat’s strategy against the Tea Party.

Lindberg Perfectly Qualified to Run Tea Party

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2010 at 5:59 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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…at least that’s what it sounds like the old board is saying!

Barb Lindberg has staged a perfectly legal coup to officially take over the Rapid City Tea Party, a.k.a. Citizens for Liberty. Bob Ellis, along with others who thought the group was their own little club to dictate, is miffed to have been out-maneuvered by a woman he clearly considers his inferior. He appears to declare Citizens for Liberty no longer has any credibility—and how can it when it is not blessed with Bob’s certainty and divine authority?

Ellis and his vanquished outflanked Citizens for Liberty board—and we can only use “board” colloquially, since the group had no written bylaws until Lindberg filed the official incorporation papers—have aired all their dirty laundry on Dakota Voice, with a link on the Citizens for Liberty Tea Party website (alas, Ellis still holds the Web keys, so Lindberg will have to start a new website for the official group… let’s hope she includes a daily blog!). The “board” rebuttal is ugly, petty, self-righteous, Newspeaky, yet hilarious. In a 4,435-word essay (and Bob has chided me for writing lengthy rebuttals as a sign of ill conscience), they lambaste Lindberg’s public speaking and time management skills. They air in-house e-mails.

And, in the funniest thing I’ve read all week, the beaten Ellis et al. summarize Lindberg’s qualifications to run a Tea Party thus:

The CFL board tried for several months to work with Mrs. Lindberg on some of her rough edges, and while there were some improvements, she was becoming increasingly intransigent and heavy-handed at board meetings. In the end, she escalated to the point of paranoia and veiled threats to somehow remove two board members with whom she had the sharpest disagreements [Ed Randazzo, Dawn Pence, Zach Lautenschlager, Bob Ellis, “Facts Behind the Dismissal of Barb Lindberg from Citizens for Liberty,” Dakota Voice, 2010.07.29].

Rough edges, intransigent, heavy-handed, paranoia, veiled threats… wow. Those characteristics perfectly describe of the Tea party mindset, the town hall tactics used last year to oppose health care reform, the tactic of bringing guns to public rallies, and the rhetoric of spilling blood to nourish the tree of liberty. It sounds like the Rapid City Tea Party has found its perfect leader.

Plus, Lindberg still wants to bring Glenn Beck to Rapid City. Keep the good times rolling, Barb!

It Can’t Happen Here…Can It?

Posted: Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 10:48 pm
By: RadioActive Chief
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Chief’s Preface: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

A view from the land of Oz, “down under”:

Sun Could Set Suddenly on Superpower as Debt Bites


We have been raised to think of the historical process as an essentially cyclical one. We naturally tend to assume that in our own time, too, history will move cyclically, and slowly.

Yet what if history is not cyclical and slow-moving but arhythmic, at times almost stationary, but also capable of accelerating suddenly, like a sports car? What if collapse does not arrive over a number of centuries but comes suddenly, like a thief in the night?


Great powers and empires are complex systems, which means their construction more resembles a termite hill than an Egyptian pyramid. They operate somewhere between order and disorder, on “the edge of chaos”, in the phrase of the computer scientist Christopher Langton.

Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time; they seem to be in equilibrium but are, in fact, constantly adapting.

But there comes a moment when complex systems “go critical”. A very small trigger can set off a phase transition from a benign equilibrium to a crisis. Complex systems share certain characteristics. A small input to such a system can produce huge, often unanticipated changes, what scientists call the amplifier effect.


Empires exhibit many of the characteristics of other complex adaptive systems, including the tendency to move from stability to instability quite suddenly. But this fact is rarely recognised because of our addiction to cyclical theories of history.
What are the implications for the US today? The most obvious point is that imperial falls are associated with fiscal crises: sharp imbalances between revenues and expenditures, and the mounting cost of servicing a mountain of public debt.

Think of Spain in the 17th century: already by 1543 nearly two-thirds of ordinary revenue was going on interest on the juros, the loans by which the Habsburg monarchy financed itself.

Or think of France in the 18th century: between 1751 and 1788, the eve of Revolution, interest and amortisation payments rose from just over a quarter of tax revenue to 62 per cent.

Finally, consider Britain in the 20th century. Its real problems came after 1945, when a substantial proportion of its now immense debt burden was in foreign hands. Of the pound stg. 21 billion national debt at the end of the war, about pound stg. 3.4bn was owed to foreign creditors, equivalent to about a third of gross domestic product.

Go to the linked article for the gory details on our current circumstances that lead to a harrowing conclusion:

For now, the world still expects the US to muddle through, eventually confronting its problems when, as Churchill famously said, all the alternatives have been exhausted. With the sovereign debt crisis in Europe combining with growing fears of a deflationary double-dip recession, bond yields are at historic lows….

We should be so blessed!

Australia’s post-war foreign policy has been, in essence, to be a committed ally of the US.

But what if the sudden waning of American power that I fear brings to an abrupt end the era of US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region? Are we ready for such a dramatic change in the global balance of power?

Judging by what I have heard here since I arrived last Friday, the answer is no. Australians are simply not thinking about such things.

A favourite phrase of this great country is “No dramas”. But dramas lie ahead as the nasty fiscal arithmetic of imperial decline drives yet another great power over the edge of chaos.

Hopefully more of us will start to remember a few inconvenient historical facts in time to make a difference.

TransCanada Keystone: Two Leaks in Two Months

Posted: Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 7:38 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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I was wrong: the June oil spew at Pump Station 22 near Roswell on the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline was not the first reported spill. Shortly after posting the DENR report on the Roswell incident, I received this DENR report documenting a 5-gallon leak at Pump Station 21 near Carpenter in Beadle County on May 21, 2010. This time a leaky valve was the culprit.

Leaky valve… would that be anywhere near a pipe joint… the kind of joint Welspun might have built… the kind of joint that was the source of hundreds of defects in Welspun-supplied steel in other pipelines built between 2007 and 2009?

Five gallons doesn’t sound like much, and tar sands oil is supposed to be relatively more viscous than regular crude oil, meaning it shouldn’t spread as much. But heavy rain during the leak appears to have spread the oil around the site in a 47×29-foot area. The clean-up crew ended up hauling away 185 cubic yards of contaminated dirt and 9356 gallons of contaminated water. Compare that to the 100-gallon leak at Roswell, which resulted in removal of 200 cubic yards of oily soil and only 2500 gallons of yucky water.

A mere five gallons of spilled oil is pretty good for local business. The May spill report includes receipts from Safety-Kleen out of Sioux Falls for about $9500 in giant Shop-Vac services. I wonder if TransCanada and Governor Rounds included that in their promises of economic benefits from the pipeline.

Now here’s the really good news about the Carpenter and Roswell spills: in its June 2006 pipeline risk assessment for its State Department permit application, TransCanada predicted the following spill frquencies:

Of the postulated 1.4 spills along the Keystone Pipeline system during a 10-year period, the study’s findings suggest that approximately 0.2 would be 50 barrels or less; 0.8 would consist of 50 to 1000 barrels; 0.3 would consist of between 1,000 and 10,000 barrels; and 0.2 would contain more than 10,000 barrels (Appendix A). The spill volume frequency distribution likely underestimates the proportion of spill volumes under 50 barrels due to reliance upon the greater than 50 barrel reporting criteria within the USDOT incident database. The curent analysis tends to overemphasize large spills and underreport the small spills, making the assessment conservative.

Based on probabilities generated from the study, the estimated occurrence intervals for a spill of 50 barrels or less occurring anywhere along the entire pipeline system is once every 65 years, a spill between 50 and 1,000 barrels might occur once in 12 years; a spill of 1,000 and 10,000 barrels might occur once in 39 years; and a spill containing more than 10,000 barrels might occur once in 50 years. Applying these statistics to a 1-mile section, the chances of a larger spill (greater than 10,000 barrels) would be less than once every 67,000 years [ENSR Corporation for TransCanada, “Pipeline Risk Assessment and Environmental Consequence Analysis,” Document No. 10623-004, June 2006].

In other words (Canadian readers will appreciate this), two spills in one year means we are ahead by a century.

Now, if only our local media weren’t behind by a century. If I were a paid journalist, I’d find two reported oil leaks before the pipeline became fully operational a significant story. But still no word from the mainstream media….

Bonus: Here’s a reminder from WEB Water Development’s June 2007 filing with the PUC on the environmental threat posed by the Keystone pipeline:

The TransCanada-Keystone Oil Pipeline plan calls for a wide separation between mainline automated valves and manual valves. For example, the distance between the pump station at the North Dakota-South Dakota state line and the next pumping station near Ferney, SD is about 42 miles of 30 inch pipe which would hold about 156,660,000 gallons of crude-oil (3,728,571 barrels). The distance between the Fernery pump station and the next pump station near Carpenter, SD is about 47 miles of 30 inch pipe which would hold about 175,312,000 gallons of crude oil (4,174,000 barrels). In addition to the 4 automated valves at compressor pump stations, the TransCanada-Keystone Pipeline will have 7 to 10 manually operated valves on the 220 miles of pipeline in South Dakota, with some valves being 20 to 30 miles apart. In the event of a major pipe failure, there may not be time to reach valves to stop the crude-oil from draining out of the pipeline on to productive farm land and into wetlands. Manually operated valves won’t do much good if the TransCanada operations staff are hundreds of miles away in Alberta or Omaha. A pipe failure at a low elevation point on either the 42 mile reach between North Dakota and Ferney, SD or the 47 mile reach between Ferney and Carpenter, SD could result in a spill of millions of gallons of crude oil. By way of comparison, the 155 mile WEB water mainline has 31 manual isolation valves, with each valve located every 5 miles, and six pump stations and control points which are monitored and operated by a computerized SCADA system and operations staff dispatched out of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Looks Like Money to Me

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 7:09 pm
By: Joel Rosenthal
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The cat is now all the way out of the bag. I posted previously the Sioux Falls Stockyards site had been sold and was going to be redeveloped.  This last weekend it was reported that the proposed usage of the Stockyards would be for a scrap metal recycling business. Today’s “Sioux Falls Business Journal” has a more complete story of the details about what is being planned.

Since the story broke on Sunday there has been a lot of talk about (I would distinguish this from serious discussion) how undesirable such a business would be so close to Downtown and Falls Park. It is suggested a step in the wrong direction both esthetically and environmentally.

I do not agree.

Scrap yards are as about as green a business as there is.

Foremost they recycle used materials and were one of the few businesses doing so prior to the environmental movement that began about the time of the inception of Earth Day in 1970. Besides the metal processors long time recyclers include the renderers, rag merchants, and paper recyclers.

Today GREEN is all the buzz. Renewable is all the buzz. Would we as a community rather have scrap metal and junk cars laying about all over town at other industrial sites and homes? Consolidating reusable waste to one location is the environmentally right thing to do. Perhaps the connotation “junk” is the problem? You don’t hear any complaints about Millennium Recycling who is processing paper products and electronics.

Any operation that the prospective operator, TJN Enterprises, engages in is regulated. The City, State and Federal governments all have stringent environmental laws and regulations. The property is zoned. There large neighbor, John Morrell and Company, has probably within its facility one of the largest rendering plants to be found anywhere, given they are slaughtering and processing as many as 18,000 hogs per day. The Stockyards itself when operating at full capacity was generating thousands if not millions of pounds and gallons on animal waste.

The size of the property, 36 acres, of which TJN will use about 24 will accommodate off street parking for trucks both delivering raw material and taking away recycled material. The availability of rail service is necessary and also an environmental plus. The new BNSF switching and rail yard will relocate east of the Stockyards location on east Rice Street.

An assumption on my part, but given the location and nature of the business the viewscape will be done in manner to have as much of the operations out of the public’s view as is possible. Cranes are an indispensible part of metal processing as are smokestacks, heat exhaust, and refrigeration condensers are to a meat packing plant.  In the talk I’ve heard no one seems to mention either Unit Can Company on North Phillips across the street from Falls Park or Sioux Steel Company that abuts the Sioux River just above the Falls. And there is Barney’s Salvage on North Cliff and Morrell’s sewage pretreatment ponds just north of their plant near the River.

We have zoning for a reason and recyclers provide an important environmental function. Unless there is some really huge problem, the City Planning Commission should grant the Conditional Use Permit once TJN or the Landlord (as appropriate) dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s. As my tree hugger friends like to say, recycling is part of our ecosystem (I read here economy as well).

Our leaders talk a lot about development but when opportunity presents itself, it should not be turned away because the naysayers believe it’s not pretty. TJN will provide jobs and increase our tax base. This project looks like money to me.

To comment on this post go to South Dakota Straight Talk.

South Dakota’s immigration “problem”

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 11:25 am
By: Tim Gebhart
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Given the recent discussion of South Dakota considering an Arizona-type law on illegal immigrants, a new report from the Immigration Policy Center is enlightening. Not only does it show illegal immigration is a very small problem in the state, it reflects the importance of legal immigration.

According to the report:

  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised less than 1.5% of the state’s workforce in 2008. The same study showed unauthorized immigrants accounted for less than one percent of the state’s total population.
  • The 2009 purchasing power of Latinos in South Dakota totaled $477.1 million — an increase of 990.8% since 1990 — while Asian buying power totaled $205.5 million — an increase of 614.3% since 1990.
  • According to the Census Bureau, South Dakota’s 355 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $121.9 million and employed 660 people in 2002, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 300 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $87.6 million and employed 582 people.
  • South Dakota was home to 14,894 immigrants in 2008 with the foreign-born share of the population increasing from 1.1% in 1990 to 1.8% in 2000 and to 1.9% in 2008.
  • More than 45 percent of the immigrants in South Dakota (6,773 people) were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2008.
  • The number of immigrants in South Dakota with a college degree increased by 64.5% between 2000 and 2008. In fact, 42.1% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2008 had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

So, not only does South Dakota not have a major problem with illegal immigrants or unauthorized workers, the state’s legal immigrants help the economy and many are highly educated. It seems the benefits, including cultural diversification, far outweigh the problems.

No one supports illegal immigration. But we need to look at things in perspective before running out and adding an extra enforcement burden to law enforcement or businesses, especially one that is constitutionally suspect.

Let Marking Debate SHS/Noem? Vote Now!

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 6:45 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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The Mitchell Daily Republic‘s exclusion of Independent candidate for U.S. House B. Thomas Marking from the Corn Palace Festival debate on August 28 got me thinking: what’s a guy got to do to earn a spot on the political debate stage? How much popular viability beyond getting enough signatures to make the ballot must a candidate demonstrate to be taken seriously?

While we ponder that, take the latest Madville Times poll: “Should SD media include Independent candidate for U.S. House B. Thomas Marking in live public debates with candidates Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Kristi Noem?Vote here, then drop a comment. Tell us all what you think earns a candidate the right to be heard in a public debate. Voting and comment is open to everyone, regardless of your potential for winning a public vote. ;-)

Poll is open until breakfast time Saturday, around which time I’ll post the results and offer some more commentary. Tell your friends, and vote now!

No Christians Need Apply

Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 11:06 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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alice-with-queen-of-heartsFreedom of religion and freedom of speech are legal concepts.  They were invented to protect something that is more than a legal but a natural right: the right to make up one’s own mind about things without fear of reprisal if one does not agree with the orthodox view.

Jennifer Keeton has filed suit against Augusta State University in Georgia, claiming she has been denied that right.  I found no reference to this tale at the Washington Post, the New York Times, or the LA Times, though it is for many reasons an important story.  It is on Fox, and the Daily Caller.  To be fair, the story is covered by the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Huffington Post and ABC News.  Here is a bit from the legal complaint:

ASU faculty have promised to expel Miss Keeton from the graduate Counselor Education program, not because of poor academic showing or demonstrated deficiencies in clinical performance, but simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity. Because Miss Keeton will not agree to undergo an ideological remediation program that requires both (1) that she submit to an extended supplemental curriculum of sources hostile to her belief-system, and (2) that she “alter her beliefs” (as the faculty put it) and agree to affirm the propriety of behaviors she believes immoral, the faculty has stated it will dismiss her from the graduate counseling program at ASU.

One problem here is that ASU seems to be maintaining scrupulous silence on the case.  We are only getting one side of the story, from Ms. Keeton and her lawyers.  But the complaint includes text from the “remediation program” that the university is requiring of her.  From ABC:

The remediation plan, according to court documents, included attending three workshops on diversity, a monthly two-age reflection on what she has learned from research into LGBT counseling issues, and increased exposure to gay populations. The latter action came with the suggestion that she attend Augusta’s gay pride parade.

This does look rather like a Chinese-style reeducation program.  It is, apparently, complete with accusations from the neighbors.

“Faculty have also received unsolicited reports from another student that [Miss Keeton] has relayed her interest in conversion therapy for GLBTQ populations,” the lawsuit’s quotation of the plan continued, “and she has tried to convince other students to support and believe her views.”

Ms. Keeton denies this.

I gather that Ms. Keaton believes that “male and female” are not social constructs but are fixed by nature.  She believes that homosexuality is not “a state of being” but a lifestyle choice.  I happen to agree with her about the one but not the other.  It seems that the ASU counseling program regards her beliefs and the fact that she expressed them in class and out of class as a disqualification.  The remediation program seems designed to correct her beliefs.

Should a person who believes that homosexuality is wrong be allowed to be a counselor, when some of her clients may be homosexual?  That is not an unreasonable question.  Should a Palestinian immigrant who believes that Israel is an abomination be allowed to be a counselor when some of her clients may be Israeli immigrants or Jews sympathetic to Israel?  Ditto.

The only way to deal with this problem without infringing on the most basic freedoms is to focus solely on professional conduct.  If there is any evidence that Ms. Keeton refuses to treat any client according to the rules of her profession, that would be one thing.  It looks like she is being corrected because she refuses to sign on to the party line.  That is something else.

The distinction between beliefs and conduct is one of the most basic principles in modern liberal democracy.  If Ms. Keeton’s complaint is accurate, everyone who believes in freedom of thought should be on her side.