Illinois Right to Life Action Just Launched A Pro-Life Podcast

Friends –

I am so excited to share that earlier this week, we launched the first episode of Life Chat podcast. We hope this will be just one more way that our organization can connect with, educate, and engage the pro-life people of Illinois. As the 2020 election cycle approaches, it’s more important now than ever before to keep a close eye on our state legislature in Springfield, while starting productive, compassionate conversations about abortion within our personal networks and communities back at home. This podcast is just one of the numerous projects we’re launching this month to help you do exactly these things!

Episode one of Life Chat consists of a general introduction to our goals and plans for the podcast, as well as an analysis that dives deep into SB 25, the Reproductive Healthcare Act, which passed through our state legislature back in May. In the future, we hope to conduct interviews and have purposeful conversations with some of the solid pro-life people who are most engaged in this issue, both in Illinois and nationwide!

You can listen to Life Chat on iTunes here, on Spotify here, and on Google Play here.

We hope you enjoy!

Illinois Democrats Are Preparing To Force Another Major Abortion Bill

Last week, Capitol News Illinois confirmed that democrats in the General Assembly intend to pursue the repeal of Parental Notification during the veto session in the fall.

Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), who’s the primary sponsor of HB 2467 (the Parental Notice Abortion Repeal), confirmed that he’s going to push the bill during the veto session (the last week of October and the second week of November) and, if it fails, he’s “going to go back at it again in January.”

Per CNI:

“Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman,” Welch said. “At the end of the day, I don’t want my wife and my daughter to be equal only in the confines of our home — I want them to be equal in the confines of the law. That’s what this fight is all about.”

So, first and foremost, let’s get something straight: men under the age of 18 are decidedly *not* allowed to receive invasive surgical procedures without the consent of their parents. And actually, since the General Assembly passed HB 0345, men under the age of 21 are not even allowed to buy cigarettes (Rep. Welch sponsored that bill too, by the way).

There is absolutely *no* consistency of thought here. And that’s without mentioning the risks that young girls face without this law serving as a checkpoint in the industry.

Take note of Welch’s word choice in his above quote. “Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman?” Words mean something. We’re not talking about women. We’re talking about *girls* – underage girls, who are at far greater risk of being sexually exploited than almost any other demographic block. In 2017, the youngest girl to receive an abortion that was paid for with taxpayer dollars was a 12-year-old. Any responsible adult can look at this situation and see that something isn’t right.

This isn’t a red herring. Chicago is a national hub for human trafficking. Repealing this law would actually protect traffickers by providing them the opportunity to conceal the consequences of trafficking and continue the cycle of abuse.

One might wonder why the public isn’t outraged at the suggestion of repealing such a common sense law. Funny thing: it is.

Back in March, 12,625 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 490 in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Later in the month, when the bill was scheduled to be heard in committee a second time, 6,980 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 190 filed in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Also in March, more than 4,000 people showed up at a rally held by a group of pro-life organizations to protest HB 2467 at the Illinois State Capitol. The crowds brought the building to max capacity and security had to close the doors. 

Just as the case with the Reproductive Healthcare Act, the public has spoken loudly and clearly on this issue. The question isn’t whether the people of Illinois support this bill – it’s whether or not Illinois democrats care.

 

I’m blogging again…

You read that right, fam! I’m back in the blogosphere.

After a significant hiatus, I’ve made my way back – and this time, on a namesake website.

From Fearlessly Feminine, to A Soul at Work, to Twenty Five & Catholic… if you’ve been following along all these years, thank you! I’m deeply grateful for the many people who’ve encouraged my ever-changing writing endeavors, and I continue to hope that these little website projects eventually become something much larger (and perhaps, one day, printed on paper)!

If you follow me on social media, you’re likely aware that I am now the executive director of Illinois Right to Life. For some time, I wasn’t sure what this meant for my individual voice – particularly as it pertains to writing for the web. A few impassioned posts of my creation on our Illinois Right to Life blog (specifically, this one and this one), however, have convinced me that my personal voice has a role to play in this fight. So, here I am!

Obviously, a lot’s gone down in Illinois over the past six months. Madigan and his gang of cowards down in Springfield executed a manipulation of historic proportions back in May, when they added the overwhelmingly unpopular Reproductive Healthcare Act (RHA) to unrelated mental health bill SB25 and passed it through the House on the Sunday over Memorial Day Weekend. Pro-lifers came out in droves to fight this bill (4,000+ in attendance at a protest on March 20 and 15,000+ filed witness slips with the House Human Services committee to voice their opposition to the bill) but legislators sided with the national abortion effort. It’s a pivotal moment in our state history and now, more than ever, we need to speak out.

Illinois Right to Life and Illinois Right to Life Action communicate directly with the pro-life people of our state on important updates and action items (witness slips, anyone?) and do an incredible job of relaying that information. That said, I want the opportunity to speak directly (and regularly) to those who follow us and the work that we do.

And of course, as always, I want the opportunity to talk about other things – like, uh, the Democratic presidential primaries (tiger don’t change his stripes, folks).

I anticipate that this blog will take a different tone that much of my writing has in the past , especially given my personal involvement in the issues directly affecting Illinois.

I hope that you’ll follow along and continue reading what I write – as so many of you have for years! As we observe the strange (and often scary) twists and turns our nation continues to take, it’s clear that there’s plenty to say. Social media is a powerful tool that lets us relay truth with the simple click of a button. That said, I encourage you to engage with what I post here by commenting, sharing, liking, etc.

If you haven’t yet, you can also keep up with my posts by subscribing via email, liking my Facebook page, or following me on Instagram (where I’m most active).

Thanks for your friendship and support! Let’s make waves.

 

Survey Series: 25, Catholic, & Here For The Party

Forgive me for the long (read: very, very long) hiatus I took smack dab in the center of this series. It was very Mary Kate-esque of me to start my first series and then take, like, a two month break after the first post. *sigh* His power is perfected in my weakness, y’all. Mea Culpa!

Anyway, so: in continuing this series, we come to the second most common response I had when I asked young adults in a recent survey what it was they were looking for from their church communities—and so, here we are: 25, Catholic, & Here For The Party.

IT’S COMMUNITY. Young adults are looking for community and fellowship from the church. It’s the reason that young adult events offering free beer, wine, and La Croix (as one survey respondent put it) are typically so successful—not because we’re all like, 25, Catholic, & Here For The Free Alcohol, but because the opportunity to gather around food or drink is the opportunity to gather. Period.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently, both within this context and elsewhere, about the call that each human person has to be a self-gift. In Pope Paul VI’s Gaudium Et Spes, we’re reminded that:

“Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one. . . as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.(2)”

JP II echoed this idea, when he said in Redemptor Hominis that:

“…man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”

Man must create a gift of himself. We cannot so much as begin to understand ourselves if we do not have opportunities to love in our lives. So where can we find these opportunities?
One of these places, I believe, is in community.

I often think back to college and the emphasis placed on community that most of us likely experienced. College freshmen are encouraged to “get involved”—rush a fraternity or sorority, join a club sport, participate in Newman Center events, and for what? For community.

The Catechism is bursting with good material on this topic:

“The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.” (1879)

But here is where we must return to a post I wrote a few weeks months back: the choice of whom we enter into community with is so, so important.

C.S. Lewis delves into this in “The Four Loves” when he discussed the difference between companionship and friendship. You can read more about that here.
Gaudium Et Spes touches this topic within the context of both public and private life:

“Among those social ties which man needs for his development, some, like the family and political community, relate with greater immediacy to his innermost nature; others originate rather from his free decision. In our era, for various reasons, reciprocal ties and mutual dependencies increase day by day and give rise to a variety of associations and organizations, both public and private. This development, which is called socialization, while certainly not without its dangers, brings with it many advantages with respect to consolidating and increasing the qualities of the human person, and safeguarding his rights. (4)

But if by this social life the human person is greatly aided in responding to his destiny, even in its religious dimensions, it cannot be denied that men are often diverted from doing good and spurred toward and by the social circumstances in which they live and are immersed from their birth. To be sure the disturbances which so frequently occur in the social order result in part from the natural tensions of economic, political, and social forms. But at a deeper level they flow from man’s pride and selfishness, which contaminate even the social sphere. When the structure of affairs is flawed by the consequences of sin, man, already born with a bent toward evil, finds there new inducements to sin, which cannot be overcome without strenuous efforts and the assistance of grace.”

Obviously we see the undertones of public life at play here, but the emphasis on the impact that community can have and the notion of communities originated from free decision are just as important.

If the social environments we’re born into can impact us this much, the ones we choose for ourselves are that much more critical.

And young adult Catholics know this. What’s more, we know ourselves and our faith, and we deeply desire a community that not only welcomes this, but embraces and contributes to it. And we deeply desire to give ourselves back to a community that gives us what we’re looking for.

It is, like so many other things, part of the human condition.

And it’s why we seek it in the Church.

Survey Series: 25, Catholic & Tryna Get Dates

Well, not just ‘dates’ necessarily—maybe “25, Catholic, & Tryna Get A Good Catholic Spouse” would’ve been a better title here—but like, *clickbait*, ya know? I digress…

From a marketing perspective, it’s definitely stupid that I’m putting this article out as the first of this series. If I had any smarts at all, I’d tease this one in 3 or 4 other articles before posting it, as it’s *undoubtedly* the most appealing topic for single young adults.

(Also BIG shouts to my friends Matt and Allison for letting me borrow their pic for this article. Katherine Salvatori is a Chicago-based photographer and took SUPER beautiful photos of their wedding.)

Just the same, I like to give the people what they want—and it’s very clear based on these surveys (which a group of my young adult Catholic friends completed for me last month, in case you missed that) that young adults want opportunities within the Church to date.

But make no mistake—this isn’t a Tinderesque, Bumble-for-Catholics, “dating for the sake of dating” mentality—rather, it’s an intentional one. It’s a reflection of the desire that devout, vocation-minded young adults have for a holy, Christ-centered marriage—and it’s one the Church should emphatically embrace.

Obviously I can’t speak for men, but I do feel I can speak for women here. Secular dating is really a struggle. It’s really, really, REALLY hard to go into a dating situation knowing there’s a good chance that your opposite will outright reject you when he learns you’re waiting until marriage to have sex, or that you want to use NFP versus artificial birth control, or that you’d like to quit your job to homeschool your dozen kids one day (I’m kidding… jk I’m not). I think many of us have been there, and it’s tough. It presents a major temptation to despair, and ultimately, to settle—because who wouldn’t rather settle than face outright rejection entirely? (That’s a rhetorical question. I’d advise rejection over settling in your marriage any day.)

I know a lot of Catholic women, myself included, who didn’t actually think there was a place in existence that they might find a holy, God-fearing man. Imagine my surprise when I realized the CHURCH was the best place to go looking for those people. And holy mackerel, it’s such a shock when you finally encounter them. I’ll never forget the first time I heard a grown man mention his “chastity” (I was like “wait… your what?”). Yeah, these people exist. Amazing.

Here’s the thing: it’s great to seek dating relationships in places where you’ll encounter people with whom you have things in common. If you really enjoy rock climbing, then sure, join a rock climbing group. But if you do meet, date, and marry someone based on your common interest in rock climbing, it’s possible you’re going to have a bad time. (Of course you could meet someone who likes rock climbing and is also a devout Catholic. I’m just trying to make a point. Goodness gracious, you guys.)

In my opinion, the Catholic Church should be (and in some very lucky communities, already is) in the business of matchmaking. Absolutely, 100 percent, I believe the Church should be actively working to connect good single Catholic women with good single Catholic men. Why? It’s the future of the Church. It’s quite literally a recipe for good Catholic children that will (hopefully, God-willing) grow up to someday be a NEW set of good Catholic men and women. It’s a recipe for an increase in vocations—we need people who will raise their children to discern the priesthood or the consecrated life. And it’s a recipe for MORE holy married couples, because let’s be honest—the world could use an uptick in all of the above!

This is why this matters so much. There’s something really, really right and beautiful about people in their 20s and 30s who’d like to be married, seeking that opportunity within the walls of the Church. How can the Church expect to engage families if it’s not catching the two at the center—the husband and wife—before they’ve made that commitment and built that foundation? Answer: it simply can’t.

Practically speaking, how can the Church go about encouraging these dating relationships and creating an environment that’s conducive to Catholic match-making? Well, there’s a lot of ways. The obvious are young adult social events and straight-forward opportunities like speed dating, etc. But quite honestly, this is part of the reason it’s so important for parishes to engage young adults in general. “So how can parishes do that, Mary Kate?” I’m so glad you asked! I’ll discuss this further in future posts within this series 🙂

As far as I’m concerned, we’ve left things up to chance for far too long (Divine Providence notwithstanding). There’s a market for Church-inspired matchmaking, and we’ve got to make it happen. So for the love of all that is holy, you guys—LET THE PEOPLE DATE.

25, Catholic, & Super Stressed Out

As I write this, I’m sitting in a French bakery in Lakeview East, eating a croissant and drinking a latte and wishing I were in a real Parisian bakery instead of this one in Chicago. I’m not well-dressed for the present low temperatures, a million chores demand my attention at home, and currently, my car is waiting for me in a tow lot on the north side.

For the sake of context, I feel compelled to add this is the second time my car’s been towed this month.

I like to think that as I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten better at handling and managing stress. I didn’t freak out this morning when I realized my car had been towed (although I wanted to), and I managed to keep my wits about me as I was forced to carry on with my day. Well, I thought to myself, what’s done is done. “No use crying over spilt milk,” as they say.

Nevertheless, this bitter development in my weekend seemed to be the cherry-on-top of a stressful week. This past month shaped up to be one of those moments in life that brings to the forefront many questions—where am I going? How am I getting there? Who am I bringing along for the ride? Toss some parking tickets and a car tow (or two) into the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a full-scale meltdown.

But see, us Catholics—we’re lucky. Moments like these that could so easily knock down persons with lesser faith are actually big opportunities for us. They’re a chance, given by God, to really choose to believe in Him. That moment I pulled up to where I’d left my car and realized it wasn’t there anymore? An opportunity for surrender. I try so hard to remind myself of that.

Mother Teresa had this mastered. She once said:

“Every day we have to say yes. To be where He wants you to be. Total surrender. If He puts you in the street—if everything is taken from you and suddenly you find yourself in the street—to accept to be put in the street at that moment… To accept whatever He gives and to give whatever He takes with a big smile. This is the surrender to God. To accept to be cut to pieces, and yet every piece to belong only to Him. This is the surrender. To accept the people that come, the work that you happen to do. Today maybe you have a good meal and tomorrow maybe you have nothing. There is no water in the pump? Alright. To accept, and to give whatever He takes. He takes your good name, He takes your health, yes. That’s the surrender. And you are free then.”

I was discussing with a close friend earlier this week how very emotional people (specifically, people like the two of us) can go about keeping their cool in relationships. I realized as we were talking that moments I’ve been especially emotional (within the context of romantic or friendship relationships) have often been a result of a loss of control. In the past, I’ve responded to a loss of control by grasping. I’ve reacted emotionally when I’ve lost a grip on the situation and recognized the outcome as being out of my hands. But this is a God-complex, and it’s a sinful attitude to take—especially toward the people we love.

Just as in the case of relationships, we must keep this mentality in the case of life across the board. I’m simply not in control. It’s what Mother Teresa says in the quote above: “today maybe you have a good meal and tomorrow you have nothing.” I live at the whim of the Lord. When we’re able to truly recognize this Truth, receive it in our hearts, and apply it to our lives, it’s liberating—because in knowing we’re not in control, we surrender our lives to God. And if we surrender our lives to God, we’re forced to rely solely on Him. Here is where we find peace—in this place where we know that our Lord keeps His promises.

Consider this comment by St. Teresa of Avila:

“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing scare you. All is fleeting, God alone is unchanging. Patience everything obtains. They want nothing who possess God; He alone is enough.”
I’ve tried very hard to make a practice of giving everything back to God. I’ve tried to practice, in both good and bad, offering every moment in life up to Him as an opportunity to do His will. Missed the bus on your way to work? It’s Yours, Lord. Burnt your dinner? It’s Yours, Lord. Get your car towed twice in one month? Still, yes. It’s Yours, Lord. Do everything in life for Him, and be filled with the peace that comes with surrendering your life.

In the book Love & Salt, one of the writers comments that the unfortunate part of being Christian is that we don’t have the luxury of giving up, because there is always hope in the resurrection. I believe she’s exactly right. Doesn’t it feel some days as though it’d be easier to just give up? To abandon our goals and our convictions for the sake of some instant, momentary satisfaction? Of course. But we can’t. Because through the resurrection, we know there are better days to come.

25 & Catholic: Finding Peace In Aloneness

Around this time last year, I traveled to Italy alone for one month. And when I look back on that time, there’s a lot that I can say I gained—spiritually, figuratively, what have you—from the experience. One of those items is a immense appreciation for dining alone.

It’s something I’ve come to relish in. Almost every payday, pending other plans, I treat myself to a meal out all by myself.

That’s not to say I don’t love socializing or crave quality time spent with good people. In fact, I’ve found that on a more permanent basis, I don’t do quite as well alone. A talker like me wasn’t made to spend 12+ hours a day by herself. Just the same, I relish in that time spent enjoying a meal alone.

It’s amazing what quiet can do for our thoughts. And not so much a physical quiet—I don’t necessarily seek restaurants that are especially lacking in noise, if you will (do those even exist?). I’m referring more so to a mental quiet. There’s so much to be gained from stepping away from friend chatter, social media chatter, the chatter of the world—and receding back into a quieted mind for reflection and conversation with God.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said once:

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

I think that many people make the mistake of equating aloneness with loneliness, but the two are not the same. One can find quiet solitude with God and not feel loneliness; just the same, one can feel very, very lonely in the midst of constant noise. While loneliness is an undeniable cross (Mother Teresa often called it the worst of all poverties), solitude with the Lord is not just a luxury, but a necessity.

I’m of the belief that spending time in silence with the Lord is critical to our ability to know ourselves. Who am I in the absence of other people? Where do my thoughts wander? What emotions am I feeling?

I often think of a scene in Bride Wars that expresses this thought. Yes, you’re thinking of the right Bride Wars—the one with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway. At the beginning of the movie, Hathaway’s character comments that a person’s ability to be alone with his own thoughts is a reflection of whether there’s peace in his life. And toward the climax of the movie, as Hathaway’s character experiences an increasing discomfort in her engagement, she notably starts wearing earbuds on her runs—an indication that she’s uncomfortable in the silence of her own thoughts. This is a very honest premise.

Busyness serves as a distraction in our lives. There’s something to be said for a person’s ability to just sit and “be”—be alone with himself, alone with God, alone with the thoughts and prayers “in the quiet of his heart.”

This is especially important as single people in our twenties who’re preparing for a vocation. It’s especially challenging as well, however, because loneliness does sometimes creep into our aloneness as a single person. Bobby Angel addressed this well:

“A dear seminarian friend told me that “loneliness is just God asking you to spend time with Him.” Pope Benedict (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote that “the Fathers of the Church say that prayer, properly understood, is nothing other than becoming a longing for God.” St. Teresa of Avila also wrote that God hears us “not with noise of words… but with longing.” If you’re waiting on the Lord for your vocation to be unveiled, waiting for an answer, waiting for Godot, or waiting for your rocket to come, have patience. Enter into that solitude, that stillness, that stretch. Allow God to transform your ache. Don’t run from it—own it. Become a longing.”

If aloneness draws you into loneliness, enter into it. Accept it. Embrace it. Take up your cross, and know that God is faithful, and He is walking alongside you. And in the meantime, dive deep into the silence of your heart. Confront the deepest musings of your soul with courage.

And spend some time in the quiet.

Today’s The Feast Day Of St. Maximillian Kolbe. Here’s What He Can Teach Us About Neo-Nazis And Antifa.

Chris Stefanick posted a moving video this morning of himself standing in Auschwitz, telling the story of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, whose feast day is today.

His memory stands in stark contrast to the violence we saw in Virginia over the weekend, perpetrated by two groups of extremists that have made hateful rhetoric and actions central to the means by which they carry out their missions.

You can watch the video here.

From the moment Virginia declared a state of emergency on Saturday, the steady stream of Facebook posts, tweets, and general commentary from everyone from politicians to personal friends has been almost overwhelming. It seems everyone has an opinion on who bears the greatest responsibility, and that’s entirely fair—when a life is lost the way one was on Saturday, a national conversation surrounding what could’ve prevented it seems to be the only appropriate response.

All of that being said, I’ve seen hardly any mention of God or faith in any of these opinions. Of course we should condemn racism. Of course we should condemn violence. But what is at the root, here? Why is it that we’re suddenly reacting so angrily—and violently—to differing viewpoints?

Most would tell you it’s Trump, but it’s not. I’ll never forget the last-minute road trip I made with two friends down to Louisiana for the 2014 senatorial runoff election—we listened to tail end reports of Ferguson unrest for much of the way down. This was long before the Trump phenomenon, yet we’ve placed the blame for this sudden civil discourse entirely on his shoulders.

Has he contributed? I’m not sure. But here’s what I can say with surety:

I’ll never be convinced that violent, hateful unrest like what we saw on Saturday is anything other than the product of a lack of God in our society. A lack of peace out in the world is a reflection of a lack of peace in the hearts of those involved. When we meet aggression with aggression and violence with violence, we exhibit a lack of faith in Christ and a separation from the suffering and persecution He endured during His time on earth. The peace required to face such aggression with humility, courage, and love for other human beings can only be acquired through a genuine encounter with the Lord in our hearts. If we do not have that peace within, we cannot exhibit it out in the world.

Maximillian Kolbe is such a moving, remarkable example of this peace. Stefanick explains in his video above that during his time in Auschwitz, St. Maximillian volunteered to take the place of a husband and father who’d been sent away to starve to death in a dark, locked room. This faithful, humble Catholic priest had such peace in his heart that he met the aggression of the Nazis with the ultimate sacrifice—the offering of his life. And Stefanick adds that the Nazi Commander trembled in his presence.

St. Maximillian lived in that room, starving, for twelve days. The Nazis finally ended his starvation with a lethal injection that took his life. And other camp members who knew him and what he’d done responded to his martyrdom by singing hymns throughout the camp.

This is a man who knew peace in his heart. This is a man who knew the love of Christ.

We cannot and will not deliver our country from this violence without this same sense of peace and this same faith in God’s love. On this feast day of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, let us remember that.

The Monika Lewinsky Effect: Questioning Our Approach To Kathy Griffin’s Controversial Image

The morning that Kathy Griffin released the photo of herself holding a bloody mask of President Trump, I was watching Monika Lewinsky’s 1999 interview with Barbara Walters (I literally cannot even remember how this happened—I fell down a very deep Youtube hole, idk). One of links that Youtube recommended when the 80-minute interview was over was Lewinsky’s much-more-recent TED talk on cyberbullying, and the role her story played in how we use the internet today (she refers to herself as “Patient Zero” of the internet crucifixion culture we’ve grown accustomed to since then).

So as I’ve observed coverage of Griffin play out, and as I watched her apology video, and then her press conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about Monika Lewinsky. Lol. I know, maybe bizarre.

But there is something to this.

Kathy Griffin took her situation to the next level last week when she cried at the podium of a nationally televised press conference over the consequences of her own poor decision-making skills.

A lot was said that wasn’t true, much of it by her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, who’s a famous (infamous?) civil rights lawyer, most recently known for her public take-down of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

But there was also a lot said that did have truth to it—claims to Griffin’s right to free speech, for starters. And what I’m about to say will inevitably be an unpopular opinion, but hear me out: as Americans, we should not pride ourselves on our freedom of speech if we do not also enact it.

Here’s what I mean:

A number of conservative speakers have been forcefully denied access to college campuses because of pushback by the universities, kicking and screaming (and in some instances, more serious violence) by protestors, and a general blowback on the internet for their message and ideas.

And the conservative side of the aisle is (rightfully) critical of this. They say liberal university administrators and lefty activists are stifling people who have a right by the First Amendment to say whatever it is they want to say when they’re invited to speak at these campuses. Conservatives say that denying them that right is an attack on the American values we hold so dear.

I’m willing to make the argument that Kathy Griffin could and should be lumped in with the Ann Coulters, Ben Shapiros, and Ryan T. Andersons of this narrative.

Griffin is the most recent subject of this trend in our country that’s stamping out the First Amendment. True to her grotesque sense of humor, Griffin created an image that offended the vast majority of people who saw it. It’s clear some people were not offended, however, because just as she took the image down, it had already garnered thousands of retweets and shares on social media (everyone knows a retweet presented without comment is totally an endorsement, come on). Now I, in absolutely no way, support or agree with the image she made—nevertheless, her right to make it is protected under the First Amendment. By way of the law, she did nothing wrong.

That didn’t stop social media users, and politicians, and journalists, and the Trump family… from calling for her to be fired from her job, dropped from her contracts, and boycotted pretty much across the board. And I suppose that just as Griffin owns a right to free speech, so do all of the people I listed above. They’re free to pressure CNN to do that. But just the same—is it right?

I don’t agree with Kathy Griffin, nor do I especially like her… but does that make it right to assault her via the internet the way so many of us did? Here’s where I think of Monika Lewinsky, who’s been the butt of jokes on the internet before the word “meme” was even in the dictionary. There is so much power in the small gesture of a keystroke. We wield so much opportunity when we post online—and those people who have a following beyond their own circle of family and friends have an even greater responsibility.

It’s time to take responsibility, and for all of it. Griffin should have been more responsible with the broad audience that she has access to. But does her wrong justify our right to annihilate her for it?

I think that’s something for us to think about.

An Open Letter To Tomi Lahren: Stop Making Me Look Bad

Tomi –

You and I have a lot in common. We’re both conservative, both women, both 24, and both passionate about politics and current events. We’re also both markedly opinionated and outspoken about our beliefs. Good for us!

I’ve kept an eye on you as your career has escalated because I admire you for many reasons. You’re especially bold in your ‘Final Thoughts’, which takes a notable amount of courage and gumption—God knows you get a lot of hate on social media, so I respect your thick skin and perseverance. You’re also incredibly well-spoken, which I’ve found is not the norm amongst conservative women our age, so I’m grateful for that—you’re clearly intelligent, and I love it. I’m always happy to see fellow smart girls find success.

Recently, though, I’ve got a bone to pick with you. It’s been my experience during my short time in the work world that older, more experienced professionals are hesitant to trust girls like you and me. It’s not that we’re bad at what we do, or that we’re not smart, or capable—they’re simply hesitant to take us seriously.

I used to work in a job where my boss made me feel valued for what I did. He complimented my hard work, my willingness to go the extra mile, and my patience with difficult coworkers—but he also winked at me every time he passed my desk, and responded to my request for more responsibilities within my role with, “well, you’re very young.”

Do you see what I’m getting at here? It’s a fight for girls like us to be taken seriously in the work world. We’re expected to prove ourselves before we’re given a chance, meanwhile men our age and with comparable experience are often given those chances first. I’ve got to be reliable. I’ve got to be mature, trustworthy, sincere, serious, and I’ve got to be very, very careful.

Tomi, you have not been careful.

You’ve been loose with your words, reckless with your actions, and you’ve mishandled your conflict with The Blaze in a very public way. I’m happy for you that it’s over. I’m sure it was stressful. I’m sure you’re relieved to have your Facebook page back, which was rightfully yours to begin with. Those are very good things.

But yesterday, you did an interview with Playboy, and quite frankly, I’ve had enough. First of all—Playboy? Really, Tomi? You’re a strong, outspoken, opinionated woman, and you lent your voice to the single publication most infamous for objectifying women? Be serious.

And second, I don’t care how you feel about abortion. I really don’t. I’m pro-life, but I don’t care whether you agree with me or not. What I do care about, however, is how frivolous you’ve looked as you’ve flip-flopped from one stance to the other. I get being unsure how you feel about an issue, but here’s my advice: if you’re unsure, don’t comment. It is really, REALLY that simple.

I sympathize with the struggle you’ve had these past few weeks. Truly, I get it. But for the sake of your fellow 24-year-old smart girls, get serious.

And stop making us look bad.