POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH ARCHIVE
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
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31 January, 2005
WHAT EARTHLY LOGIC IS THERE IN THIS?
Teachers who hate kids is the only reasonable explanation for it
A Haverford High School honor roll student, known to all as a conscientious, high achiever, was suspended from school last week for taking what might be considered the equivalent of an aspirin. The suspension was based on a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy, which expressly forbids any form of self-medicating -- including use of over-the-counter products -- without proper authorization. The incident sparked an outraged response from parents, and raised questions about school policy.
It began innocently enough when a senior female student experiencing menstrual cramps asked a friend for a Tylenol or Advil. The classmate had none, but in an effort to be helpful, asked a third student, who supplied a generic form of Aleve. Aleve is a non-prescription strength form of Anaprox, sold over the counter as a fever reducer, and for temporary relief of minor aches and pains.
The young woman took the Aleve, but continued experiencing discomfort and went to the nurse. When questioned, the student told the truth and admitted obtaining Aleve from another student. An assistant principal was summoned to the scene.....
The Aleve affair was deemed a level 5 violation, subject to a maximum three-day suspension prior to a hearing with the principal. Both girls were sent home. Based on findings, initial suspensions may be extended, with possible referral to an assessment team, or the police when appropriate. Disciplinary actions are recorded on school records.....
ABORTION PROTEST ATTACKED AT LOUISIANA STATE UNVERSITY
Police sit on their hands until complaints are made about them
Outraged pro-life advocate Mary Higdon sat on the Parade Ground on Monday afternoon to guard the now-defaced tribute to aborted babies. Police recommended she get some kind of security to prevent further vandalism of her exhibit - she said she was all the security she could afford. Vandals allegedly stole and damaged 3,000 of the 4,000 crosses set up on the Parade Ground this past weekend to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the court case that legalized abortion 32 years ago. Although police say the investigation is still on-going, cross owners are saying police are not taking the vandalism seriously enough. Higdon said there are probably about 1,000 crosses left on the grounds.
Shortly after 12 a.m. Monday, an LSUPD officer saw five individuals removing crosses from the Parade Ground. LSUPD Maj. Ricky Adams said the officer identified them and ordered them to leave. He said the officer did not arrest the individuals, but the investigation is still on-going. Adams said he anticipates the police department will issue charges of criminal mischief or damaged property later this week.
But Higdon, a psychology senior and president of Students for Life - an anti-abortion campus organization - said Monday was not the first instance of vandalism since the group set up the 4,000 crosses Saturday morning. Higdon said over the weekend, people stole and burned clusters of crosses, spelled out "pro-choice" in broken crosses, spray painted part of the exhibit and placed hangers - an old symbol of illegal abortion - on the grass. "This is not a game," Higdon said, "this is private property."
The crosses, which were on loan from St. Mary and St. Joseph Family Memorial Foundation, cost $3 a piece to make, Higdon said. Richard Mahoney, president of the foundation, said they have been lending crosses to Students for Life for 10 years and that vandalism has occurred before, but never like this. Mahoney is furious, and said that if LSUPD does not handle the situation justly, he has lawyers prepared to file suit. "Defacing a religious symbol is a hate crime," Mahoney said. Mahoney said the vandals damaged more than $9,000 worth of private property, which should be prosecuted as a felony.
But Adams said there is no way of knowing who took what, so the identified individuals probably will be charged with misdemeanor charges.
Mahoney said that if a Jewish or other religious minority group set up an exhibit that vandals defaced, such as the Star of David, the act would not be tolerated. He said a Christian organization should not have to tolerate it either. "This is not just a couple of broken crosses," he said. "This is a symbol of our faith. They spit on Christ, his church and his people."
30 January, 2005
JUSTICE FOR VICTIM OF FEMINIST ATTITUDES
The woman is always right -- so right as to prejudice justice. Encouraging people to make accusations was scandalous for a start and should have caused any resultant case to be thown out of court. The guy was probably lucky no publicity-seeking woman came forward
A San Marino High School girls' basketball coach publicly identified as a sexual molestation suspect but never charged was awarded a total of nearly $4.5 million Thursday in compensatory damages. A second phase of the trial to determine if punitive damages will be awarded to Patrick Gillan on top of that gets under way Thursday afternoon.
Gillan sued San Marino, its police department and several officers, who held a news conference to identify him -- and ask any other supposed victims to come forward -- after he was taken into custody in December 2001. His mug shot displayed that day was shown on TV and printed in several newspapers. No charges were ever filed against the coach, who was put on paid suspension during the investigation and reclaimed his job two months later.
In his lawsuit, filed in May 2002, Gillan alleged defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from false arrest. In the initial verdict phase, a Los Angeles jury awarded Gillan $1,937,000 for past damages, and $2,516,000 for future loss of earnings -- which totals $4,453,000. Gillan had asked for $1.2 million to $3.8 million for past damages, and $900,000 to $3.6 million for future damages. The jury will now decide if Gillan is due punitive damages from the officers involved in calling the news conference.
The officers contend they were just doing their job by investigating a legitimate claim -- made by Taylor Bouchard, who by then was in college. Bouchard, who graduated from San Marino High in June 2001 and is now 21, testified in the civil trial and still contends she was sexually molested when she was 17. According to court papers, Gillan was released immediately after being booked by San Marino police, and the paperwork stated only that he had been "detained." Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O'Brien, who presided over the trial, ruled Thursday that there was no probable cause for the arrest. The department continued to investigate Bouchard's claims, and in February 2002 the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decided not to prosecute Gillan. Bouchard and her mother were named in the Gillan lawsuit, but as part of a settlement deal eventually were dropped as defendants.
A Brentwood school principal's decision to expand a student recognition program has drawn the ire of some parents who say the changes will reward academic mediocrity. Like many Brentwood schools, Ron Nunn Elementary has traditionally celebrated fourth- and fifth-graders' academic accomplishments through the Golden Circle program, which recognizes students for earning A's and B's.
The new Eagle Society program will continue to recognize top students, but also honor the personal and nonacademic accomplishments of all students, kindergarten through fifth grade, principal Jim Musante said. It would be possible for students who earned less than A's and B's to earn recognition, but special award certificates would be reserved for A and B students, Musante said. Last year, about one-third of 240 students earned Golden Circle recognition, Musante said. The new program will "broaden tremendously" the number of students being recognized, he said. "The students have to demonstrate the qualities we're looking for. (We're giving awards) for real and meaningful reasons, and not just give them out willy-nilly."
The Eagle Society has already angered some parents who say it sends a message to students that average is acceptable. The flap has prompted the school, which has 700 students, to postpone Friday's kickoff recognition assembly to Dec. 3. "Why strive for A's when C's are OK at Ron Nunn?" parent Erica Ginter said. "It's taking political correctness over the edge. You try so hard not to hurt anyone's feelings, and you do a disservice to everyone." Kathy Morford's daughter was in tears when she received her report card Nov. 10. "My daughter who got straight A's was slapped in the face" by changing the program without notifying students and parents, Morford said.
The school must recognize the accomplishments of all students -- not only those with top grades, Musante said. Eagle Society is part of the school's effort to promote student respect and responsibility through a Peacemakers program, and encourage broader peer understanding by grouping classrooms into six "families" -- a cluster representing all grade levels. "We're trying to broaden (the awards). It was much more narrow in the past, but is now more inclusive. It will not in any way take away from academic excellence (recognition),"Musante said.
The principal noted he could not bear to see the disappointment of students who did not win awards. "There were some kids who looked at you ... and those faces. It became a has or has-not situation. We want all of our kids to be honored," Musante said.
Parent Lori Dunton likes the idea of broader recognition, but she worried that school officials are not pushing students to do their best. "You work hard to get bonuses or promotions in the real world," Dunton. "We're setting our kids up to be failures. ... You build self-esteem through hard work, and helping students to the best they can be."
29 January, 2005
DISRUPTIVE DEMONSTRATIONS CORRECT
Unless you are opposing abortion, of course
It sometimes pays incredibly well to be a protester in the city, as seven complainants discovered this week after the D.C. government agreed to ease their long-term distress with $425,000. The settlement goes back to demonstrations waged against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on Sept. 27, 2002, when D.C. police made mass arrests at Pershing Park, east of the White House. The settlement also calls for police Chief Charles H. Ramsey to write letters of apology to each of the seven. The pact, fortunately, stops short of requiring Mayor Anthony A. Williams to hold a ticker-tape parade in their honor.
It is, of course, almost an American pathology to be heard in a public forum, no matter the obscurity of the cause or absence of logic. Many of the protesters who descend on the nation's capital like the plague are a motley crew of anarchists, conspiracy theorists, peace activists, socialists, left-wing extremists, environmentalists and garden-variety loonies with nothing better to do than shout and be noticed. They take up good taxpayer money and the precious time of overworked law-enforcement agencies in order to get the word out about their life-changing political views.
They do so without regard to cost and a city's quality of life. They do so without consideration for the law-enforcement agencies, whose overtime duty has skyrocketed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Their need to be heard is all-powerful, their level of self-absorption matched only by their egos. These demonstrations sometimes turn nasty and destructive, as those emboldened by the protective cover of a crowd are apt to exceed the peaceful intentions of others.
The police, there to protect life, liberty and property, mostly have a thankless mission. The line between the First Amendment rights of the protesters and the property and safety rights of the innocent can be awfully gray. In this instance, police crossed the line, and the aggrieved seven, among the masses arrested and detained that day, have the healing power of $425,000, courtesy of the legal work of the American Civil Liberties Union. The real loser in this settlement is not the D.C. government. It is the average resident who lives in this increasingly cordoned-off city, who is inconvenienced by these events and then handed the bill. The bill is liable to grow, with three other ACLU lawsuits still pending
Fast food obesity lawsuit threatens consumers, rule of law: "Yesterday's reinstatement of the obesity liability lawsuit against McDonald's resurrects another trial lawyer campaign that undermines personal responsibility and jeopardizes consumer choice, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. 'If obesity lawsuits succeed, they will turn all Americans into 'victims,' incapable of bearing responsibility for personal choices,' said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. 'Such lawsuits may benefit trial lawyers, but they'll hurt consumers on limited budgets who will be forced to pay higher food prices,' said Kazman."
Dat grand ole double standard again: "Earlier this month, Harvard University president Lawrence Summers suggested that male-female differences in math and science achievement might have biological causes. Angry professors in his audience walked out, alumni threatened to withhold donations, and Summers was forced to issue several solemn apologies. So let's suppose that he had proposed a biological basis for sexual orientation, not for math and science ability. Would anyone have objected? Of course not. ... Most professors -- myself included -- are zealous proponents of equal rights for homosexuals. Some Christian conservatives claim that gays can be converted into straights through a combination of religion and therapy. So good-hearted academics often embrace the possibility of a so-called gay gene, if only to rebut this right-wing attack. When it comes to gender, however, biological explanations are taboo among my academic colleagues."
28 January, 2005
An email from an Anesthesiologist in the "Deep Redneck South"
As the father of a Sociology professor (age 33), I have a great interest in Harvard President Larry Summer's recent comments about "inherent differences" between men and women. Prof Nancy Hopkins from the Biology Department at MIT was so "nauseated" by Summers's comments that she stormed out of the room and called the Boston Globe -- which then took the ball and ran with it.
This was part of a discussion concerning the larger numbers of men in the "hard sciences". My sociologist daughter believes there is "sexist bias" at work. She was terribly upset when I sent her a column from the Wall Street Journal questioning the "wisdom" that "sexist bias" was responsible for the differences discussed by Dr. Summers. My other daughter, aged 25, has a great job as a computer programmer; the only thing she complains about is working too hard, and that the "evil corporations" are making too much money. These two just don't have a clue - after all the effort I and their mother have put into their education, we would be the last people to want them to be treated as second class citizens at work.
Judith Kleinfeld, from University of Alaska Fairbanks has followed Prof Hopkins's on-going career of complaining about "gender bias" that led to an investigation of "gender bias" at MIT - and found NOTHING. But Prof Hopkins continues to complain that "it's out there" even if there is NO EVIDENCE. Perhaps she believes in ghosts and flying saucers as well.
Here in the "Deep Redneck South" - people are pretty conservative - even those who vote Democratic. In our institution (a hospital), we treat women as equals - often better. We help women take time off to take their children to dance recitals etc. Doctors and nurses are mothers too - it's just the right thing to do. Of course, some take advantage of it.
So here in the "Deep Conservative Redneck South", we have achieved "gender equity". In contrast, in the liberal world of Sociology (last count - between 10:1 and 30:1 liberal, according to David Horowitz), there is "gender bias". GASP! Could it possibly be true? Conservatives are more "sensitive" to women than liberals?
NEW PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS OVER HOMOSEXUALITY
Illinois churches are protesting a new state law that bars them from "discriminating" against homosexuals, contending it robs Christians of their First Amendment freedoms. Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the bill into law yesterday amid a demonstration led by the Illinois Family Institute, or IFI, a non-profit group affiliated with Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Alliance Defense Fund. The measure adds "sexual orientation" to the state law that bars discrimination based on race, religion and similar traits in areas such as jobs and housing.
The bill was signed to loud cheers and a standing ovation from about 150 homosexual-rights supporters who see it as a human-rights issue. "This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against," Blagojevich said in a statement. "What we're doing today is older than scripture: Love thy neighbor," the governor told the audience yesterday, according to the Associated Press. "It's what Jesus said when he gave his Sermon on the Mount: 'Do unto others what you would have others do unto you."' Illinois is the 15th state to prohibit discrimination based on "sexual orientation."
But IFI Executive Director Peter LaBarbera notes the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago, is on record stating it should be applied to churches, meaning they would not be allowed, for example, to reject a job applicant who practices homosexual behavior. Ronen said: "If that is their goal, to discriminate against gay people, this law wouldn't allow them to do that. But I don't believe that's what the Catholic Church wants or stands for." LaBarbera argues politicians who don't view homosexuality as a sin have no right to take away the freedom of churches and people of faith to disagree. "Since when do politicians get to interpret sacred religious teachings for the rest of us?" he said.
The law applies to organizations or businesses with more than 15 employees. LaBarbera points out the Illinois law firm Ungaretti & Harris, which specializes in labor and employment issues, published an analysis of the measure, which says, "While many such municipal prohibitions on sexual orientation discrimination expressly exempt religious organizations from their coverage, the new amendment to Illinois' Human Rights Act does not." ...
Commented LaBarbera: "There is no societal consensus for homosexuality, bisexuality or transsexuality as the basis for civil rights -- and certainly none for the idea that the 'rights' of homosexual should trump those of churches and people of faith to live our their rational belief that homosexuality is unnatural, wrong and harmful to those who practice it."
TOPLESS SUNBATHING PUSH IN CALIFORNIA
Topless women on the beach in Australia are ho-hum these days but the grounds being used to argue for the same permission in Calfifornia deserve a second look:
"A Ventura California female lawyer is attempting to make the case that the state is discriminating against women. How so? Because topless sunbathing by women is a criminal misdemeanor - for men it is not......
The Governor of California - Arnold Schwarzenegger took the all-too-courageous position of declining any comment on the possibility of a state wide legal standard being changed. State law enforcement officials confirmed that there is already a series of beaches where some topless bathing is already "allowed" even though laws forbid it.....
Johnsson is making a dreadful mistake - especially to her own cause. It is painfully obvious to me that Ms. Johnsson has fully accepted and in fact become the advocate of the fullest feminist expression. Men and Women are not equal - they are the same. Feminists don't desire to be treated equally, they wish to be completely interchangable. For women like Ms. Johnsson her greatest wish is not so much to be celebrated as a woman - so much as it is the allowance of all who she comes into contact with to be allowed to leer at her as though she is a sexual object.
And here you find feminism's great lie...in the name of being the same as man - allow women to be reduced to an object of sexual curiousity.
27 January, 2005
UPCOMING FILM EXPOSING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
On the road with Mr. Maloney across the country, the viewer watches an economics professor from Mr. Maloney's alma mater, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, explain to the filmmaker that most white students at the school are "unconsciously racist" and that much of the "cutting-edge" work in his field is "being done in feminist economics."
Mr. Maloney then turns his camera to the case of Steve Hinkle. A student at California Polytechnic State University, he was disciplined by school officials after posting a flyer promoting an upcoming speech by a black conservative who equated welfare and slavery. The school dropped charges against Mr. Hinkle only after a civil-liberties organization sued, saying the university was violating freedom of speech.
To top it off, Mr. Maloney interviews Sukhmani Singh Khalsa of the University of Tennessee, a Sikh convert who received a death threat by e-mail from another student angry over his conservative opinion pieces in the student newspaper. The university refused to punish the author of the e-mail, who called Mr. Khalsa a "towel head" and reportedly urged students to shoot the student in the "face."
"The problem on campus becomes who defines harassment," Mr. Maloney said in a recent interview with The New York Sun. "Who on campus is going to stand up to a multicultural office or a diversity office?"
One of the more amusing scenes in the film comes when Mr. Maloney stops by the office of Cal Poly's president, Warren Baker - in a "Roger and Me" moment - for an impromptu interview, only to be herded away by a grouchy assistant. Not a single university administrator has agreed to appear in the New Yorker's film....
At the time, Mr. Maloney had already gained some notice from the press with his 6- or 7-minute documentary shorts on left-wing protesters. He videotaped antiwar demonstrators in New York in 2003 providing silly answers to questions about how America ought to deal with Iraq. He recorded a rowdy pro-Palestinian protest at Rutgers University, where one speaker screamed, "Long live the intifada," and another protester whispered to Mr. Maloney on camera: "Are you nervous?"....
When he's interviewing on campuses, he wears a black T-shirt, loose-fitting Gap jeans, Rockport shoes, and, sometimes, a Yankees baseball cap that makes him look like an Irish version of the pitcher Mike Mussina. When he interviews would-be hostile subjects, Mr. Maloney puts on a blank face and speaks with a deadpan, dry delivery. "The most effective way is to ask very simple, basic questions, so they don't think I dislike them," he said, "because I don't dislike them as people. I may not agree with their viewpoints."
It's an interview tactic he used effectively on a Bucknell professor, Geoffrey Schneider, the faculty member who spoke about his students' unconscious racism. In an interview with the Sun, Mr. Schneider said he was "basically manipulated into appearing" in Mr. Maloney's film. "I was told originally I was going to be interviewed for a film about professors' academic freedom and attempts to censor professors," he said.... "It's silly to say our curriculum is politically correct and biased in favor of liberal ideas, and then to use as an example what is taught in one day, in one course," Mr. Schneider said.
He stands by his comments on student racism: "Everybody comes from a specific background, and Bucknell students tend to be white upper-income. If they are white upper-income, they come with certain baggage" - such as negative stereotypes about black Americans. "One of the things we try to do, which so angers conservative students, is to unpack these biases that we all have, to try to analyze them for what they are," he told the Sun.
For Mr. Maloney, the professor's comments are the type of thinking that provoked him into making the film in the first place. "He doesn't see political correctness as a problem," Mr. Maloney said.
POLITICALLY CORRECT RACISM
Ridiculing the Japanese is OK
I only recently noticed the campaign charging racism in Lost in Translation, the 2003 film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. The allegations were a complete surprise to me because I rather enjoyed this movie about a story of two Americans lost in Tokyo - without even suspecting such vocal objections could be raised.....
Obsessively criticizing Bill Murray's passing comment about the Japanese mixing up L's and R's is absurd. The scene lasted a few seconds in the film. I did notice some stereotypical scenes in the beginning, like the tall Murray surrounded by drab-looking Japanese businessmen in the elevator. But overall, the film was almost devoid of the cliches I've grown sick of, such as the obligatory crowded-train scene and "Japanophile" proverbs. In particular, the film depicted Tokyo as a vast, superclean, high-tech metropolis. The Tokyo I know is uglier and more cluttered than that. And its portrayal of fun-loving youth singing and drinking was refreshing.
Some newspaper and web reviews criticize Lost in Translation as if it were a new monument in anti-Japanese stereotyping. When the film Rising Sun opened in 1993, it was immediately seen, correctly, as a propagandistic portrayal selling the derogation of the Japanese as entertainment, and it drew protestors. The film stands, as did Breakfast at Tiffany's of the 1960s, as a touchstone of cinematic stereotyping.
To overly focus on Coppola's film is unwise because it tends to divert attention from films that require it, like Steven Spielberg's new Memoirs of a Geisha. It is based on the bestselling 1997 novel in which every plot component was designed to demonize the Japanese. Professor Anne Allison of Duke University wrote that the book "inspired [readers] to see Japanese men as sexual perverts."
Cross burnings and racially motivated hate crimes are easy to recognize, but a form of prejudice that is becoming increasingly prevalent is "politically correct racism" - a more sophisticated version that disguises itself as "concern for human rights," "equality for women," "historical justice," etc. The New York Times has refined the technique of turning Japan-bashing into often-entertaining articles, until it finally elicited a book-length rebuttal from American and Japanese scholars and journalists, entitled Japan Made in the U.S.A.
PREACHER SEEKS FREE SPEECH
During oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals this morning, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund asked the justices to declare the University of Arkansas' restrictions on outside speakers unconstitutional. "We believe that where a person is lawfully upon public property, that person has a legal right to speak," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Nathan Kellum. "We are optimistic that the judges understood our issues, and we look forward to their ruling on this important free speech case."
The case, Gary Bowman v. Dr. John A. White, et al., originally filed October 1, 2003, involves a Christian man, Gary Bowman, who has shared his faith with passersby on public grounds at the university since 1998. Though the university has always required permits for his speech, school officials implemented a stricter policy in August 2001. "The university apparently implemented its more restrictive policy specifically to curb the frequency of Bowman's speech on the campus of the U of A," Kellum explained. "Under these regulations, Mr. Bowman may exercise his First Amendment rights just 15 days a year, and then only if the university says he may."
The school's policy imposes a cap of five visits per semester without student sponsorship and requires advance notice of three days. In addition, the university may cancel or modify any reservation and completely bans non-university speech during designated "dead days" of the university's choosing.
Kellum explained that, under the Constitution, Bowman should be allowed to hand out literature and hold a sign on public plazas, malls, and sidewalks, including the three areas the university has designated as "speech areas." ... "For fear of arrest, Mr. Bowman has been forced to stop speaking at the U of A. That's not the sort of thing that should happen on a public university campus in America," Kellum said. "ADF is fighting to ensure that Bowman and all people of faith in this country are able to exercise their right to free speech and religious expression without excessive government interference," Kellum added. "Americans should not be forced to relinquish their first liberty."
26 January, 2005
MALE-FEMALE ABILITY DIFFERENCES
On Jan. 14, Lawrence H. Summers, who is (at least for now) the president of Harvard University... attempted to explain why there are so very few women holding senior academic positions in math, physics, engineering and technology. He began by observing that women with children may be less willing to put in the long hours required to achieve top positions in those fields. But he went on to question whether, perhaps, women just aren't cut out for the hardest of hard sciences, that maybe there are "innate differences" between male and female brains that render most women incapable of doing really tough math.
"Intellectual tsunami" is one description for what's happened in the days since Summers' remarks became public. The left protested vociferously. The right defended him, citing tidbits of research. Thus conservative columnist Linda Chavez placed great weight on a Johns Hopkins study that showed that among gifted pre-adolescent children, boys outperformed girls in math 13 to 1. In an effort to stem the waves of anger, Summers apologized in person to a group of women professors Thursday.
In fact, the evidence does not support the idea that innate differences are at fault.... The most important breakthrough has been the discovery that the various regions of the brain develop in a different sequence in girls. Researchers at Virginia Tech used sophisticated electrophysiologic imaging to examine brain development in 508 normal children — 224 girls and 284 boys — ranging from 2 months to 16 years. These researchers found that while the areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills (such as handwriting) mature about six years earlier in girls, the areas involved in math and geometry mature about four years earlier in boys.
The real problem is not with the different mental capacities of boys and girls but with the way they are taught. Most girls attend coed schools in which girls and boys study the same subjects in the same sequence. Too often, the result of that kind of gender-blind education is that by age 12 the girls think they're no good at math and never will be. The irony is that many of those girls might be math prodigies, if only they were taught in schools whose curriculum was tailored to the individual.
All-girls schools hold great promise for eliminating the gender imbalance in math and science. A study of graduates of girls' high schools in the United States found that 13% went on to major in hard sciences and math, compared with only 2% of girls who attended coed schools. In other words, girls who attend all-girls schools are more than six times as likely to earn degrees in the very subjects about which Summers professes concern.
This guy has certainly got part of the story -- a part that will NOT suit feminists who claim that men and women are born the same -- but he omits to mention that the same male/female differences in ability have long been known in adults too. In fact, slower maturation of an ability is a good sign of lesser final potential in that area. Intelligence was in fact originally measured in terms of "mental age" -- indicating that abilities progressed in a similar way with everyone but that some people progressed much more slowly or quickly than others. The slower progressing ones of course always ended up with lower scores as adults
MORE NAUGHTY MALE/FEMALE DIFFERENCES
"Men frequently despair at women's map-reading skills - or rather their lack of them. Now scientists believe they have pinpointed the reason for this conflict between the sexes.Researchers say it is all down to differences in the reliance of the sexes on either grey matter or white matter in their brains to solve problems.
They found that in intelligence tests men use 6.5 times as much grey matter as women, but women use nine times as much white matter. Grey matter is brain tissue crucial to processing information and plays a vital role in aiding skills such as mathematics, map-reading and intellectual thought. White matter connects the brain's processing centres and is central to emotional thinking, use of language and the ability to do more than one thing at once.
Professor Rex Jung, a co-author of the study at the University of New Mexico, said: "This may help explain why men tend to excel in tasks requiring more local processing, like mathematics and map-reading, while women tend to excel at integrating information from various brain regions, such as is required for language skills. "These two very different pathways and activity centres, however, result in equivalent overall performance on broad measures of cognitive ability, such as those found on intelligence tests."
Previous studies have shown that women have weaker spatial awareness than men, making it harder for them to read maps. Research has also found that in childhood, girls' vocabulary develops more quickly and that in later life women can speak 20,000 to 25,000 words a day compared to a man's 7000 to 10,000.
For the study, published in the online edition of the journal NeuroImage, researchers performed a series of brain scans on 26 female and 22 male volunteers using magnetic resonance imaging equipment. All the volunteers were in good health, had no history of brain injury and the average IQ scores of the two sexes were similar. Their brains were scanned while they carried out tests designed to assess their general intelligence. Researchers then created a map of a brain showing the varying levels of activity in the brains of men and women. About 40 per cent of the human brain is grey matter and 60 per cent white matter."
Feminist fog: "Common sense, in its admittedly rough and ready form, has always revealed that men and women are different in certain crucial enough respects. The question is, 'In just what respects and why so?' It is no good saying, 'Society made them different,' because then that needs to be explained. And answering that 'Men have managed to conspire to keep women different -- say, in steering them away from the sciences, politics, business and so forth' -- doesn't work either because that, too, begs the question: 'How did men manage such a feat unless there is something inherently different between the sexes, even if that is that men are meaner, women are kinder?'"
25 January, 2005
CHRISTIANS GETTING FED-UP
Church-going Americans have grown increasingly intolerant in the past four years of politicians making compromises on such hot issues as abortion and gay rights, according to a survey released on Saturday. At the same time, those polled said they were growing bolder about pushing their beliefs on others -- even at the risk of offending someone.
The trends could indicate that religion has become "more prominent in American discourse ... more salient," according to Ruth Wooden, president of Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research organization which released the survey. It could also indicate "more polarized political thinking. There do not seem to be very many voices arguing for compromise today," she said in an interview. "It could be that more religious voices feel under siege, pinned against the wall by cultural developments. They may feel more emboldened as a result."
The November U.S. election saw voters in a number of states back gay marriage bans, and President Bush won re-election with heavy support from fellow religious conservatives.
The findings came from a telephone survey of 1,507 adults made in 2000 and a second similar survey of 1,004 adults done during the summer of 2004 that tracked the same issues. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Those surveyed were nearly all Christians, not by design but because the sample reflected the makeup of the population, the group said. A 2002 Pew Research Council survey found that 82 percent of the U.S. populace considered itself to be Christian, while 10 percent identified with no religious group. On the question of whether elected officials should set their convictions aside to get results in government, 84 percent agreed in 2000. However, four years later that had dropped to 74 percent. There was a sharper decline on the same question among weekly church-goers from 82 percent in the first survey to 63 percent in the second. About 40 percent of Americans claim to be weekly church-goers, according to Corwin Smidt, director of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Michigan. Some surveys have placed the figure at 25 percent.
In the survey, 32 percent of those who attended church once a week said they were willing to compromise on abortion issues -- a 19-point drop in four years. Among the same group the question of compromising beliefs on gay rights was acceptable to only 39 percent, down 18 points from 2000. The poll also found that 37 percent overall felt that deeply religious people should be careful not to offend anyone when they "spread the word of God," a decline from 46 percent four years earlier. The number of those who felt that committed faithful should spread the word "whenever they can" rose to 41 percent, up 6 points.
On another issue, the survey found little change in opinion on whether the U.S. political system can handle greater interaction between religion and politics. Asked if there was a threat if religious leaders and groups got a lot more involved in politics, 63 percent in 2000 and 61 percent in 2004 said the system could "easily handle" it. But the remainder continue to believe the system would be threatened.
BRITISH GOVERNMENT PROMOTES HOLLOW BRITISHNESS
The government has announced that it may introduce citizenship ceremonies for all 18-year-olds, in which they would take an oath of allegiance to the Queen, listen to speeches and receive certificates to mark their coming-of-age as British citizens. This is part of an official drive to improve 'community cohesion' - which, decoded, means that ministers are frightened rigid by growing tensions between Britain's different ethnic groups and the prospect of national unity breaking down. As ever, though, they have taken a serious problem, failed to address it properly then attempted to cover up this failure by a prime example of gesture politics.
Its concerns about 'community cohesion' were ignited by the race riots in northern towns such as Bradford and Oldham in 2001, when Muslims, Hindus and whites fought each other on the streets. A subsequent consensus held that the problem was caused by a serious lack of integration by the Muslim community, which was in turn used by neo-Nazi groups to whip up racial hatred. This lack of integration was highlighted this week when David Bell, Chief Inspector of Schools, expressed concern that many Muslim schools were not teaching their children how to live in a liberal, pluralist society. But instead of tackling this difficult problem upfront, the Government is pretending it doesn't exist by producing a cosmetic citizenship ceremony which all 18-year-olds will be expected to undergo.
Although this initiative has been devised specifically to deal with the problem of certain minorities, ministers are too frightened to say so. As a result, the rest of the population are to be employed as ethnic camouflage. But in doing so, the Government is in effect calling into question the patriotism and sense of national allegiance of people for whom loyalty to this nation is axiomatic.
The ceremony is being dressed up as a rite of passage into adulthood, marking the young person's right to vote and achievement of greater social and economic independence. This is both patronising and intrusive. And what would happen if the young person did not attend such a ceremony? Would he or she be any less of a British citizen as a result?
The Home Office is thinking of making the ceremony compulsory. Is there not something deeply offensive - even sinister - about forcing everyone to take such a loyalty oath? In any event, national loyalty cannot be manufactured by a ceremony. Before a country can expect newcomers to subscribe to its values, it must believe in them itself. Citizenship cannot exist without a firm and positive sense of national identity, common values and purpose. As it so often does, the Government has confused form with substance. It has looked at America, where people swear allegiance to the flag, and at Australia, which has introduced 'affirmation ceremonies' for all citizens, and concluded that public protestations of national loyalty create national unity. What it has failed to acknowledge is that America is a nation that manifestly believes in itself, enthusiastically promulgates its own values and believes they are superior to those in the rest of the world. It successfully integrated high numbers of immigrants because it created institutions and policies to promote a very clear concept of American identity.
There was a time when Britain similarly possessed national pride. Unlike America, its sense of itself was formed by the fact that it was an ancient nation with a rich and distinct history. Its people did not have to swear loyalty to the flag, because the country had a strong identity for which Britons had fought and died throughout the centuries. As a result, immigrants wanted to assume the characteristics of Britishness. It wasn't just that they admired its values such as fair play, tolerance or leadership. There was also the excitement of becoming part of a country that thought itself a great nation and took pride in what it made and achieved. And so they eagerly assimilated Britishness from an education system which understood that its mission was to transmit British culture.
Not any more. For decades now, our governing and intellectual classes have been consumed by a sense of shame about this country. With the loss of Empire came not only a collapse of national role but also an exaggerated guilt about Britain's record of colonialism. With large scale immigration, that guilt developed into a full-blown attack on the nation itself. National identity was said to be an artificial construct. The cultural values of the majority were deemed racist and exclusive. Multiculturalism became the order of the day. So schools stopped teaching children British political history, and taught about slavery instead. They stopped teaching the classic texts of English literature and looked for 'relevant' minority texts. They stopped passing on the values of Christianity and taught instead a mish-mash of garbled inanities. British values were denigrated. Leadership was authoritarian. Stoicism was unfeeling. And patriotism was just one step away from fascism. Instead of transmitting a unifying culture, education turned into an auction of competing interests, babbling meaninglessly in citizenship classes about multiculturalism, 'globalisation' and 'a shrinking planet' and encouraging pupils to develop 'their own ground rules'.
Citizenship fundamentally rests upon an acceptance of the obligations to one's country. But in the current climate, in which duty has been junked in favour of rights and entitlements, it has effectively been redefined into claimantship. Thus the citizenship test for all new immigrants to be introduced next year will ask them not about the institutions of the country but what they know about legal aid, employment law, maternity rights, the changing role of women, consumer protection and Britain's relations with Brussels.
In the light of all this, the proposed 'coming-of-age' ceremony is no more than empty tokenism. It will do nothing to integrate those who believe their faith tells them to despise and even fight this country's values, and who may tell themselves accordingly that any citizenship declaration required of them is of little consequence. And it will do nothing to provide a sense of national identification, pride and attachment to young, white, disadvantaged people whose resulting alienation drives them into the arms of neo-Nazi thugs posing as political parties.
A FATAL CONFLICT OF CORRECTNESSES
Campaigners are calling for a change in the law after the decomposed bodies of an elderly couple were discovered in their home - weeks after the gas supply had been cut off. George Bates, 89, died from hypothermia and his wife Gertrude, 86, suffered a heart attack. Their bodies were found in October in a house they had shared for 63 years. Two months earlier their gas had been disconnected due to non-payment of a o140 bill.
Yesterday Westminster coroner Paul Knapman said British Gas had followed the proper procedure in the run-up to the disconnection, contacting the couple 11 times in 143 days, including two visits to the house in Tooting, south London. But after the gas was cut off the couple's details were not passed to social services - even though they were described as vulnerable in court - because of restrictions imposed by the Data Protection Act. British Gas general manager for collections, Harry Metcalfe, told the inquest: "In the past we could notify social services when we had disconnected the supply but since the Data Protection Act that has changed. We would not now notify them of a disconnection without the customer's consent."
A spokeswoman for Help the Aged said yesterday: "If the Data Protection Act is stopping vital information being passed on it needs to be reviewed - why were an obviously vulnerable, elderly couple left to fend for themselves without heating or hot water without the help of social services or other agencies?" Dr Knapman said he planned to write to the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, who is responsible for the implementation of the Data Protection Act.
Mr Thomas said it was "generally true" that the Data Protection Act would prevent the routine notification of disconnection to social services without the customer's consent. "However, in any cir cumstances, for example age or infirmity, where there are grounds for believing that cutting a particular household off would pose significant risk then the Data Protection Act would not prevent an energy supplier from notifying the relevant body," he said.
A British Gas spokesman said the couple had not been on its voluntary Priority Service Register which gave extra assistance to elderly or disabled customers. "It is tragic that no one including the caring services recognised how vulnerable the Bateses were before it was too late," he said.
24 January, 2005
"INTELLIGENT DESIGN" TOO INCORRECT EVEN TO DISCUSS ON PUBLIC TV
And they don't hide the fact that they are biased against religion in general
"The PBS station in Albuquerque, N.M., has canceled a scheduled showing of a documentary on the theory of intelligent design, eliciting charges of "politically correct censorship." New Mexico teacher Phil Robinson says he worked with staff at KNME-TV to arrange for the documentary, "Unlocking the Mystery of Life," to air on Friday night. Robinson discovered Monday that the show had been pulled and newspaper advertising for it had been canceled. The station says the scheduling of the program was a mistake caused by a miscommunication related to the transition to a new program manager and that there was concern about the fact that those who funded the film have religious ties.
Seattle-based Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture hammered KNME for the cancellation. "It is simply astounding that a public television station would engage in this sort of politically correct censorship," said Rob Crowther, director of communications for the organization, in a statement. "Public television usually prides itself in exploring new ideas, not suppressing them. Doesn't anyone at KNME believe in free speech?"
Joan Rebecchi is the marketing manager for KNME. "It wasn't supposed to be scheduled in the first place," she told WND. "It was a scheduling mistake. "We're in transition between two program managers, and they were repeating 'NOVA' in that timeslot. . There was confusion over the show title, and so that show was scheduled in [NOVA's] place. It was figured out last weekend that we had that scheduled and we weren't supposed to schedule it." Rebecchi said Robinson contacted her about advertising for the show and that she helped him write a good ad for it, not realizing at the time the show was not supposed to have been scheduled. "When I found out the show in fact wasn't going to air, I pulled the ads from the Albuquerque Journal because I didn't want him to lose any money," Rebecchi said. "We were able to pull them before he lost any money."
Rebecchi confirmed that a lot of Albuquerque residents are "very, very upset" that the station is not running it. She said station personnel had concerns about the fact that those who funded the program "had some connection to a religious point of view." Continued Rebecchi: "Our underwriting guidelines don't allow us to air programs that have a specific religious point of view," adding that PBS has to be "kind of biased" against programming with any religious connections. "That's the reason they didn't want to schedule it in the first place," she told WND.
Crowther points out, however, that the film in question is currently for sale on PBS' national website and has aired in almost every top-20 media market in the country, including PBS stations in California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington state and Washington, D.C. "The real losers here are New Mexico viewers who will be denied the chance to see a fascinating documentary that public television viewers in other states have already had the opportunity to see," Crowther added. "I guess if New Mexico viewers want to learn more about intelligent design, they will have to go the national PBS website."
"Unlocking the Mystery of Life" is a 58-minute program exploring what DNA reveals about the origin of life and documents how some scientists are skeptical about naturalistic explanations for the origin of genetic information and are looking to theories of design instead. According to the Discovery Institute, the documentary follows the development of intelligent design theory through interviews with key design scientists."
FREE SPEECH ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY AT LAST
Four members of a conservative Christian group may resume picketing gay-themed events in Philadelphia after a judge lifted a restriction that kept them away. Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Dembe called the restriction an unreasonable restraint on free speech. "We cannot restrict people's right to speak or to be near those who might not wish to hear them into the future," Dembe said Friday. Dembe overturned a ruling by Municipal Court Judge William A. Meehan against the demonstrators, who are affiliated with a local group called Repent America and who say their opposition to homosexuality is based on the Bible. Meehan had ordered the group to stay at least 100 feet away from any "homosexual event."
The defendants' attorney, C. Scott Shields, told Dembe that Meehan's order had effectively "muzzled" the his clients, "and that's unconstitutional as a prior restraint." The activists still face a variety of charges, including felonies, in connection with their protest last fall at Outfest, a street festival for gays and lesbians in downtown Philadelphia. However, after viewing a 22-minute videotape of the events leading to the defendants' arrest, Dembe indicated she might dismiss the entire case. "It all amounted to annoyance on both sides, but it did not amount to criminal behavior that I can see," Dembe said.
Cathie Abookire, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, said the prosecution would proceed with the case. A pretrial hearing is scheduled next month, at which Dembe is to hear arguments on dismissing the charges. The activists, led by Repent America founder Michael Marcavage of Lansdowne, say they are being prosecuted for voicing their religious belief that homosexuality is a sin.
Assistant District Attorney Charles Ehrlich said the criminal charges were based on the defendants' conduct, not what they said. "Mr. Marcavage's conduct is to try to incite a crowd to cause a public disturbance ... whether it's from the Bible or somewhere else," Ehrlich said.
DRUNKENNESS NOW POLITICALLY CORRECT IN SCOTLAND
If you are thinking of a change of career in 2005, you might consider this, advertised in various newspapers last year by Glasgow city council's social work department. "Supported Accommodation Service for individuals who are likely to continue drinking. This Service [their capital letter] will be unregistered and will provide a high standard of accommodation for service users with varying complexities of need, including individuals who have expressed a view to continue drinking. Providers must demonstrate the ability to develop services that meet this range of needs, and will be required to have a clear policy on working with people who demonstrate challenging behaviour and non-engagement with services. A needs-led, person-centred approach coupled with a commitment to the values of inclusion are intrinsic to the delivery of the service."
There was a time when this kind of job specification appeared only in satirical magazines, which when read by Scots would have generated howls of laughter and be passed round to their friends as a splendid illustration of bonkers Islington Guardian-reader mentality, the kind of drippy, dippy do-goodish verbiage that would never be tolerated up here. Cut through the politically correct hedging and you find that what the council really wants is an unregistered dosshouse for habitual and unrepentant drunks and dropouts who are likely to be violent and don't want to be helped. An advertisement of 15 words would have sufficed. At nine lines, political correctness is very expensive.
But, more than that, it strikes an odd note. Nobody with any sense of decency would suggest that the drunks and dropouts should not receive food and shelter, even if they do exhibit "challenging behaviour" and are extremely uncooperative. But is this all they should be given? An unremarked-upon effect of the almost hysterically non-judgmental approach that all councils adopt nowadays is that they find themselves preaching a pernicious kind of passive acceptance towards selected categories of people. For example, while smoking, smacking, hunting and the middle classes are excoriated, the "values of inclusion" specifically exclude any idea that the homeless, and particularly the drunken homeless, might be encouraged to re-engage with society.
If any idea of benevolent rescue crept into a tender for the supported accommodation contract, the wannabe service providers would soon find themselves back on the pavement with a stiff lecture on the new creed of municipal non-judgmentalism ringing in their ears. In the current lexicon of council-speak, the words "benevolent rescue" are outlawed since they suggest an imposition of values, which the authorities, with a scrupulousness never exhibited in relation to anything else, abhor.
Yet, when confronted with people who have just about fallen over the edge, a civilised society surely does not just dole out soup, point to a bed and tiptoe away, piously washing its hands. It has to be rather more responsible than that. Homelessness, drunkenness and general desperation are not incurable diseases that we just smile and accept. They arise through a mixture of character and circumstance, both of which can, up to a point, be changed. Being non-judgmental, in the case of the homeless and destitute, floats dangerously close to social irresponsibility, something that, up until now, would have been as alien to Scots as Morris dancing.
Perhaps it would not matter if being pathologically non-judgmental was successful, but it is not. One of the most effective providers of help to the homeless in the UK and elsewhere is the Emmaus movement. Its motto, "Giving people a bed and a reason to get out of it", could not be less like the council advertisement. The movement was founded in France in 1949 by a Catholic priest known as Abb, Pierre. Georges, the first Emmaus Companion, summed up the real problems of the homeless destitute with accuracy born of long experience. "Whatever else he [the Abb,] might have given me - money, a home, somewhere to work," he said, "I'd have still tried to kill myself again. What I was missing, and what he offered, was something to live for."
The "something" to which Georges referred was the code of values on which all Emmaus communities are based: sharing, working for others in greater need and self-respect. Emmaus communities are not very interested in jargon. Nor are the homeless helped in a values-free zone. Rather the opposite. The companions find succour and solace precisely because it is assumed that, as human beings, while their own values may have gone a little askew, they are still capable of recognising how important values - real values and not just the mantra of "inclusion" - are.
Reading the testimony of companions, some of whom hit more than rock bottom with self-abuse from drink and drugs, it is perfectly clear that they need those around them to articulate and affirm values just as much as they need medical or psychiatric attention. Offering help that is free of values is like offering a bloody mary without the vodka: the essential ingredient is missing.
It is paradoxical that the advertisement with which I began was printed at about the time when Emmaus, after a long search for a suitable site, began to build a home for a community in Ellesmere Street, Glasgow. When it is finished this autumn, the homeless people who gravitate towards it will begin the Emmaus work of refurbishing donated furniture and household goods. More importantly, by subscribing to the same set of values, some will also achieve the stability and sense of belonging that will allow them to begin living again, while those who "express a view to continue drinking" will be gently encouraged to change.
To the strange creatures who concoct council advertisements, this may seem bizarre. To the rest of us, it should be a cause to rejoice. In a world gone mad, some pockets of sanity remain and one of them is in Scotland
23 January, 2005
SHOCKING SEX-RELATED BIAS
This must be the one of the most troubling stories I have seen for a long time. A woman makes a false accusation of rape that could have landed the accused in jail for 40 years. And the penalty for the false accusation? The court rejected a recommendation for a five DAY sentence and got really tough -- giving a 30 day sentence.
So what's the lesson? If a girl's got a grudge, cry rape! The penalty for being disbelieved is nothing compared to the ruin you can bring on some guy's life.
It seems obvious to me that proven false accusations should get the same sentence as that to which they exposed the guy. But America's law is now so feminist that there is now no justice for men at all in male/female disputes.
JEWISH PC RELIGION
This comes to mind because it is strongly reminiscent of a fad quite common these days among Jewish assimilated liberals and leftists in the United States. These people constitute the School of Jewish Politically-Correct Bible Thumpers. They advocate the PC fads and programs of the American Left, while coating them with a thin veneer of supposedly Biblical ethics.
Like the missionaries of my youth, they learn a dozen or so select Biblical phrases, taken out of context, and argue that the Bible and traditional Judaism unambiguously require that one accept and support a left-wing political agenda. I assume that most readers are familiar with these folks.
Examples of Jewish politically-correct Bible thumping abound. The most outrageous, of course, are the Cheech-and-Chong ethics and the political platform of the editors of Tikkun magazine, featuring the Politics of Meaning psychobabble promoted by "Rabbi" Michael Lerner.
But many mainstream liberal leaders of the Jewish community also engage in Biblical posturing in order to conscript scripture for support of liberal fads. Generally, such Bible-based PC preaching operates through conjuring up the ethics of the Prophets as scriptural underpinning for the Left's political agenda.....
In most cases, politically-correct Bible thumpers are scripturally motivated only under circumstances that they find convenient, and with respect to those political causes they happen to find appealing. Otherwise, they simply ignore everything else in scripture and halacha (Jewish Law) that does not fit their political agenda.
These folks are generally not Jews whose lifestyles are determined by Biblical rules regarding, say, diet, Sabbath, sexual relations, etc. Indeed, when Scripture clearly favors a moral or political position that is not fashionable, these same PC Bible thumpers suddenly decline to adapt themselves to Biblical ethics.
At times, they will go through contortions to force their supposed understanding of these ethics into a PC mold. For example, there is probably nothing as clear-cut as the Biblical prohibition against homosexuality, yet the Thumpers insist that gay "marriage" is a grand expression of Biblical values.
The very notion of gay rights is completely antithetical to Biblical morality; the Bible, in fact, explicitly labels sodomy an abomination and makes it a capital offense. While such punishment was generally not literally applied in Jewish tradition, there is no doubt as to the disgust and condemnation with which the Bible views gay relations.
But that did not stop the PC branch of the Reform movement from deciding that Reform rabbis can ordain gay marriages. It is not clear why they did not at the same time decide that inter-species marriages could be ordained; after all, the Biblical injunction against the latter is no less unambiguous than the prohibition against homosexuality.
Similarly, while the Jewish religious position on abortion is not identical with the one espoused by the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations, abortion on demand when a mother's life is not in danger is hardly a position held by traditional Judaism.
One can accept or reject the scriptural view of homosexuality or abortion - it's a free country. But if one is representing one's political agenda as being Biblically-based, why the arbitrarily selective distortion?
The biggest problem with PC appeals to Prophetic Ethics and Jewish compassion is that there is absolutely no support in Jewish tradition for feel-good advocacy programs that actually exacerbate real-world problems. In other words, one cannot conscript Biblical ethics and morality on behalf of a political cause - even if doing so makes one feel righteous and moral - until one can at least show credibly that the cause would indeed resolve or alleviate real-world problems.
The PC Biblical Ethics-poseurs are too lazy to go out and actually acquire the analytic tools needed for assessing policy proposals. Learning economics, statistics, cost/benefits accounting, etc., requires effort and investment. The PC posturers prefer to practice effortless recreational compassion and armchair peacemaking.
Besides, the very first thing one learns in social science and in policy analysis is that all things have tradeoffs. That is the one truth with which leftist Biblical Ethics-poseurs and other PC preachers simply cannot cope. If a policy proposal has both costs and benefits (and which does not?), there is no way that selective scriptural quotation and appeals to Prophetic Ethics can resolve the dilemma.....
In some cases, the PC Bible thumpers take positions in such clear contradiction to the scriptural ethics they claim to uphold that one does not know whether to laugh or cry. For example, not only is there no Biblical case for animal rights (although the humane treatment of animals is indeed mandated), but one of the most clear-cut messages of the Bible is that human interests always take priority over those of animals. It's true that the Bible does not explicitly prohibit vegetarianism, except on Passover, but there is absolutely nothing therein that mandates it, and much rabbinic commentary is concerned with the rules of kosher slaughter and diet.
Another example: While there is a clear Biblical basis for charity, it is equally clear that the emphasis is on individual charitable acts over which the giver exercises control, choice and personal responsibility. There is nothing that can be interpreted as mandating a massive welfare state that deprives individuals of control over their property; indeed, a good deal of Biblical and rabbinic law concerns the protection and preservation of private property rights. The main rules of Biblical mandatory income-distribution regard funding Levites and priests.....
The hypocritical pretend-enthusiasm for Prophetic Ethics on the part of the PC Bible Thumpers is best understood as part of the overall trend of Jewish assimilation in North America. Liberalism has been the main avenue of assimilation for North American Jews. In effect, assimilationist Jews long ago substituted the liberal/Left political agenda for Judaism as their religion. They are as zealously attached to this pseudo-religion as most Jews in the past were to authentic Judaism.....
22 January, 2005
YOUNG KIDS IN BRITISH SCHOOLS BEING BADGERED ABOUT SEXUALITY
A month-long series of events to teach gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history has been organised. These include poetry competitions, films and discussions about the sexuality of famous figures from the past, such as William Shakespeare. Schools are invited to attend and the government has part-funded the project, aimed at stopping homophobic bullying. However, Shadow Education Secretary Tim Collins criticised the event, saying it was "achingly politically correct".
LGBT History Month, which runs throughout February in England, includes a national anti-bullying poetry competition. There will also be a discussion of "celebsexuality" and an exhibition of works by the artist Caravaggio.
Mr Collins said: "It's all achingly politically correct. Surely there must be time and resources that could be spent on better things than this." He voiced concern that children as young as seven could be taking part in events, adding that it was important "to protect the innocence of children of that age". The government is helping to fund the project's website.
THE SIN OF PROF. SUMMERS IN CONTEXT
The pressure put on Prof. Summers for speaking the truth is appalling
The soul of Political Correctness is a blinkered insistence that something is true, because of politics, especially in the face of all reason and evidence to the contrary. It's not used as an argument, it's a squelch on any semblance of honesty. Speak with any frankness, or apply any intellectual rigor to the doctrine and dogma of the PPC (Painfully Politically Correct), and one usually winds up with an outcry and Star Chamber over your heresy which makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a kindergarten.
To make matters worse, some matters are just not subject to being mentioned in any way under this mental fascism. Or only mentionable by certain select groups. In any event, rather than civilize discourse, it stifles it, and makes it subject to the whims of obnoxious little tin gods with pinched faces.
Let's take one case in point, that of the Late Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. A former oddsmaker, he drew a gig with CBS as a commentator and analyst until he made the fatal mistake of musing over the reason for the dominance of blacks (No - unless you were born in Africa, you ain't African-Diddley. You're black, I'm white, and the fact that the real colors are Mocha and Peach are irrelevant. Besides, "mocha" and "peach" are for pussies. Grow a pair.) in sports. He remarked that as slaves, they had been bred for it.
Gents and Ladies - Jimmy the Greek was a hundred percent right. You take any people, put them on the slave boats where only the strong survive; put them in the field where only the strong survive; breed them for endurance, breed them to work faster and more efficiently, and see what you get in a few hundred years. You are going to have big, strong, fast people who can go and go, tirelessly, all the live-long day. The perfect athlete, in other words.
But we can't say that - well, you can't. I will, and defend myself by saying "Prove me wrong." It's not that great a leap in intuitive thought. It's true, but it can't be said, no matter how true, in polite company because it offends someone's politics.
There is the problem. Many people, most especially liberals, have based entire philosophies on tenets which are tenuous as best. Knock down a primary premise, and the whole line of specious reasoning comes falling down. "Gays are born that way." Ignore all the ex-gays. Tell them they don't exist. Put on the blinders, stick the fingers in the ears, hop up and down, and chant "La-LA-la-la-LA!" Why? Well, because the minute it is shown that there are gays who are most certainly NOT born that way, every argument they make proceeds from that false premise. Pardon me - Was that the crash of an entire philosophical structure coming down?
It's correct - but only politically. And you can't possibly discuss it. Once a discussion begins, pesky details like "facts" start popping up. Damned inconvenient, these facts, eh wot? We can't have a discussion of racial epithets, like the word "nigger." Everyone starts printing it "n****r" or something to that effect. Or "The "N" Word." You can't even say someone is niggardly. (Stingy, if you are a graduate of Publik Skule.) Never mind that it is derived from a totally different language and root. See? Those darn facts again.
It lends nothing to civility. Once the PC-fest begins, everyone starts playing the "I'm more offended than you!" game. Or, for a real hoot, they get offended on behalf of someone who isn't offended their damn selves. Or begin squabbling over who has the right to speak this way, or use that word, or address the other subject material. This is civility? More like a couple of old hound dogs fighting over some road-kill.
That's what I mean by poison. It kills any significant discourse, just like if you or me were to imbibe a tumbler of Chateau Lafite-Rothschilde Strychnine '55.
And, like a lot of things, Summers made the mistake of not only speaking heresy, but speaking heresy which many are afraid might be true.
Not true? Let's look at some inconvenient facts. Feminism has had two generations to work its ju-ju. And in fields like science and engineering, women are staying away in droves. Women all over the place are abandoning careers in favor of family. There's article after article of hand wringing drivel asking, "Why? Oh, WHY?!?!" and it comes to the same conclusion, and interviews the same woman, or it least it seems so, saying "I tried to juggle family and career. I was never satisfied. So I chose to stay home and be a mom." Oh, societal pressure. I see.
Our mind is made up. Please do not confuse us with facts unless it supports our conclusion. Heh. Well, I guess it can be said that feminists aren't good at science. Or linear thinking. But, hey, that's okay. That's way too patriarchal anyway.
The only consolation to me in this whole mess is that, as a former Clinton appointee, the Left-Feminist savaging of Lawrence Summers is another case of the political correctoids eating their own. The fact that they refuse to take a stark and honest look inward, do some introspection and brutal self-critique, and try to massage all the numbers to fit in their predefined world-view is the reason they have been getting their butts whipped in elections the past few decades. Nothing like driving the data to an erroneous conclusion, and then proceeding from that bad premise, to be a recipe for failure.
21 January, 2005
MALE/FEMALE DIFFERENCES INCORRECT
Doing remarkably little to combat the stereotype that women are emotionally frail and constitutionally incapable of dealing with stress, Professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT told the Boston Globe that she had to leave a lecture delivered by Harvard president Larry Summers because if she didn't she would have "either blacked out or thrown up." What caused this damsel Hopkins to hie to her fainting couch? Why, the mere suggestion that there might be inherent differences between men and women when it comes to aptitude to the hard sciences.....
Summers raised the possibility that "innate difference" might be a factor as well. According to reports, he didn't necessarily embrace this view so much as throw it out for discussion. Indeed, before he raised this point he apparently said several times, "I'm going to provoke you" — which Hopkins might have noticed had she been able to hear over her ideological agenda. "When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill," Hopkins told the New York Times. "Let's not forget that people used to say that women couldn't drive an automobile."
That's true. "People" also used to say that women aren't as tall as men, that men are more aggressive than women, that women are the ones who make babies, that men are physically stronger than women, and all sorts of other things that happen to be true. The mere fact that "people" used to say some things that weren't true doesn't mean that everything people used to say is untrue — even if some of those comments offend Hopkins's delicate sensibilities.
In fact, the scientific consensus is that there are innate cognitive differences between men and women — as groups. Individual men and women can be geniuses or morons (though the data suggest that men tend to produce more of both than women). Men tend to perform better at spatial tasks — rotating three-dimensional objects in their mind, for example — as well as some mathematical and navigational tests. Women, on the other hand, are better at word games of various kinds, and they beat men at identifying matching items rapidly and putting the right-shaped pegs in the right holes. This is all fairly uncontroversial stuff — you can find a nice summary on the web in a Scientific American article called "Sex Differences in the Brain" from May 13, 2002.
But don't show it to Nancy Hopkins. She may lose her lunch..... In the past, women used to claim that vulgar language would cause them to grow ill or faint. Now feminists like Hopkins use the same tactic to silence ideologically unacceptable ideas and to intimidate the intellectually curious. That's the stereotype Hopkins is reinforcing: that feminists and the Left are pro-science and pro-scholarship as long as they already agree with the conclusions
More here. See Peg Kaplan for some good comments on the sequel to the matter. And Steven Pinker summarizes the scientific issues involved.
MLK DAY REVEALS THE BIAS
Catholic League president William Donohue addressed today the claim that there is a December Dilemma in the schools: “When people say there is a December Dilemma, what they mean is that school officials are in a bind: how can they allow the celebration of Christmas without offending others? The answer? Censor Christmas.
“The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is so worried about Christmas that it issues an annual document, ‘The December Dilemma,’ on how to deal with this problem (in response, the Catholic League offers, ‘The December Celebration’). In a Q&A section, the ADL comments on what is excessive when it comes to Christmas decorations. After admitting that the courts have said Santas and Christmas trees are secular symbols, it warns, ‘Nevertheless, their inordinate usage is inappropriate.’ It does not say what constitutes an inordinate number, nor does it say why secular symbols of any kind should be censored, regardless of their volume. But it does tell us a lot about how the ADL views Christmas...
“In every instance, school officials say they must censor Christmas because the holiday is not inclusive. But if they were advised to censor Martin Luther King Day celebrations—on the grounds that it is not inclusive (it represents only a small minority)—they would respond by saying that white kids who feel left out should respect diversity. Why, then, should not those who are not Christian (a small minority) be told to respect the diversity that Christmas offers? There is a game being played here: in one instance, those who complain are rewarded; in the other, they are denied. Such is the game of multicultural madness.”
20 January, 2005
MORE OBESITY HYPE
Don't add up and don't question the assumptions!
With their most frightening figure -- that excess fat supposedly causes 400,000 deaths a year -- thoroughly debunked, obesity scaremongers are now leaning more heavily on an equally media-friendly factoid: that obesity hits us where it counts -- the pocketbook. To substantiate this claim, they take a cue from Dr. Evil and turn to a deeply flawed study by Anne Wolf and Graham Colditz, which concluded that obesity costs the U.S. economy $117 billion each year. This frequently cited statistic has been used to justify numerous proposed regulations aimed at forcibly slimming us down. But the Wolf-Colditz study is just one example among many intended to spur Americans into action. For comparison, consider some other supposedly hundred-billion-dollar problems.
* The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research reports that lost sleep costs the nation $150 billion dollars a year.
* The World Resources Institute claims that traffic costs the nation more than $100 billion annually due to lost productivity alone (not counting the extra cost of gasoline or accidents associated with road congestion).
* The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says that chronic pain is a real pain in the nation's wallet -- costing upwards of $100 billion a year.
* The U.S. National Pharmaceutical Council complains that non-compliance with medication instructions in the U.S. totals a hefty sum of $100 billion, and caused 125,000 unnecessary deaths in 1990 alone.
So where's the outrage? Where is the Surgeon General's "Call to Action" on sleep? When is the Secretary of Transportation's high-profile conference to solve the immense cost of traffic? If these and so many other problems are so costly, why does their importance pale in comparison to obesity? The answer is simple. A powerful lobby of trial lawyers, pharmaceutical companies, and activists with obesity axes to grind have over-hyped the problem for their own personal gain.
Exhibit A: A recent Slate.com essay by Laura Kipnis, professor of media studies at Northwestern, telling readers that "there's simply an irreconcilable contradiction between feminism and femininity." According to Kipnis. "Femininity . . . tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference." Meanwhile, feminism "strives to smash beauty norms" and "demands female equality in all spheres" -- but alas, it has failed to eradicate women's (even feminists'!) infuriating desire to be beautiful. The problem, Kipnis hectors, is that "the beauty culture is a heterosexual institution, and to the extent that women participate in its rituals, they, too, are propping up a heterosexual society and its norms" -- norms which supposedly subordinate women to men.
And here I thought this kind of rhetoric had withered away some 30 years ago, except for a brief flare-up in Naomi Wolf's 1991 bestseller "The Beauty Myth." But no. Never mind that in the intervening years, the equation of femininity with helplessness or submissiveness has been thoroughly exploded in popular culture. Our ideals of feminine beauty now include athletes and the strong heroines of television shows like "Alias," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," or "Xena: Warrior Princess," more than capable of holding their own against men.
Kipnis's polemic is not only tripe, it's self-defeating tripe. If you tell women that they must choose between feminism on the one hand, and beauty, femininity, and heterosexuality on the other, there goes 99 percent of your target audience (newsflash: beauty and femininity are not exclusively heterosexual turf).
Exhibit B: An article in another respected liberal Web magazine, Salon.com, defending patriarchy's latest victim: Jennifer Aniston. The former "Friends" star, author Rebecca Traister complains, is being "pilloried" because her split with husband Brad Pitt was apparently caused by his desire for a child and her desire, at 35, to postpone motherhood and focus on work. Traister is seeing red over "a regressive and scary message to women": The only thing that matters is "our ability and willingness to reproduce," while putting professional ambition first is stigmatized.
Just where Aniston is being "pilloried" is unclear. To Traister, simply reporting that Aniston is (according to her friends) reluctant to have a baby or that her grueling filming schedule for the next three years would leave little time for it, reeks of disapproval. In fact, nothing that's been said about Aniston approaches the nastiness of Traister's jabs at Pitt for being too outspoken about his desire to be a dad. Besides, shouldn't feminists be candid and admit that if you're a woman in your mid-30s and want children, waiting much longer is not a good idea? Or that, for most people, parenthood is a vitally important part of life?
Exhibit C: On the op-ed page of The New York Times, columnist Maureen Dowd gripes that men are egocentric babies who want submissive women, not equals. Her proof? An alleged trend of powerful men marrying their personal assistants, secretaries, nannies, and the like (illustrated by a couple of movies and a couple of anecdotes) and a couple of recent studies, one of which, from the University of Michigan, shows that men regard a subordinate as a more desirable wife than a boss.
What's that all about? Well, the male college students in the study were shown a photo of a woman and asked to estimate her desirability as a marriage partner on a 1-to-9 scale. When the woman was described as their hypothetical assistant, she got an average rating of 6.4; a co-worker got 4.9 and a supervisor 4.2. (Women gave men an average rating of about 3.1.)
Whatever this tells us about how men interact with women in real life, even in theory the higher-ranking women were hardly rejected. Of course there are men who are still intimidated by female ambition. But there are millions of women who have successful careers and successful marriages. Why not pay a little more attention to those couples, and a little less to the well-worn men-are-pigs theme?
19 January, 2005
THE BUREAUCRATIC MIND
And we feed these b******s!
In a letter to the Daily Mail, Karina Pickering reports the following notice at the rail station car park in Guildford, Surrey: “We regret to announce that this car park will be free until further notice. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but it is due to circumstances beyond our control.”
ANTI-MALE BIAS BIG-TIME
The Violence Against Women Act, a hand-me-down from the Clinton administration based on gender myths, anti-male bias and an infatuation with Big Government, expires this year. A new appropriation request for over $360 million will soon hit Congress, but a chance for gender sanity is coming. The answer to renewing VAWA should be a thundering "NO!"
What is the Violence Against Women Act? In 1994, Congress passed the act as part of an Omnibus Crime Bill. VAWA pitted the sexes against each other by focusing on "crimes of violence motivated by gender;" victims were defined as female and only women were offered the massive tax-funded benefits. VAWA institutionalized the political belief that women, as a class, must receive special protection from men and privileges from government.
Domestic violence was a specific focus. When male victims protested their exclusion, VAWA advocates dismissed them as statistically insignificant. Today, an impressive body of research shows that men constitute anywhere from 36 to 50 percent of domestic violence victims. (The situation is similar with rape. Women are the victims only if you exclude prisons where male rape is prevalent.)
But VAWA is more than an attempt to establish women as a protected class at the expense of men. If this were its only flaw, then including men under its umbrella would have solved the Act's unfairness. The Act seeks to create new gender attitudes through the social engineering of society. The most aggressive example was also VAWA's biggest failure to date: namely, its attempt to revise the judiciary system in order to benefit women. A key section of VAWA '94 allowed a "rape" victim to sue her alleged attacker for compensatory and punitive damages in federal civil court on the grounds of having violated her civil rights. The federal claim did not replace criminal punishment on the state level; it was a supplement.
In 1995, Christy Brzonkala brought a federal lawsuit over an alleged rape at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The two accused men had been cleared by both a university judicial committee and a criminal grand jury. Under VAWA, however, Brzonkala could pursue a case that was not admitted into criminal court. The U.S. Supreme Court found VAWA's civil rights remedies and access to federal courts to be unconstitutional.
VAWA 2000 was rewritten to exclude the unconstitutional bits and to broaden the Act's mandate to areas such as "Strengthening Education and Training to Combat Violence Against Women." In short, to change society's attitudes on gender through education, research and training programs. The underlying ideological bias is illustrated by the fact that, after spending millions of dollars on domestic violence research, VAWA advocates couldn't seem to find male victims. Or, if they did, the data did not induce them to rename the Violence Against Women Act.
VAWA's attempt to educate society into adopting new attitudes on gender contributed to what some call "the domestic violence industry." The Massachusetts News offers a glimpse into the programs in its state. "Every month, it [the woman's safety movement]...spawns new sub-programs, clinics, shelters, research institutes, counseling centers, visitation centers, poster campaigns. The state disbursed about $24 million for domestic violence services last year, but that certainly is not all the money spent... "
Women's "safety" has become a tax-funded growth industry for lawyers, consultants, researchers, counselors, professors and other "experts" who always seem to conclude that more funding is needed. VAWA advocates trumpet the Act's funding of domestic violence shelters, and it is difficult to argue against helping a battered woman. It is not clear, however, that the bureaucratic and "industrialized" approach to domestic violence is an effective form of help. Every dollar spent on ideological programs is a dollar snatched from a victim. Moreover, the ideology blinds VAWA advocates to many real victims.
The Massachusetts News also reports that the state has 37 tax-funded women's shelters, but no "shelters or services for men," except homosexual men....
VAWA is a fundamentally flawed piece of social engineering. The proper response is not "Me Too!" It is a flat "no," followed by an insistence on rethinking our entire approach to issues like domestic violence.
18 January, 2005
THREE CASES OF ABSURDITY
Recently, it was reported in The Mirror tabloid daily newspaper that a father had been banned from seeing his own son, and from visiting his own home for six months because he smacked his child.
An elderly couple were found dead in their own home. An investigation into their deaths showed that they had died of exposure. This didn't quite sit well with the authorities until they discovered the couple had been disconnected by their gas / electricity provider. Obviously, the utility provider were contacted by the authorities and asked why they didn't inform the appropriate services. They were told that because of the Data Protection Act -- and all of its incumbent incongruities and ambiguities -- they weren't sure if it was legal for them to disclose their confidential details to the appropriate services.
A local council isn't entirely full of festive cheer this year. They've been told to use low power bulbs, which means they have to use dimmer fairy lights in the towns municipal christmas decorations. Why? In case those who make it their duty to damage and destroy anything within arms reach go and get themselves electrocuted while they're at it.
The above cases come from British blogger Wayne Smallman but he gives no links for them. I would be happy to post the relevant links if anybody can find them
Almost everyone is a victim now, but some are more newsworthy than others. Here are the best of last year's victims:
* Courtney Love is a victim of George W. Bush. "The last thing I want to say is `I'm a victim,' " the singer told London's Sunday Telegraph after an emotionally troubled period. "I believe it's a trickle-down from Bush . . . . Did I bring it on myself? I don't think so."
* Florida Democrats, 15 of them, came down with "post-election selection trauma" and required treatment by licensed therapists after Bush's re-election. Signs of the syndrome, according to psychologist Douglas Schooler of Boca Raton, are being "depressed and angry" and "threatening to leave the country." The executive director of the American Health Association said pest is something "we're working to develop a counseling program for."
* Students in West Covina, Calif., were all potential victims of an "unsafe situation" created by their classmate, 11-year-old Deirdre Faegre. So her school suspended her for a day. Deirdre's offense? Doing cartwheels and handstands during lunchtime. Her father pulled her out of the school, complaining about "cartwheel cops."
* Single professors on college faculties are an unnoticed but deeply aggrieved victim group, according to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The report said that unmarried profs are under pressure to do more than their fair share of work because they have no family obligations and are expected to show up at wedding showers they do not wish to attend. "Single people are the last underrepresented minority," said one professor.
* Tammy Imre, 29, a receptionist in Stratford, Conn., was charged with repeatedly having sex with an 8-year-old boy. Imre's mother blamed the boy. "It's not her . . . she was just too friendly; that's all," said the mother. "He's the one who needs to be looked at."
* Atheists are still seen as negative elements of society, according to the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, a support group for nonbelievers. Complaining that "religious people are permitted everything," the group said, "religious organizations have also been glorified by the government . . . [as] `social service providers.' " Discriminatory acts and slurs against beleaguered atheists can now be reported to the National Atheist Ombuds.
* Santa Clauses are victims of unsympathetic bosses and parents, as well as kids who ask tenacious questions, said Victor Nevada, a professional Santa in Calgary, Canada. The kids are heavy to lift and ask tough questions about Iraq and Afghanistan, he said. And there is always the risk of getting sued. "I had a Santa working for me a couple years ago; he had a girl on his knee and he commented, `You have nice eyes and nice hair.' She claimed sexual harassment."
* Antoinette Millard told New Yorkers she was a Saudi princess, when she was really a divorced investment banker from Buffalo who went on a spending binge. When American Express sued to recover $951,000 in charges, Millard countersued for $2 million, saying Amex should have known she was acting irrationally because of anorexia, panic attacks, depression, and head tumors.
* Lottery winners may become victims of Sudden Wealth Syndrome, experts warn. Painful confusion, guilt, and self-destructive behavior can befall anyone who strikes it rich, according to the Money, Meaning and Choices Institute. Education and personal counseling are particularly important, the institute said, in cases of "Ticker Shock" (anxiety and depression in response to stock market volatility) or "Clinton Syndrome" (a condition marked by a pull between one's childhood life and the adult life we all are supposed to be living). Psychologist Stephen Goldbart reports seeing clients afflicted with Sudden Loss of Wealth Syndrome, which often follows cases of Sudden Wealth Syndrome.
* Steven Sarenpa's father and stepmother complained when Steven separated from his wife and found a new girlfriend. Steven says they called him a sinner. But Steven was an employee in his father's business. After his father fired him, Steven sued his parents in federal court for religious and marital status discrimination. The case comes up this year.
* Todd Bertuzzi of hockey's Vancouver Canucks delivered a vicious assault on Colorado's Steve Moore, breaking Moore's neck and two of his vertebrae. But a team official thought Bertuzzi was the victim of the news media. "All you have done is crucify my player," said the Canucks' general manager, Brian Burke.
* Patricia Frankhouser of Jeannette, Pa., is suing Norfolk Southern Railway over injuries she sustained when she was hit by a freight train. In her suit, she argued that the railroad should have warned her that walking along the tracks was dangerous. She also charged that the train should have yielded the right of way.
17 January, 2005
MACY'S RIPPED OFF FOR NOT PRETENDING THAT ALL GROUPS ARE EQUALLY CRIMINAL
Spitzer makes the Mafia Dons look benign
Macy's department store will pay $600,000 to settle New York state charges that it used racial profiling in efforts to detect shoplifters, parent company Federated Department Stores Inc., said on Friday. Under the agreement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the company said it also agreed to change its training practices to ensure that security officers do not use racial profiling to detect shoplifters.
Spitzer had been investigating complaints from black and Hispanic customers, a Federated spokeswoman said. The $600,000 will be used to cover the cost of Spitzer's investigation. A spokeswoman for Federated said full details of the settlement would be released at a news conference to be held at 11 a.m. EST on Friday.
The settlement comes shortly after Spitzer indicted former Federated Chairman and Chief Executive James Zimmerman for perjury. The perjury charge was related to testimony given during an antitrust investigation involving Federated and May Department Stores which was eventually settled for $2.9 million. Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to the perjury charge.
THE SPURIOUS 11TH COMMANDMENT: "OFFEND NO-ONE"
There seems to be a new code of conduct in American society in which the golden rule is "offend no one." At least that appears to be the case in Riverside, Calif., after city officials gave in to a threat of a lawsuit by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and agreed to cover up a Theodore Roosevelt quote in the Riverside County Historic Courthouse. The quote in question, by an American who was the 26th president of our nation, states that "The true Christian is the true citizen." It is engraved in gold on a mahogany wall in a courtroom of the County Superior Court, one of many quotes engraved on the court's walls, some secular in nature, that reflect the personal and diverse philosophies of the nation's past leaders, including Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.
Although these quotes have been displayed on the court's walls for more than 70 years without any formal complaint, the ADL claims that the Roosevelt quote "marginalizes" non-Christians who come into contact with the courthouse and, thus, needs to be removed. The Riverside Courthouse and the ADL have now been sued by a local resident who claims that California preservation laws make it a crime to alter a historical site in any way. The Riverside Courthouse was designated a "cultural resource" and a "designated historical site" many years ago. The suit also charges the ADL with engaging in censorship.
Yet this incident is about more than just censoring Teddy Roosevelt--it's about censoring anyone and anything that challenges an individual's or group's notions of what is appropriate or politically correct, especially when religious expression is involved. Religious symbols have been among the forms of expression most targeted for attack--from the tiny cross on Los Angeles County's seal (which was removed after the ACLU threatened a lawsuit) to small religious images, including a student-drawn angel, on some commemorative tiles in the hallways of Columbine High School in remembrance of the students killed during the horrific shootings that took place there. The tiles were chiseled out by school officials who feared that the religious imagery might violate the so-called "separation of church and state."
Even walkway bricks have become objects of outrage to the "offend no one" crowd. For example, after the parents of one student complained, Potomac Falls school officials removed a handful of bricks that bore a small cross symbol from a school walkway and replaced them with black placeholders. The engraved bricks had been part of a fund-raising campaign to help student clubs and organizations pay for school field trips. The campaign involved the sale of engraved bricks, which were personalized with a limited amount of text and a small symbol selected from a list of icons provided by the school, including the image of a cross. The bricks were then placed in the "Walkway of Fame" around the school's flagpole. The Rutherford Institute filed a lawsuit against the school for removing the "offensive" bricks, and a federal court recently ruled that the school had engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.
Other absurd examples abound. For example, while Maryland public school students are free to thank anyone they want while learning about the 17th-century celebration of Thanksgiving, they may not thank God. Capital News Service reporter Laurel Lundstrom pointed out that while Maryland students read stories about the Pilgrims and Native Americans, simulate Mayflower voyages, hold mock feasts, and learn about the famous meal that temporarily allied two very different groups, teachers don't mention that the Pilgrims not only thanked the Native Americans for their peaceful three-day indulgence but repeatedly thanked God.
Incredibly enough, we're taking our rich, diverse cultural heritage--some of it dating back 300 years--and throwing it in the trash, all for the sake of not offending some individual or special-interest group that might not like it. And recently, The Rutherford Institute was contacted by the parents of a Florida elementary school student after they learned that although songs celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the winter season were going to be included in the school's winter concert, Christian Christmas songs had been excluded from the program. Thankfully, after Rutherford Institute attorneys intervened, school officials quickly changed their tune and included Christmas in the concert lineup.
Yet another testament to the "don't offend anyone" principle involves the recent hullabaloo over the ACLU's insistence that the military needs to stop sponsoring the Boy Scouts. Why? It seems that the Scouts' insistence that their members believe in God and oppose homosexuality on moral grounds makes them unfit for government support. Now the Department of Defense has been asked to reconsider its ban on direct Boy Scout sponsorship.
Censorship and overreaction by public officials are the main issues in most of these cases. It certainly has nothing to do with the usual complaint of the so-called separation of church phrase. Too often, the wall-of-separation phrase is used by separatist organizations to bludgeon away any religious reference in public places. However, the phrase is nowhere in the Constitution. And when Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase, his intent was to protect religious expression, not censor it.
Recently, the Supreme Court decided to hear two cases, both of which deal with the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. It's hoped that in these cases, the court will clear up the confusion over what can or cannot be placed on the walls of public institutions. In this age of no offense, Americans do have a choice. We can erase our traditions (some that are centuries old) and censor anything (mostly religious references) that may offend someone. Or we can recover our common sense and maintain some semblance of the institutions and heritage that have helped foster the freedoms we so dearly cherish.
16 January, 2005
TOTALLY INSANE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
Arsonists permitted to drive gasoline tankers! You couldn't make this stuff up
The federal government wants to change its current rules to permit convicted arsonists to get special licenses so they can drive gasoline tankers and trucks loaded with explosives and hazardous materials. But murderers and convicted racketeers will no longer be permitted to drive hazardous materials on the nation's interstates. "Arson is not always an act of terrorism," the Transportation Security Administration declared in proposing the new regulations that would permit the agency to review on a case-by-case basis whether convicted arsonists should get the special licenses allowing them to drive gasoline trucks, or other vehicles carrying hazardous materials.
Under the Patriot Act, the TSA - a branch of the new Department of Homeland Security - was directed to issue special federal certifications to the commercial licenses held by truck drivers who haul hazardous chemicals, gasoline tankers and explosives. The government plans to begin issuing the new licenses Jan. 31. it estimates it will receive more than 2 million applications for the certifications.
Last May, the agency issued regulations that would have prohibited anyone convicted of arson from driving hazardous material trucks. But on Nov. 24 the TSA announced in the Federal Register that officials had changed their minds and no longer regarded arson as being among the most serious crimes warranting lifetime disqualification. Amy von Walter, a TSA spokeswoman, said the agency considered arson to cover a broad category of crimes. "We wanted to ensure that we allowed for flexibility as we reviewed an individual's case," she said. The licenses will given only to drivers who have been out of prison for seven years.
While removing arson from the list of disqualifying offenses for hazardous material licenses, the agency said it was adding murder and racketeering convictions to the list of crimes. "Murder is one of the most violent crimes on the list of disqualifiers and indicates a disregard for human life," the agency said.
The Owner-Operators Independent Truckers Association, the nation's largest association of independent truckers, is irate at one of the changes in the new rule that would relax rules preventing non-citizens from receiving permits. The TSA wants to allow citizens of Mexico and Canada, along with people who have entered the United States under asylum visas or as refugees, to obtain the special driving permits. Paul Cullen, a Washington attorney representing the independent truckers, said there is no way TSA can check the backgrounds of these immigrants to determine if they are a threat or not. "It is grossly unfair to U.S. citizen drivers to allow persons whose backgrounds cannot be effectively checked to have the same rights and privileges as U.S. citizen drivers," he said.
Source. (Via Michelle Malkin).
EVEN A PROMINENT LEFTIST IS GETTING SICK OF AUTHORITARIAN BRITAIN
A former editor of "New Society" speaks:
"Mantraps, ready to cripple liberty, lie all around us, as if we were villagers trying to poach the lord's game. First I place the steady abolition of the secret ballot, fought for from the Chartists on. This government persists with a scheme that will end in all-postal voting, wide open to fraud and coercion. It gives all power to the man who wants to be master in his house, making his family vote as he does. I know the arguments about increased participation, but true dilemmas are choices not between good and evil, but between rival virtues. Here, quality should outweigh quantity. It's up to politicians to ensure their message entices voters to polling booths.
Then we have the forcing through of identity cards. No longer shall we be able to read ironically about Stendhal's romantic hero Fabrice, as he struggles with constant demands for his "papers" in the petty 19th century tyrannies portrayed in La Chartreuse de Parme. We, too, will have to show our papers, everywhere. No evidence has been produced that the system would hinder real villains or terrorists. It's been driven through as a sheer Nietzschean exercise in will by the prime minister and his tame home secretaries.
Again, there's the grotesque illiberalism of the foxhunting vote. I don't hunt, nor have I any wish to. But in reading Sassoon, Surtees or Trollope, I recognise that it's a long, not dishonourable thread through the fabric of English culture. Admittedly, this law was driven through not by Blair, but by Labour backbenchers - so keen to show their own transient freedom, for once, that they forgot about other people's. But it was Blair who let this "promise" (which he hoped never to keep) stand in his manifestos. If we were really hunting down animal cruelty, far more animals die drawn-out deaths from kosher and halal slaughter. None of these minority pursuits should be actually banned (as opposed to campaigned about).
Finally, we have the project to forbid vigorous criticism of religions. It's a censor's dream. Wordsworth's plea got it right: "Milton! [and Blake and Russell and Chesterton] thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee; she is a fen of stagnant waters." This anti-libertarian law is proposed as a gross sectarian palliative, for mere political gain: the prospect of more Labour votes from Muslims.
Voltaire and Swift proved that what dogmatists fear most is mockery. This truth was rubbed home in December by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, the Sikh playwright so disgracefully unprotected by the police - and government. As her satirical play closed and death threats drove her into hiding, Fiona MacTaggart, the minister for race equality, took it all on the chin. The violent dispute was, she said, "a sign of a lively, flourishing cultural life".
Meanwhile, all the government's diktats, its tsarist ukases, rain down from the centre. This regime is wedded to social intervention, for which a better phrase would be social manipulation. Fortunately, the pronouncements are often ignored atlocal level. Peter the Great issued an ukase ordering that all previous ukases be obeyed. The government must often feel similar frustration. It says "Don't smoke", and people continue to smoke. It says "Drink two units", and they continue to drink five. It says "Waste your money by putting it in a Pru pension scheme", and they persist in taking out loans to buy houses. People cling to their eternal (I hope) right to go to hell in their own way.
Last month's findings from the annual British social attitudes survey cast authoritative light on the upshot: disenchantment with a form of politics that seems to have little to do with most people's own anxieties. The most prominent anxiety is a wish to cut immigration. Newcomers are often seen as freeriders on a welfare state other people's taxes paid for....
The man, or woman, in Whitehall doesn't know best. Even in the government's current troubles, the present chances of change seem bleak. But every libertarian must hope it's the dark before the dawn. Otherwise, forget America and Russia: it's farewell freedom in Britain".
More here. (Via Blithering Bunny)
15 January, 2005
Three current news items follow. Morality is forgotten in the new Britain:
PC BRITAIN NOW REALLY SOFT ON CRIME
Wishy washy penalties now reduced even further
"Jail sentences are to be linked to whether there are enough prison places - for the first time in British history - under government proposals that provoked outrage last night. Judges will be expected to consider the state of prisons and the numbers already in them when deciding if a criminal should be jailed or given a community sentence.
The move, long supported by Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, was part of a Bill that included plans for a huge increase in the maximum fines magistrates can impose. Magistrates will be able to impose a maximum fine of 15,000 pounds compared with the current 5,000 pounds. A new system of day fines will be created which will link an offender's punishment to disposable income as well as the seriousness of the offence. The Bill also allows lie-detector tests to be used on sex offenders who have been released from jail on licence.
The plans to link the sentences handed to criminals to the availability of prison spaces is intended to prevent overcrowding in jails and keep the prison population below the government ceiling of 80,000.
Last night the Opposition said that it was an attempt by the Government to overcome its failure to build enough new prison places to meet a predicted rise in jail population. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, condemned the move unveiled by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, in the Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill. He said: "For the first time in British history, sentencing will be decided by economics rather than the merit of an individual case. "It is a disgraceful violation of our criminal justice system and will lead to thousands of criminals getting shorter sentences, or no sentence at all, because the Government has failed to provide enough prison places."
.... the Opposition said that it was an admission that the Government's prison policy had failed. "They have failed to provide more prison places despite the fact that our prisons are bursting at the seams," Mr Davis said. "Those who deserve to be in prison should be in prison - sentencing should be determined by the crime, not by the number of prison places available. It will be the British public who will suffer as a result of this Government's irresponsible policies....."
More here. And for a very embarrassing question about it all, see England Project.
And note that the prison shortage is NOT due to a shortage of money
Another announcement by the same government on the same day:
"Standing in the middle of the African bush yesterday, Gordon Brown said that Britain will pay an extra 1 billion pounds to help poor countries to get rid of their debt. The Chancellor said that the Government would pay 10 per cent of the cost of poor countries' debt to the World Bank, starting today with Tanzania, his second stop in his week-long tour of the continent. Britain would extend this promise to 70 of the world's most indebted countries for the next ten years, which the Treasury estimates at 1.1 billion pounds."
AND THE SAME GOVERNMENT WANTS TO MAKE BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION EASIER TOO
Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary, was forced into an embarrassing climbdown yesterday as an agency she controls agreed, in an out-of-court settlement, to review her controversial decision to water down new anti-bribery rules. In a decision that has landed the taxpayer with up to œ275,000 in legal costs, the agency that underwrites British exports to the developing world bowed to the demands of an anti-corruption campaigner and agreed to consult human rights and other non-corporate groups before finalising Ms Hewitt's changes....
Susan Hawley, research analyst for The Corner House, who brought the case, said: "This case is about ensuring that the coterie of ECGD's customers do not get to dictate the anti-bribery law." Ms Hawley said that she had proof that linked sustained lobbying from Rolls-Royce, BAE and Airbus to Ms Hewitt's decision to water down the new anti-bribery rules. Ms Hawley sent a letter to the DTI last night demanding the right to publish this evidence ahead of the public consultation. Ms Hawley plans to pursue the matter in the High Court if the Government refuses.
Ms Hewitt's revised policy, introduced on November 8, required British exporters to give anti-bribery undertakings in deals only on behalf of those companies it controlled. Under the previous policy, introduced on May 1, exporters to developing countries had to vouch for all affiliates in the deal, increasing the scope for corruption, according to opponents......
14 January, 2005
BRITISH JUSTICE STILL ON THE BURGLARS' SIDE
CHARLES CLARKE has ruled out giving householders more freedom to fight back against burglars. The Home Secretary defied Britain's two most senior police officers and victims' groups who had called for tougher laws. In his first big decision since his appointment last month, Mr Clarke asserted his independence from Tony Blair, who last month told MPs he was minded to change or clarify the law. Mr Clarke said that after discussions with chief constables and prosecutors it had been concluded that the existing law allowing "reasonable force" to be used against intruders was "sound". The Home Secretary said there would be a publicity campaign to ensure that people understood the law and could protect themselves. "I believe people have the right to defend themselves and I do believe in that old adage `An Englishman's home is his castle.' I believe our law provides that," he said.
There has been confusion in Whitehall, with ministers appearing at odds with each other over how to respond to the campaign to give householders more rights to tackle burglars.Mr Blair told MPs that he was minded to change or clarify the law - days after Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC, the Lord Chancellor, said he did not want a change in the law. Senior law officers are understood to have been reluctant to change the law on the basis of highly publicised incidents. An informal check by the Crown Prosecution Service found that only 11 people had been prosecuted for violence against an intruder during a burglary in 15 years. Five had been convicted.
Sir John Stevens, the retiring Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and his successor Sir Ian Blair both wanted the law toughened. Last night Scotland Yard was keeping silent.
The Norfolk farmer Tony Martin's conviction for killing a burglar sparked the campaign to tilt the law in favour of householders who defend themselves during burglaries. His conviction for murder, subsequently downgraded to manslaughter, was followed by several violent burglaries in which homeowners died.....
More here. Wayne Smallman has some good comments.
SOME HOPE FOR FATHERS TO BECOME CORRECT AGAIN
One impressive Nov. 2 vote has been overlooked by the media. By 85 percent to 15 percent, a ballot initiative in Massachusetts approved equal legal and physical custody of children whose parents are divorced. That ballot initiative is nonbinding, but it certainly is indicative of the will of the people and the growing recognition that children are best off under the care of both parents. The initiative came out of the grass roots following a massive signature-gathering effort during the summer. The proposition appeared on the ballot as follows:
Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation requiring that in all separation and divorce proceedings involving minor children, the courts shall uphold the fundamental rights of both parents to the shared physical and legal custody of their children and the children's right to maximize their time with each parent, so far as is practical, unless one parent is found unfit or the parents agree otherwise, subject to the requirements of existing child support and abuse prevention laws?
This initiative was sponsored by a fathers' rights group whose members believe fathers are systematically discriminated against by family courts, which nearly always award physical custody to the mother even when the father has committed no fault. Family courts typically deny faultless fathers their equal parental rights even when state law appears to require equal custody.
California Family Law, for example, states (Sec. 3010(a)): "The mother ... and the father ... are equally entitled to the custody of the child." The only specific examples the statute gives for denying custody to a parent are child abuse, false accusations of child abuse, abuse of someone else with whom the person has a domestic relationship, substance abuse, and conviction of certain felonies.
Laws about custody rights vary from state to state, and only about a dozen states specify a legal presumption in favor of equal custody. Iowa's new law says that if a court denies a request for joint physical custody, the judge must explain why it's not in the best interest of the child.
Whether or not a state law mandates equal rights to both parents, family courts appear instead to rely on a concept called "the best interest of the child." Because that notion is wholly subjective, an indefinable rule with no standards or accountability, in practice it rests on the personal whim or bias of the family court.
Family court judges find unwelcome the task of rendering a judicial decision detached from the law and from any due-process finding of fault, so they call on court-appointed psychologists to provide opinions of which parent should have custody. But the issue before the court is not psychological (except in rare cases of mental illness), and the psychologist's credentials no more qualify him to determine what is "the best interest of the child" than the judge - or the father or mother.
The social ills caused by the lack of a paternal role model and discipline dispenser in the home have been voluminously reported. We've been led to believe that the plight of fatherless children is caused by husbands walking out on their wives, fathers abandoning their children and deadbeat dads.
That might be a primary cause in the matriarchal welfare system, but no evidence supports a claim that large numbers of non-welfare fathers are voluntarily abandoning their children. Thousands, perhaps millions, of middle-class children are growing up fatherless because family courts have deprived them of fathers.
13 January, 2005
ACLU AGAINST RELIGION
Well, I guess we all know from their track-record what the ACLU thinks of religion. But this post lifted from Taranto is revealing too:
"It turns out the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman isn't the only one to dowdify the First Amendment. This is from the American Civil Liberties Union's Web page on free speech (ellipsis in original):
It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The Constitution's framers believed that freedom of inquiry and liberty of expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society.
Not to slight the importance of free speech, which we happily exercise every day, but the ACLU has edited out freedom of religion, which comes ahead of speech".
HATEFUL BUREAUCRACY FORCED TO BACK OFF BY PUBLICITY
It's the only weapon people usually have
All 10-year-old Carolyn Lipsick wanted to do was help some kids in a far away place where there was a tsunami, because, she says, "you can't just think of yourself, you have to think of other people." She had several ideas. "A coffee stand, a snack stand, a fruit stand, any kind of stand," Carolyn said Monday. Eventually, she settled on selling lemonade and cookies. So, her mom called the city of Miami Beach to find out what to do about getting a license for her enterprise.
That's when Carolyn got her first taste of dealing with government. "Food vending's not allowed in our city, so she can't get a license," says Miami Beach spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez. And that's basically what Carolyn's mom was told on the phone. "I got really, really mad," said Carolyn.
It was all a big misunderstanding, the city says. They wouldn't have shut her down had she opened some sort of stand, Rodriguez said. But in the end, the confusion may have been the best thing that could happen. First, a TV station reported that she couldn't get a license. Then suddenly, Carolyn found herself being whisked to Tallahassee by a politician. "It bothers me to see any child shut down," said state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who paid for her trip to the Capitol.
On Monday, Carolyn was selling lemonade and cookies at the state Capitol right outside Gallagher's office, and doing pretty good business. "I feel really good how it's turning out so far," said Carolyn, a fourth grader at Lehrman Community Day School.
While technically she couldn't have gotten a license, Rodriguez said if she had set up her stand, it's not likely anybody would have shut her down. And the city might have even helped her. "The police chief offered to let her use the police station," Rodriguez said.
12 January, 2005
HAPPINESS IS INCORRECT -- particularly in the "N.Y. Times"
By Martin E. P. Seligman (Prof. Seligman is deservedly one of the world's most eminent psychologists)
"I've been reading the New York Times every morning for more than forty years. When it still appeared on my doorstep in the morning during the Pentagon Papers incident, I knew that I still lived in a free country. I wish I could break myself of this reading habit. Why? Because the reporting of science, particularly of psychology, is so bad. I'll narrate the latest horror story first, and then try to put it in historical context.
On June 20th of this year, the Sunday Magazine of the New York Times carried, as its opening story, an article entitled "Against Happiness," by one Jim Holt. It warned that "Well-being might be bad for you," basing its thesis on an article that appeared in Psychological Science in May 2004.
The argument went like this: in the Psychological Science article, Mr. Holt told readers, "Researchers found that angry people are more likely to make negative evaluations when judging members of other social groups..But the same seems to be true of happy people, the researchers noted. The happier you are, the more liable you are to make bigoted judgments like deciding that someone is guilty of a crime simply because he's a member of a minority group." The article goes on to use this as a fulcrum for condemning well-being and happiness as having undesirable consequences for society.
I was puzzled since I know the literature on the positive consequences of happiness (including increased altruism, leadership, physical health, success, lack of depression, etc.) pretty well. So I re-read the original Psychological Science. I could not find these data therein.
The Psychological Science article looks at the consequences of sadness, anger, and neutrality (not of happiness) on "bigoted" social judgments. Have a look: DeSteno, David, Dasgupta, Nilanjana, Bartlett, Monica Y. & Cajdric, Aida (2004) Prejudice >From Thin Air. Psychological Science 15 (5), 319-324. But I was worried that somehow I had missed something. So I emailed the first author.
Here is Dr. DeSteno's reply:
"Dr. Seligman is exactly correct. The article cited below does not contain any statements about happiness. Rather, our work focuses on the ability of the emotion anger to evoke automatic prejudices.
I believe Mr. Holt may have been referring to work by Galen Bodenhausen that is cited in a recent NYT Science Times article (from the end of April) that focused on the work of my lab. Dr. Bodenhausen discussed his work in that article which details the influence of happiness on the use of stereotypes; happiness has been shown to make individuals rely on stereotyped beliefs when making certain judgments under certain conditions. This is a very different finding from ours in which we demonstrate that anger can bias the automatic appraisal mechanisms of the brain and produce a new prejudice.
What I find most peculiar about this event is that I was contacted a week ago by someone from the NYT fact checking department who told me of the description of my research findings. I, of course, noted the error to him and gave him a correct summary of our research findings. He asked for a phone number where I could be reached as he felt certain that the author would want to speak with me regarding this point. No one subsequently contacted me."
The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism
A bit of journalistic carelessness? Perhaps. Holt excused his own reporting with "allowing for a little journalistic caricature," which seems to mean that he took a thesis that fit his ideology and ran with it without doing the tedious homework of reading the large literature on the social benefits of happiness (e.g., happy people are more altruistic than unhappy people). But the editors liked it anyway and I have seen a pattern in the New York Times over the last decade when it comes to the reporting of psychology in particular and good news in general.
I was outraged when Spiro Agnew referred to his enemies as the "nattering nabobs of negativism" and doubtful more recently when others condemned the press and many politicians as "professional pessimists." But maybe Mr. Agnew was on to something.......
HOW GOOD OF THEM!
The Lake District national park authority put off a decision yesterday on a plan to drop guided walks and events on the grounds that they attract almost exclusively white and middle class people. A decision will now be taken at a special meeting later in the month. Officials said they had made the proposal after being encouraged by the government to appeal to young people from the inner-cities, disabled people, and members of the black and other ethnic minority communities under-represented among the park's visitors. The proposal was criticised by the volunteers who lead the walks and by bodies trying to get a wider range of people into national parks.
11 January, 2005
BRUTAL MASS MURDERERS ARE CORRECT
Turning communist tyrants into chic motifs of popular culture mocks their victims, writes Louis Nowra, from Sydney, Australia.
Each morning when I go to collect my mail I pass a new plaque on the footpath of Darlinghurst Road. I do not recognise the name of the man who is celebrated but he is proudly called a "communist". Imagine the outcry if the plaque read "fascist". What is disturbing to me is how being a communist continues to be seen as a badge of honour rather than a stigma it should be.
A popular movie showing at the moment is The Motorcycle Diaries, a romanticised portrait of the revolutionary Che Guevara before he became a communist. He is shown as handsome, sensitive and caring. There is no hint of the vicious-minded hoodlum he would become. When he came to power in Cuba as Castro's right-hand man, Che advocated the extermination of ideological enemies, ordered the incarceration and torture of many people and actively promoted terrorism. Thankfully, he was killed in Bolivia before he had a chance to add to his contribution to mass murder. Yet I see people in Sydney streets wearing his image on T-shirts or posters of him on shop walls as if he were the epitome of chic. The equivalent would be to enjoy a film about the pre-political youthful shenanigans of Nazis such as Goebbels or Goering.
Australians who were communists have seldom had to deal with society's moral opprobrium. There are always excuses. Their beliefs and actions are seen as youthful idealism or harmless japes. Then there are novelists such as Frank Hardy who, in a sentimental piece of codswallop, The Dead Are Many, ennobled communists as the moral lightning rod of Australian society. In a seminal overview of Australian communism, The Reds, the left-wing historian and hectoring polemicist Stuart Macintyre is enormously forgiving of its trespasses. It is forgotten that Australian communists fully supported Stalin's mass purges, which resulted in the deaths of untold millions. There are those who say that these Australians didn't know of the horrors that were being committed. That is balderdash. Astute visitors to the Soviet Union in the 1920s reported the truth.
After 1945 the Communist Party of Australia and its followers turned a blind eye to mass murders and torture in the new communist states. I don't know of any Australian communists who ever thought they were morally culpable for that. They were quite willing to talk of the brutality of fascism but seldom, if ever, faced the reality that their own creed jointly contributed to the horrors of the 20th century. This was brought home to me recently during interviews with former communists for a documentary. Not one was ashamed or even a little embarrassed about their party past. Not one said: "We were ideological thugs." The writers Dorothy Hewett and Bob Herbert recounted having to face tribunals that vetted their work and ordered them to rewrite it in accordance with "social realist principles". Don't think for a moment that those Australian bullies wouldn't have acted in the same way as Stalin if communists had come to power here.
And what of Australian Maoists? When I was at university in the early 1970s, these supposedly intelligent men and women not only supported Mao, who any sensible person knew was a murderer on a scale not seen since Hitler and Stalin, but called anyone who disagreed with them a fascist. If Che is regarded as chic, monstrous Mao is seen as kitsch and his image crops up on badges and as a beaming Buddha-like face in paintings and even on curtains. Again, imagine if Hitler or the swastika were used.
The net server BigPond's latest ad campaign has the headline "Join the Revolution" with a picture of an avuncular and "cool" Lenin. The empty-headed copywriters don't seem to realise that the Russian tyrant had hundreds of thousands of people put to death and founded the secret police which instigated a reign of terror that was to murder millions.
Last year I went to a museum in Budapest called The House of Terror. It is in a building used by fascists in World War II for interrogation and torture. After the war, the communist secret police appropriated it and proved themselves even more murderous and cruel. Every dismal room is testimony to the bloody brutality of communism. I recommend a visit to those who think of communism and its practitioners as benign, funny and hip.
More tools for bureaucratic harassment
San Francisco is considering steps to make sure its dogs are well cared for. The Board of Supervisors will vote Thursday on a proposed law setting minimum creature comforts for the more than 100,000 dogs that live in the city. The ordinance would regulate the nutritional quality of food fed to dogs, how water is served and specific requirements for dog shelters. For example, water would have to be served in a non-tipping bowl. Dog houses would have to have a raised floor and dry, clean bedding that's appropriate for the weather. The ordinance is expected to be approved.
10 January, 2005
The Greater Manchester police in the UK have banned the use of the word "township" to describe its subdivisions, claiming it to be a racist phrase because poor black people in South Africa are described as living in townships. For now on subdivisions are to be known as "partnerships."
Says one local politician, "I find it hard to believe that this word would cause offence and I think the people of Greater Manchester would far rather police concentrate on catching criminals than on the finer details of textual analysis."
In other news, Greater Manchester police have given anyone owning a "race" car twenty four hours to leave town.
Manchester Online (UK) 6-Jan-2006. (Via Jerry Lerman).
Politically incorrect welfare in Australia
Minorities must not help themselves!
"Fierce criticism of a deal between an Aboriginal community and the Federal Government, initiated by the Aboriginal people to improve the poor health of Aboriginal children, can only be described as politically motivated nonsense. The critics included former ATSIC chief, Mick Clarke; chairman of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre, Mick Dodson; NSW Democrat Senator Aden Ridgeway; and Labor's Aboriginal Affairs spokesman, Kim Carr.
Their claim that the deal was "patronising and insulting", or reached "with a gun at their head", ignores the fact that the proposal originated with the Mulan people themselves. The Mulan Aboriginal community, which lives in the remote north-west of Western Australia, proposed that the Federal Government fund the installation of a petrol-bowser, in exchange for which the local community would ensure that children wash and shower regularly, and that rubbish would be removed from around houses.
The town of Mulan suffers very high rates of the preventable eye disease, trachoma, which, if left untreated, results in blindness. The contagious bacterial disease is spread when children in contact with an infected person, get the bacteria on their hands, then rub their eyes. Repeated infection leads to permanent damage to the eyes.
The community decided to put the proposal to the Federal Government, after the local Catholic school initiated a hand- and face-washing program 18 months ago. Since then, rates of infection among these children, previously around 50 per cent, had fallen to 16 per cent, according to The Australian. The community then sought an agreement with Canberra that, in exchange for a community-based program to improve children's health, a new petrol-bowser would be installed, saving a 90 km round trip to buy fuel. The community administrator, Mark Sewell, told ABC radio's PM program that the community itself came up with the idea of the agreement, and approached the Government.
He said, "We wanted to improve kids' health and wanted to get fuel sales here as well. And, but we just felt that, you know, perhaps to show Government that we really mean business, we sort of put it down as an agreement where we'd work on the kids' health if the Government could help us with the fuel-bowsers."
The comments of the critics suggest that they would prefer Aboriginal people to continue to suffer from the disease than that they enter into the agreement which the Aboriginal people themselves had initiated."
Is this not an example of the arrogant paternalism of which they accused the Federal Government?
9 January, 2005
BLACK HOMOPHOBIA IS THE FAULT OF WHITES!
How desperate Leftists are to condemn their own society! Is there anything they won't blame it for? Can't minorities be just a TEENY bit bad?
"But the vilification of Jamaican homophobia implies more than a failure to accept postcolonial politics. It's a failure to recognise 400 years of Jamaican history, starting with the sodomy of male slaves by their white owners as a means of humiliation. Slavery laid the foundations of homophobia, and its legacy is still unmistakable in the precarious, overexaggerated masculinity of many men in Jamaica.
Jamaica was one of the most scandalously misgoverned of Britain's colonies, and since independence we've been helping ourselves to its workforce, while stigmatising it for exporting drugs and yardies. This has left an emasculating sense in many men that the only life that counts is lived abroad. Jamaica today is very poor. The schools are bad, the healthcare atrocious and the police widely mistrusted, and for many the only support comes from churches, many of which dispense a fire-and-brimstone religion that is not merely homophobic, but designed to discourage independent thought. The government doesn't have enough money to make real change, and the reason is simple. This year 69.9% of its budget went on servicing debt. For education, there was less than 10%.
Many Jamaicans are not homophobic, but the prevailing attitude to gays is ignorant and sometimes violent. But the fact remains that of all Jamaica's injustices and deprivations, homophobia cannot be singled out as uniquely intolerable. Although activists are right to campaign about it, it's wrong for public opinion to seize on the issue with no thought for political context.
A better emotion would be culpability. Every ingredient of Jamaica's homophobia implicates Britain, whose role has maintained the conditions conducive to homophobia, from slavery through to the debt that makes education unaffordable. For us to vilify Jamaicans for an attitude of which we were the architects is shameful. To do so in the name of liberal values is meaningless.... Jamaicans weren't the architects of their ideas about homosexuality; we were".
LEFTISTS ARE FIERCE ENEMIES OF DISCRIMINATION AND PERSECUTION, RIGHT?
Well, here's a cause that they could really get their teeth into. How odd that they don't!
"Let me start by saying that many people find it very surprising, even unbelievable, that in today's world the largest group of people being persecuted for their faith are Christians. This seems all the more unusual because Christianity is the world's largest religion.
I am fully aware that other religions, whether Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or others also suffer in various contexts, and we shall address these situations in subsequent articles. However, for the present we will focus on Christians, due to the urgency of the situation.
Incredibly, more than 200 million people in over 60 nations are being denied their basic human rights for one reason only: they are Christians. The main reason Christians are being persecuted today is the simple fact that Christianity is growing fastest in countries where human rights are being violated or do not exist.
One of my tasks as director of the Religious Liberty Commission is to represent these Christians - both Catholic and Protestant - at the United Nations Commission for Human Rights in Geneva, as well as in other contexts.
I would therefore like to give a brief analysis of the global situation regarding persecution of Christians. This analysis is based on reports from 114 countries and personal visits to many countries where Christian people suffer.
The persecution of Christians goes hand-in-hand with some important trends taking place around the world. I'd like to name five:
* Conflicts tend increasingly to occur within states, rather than between them. In such situations, religious tensions are likely to increase. We are all familiar with the heart-rending struggles in Kosovo, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Chechnya, Northern Ireland and East Timor, to name but a few.
The whole structure of the UN was created after the Second World War, and is designed to solve conflicts between states, not within them. Human rights are increasingly at the core of civil conflict, and added to that is the way countries like China, Russia and Indonesia interpret the whole issue of human rights - in other words, that human rights are each country's own internal affair. This places two fundamental principles on a collision course with one another: the sovereignty of the state, and the universal nature of human rights.
* Many countries with a colonial past are seeking their own identity. Very often, this has strong ties to a religion. We see this clearly, for example, in Asia: Pakistan adheres to Islam, India to Hinduism, Indonesia also to Islam, and Sri Lanka to Buddhism.
It is worth noting that the search for a national identity is strongest in five of the eight countries that together make up more than half of the world population. These are China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In each of these countries, Christians are finding themselves in increasingly tense situations, because they are painted as bearers of the religion brought by former colonial powers, and thus are considered a threat to national harmony.
* Developments in the Muslim world are likely to have an increasing impact on the lives of Christians within the next decade. The population growth in the Arab world is 4.3 per cent, compared with economic growth of only 0.5 per cent. The population is very young, and this creates the conditions for the growth of radical elements.
* There is a great difference between the West's view of reality and that of the developing countries. The West often interprets global thinking as its own world view written large. But ways of thinking, interpretation and culture differ far more than Westerners think. The West must be ready to listen, and to listen as never before.
* I would like to say something here about the growth of the Christian Church. There is a clear misunderstanding in Europe today that religion is no longer relevant to the modern world. Nothing could be further from the truth. The amazing fact is that of the world's six billion people, only a tiny proportion - 151 million - call themselves atheists. There are two billion Christians, 1.2 billion Muslims, 786 million Hindus and 362 million Buddhists. Religion is, and will continue to be, at the very centre of our world, at the centre of the conflicts within it, and also at the centre of how these conflicts are resolved in the next Millennium.
These five paradigm shifts are the principle reasons Christians are being persecuted today, and most likely why it will continue in the future.
8 January, 2005
FEMALE CHAUVINIST SOWS STEREOTYPE MEN
"As parents, males are thought to lack parenting abilities. Expanding paternity leave is pointless, since males are programmed to have little emotional attachment to their kids. Males lack empathy with others. If a friend approaches them to talk about problems, they change the subject or make a joke. In relationships they don't have a clue. They are faithless wretches 'hard-wired' by their genes to be promiscuous. Is this picture accurate? Happily, new research shows that it is not. Indeed, real men manage to escape the stereotypes much of the time."
SOME HISTORY OF PC
"The first documented published use of the term political correctness was in 1912 in Chapter 1 of Senator Robert LaFollette's Autobiography . Speaking of his education at the University of Wisconsin, he says "In those days we did not so much get correct political and economic views, for there was then little teaching of sociology or political economy worthy the name".
Sen. La Follette of Wisconsin later ran for President in 1924 on the Progressive Party platform. The University of Wisconsin Madison campus has often been cited as the birthplace of political correctness. Donna Shalala, former Clinton Secretary of Health & Human Services and University of Wisconsin Chancellor has been called the founder of political correctness.
Here is an extended excerpt of the passage:
It is difficult, indeed, to overestimate the part which the university has played in the Wisconsin revolution. For myself, I owe what I am and what I have done largely to the inspiration I received while there. It was not so much the actual courses of study which I pursued; it was rather the spirit of the institution--a high spirit of earnest endeavor, a spirit of fresh interest in new things, and beyond all else a sense that somehow the state and the university were intimately related, and that they should be of mutual service.
The guiding spirit of my time, and the man to whom Wisconsin owes a debt greater than it can ever pay, was its President, John Bascom.
I never saw Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I should say that John Bascom was a man of much his type, both in appearance and in character. He was the embodiment of moral force and moral enthusiasm; and he was in advance of his time in feeling the new social forces and in emphasizing the new social responsibilities. His addresses to the students on Sunday afternoons, together with his work in the classroom, were among the most important influences in my early life. It was his teaching, iterated and reiterated, of the obligation of both the university and the students to the mother state that may be said to have originated the Wisconsin idea in education. He was forever telling us what the state was doing for us and urging our return obligation not to use our education wholly for our own selfish benefit, but to return some service to the state. That teaching animated and inspired hundreds of students who sat under John Bascom. The present President of the university, Charles R. Van Hise, a classmate of mine, was one of the men who has nobly handed down the tradition and continued the teaching of John Bascom.
In those days we did not so much get correct political and economic views, for there was then little teaching of sociology or political economy worthy the name, but what we somehow did get, and largely from Bascom, was a proper attitude toward public affairs. And when all is said, this attitude is more important than any definite views a man may hold.
(Post taken from Nobsblog)
7 January, 2005
MORE ANTI-WHITE PREJUDICE IN THE UNHINGED KINGDOM
Lake District is facing mass resignations by its volunteer rangers over a decision to scrap free guided walks in the national park because they do not attract enough people from ethnic minority communities. Ranger-led walks are among 900 Lake District events planned for 2005-06 that are to be dropped because they appeal mostly to "white, middle-class, middle-aged people". The cost-cutting move is part of a strategy that hopes to win extra government and European Union funding for the park by meeting targets to attract more young, urban, black, Asian and disabled people. Some people have accused the authority, which is due to ratify the decision today, of saying that white people are no longer welcome in the Lake District.
The park's 300 volunteer rangers bring thousands of novice walkers to the Lake District every year. In addition to the scenic walks, volunteers run slide shows, pathfinder courses and farm visits for children, map and compass courses and sea and mountain rescue courses for adults. Next year's events guide for England's largest national park was due to go to print when the rangers were told that it was to be torn up. There was no consultation.
Mick Casey, a media officer for the authority, said that the events programme was used by only 35,000 of the 14 million people who visit the Lake District annually. "The majority who do the walks are white, middle-class, middle-aged people," he said. "The Government is encouraging national parks to appeal to young people, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities."
Derek Tunstall, 51, a Lake District volunteer for 32 years, said that the rangers cost the authority only œ32,000 last year in travel expenses, courses and safety equipment. "Some people who come on the walks every year feel devastated," he said. "There will be widespread resignations if it goes ahead." Among those considering resigning is Derek Lyon, 73, a former chairman of the Lake District Voluntary Rangers: "We treat everyone the same on the walks, whatever their skin colour, age or social background. Stopping them seems incomprehensible."
CORRECT IN WORDS BUT NOT IN DEEDS
The People's Republic of Berkeley show that they really don't give a damn even about their next-door neighbours
Here in the nation's capital of tolerance and liberalism, the people have had enough. More than a score of neighbors are suing an Animal House near the University of California-Berkeley campus where over the years students have hurled chunks of roasted pig at passers-by during a luau, beheaded a chicken with garden shears and twirled a flaming baton next to a neighbor's fence. The off-campus cluster of houses called Le Chateau has developed a reputation for outrageousness that has forced even the open-minded to demand an end to the situation. One former Chateauvian, as they're called, was dubbed "naked guy" because he went to class wearing only shoes and a small hat. A small-claims court judge recently concluded hearing testimony from 21 neighbors, each of whom seeks $5,000, or $105,000 total, from the student housing cooperative association that owns Le Chateau. A date for the ruling wasn't announced.
For 15 years, next-door neighbor George Lewinski has endured noisy pool parties, marijuana smoke and homeless people from the nearby 1960s landmark People's Park camping at Le Chateau. "It's (like) a very bad frat house, with a kind of anarchist politics that welcomes all sorts of undesirable people," Lewinski, 57, said. His wife, a UC-Berkeley psychology professor, has used earplugs to sleep since 1989, he said.
Another plaintiff, Julie Morfee, 40, who resided in a different co-op while a UC-Berkeley student in the 1980s, said she's hardly an old fuddy-duddy but has to sleep with her windows closed because her back yard abuts the raucous Chateau pool. "It's extraordinary and outrageous in an outrageous town," she said. "At its worst, it's like living next door to a pretty wild commune."....
Many of the plaintiffs in the suit against Le Chateau teach or study at UC-Berkeley, including Lewinski, a senior producer for the local National Public Radio affiliate and a journalism instructor at the campus. During recent testimony, neighbors expressed exasperation over noise and drug use - complaining that Chateau students took up chain-saw sculpturing and tossed drug needles in their back yards.
Next-door neighbor Michelle Pellegrin, who rents rooms in her house to student boarders, said she was horrified to look into a Chateau window and witness someone intravenously administering drugs at about the time a heroin bust had happened there. Plaintiff John Caner, president of the Willard Neighborhood Association, told of once taking a look inside Le Chateau: "In my opinion, it looks like one of the worst New York subway stations."
6 January, 2005
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
* In Texas, a U.S. District judge decreed that any student uttering the word "Jesus" at his school's graduation would be arrested and locked up. "And make no mistake," announced Judge Samuel B. Kent, "the court is going to have a United States marshal in attendance at the graduation. If any student offends this court, that student will be summarily arrested and will face up to six months incarceration in the Galveston County Jail for contempt of court."
* In Missouri, when fourth-grader Raymond Raines bowed his head in prayer before his lunch in the cafeteria of Waring Elementary School in St. Louis, his teacher allegedly ordered him out of his seat, in full view of other students present, and sent him to the principal's office. After his third such prayer "offense," little Raymond was segregated from his classmates, ridiculed for his religious beliefs, and given one week's detention.
* In New York, kindergartner Kayla Broadus recited the familiar and beloved prayer - "God is great, God is good. Thank you, God, for my food" - while holding hands with two students seated next to her at her snack table at her Saratoga Springs school early last year. But she was silenced and scolded by her teacher, who reported the infraction to the school's lawyer, Gregg T. Johnson, who concluded that Kayla's behavior was indeed a violation of the "separation of church and state."
"The constitutional separation of church and state" - a reference to the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights - is a phrase Americans hear literally every day from the news media, from legal organizations, from politicians and pundits, and especially from zealous attorneys and judges. "Separation of church and state" was used by the ACLU to demand that a banner proclaiming "God bless America," erected outside a school shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to honor the 3,000 murdered Americans, must be taken down. "Separation of church and state" was used to deny a little, handicapped girl the right to read her Bible on the bus on the long trip to school. "Separation of church and state" was used to take Justice Roy Moore's 10 Commandments monument out of the Alabama Judicial Building, and it is being used right now to challenge the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The phrase is repeated so often and with such assurance, one would think it is the keystone phrase of the U.S. Constitution. And yet - the words "separation," "church," or "state" are not found in the First Amendment, nor in any other founding document for that matter. In fact, the entire "constitutional separation of church and state" is a recent fabrication of activist judges who have ignored the Constitution's clear meaning. Indeed, says U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in the stunning November issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine, "There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the Framers intended to build the 'wall of separation' [between church and state]."
A group seeking to end affirmative action in Michigan says it is in the final stages of a petition drive aimed at putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2006 ballot. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative must turn in at least 317,757 valid signatures of voters to qualify for the ballot. The group must collect all those signatures within 180 days, which would bring a January deadline for an effort that began last summer. Chetly Zarko, a spokesman for the group, declined to say how many signatures had been collected or exactly when they would be turned in. A posting on the group's Web site said the signature-gathering phase of the campaign would be finished in the next several days. "It's going well," Zarko said Monday. "I feel confident."
The initiative would prevent public agencies and universities from granting preferential treatment based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin or sex. The group's efforts began after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the University of Michigan could consider race to create a diverse student population. The court, however, struck down the university's undergraduate policy for ensuring a mix of students as too formulaic. University officials later revised the policy.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative originally sought to have its proposed amendment on the November 2004 ballot. But legal challenges slowed the campaign. Opponents include an umbrella group called Citizens for a United Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN).
An Ingham County judge last year ruled the campaign's petition forms did not clearly state the initiative would change the Michigan constitution's anti-discrimination and equal protection provisions. An appeals court disagreed and overturned that decision. The Michigan Supreme Court, in a 4-3 order issued last week, said it will not review the court of appeals decision. "It's unfortunate," said David Waymire, a Citizens for a United Michigan spokesman. "It looks like we can't go any further with that."
The Supreme Court order said Justices Michael Cavanagh, Marilyn Kelly and Elizabeth Weaver would have agreed to hear an appeal. That indicates Chief Justice Maura Corrigan and Justices Stephen Markman, Clifford Taylor and Robert Young Jr. opposed a review. Waymire said his group may now focus on challenges to signatures on petitions, if they are filed with state elections officials. "They have been deceitful about this campaign from Day One," Waymire said.
The campaign is backed by Ward Connerly, a California businessman and affirmative action opponent. The campaign has used paid signature gatherers. Zarko said the campaign also includes broad financial and volunteer support from Michigan residents.
5 January, 2005
POLITICAL INCORRECTNESS WORKS
Horrors! Fancy targeting black areas. Why are so many blacks being arrested?
"Chicago, the nation’s murder capital in 2003 with 598 homicides, saw the number fall to a preliminary total of 447. It was the first time that the city has ended a year with fewer than 500 murders since 1965, when there were 395. Police claimed credit for targeting the city’s street gangs. An extra 180 officers from the Targeted Response Unit were despatched every night to areas plagued by gang violence. As a result, killings fell most sharply in the most dangerous neighbourhoods, with murder down 55 per cent in one district and by 52 per cent in another.
The Chicago police also revived their gang intelligence unit, which had been disbanded in the late 1990s because of corruption. The department plans to add new anti-crime strategies this year, such as installing technology that can pinpoint the occurrence of gunshots around the city. “We’re never going to eliminate all crime. We have a city of 3 million people,” said Philip Cline, the city’s police superintendent,. “But we are going to do our best to keep working on the gangs that are responsible for the majority of our violent crime.”
Chicago and other cities have learned from the “zero tolerance” policing tactics pioneered by New York, which saw its murder rate fall from a peak of 2,245 during the crack cocaine epidemic of 1990 to 571 last year — its lowest since the 549 homicides in 1963.
BRITAIN'S POLITICALLY CORRECT POLICING HAS REALLY HELPED -- NOT!
Britain’s police forces will face severe criticism in a think-tank report to be published next week. The study by right-of-centre group Civitas questions the effectiveness of forces in tackling crime. It says the police spend too much time behind desks instead of fighting crime on the streets. The result, it says, is that crime is “a very low-risk activity for the criminal”. America, France and Germany have suffered similar sharp rises in crime to Britain since the 1960s but have tackled them more effectively, the report says.
According to The Sunday Times, unlike their counterparts in other countries, British police have failed to focus on prevention of crime and zero tolerance of low-level disorder and antisocial behaviour. The rise in crime in the UK is “so spectacular” it is “difficult to comprehend”, the report argues. Britain is now “a seriously crime-afflicted and disintegrating society”. The report says that burglaries have increased more than fivefold from 72,000 in 1964 to 402,000 last year. And there are now 33 robberies of personal property for every one 40 years ago.
The report concludes: “The attitude of the police towards crime and anti-social behaviour has changed radically from the principles which were laid down by the founders of the Metropolitan Police in the early 19th century. “The Peelite principles of policing put the prevention of crime as the highest priority ... The hostility of the law enforcement establishment to the old beat policing model is a significant factor in the police force’s inability to get to grips with rising crime.”
4 January, 2005
OFFENDERS ON BOTH SIDES?
By constantly demanding that people give up their personal religious beliefs merely because they happen to be on public property at the time, First Amendment guarantees of freedom of worship, speech, and assembly are being violated. At the same time, those who would insist that the government take on the characteristics of a majority religion are violating the same precepts even as they engage in discriminatory behaviors to boot. It's these extremist positions that are causing still more trouble.
Those citizens and public officials who do their utmost to force others to recognize their religious beliefs by posting the Ten Commandments or crosses on public property are begging for lawsuits. Their prayers (pun intended) are frequently answered. Meanwhile, those who are on a crusade to strip all mention of religion from the public even when those mentions are being made by private citizens (consider paving bricks used as fundraisers, for example, which some maintain shouldn't be allowed any religious content) are violating the very statutes they claim to be trying so hard to uphold. As a result, the fight is becoming even more bitter and making inroads into areas where such opinion truly has no place.
As you read this, a Texas pastor is being sued for having disciplined a congregant according to the rules of the church. A woman who committed adultery refused to repent. So, in accordance with church belief, the pastor of her church advised the congregation she was no longer a member there and offered a biblical explanation as to why her membership was being revoked. The woman subsequently sued the pastor. While a lower court ruled in favor of the minister, an appeals court reversed that ruling. The case is now being appealed to the Texas State Supreme Court.
If the woman's secular boss had disciplined her according to his personal religious beliefs, I'd agree that the woman has a case. But there's a certain set of beliefs one must accept when one follows one religious faith or another. Since the woman failed to adhere to those beliefs, the pastor has every right to disassociate himself and his church from her. After all, to go back to the example of an employer, the woman would certainly be fired if she proved herself incapable of doing the job for which she was hired. There's little if any difference here in practice; in reality, the biggest difference is the one that makes the pastor's decision even more unquestionable, and that is the fact it's a religious issue which should be decided solely by religious authorities. If the courts continue to rule in the woman's favor, the First Amendment will be dealt a significant blow.
In the meantime, the holidays are rapidly approaching and few seem inclined to stop fighting either the constraints or reliefs offered by the First Amendment. Instead, they go shopping and wrap toys in shiny packages but are offended when others mention that part of the reason behind all of this gift-giving has to do with Judaism or Christianity. In fact, many object to the barest mention that those particular religions have anything to do with anything, even during Hanukkah or on Christmas.
Conversely, there are those who look down their pious noses at those who choose not to celebrate religiously, and who demand that their own religious viewpoints be not only acknowledged but given preferential treatment. These are the people who, since a majority in America are Christian, think that those who aren't should just sit down, shut up, and bow their heads out of respect when others are leading them in Christian prayer.
I've jumped up and down more than once with objections to those who would impose their religion on others. I feel exactly the same way about those who would demand their non-religion receive any more - or less - respect than that due their opposites. Both sides need to remember that there can be no freedom of worship when worship is either mandated or prohibited. The government ought to try to remember that, too, as well as to recall that equal treatment would better involve positive inclusion and thus the most possible freedom, rather than across-the-board discrimination and a universal quashing of the right to worship as one sees fit.
In the spirit of the First Amendment, have a happy...well, enjoy whatever it is you celebrate this time of year. Perhaps more people this year will finally begin to consider letting other people celebrate whatever it is they celebrate, too, and without complaint. Now that would be a real gift!
A giant wakes to shake the world
From Michael Duffy:
"We are in the middle of an amazing revival of confidence in Western values. Wherever you look, leaders are saying things that were unfashionable, even inconceivable, for decades. They are doing things that show a renewed faith in our Western traditions. For decades many in the West have been running scared. Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell's motto is: "Be Not Afraid". He chose this not because he's a wimp - he could have played Australian Rules for Richmond - but in recognition of the fact so many of us were so afraid for so long.
Consider Aboriginal affairs. It's been obvious for more than a decade that our policies have been a disastrous failure for most Aborigines in remote communities. But if you said this publicly you were branded a racist. So no one said anything, because we were afraid. Because of this silence, Aboriginal people continued to suffer violence, bad health, substance abuse and other evils. But all of a sudden it's possible to point to the problems and suggest new solutions. Noel Pearson has been talking about the evil of welfare dependency but now he's being joined by new voices. Like the Aboriginal community in the Kimberley who this month said they were happy to take better care of the health of their kids in return for petrol bowsers. Like Aboriginal leaders Warren Mundine and Wesley Aird who've just said we should reconsider Aboriginal communal land ownership.
Make no mistake, this is a huge issue, and it's a major breakthrough that Aborigines have put it on the agenda. When Aborigines are given land rights they receive the land as a group and have to manage it as a group. They can never sell it. Often this means nothing gets done with the land, because groups are reluctant to embrace change. It also means the main asset of most Aborigines - their land - is locked up. This has the effect of chaining many Aboriginal people to places where there is no work and which will never be part of the broader economy. Places where there are no hospitals or even doctors within hundreds of kilometres. So breaking this link with the land is the best thing that could happen to Aborigines. I'm not talking of ripping them off. I'm talking about giving them the same sort of economic freedom and access to services that is available to other Australians.
Of course those proposing these new approaches are accused of racism and paternalism. But suddenly these accusations don't matter so much. People are no longer afraid. We're seeing something similar in the Pacific. Australia has sent troops or police into East Timor, the Solomons and now PNG. Ten years ago this would have been inconceivable and seen by many people here and overseas as recolonialisation. But something important has happened. Australians have again recognised the superiority of many of our institutions and traditions. We've accepted we are strong and no longer afraid to use that strength for good, even if this means attracting accusations of paternalism, racism, recolonialisation . . . This is an enormous change.
We're seeing it elsewhere, with Iraq the biggest example. We invaded Iraq to impose democracy there. The hope was that this would inspire reform in other Arab countries, which are all dictatorships or oligarchies. America botched the occupation, and whether it succeeds or fails remains to be seen.
But there's something in common behind it and the other examples of Western confidence I've mentioned. Many in the West have done a lot of thinking since September 11 and the Bali bombing. We've had to think not just about the people who did these things but the people they did them to ourselves. This has alerted us to our weaknesses, but it has also given many of us a renewed sense of our own strengths. I think we will see more examples of moral confidence from our leaders in the next year.
The Department of Community Services will start to ignore criticism that it is breaking up families, and remove more children from dangerous situations. Australia will take an even stronger role in the Pacific. Black and white leaders, no longer afraid of accusations of paternalism, will introduce policies that actually work for Aboriginal Australians. We in the West have our problems. We should not be arrogant - but nor should we be afraid".
3 January, 2005
THE ANTI-LIBERTY ACLU
By its actions of recent years, the ACLU has inarguably proven that it not only knows how to use the law as a weapon with which to destroy freedom, but that it obsessively endeavors to do so. Recent experience also shows that in those cases where its goals aren’t supported by the law, fear and intimidation will apparently suffice.
This is why the ACLU continues to threaten school districts and other municipalities with legal retribution over such issues as student-led Bible studies on public property, despite legal precedent that is inarguably in favor of the inherent rights of students to engage in such activity.
For far too long, the ACLU has gotten away with its iron-fisted tactics on the absurd notion that it is upholding the “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment. But contrary to the present day assertions of the ACLU, America’s founders never intended that passage as a license to expunge every vestige of religious thought from public life.
The real intention of “Establishment Clause” was simply to guarantee that the Congress did not legally compel citizens regarding which religious or philosophical doctrines they must believe. The notion that the founders might have been worried by the possibility of anyone “taking offense” to religious teachings or symbols is nothing more than a modern-day fabrication. But, having successfully constructed just such a caricature of the Establishment Clause, the ACLU now claims responsibility for ensuring that certain individuals and groups go through life in America, free of ever being “offended.” And since every conceivable action holds the potential to “offend” somebody, a decision must be made as to which actions do and don’t constitute legitimate cases of “offense.” Of course, the ACLU presumes itself to be the absolute arbiter of this role.
Meanwhile, the apostles of “political correctness” diligently spread their religion by way of “Sensitivity Training” sessions, occurring at government institutions from the highest cabinet level offices to the tiniest rural school districts, where subjects are mentally bludgeoned into compliance. But rather than decry these “tent revivals” of the counterculture, the ACLU supports them, and in some cases, demands that they be conducted.
While proper codes of conduct have always been a fitting part of any reasonable working environment, “Sensitivity Training” is clearly intended to accomplish far more. Ultimately, its goal is nothing less than to instill an immutable structure of ideas into its participants. Though an absolute affront to anything traditionally regarded as “religious,” it promotes a mindset that is every bit as foundational to the counterculture as the Bible is to believing Christians.
In the public arena, these tactics are justified as a desperate defense against the ostensible “dangers” of an America eventually ruled by omnipotent Bible-believing dictators. Yet, in the meantime it is the ACLU that is amassing and increasingly wielding just such power, aided and abetted by the collusion of activist courts and the extra-constitutional decisions they now willingly hand down.
The real danger to America’s future does not emanate from a display of the Christ Child on the courthouse lawn anymore than from the verses of a Christmas Carol. Rather, it is present in any governing entity that presumes the authority to control thought. A government that will forcibly eradicate any particular creed is one that will just as forcibly supplant that creed with one of its own.
OPPRESSIVE HATE CRIME LAWS
"While American hate-crime laws currently punish criminal acts motivated by bigotry, William Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, says the principle behind such statutes could be "worse than a slippery slope" toward restricting fundamental freedoms. "In the '40s, '50s, '60s and even '70s, we were taught that the difference between the free world and the communist bloc was that in the free world if you committed a crime, you were going to go to jail for what you did, but in the Soviet Union and other countries, you would go to jail for what you thought," Mr. Murray said. "Hate-crimes laws are not really hate-crimes laws — they are really hate-thought laws," Mr. Murray says. "We have a movement in the entire Western world ... for people to go to jail for what they think."
It is not mere speculation to think that hate-crimes laws could be used to quash free speech, he says, citing an October protest in Philadelphia. On "National Coming Out Day," a Christian group held a demonstration on a public walkway outside a homosexual-activism event called "Outfest." Protesters at the Oct. 10 event were informed by police that they could stand wherever they wanted, since the festival was being held on public sidewalks. However, when their demonstration was interrupted by a group called "the Pink Angels," the police ordered the Christian group to relocate and later arrested them. Ten of the demonstrators were held for 21 hours and released; one member of the group was held for 10 days because of confusion involving an outstanding parking ticket. All were charged with eight criminal counts, including "ethnic intimidation," a second-degree felony.
The Philadelphia case, says Mr. Murray, is the perfect example of the "hate crime" mentality gone bad. The movement from a "hate crime" to a "hate thought" is "worse than a slippery slope," Mr. Murray says. "A slippery slope you go down slowly — this thing is a cliff. These people were peaceably demonstrating, but they were demonstrating for something that was politically incorrect." That the Philadelphia demonstrators were charged with a hate crime based on speech does not fall in line with the specifics of Pennsylvania's law against ethnic intimidation, says Brain Fahling, attorney for the protesters. He says they will not be convicted of the charged crimes because they didn't commit them. "The ethnic-intimidation law has conduct associated with it, which means that to be guilty of it requires something more than speech," Mr. Fahling says. A videotape made by an independent San Francisco film company of the protest and subsequent arrest shows no hate actions at all, says Mr. Fahling, just a group of people proclaiming their religious beliefs. "There is nothing in that videotape that would demonstrate that my clients did anything other than exercise the rights the constitution allows them to exercise," he says.
But Christians aren't the only ones who think that hate-crimes law should not dictate thoughts. Joe Perez, owner and contributing writer of the Gay Spirituality & Culture blog (www.gayspirituality.typepad.com) says he understands that every person has a right to speak what he or she thinks to be true, even if it makes him uncomfortable. "Hate speech is not a behavior that I ... want to see made illegal. The line that's drawn in the United States is generally between the speech that is simply offensive to a great number of people and speech that incites violence within a group — and that's a line that I feel comfortable with," Mr. Perez says. "If someone says that I think a group is wrong, or a group is acting immorally, or a group is wicked, or evil or condemned to hell, I may find that offensive and objectionable, but I don't think it should be illegal."
In fact, as Mr. Perez argues that condemning Christians for speaking against homosexuals is no different than condemning homosexuals for speaking against Christians. "Can you imagine the outrage if a Christian fundamentalist intruded in a private gathering of queer activists, overheard a speaker say, 'Fundamentalism represents an abnormal, a horrible, cancerous tumor in the body of society,' reported him to the authorities, and then the laws of our land permitted the speaker to be arrested and imprisoned for a month?" he writes on his Web log. "That speaker would become a martyr and hero to the cause, a victim of the unjust, evil times in which we live and rage would ferment against our 'enemies' and all that they represent."
Mr. Perez also warns that laws that punish ideas are not only unfair, but are counterproductive. "Using the laws of a state to imprison folks who do not understand or agree with us, or who say mean-spirited things, cannot create a culture that makes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks safer and more secure," he says. "Instead, it will taint all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activism with the stench of extreme political correctness gone amok."
2 January, 2005
REAL TOLERANCE BEING STRANGLED
On the 18th of this month, 1,000 enraged Sikhs stormed the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, throwing eggs, smashing windows, injuring three police officers, attempting to climb onto the stage, and successfully halting the production after it had played for 20 minutes. "Behzti," Punjabi for "dishonor," had aroused the mob's ire because the playwright, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, had placed its rape scene in a Sikh temple. Ms. Bhatti, herself a British-born Sikh, had resisted local pressure to move the incendiary action to a religiously neutral setting like a community center.
The upshot: Score one for yahooism, zero for law. Reluctantly, the Birmingham Rep canceled the run, for neither the theater nor the police could guarantee the safety of audience and staff. Determined to defend free speech, a second Birmingham company volunteered to stage the play instead, only to withdraw the offer at the request of the playwright, now in hiding after receiving several death threats.
Even more distressing than the triumph of shattered plate glass is the rhetoric to which this conflict has given rise--and not only from conservative Sikhs, but from leaders of the Catholic Church. The views of Harmander Singh, spokesman for a Sikh advocacy group, were echoed by numerous British television news guests for days: "We are not against freedom of speech, but there's no right to offend."
Oh, but indeed there is. Freedom of speech that does not embrace the right to offend is a farce. The stipulation that you may say whatever you like so long as you don't hurt anyone's feelings canonizes the milquetoast homily, "If you can't say anything nice. . .." Since rare is the sentiment that does not incense someone, rest assured that in that instance you don't say anything at all.
The concept of religious "tolerance" seems to be warping apace these days, and we appear to forget that commonly one tolerates through gritted teeth. It is rapidly becoming accepted social cant that to "tolerate" other people's religions is to accord them respect. In fact, respect for one's beliefs is gradually achieving the status of a hallowed "human right."
I am under no obligation to respect your beliefs. Respect is earned; it is not an entitlement. I may regard creationists as plain wrong, which would make holding their beliefs in high regard nonsensical. In kind, if I proclaim on a street corner that a certain Japanese beetle in my back garden is the new Messiah, you are also within your rights to ridicule me as a fruitcake.
The fact that we have to be free to outrage one another is potentially in conflict with a law that soon will be put to the Commons that would add "incitement to religious hatred"--punishable by seven years in prison--to the equally dubious legislation already on the British books banning "incitement to racial hatred." Laws that prohibit incitement to illegal action seem defensible enough. But with this and similar "hate crime" legislation, are we not on the way to classifying hatred itself as a crime? And while we are at it, should we not then criminalize envy and narcissism for also being antisocial states of mind? Moreover, what is the difference between "incitement to hatred" and "incitement to fierce dislike"? Or "incitement to mockery"?
The spokesman for the Roman Catholic Bishop of Birmingham applauded the cancellation of "Behzti" last week, intoning that "with freedom of speech and artistic license must come responsibility." But the familiar "with rights come responsibilities" line is standard-issue blarney for, "It's all very well to hold rights in theory, so long as you don't choose to exercise them." Making this case all the more pointed, even the right of a woman to criticize her own religion has been trammeled.
Apparently contemporary "tolerance" does not merely allow others to practice whatever goofy or incomprehensible religion they like--and sometimes with a rolled eye--but surrounds any faith with a hands-off halo of sanctity, so that whatever is sacred to you must also be sacred to me. Disquietingly, this halo in Britain may be enshrined into law. Worse, today's exaggeratedly deferent brand of tolerance is driven by a darker force than mere let's-all-get-along multiculturalism, and that is fear. In the post-9/11 world, we are arriving at an unspoken understanding that zealots in our midst must not be offended, lest in their indignation they do something horrible.
In Birmingham this month, "they" did do something horrible, vandalizing private property, issuing death threats, and bullying a theater director of integrity into violating his own beliefs--which, being secular, apparently count for little. Meanwhile, Britain's Channel Four has promoted its "Shameless Christmas Special" with billboards parodying "The Last Supper," in which Jesus, if you'll pardon the expression, is drunk as a lord. Some Christians find the ads in poor taste. I may admire the campaign as droll; the pious may pontificate about how much they deplore it. Now, that is free speech.
Killer vacuum attacks Scotsman: "An Aberdeen man has won more than 10,000 pounds in compensation from vacuum cleaner outfit Dyson after one of the manufacturer's machines attempted to total the 59-year-old ... Norman Grant told Aberdeen Sheriff Court how on 3 March 2002, as he was trying to tackle 'high cobwebs' at his home, the hose extension 'suddenly knocked him down his stairs.' Grant suffered wrist and head injuries in the incident, exact details of which are not forthcoming. Grant came face-to-face with the homicidal machine for a second time when he went to court to plead for damages. In the event, he settled for a unnamed sum understood to be in excess of 10,000 pounds."
Christmas stupidity : "Christmas is a joyous holiday, and joyous people tend not to behave like Torquemada. By my rough calculation, 99.87 percent of Christians who say 'Merry Christmas' to people who aren't Christian do so because they're trying to be nice. And, by my equally rough calculation, 97.93 percent of people who take real offense when they're on the receiving end of such Yuletide wishes are trying to be a pain in the -- uh, well, they're trying to be a pain. Let's put it this way. If you were in Morocco (and a non-Muslim) and someone said to you, 'Have a nice Ramadan,' you'd probably say thanks respectfully and leave it at that. But some people are aghast that, here at home, someone might say 'Merry Christmas' to them without first making sure they're Christians."
1 January, 2005
HEY! WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT!
Who'd have known it?
"A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. Darlene Jespersen, who had worked for nearly 20 years at a Harrah's Entertainment (HET) casino bar in Reno, objected to the company's revised policy that required female bartenders, but not male ones, to wear makeup. A previously much-praised employee, Jespersen was fired in 2000 after the firm instituted a 'Beverage Department Image Transformation' program and she sued, alleging sex discrimination."
Rethinking American History, Completely
Book review by David Gordon
The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. By Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Regnery Publishing, 2004. Xv + 270 pgs.
Thomas Woods' superb new book has already achieved fame as the first Austrian-inspired book to be on the New York Times bestseller list in many years. It also delivers much more than it promises. Woods offers his book as a guide to "those who find the standard narrative or the typical textbook unpersuasive or ideologically biased" (p. xiv). This suggests that Woods has principally students in mind as his audience; but many others will benefit from reading the book. Woods displays a remarkably broad knowledge of the latest specialized research on various episodes of American history. This permits him, again and again, to raise illuminating points that will instruct even knowledgeable readers.
The book is no mere compilation of surprising facts. Woods has rather organized his account around a central theme. Americans have, from the colonial period to the present, flourished so long as they lived in a free economy, accompanied by a government strictly limited in powers. But throughout much of our history, the efforts of Americans to live freely have confronted a formidable enemy: the Leviathan state. Woods shows that the federal government, far from being the protector of the rights of minorities, has been the main obstacle on the path to liberty.
But, one might object to this account, was not the American settlement conceived in sin? How can one say that Americans always sought to live freely when the earliest Puritan settlers began their "free" society by theft of Indian lands?
Woods meets this initial challenge head on. The Puritans did not steal from the Indians: they bought land from various tribes, in willing and beneficial exchange. "[W]hile the king had issued colonial land grants, the Puritan consensus . . . was that the king's charter conferred political and not propertyrights to the land, which Puritan settlers sought by means of voluntary cession from the Indians. The colonial government actually punished individuals who made unauthorized acquisitions of Indian lands" ( p. 8, emphasis in original).
The American colonists, as they developed a free society, realized that a strong central government threatened their achievements. Once they gained independence, they were not about to surrender the freedom that they had won from the British to a new despotism. Woods ably brings out that although the supporters of the Constitution were the centralizing party, as opposed to the more prescient Antifederalists who warned of the possible dangers of the new regime, even they sought to restrain national authority.
In this connection, Woods emphasizes the Tenth Amendment, which "guaranteed the states' rights to self-government . . . Since the states existed prior to federal government, they were the source of whatever power the federal government had" (p. 26).
All well and good in theory: but how could the federal government be kept within strict limits? To rely on "checks and balances", Woods insightfully comments, does not suffice: to think otherwise is to rely on the federal government to police itself. Jefferson and his followers argued that the states had the right to nullify laws they deemed unconstitutional. If a state resisted in this way, the operation of the disputed law would be suspended in the state, pending a resolution of the matter by a conference of the states. By no means was this theory an invention of Southern firebrands, anxious at all costs to cement slavery in place. Though the nullifications of 1798 did not find favor with the Northern states at the time, "they used the unmistakable language of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 when nullifying the fugitive slave laws" (p. 39).
The politically correct historians who are the objects of Woods' assault would here interpose an objection. Were not states' rights the key to the defense of slavery? How without a strong central government could slavery have been ended?
Woods easily turns aside this counterargument. The Civil War-as he points out, not a genuine civil war since the South did not wish to replace the national government-was not fought to end slavery: Lincoln rather aimed to consolidate national power. In opposing Lincoln's dictatorship, the South defended the cause of liberty, a fact that was not lost on the great classical liberal Lord Acton. In a letter of 1866 to Robert E. Lee, Acton said that he "saw in States' rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy" (p. 74).
In the pursuit of their centralizing mission, the Northern armies shocked European historians by their assaults on civilians. Woods, illustrating his excellent command of the historical literature, cites in this connection the seldom-mentioned classic of F.J.P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism. He argued that the Northern forces "broke deliberately and dramatically from the European code of warfare that had developed since the seventeenth century and that had forbidden targeting the civilian population" (p. 71).
Given what has already been said, it will come as no surprise that Woods does not view Reconstruction with favor. He maintains, here following Forrest McDonald, that the Fourteenth Amendment, a key element both in the plans of the Radical Republicans and the machinations of their centralizing successors down to the present, was never legally ratified. His argument is straightforward: the Southern states were required to ratify the Amendment before their governments were legally recognized. If so, their acts of ratification had no legal force, since they were made by legislatures not part of the union.
Despite the horrendous destruction of the Civil War, America recovered and prospered, owing to a largely free economy. But the centralizers and proponents of government never learn the lesson that freedom works better than coercion. When the Great Depression struck in 1929, Herbert Hoover responded with the supreme inanity of trying to keep wages up. In doing so, he ensured massive unemployment. (For the causes of the depression, Woods refers readers to Murray Rothbard's America's Great Depression.)
Franklin Roosevelt of course continued and greatly extended Hoover's interventionist policies. In doing so, he prolonged the depression throughout the 1930's, and prosperity did not return until after World War II. Woods is careful to note, here following Robert Higgs, that the war itself, with its vast conscription of men and resources, was not a period of economic good times.
With much of this economic story, readers of The Mises Review will be familiar. But once more showing his ability to find the little known but significant fact, Woods comes up with something remarkable. The New Deal made constant efforts to increase the power of labor unions, and "progressives" often cite the Wagner Act and similar measures as among Roosevelt's greatest triumphs. Woods remarks: "The ways in which labor unions impoverish the economy are legion, from distortions in the labor market to work rules that discourage efficiency. In a study published . . . in late 2002 . . . economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University calculated that labor unions have cost the American economy a whopping $50 trillion over the past fifty years alone." (p. 150, emphasis in original)
Despite the manifold failures of interventionism, some of the self-styled intellectual elite thought that interference with the market had not gone far enough. Until the onset of the Cold War, sympathy with the Soviet "experiment" was widespread among academics, journalists, and government employees. Some of the sympathizers went beyond intellectual flirtation; Alger Hiss, among many others, aided Soviet Russia through espionage. Woods suggests that the much-maligned Senator Joseph McCarthy was in substance correct in his claims about Communist penetration of the U.S. government.
Much of this is relatively well known, but Woods has once again highlighted a surprising fact. Thanks in large measure to the assiduous efforts of his disciple Sidney Hook, John Dewey has acquired a reputation as a leading anti-Communist. Woods reminds us that Dewey once held entirely different views. "Progressive educator John Dewey, in a series of articles for The New Republic in 1928, could hardly contain his enthusiasm for Soviet Russia. 'I have never seen anywhere in the world such a large proportion of intelligent, happy and intelligently occupied children,' he recalled" (pp. 159-60).
Dewey had earlier supported American entry into World War I; and, as Woods makes clear, support for intervention at home goes hand-in-hand with an aggressive foreign policy. The economic interventionist Woodrow Wilson, influenced by partiality toward England and by his desire to reshape the world, abandoned America's traditional policy of noninvolvement in European power politics. Woods stresses Wilson's blatantly unfair prewar diplomacy. Wilson insisted that Americans had the right to travel on armed belligerent ships, holding the Germans to "strict accountability" for American lives lost in submarine attacks. At the same time, he accepted the British hunger blockade of Germany, though this cost many times more lives than the German policy.
Franklin Roosevelt proved an apt pupil of Wilson in the events leading to America's entry into World War II. Roosevelt's "destroyers for bases" agreement with the British in September 1940 might have provoked a German declaration of war: nevertheless, Roosevelt saw no need to secure the approval of Congress. Woods as always has found a telling quotation. Edward Corwin, one of the foremost Constitutional scholars of the time and by no means an opponent of the New Deal, commented: "Why not any and all of Congress's specifically delegated powers be set aside by the President's 'executive power' and the country be put on a totalitarian basis without further ado?" (p. 176). Roosevelt's efforts to provoke a German declaration of war failed, but he succeeded in getting America into the war through the "back door." His aggressive policy toward Japan provoked the Japanese attack: as Secretary of War Stimson noted in his diary on November 25, 1941, the question was how "to maneuver them[ the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot" (p. 181).
I shall conclude with one more surprising fact that Woods has brought to light. He calls attention to the vital work of Julius Epstein, a longtime researcher at the Hoover Institution, on Operation Keelhaul. In this nefarious program, at least one million Russian prisoners of war were forcibly returned to Russia. In one incident, "About 200 Soviet nationals were among the prisoners of war in Fort Dix, New Jersey. . . . They were taken prisoner with the solemn promise that under no circumstances would they be repatriated to the Soviet Union, where they faced certain death. That promise was betrayed so that the American president might be faithful to Uncle Joe [Stalin]" (p. 188).
I have been able to offer only a sample of the many topics that Woods discusses. His account of civil rights legislation and his discussion of the fallacy that Marshall Plan aid brought about European recovery after World War II should not be missed. His stimulating book helps to correct the many myths that today pass for American history.