This document is part of an archive of postings on Tongue Tied, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permanent record of what I have written.

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"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" -- 1st amendment

27 July

Penn State to Remove Fidel Castro Quote From Campus Building After Student Petition

Pennsylvania State University has agreed to remove a quote by Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro following a student-led campaign to take down the text from a campus building.

The quote in question is printed on a wall inside Penn State’s Paul Robeson Cultural Center, according to student newspaper Daily Collegian. The quote reads:

“The equal right of all citizens to health, education, work, food, security, culture, science and wellbeing—that is, the same rights we proclaimed when we began our struggle, in addition to those which emerge from our dreams of justice and equality for all inhabitants of our world —is what I wish for all.”

“The presence of the quote has just come to the university’s attention from a student who expressed concern,” a university spokesperson said in a July 17 statement to Daily Collegian. “We agree with the concerns, and the quote is being removed. We also have reached out directly to inform the student who raised the concern that this is the university’s decision.”

The student, Erik Suarez, is from Venezuela, an once-prosperous South American nation struggling with massive economic and humanitarian crises created by socialism. He said he was disturbed to find on campus the same kind of propaganda that inspired the deadly socialist experiment in his home country.

“Fidel Castro represents the misery of not only the Cuban people, but Venezuelan people as well, as being the inspiration for the regime in my country as well,” the rising senior wrote on Twitter.

In a letter to Penn State’s President Eric Barron, Suarez argued that the benign-sounding quote masked Castro’s decadeslong rule as a communist dictator and went against the university’s values. He was joined by students identifying as victims of communism and totalitarianism, and representatives of the Penn State College Republicans, National Young Americans for Freedom, and the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans.

“For many across campus, Castro is a figure of totalitarianism and oppression that many victims of communism and their families have experienced during their lives,” Suarez wrote in his letter. “We believe this figure does not represent the values of Penn State and having his words on campus washes the reality of who he really was, a dictator.”

“If Penn State truly values freedom and prosperity, then it cannot ignore the atrocities and plights committed by Fidel Castro,” the letter adds. “His quote misrepresents his infamous legacy, and in return, ignores those values that we enshrine as a community and university.”

Suarez’s petition comes as the Cuban people stand up against the communist regime that has been ruling over the Caribbean nation since 1959. In the largest-scale protests seen in decades, people took to the streets in cities and towns across Cuba, including Havana, to not only rally against chronic shortages of food and basic goods, but call for the end of the communist dictatorship that caused their suffering.

While he welcomed the university’s decision, Suarez said he would not stop there, noting the fact that a Castro quote was even displayed reveals how much the community misunderstand the reality of socialism and authoritarianism.

“We will keep this moving going to make sure phrases of dictators will not appear on campus ever again,” he said.


22 July

California Appeals Court Overturns Anti-Misgendering Law on First Amendment Grounds

A California appeals court struck down as unconstitutional a state law that penalized elder-care workers for using pronouns inconsistent with elderly long-term care patients’ claimed gender identity.

Gender identity is a disputed concept. A lack of linguistic clarity has clouded the issue in recent years as the concepts of sex and sexual identity, or gender, a politically and scientifically contentious concept whose definition isn’t universally agreed upon, have become difficult to separate. Despite the distinct meanings of the two words, many institutions and individuals use “gender” to mean biological sex, especially on fillable forms and documents.

Failing to use gender in its new meaning can be costly nowadays.

A New York human rights law banning gender identity discrimination imposes fines of up to $250,000 for failing to use a person’s preferred personal pronouns.

Social media giant Twitter bans users for “misgendering” or “deadnaming” transgender people, categorizing it as harassment and abuse. Deadnaming is referring to people by names they used before they changed their gender identity—for example, calling Caitlyn Jenner by that person’s birth name, Bruce Jenner.

Facebook reportedly recognizes at least 58 genders, allowing users to select which gender to use in their profile self-descriptions. Among them are Androgynous, Bigender, Cisgender, Gender Fluid, Genderqueer, Non-binary, Pangender, Trans, and Two-Spirit.

But in a rare legal defeat for the transgenderism movement, a ruling by the Court of Appeal of the State of California, 3rd Appellate District, sided with First Amendment speech protections over activists. The ruling by the three-judge panel was unanimous.

The court decision in Taking Offense v. State of California, came on July 16. Taking Offense is an informal group of state taxpayers.

The court decision affects the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, which the California Legislature added to the state’s Health and Safety Code in 2017.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat, said in 2017 that he wrote the bill because LGBT seniors face special challenges that weren’t covered by existing nursing home laws, local media reported.

Wiener said he had received reports of LGBT seniors being mistreated.

“We have a number of advocacy organizations that are very excited about the bill, that helped us get it passed, and they are definitely putting the word out that people living in long-term care facilities have these protections and should be aware of them,” he said.

Health and Safety Code section 1439.51, subdivision (a)(5), “prohibits staff members of long-term care facilities from willfully and repeatedly referring to a facility resident by other than the resident’s preferred name or pronoun when clearly informed of the name and pronoun,” according to court documents.

Taking Offense challenged that provision, arguing that it violates care facility staff members’ rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and freedoms of thought and belief, and is vague and overbroad.

The court said it “recognized the Legislature’s legitimate and laudable goal of rooting out discrimination against LGBT residents of long-term care facilities,” but stated that “we agree with Taking Offense that … the pronoun provision, is a content-based restriction of speech that does not survive strict scrutiny.”

“The pronoun provision—whether enforced through criminal or civil penalties—is overinclusive in that it restricts more speech than is necessary to achieve the government’s compelling interest in eliminating discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of sex. Rather than prohibiting conduct and speech amounting to actionable harassment or discrimination as those terms are legally defined, the law criminalizes even occasional, isolated, off-hand instances of willful misgendering—provided there has been at least one prior instance—without requiring that such occasional instances of misgendering amount to harassing or discriminatory conduct.

“Using the workplace context as an analogy, the statute prohibits the kind of isolated remarks not sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an objectively hostile work environment.

“There is no requirement in the statute that the misgendering at issue here negatively affect any resident’s access to care or course of treatment. Indeed, there is no requirement that the resident even be aware of the misgendering.”

In this case, the attorney general “has not shown that criminalizing occasional, off-hand, or isolated instances of misgendering, that need not occur in the resident’s presence and need not have a harassing or discriminatory effect on the resident’s treatment or access to care, is necessary to advance that goal.”


13 July, 2021

A group of scientists have argued for the 'racist' term 'caucasian' to be banned

The term is obsolete but it has come to be used as a euphemism for "European" so, as long as that is understood, I doubt that it does much harm

The word 'caucasian' should be banned because it is 'associated with a racist classification of humans', according to five Cambridge and UCL scientists.

Researchers said scientists should only use the term when absolutely unavoidable but refrain from 'usage where possible'.

Authors of the article titled 'The language of race, ethnicity, and ancestry in human genetic research' said the term Caucasian was an 'old term associated with racist and pseudo-scientific classifications of humans'.

Caucasian, they wrote, is 'an 18th-century term invented to denote pale-skinned northern and western Europeans, or in other archaic connotations a wider range of people based on skull measurements, including west Asians, south Asians, north Africans and Europeans.'

The paper, published on the pre-print sever arxiv, added: 'The language commonly used in human genetics can inadvertently pose problems for multiple reasons.

'Terms like 'ancestry', 'ethnicity', and other ways of grouping people can have complex, often poorly understood, or multiple meanings within the various fields of genetics between different domains of biological sciences and medicine, and between scientists and the general public.

The paper said scientists should add quotation marks around the word when used in research, the Telegraph reported.

Authors Dr Ewan Birney, Michael Inouye, Dr Jennifer Raff, Dr Adam Rutherford, and Aylwyn Scally said their is intended 'to stimulate a much-needed discussion about the language of genetics'.

Adding they hoped it would help 'begin a process to clarify existing terminology, and in some cases adopt a new lexicon that both serves scientific insight, and cuts us loose from various aspects of a pernicious past.'

Dr Ewan Birney, deputy director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire, has added terms such as 'Native American', 'Hispanic', 'White Irish', and 'European', should also be avoided.

Instead, he says, researchers should use more scientific language derived from a two-step genetic analysis.

'European', for example, would instead be 'the European-associated PCA [principal component analysis] cluster, which aims to minimise variation in non-genetic factors and genetic factors'.

The suggestion, which even Dr Birney terms 'bamboozling' for non-scientists, is intended to prioritise 'technical accuracy over concision'.

The researchers said: 'Some of these suggestions may meet with disagreement; we present them partly to stimulate discussion of these and other terms, and in the hope that this will lead to better and more accurate language conventions and less misunderstanding, particularly outside of human genetics'.

Announcing the paper, honorary Senior Research Associate at UCL Dr Rutherford said: 'I have been working on this a while: sparking a conversation about the lexicon of genetics, which continues to utilise scientifically redundant, confusing and racist terminology.'

Adding in a second tweet: 'We're definitely not prescribing or policing language, but want to prompt a dialogue with colleagues in similar and adjacent fields about our terminology, datasets and tools, and move towards a lexicon that both serves the science and frees us from a racist past.'

Among his fellow contributors, who were each given equal credit, were Dr Jennifer Graff, a geneticist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas, Michael Inouye, Principal Research Associate in Systems Genomics and Population Health, and Darwin College, Cambridge geneticist Aylwyn Scally.


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