POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH: ARCHIVE
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
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30 April, 2005
MAN-HATING FEMINISTS HATE BOYS TOO
Not surprising, I guess, but you wouldn't want to let ANY kids near such embittered and hate-fostering harpies
UCSF's Center for Gender Equity hosts its annual "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" on Thursday -- but judging from the list of activities being offered, the gender equity program is anything but equal.
For example, the 9- and 10-year-old daughters are being invited to participate in 17 hands-on activities such as working with microscopes, slicing brains, doing skull comparisons, seeing what goes on in the operating room, playing surgeon, dentist or nurse for a day, and visiting the intensive care unit nursery, where they can set up blood pressure cuffs and operate the monitors. They can learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness, how to use a fire extinguisher, how to operate several types of equipment -- even fire a laser.
And what do the boys get to do? Learn about "gender equity in fun, creative ways using media, role playing and group games" -- after which, the boys can get a bit of time in with a microscope or learn how the heart works. "It's ridiculous," says one UCSF doc, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation from the university. "I have no problem with the Center for Gender Equity, but just make it equitable."
Longtime center director Amy Levine, however, tells us the program isn't intended to give boys and girls the same learning opportunities -- nor, she says, is it a career day. "It's about dealing with effects of sexism on both boys and girls and how it can damage them," she said. Hence, while the boys undergo gender sensitivity training, the girls focus on their capabilities -- be it handling a scalpel or microscope.
UCSF tried mixing the boys with the girls a few years back, but Levine says it just didn't work out. "It mirrored the same sexism that occurs in the classroom daily," she said, "where boys raise their hands more often, demand more attention and have discipline problems."
So now the boys have their own gender sensitivity program, where "they learn about violence prevention and how to be allies to the girls and women in their lives," Levine said.
The Politically Correct Make-Over of Passover
In recent years, Passover has undergone a make-over in the American Jewish non-Orthodox community, one that has converted it largely into a holiday devoted to celebrating human rights, protesting a long list of human rights abuses and promoting fashionable causes. The remake seems designed to make Passover a cosmopolitan holiday, one with a universal message in which all can join, in essence the Jewish answer to the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the French Revolution.
Back in the 1960s, a series of Political Correctness Haggadahs were written, in which the message of Passover was turned into a celebration of the civil rights movement in the United States. Arthur Waskow, the guru of the Tikkun-"Renewal" crowd, wrote at the time a Black Liberation Passover Haggadah, celebrating black militants like the Black Panthers, who were themselves coincidentally calling at the time for the annihilation of Jews. Later Political Correctness Haggadahs were devoted to homosexual rights, women's liberation, and assorted other faddish causes, not least of which was Palestinian "liberation". No doubt, this year will see fashionable Abandon Iraq and Restore Saddam Haggadot or No War for Oil ones. "Multicultural" Passover seders became vogue and trendy in some circles, in which the seder became a mixture of acclamations for human rights and freedom, taken from a wide variety of non-Jewish sources.
As yet another illustration, a few years back, the Passover cause celebre of American Jewish liberals was Tibet, with Tibetan officials invited to Passover seders, and where the leftist Religious Action Center (RAC) of the Reform synagogue movement called on Jews to hold Tibetan-freedom Passover seders in solidarity with Tibet. The RAC is devoted to the proposition that Jewish values are nothing more and nothing less than this year's leftist political fads, including gay "marriage", supporting affirmative action apartheid programs, and opposing all welfare reform.
In all of these attempts to recast Passover as the celebration of human rights, the Professional Liberals of the American Jewish Establishment (or PLAJEs, for short) seem to be overlooking one little point. And that is that Passover has absolutely nothing to do with human rights and is not at all a celebration of human freedom. Not that there is anything wrong with celebrating human rights, mind you. I would certainly not object to creating such a holiday, and my personal preference would be to hold it on Hiroshima Day, the day in which the A-bomb saved countless human lives and created the conditions by which freedoms could be extended to many millions of oppressed Asians.
For the record, Passover is the celebration of Jewish national liberation. It is one of three such Jewish holidays devoted entirely to celebrating Jewish national liberation, the other two being Hannuka and Purim, and the only one with Torah foundations. It is not the celebration of generic civil rights, nor even the celebration of freedom and dignity for oppressed peoples around the globe. It is the celebration of Jews achieving national self-determination and taking their homeland back by force of arms.....
The real lesson of Passover is that Jewish national liberation and freedom does not come cheaply. The real world involves difficult choices and moral compromises and tradeoffs. Achieving a higher moral end often involves taking steps that would themselves be abusive or immoral on their own grounds, but are required in order to achieve the greater good. Such tradeoffs are the stuff with which moral posturers and self-righteous practitioners of recreational compassion cannot deal. It does not fit into their simplistic worldview and lazy armchair moralizing.
It is the great tragedy of the American Jewish community, or at least the non-Orthodox majority therein, that it is so overwhelmingly dominated by assimilated Professional Liberals and self-righteous practitioners of recreational liberal compassion, people whose understanding of political tradeoffs and public policy analysis never go any deeper than a good bumper sticker.
Excerpt from Steven Plaut
29 April, 2005
Police used to enforce homosexual agenda
Why must the little children of poor people be compulsorily indoctrinated about homosexuality? Poor people cannot choose their schools
Lexington parent, David Parker, was arrested today by the Lexington Police for “trespassing” at his son’s elementary school during a scheduled meeting with the principal and the city’s Director of Education over his objections to homosexual curriculum materials and discussions in his son’s kindergarten class. At the meeting, Parker demanded that the school inform him when homosexual subjects are to be discussed with his son, and allow his son not to be included in such activities. He said he would not leave until his request was granted. The Principal and the city’s Director of Education both refused his request. They then telephoned the Superintendent of Schools who also refused. Police were called, who told Parker that unless he left the school he would be arrested.
Statement by David Parker(April 27, 2005):
“I, David Parker, am the father of a kindergarten student at Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Massachusetts. Since the beginning of this school year, my wife and I have learned that school materials and discussions about gay-headed households/same-sex union issues have been exposed to the children. There are definitive plans to increase the teacher/staff/adult mediated discussions of these subjects. “We have officially stated on many occasions—to the Lexington school administration—a request that we be notified when these discussions are planned, and want our 6-year-old opted out of such situations when arising “spontaneously”. “Our parental requests for our own child were flat-out denied with no effort at accommodation. In our meeting on April 27, I, insisted that such accommodation be made and refused to leave the meeting room. I was informed that I would be arrested.”
Parker will be arraigned on Thursday, April 28, in Concord District Court at 9 am.
EPIDEMIC OF DISHONESTY ABOUT OBESITY
The desperate attempt to transform social unacceptability into a medical problem
Despite the fact that the CDC has been caught out creating "statistics" to back up the "fact" of an obesity epidemic, it appears to be neither embarrassed nor remorseful. As the Associated Press reported:
"CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said because of the uncertainty in calculating the health effects of being overweight, the CDC is not going to use the brand-new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns and is not going to scale back its fight against obesity."
So let's get this straight. When the CDC's numbers said that obesity was overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of death, allegedly killing 400,000 Americans a year, it was all right to use that 400,000 figure non-stop to scare us into losing weight. But when the real number turns out to be just short of 26,000 then the CDC is so worried about "uncertainty" that they aren't going to use the figure. Obviously, Dr. Gerberding did not get her doctorate in logic.
The reason, of course, that Dr. Gerberding does not want to use the supposed 25,814 deaths (remember, we're not even certain there are this many) from obesity as the basis for a new campaign in the war on fat is that, well, as things go, it just isn't terribly useful. Gerberding knows that it is pretty hard to talk about an epidemic if you've only got 25,000 victims, and without talk of an epidemic it's pretty difficult to get the media's attention, Washington's money and, most importantly, push through a host of coercive policy measures that tell Americans what they can and what they cannot eat.
But notice, the good doctor isn't going to let a few hundred thousand fewer deaths stop a good thing. Despite the lack of credible statistics, we just "know" that obesity is still killing millions of Americans -- even if we can't find where they live -- and there is no reason to "scale back" the fight against obesity. Now that's what makes the CDC and much of official Washington such scary places. Typically a good public policy process first finds clear evidence of a substantial problem and then goes about finding a policy solution. Evidence drives and shapes policy. But here we have policy "creating" evidence. Even though the supposed justification for intervening into the lives of millions of Americans is now defunct, the claim that fat causes early death is still made and the campaign against obesity still goes forward.....
First, take the study that really started the "obesity epidemic", the 1999 JAMA published research "Annual Deaths Attributable to Obesity in the United States" which suggested that being overweight was responsible for about 300,000 deaths a year in the US. If you look at this data you find that individuals with BMI's of 25 -- overweight -- have a lower risk of dying prematurely than those with BMI's of 20 or normal weight. Again, those with BMI's of 20 have the same risk of premature death as those with a BMI of 30 -- obese.
Second, take another widely cited study, "Overweight, Obesity and Mortality from Cancer" (New England Journal of Medicine, 2003) which like the JAMA article generated huge headlines with its claim to provide a definitive account of the obesity-cancer relationship. The authors claimed that up to 90,000 cancer deaths a year could be avoided if every adult kept his or her BMI below 25. Yet the data actually shows something quite different. People with BMI's of 18.5-24.9 - normal -- had a cancer mortality rate of 4.5 deaths per 1000 study subjects while individuals with BMI's of 25-29.0 -- the overweight -- had a cancer mortality rate of 4.4 deaths per thousand -- actually lower. In other words, for the 100 millions plus Americans who are classified as overweight there was a negative correlation between being overweight and dying from cancer.
Nor are these findings flukes. Ancel Keys, the proponent of the cholesterol-heart disease theory, who over 25 years looked at fat and mortality rates in Japan, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Finland and the United States came to similar conclusions. Published as the Seven Country Study in 1980, Keys found the risk of premature mortality due to excessive weight increased only at the extremes of over and under weight. A recent study looking at a group of Europeans from his original data found men with BMI's of less than 18.5 -- that is thin men -- had almost twice the mortality rate of either normal or overweight men, even controlling for smoking. The study further found that being overweight -- a BMI of 25-29.9 -- had no effect on mortality and even those men who were obese still had lower death rates than the thin men.
A similar pattern was found in a 1996 US study that re-analyzed data from previous studies involving more than 600,000 subjects. The study found white males with BMI's in the normal range of 19-21 had the same mortality rate as those with BMI's of 29-31 -- overweight and obese. Again, for non-smoking white males, the lowest mortality rate was found with BMI's of 23-29, a range that includes the overweight.
28 April, 2005
B.C. AND A.D. UNDER ATTACK
In a world encouraged to embrace differences, B.C. and A.D. are increasingly finding themselves on the wrong end of the religious sensitivity meter. Educators and historians say schools from North America to Australia have been changing the terms Before Christ to Before Common Era and anno Domini (Latin for "year of the Lord") to Common Era. In short, they're referred to as B.C.E. and C.E. The change has stoked the ire of Christian conservatives and some religious leaders who view it as an attack on a social and political order that has been in place for centuries. Ironically, for more than a century Hebrew lessons have used B.C.E. and C.E., with C.E. sometimes referring to Christian Era.
That begs the question: Can old and new coexist in harmony, or must one give way to the other to reflect changing times and attitudes? The terms B.C. and A.D. have clear Catholic roots. Dionysius Exiguus, an abbot in Rome, devised them as a way to determine the date for Easter for Pope St. John I. The terms were continued under the Gregorian Calendar. Although most calendars are based on an epoch or person, B.C. and A.D. have always presented a particular problem for historians: There is no year zero. "When Jews or Muslims have to put Christ in the middle of our calendar ... that's difficult for us," said Steven Brown, dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. "They are hard for non-Jews, because they assume a centrality of Jesus ... it's not offensive, but it's not sensitive to my religious sensibilities."
The new terms were introduced by academics in the 1990s in public elementary and high school classrooms. "I started using B.C.E. when some of my students began asking more earnestly than before just what B.C. meant," said Bill Everdell, a history book editor, teaching instructor and Brooklyn history teacher in the private, formerly religious St. Ann's School. Everdell said most history teachers he knows use B.C.E. and C.E. "I realized the courtesy was mine to extend."
In New York, the terms are entering public classrooms through textbooks and worksheets, but B.C.E. and C.E. are not part of the state's official curriculum, and there is no plan to debate the issue, said state Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman. "The standard textbooks primarily used in New York use the terms A.D. and B.C.," Burman said. Schools, however, may choose to use the new terms.
Candace de Russy, a national writer on education and Catholic issues and a trustee for the State University of New York, said she doesn't accept the notion of fence-straddling. "The use of B.C.E. and C.E. is not mere verbal tweaking; rather it is integral to the leftist language police - a concerted attack on the religious foundation of our social and political order," she said.
MEDIAEVAL IGNORANCE FROM A MUSLIM PREACHER IN AUSTRALIA
At Bankstown Town Hall last month, just three kilometres from the scene of one of the most horrific of the gang rapes of 2000, a young and popular Lebanese Muslim sheik told a packed audience that rape victims have "no one to blame but themselves". These are the words of Sheik Faiz Mohamad, 34, to more than 1000 people squeezed into the hall on March 18, as recorded digitally by a concerned citizen. "A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world. She degraded herself by being an object of sexual desire and thus becoming vulnerable to man who looks at her for gratification of his sexual urge."
There was much more about women's responsibilities and the sins of the "kaffir" (infidel) that night from the charismatic former boxer and Liverpool Global Islamic Youth Centre teacher. But there was nothing about the responsibility of men to exercise self-restraint, even though most of the audience was male..... "Strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans," he shouted into the microphone. "All this to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature."
Mostly he appealed to Muslim women to wear the hijab (head covering), which, incidentally, has become fashionable on global catwalks since France banned it in public schools last year.
Born in Sydney of Lebanese parents, Faiz embraced Islam at 19 and spent several years studying in Saudi Arabia..... the centre at which he teaches has attracted controversy over the actions of two former students. Supermarket shelf-stacker Zaky Mallah, 21, was last week sentenced to two years' jail for threatening to kill Commonwealth officials and Muslim convert Jack Roche, 51, was convicted last year of plotting to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra.....
A non-Muslim who lives in Auburn and attended Faiz's lecture said: "My biggest concern is that the Muslims who come to our country and just want to mind their own business, get a job, have a family and a home life with freedom, are progressively being pressured by their own community leaders to conform. The mould [they] are being pressed into is not good for them and not good for Australian society."
Faiz's view that unveiled women invite rape does Muslims a disservice by promoting an image which is repugnant to the majority of his fellow citizens. After all, when a judge feels so strongly that he would stand in front of a group of strangers, as one did in recent weeks, and make the comment that Lebanese Muslim men are a "cancer", you know the community has an image problem which Faiz isn't helping.
Faiz may not care but his words are a slap in the face to the brave young woman, known to the courts as Miss C, who was raped 25 times by 14 men over six hours outside the Bankstown Trotting Club and elsewhere in 2000. At worst, his words sanction the kind of contempt for non-Muslim women that led those gang rapists to regard 18-year-old Miss C, dressed in her best suit for a job interview, sitting on a train reading The Great Gatsby, as an "Aussie pig" and slut.
27 April, 2005
LESBIAN RIGHTS TRUMP PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IN SWEDEN
A Swedish lesbian couple who were thrown out of a Stockholm restaurant in 2003 for kissing won an appeal Monday against an earlier court ruling that cleared the restaurant owner of sexual discrimination.
The Court of Appeals in Stockholm ordered restaurant owner Aziz Cakir to pay 50,000 crowns ($7,100) in damages and to cover the legal costs of Sweden's ombudsman against sexual discrimination, HomO, which filed the appeal.
Cakir asked Anna Fernstrom and Susanne Gustafsson to leave his restaurant after they kissed and later told police he did not let anyone engage in such behavior on his premises regardless of their sexual orientation.
Stockholm District Court cleared him of discrimination, a charge that can result in a year in jail, in the country's first test of legislation against sexual discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
But HomO director Hans Ytterberg said the appeals court found the restaurant failed to prove "these two girls behaved in a way that would justify telling them to stop or telling them to leave the premises."
"The Court of Appeals has made it clear that discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation is a serious violation of people's rights and can cost you dearly," he told Reuters. "This will hopefully function as an effective deterrent."
TODAY'S POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WILL LOOK RIDICULOUS IN THE FUTURE
Some excerpts from an excellent essay by Paul Graham
If you could travel back in a time machine, one thing would be true no matter where you went: you'd have to watch what you said. Opinions we consider harmless could have gotten you in big trouble. I've already said at least one thing that would have gotten me in big trouble in most of Europe in the seventeenth century, and did get Galileo in big trouble when he said it-- that the earth moves.
Nerds are always getting in trouble. They say improper things for the same reason they dress unfashionably and have good ideas: convention has less hold over them.
It seems to be a constant throughout history: In every period, people believed things that were just ridiculous, and believed them so strongly that you would have gotten in terrible trouble for saying otherwise.
Is our time any different? To anyone who has read any amount of history, the answer is almost certainly no. It would be a remarkable coincidence if ours were the first era to get everything just right.
It's tantalizing to think we believe things that people in the future will find ridiculous. What would someone coming back to visit us in a time machine have to be careful not to say? That's what I want to study here. But I want to do more than just shock everyone with the heresy du jour. I want to find general recipes for discovering what you can't say, in any era.
Like every other era in history, our moral map almost certainly contains a few mistakes. And anyone who makes the same mistakes probably didn't do it by accident. It would be like someone claiming they had independently decided in 1972 that bell-bottom jeans were a good idea. If you believe everything you're supposed to now, how can you be sure you wouldn't also have believed everything you were supposed to if you had grown up among the plantation owners of the pre-Civil War South, or in Germany in the 1930s-- or among the Mongols in 1200, for that matter? Odds are you would have. Back in the era of terms like "well-adjusted," the idea seemed to be that there was something wrong with you if you thought things you didn't dare say out loud. This seems backward. Almost certainly, there is something wrong with you if you don't think things you don't dare say out loud.
What can't we say? One way to find these ideas is simply to look at things people do say, and get in trouble for. Of course, we're not just looking for things we can't say. We're looking for things we can't say that are true, or at least have enough chance of being true that the question should remain open. But many of the things people get in trouble for saying probably do make it over this second, lower threshold. No one gets in trouble for saying that 2 + 2 is 5, or that people in Pittsburgh are ten feet tall. Such obviously false statements might be treated as jokes, or at worst as evidence of insanity, but they are not likely to make anyone mad. The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true. If Galileo had said that people in Padua were ten feet tall, he would have been regarded as a harmless eccentric. Saying the earth orbited the sun was another matter. The church knew this would set people thinking.
Certainly, as we look back on the past, this rule of thumb works well. A lot of the statements people got in trouble for seem harmless now. So it's likely that visitors from the future would agree with at least some of the statements that get people in trouble today. Do we have no Galileos? Not likely. To find them, keep track of opinions that get people in trouble, and start asking, could this be true? Ok, it may be heretical (or whatever modern equivalent), but might it also be true?
This won't get us all the answers, though. What if no one happens to have gotten in trouble for a particular idea yet? What if some idea would be so radioactively controversial that no one would dare express it in public? How can we find these too?
Another approach is to follow that word, heresy. In every period of history, there seem to have been labels that got applied to statements to shoot them down before anyone had a chance to ask if they were true or not. "Blasphemy", "sacrilege", and "heresy" were such labels for a good part of western history, as in more recent times "indecent", "improper", and "unamerican" have been. By now these labels have lost their sting. They always do. By now they're mostly used ironically. But in their time, they had real force.
The word "defeatist", for example, has no particular political connotations now. But in Germany in 1917 it was a weapon, used by Ludendorff in a purge of those who favored a negotiated peace. At the start of World War II it was used extensively by Churchill and his supporters to silence their opponents. In 1940, any argument against Churchill's aggressive policy was "defeatist". Was it right or wrong? Ideally, no one got far enough to ask that.
We have such labels today, of course, quite a lot of them, from the all-purpose "inappropriate" to the dreaded "divisive." In any period, it should be easy to figure out what such labels are, simply by looking at what people call ideas they disagree with besides untrue. When a politician says his opponent is mistaken, that's a straightforward criticism, but when he attacks a statement as "divisive" or "racially insensitive" instead of arguing that it's false, we should start paying attention.
So another way to figure out which of our taboos future generations will laugh at is to start with the labels. Take a label-- "sexist", for example-- and try to think of some ideas that would be called that. Then for each ask, might this be true?
Just start listing ideas at random? Yes, because they won't really be random. The ideas that come to mind first will be the most plausible ones. They'll be things you've already noticed but didn't let yourself think.
In 1989 some clever researchers tracked the eye movements of radiologists as they scanned chest images for signs of lung cancer.  They found that even when the radiologists missed a cancerous lesion, their eyes had usually paused at the site of it. Part of their brain knew there was something there; it just didn't percolate all the way up into conscious knowledge. I think many interesting heretical thoughts are already mostly formed in our minds. If we turn off our self-censorship temporarily, those will be the first to emerge.
26 April, 2005
The usual Leftist disrespect for majority beliefs at work in the story below. I might mention that, in my fundamentalist teens, I used to refuse to say the Australian equivalent of the American pledge at High School. But I objected to the pledge “from the opposite direction”, as it were. I felt that I owed my allegiance to God only, not to “Caesar”. The headmaster called me in for a talk about it but nothing else was done—as is appropriate. So in cases such as the one below, there is no need for teachers to dishonour community customs and beliefs. Individuals who don’t want to say the pledge can keep silent—as I did. Although I have been an atheist for over 40 years now, I always address and refer to the clergy using their proper ecclesiastical titles (I address a bishop as “Your Grace”, for instance) and I have no difficulty of any kind in doing so
The students in Vincent Pulciani's seventh-grade class were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance this week when they heard the voice over the intercom say something they'd never heard before, at least not during the Pledge. Instead of "one nation, under God," the voice said, "one nation, under your belief system."
The bewildered students at Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge never even got to "indivisible," according to Vincent's mother, Christina Pulciani-Johnson. "He came home and told me about it after school, and he said, 'I just stood there, Mom. I didn't even know what to do. We all just stood there and didn't even finish it,'" Mrs. Pulciani-Johnson said, quoting her son.
Margo Lucero, the eighth-grade guidance counselor at the school, substituted the phrase "under your belief system" as she led the recitation of the Pledge on Wednesday.
After irate phone calls poured in from parents, Principal Kathleen Norton, who normally leads the Pledge but was out of the building at the time, apologized to students Thursday and sent home letters of apology yesterday. "The principal called me later. She said she was dumbfounded. She wasn't in the building. She didn't approve it," Mrs. Pulciani-Johnson said. Meanwhile, Jefferson County School District spokesman Rick Kaufman was engaged in damage control, describing Miss Lucero's decision to rewrite the Pledge as "inappropriate" and stressing that she had acted independently, without consulting the district or other school officials....
Parents said Miss Lucero had been slated to leave Everitt at the end of the year, and Shelley Pierce, whose daughter is in seventh grade, said it appeared that the counselor was clearing out her office.
Her daughter, Bailey, told her about the incident after school Wednesday. "I was really angry," Mrs. Pierce said. "Legally, that's our Pledge of Allegiance, and I don't think anyone has the right to change it," she said.
It hurt her feelings, says Jane Fonda, sharing her feelings, that one of her husbands liked them to have sexual threesomes. "It reinforced my feeling I wasn't good enough."
In the Scottsdale, Ariz., Unified School District office, the receptionist used to be called a receptionist. Now she is "director of first impressions." The happy director says, "Everyone wants to be important." Scottsdale school bus drivers now are "transporters of learners." A school official says such terminological readjustment is "a positive affirmation." Which beats a negative affirmation.
Manufacturers of pens and markers report a surge in teachers' demands for purple ink pens. When marked in red, corrections of students' tests seem so awfully judgmental. At a Connecticut school, parents consider red markings "stressful." A Pittsburgh principal favors more "pleasant-feeling tones." An Alaska teacher says substituting purple for red is compassionate pedagogy, a shift from "Here's what you need to improve on" to "Here's what you have done right."
Fonda's confession, Scottsdale's tweaking of terminology and the recoil from red markings are manifestations of today's therapeutic culture. The nature and menace of "therapism" is the subject of a new book, "One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance," by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, M.D., resident scholars at the American Enterprise Institute. From childhood on, Americans are told by "experts" -- therapists, self-esteem educators, grief counselors, traumatologists -- that it is healthy for them to continuously take their emotional temperature, inventory their feelings and vent them. Never mind research indicating that reticence and suppression of feelings can be healthy.
Because children are considered terribly vulnerable and fragile, playground games such as dodgeball are being replaced by anxiety-reducing and self-esteem-enhancing games of tag in which nobody is ever "out." But abundant research indicates no connection between high self-esteem and high achievement or virtue. Is not unearned self-esteem a more pressing problem?
Sensitivity screeners remove from texts and tests distressing references to things such as rats, snakes, typhoons, blizzards and . . . birthday parties (which might distress children who do not have them). The sensitivity police favor teaching what Sommers and Satel call "no-fault history." Hence California's Department of Education stipulating that when "ethnic or cultural groups are portrayed, portrayals must not depict differences in customs or lifestyles as undesirable" -- slavery? segregation? anti-Semitism? cannibalism? -- "and must not reflect adversely on such differences."
Experts warn about what children are allowed to juggle: Tennis balls cause frustration, whereas "scarves are soft, nonthreatening, and float down slowly." In 2001 the Girl Scouts, illustrating what Sommers and Satel say is the assumption that children are "combustible bundles of frayed nerves," introduced, for girls 8 to 11, a "Stress Less Badge" adorned with an embroidered hammock. It can be earned by practicing "focused breathing," keeping a "feelings diary," burning scented candles and exchanging foot massages.
Vast numbers of credentialed -- that is not a synonym for "competent" -- members of the "caring professions" have a professional stake in the myth that most people are too fragile to cope with life's vicissitudes and traumas without professional help. Consider what Sommers and Satel call "the commodification of grief" by the "grief industry" -- professional grief "counselors" with "degrieving" techniques. Such "grief gurus" are "ventilationists": They assume that everyone should grieve the same way -- by venting feelings sometimes elicited by persons who have paid $1,795 for a five-day course in grief counseling.
The "caregiving" professions, which postulate the minimal competence of most people to cope with life unassisted, are, of course, liberal, and politics can color their diagnoses. Remember the theory that because Vietnam was supposedly an unjust war, it would produce an epidemic of "post-traumatic stress disorders." So a study released in 1990 claimed that half of Vietnam veterans suffered from some PTSD -- even though only 15 percent of Vietnam veterans had served in combat units. To ventilationists -- after a flood damaged books at the Boston Public Library, counselors arrived to help librarians cope with their grief -- a failure to manifest grief is construed as alarming evidence of grief repressed, and perhaps a precursor of "delayed onset" PTSD.
Predictably, Sept. 11, 2001, became another excuse for regarding healthy human reactions as pathological. Did terrorist attacks make you angry and nervous? Must be PTSD. And Sept. 11 gave rise to "diagnostic mission creep" as the idea of "trauma" was expanded to include watching a disaster on television. Sommers and Satel's book is a summons to the sensible worry that national enfeeblement must result when therapism replaces the virtues on which the republic was founded -- stoicism, self-reliance and courage.
From George Will
25 April, 2005
On April 8, the president of the Brevard, Fla., chapter of the National Organization for Women was charged by the Florida state attorney's office with filing a false rape report and making a false official statement. She could be imprisoned for one year on each count and forced to pay for the police investigation she incurred. The case has far-reaching implications for gender politics and for women who report sexual assault in the future.
The facts are as follows. On Nov. 17, 2004, part-time Rollins College student Desiree Nall reported being raped in a campus bathroom by two men. The Winter Park Police Department put Rollins on `high alert,' advising students to remain indoors when possible. The dean immediately dispatched a campus-wide email to assure students that extra security measures were being taken. In a Sandspur article entitled "A Rape Hoax is No Way to Get Attention,"Jean Bernard Chery relates how the incident impacted campus life. "It was a nightmare for every female student and faculty/staff at Rollins. They were afraid to go to the bathroom or walk on campus alone after dusk..The incident prompted a candlelight vigil on campus in support of the alleged victim [then unnamed]," Chery wrote.
The police had reason for skepticism. Nall could not assist with composite sketches, offered inconsistent details and did not wish to press charges. An examination at a sexual assault treatment center after the alleged attack produced no evidence of foreign DNA. Due to publicity and campus panic, however, a police investigation continued at a final estimated cost of more than $50,000. The report of rape was judged a hoax. According to police, on Nov. 19,Nall phoned and asked to have the case dropped. When Detective Jon Askins questioned her original report, Nall reportedly confessed that she was "not a victim of a sexual batter." The police speculate that Nall, a vocal feminist, may have been trying to "make a statement" about violence against women. The allege raped occurred during Sexual Assault Awareness Week, which was intended to highlight the issue of sexual violence against women......
NOW apparently wishes to maintain distance as well. As of Monday, searching it's website for the term "Nall" returns no results. After all, NOW has argued that women do not lie about rape. Catharine MacKinnon--a founding mother of the gender feminism that NOW promotes -- stated in her book, Feminism Unmodified, "The reason feminism uncovered this reality [of male oppression], its methodological secret, is that feminism is built on believing women's accounts of sexual use and abuse by men." If this methodology is debunked, if women are viewed as no more or less likely to lie than men, then the foundation of gender politics collapses.
Assuming that Nall lied, she has achieved the opposite of what I believe she intended. By "crying rape" she has made every woman who is a victim less credible and less likely to receive justice from the police or the public. She has made women less safe. Rollins student Elizabeth Humphrey states the point simply: "Lying about that story is absolutely horrible because women are victimized every day. And if we get the reputation of lying, then people won't start to believe us if it does happen."
Instead of publicizing sexual violence against women, Nall has spotlighted the problem of false accusations against men. Her case also raises the question of whether NOW-style feminists encourage false accusations when they flatly insist that women must be believed.
MENTIONING MUSLIM TERRORISM INCORRECT
The Interpreter," a new movie starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, is a thriller about a terrorist assassination plot at the United Nations. The Wall Street Journal's "Hollywood Report" ran a piece last week detailing how the picture has been "changed" since it was first conceived about 10 years ago. Nothing unusual about that - finished movies almost never resemble their original concepts. There was one major change in the story that I found interesting, however.
The terrorists in the story, as originally written by two screenwriters, were to have come from a fictional Middle Eastern country. Throughout the 90's the script bounced from producer to producer, each claiming the story just wasn't ready to be filmed in its present form. Finally Kevin Misher became interested in the project and the plot was reworked.
Because of the 9/11 attacks by Middle Eastern terrorists in 2001, Misher didn't want to make the terrorists in his movie Middle Eastern. "We didn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way," Misher said. So now the assassination plot involves a fictional African country called Matobo. Matobo - great name.
Did you get that? He didn't want to "encumber the film in politics." What is he talking about? Middle Eastern terrorists have been blowing people up all over the world for years. Are there terrorists that come from other regions? Yes. But the preeminent terrorist danger to the civilized world right now happens to be oozing out of the Middle East, not Africa, not Northern Ireland, not Antarctica. Besides, in the original treatment the Middle Eastern country mentioned was also fictional. Why is it okay to have terrorists from a fictional country in Africa, but not from a fictional country in the Mid East?
Is Misher afraid of offending Middle Eastern Islamists? Is he scared for his life? Does he want to avoid Arab "racial profiling?" My sense is, the guy is in liberal Hollywood denial over Islamic Wahhabi terrorism. If he doesn't want to "encumber his film in politics," then instead of making a film on terrorism maybe he should have produced the next Benji picture. No politics? Almost every movie to come out of Hollywood in the last fifteen years has had a leftist political bent. Who is he kidding?
This isn't the first time Hollywood changed the ethnicity of terrorists from Arab to something else in a movie. Who are they afraid of insulting - Arab terrorists? Funny how they've never worried about changing the ethnicity of Italian Americans in all the gangster/Mafia movies they made.
The fact is, Hollywood does not want to make movies about Arab terrorists, or the Iraq war, or radical Islam's jihad against the western world. As far as show biz is concerned the World Trade Center's Twin Towers fell down because of high winds. The Pentagon was hit by a gaggle of crazed geese. And all the Americans that were killed were killed by Republicans living in Orange County.
Funny how things have changed. Movies didn't have any problem in depicting the rotten Germans in World War I and II. No problem in calling the Japanese our enemy for bombing Pearl Harbor. There have been plenty of films made about the cold war with no hesitation in referring to the Russians as Russians. Imagine a producer making a cold war spy picture and saying he "doesn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way." Why then, this current reluctance to call a Muslim terrorist a Muslim terrorist?
24 April, 2005
Another word for `politically correct' is `intolerant'
MY ONLINE dictionary has a politically correct definition of "politically correct," saying that the phrase refers to support for "broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation."
It gives a hint at the real meaning when it says the phrase can point to someone who is perceived as being "overconcerned with such change, often to the exclusion of other matters," and that PC behavior "involves changing or avoiding language that might offend anyone." But the definition still misses the boat.
Should the American Heritage Dictionary call on me for advice, I would tell its editors that the phrase refers to the attitude in certain circles that there is just one acceptable view of a host of issues related to supposed bigotry or insensitivity, and that those who don't conform are inarguably wrong and worse.
The politically incorrect are, in fact, probably racist or sexist or otherwise misshapen human beings, according to this ideologically instructed, one-sided mode of thinking. Such malformed creatures really ought to shut up, the politically correct crowd believes. If they don't, coercive steps may be taken. And there is also the tactic of branding the miscreants publicly for their imagined crimes while ignoring outrages committed in the name of the one true, politically correct way.
Thus it is that if you believe affirmative action usually translates into group preference in contradiction of a principle meant to safeguard all of us, including minorities, you are a redneck segregationist.
If you think courts have usurped the constitutional prerogative of legislatures in determining that marriage must be permitted people of the same sex for the first time in recorded history, you are a homophobe.
If you are repulsed by the thought of vacuuming babies' brains from their skulls in what is euphemistically called "partial-birth abortion," you have no respect for women.
And if you believe that Israelis are justified in fighting back against the suicide bombers who murder their children and wish the abolition of their nation, you are a moral thug intent on further marginalizing an indigenous people whose gravest error was finding themselves next door to the only Westernized democracy in the Middle East.
Let's get concrete. Let's visit Chicago's DePaul University, where a math professor, Jonathan Cohen, talked to me about the politically correct atmosphere, such as the faculty session on Sept. 13, 2001, just two days after terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The session, he said, was hostile to the United States. One professor advised the others to identify with the terrorists and thereby see where their motivation came from - namely, how U.S. policies were responsible. Cohen gave other examples of how "political correctness has run amok" at the campus, but the major one we discussed is one I have written about before, the case of Thomas Klocek.
An untenured professor at the school, Klocek got in an argument with Muslim and pro-Palestinian students outside the classroom about the Israel-Palestine conflict, taking the Israeli side, and soon found himself removed from a teaching assignment with no other assignments coming his direction.
The school's after-the-fact rationale is that it was the professor's "belligerent" conduct that was at issue, but the chief complaint of the students was what he said. To some, it was racist and cause for firing that he identified the Palestinians as purposeful killers of civilians and denied that their claim to nationhood was historically legitimate.
Even though the students had called Israelis murderers and compared their leaders to Hitler, a dean worried in a letter to a student newspaper about how the students' "perspective was dishonored" and their ideas demeaned. DePaul, she wrote, makes "a particular point of diversity." And here we had a professor pressing "erroneous assertions," which is to say, taking positions the dean did not like.
Contrary to what happened at Columbia University, where an ad-hoc committee pronounced everything hunky-dory after professors teaching about the Middle East and other subjects were accused of anti-Semitism and classroom intimidation of students not bowing obediently to their anti-Israel views, Klocek was clobbered. His career seems ruined. His life is wrecked.
Now that's political correctness - injustice, not redressing injustice. I hope the people at American Heritage are taking note
So, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is really an animal-rights front group wearing the sheep's clothing of the medical profession. And "responsible" medicine apparently means no animals may be harmed to save the life of your child, your parent, or your spouse.
How could doctors write such a prescription? Very few do, which is why people with no medical degrees comprise more than 95 percent of this group's membership.
The animal-rights theme carries over into PCRM's activism on food issues as well. Dr. Barnard has written that feeding kids meat and milk "is a form of child abuse." He has also compared meat-eating and milk-drinking to smoking. In a 2003 FDA hearing, he tried to convince federal regulators that cheese was (literally) an addictive narcotic, calling it "morphine on a cracker" and "dairy crack."
PCRM's animal-rights sympathies are clear. Some of its most public figures have participated in PETA's naked street protests, acted as spokespersons for "direct action" protesters outside research labs, sued school districts over field trips to the rodeo and threatened lawsuits against dairy producers. At a recent animal-rights convention, one activist (then a PCRM spokesperson) even endorsed the idea of "political assassination" directed at doctors who test tomorrow's miracle drugs on animals.
Dr. Jerry Vlasak was billed on the "Animal Rights 2003" conference program as a PCRM representative. Dr. Vlasak spoke his mind, and it wasn't pretty. "I don't think you'd have to kill -- assassinate -- too many vivisectors," Dr. Vlasak told a room full of activists, "before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on. And I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives."
Big fat mistake: "'We misled you. And we plan to keep on misleading you.' That's essentially what the Centers for Disease Control announced this week. The agency said Tuesday that it has greatly over-exaggerated the number of lives lost each year to obesity. After years of putting the figure somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000, the agency now says the number is just under 26,000, meaning the government has been telling us obesity is fourteen times the threat it actually is, leading policymakers at all levels of governance to prescribe all matter of intrusive, expensive, choice-restrictive public policies aimed at addressing it. ... If all of that weren't bad enough, press reports indicate the CDC will still continue to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on anti-obesity programs, and will not be using the new data in those programs."
23 April, 2005
HUMAN PROTANDRY: NATURE'S ANSWER TO THE FEMINST CLAIM THAT SEX-RELATED ATTRIBUTES ARE "SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED"
A natural experiment which shows that being bought up female does NOTHING towards making a male adult feminine. Two articles on the subject are reproduced below:
Startling sex-changes on the island where little sister may become big brother
By SANDRA JOB50N, in London
On a lush tropical island in a remote area of the Caribbean something, very peculiar is happening. The young girls in one village are turning into boys. This startling sex change is occurring naturally, and a team of scientists sent to the island believes it could throw a new light on fundamental aspects of human nature and sexual identification. It has all been revealed in a fascinating documentary shown recently on BBC television, called The Fight to be Male.
The Caribbean phenomenon has been happening for the past 50 years. In that time 37 village girls have changed into boys around the age of 13. The cause has been traced back to one woman seven generations ago who passed on genetic abnormality to her descendants.
The story of the Batista family is typical of the village. Four out of the ten children in the Batista family have changed from girls into boys. The eldest, Mario, now 29 and married with children, began life as a girl named Antonia. The next daughter Milady. remains a girl. Then came Chichi, now 19, a normal male who started out as a girl called Isobel. Then there is Venecia, a normal girl. And now Virgilio, who is 12 and in the process of changing from a female to a male.
The Batistas do not regard themselves or their affected children as freaks. After all, 22 other families have experienced the same sex transformation over the years. The primitive lifestyle of the village contributes greatly to the relaxed and passive acceptance of "God's will." The people of the island are a mixture of Negroid and Creole stock - well-built handsome men and tall, strapping girls able to share the work load of cutting sugar cane, the island's staple crop.
The Caribbean climate makes life both easy and lazy. So some of the girls turn into boys? Who cares? As long as they are happy. Virgilio's brothers immediately found girlfriends when they turned into boys. Mario, the eldest, is the father of two children now, living in one of the bigger towns.
"We always brought up our girls as girls" Mr Batista says. "Because that's what we always thought they were."
"And some of our girls stayed girls," adds Mrs Batista, pointing to two of her grown-up daughters who remained girls and are now married with babies of their own. None of the Batista men who were girls appears to show any sign of embarrassment about the change. Even Virgilio, still in the process, did not mind removing his trousers to reveal his sexual parts.
At birth Virgilio and his other sisters who became boys looked just like any other female baby. But the male anatomy was waiting inside his body and the external genitalia began to change at puberty. The testes dropped, as with all pubescent boys. But in the Caribbean children, the testes have to force their way from deep inside the child's body. The clitoris grew into a normal, full-size male penis.
In Virgilio's case the process is still half-way and his external sexual organs appear curiously bisexual at present. But soon his tiny, infantile vagina will close up and he will be completely male. I am looking forward very much to being a man" she says through an interpreter. "I have a girlfriend already".
The phenomenon was first observed by a Spanish doctor who visited the village on holiday soon after it was connected by road to the rest of the island back in 1950. He wrote up his discovery in a Spanish medical journal where it remained unnoticed until 1972 when a team of doctors _came cross the article and decided to investigate more closely.
To protect the families the team will not reveal the name of the village or the island, but a BBC producer, Edward Galdwyn, was allowed to film the children recently. The team, headed by Dr Julienne Imperator-McGinley has pieced together a family tree of all the 23 affected families, tracing them back seven generations to one woman named Altagracia who married four times and produced a large number of children.
All of them carried a mutant gene which shows up only when one of the members of the 23 families marries a cousin. The clue to it all is a chemical called dihydrotestosterone which Virgilio and the other affected children were unable to produce when they were tiny babies. Doctors can now reliably state that it is the chemical which creates the external anatomy of the male.
In the womb all babies have the beginnings of both male and female sex organs. How the child develops, is determined by the "program" laid down by the chromosomes within its cells. If the child has the female chromosome structure, she will develop ovaries, and the male organs will disintegrate, leaving the female organs to grow.
But the Caribbean children had inherited a faulty gene which meant that the testes developed, but failed to produce the chemical which would remove the female parts. The body did not start producing the vital chemical until puberty, and then the children underwent the changes that should have occurred in the womb.
What is particularly significant is that all of the Caribbean children were brought up as normal girls. They were taught the ordinary female village tasks: Washing the clothes, cooking, fetching the wood, and they played with dolls.
But when they reached the age of l0 they suddenly felt the urge to be male. Young Virgilio explains: "I began to feel like a man in my muscles." Virgilio's father explains: "When they turn into men they change into different clothes. Soon everybody forgets. They find girlfriends very quickly." Indeed, the affected children become more muscular and virile than their normal brothers.
The easy adjustment of the Caribbean children led the scientists to challenge the usual view that our "male" or "female" behaviour is determined more by the way we are brought up than by our physiology. They suggest that there may be a part of the brain which is different in males and females and which governs much of what we think of as sex-role behaviour,
(From the Sydney "SUN-HERALD" JUNE 17 1979, p. 41)
Another version of the same story:
"In the south-west corner of a tropical Caribbean island live Belarmino and Benilda Batista and their family of ten children. Four of them were born as girls, grew up as girls but, at puberty changed into muscular men. Their eldest child, Mario, now aged 29 began as a girl called Antonia. Chichi, now a male 19-year old, began as a girl called Isobel. All 'changing' children were born with normal female genitalia and grew to have the normal female body shape; until at the age of twelve their vaginas healed over, two testicles descended and they grew full-sized penises. Their ten-year old, Virgilio, is in the process of changing from a female to a male.
After their change, the boys are on average more muscular than their normal brothers. They take on the tough jobs in the local quarry. They marry and lead a normal male sexual life - even though they have not been fertile.
The Batistas are just one of 23 affected families in their village, in which 37 children have changed. In the society of the village - a deeply religious Catholic community - these children's change has been seen as part of God's mysterious ways. They are accepted and allowed to be themselves in a way which couldn't happen in Western society.
In conversation with Dr Gautier, director of the children's hospital on the island, the parents were quite clear about their feelings towards the children. They spoke of their pride in their new sons, of the extra money the children would bring home as boys rather than girls; and they insisted that the children's adjustment to their new gender roles was immediate. Benilda admitted having feelings of sadness and worry; but, supported by a devout community, she came to see the phenomenon as God's will: "If WE made children with our own hands we would make them perfect, beautiful and complete. But God knows what he is doing."
Although girls had been changing into boys since 1930, it was not known outside the district until the first doctor went on holiday there. He published his findings about the children in an obscure Spanish journal, where it lay unnoticed until 1972. Dr Gautier's attention was originally drawn by a patient who had been in his hospital when about eight years old, and whose behaviour had then seemed completely female. And some time later he met that person working in the mountains cutting wood, and his behaviour was as a male. Dr Gautier was so surprised that he and a group of scientists began investigating the change and how it came about.
When scientists put all the family pedigrees together, they began to see the interrelationship between one family and the next. They ended up with an enormous family tree, showing 23 families going back seven generations to one woman - Altagracia Carrasco. She lived in the mid nineteenth century, and she is the commonest ancestor of the affected families. The mutant gene has been passed down from her - but shows only when both parents carry it. How these children develop in the womb has been worked out by the scientists, and it gives a new twist to the story of how male genitals form.
The egg is fertilised by a Y sperm and it first develops to a foetus with normal testes. Perfectly normally, they absorb the female parts, and testosterone preserves the male ducts. But in these children's cases, it doesn't change the external anatomy, because in their bodies the children miss a critical chemical step.
Normal men are able to process cholesterol through to testosterone - and on to a mysterious hormone called dihydrotestosterone. No-one knew what its function was. But because the Caribbean children cannot make it, and because injecting it into them stimulates their genital growth, it is clear now that dihydrotestosterone creates the male external anatomy. The pubertal surge of testosterone in these children forces up the dihydrotestosterone level and growth that should have happened ten years before, in the mother's womb, takes place at last.
(From The Fight To Be Male from Horizon, At The Frontiers Of Medicine, Ariel Books, BBC 1983. Reproduced here)
See here for a medical explanation of how human protandry happens.
22 April, 2005
THE OBESITY PANIC UNWINDS
First note this challenge from the CCF:
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still insists on using its deeply flawed study purportedly showing that obesity kills 400,000 Americans each year. And so the Center for Consumer Freedom must ask them again to set the record straight. The CDC should get the weight of its blemished obesity study off its chest, and help prevent frivolous and unnecessary regulation and litigation. Click here for a complete timeline of events surrounding the CDC's study. [timeline] ... Even as a mountain of evidence -- growing by the day -- further strains the CDC's credibility, the agency has yet to retract its flawed and most likely politically motivated obesity deaths number. We're left demanding: CDC, come clean, and stop using this flawed and exaggerated statistic."
OBESITY RISK DOWNGRADED
Being overweight is nowhere near as big a killer as the government thought, ranking No. 7 instead of No. 2 among the nation's leading preventable causes of death, according to a startling new calculation from the CDC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Tuesday that packing on too many pounds accounts for 25,814 deaths a year in the United States. As recently as January, the CDC came up with an estimate 14 times higher: 365,000 deaths. The new analysis found that obesity - being extremely overweight - is indisputably lethal. But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.
Biostatistician Mary Grace Kovar, a consultant for the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center in Washington, said "normal" may be set too low for today's population. Also, Americans classified as overweight are eating better, exercising more and managing their blood pressure better than they used to, she said. The study - an analysis of mortality rates and body-mass index, or BMI - was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. Based on the new calculation, excess weight would drop from the second leading cause of preventable death, after smoking, to seventh. It would fall behind car crashes and guns on the list of killers.
Calculating the health effects of obesity has been a major source of controversy at the CDC. Last year, the CDC issued a study that said being overweight causes 400,000 deaths a year and would soon overtake tobacco as the top U.S. killer. After scientists inside and outside the agency questioned the figure, the CDC admitted making a calculation error and lowered its estimate three months ago to 365,000. CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said because of the uncertainty in calculating the health effects of being overweight, the CDC is not going to use the brand-new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns and is not going to scale back its fight against obesity. "There's absolutely no question that obesity is a major public health concern of this country," she said. Gerberding said the CDC will work to improve methods for calculating the consequences of obesity.
Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said she is not convinced the new estimate is right. "I think it's likely there has been a weakening of the mortality effect due to improved treatments for obesity," she said. "But I think this magnitude is surprising and requires corroboration."
The analysis was led by Katherine Flegal, a senior research scientist with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. The study that had to be corrected was conducted by a different arm of the CDC, the Division of Adult and Community Health, and its authors included Gerberding. One major reason for the far lower number in this latest study is that it used more recent data, researchers said. "This analysis is far more sophisticated," said Kovar, who was not involved in the new study. "They are very careful and are not overstating their case."
A related study, also in Wednesday's JAMA, found that overweight Americans are healthier than ever, thanks to better maintenance of blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Diabetes is on the rise among people in all weight categories, however.
Flegal said the two studies raise questions about what definitions to use for obesity and "where to draw the line." Under current government standards, a BMI, or weight-to-height measurement, of 25 or higher is overweight; 30 and above is obese. In recent years, the government has spent millions of dollars fighting obesity and publicizing the message that two out of three American adults are overweight or obese, and at higher risk for heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.
And finally this:
FATTIES LIVE LONGER!
Being overweight may not be as dangerous as it is generally portrayed, a new study in the United States has found. Those who are only moderately overweight have a lower relative risk of death than those of supposedly optimum weight, the results show. Modest obesity - a body mass index of 30 to 35 - increases the risks of dying only slightly, leaving only the grossly obese, with a body mass index greater than 35, with a greatly increased risk.
While it may be fashionable to be extremely skinny, it does nothing to prolong life. The risks of dying among people with a body mass index of less than 18.5 are slightly increased. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, have been lauded by some specialists as a useful corrective to the national panic in America over obesity. Steven Blair, of the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, said: "I love it. There are people who have made up their minds that obesity and overweight are the biggest public health problem we have to face. These numbers show that maybe it's not so big."
However, the study, by a team led by Katherine Flegal, of the US National Centre for Health Statistics, is limited in its conclusions. It looked only at deaths, not at disease or disability, which generally increase with weight. Earlier studies have shown that being moderately overweight is not necessarily a bad thing and that being grievously thin is a hazard, so the new results will not astonish experts. Nevertheless, the study is larger and more comprehensive than earlier ones.
The team used data from three US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, carried out in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. These surveys measured body mass index in a representative sample of the American population, then followed them, recording deaths as they occurred.
21 April, 2005
BREAST IMPLANTS INCORRECT
Women have a right to control their own bodies -- Right? That's what the pro-abortionists say. But that is only when it suits Leftists, apparently. In other spheres women should do what they are told with their bodies
"For decades members of the National Organization for Women and other groups that support abortion rights have been urging politicians to 'keep your hands off our bodies!' Today women who want to enhance their appearance with silicone breast implants can justly turn this slogan against NOW, which is pro-choice on abortion but anti-choice on cosmetic surgery. NOW President Kim Gandy says the controversy over whether the Food and Drug Administration should allow wider use of silicone breast implants, which are currently limited mainly to reconstructive surgery following mastectomies, is about 'science and medicine.' But while science can tell us (in theory) what risks the implants pose, it cannot tell us whether the risks are justified. Different women will answer that question differently, depending upon their values, tastes, and circumstances. In sharp contrast with its position on abortion, however, NOW argues that they should not be allowed to do so. "
DWORKIN: THE MOST DISGUSTING OF THE FEMINISTS?
Amazing that anybody ever took such a fruitcake seriously -- which makes it an interesting comment on feminism
Still, with Dworkin's admirers hailing her as a titan of modern feminism, obituaries describing her as a controversial but noble crusader against pornography and violence, and even some of her feminist critics paying homage to her alleged achievements, it's important to set the record straight.
To put it plainly: Dworkin was a preacher of hate. Her books are full of such declarations as, ''Under patriarchy, every woman's son is her betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman." (''Patriarchy," of course, covers contemporary Western societies.) ''Male sexuality, drunk on its intrinsic contempt for all life, but especially for women's lives, can run wild." ''Hatred of women is a source of sexual pleasure for men in its own right."
In Dworkin's world view, the Marquis de Sade and Jack the Ripper seem to be representative of all men (though she made an exemption for some men in her own life). Meanwhile, women who defend their right to enjoy heterosexual sex are branded ''collaborators, more base than other collaborators have ever been: experiencing pleasure in their own inferiority."
Dworkin's defenders insist that she has been unfairly maligned as equating all heterosexual sex with rape when she merely assailed male sexual dominance. Yet in her 1987 book, ''Intercourse," Dworkin argued that penetration itself is a form of ''occupation" and ''violation of female boundaries," however enthusiastically enjoyed by ''the occupied person." She wrote that ''intercourse remains a means or the means of physiologically making a woman inferior" and is ''the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women." ''All sex is rape" is fairly accurate shorthand for these ravings.
While allowing that intercourse could survive under gender equality, Dworkin was skeptical (''intercourse itself may be immune to reform"). In the 1976 book ''Our Blood," she proclaimed, in language too blunt to be reproduced here, that the feminist transformation of sexuality requires male impotency -- though how she would achieve this goal remains unclear.
20 April, 2005
FRAUDULENT LEFTIST REDEFINITION OF "RACISM"
Do you know the definition of racism? Ask any sane individual and they should tell you that racism is "discrimination or prejudice based on race" or "the belief that a particular race is superior to others." This definition seems simple enough and one would think everyone would accept it. It is the definition given by the Merriam-Webster and Cambridge dictionaries. In fact, every dictionary I have ever seen uses this definition.
Nonetheless, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the radical left sees things differently. Way differently. The radical left has launched a subversive campaign to change society's understanding of racism. They believe that only those "in power" (read: white people) can be racist and that those without power (read: all minorities except Asians) cannot be racist. According to a particularly delusional student I met on Bruin Walk, "Only those that wield power in society can be racist. Minorities can hate others of another race, but this is prejudice, not racism. Because they don't have any power, their bigoted beliefs can't hurt anyone."
Sorry, but last time I checked both whites and minorities were committing hate crimes against each other. Is murdering someone because of the color of his skin not hurtful? Normally I would pass this student off as one of a kind. This "definition," however, is popping up all over the place. While I was listening to a talk radio broadcast, a female caller phoned in and parroted this same trash to the host. I've debated several people on political forums on the internet who also believe this misconception. There are even a few people who live on my floor who have argued that minorities can't be racist because they "lack power." It is very clear what is going on. The left believes that if enough of their ilk insists on their definition, the rest of America will go along with them.
This cannot be allowed to succeed. Anyone can be racist. To think otherwise is farcical. Prejudice and discrimination have nothing to do with race. To discriminate is to distinguish based on arbitrary features. Prejudice is an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual. When talking about racism, we are really talking about racial prejudice or racial discrimination. These are important distinctions that need to be drawn. The left, unfortunately, has continued its efforts to indoctrinate others with its ideology.
So next time you hear someone attempting to push this unfounded rhetoric, stand up and correct them. It is vital that we set a precedent and do not allow these dishonest methods to succeed. The English language depends on it.
WHAT A DILEMMA: HISPANICS MOCK HOMOSEXUALS
But since they are a minority they can't be bigoted, right? (Post below lifted from WhymRhymer)
So maybe the Religious Right won't let you get married, how would you feel if they started playing practical jokes on you and outing you on the public airwaves. The focus of this SFGate.com article is a rash of really nasty anti-gay pranks being pulled off by Latino radio shows. Here's the opening of the article:"When the call came on his cell phone, Roberto Hernandez was driving to work in San Francisco. The caller, who identified himself as Juan, said in Spanish that he had met Hernandez at a gay bar and wanted to see him again.
'Refresh my memory, there are so many Juans,' said a puzzled Hernandez. The man described himself as slim with 'a very nice butt.' Eventually, the caller offered to give Hernandez his phone number -- then announced that the conversation was being broadcast live nationwide on the "Raul Brindis and Pepito Show," a Spanish-language morning radio program."
How cruel is that?
San Francisco, apparently, isn't alone. It appears to be a National Latino Radio epidemic and, the topper is, it's apparently not seen as a problem by the Hispanic community. Iv n Rom n, for example, the Executive Director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is quoted in this article as saying:"It's seen as perfectly normal to ridicule gays and lesbians, to see them as less than human."
The FCC has levied some fines against certain radio stations but radio station management is apparently very slow to respond and the behavior continues.
Why, you may wonder, is homosexuality so heavily ridiculed in the Latino community? The answer is simple. Latinos are very religious people and while the majority are Catholic almost 25% of them have joined other Christian denominations. From FACSNET, the Journal of Faith and Public Life:"The association between Latin Americans and Catholicism is so strong that it belies a surprising fact: Almost one quarter of all Latinos in the United States are Protestants.
Of the 35.4 million U.S. Latinos in 2002, about 23 percent (almost 8 million) identified themselves as Protestants or other Christians. Of this group, 6.2 million consider themselves Evangelical or "born-again," according to a study by the Hispanic Churches in American Public Life (HCAPL) research project.
. . and well, the rest is obvious.
19 April, 2005
HEY! I'M NOT FAT: I'VE GOT "METABOLIC SYNDROME"!
What a relief! (Really just a new way to make fat seem dangerous)
A health epidemic which threatens to become greater than HIV-AIDS is affecting about one in three Australians, but few are aware of it, experts warn. An estimated 31 per cent of Australians have what has been dubbed metabolic syndrome, the “epidemic of the 21st century” making them twice as likely to die prematurely of a heart attack or stroke than the rest of the population, a Berlin conference has been told. The syndrome is characterised by a “tubby tummy” in combination with two or more of a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes or diabetes risk factors such as elevated blood sugar levels.
Based on Australian research, International Diabetes Federation experts have agreed even people who regard themselves as only moderately overweight are vulnerable. They say the key lies in where a person carries their fat. If it is around the stomach, then they are at risk of having the syndrome, a condition scientists say has evolved from changing diets and lifestyles lacking in exercise. “This is a silent epidemic. People with the metabolic syndrome are dying from heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure,” Melbourne-based epidemiologist Prof Paul Zimmet. “In terms of epidemic proportions, we used to talk about Yellow Fever and typhoid, cholera, and more recently, AIDS. “The metabolic syndrome epidemic is an epidemic of enormous magnitude over and above AIDS or any of those other epidemics.”
Prof Zimmet chaired a diabetes federation task force which released a new definition of metabolic syndrome in Berlin, hopeful it will be used by general practitioners. Under the definition, women of European origin who have waists of 80cm or over and men with 94cm girths or bigger should be considered at risk of having the syndrome, recognised by the World Health Organisation.
WILL THIS BE THE NEXT OFFICIALLY ENFORCED FOOD CRAZE?
It comes from California, after all!
A funny smell hangs in the air in Lauren Ayers' classroom at Caroline Wenzel Elementary School as students pile in from morning recess. With the kind of glee usually reserved for shouts of "ice cream!" the children skip through the door and cry: "Sardines!" All but two students head for the plastic cups full of fish Ayers has placed on each desk. They dig in with delight. The unusual morning snack at this school in Greenhaven is the cornerstone of Ayers' mission to improve childhood nutrition in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Ayers believes her students behave better and learn more when they eat a steady diet of sardines, pinto beans and flax meal. The foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered essential to human health. Studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids boost brain function, lower high blood pressure and reduce depression.
Nutritionists say many Americans eat too many of the unhealthy fats found in processed foods and too few of the nutritious fats found in some fish and plants. The imbalance, they say, is one factor contributing to high rates of obesity among American children. Almost one-third of California students were overweight in 2004, according to the state Department of Education. The prevalence of childhood obesity makes the current generation of American youngsters the first in 200 years that could have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Whittier, have proposed eliminating soda and junk food from vending machines on the state's school campuses. Ayers wants to take the idea further. Schools shouldn't focus only on taking away unhealthy foods in machines, she says, but also on adding nutritious items to cafeteria meals. And reducing obesity isn't the only reason she thinks students should eat better. A good diet helps children pay attention, according to academic studies as well as Ayers' anecdotal evidence. That's why she spends about $35 of her own money each month giving students daily snacks of fish, peanut butter and bean soup. "To me it's worth it because they're so much better behaved and I'm less crazy as a teacher," she said.
Ayers' students are second-and third-graders in special education because of disabilities related to communication. But Ayers said she would give the nutritious snacks to any class. How did she get them to eat the sardines? By offering them up on a dare. Ayers introduced the snack by saying only the bravest students would dare give sardines a try. The tactic apparently worked. On a recent school day, many children lined up for seconds after finishing their first cup of fish.
Experts applaud her efforts. "Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, good for you and kids don't get enough," said John Burgess, a professor of food and nutrition at Purdue University in Indiana. Burgess researched consumption of omega-3 supplements among children deficient in the fatty acid who also had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. He found improved attention and uplifted moods among those who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids, though the supplement had little effect on hyperactivity.
Better attention is obvious to Raynette White-Walls, whose son Cedric Stone adores eating sardines in Ayers' class. The 9-year-old boy now asks his mother to buy sardines at the grocery store, she said. "I've noticed tremendous change," White-Walls said of her son's learning. Previously, she said, if she asked Cedric a question, he frequently responded by repeating the question. Now, she said, "I ask him, 'What did you read? Can you explain it to me?' Without a doubt, he comprehends it." When she goes grocery shopping now, White-Walls said she carries a list of foods Ayers recommends and makes sure to buy Cedric lots of fresh fruit, refried beans and smoked oysters.
Ayers has developed a Web site loaded with information about her nutritional philosophy. And she hopes to expand her school nutrition program next year. She is searching for grant money that would allow five campuses to overhaul their school lunches by removing foods high in transfat and replacing them with meals rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fresh produce. The question then will be whether students outside Ayers' classroom will also learn to love fish and flax meal. If her own experience is any indication, the odds are good.
18 April, 2005
A WISE QUEEN
Queen Margrethe of Denmark has spoken out against radical Islam and called on Muslim immigrants in the country to improve their Danish language skills. The queen, quoted in a new authorised biography, said people had to take the "challenge" of Islam seriously. "We have let this issue float around for too long, because we are tolerant and rather lazy," she said. The queen said Muslims should learn Danish properly, so they would not feel excluded from society.
In the book Margrethe, written by journalist Annelise Bistrup, the queen is quoted as voicing disapproval of "these people for whom religion is their entire life". Calling for opposition to radical Islam, she said: "We have to run the risk of being labelled in an unflattering way, because there are some things for which we should display no tolerance."
More than 400,000 of Denmark's 5.4 million inhabitants are immigrants, but only about 150,000 are Muslims, amounting to 3% of the population. However, that still makes them the second-largest religious group in Denmark behind the Lutheran-Evangelical Church, of which the queen is supreme governor and to which 85% of the population belong. The government has implemented a series of measures in recent years aimed at curbing immigration, which include making it harder for people to bring in foreign spouses or gain asylum in Denmark.
As in France, the issue of Islamic headgear for women has caused controversy. In January, Denmark's Supreme Court ruled that a supermarket chain had the right to fire a young Muslim woman for wearing an Islamic headscarf to work.
BLOGOSPHERE UNDERMINES AFFIRMATIVE ACTION ASSUMPTIONS
Excerpt from Heather MacDonald
The "diversity" mongers have just brought up the one thing that they should have stayed far far away from: the web. Newsweek's technology columnist Steven Levy has declared that the lack of "diversity" among the web's most popular blogs requires corrective action. The goal? A blogosphere whose elite tier "reflects the actual population" - i.e., where female- and minority-written blogs are found among the top 100 blogs in the same proportion as females and minorities are found in the general population......
These diversity grievances follow the usual logic: Victim-group X is not proportionally represented in some field; therefore the field's gatekeepers are discriminating against X's members. The argument presumes that there are large numbers of qualified Xs out there who, absent discrimination, would be proportionally represented in the challenged field.
If the quota mongers really believed these claims, they should welcome the web enthusiastically, since it is a world without gatekeepers and with no other significant barriers to entry.... For allegedly discriminated-against minority and female writers, the web is just that heaven. They can get their product directly out to readers with no bigoted editors to turn them away. As Steven Levy himself conceded in a column last December, there are virtually no start-up costs to launching a weblog: "All you need," he explained, "is some cheap software tools and something to say." In case reader prejudice is a problem, web writers can conceal their identity and simply present their ideas. And there is no established hierarchy to placate on the way to the top. As Levy wrote: "Out of the inchoate chatter of the Web, the sharpest voices simply emerge."
So here is the perfect medium for liberating all those qualified minority and female "voices" that are being silenced by the mainstream media's gatekeepers. According to diversity theory, they should be far more heavily represented in the blogosphere's upper reaches than they are in traditional journalism. In fact, the opposite is the case, as the Washington Post's Keith Jenkins pointed out. The elite blogging world is far less "diverse" than the mainstream media.
Why? Could it be that the premise of the "diversity" crusade is wrong - that there are not in fact hordes of unknown, competitively talented non-white-male journalists held back by prejudice? Don't even entertain the thought. Steven Levy certainly doesn't. After fleetingly rehearsing his own previous analysis of the web as a pure meritocracy, he dismisses the argument without explanation and trots out the hoariest trope in the "diversity" lexicon: "the old boy's club." Why is the top rung of the blogosphere so homogeneous? Levy asks. He answers: "It appears that some clubbiness is involved" - that is, that white male bloggers only link to other white male bloggers. (Susan Estrich likewise accused the Los Angeles Times's Michael Kinsley of favoring writers in his old boy's club.)
Appears to whom? Where does this alleged club meet? In fact, the web is the antithesis of a closed, exclusive society. Levy offers no evidence for a white male bloggers club beyond the phenomenon he is trying to explain: the popularity of certain blogs. If the top blogs link to other top blogs, Levy assumes that they are doing so out of race and gender solidarity. Levy is suggesting that if an Alpha blogger comes across a dazzling blog, he will link to it once he confirms that a white male writes it but pass it up if he discovers, for instance, that a Latino woman is behind its sharp and clever observations on current events. The charge is preposterous. Moreover, as Buzz Machine notes, bloggers don't know the race and gender of many of their colleagues.
Here's a different explanation for why the blogosphere is dominated by white males: because they're the ones producing the best product. Sorry, ladies, but there aren't as many of us engaged in aggressive, competitive opinionizing and nonstop consumption of politics as our male tormentors. In 2001, the Hartford Courant, desperate to promote women on its pages, analyzed its letters to the editor, expecting to find bias in letter selection. It turned out that women write only one third of the letters that the paper receives, exactly the percentage published, incidentally. Even Gail Collins, editor of the New York Times's editorial page, admitted through clenched teeth to the Washington Post in the wake of the Estrich blitz: "There are probably fewer women, in the great cosmic scheme of things, who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff."
As for minorities, the skills gap in reading and writing means that, at the moment, a lower percentage of blacks and Hispanics possess the verbal acumen to produce a cutting-edge blog. For decades, blacks and Hispanics have scored 200 points below whites on the SATs' verbal section. Black high-school seniors on average read less competently than white 8th graders; Hispanic 12th graders read only slightly better than white 8th graders. And those are just the ones who are graduating. In the Los Angeles school system, which is typical of other large urban districts, 53 percent of black students and 61 percent of Hispanic students drop out before graduating from high school; most of the dropouts exit in the 9th grade. Assuming, generously, that those dropouts have 5th-grade skills, they are unlikely candidates for power blogging.
Here's Steven Levy's minimum prescription for joining the ranks of Alpha blogging: "You have to post frequently . . . link prodigiously," and, like one technology guru he describes, spend two hours daily writing your weblog and "three more hours reading hundreds of other blogs." If you have difficulty reading, you're probably not going to find that regime attractive. Obviously, many individual blacks and Hispanics possess more than the necessary skills to power their way into the top 100 blogs. But diversity zealots don't look at individuals, they look at aggregates. And in the aggregate, blacks and Hispanics lag so far behind whites in literacy skills that it is absurd to blame racial exclusion for the absence of racial proportionality on the web. Junking "progressive" pedagogy, with its absurd hostility to drilling and memorization, is the only solution to the education lag; diversity bean-counting is window-dressing.
No one has succeeded in closing the skills gap yet, but over the years we've developed numerous bureaucratic devices to paper it over. These devices will undoubtedly prove highly useful in addressing what Levy calls the web's "diversity problem." Levy proposes, as an initial matter, that the power-bloggers voluntarily link to some as yet unspecified number of non-male, non-white writers. The history of 'voluntary' affirmative action efforts need not be rehearsed here; suffice it to say, once 'voluntary' race- and gender-conscious policies are proposed, mandates are not far behind.
But even Levy's "voluntary" regime calls out for regulation. How will the diversity-minded linker know the "identity" of a potential linkee? To be workable, a diversity-linkage program needs some sort of gatekeeper - precisely what the web has heretofore lacked. One can imagine something like a federal Digital Diversity Agency that would assign a diversity tattoo to each blog: a lavender pig, for example, signifying a white male blogger with an alternative sexual orientation. A mismatch between the diversity tattoo on a site and its content could trigger a federal audit to track down identity fraud. Let's say an allegedly black female site (tattooed with a black halo) canvassed technologies for sending humans to Mars. Regulators might find such content highly suspicious, since everyone knows that black females are supposed to write about black females.
As absurd as such a regulatory regime would have to be, it still would not be enough to make a properly "diverse" blogosphere, for the web's real diversity flaw is the role of readers. It is readers who determine which blogs zoom up to Alpha orbit, and until now they have been frustratingly outside any sort of regulatory reach. Only when Internet users are required to open up a representative sample of sites can we be confident that the web's "diversity problem" will be solved.
17 April, 2005
A PRO-SUMMERS T-SHIRT!
In the realm of political defeats, last month's no-confidence vote in University President Lawrence H. Summers probably ranks somewhere below the Bolivian government's execution of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in 1967. But after three months of battle with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Summers has risen to Guevara's height of pop-culture martyrdom with a new t-shirt modeled after the famous image of the Argentinian guerilla leader. "The only similarity is that they're both revolutionaries," said Aaron J. Mowery '08, who began selling the Summers tees last week. "Granted, Che was a communist," noted Mowery, a member of the Harvard Republican Club, "and we don't think Summers is a communist at all."
The shirt's website, www.vivasummers.com, encourages patrons to wear their confidence in Summers, who was presented with his very own tee at a study break in Lowell House last week. Mowery said 68 supporters of the president, including Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield '53, had purchased the shirt as of Tuesday afternoon.
"DIVERSITY" POLICY DISCRIMINATES AGAINST MINORITIES
Fisher offers these intriguing 37 words: "Add the punishing quotas that Asian students face in the college admissions game - colleges don't admit to using quotas, but the numbers tell the story - and the result is pressure through every step of childhood." Huh. Interesting. This confirms data from California and Texas that when racial preferences are lifted, whites don't gain much, but Asian admissions jump through the roof. At the University of Texas-Austin, when preferences were removed, Asian freshmen jumped to 18 percent in a state where Asians comprise only 3 percent of the population.
In other words, what is denied with Orwellian savoir-faire by defenders of the Diversity-Academia complex is just plain obvious to people who are not professionally or ideologically invested in denying the existence of the elephant in the corner: The diversity "racket" discriminates against some minorities for the benefit of other minorities......
Today, the debate over diversity is driven largely by the unavoidable fact that, on average, African-Americans and Hispanics are less academically qualified than whites and various other demographic groups. This was highlighted a few years ago during arguments over the University of Michigan Law School's quota system. Justice Antonin Scalia noted during oral arguments before the Supreme Court that the easiest way to increase diversity would be to lower the law school's standards. If diversity is "important enough to override the Constitution's prohibition of racial distribution, it seems to me it's important enough to override Michigan's desire to have a super-duper law school."
This is where the Orwellian savoir-faire tends to kick in. The school's lawyers, along with columnists such as The Washington Post's David Broder and countless others, insisted that increasing diversity never comes at the expense of quality. Well, if the trade-off didn't exist, we wouldn't be having this debate. If there were a surplus of high SAT-scoring, straight-A blacks and Hispanics, no one would sue because they lost their slot to a less-qualified minority. The entire affirmative action controversy is predicated on the unavoidable fact that there is a greater demand for well-qualified blacks than there is a supply. Period.
However, even if that weren't the case, this quest to make all of our major institutions "look like America" is still basically arbitrary and unfair. It's simply absurd to think that the distribution of Chinese, black, white, Hispanic, Indian, Jewish, Hmong and so forth in the society can or should be replicated at a given university. Indian-Americans, for example, are hugely over-represented in the ranks of hotel and motel owners in the United States. Harvard President Larry Summers got in a lot of hot water for thinking out loud about why women were underrepresented at the highest reaches of science. But his observations that Catholics are underrepresented in investment banking, and that Jews are underrepresented in farming, went largely unnoticed.....
If, as a group, the kids of Asian immigrants work harder and do better academically than blacks or whites or Jews, is it fair for Harvard to say at some point, "Sorry, we're full up on Asians," simply because it had reached a quota based on the Asian share of the U.S. population? Some cultures are going to emphasize the importance of becoming a doctor more than others. There's no principled reason why advocates of quota games for law schools shouldn't support the same thing for basketball.
But all of this talk about groups obscures the most basic point. Racial and ethnic groups are supposed to be invisible to the government. Any other system is merely guilt - or credit - by association.
16 April, 2005
Post excerpted from Bittersweet
Of all the labels that get tossed at me the one I most despise is being called homophobic. It is all the more irritating when the person accusing me feels it is imperative that they point out to me that they themselves are not homosexual. I have to wonder who is the more intolerant among us, the one that has voiced an opinion about a specific issue, or the one who is terrified of being identified with the group they claim to be defending?
I’ve always been clear on why I oppose gay marriage and why I would personally prefer civil unions or some other form of legal protection for same sex couples. Yet time and time again I get someone accusing me of being intolerant and wanting to relegate gays to 2nd or even 3rd class citizens. That charge is completely false.
I do believe that all people regardless of gender, religion or sexual orientation should receive equal protection under the law. This is also why I do not support hate crime laws, it should not be law that one group’s lives or property carries more value than anothers. All should be valued and protected. It should also not be law that in order to ensure one groups “rights” it is ok to trample the “rights” of anothers.
Whether you like it or not, outside of a few progressive Churches, most religious doctrine regards homosexuality to be a sin. This is a fact and so the question remains, how do we as a society offer the right of gay marriage without crushing the right of religious expression?
The people who choose to attack me on this issue can not answer that question. They tell me that the Church is wrong and the teachings should be changed. I ask how is that different than saying that homosexuality is wrong and those who practice it should be changed? Again we are talking about society placing more value on the rights of one group over another, and again I do not get an answer.
ANTI-CHRISTIAN COURTS IN CANADA
Canada used to have an exemplary record of respect for human rights. That ended, ironically, with adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Under the pretense of upholding this Charter, activists on the Supreme Court of Canada have conducted a systematic attack on freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, and expression for Canadians who affirm the traditional principles of Judeo-Christian morality.
One of the first victims was Dianne Haskett, a conscientious Christian and mayor of London, Ontario. In 1995, she refused to proclaim a Pride Weekend in the city at the request of the Homophile Association of London, Ontario (HALO), because she could not in good conscience serve as an advocate for “gay rights.” HALO’s president, Richard Hudler, filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, charging that her refusal to issue the proclamation constituted discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, contrary to both the Charter and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
As usual, the commission referred the matter to an independent Board of Inquiry. Under cross-examination, Haskett acknowledged that her refusal to issue the proclamation was motivated by her beliefs as an Evangelical Christian. To the suggestion by counsel for the commission that she should have separated her religious convictions from the performance of her duties as mayor, Haskett responded that her life was “tied up in my relationship with God” and that she could not separate herself from it. [A] person who separates themselves from their deeply held beliefs, at the very least, they are a hypocrite and at the very worst, they are turning their back on God. And I can’t do that. . . . I think that the people of London have the right to expect that I’m going to be consistent with what I am in what I say and in what I do and if I cease to be consistent with what I am, then I don’t know what they have to depend on.
The chairman (and sole member) of the board, Mary Anne McKellar, was unmoved. Following precedents set by the Supreme Court of Canada, she ruled in October 1997 that the mayor’s rights to freedom of religion and of expression as purportedly guaranteed in section 2 of the Charter were subordinate to the equality rights of homosexuals in section 15. McKellar also ruled that the mayor’s refusal to issue the proclamation “constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” ordered the mayor to issue proclamations on request by HALO or any other “pride” group, and held her and the city jointly responsible for paying $10,000 in damages to Hudler for mental anguish and the loss of his right under the Charter and the Code to freedom from discrimination.
With Mayor Haskett abstaining, the City Council unanimously voted to abide by the board’s ruling. Haskett issued a public statement noting that she had never advocated discrimination against homosexual people, but insisting that I stand on my right as a Canadian to freedom of expression—and that means choosing what I will say and what I will not say. . . . I am not angry or bitter at HALO or any members of it for what I have had to go through to maintain my right to choose what I will say and what I will not say. I have never interfered with the activities of this group, as evidenced by the Pride celebrations that go on very openly each year. But at the same time, I am not prepared to be, now or in the future, the advocate for this organization or its agenda.....
Public officials are not the only victims of persecution by Canada’s human rights thought police. Private citizens are no less vulnerable. Thus in 1996, Scott Brockie, a Toronto print shop owner, inadvertently touched off a prolonged judicial battle by refusing on Christian principle to print letterhead stationery, envelopes, and business cards for Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Archives. Ray Brillinger, the president of the gay-advocacy organization, promptly complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The commission referred the matter to a Board of Inquiry. To no one’s surprise, Heather MacNaughton, the adjudicator assigned to the case, concluded that Brockie had violated the ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights Code, ordered him to pay $5,000 in damages to Brillinger, and directed that he must provide printing services without discrimination “to lesbians and gays and to organizations in existence for their benefit. MacNaughton denied in her ruling that her orders infringed upon Brockie’s Charter rights to freedom of conscience and religion. She argued that Brockie remains free to hold his religious beliefs and to practice [ sic] them in his home, and in his Christian community. He is free to espouse those beliefs and to educate others as to them. He remains free to try to persuade elected representatives, through his involvement in the democratic process, that the Code protections currently granted to the lesbian and gay community are wrong. What he is not free to do, when he enters the public marketplace and offers services to the public in -Ontario, is to practice those beliefs in a manner that discriminates against lesbians and gays by denying them a service available to everyone else.
Brockie appealed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In a unanimous ruling in June 2002, a three-judge panel of the court upheld MacNaughton’s order, subject only to the qualification that Brockie did not have “to print material of a nature which could reasonably be considered to be in direct conflict with the core elements of his religious beliefs or creed.” In the opinion of the court, it was unreasonable for Brockie to insist that he could not, in good conscience, print anything for an organization that promotes pride in homosexual behavior. Having spent close to $100,000 on legal fees, Brockie decided against any further appeal.
At least the board allowed that Brockie had a right to espouse his Christian convictions in public. Chris Kempling was not so fortunate. In February of last year, Mr. Justice Ronald Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court warned that Kempling must either stop publishing his Christian beliefs about the immorality of homosexual behavior or forfeit his job as a secondary school teacher. This case arose out of an article and a series of letters to the editor about homosexuality that Kempling had published between 1997 and 2000 in his hometown newspaper, the Quesnel Cariboo Observer. In response to complaints about these writings, the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) conducted an investigation, found him guilty of professional misconduct, and suspended his teaching license for a month. Kempling appealed.
In ruling on the appeal, Holmes acknowledged that Kempling had “a long and unblemished teaching career, and a notable record of community service.” Nonetheless, he found him guilty of professional misconduct solely on the basis of his allegedly “discriminatory and derogatory statements against homosexuals” in off-duty submissions to the Cariboo Record. Holmes charged that in these writings Kempling “consistently associated homosexuals with immorality, abnormality, perversion, and promiscuity. Examples of such statements include: ‘Thus my main concern with giving same sex couples legal rights in child custody issues is due to the obvious instability and short term nature of gay relationships.’” In an aside, Holmes contended that Kempling had also violated the ban on “discriminatory publication” in the British Columbia human rights code. If that is so, it is illegal for anyone, not just teachers, to lament sexual promiscuity among homosexuals in a letter to the editor of a newspaper in British Columbia.
While Kempling was battling with the province’s Supreme Court, Hugh Owens, a Regina prison guard, and Lyle Sinkewicz, the publisher of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, were embroiled with a Saskatchewan human rights Board of Inquiry over a similar issue: the publication in the StarPhoenix of an advertisement placed by Owens that consisted of a list of Bible passages condemning homosexual behavior— Romans 1, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, and 1 Corinthians 6:9–19—plus a pictograph of two men holding hands, superimposed by a circle and slash.
Three homosexuals complained to the Saskatchewan -Human Rights Commission, charging Owens and Sinkewicz with violation of section 14 of the province’s human rights code, which prohibits the publication of any statement “which exposes or tends to expose to hatred, ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of any person or class of persons” on the basis of sexual orientation or any of 13 other prohibited grounds. The Board of Inquiry upheld the complaint, ordered Owens and -Sinkewicz never again to publish such an offensive advertisement, and directed that the two respondents each pay $1,500 in damages to each of the three complainants.
Sinkewicz immediately capitulated to the board’s ruling, despite having averred in testimony before the board that freedom of speech is “the most precious right” in a democracy. Owens appealed. Not surprisingly, he lost again. In a ruling in December 2002, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench declared: “When the use of the circle and slash is combined with the passages of the Bible, it exposes homosexuals to detestation, vilification and disgrace.” Owens is now preparing to argue his case before the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan, and vows to seek vindication all the way, if need be, to the Supreme Court of Canada......
Unelected and unaccountable judges on the Supreme Court of Canada bear primary responsibility for the mounting persecution of Christians in Canada. In one outrageous ruling after another over the past ten years, the activists on this Court have unilaterally imposed their “gay rights” agenda on the Canadian people.......
Such is the corruption of democracy in Canada. Conniving politicians have surrendered the legislative powers of Parliament and the provincial legislatures to judicial activists who are determined to impose homosexualist ideology on the law and the Constitution of Canada, regardless of the express wishes of elected representatives of the Canadian people.
For Kempling, the implications are ominous. Unless by some miracle the British Columbia Supreme Court overturns the ruling against him on appeal, he must either renounce the public expression of his Christian beliefs on sexual morality or incur a permanent suspension of his teaching license. The same fate attends teachers in public schools all across Canada. Throughout the country, human rights tribunals and the courts are implacably determined to uphold equality rights for homosexuals.
Perhaps Kempling might try to salvage his teaching career by applying for asylum in the United States. At least in theory, he qualifies for refugee status on the basis of a well-grounded fear of persecution in Canada for the public expression of his Christian convictions.
15 April, 2005
DIVORCE AND HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE
One of the most frequently offered arguments by proponents of same-sex marriage is that it is not gays wanting to marry a member of the same sex that threatens the institution of marriage, it is the high divorce rate among heterosexuals. One reason this argument is so often made is that it appeals to the religious as well as the secular, to conservatives as well as liberals. This is too bad, because the argument is a meaningless non sequitur.
First, while divorce ends a given marriage, it does not threaten marriage as an institution. Of course, many marriages fail and end in divorce -- while some other marriages fail and do not end in divorce -- but why does this threaten marriage as an institution? To understand the foolishness of the argument "divorce threatens marriage," let's apply this principle to other areas of life. Let's begin with parenthood. It is undeniable that vast numbers of people fail -- and have always failed -- as parents. Yet, no one argues that the many parents who fail to raise good children threaten the institution of parenthood. Why, then, do marriages that fail threaten the institution of marriage?
Likewise, few people are calling for the redefinition of parenthood because parents so often fail to raise good children. Why, then, redefine marriage because many marriages fail? When we think of parents failing, we think of ways to improve parenting, and we discourage people from becoming parents before they are ready. Why, then, don't we do the same regarding divorce -- think of ways to improve marriages and discourage people from marrying before they are ready? Why must we radically redefine it? That redefinition is what threatens marriage.
There is a second reason the divorce-rate-threatens-marriage argument is disingenuous: If gays marry, they will divorce at least as often as heterosexuals do. That is why the divorce issue is entirely unrelated to the question of whether we should redefine marriage. The only reason the argument is even offered is because gullible people will buy it. The gullible include well-intentioned centrist Americans who think, "Hey, that's a good point. Straights sure haven't done such a great job with marriage; why not let gays have a crack at it?" And the gullible include well-intentioned religious Americans whose loathing of divorce overwhelms their critical thinking.
A third flaw in the argument is that it presupposes that every divorce constitutes a failure of a couple's marriage. Sometimes this is true; sometimes it is not. I know a couple married for 30 years who made a beautiful home for their three now-married children. The couple divorced last year because they had both concluded that they had drifted too far apart to continue living together in any meaningful way (one aspect of the drift was one partner's increasing devotion to religion and the other's decreasing interest in it). Who has the hubris to call their marriage a failure? Their children surely don't think their parents' marriage was a failure. It produced three wonderful married adults, and it provided them a beautiful and loving home in which to grow up. One can only wish all marriages so "failed."
It is simplistic to maintain that the one criterion of success or failure in marriage is permanence. There are marriages that provided years of comfort to a couple and a fine home to their children that eventually end; and there are permanent marriages that have provided neither comfort to the couple nor a loving environment for their children. If the end of something renders it a failure, every one of our lives is a failure, since they all come to an end.
Excerpt from Dennis Prager
EVANGELIZING HOMOSEXUALITY IS RIFE IN THE SCHOOLS
Is public education to be so "inclusive" that it excludes the majority? According to a new book by James Madison University education professor Dr. Ian K. Macgillivray, yeah, sure, if that's what it takes for the homosexual movement to prevail in America. Macgillivray is more than just a professor. He's an out-and-out advocate of homosexual militancy who has written many books and articles on the subject; a list is available at queertheory.com.
Revolutionaries always publish their plans in advance, and the rest of us always laugh them off. Europeans never took Hitler’s Mein Kampf seriously. America ignores the many documents in which the homosexualists outline their plans for this country and even reveal their tactics – as Macgillivray does in Sexual Orientation and School Policy. For him, the public schools are to be used "to outwit or educate the opposition" (us), and to overthrow a conservative Christian value system that he considers "outdated" and "morally invalid."
As to the tactics, it's all very simple. First you set up a program or an organization and give it a name and a mission that nobody--least of all a Christian who's already shy about being pilloried as a hatemonger--will object to. Macgillivray likes a "Safe Schools Coalition." Everybody wants safe schools. No one wants to see kids bullied or assaulted because they happen to be "gay." “By portraying homosexuality as a victim class, the activists put anyone with traditional values on the defensive,” said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture & Family Institute. “The approach is brilliant; it appeals to the best in us, the part that wants to defend the underdog. But increasingly, the ‘underdogs’ are becoming the bullies, using school programs and compliant bureaucracy.”
“We can and should teach civility without also promoting homosexuality, but parents and teachers are given a stark choice: go along with the pro-homosexual programs or be blamed for any incident involving a ‘gay’ kid.” The school will also need a "non-discrimination policy," and no one will object to non-discrimination.
Now, how do we create safe schools where there's little evidence of discrimination? Work on the hearts and minds of those who are guilty of making schools unsafe, who practice discrimination — or, rather, work on the hearts and minds of their children. Turn them against the idea of "a heterosexual cultural norm." After all, as Macgillivray says, "Modernity is against moral conservatives."
Employ "restorative justice" in the classroom. It's not just about wiping out supposed violence against homosexuals; it's about "superseding a conservative heterosexual hegemony." (Don't hold your breath waiting for actual evidence of "violence" massively directed against "gays." That's one of those things you're supposed to take on faith.) "Education" is to liberate children from the hetero cultural norm. Macgillivray admits that this is to be at the expense of the conservatives. There will be "winners and losers" in this battle, he says, and he aims to make sure his side wins. What life will be like under a homosexual cultural norm is not something I want to find out. Meanwhile, wherever they encounter opposition, the homosexualists are to play the "bigotry" card. If you oppose them, you want violent schools, you probably think "gay" teenagers are to be stoned, blah-blah.
Millions of Christian parents have removed their children from the baneful influence of the public schools. Many millions more have not. Whatever their reasons for leaving the children in these schools, there is no reason not to elect school board members who will put a stop to the Day of Silence and all the rest of it. Maybe if the schools were not so busy sexualizing children, they might find time to teach them how to read.
14 April, 2005
EVEN JOKES CAN BE CENSORED IN BRITAIN NOW -- JUST LIKE IN COMMUNIST COUNTRIES (PAST AND PRESENT)
A man who published jokes about the Pope's death on a spoof village website was yesterday threatened with an antisocial behaviour order. Police were asked to investigate after Mitch Hawkin posted a spoof advert for the job of pontiff following the death of John Paul II. Mr Hawkin's website has been involved in a feud with a similarly named website in Lyneham, Wiltshire. The website said: "Fancy a new job? The Vatican is now looking for a new Pope now that the current one has snuffed it." The remarks continued: "Let's hope the next Pope can do a better job. Better still, why not abolish the position of Pope, as religion, at the end of the day, causes more wars than anything else."
Mr Hawkin has been involved in a feud with www.lynehamvillage.com which has a gentler tone, and claims to be the original website for Lyneham. It is run by Andy Humm, who describes his rival as bringing "shame" on Lyneham. Critics of the spoof site fear that people looking for information about the village will read that site first rather than Mr Humm's more sedate version, whose home page has pictures of daffodils and urges people to pick up litter. Mr Humm said: "What Mr Hawkin has said about the Pope is disgusting and outrageous. Mr Hawkin should be charged." Mr Humm and a local councillor have been pressing for an Asbo to be taken out against the alternative site.
Allison Bucknell, a Conservative councillor for Lyneham, said: "An Asbo is being looked at against Mr Hawkin. He's causing a lot of damage to the community." The council's antisocial behaviour officer had tried to mediate, but Mr Hawkin did not show up. A Wiltshire police spokesman said investigations were under way after a series of complaints.
THE FOOLISH THEORIES BEHIND MULTICULTURALISM
Yet all of that having been said, "multiculturalism" is really beginning to scare me --- and not from a fear or dislike of other cultures. It is because multiculturalism is being used as an excuse not to protect minorities, but to oppress majorities. You see, each of the many ethnic and religious groups now living in the West (by which I mean Europe, the Americas, and Australasia) exist as the majorities in their own native regions. These cultures are themselves the result of centuries or even millennia of cultural and religious history. While I am all for their survival, it seems to me that the cultures of the host nations they have come to live among have at least the same right to preservation.
Unfortunately, multiculturalism is often invoked to abolish long-standing customs the majority hold dear. Why must oaths to the Queen be abolished in Canada and Australia? Well, foreigners wouldn't understand. Why did divorce have to be legalized in Ireland and Chile, or crucifixes removed from Belgian schools, or the Catholic Church in Paraguay or the Lutheran Church of Sweden disestablished, or "Merry Christmas" replaced with "Happy Holidays" and B.C. and A.D. with B.C.E. and C.E. in the United States? Because minorities would possibly be offended.
Of course, much of this is generational. Political leaders drawn from the Baby-boomers (or the "Generation of '68," as they are called in Europe) tend to loathe the traditions of the cultures they have inherited. For them, immigration from elsewhere gives a golden opportunity to demolish the customs and manners accepted for generations. They do have a problem; being secular-minded, they find themselves in an odious maze of religiously-based cultural institutions --- Western civilization was produced by Christianity, even as Indian was the creation of Hinduism, and Japanese of Shinto. But because they hate the Faith of their Fathers, they hate what it produced as well. In Catholic countries like Ireland, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium or my family's own Quebec, this is especially true, but it fits the mode in Protestant and Orthodox nations as well.
In the United States, such folk have an advantage, due to the dogma of "Separation of Church and State." Not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, this notion grew up from a governmental expedient created at the drafting of that document in 1789. Since several of the original States had established Churches (Anglican in the South, and Congregational in New England), and others had none, a compromise had to be worked out that would preserve the freedom of the States to settle the relationship between Church and State on their own, while preserving the individual freedoms of all Americans. So it was that the First Amendment forbade Congress to establish a single established Church for the nation, while the right of all Americans to individually choose their own faith and not suffer the loss of civil rights thereby was protected. Nevertheless, since the vast majority of Americans claimed adherence to one form or another of Christianity, it was generally accepted that the common mores and ideals of that majority would determine the tone of public life. This idea was enshrined in the 1892 Supreme Court decision of Trinity Church vs. the United States, which mentioned that
If we pass beyond these [cited legal] matters to a view of American life, as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs, and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters note the following: The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, `In the name of God, amen;' the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town, and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing everywhere under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe.
On this basis, the Court declared that "These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation."
What distinguishes this decision from those of later, 20th and 21st century courts is that is was based, not upon abstract theory, but upon the actual way life is lived by the citizens of these United States --- now as well as then. In a word, it was democratic.
Yet in the past five decades that same Supreme Court and the rest of the Judiciary have been used to push the views and practices of the majority out of public life as far as possible. As everyone knows, the ACLU has been a prime mover in these areas; apart from an a-historical reading of the Constitution, these efforts have often invoked the rights of minorities and, latterly, multiculturalism.
The tacit theory upon which all of this is based in legal, governmental, and academic circles is that the civilization of the West is the creation of White, Christian, Males (most of whom are also Dead), and that it was erected for the purpose of oppressing people of color, non-Christians, women, gays, animals, plants, and the environment generally. Concomitantly, it is assumed by these worthies that a sort of coalition of the oppressed exists, and must be mobilised by the enlightened in positions of power for the express purpose of dismantling this oppressive structure.
The great problem with this view is that - whatever other merits it may possess - it is nonsense. The fact is that outside of Western Civilisation, there is precious little room for dissent from generally accepted societal norms. To be specific, as a Catholic, I am only too aware of how my co-religionists are marginalized (to put it politely) in China, India, Indonesia, Sudan --- indeed, anywhere where we are a minority (and no believing Catholic may expect confirmation for an American Federal judgeship if Senator Boxer is to be believed, but that is another story). Of course, it is not merely Catholics who suffer in this way, to be sure. But in most of this world, being a national minority is not much fun.
Nor is the role of women too wonderful, either. Well do I remember that when the ordination of women was being discussed at the 1992 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, a Melanesian prelate declared, "Ordain them? We're still trying to get our people not to sell them!"
The environment is none too safe in most places, either. It should be remembered that modern conservation is the invention of the European royals and nobles who prevented the complete disappearance of the local wildlife into the cook pots of the peasantry in order to maintain their favorite sport of hunting. Granted, this created a class hatred of the sport most recently expressed in Tony's Blair's abolition of fox and stag hunting in the U.K. Doubtless poisoning and starvation will be more humane ways of dealing with the beasts than a chase in which they have a chance to escape. Oh, well.
If secularisation on the modern American plan is ridiculous in the country that spawned the "Wall of Separation," it is downright grotesque in Old Europe. While such as Spain's Zapatero, Ireland's Ahearn, and Belgium's Vanhoefstrat do their best to remove all symbols of Christianity (while, in the meantime, encouraging expressions of Islam, Buddhism, etc., as "multicultural"), the refusal of EU authorities to even mention Christianity in the preamble of their constitution, when it is surely THE great fact of European history, is both absurd and wilfully intolerant. It is also self-destructive, given the growth of Islam in Europe. Accepting Belloc's dictum that "the Faith is Europe, and Europe is the Faith," we are presented with the corollary that if Europe will not be the Faith, she will be nothing at all. Partially in response to these developments, Pope John Paul II recently beatified Emperor-King Charles I and IV of Austria-Hungary as an example for modern European politicians. Not merely a saintly man who attempted to apply his religion to his rulership, Blessed Charles was also sovereign of the most truly multicultural polity modern Europe has ever seen.
In any case, the fact remains that condemnation of the white male Christian power structure is only possible in areas dominated even still by white male Christians. The contrast between the place of, say, Muslims in Christian countries and that of Christians in Muslim ones is glaring. Even Benito Mussolini was able to figure that one out: when King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia asked for permission to build a mosque in Rome, the Duce replied that he would be happy to, so soon as His Majesty would allow a cathedral to be erected in Mecca. Mussolini may not have been a good man or a wise one, but in this case he was not a dimwit.
Excerpt from the Cool Ohm
13 April, 2005
LOVE IT! NOW MILK IS BAD FOR YOU!
Quick, quick! Get it out of school lunches!
Drinking a glass or two of milk a day may raise the risk of Parkinson's disease in middle-aged men, research suggests. Researchers say the apparent link is unlikely to be due to calcium - milk's key nutritional ingredient. But they say it is unclear whether another ingredient, or a contaminant may raise the risk of Parkinson's - which overall still remains low. The study, led by Korea University, is published in the journal Neurology.
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease of the nervous system associated with trembling of the arms and legs, stiffness and rigidity of the muscles and slowness of movement. Previous research has also suggested a link between high consumption of dairy products and a raised risk of Parkinson's in men - but not women. The latest study focused on 7,504 men aged 45 to 68, who were enrolled in a heart study in Hawaii. During the course of the 30-year study, 128 developed Parkinson's. The researchers found those men who consumed more than 16oz (473ml) of milk a day were 2.3 times more likely to develop Parkinson's than those who drank no milk at all.
ANOTHER STUPID FOOD SCARE
Although the media coverage here in the United States has been non-existent, much of the world has been experiencing one of the great food scares -- and food recalls -- of modern times. The epicenter of this latest food scare (described by the Economist as "the biggest food scare since the last one") has been England, where over 400 products have been recalled because of a "cancer risk." The purported culprit: a red dye dubbed Sudan 1, approved for use in polishes, waxes and solvents -- but not in food (here, it is banned from the food supply by the Food and Drug Administration). The alleged problem began when a very large batch of chili powder somehow was contaminated with Sudan 1 and then was used widely in the preparation of Worcester sauce, which, in turn, was used in over 400 prepared food products -- everything from shepherd's pie to salad dressing.
The scare and recall was not limited to Great Britain. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a "health hazard alert" for various chili sauces, and as this article is being written, the Sudan scare is heating up bigtime in South Korea and China. Indeed, the South Korean FDA has begun inspecting outlets of fast food restaurants after the Chinese operation of Kentucky Fried Chicken admitted that it had discovered traces of Sudan 1 in its cuisine. U.S. manufacturer Heinz reported traces of the dye in its Chinese products. The threat of a massive region-wide recall is becoming increasingly possible.
What is this spicy kerfuffle all about? The same old, same old. In high dose, Sudan 1 causes cancer in rodents. Of course, as critics have pointed out, you would have to consume 800 liters of Worcester sauce every day for two years to get the amounts the rodents consumed (that is a lot of Bloody Marys). But if you believe a mouse is a little man, then you see a risk, even if the level of exposure is at a barely measurable level.
12 April, 2005
LIGHT SENTENCE FOR MUSLIM MURDERER
In Sweden, of course
An 18 year old who murdered the owner of a restaurant in Malmo last autumn has been sentenced to eight years in prison. His accomplice, who was also eighteen, will serve five years for serious assault. On October 3rd 2004 the owners of the restaurant Wendis in Malm” were closing for the night. Mohamed Saeed Omar and Boonrawd Paernkit had hidden in the toilet and, armed with knives, pepper spray and with covered faces, planned to rob the restaurant. The female restaurant owner was stabbed to death and her husband, Wendi Ma, was stabbed in his eyes.
Mohamed Saeed Omar was found guilty by Malmo district court of the murder and robbery of the female restaurant owner. He was also convicted for the serious assault of her husband.
His friend, Boonrawd Paernkit, was convicted to five years in prison for seriously assaulting Wendi Ma, but found not guilty of murder. Three other friends of the 18 year olds were convicted of attempted robbery and will be put into social care. They were standing outside the restaurant keeping watch during the crime.
ANOTHER PC INTRUSION INTO PRIVATE LIFE
Spain is about to pass a law forcing men to do housework. The draft approved by the Spanish parliament's justice commission says men must "share domestic responsibilities and the care and attention" of children and elderly family members, the London Guardian reported. The amendment, which has the backing of every Spanish party, will be incorporated later this year into the marriage contract at civil wedding ceremonies in a country where it's reported 40 percent of men do no housework at all.
It will be applied in divorce proceedings: Men who don't do their share could be give less time with their children. "The idea of equality within marriage always stumbles over the problem of work in the house and caring for dependent people," said the law's chief sponsor, Margarita Ura, of the Basque Nationalist party. "This will be a good way of reminding people what their duties are," she said, according to the Guardian. "It is something feminists have been wanting for a long time."
The London paper said statistics show even where both men and women have jobs outside the home, Spanish women do three times as much housework. Ura also is concerned about women taking most of the burden of care for the elderly. The law, expected to be passed in three weeks, will add domestic obligations to marital duties that include fidelity, living together and helping one another. A study five years ago by Spain's Centre for Sociological Investigation found just 19 percent of Spanish men believe mothers of school-age children should have a full-time job. The survey also concluded fathers spent an average of 13 minutes each day taking care of their children.
11 April, 2005
SWEDEN RETURNS TO INTOLERANCE: BANNING PROSTITUTION
What happened to the Leftist "principle" that the State should not intrude into people's bedrooms? Like all Leftist "principles" it was just a posture with no actual committtment underlying it. So we see another case of feminism trumping liberty. Leftists may champion some liberties on some occasions for strategic purposes but this case illustrates that there is NO form of liberty that Leftists are actually committed to
In a centuries deep sea of clich‚s despairing that "prostitution will always be with us", one country's success stands out as a solitary beacon lighting the way. In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80 percent. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared. Gone too, for the most part, are the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlors which proliferated during the last three decades of the twentieth century, when prostitution in Sweden was legal.
In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that's negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland. No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come anywhere near Sweden's promising results.
By what complex formula has Sweden managed this feat? Amazingly, Sweden's strategy isn't complex at all. It's tenets, in fact, seem so simple and so firmly anchored in common sense as to immediately spark the question, "Why hasn't anyone tried this before?"
In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex. The novel rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government's literature on the law: "In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them."
In addition to the two pronged legal strategy, a third and essential element of Sweden's prostitution legislation provides for ample and comprehensive social service funds aimed at helping any prostitute who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public. As such, Sweden's unique strategy treats prostitution as a form of violence against women in which the men who exploit by buying sex are criminalized, the mostly female prostitutes are treated as victims who need help, and the public is educated in order to counteract the historical male bias that has long stultified thinking on prostitution. To securely anchor their view in firm legal ground, Sweden's prostitution legislation was passed as part and parcel of the country's 1999 omnibus violence against women legislation.
CIVIL RIGHTS FOR HISPANICS BUT NOT FOR PATRIOTS
A group known for fighting against illegal immigrants was asked to leave a Washington Township diner while a Hispanic civil rights conference took place in the borough on Sunday, Washington police said.
The New Jersey Division of Civil Rights and the Mercer County Hispanic Association sponsored a civil rights conference for Hispanics on Sunday at St. Anthony of Padua Church. The meeting came in the wake of a series of raids for illegal immigrants in the area by the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Hightstown Mayor Robert Patten said he found out about the meeting of the United Patriots of America through a friend in Freehold on Sunday. He then notified the Hightstown Police Department because he saw it as his duty to inform them about any potential problems, he said. "I didn't really know anything at all (about the Patriots), other than they were doing some protest about immigration," the mayor said.
Chief James Eufemia said he had received information from the Freehold Police Department that the group was planning to meet at a neighboring diner. He then notified the Washington police. "We had no other information," he said. Chief Eufemia was unavailable for further comment. Ron Bass, president of the United Patriots of America, said his group initially wanted to meet in Freehold to discuss projects related to guarding the border between the United States and Mexico as well as the formation of a New Jersey immigration group. But the owner of the hall in Freehold asked them not to meet there when picketers threatened to protest the event. The group then rescheduled for the USA Country Diner on Route 130 in Washington Township, but Mr. Bass speculated that the protesters found out about the event through the Internet. "When we arranged the space with the gentleman, I had told them there could be some problems," Mr. Bass said. "I didn't want the man to be surprised." He said he does not remember if he told the man the purpose of his group - the organization's Web site describes its purpose as fighting to preserve American values and the Constitution through fighting illegal immigration.
At 3:07 p.m. four Washington police officers arrived at the scene to find picketers holding signs such as "Immigrants are allowed here," said Detective Vince Estelle of the Washington police. The police asked both the picketers and the United Patriots, who were described by Detective Estelle as a group that does not want to allow immigrants into the country, to leave, he said.
Although Mr. Bass said he sympathized with diner's decision to ask the group to leave, he said there was no reason to do so. "I guess it would matter if we said we were the American Communist Party," he said. "They may not be comfortable with communists, but I don't know why anyone would be uncomfortable with patriots."
10 April, 2005
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IN ISRAEL
Igor Pecherksy is a Russian-born (St. Petersberg) Israeli computer programmer who works in the molecular genetics department at the Weizmann Institute. The administration at the Weizmann Institute is threatening to fire poor Igor. His grievous sin? He expressed his political opinions quietly by wearing a small pin on his lapel. The pin is about the size of one of those AIDS ribbons the PC profs often wear. But it shows a small orange Jewish star. It is the symbol of the movement to support the Jewish "settlers" in the Gaza Strip and expresses opposition to their expulsion under the Ariel Sharon-Amram Mitzna "Disengagement Plan".
Doctor Igor wears the pin when he comes to work. Some leftist busybodies on campus complained that the pin is interfering with their ability to do their work. Now, if you saw exactly what Igor looks like in his pin, you'd agree he's not exactly Hulk Hogan threatening the leftist secretaries. But that pin is interfering with the work of campus lefties. Leftists at Weizmann, of course, always park their cars with the "Expel the Settlers" bumper stickers on campus parking lots, but that is protected academic free speech.
Doctor Igor is now under threat of expulsion and dismissal from his job for quietly expressing an opinion.
JUST TO KEEP YOU UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST CALIFORNIA THINKING:
Who hasn't heard of "battered woman syndrome"? Who hasn't heard the heated arguments about its use in criminal cases and courtrooms? Now how many can say they know the term "intimate partner battering and its effects"? Get used to it, because California is poised to lead the way in getting rid of, once and for all, that outdated, misleading term "battered woman" or "battered wife" syndrome that has not always served victims well. Because, of course, not all domestic violence victims are women. They're not always married. They aren't necessarily heterosexuals. And they certainly aren't sick or afflicted with some weird malady, as if being beaten and abused is somehow their fault.
This week, in a bill that follows up on a successful measure last year by former Democratic Sen. John Burton, another Democratic lawmaker has moved California closer to getting the language right. Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has proposed a bill that would change the language in all sections of the California Code from "battered woman syndrome" to the more accurate "intimate partner battering and its effects." AB 220 is more sweeping than last year's bill by Burton (and co-authored by Leno), which only amended the term in the Evidence Code. Leno's bill, which passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee this week, finishes up the job. "We know that language is enormously important," says Leno. "... Just by changing some simple wording we can change the conversation about the very serious phenomenon of domestic violence." First, the outdated usage of "battered woman syndrome" ignores the full range of domestic violence victims, he said. "And the term 'syndrome' with reference to women gives the impression and continues to perpetuate a destructive myth there's something about the woman that causes this to happen," said the lawmaker.
Advocates for battered women have long argued that the language needs to change, to more accurately and fully reflect what we now know about domestic violence. The term "battered woman syndrome" was first coined in the late 1970s by psychologist and author Lenore Walker, who wrote a book of the same name. "It really took off, and it was helpful at that historical moment," said Andrea Bible, coordinator of the San Francisco-based Free Battered Women group, which supports the bill. But as it was used in more cases, she said, it also began being used to undermine domestic violence victims. "The focus really started to become, 'Does she have battered woman syndrome?' rather than looking at the abusive, controlling behavior by her partner," she said. " It was something that was never a clinical diagnosis, but it was treated that way, and people tried to diagnose women."
Whatever it ends up being called in California, at least one lawmaker still isn't buying the concept. Republican Assemblyman Ray Haynes of Murrieta, the only "no" vote on the judiciary committee, told me he "never agreed with this theory of battered woman syndrome ... that you get to go kill somebody because they've been beating you up over a period of time." It also bothers him to see the concept extended to same-sex couples, in which "physically, the parties are (often) in a similar relationship," he said. "You don't have one dominant physical partner usually in those kind of cases."
But Bible points out that so-called "battered woman syndrome" is not a defense to murder, a common misconception. Instead, she says, evidence of battery and its effects often are presented in conjunction with traditional defenses in a murder case - that the abuse victim, for example, had acted in self-defense.
Haynes, a lawyer, still doesn't buy it.
Swedish sexism: "Sweden, where almost half of all MPs are women, is on the verge of striking a fresh blow for sexual equality as a newly formed feminist alliance is now tipped to unseat the Prime Minister. The Feminist Initiative, launched earlier this week, is already eating into the support of the ruling Social Democrats and their Green and Left Party coalition allies. And, of those backing the group launched to fight for women's rights, more than one in three are men."
9 April, 2005
NYC PREFERS SATANISM TO CHRISTIANITY
(Post excerpted from an article by the estimable Tom Barrett)
Churches meet in schools all across our nation. In fact, another minister and I have teamed up to start a church in a public school here in Loxahatchee, Florida. So I was understandably interested when I discovered that New York City is trying to throw churches out of their public schools.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." The New York City School District is interpreting this principle as requiring that their facilities to be religion-free zones. But the Constitution requires schools to be neutral regarding religion. They can neither endorse nor discriminate against churches.
There are several important principles that must be understood in order to determine whether the School District is right or wrong. First, the District looks at the schools as its property. Government at all levels makes this fundamental mistake. The New York City Schools, as well as all government property at all levels, belongs to "We, the People." Yellowstone National Park belongs to us. The Statue of liberty belongs to us. And our local schools and libraries belong to us. Government is our servant, and is only the steward, or caretaker, of our property.
The second principle is that the New York City schools regularly rent out their facilities to all kinds of organizations. These include everything from political organizations to self-help groups. When did people of faith become second-class citizens in this nation? When did it become OK to welcome literally everyone except for people who worship God? Who decided it was acceptable to violate our First Amendment rights?
Finally, many of the organizations that New York City welcomes with open arms (while trying to exclude Christians) are actually religious organizations. Witches are welcome. Secular humanists are welcome. And atheists are welcome. Yet all of these are religions. Witches worship Satan. Humanists worship man. And the atheist's religion is that there is no God. So apparently New York City's position is that it is OK to rent to religious organizations unless the religion is Christian.
MORE ILLEGAL SUPPRESSION OF FREE SPEECH
How the Left hate free speech!
Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) has warned the members of the College Republicans that both the students and the group will be punished if they hold a campus protest against affirmative action. The NEIU College Republicans canceled its planned "affirmative action bake sale" protest after NEIU's dean of students warned them in an e-mail that to hold such a sale would violate NEIU's "nondiscrimination" policy and expose the students to punishment. NEIU, which allowed a feminist group to hold a similar "pay equity bake sale" protest on campus, is the latest in a string of schools nationwide that have attempted to shut down these protests against affirmative action.
"You would think that universities would have learned that affirmative action bake sales are constitutionally protected," remarked David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has twice written to NEIU on behalf of the College Republicans. "In this case, NEIU's disregard for its students' First Amendment freedom of expression is made all the more severe by the university's apparent double standards."
The NEIU College Republicans originally planned to hold its "affirmative action bake sale" protest on February 25. Such protests have become a widely used form of political parody directed against affirmative action. Organizers typically display a menu with satirical prices charging black and Hispanic students less than Asian and white students for the same items. The "bake sales" are intended to spark debate about affirmative action policies, not to raise revenue. The College Republicans postponed the protest, however, after receiving an e-mail from NEIU Dean of Students Michael Kelly stating that the protest would violate the school's nondiscrimination policy. Dean Kelly wrote that "[v]iolating University rules can and will result in charges being filed," and that "any disruption of university activities that would be caused by this event is also actionable.."
The College Republicans immediately turned to FIRE for help. On March 8, FIRE wrote NEIU President Salme Steinberg, reminding her that "`[a]ffirmative action bake sales' constitute a form of satirical political protest, and therefore enjoy the fullest protection of the First Amendment." On March 17, NEIU attorney Mark Dunn responded that the university was encouraging the students to explore alternatives to the bake sale protest. Dunn did not address NEIU's threat to punish the students for their protected expression. FIRE replied to Dunn, insisting that the students be allowed to hold the protest of their choice. FIRE also pointed out that since the NEIU Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance apparently has held a "pay equity bake sale" protest (in which men are charged more than women for baked goods to protest the "wage gap" between men and women) on NEIU's campus, it would be unlawful viewpoint discrimination to forbid the College Republicans from holding a similar protest. NEIU's second letter to FIRE once again did not address FIRE's concerns.
"NEIU's position is simply indefensible," noted FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Greg Lukianoff. "Neither the feminist group nor the College Republicans were engaged in `discrimination' with their protests. Both bake sale protests are forms of satire that are highly protected by the U.S. Constitution. NEIU must respect the free speech rights of all students even if it dislikes the message of a particular protest."
8 April, 2005
WE MUST PRETEND THAT OBVIOUS DIFFERENCES DO NOT EXIST
It is OK to portray George Bush as a chimpanzee or as Hitler but not OK to portray some Americans as black!
A Central High School social studies teacher could lose his job "for mimicking an African-American" at a student-faculty basketball game March 25. Bibb County Schools Superintendent Sharon Patterson said Tuesday that she has recommended Greg Dougherty for termination.
The Telegraph reviewed photos taken at the event that show Dougherty wearing an exaggerated Afro-like wig, and with brownish makeup covering his face and arms. In another photo, a white student is also shown wearing brownish makeup covering his face and arms. The Telegraph received photos of the event from Becky Fluke, a Central senior and a member of the Telegraph's Teen Board. Fluke covered the game in her role as editor and chief photographer of the school newspaper, the Central Post.
Jeffrey Daniel, 18, another senior at Central High, praised Dougherty as someone "who has done wonders for the community and the school," and has participated in after-school tutoring programs. "He's an amazing teacher who can even get a class excited about economics," Daniel said. "He cares a lot about students." Daniel said he didn't attend the game, but was sure Dougherty "didn't mean anything malicious in this." Allison Boggs, 17, a senior at Central High, said Tuesday that students in one of Dougherty's classes had suggested the outfit. Boggs did not attend the game. When the notion was brought up for Dougherty to appear at the game in blackface, he asked students if that would be insensitive, and they assured him it wouldn't, Boggs said.
FOOD CORRECTNESS AS A COMMENT ON THE SAD STATE OF BRITISH POLITICS
How has a reality television programme about a celebrity chef sticking his fork into the murky business of school dinners become a major focus of the pre-election campaign in British politics?
Why has Jamie Oliver, until recently widely seen as a figure of scorn and overpaid supermarket poster boy, suddenly become everybody's favourite celebrity, hailed as 'fantastic' by government ministers while serious commentators wish aloud that he would stand against Tony Blair to be prime minister? And why has Oliver's campaign to get something called Turkey Twizzlers banished from school menus been hailed as the harbinger of a 'revolution' in our society?
The strange elevation of Jamie Oliver and his hit Channel 4 programme, Jamie's School Dinners, reveals little about the real problems facing children and schools, but rather a lot about the unappetising state of British politics and public life.
Oliver's crusade to purify school meals has the right ingredients required to make an impact today. It is about public/personal health, the number one issue of the age. Better still, it stokes our exaggerated fears about children's health and the child obesity panic. It involves 'ordinary people', led by an allegedly charismatic celebrity with a lovely dinner lady for a sidekick, making a moral stand and attacking the authorities for being 'out of touch'. It is rich in authentic-looking emotion and feeling, which seems far more important nowadays than the small matter of it being rather thin on facts, evidence and argument. And it is conducted through the popular medium of reality television, which is where we are supposed to get our ersatz experience of real life today.
Readers of spiked will be familiar with the way that the 'Healthy Living' agenda often appears to dominate political debate, with one war after another being launched against junk food, passive smoking, binge drinking or unsafe sex. This is what one cabinet minister has called 'the new politics of behaviour', or what we prefer to characterise as the New Conformism. A central element is the attempt to make health into a moral issue. As Frank Furedi analyses on spiked this week, authorities who no longer feel able to condemn individuals' behaviour as immoral are now far more likely to criticise it as unhealthy (see Our unhealthy obsession with sickness). The sins of the flesh become recast as bad for the health - especially the health of our children.
Against the background of these unhealthy obsessions, Oliver's campaign has pressed all the right buttons for all the wrong reasons. It castigates school meals not just for being less than delicious, but essentially for being wicked, accusing them of destroying children's health, welfare and education. His criticism of what children eat is also an attack on allegedly irresponsible politicians, schools and parents. No wonder the health moralists lapped it up.
As Rob Lyons has shown, much of this stuff is simply a regurgitation of ill-founded contemporary prejudices against modern food and food production (see Hard to swallow ). Many of the 'facts' about junk food and kids that were presented in Oliver's programmes - and have subsequently been repeated everywhere else - have about as much basis in hard evidence as Blair's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Yet because it was presented by an impassioned 'ordinary' celebrity rather than a discredited politician, Jamie's line has been swallowed without question by almost everybody. Many who would be cynical about any government or corporate statement on food have suspended their disbelief for our man from the Sainsbury's ads. Oliver is the saleable face of the New Conformism.
This brings us to the next lesson of the Oliver episode for politics today. It has become accepted that all politicians are at best uninspiring accountants, at worst liars and sleaze-bags only in it for themselves. To be an effective political crusader, it seems, you must be outside politics. One self-righteous celebrity chef or angry patient waiting for an operation is considered likely to make more impact on the public mood than a dozen party speeches or poster launches. This is testimony to the low opinion we have of our leaders - and the even lower one they have of us.
Many have praised the 'authentic' character of Oliver's campaign, contrasting it with the artificial pre-election stunts of the major political parties. Writers have dreamt aloud of what a breath of fresh air Oliver would bring if he ran the country instead of Blair. One columnist spoke for many when he raved about 'one decent man's heroic battle against an uncaring, bureaucratic system. in a country which no longer values leadership, principles and standards' (1). Phew. And you thought it was just about Turkey Twizzlers.
Sensing that Oliver had struck a chord, politicians naturally sought to show that they were on his side. Blair declared that he was 'remarkable', children's minister Margaret Hodge praised him as 'fantastic' and claimed that the government had been working with him all along. New Labour was arguably justified in pointing out that its Healthy Living policies had laid the basis for this crusade; after all, the New Conformism was not invented by Oliver's TV programme. However, the anti-political mood that makes people warm to Oliver for supposedly 'keepin' it real' meant this tactic was doomed, and the politicians were roundly booed for trying to 'jump on Jamie's bandwagon'.
By this week, the government and opposition parties were all scrambling to show how much they care about school dinners. Meanwhile Oliver himself was announcing on his website that, as a result of his campaign, 'If changes are made it will only be months before British health, education and farming could be affected for the better. It could be one of the biggest food revolutions that England has ever seen'.
So the stagnation of political life in Britain has now come to this. A situation where public debate is so atrophied that a little issue such as the fat content of school dinners can rise to the top of the political agenda through the impact of a reality TV show and a poll on a celebrity website. Where a mixture of cynicism and childishness means that anything a politician says is treated as a con, while any emotional outburst aimed at politicians is treated as authentic. And where facts are apparently deemed less important than feelings.
It is a situation where a self-publicising millionaire chef elected by nobody is seen as more representative of 'the people' than those whom they voted to represent them. Where even political parties appear to value celebrity over conviction. Where horizons are so low that a campaign to raise the amount spent on school dinners by a few pence a portion can be hailed as the stuff of 'the biggest food revolution that England has ever seen'. And there I was, imagining that might have been the revolution in modern industrial (and yes, processed) food production that allowed us to drive hunger from our society, rather than Turkey Twizzlers from our schools.
Perhaps the great school dinners crusade will disappear down the political toilet as quickly as it rose up the agenda. Even if it does, there seem certain to be further helpings of junk politics before the general election.
7 April, 2005
FEMINISM COMPULSORY IN NORWAY
Norway will shut companies that refuse to recruit at least 40 per cent women to their boards by 2007 under an unprecedented equality drive, a cabinet minister said today. "Companies have been dragging their feet. They really have to recruit more women," Children and Family Affairs Minister Laila Daavoey said. "In the very worst case, they will face closure." Norway's parliament told firms in 2002 to ensure at least 40 per cent of each sex in boardrooms by mid-2005 to force corporate leadership to match Nordic traditions of sex equality elsewhere in society. Before today, however, Oslo had not spelt out sanctions for non-compliance. Many companies denounce the scheme as the toughest corporate sex equality goal in the world. "Since 2002 the percentage of women in boards has risen to only 11 per cent from six," Ms Daavoey said. "Yet there are thousands of qualified women out there - companies can choose from half the adult population."
Many European nations have more women in boardrooms than Norway and the male bastion is a paradox for a country where 40 per cent of the cabinet of Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and 37 per cent of parliamentarians are women. Ms Daavoey, who oversees sex equality rules, said that all state-controlled firms including oil group Statoil and telecoms firm Telenor had already complied. But many other firms are lagging, including energy and engineering group Aker Kvaerner or internet search group Fast. Many business leaders say the rules will force them to recruit ill-qualified women as quota fillers.
"If we can recruit women to our state companies why can't private businesses do it too?" Ms Daavoey said. She said the threat of closure was meant as a spur. "I don't believe that companies will get into a situation where they risk closure. Companies will obviously find women," she said.
HATRED OF CHRISTIANITY IN NYC
New York prides itself on being the most diverse city in America — “a gorgeous mosaic,” as Mayor David Dinkins used to say. Do traditional Christians have a place in that picture? Apparently not. King’s College, an evangelical school in the heart of New York City, is slated to be killed off by the New York State Board of Regents. But not without a fight. In fact, considering their outrageous treatment of this Christian school, New York State’s Board of Regents may find itself killed off instead.
King’s College is an evangelical Christian school that decided, in 1999, to move from the suburbs to the heart of the city. The idea was to prepare Christian students for positions of national leadership. King’s would focus its curriculum on a rigorous course of politics, philosophy, and economics, and would expose its students (many of them from red America) to a great financial, media, and intellectual center. Instead of giving up on American culture and hiving off into isolated communities, these Christians were determined to take high-quality religious education into the belly of the beast, so to speak. King’s College is now located in the Empire State Building. ...
King’s College has been accredited by the New York State Board of Regents for over 40 years, and all was on track for yet another renewal. After the college was scrutinized by the New York State Board of Education and an external site visit team, the Regents’ own Advisory Council recommended a five-year extension of King’s accreditation. So the stage was set for a fascinating experiment in higher education — an ultimate encounter of red and blue America.
That was until King’s College caught the attention of John Brademas, a quintessentially liberal politician, and one of the newest members of the State Board of Regents..... As soon as the question of King’s College’s accreditation came before the Regents, Brademas began to throw up a series of patently bogus objections, all of which were answered in the written material prepared by the Regents own Advisory Council. Brademas harped on the college’s small library — yet neglected to note that King’s is across the street from the Science and Business Branch of the New York Public Library, and seven short blocks from the library’s main building. That gives King’s a better library than all but a handful of colleges and universities in New York State.....
Maybe John Brademas can come up with a persuasive explanation for his objections to King’s College that does not involve anti-Christian bias. Yet so far, all signs point to the worst sort of blue-state bigotry. If Brademas had really wanted answers to his questions, he could have found them long ago in the materials prepared by the Regents’ own employees. Instead, for months, Brademas has recycled the same baseless charges. What’s more, even if Brademas’s charges were true, they all involve matters that, strictly speaking, are beyond the purview of the Regents. It seems that it’s acceptable for a Christian college to exist, so long as it stays nestled safely outside the cultural mainstream. Secularists and religious liberals have apparently claimed New York City as their inviolable capital.....
Everything about the Regents’ attempt to kill King’s College reeks of a politically motivated attack. In no case did the Regents show that King’s was out of compliance with any of their official accreditation standards. In fact, Joseph Frey, the state Education Department’s Assistant Commissioner of Quality Assurance, publicly stated that the college was in full compliance with the Regents’ standards. The Regents’ decision even violates their own guidelines. The Regents gave King’s only one year of accreditation. That is an effective death sentence, making it impossible to retain or attract faculty or students. Yet the Regents’ own parameters call for accreditations to be granted for a minimum of five years.....
John Brademas and the New York State Board of Regents had better wake up. This little battle is not going to go away. The Regents’ conduct is so far outside of even their own written standards that the legality of their assault on King’s is in question. The Center for Individual Rights, which litigated the Michigan affirmative-action cases before the Supreme Court, has offered its services to King’s College pro bono. (You can follow the King’s accreditation battle here.)
6 April, 2005
BERKELEY SHOULD BE RENAMED "WARDCHURCHILLIA"
Post from Claremont Inst.
"Parents, students and teachers at Berkeley's Thomas Jefferson Elementary School will soon vote on whether to rename their school because the nation's third president was a slave owner." This tiresome exercise in Orwellian revisionism again undermines knowledge of America and the conditions of freedom. Abraham Lincoln had the best defense of the honor paid to Jefferson:
"All honor to Jefferson-to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be rebuke and stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression." "(Letter to Henry Pierce, April 6, 1859)
May we all have Jefferson's "coolness" and "forecast." Even worse for the children attending the school will be the sort of history they are taught. Jefferson Elementary School is not the first to go through such a process. In 1999, Columbus Elementary School in West Berkeley was rebuilt after it was found to be seismically unsafe, and it was renamed Rosa Parks Elementary School - but only after intense debate about whether Cesar Chavez was a better alternative. Also, James Garfield Middle School was renamed after Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and Abraham Lincoln Elementary School was renamed for Malcolm X in the 1970s.
Berkeley California is named for George Berkeley, philosopher nad Anglican Bishop. He was also a slave owner and a Christian apologist for slavery. After coming to the colonies, Berkeley bought a plantation in Newport, Rhode Island-the famous "Whitehall." On October 4, 1730, Berkeley purchased "a Negro man named Philip aged Fourteen years or thereabout." A few days later he purchased "a negro man named Edward aged twenty years or thereabouts." On June 11, 1731, "Dean Berkeley baptized three of his negroes, 'Philip, Anthony, and Agnes Berkeley' ". Berekley's sermons explained to the colonists why Christianity supported slavery, and hence slaves should become baptized Christians: "It would be of advantage to their [slave masters'] affairs to have slaves who should 'obey in all things their masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, as fearing God;' that gospel liberty consists with temporal servitude; and that their slaves would only become better slaves by being Christian".
They need to change the town's name to something more appropriate like "Wardchurchillia".
MUSLIMS AS SACRED COWS (!)
A man who was made subject to an Anti-Social Behaviour Order for putting up a sign saying "porking yard" in his pub car park, because it was offensive to Muslims, today described the court action as "a joke". Leroy Trought, 42, was given a two-year Asbo at a hearing at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Monday. Magistrates ordered him to change the wording of the "porking yard" sign at The Swan With Two Necks in St Judes, Bristol, to "parking yard". He was ordered not to display any signs that may be threatening, abusive or insulting at the pub, which is next to a Somali mosque.
The order was sought by Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council after a series of complaints from residents in the St Judes area. A spokeswoman for Bristol City Council said: "The Asbo was sought after we received a number of complaints from the wider community who found the sign to be racially and sexually offensive."
But Mr Trought today said that imposing the Asbo was a joke. He said the sign was intended to commemorate the large number of butchers' shops that used to be located in the area and he had never intended to cause any offence. He said: "We ran a competition in the pub to think of a funny name for the car park and one of the customers came up with the name 'the porking yard'. "I grew up in Bristol so I know that this area has traditionally had a lot of butchers. It was always known as 'pork alley' so 'the porking yard' just seemed to fit. "There's a butcher across the street that has been here for more than 100 years. It's political correctness gone mad. "At the end of the day to receive an Asbo for this is a joke. We had no intention to cause any offence whatsoever. "What really annoys me is the complaints that the sign is sexually offensive. Well, I can't see anything sexual about it. The people who thought that must have dirty minds."
Somali-born Khalil Abdi, who is street warden in the area, said the sign was deliberately provoking the Muslim community. Speaking to the Bristol Evening Post, he said: "Because of my faith I am required to attend the mosque in the education centre to pray. "I regularly use the learning centre in Wade Street, which is near to the pub, with my fellow Somali friends. "Muslims do not eat pork but the sign has a picture of a pig and the words 'porking yard'. "My friends and I were angered and upset by the sign and we have welcomed the court ruling ordering the sign to be changed. I definitely think it is provocative and insulting to Muslims."
Beat manager Adrian Williams, of Avon and Somerset Police, welcomed the Asbo. He said he had received complaints about the sign from school teachers, community leaders and members of the Somali community. He said: "We are very pleased that the order has been made following complaints from the community."
5 April, 2005
AND SO IT GOES ......
What the do-gooders oppose today they may well be trying to impose tomorrow
Peanuts, a dietary outcast during the fat-phobic 1990s, have made a comeback, with consumption soaring to its highest level in nearly two decades and more doctors recommending nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet. When peanut butter and snack peanuts plummeted as Americans switched to lowfat diets, the peanut industry responded with studies showing the health benefits of peanuts. Total consumption of peanuts jumped last year to nearly 1.7 billion pounds, compared to 1.5 billion pounds the year before.
The amount of snack peanuts eaten climbed to 415 million pounds in the 2003-2004 crop year, the highest since the mid-1990s. And peanut butter consumption soared to 900 million pounds, from a low of about 700 million in the '90s. "Mothers gave us peanuts and peanut butter. Now, we've figured out that Mom was right. But it took a lot of researchers and universities to figure that out," said Don Koehler, executive director of Georgia's Peanut Commission.
The federal government's latest dietary guidelines say peanuts, which contain unsaturated fats, can be eaten in moderation. "Now we know that the type of fat found in peanuts is actually good for us," said Lona Sandon with the American Dietetic Association. "It doesn't clog our arteries like saturated fat. It helps keep the arteries clean." ......
When peanuts were out of favor in the last decade, American consumers seemed to overlook the respectable list of nutrients — vitamin E, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and minerals such as copper, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and magnesium. They also are a good source of fiber and protein. Peanuts also have a small amount of resveratrol, the antioxidant in red wine that has been linked to the "French Paradox" — a low incidence of heart disease among the French, despite their love of cheese and other high-fat foods. Research at several universities suggests peanuts may help prevent heart disease, that they can lower bad cholesterol and that they can help with weight loss, possibly by making people feel satisfied so they eat less overall. One Harvard study showed an association between peanut butter consumption and a reduced risk of diabetes.
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a qualified health claim for peanuts and some tree nuts. Producers can say they may reduce their risk of heart disease by eating 1 1/2 ounces daily. Anna Resurreccion, a University of Georgia food scientist, has focused her research on the resveratrol found in peanuts. By subjecting the nuts to stress — slicing the kernels, or subjecting them to ultrasound — the resveratrol level greatly surpassed that found in red wine, she said. This development opens the door for new products, such as enhanced peanut butter that could offer even more health benefits and serve as a way to get resveratrol into children's diets, she said. "Young children can't very well drink wine," Resurreccion said. "But most of them love peanut butter and peanut snack foods."
(An article by Charlotte Allen)
Harvard University President Lawrence Summers gave a speech in January speculating that innate differences between the sexes may have something to do with the fact that proportionately fewer women than men hold top positions in science. Even if you're not up on the scientific research -- a paper Mr. Summers cited demonstrating that, while women overall are just as smart as men, significantly fewer women than men occupy the very highest intelligence brackets that produce scientific genius -- common sense tells you that Mr. Summers has got to be right.
Unless you're at Harvard. There, the professoriate -- quickly joined by academics and media intellectuals from all over the country -- has deemed Mr. Summers' mild references to innate sex differences to have been so outrageous as to deserve severe censure. The reason? The statements violated the central tenet of feminist ideology: that the two sexes are intrinsically identical except for a few superficial physical characteristics and that any perceived differences between them can be blamed on sex discrimination and social conditioning. Scientific evidence to the contrary be damned; a feminist professor in Mr. Summers' audience announced that his remarks made her feel as though she was "going to be sick."
Recently, Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a vote of no confidence in Mr. Summers, the equivalent of demanding that he be fired. The measure carries no legal weight, but it is a damning indictment nonetheless. This despite the fact that Mr. Summers has apologized over and over for what he said. He's also set up two new "gender diversity" (that is, affirmative action) panels designed to boost the number of women on Harvard's science and engineering faculties. In short, he's made like Galileo shown the instruments of torture, except that, unlike Galileo, he's not muttering "e pur se muove" (but it still moves) under his breath. The parallel is apt, however. Doctrine -- in this case, feminist doctrine -- has trumped the scientific data.
Radical feminism has somehow become modernity's sole triumphant totalitarian ideology, at least in the universities and other elite-culture hothouses where it counts (the vast majority of women shun the label "feminist," but they don't control public discourse). As with the other leading totalitarian ideologies of our time, Marxism and National Socialism, the tenets of ideological feminism need not be argued but merely asserted -- and then enforced by any means necessary. Critical examination of those tenets is not permitted, as Mr. Summers has learned to his detriment.
On a university campus or on the pages of The New York Times (or Time or Newsweek) you are not allowed to question the feminist dogma that "gender" -- that is, the assertion of distinctive masculine and feminine traits -- is merely a social construction, and that all such reflect nothing more than a patriarchal society's behavioral dicta designed to weaken women and reinforce male hegemony. You must believe -- on pain of ostracism -- that most men have been socialized to ruthless competition and maladaptive hyper-aggression but can be changed with sufficient re-education, while most women have been socialized to a nurturing, pacifistic egalitarianism that society ought to make the norm for both sexes. These are non-negotiable propositions.
Of course, there is plenty of physiological and social-science evidence that the reality of gender is quite different from the ideological picture. Asserting that men and women are innately identical is, in strictly scientific terms, like asserting (as the Nazis did) that Jews are an inferior race or (as the Marxists did) that the history of the world can be explained as a process of class struggle.
Totalitarian ideology, however, is actively hostile to scientific inquiry and will seek to extirpate whatever scientific conclusions don't accord with it. In Stalin's Soviet Union, scientists went to the gulag for contesting Trofim Lysenko's rejection of Mendelian gene-based heredity, a rejection that was thoroughly unscientific but dovetailed nicely with the reigning Marxist effort to create a "new Soviet man" via collectivization and propaganda. Hitler's regime denounced both quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity as "Jewish physics" designed to contaminate pure Aryan thinking. Similarly, the American Sociological Association, in a clear rebuke to Larry Summers, issued a Lysenko-esque statement on March 8 declaring point-blank that "overriding social determinants," not "innate biological differences," provide "the most powerful explanation" why women are statistically overrepresented in some fields and underrepresented in others.
Indeed, academic sociologists have come up with an array of bizarre and elaborate theories blaming chauvinist society, not biology, for the dearth of women in top science jobs. One of those theories is something called "stereotype threat," developed by Stanford sociologist Claude Steele. The idea is that if a female student is viewed through the lens of a negative gender stereotype, she feels so much "anxiety" that, say, she flunks her math test. Another current theory holds that women in reality perform just as well as men, but we view them as less competent because we're prejudiced. Yet another theory is that, yes, biological differences between the sexes may exist but we should never talk about them because that could sap girls'self-confidence.
All this flies in the face of the fact that brilliant women have been winning Nobel Prizes in science since 1903, even during the bad old days when girls were discouraged and even forbidden from seeking advanced scientific education. "Stereotype threat" was not an impediment for Marie Curie. Genuine sex discrimination was the barrier that she had to overcome, of a kind that has not existed in American higher education for at least 30 years.
Wouldn't it be preferable, rather than pretending that the sexes are identical and interchangeable and blaming society for women's problems, to talk openly about men's and women's strengths and weaknesses (as groups, not as exceptional individuals) and explore rationally the reasons relatively few women seek scientific careers? The reasons probably range from slight variances between the sexes in the extremes of intellectual ability to the likelihood that some gifted girls find science and math just plain boring.
But don't count on that happening soon. The lesson that Larry Summers has taught us is that our academic and intellectual establishment is in the grip of a poisonous feminist ideology that will not tolerate open and rational discussion or genuine inquiry. Speak out, even in the gentlest possible way as Mr. Summers did, and you will have that entire establishment calling for your job.
4 April, 2005
Dog Torture Horror at Gypsy Site
From yesterday's "Daily Express" (not online)
"Horrified motorists watched as a dog was hanged from a tree and then stoned to death on an illegal gypsy site. Scores of witnesses called police as the lurcher struggled to free itself from the noose whilst several men stoned it with bricks and stones. Police arrived later and found the lurcher buried at the camp near Almondsbury, Glos".
The RSPCA says it blames Gypsies for a wave of animal cruelty in the area, but they are denying it.
The British government sometimes talks big but rarely actually does anything about gypsy practices. Let us see if the above incident energizes them. Most unlikely. Gypsies are a "victim" group, you see -- so are sacrosanct. In fact of course the real victims are ordinary English people (and animals) who are impinged on by Gypsy practices
SOME SENSE LEFT IN NEW YORK
A Queens landlord didn't cross-dress the line by ordering that men who dress as women not use the ladies' room, an appeals court ruled. The state Appellate Division made the finding in a ruling made public yesterday, where it dismissed a sex and gender discrimination suit filed by an AIDS awareness group against its Jackson Heights landlord. The Hispanic AIDS Forum said it was discriminated against after the landlord of its 37th Avenue offices backed out of a deal extending their lease "due to various complaints regarding the use of the bathrooms by its transgender clientele," the decision says.
The "transgender clients were using the common area restrooms that did not coincide with their biological sex" and "other tenants in the building were complaining," the ruling says. Those complaints included gripes from women working at a travel agency next-door that they "did not like 'those men that look like women using the bathroom,' " the decision says.
The landlord said it wouldn't renew the lease if the group didn't promise to stop their transgendered clients from using the ladies' room, and the organization refused and filed the discrimination suit, the decision says. But in a 4-1 ruling, the appeals court found they weren't discriminated against - they had just been "prohibited from using the restrooms not in conformance with their biological sex, as were all tenants."
THE AWKWARD FACTS ABOUT FOOD CORRECTNESS
It's undoubtedly a good thing to feed children the best food we can. But [U.K.] TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign for better school meals is being used as a weapon in a cultural war about what we eat.
Food is discussed in black-and-white terms. On the one hand, we have mass-produced convenience meals produced by large companies, designed to be dished up easily at your local takeaway, or bought by the car load from the supermarket down the road. On the other, we have local food bought daily from local shops, preferably organic and always freshly prepared. In this simplified and moralised version of reality, the industrialised food is 'bad'; the small-scale food is 'good'.
Jamie's School Dinners on Channel 4 made a number of assertions about the effects of processed food on children. According to the programme, children eating freshly prepared food are less likely to be obese, more likely to behave better, and have fewer asthma attacks. Most luridly, it claimed that some children were now so constipated that they were vomiting their own faeces, and that this new generation were the first expected to die before their parents. These claims deserve to be challenged because they create unnecessary fears about what we eat and, by implication, reflect badly on those who allow children to eat certain kinds of food.
There was little evidence presented in the programme that modern school dinners cause obesity - it was just assumed. Modern school meals may be highly processed, too reliant on salt and fat for flavour, and rather boring. But there is no such thing as 'junk' food. Our digestive systems do not distinguish between fish fingers and caviar. If food is a factor in rising obesity levels, this is due to the quantity being eaten, and the way it is consumed, rather than the way it is produced. And, as Peter Marsh from the Social Issues Research Centre points out elsewhere on spiked, the notion of an epidemic of childhood obesity bears little relation to what is actually happening: a very gradual rise in children's weight over the years, caused by a number of different changes in lifestyles.
There have been studies which suggest that malnourishment in early life can lead to anti-social behaviour later on. However, to extrapolate from these to children's diets in Britain today assumes that processed food is devoid of important nutrients. In fact, that much-maligned burger and chips has plenty of vitamins, minerals and protein. And children generally are consuming more fruit juices and fortified foods than before, topping up any deficiencies elsewhere in their diets. Commenting on one study, Dr Ann Hagell of the Nuffield Foundation told BBC News: 'In my experience diet is not part of the explanation. It can cause hyperactivity disorders, but anti-social behaviour is more influenced by parenting and genetics and teen peer pressure in teenage groups.'
Kirsty Jackson of Asthma UK told me that, while the organisation suggests that asthma sufferers have a balanced diet, and specific foods such as oily fish may be of some help, food is only occasionally mentioned as a trigger for attacks - and the foods mentioned were as likely to be 'healthy', such as bananas or cheese, as processed. Asthma may occur in people with an allergy to a particular foodstuff, but as an article in the journal Paediatrics notes, 'chronic or isolated asthma or rhinitis induced by food is unusual'
Constipation and vomiting
Is it really possible to vomit your own faeces? Not according to Professor Roy Pounder of Royal Free and University College medical school in London. What is possible is to regurgitate barely digested food in severe cases of constipation - but it's extremely rare. This regurgitated food might look like faeces, but it's not. 'I'm just finishing 25 years at the Royal Free Hospital', he told me, 'and with simple constipation I don't think I've ever seen it.. It's vanishingly unlikely for children to vomit from constipation. To reach the point of blocking to vomit, I would be looking for another reason for their vomiting'.
Children dying before their parents
This is the most astounding claim of all - and it is completely unsupportable. In the face of supposedly unhealthy modern diets and eating habits, life expectancies continue to rise. Yet this claim would suggest that children will die on average 20 years younger than their parents. There are circumstances in which this might occur, such as in the case of severe infectious disease - the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa being an example - but no serious commentator would suggest that obesity is going to be a killer of otherwise healthy young people in the way that AIDS is.
A more moderate interpretation of this claim is that this new generation of children will die at a younger age to their parents - ie, that average life expectancies will start to fall. A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that if obesity levels in the USA were to continue to rise at present rates, a fall in life expectancies of a few months might occur in decades to come - but even this idea is regarded as 'excessively gloomy' by an editorial in the same journal.
Overall, the suggestion from the programme was that we've been feeding our children what amounts to poison for the past few decades. That implies a pretty low opinion of parents - how could they allow this to happen?
When Oliver talks about the white working classes, he sounds like many health professionals trying to break into recalcitrant groups who resist modern health messages. In a recent webchat on the Channel 4 website, Oliver praised ethnic minorities as a potential model for a more civilised approach to food, but lambasted the white working classes: 'The sad thing is that generally ethnic kids and ethnic dinner ladies embrace either the cooking or the eating 10 times quicker than what we have learned to call "white trash". And you just thought it was on Jerry Springer! 'This doesn't mean they are bad people - far from it, just that ethnic minorities have a bigger sense of family, culture, have a use for the dinner table in the house and use food as a way of celebrating and communicating and being a family. It sounds very sad but in my experience it's totally true. But, it doesn't mean the harder kids won't get turned around, it just takes a little longer.'
When these arguments are presented by health authorities and food cranks, they often fall on deaf ears. They can have much more purchase when presented by the trendy, campaigning chef, who has become an empty vessel to be filled by the prejudices of our age. Add to this the extra emotional twist of children. 'You may have given up on eating proper food, but think of your kids', seems to be the message. Oliver's ideas resonate with aspiring parents from all walks of life who want something better for their children - a noble desire. But in the process, we're being sold dodgy arguments about health and food.
You would never know from Oliver's programme that our diets are now better and more varied than ever before, or that the industrialisation of food production and retailing has widened access to just the kinds of foods Oliver is so keen to promote. Olive oil, pesto or thai curry paste would be unavailable to the majority of the population were it not for greatly expanded production and big supermarkets. Using mealtimes to teach children about what to eat, and how to eat it, is a worthy cause - but let's cut the crap about the dangers of modern food.
3 April, 2005
"ZERO TOLERANCE" ON THE WAY OUT?
I wonder where all the Leftist champions of "tolerance" are on this one? All tolerances are obviously not equal
Unaware it had turned cool overnight, Eddie Evans's 12-year-old son bolted out of the house in shirt sleeves. He was on his way to the bus stop when his mother called him back for a jacket. In third period the boy discovered that the three-inch pocketknife he had taken to his last Boy Scout meeting was still inside his coat - a definite no-no under the school's zero-tolerance policy. Unsure what to do, he consulted a friend before putting the knife in his locker. The friend turned him in and, after lunch, police arrested him and took him to a juvenile-detention center without contacting his parents, according to senate testimony. Mr. Evans says the school then expelled his son for 45 days and enrolled him in an alternative school for juvenile offenders. By the end, the First Class Boy Scout, youth leader at church, and winner of an outstanding- student award was contemplating suicide. "All the teachers knew it was an honest mistake, but none of that mattered because of the school's policy," says Evans two years later.
Evans is one of the many parents who are trying to change the state's Safe Schools Act of 1995. In fact, Texas - one of the nation's toughest-minded states when it comes to crime and discipline - is now at the forefront of a small but growing movement to relax zero-tolerance policies enacted by states in the 1990s. More than a dozen bills that try to bring a less rigid approach to school discipline have been introduced in the Texas legislature this session, including one that requires school officials to consider a student's intent. The bill is currently moving through the House of Representatives. "We have seen a number of states toy with the idea of scaling back or trying to make the process of school discipline more rational," says Bob Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. "But Texas is ahead of the curve at this point."......
One former Katy, Texas, high school student says he understands that administrators are trying to create a safe environment, but that they are going too far. A sophomore in 2001, he was late to biology class one day and his teacher sent him to the office for a tardy slip. While he was gone, he says, she asked the class to turn in their spiral notebooks - but no one told him to turn in his notebook when he returned, and his grade dropped from a B to a C. So he scribbled her name on a piece of paper labeled "permanent list of people who piss me off" - a joke, he says. He then tore up the paper and threw it in the wastebasket. But by day's end, he was in handcuffs. He spent the night in juvenile hall, having been declared a "terrorist threat," and spent eight weeks in an alternative school. "Zero tolerance is an absolute joke," he says. "I understand that it makes teachers feel better, but it's making school almost like a prison."
THOU SHALT NOT SPEAK THE TRUTH
A student's bylined column in the Alhambra High School newspaper asserting that Latinos lag behind Asians academically because of a lack of parental support has led to an uproar on campus. Robin Zhou, the author of the column, has been threatened with bodily harm by other students, school authorities said. Teachers have held classroom discussions on the issue, sometimes expressing strong views themselves. One teacher reportedly scrawled "Racist' on the article and pinned it on the chalkboard. Opinions have generally converged along racial lines, with Asian students agreeing with the gist of the piece and Latinos questioning whether it should have been printed at all. Some Latino students and teachers wore brown to school Wednesday as a show of racial solidarity. Alhambra High School is 54 percent Asian and 38 percent Latino.
"He wrote an article saying that Mexicans are laggards,' said sophomore Janine Rubalcaba, who wore a brown T-shirt and cardigan Wednesday. "He can have his own opinion, but the school shouldn't let him write it. He should have kept it to himself if he thinks that about us.'
Despite the heated emotions and threats of violence, teachers and administrators say the controversy generated by the opinion piece has been a good thing for the school. "There is much greater awareness now. My goal is not to sweep this under the carpet and get everything back like it was. This is something that needs to be discussed,' said Principal Russell Lee-Sung.
In his "Nerd Rants' column in the March 22 issue of The Moor, Zhou claimed that cultural factors such as "Hispanic parents who are well-meaning but less active' help explain the gap in academic performance between Asians as a group and Latinos as a group. "Is this suggesting that brown people cannot think on the level of white and yellow people Absolutely not. But the difference is real, and it needs to be acknowledged and explained before it can be erased,' Zhou wrote. Zhou, a senior whom teachers and other students described as a science whiz with one of the highest grade-point averages in his class, could not be reached for comment.
Few of those who objected to the article disputed the existence of the achievement gap. What bothered them, they said, was the article's uncompromising tone and its reference to "brown people.' "The statement that was made about culture it's many factors. It's not black and white there are too many factors,' said Alejandra Perez, a Spanish teacher at the school. On average, Alhambra High School's Latino students score significantly lower than Asian students on standardized tests 767 on the API for Asians versus 610 for Latinos, for example. While 44 percent of the school's Asian students take all the courses needed for admission to the University of California system, only 9 percent of Latino students enroll in all of them.
The gap between the two races is not limited to the school or the district but is also apparent in county and statewide statistics. Alhambra administrators and district officials, including Superintendent Julie Hadden, have tried to address the problem with parenting classes and programs that target students with academic potential. But the performance gap had not previously been much of a topic of discussion among students, even though a glance around any Advanced Placement class shows that few Latino students are taking those challenging courses.
2 April, 2005
Kids are always going to want sweet things and parents are always going to give them stuff they want
Think Sesame Street's Cookie Monster and think ... broccoli? In a fit of drastic behavior modification, the cookie-addicted bundle of fur is declaring that cookies are, in fact, only a "sometime food." With any luck, the PBS kids show is onto something significant as it opens its 36th season next week: a new way to tackle childhood obesity affecting even preschoolers.
And growing fast. Wednesday, the new annual Index of Child Well-Being showed childhood obesity tripled to almost 17% in 2004 from 1975. The New England Journal of Medicine says about 10% of kids under 5 were overweight in 2000, a doubling in 30 years.
Sesame Street has taken note. While some cartoon characters - in Nickelodeon's LazyTown, for example - already encourage exercise, Sesame Street is going further by teaching healthy eating, active play and plenty of rest along with ABCs and 123s. Regulars Big Bird, Elmo and others are being joined by new vegetable Muppets. They'll encourage kids to "eat your colors," play the "healthy foods name game" and sing The Mango Tango. And they'll tackle one of the most painful repercussions of obesity in kids: teasing and bullying.
UNPLEASANT RESULTS OF "CORRECT" BEHAVIOUR
And this is the behaviour that many schools are now preaching to kids
A rare rare venereal disease, a bacterial infection of the anus and genitalia, is now "a significant" problem European homosexual men, a specialist journal has reported. The disease, Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), is caused by an invasive strain of chlamydia. Previously known only as a rare disease in poor countries, LGV was first reported in Europe in 2003, when an outbreak was detected among 100 gay men in Rotterdam, the April issue of Sexually Transmitted Infections reported. But LGV was now "a signficant problem" among homosexuals in Europe, the journal reported.
Outbreaks have occurred in Belgium, Germany, France and Sweden. And in January, the first 24 cases were reported in Britain, mostly from sexual health clinics in London, a tally that had risen to 34 by mid-February. Other cases have been recorded in the US - in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta. The British patients were all gay men, 17 of whom also had the AIDS virus. Four were also infected with hepatitis C. "It is likely that LGV has been present for some time in MSM (men who have sex with men) in the UK, with many cases going undiagnosed," the journal reported.
LGV is believed to be spread by unprotected anal sex, anal fisting and the shared use of sex toys. Symptoms include anal ulcers; rectal inflammation, pain and bleeding; constipation; abdominal pain; and sometimes a fever. A three-week course of antibiotics is usually sufficient to treat the infection. But if the primary ulcer goes untreated, chronic infection can follow, which can cause skin pouches, abscesses and a narrowing of the anus – an anal stricture – that may need surgery, the London-based journal reported.
1 April, 2005
HOMOSEXUAL CONSERVATIVES PERSECUTED BY THE LEFT
There is a rather nauseating story here about a Leftist homosexual who has got himself a lot of publicity by "outing" conservative homosexuals. A person's sex-life is a private thing and many homosexuals have good reason to want to keep that aspect of their life private. Keeping people from snooping into other people's bedrooms has in fact been a great Leftist cause for many years. But apparently you are allowed to snoop into the bedrooms of conservatives. And this disgusting Leftist publicity-seeker does more than just snoop. He even rings a "closeted" homosexual's employer to announce that the employee is homosexual. His latest caper is to threaten an employer with a boycott unless the conservative homosexual employee concerned shuts down his blog -- which the employee has now done. The latest updates on the story are here.
LEFTIST NONSENSE BOOMERANGS
The great criticism conservatives usually have of Leftist proposals is the all-too-foreseeable likelihood that they will lead to unintended consequences. So the absolute Leftist mania to the effect that nobody must be made to feel "uncomfortable" has now borne fruit -- with conservatives saying in effect: "Well, WE are not going to be made to feel uncomfortable either". Below is an examnple:
IMAX theaters in several Southern cities have decided not to show a film on volcanoes out of concern that its references to evolution might offend those with fundamental religious beliefs.
I suppose the AP meant to say "fundamentalist," since most people with fundamental religious beliefs, including the pope, believe in the theory of evolution. But what is more disturbing is that the theaters have made this decision simply because they are afraid someone might be offended. Not even a single protester needed to appear before the chilling effect of faith-based intolerance was felt.
Surely moviegoers deserve the right to decide for themselves what movies to see? "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea," according to the AP, "makes a connection between human DNA and microbes inside undersea volcanoes." It says that if life could evolve under such extreme circumstances, it might help us understand evolution all over the planet.
This is not a controversial opinion. The overwhelming majority of all scientists everywhere in the world who have studied the subject would agree with it. Although discussion continues about the mechanics of evolution, there is no reputable doubt about the existence of DNA and the way in which it functions.
Yes, there is "creationist science," an attempt to provide a scientific footing for beliefs that should be a matter of faith. Creationists say evolution is "only a theory" and want equal time for their theories, one of which is that God created the Earth from scratch in six days, and man on the seventh. Evolution is indeed a theory. Creationism is a belief, not a theory