Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Firing the Tribune Faculty Advisor: Issue Raised Again
Last February, Marquette University dumped Tom Mueller as faculty adviser for the student newspaper, the Marquette Tribune. William Elliott, then dean of the College of Communication, said he had made the decision, which had no relationship to content in the Tribune.Murphy then quotes with approval Kathy Lawrence, President of a group called Media Advisors, who wrote Marquette President Fr. Robert Wild as follows:
Mueller said the university’s administration was not happy about two stories that ran in the newspaper, including one about an alleged sexual assault on campus. (Crime on campus has been a sensitive subject for the administration.)
“Marquette enjoys a solid reputation for its quality higher-education programs. So why would you allow such a reputation to be sullied among such groups as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, CMA and other circles by a pattern of repeated dismissals of student media advisers who work to foster the responsibilities and duties of journalism in their students?”Murphy’s story is at best incomplete, and may in fact be downright misleading.
The Society of Professional Journalists investigated this entire issue, and released its report this past April. The most succinct summary of their findings is the following statement from their Report:
The departure of Mueller in May and Elliott’s pending retirement June 30 might offer the newspaper and its communications department a fresh start. We are prepared to make a number of recommendations we think could avert future problems for whomever is selected to advise the newspaper and the interim dean selected to replace Elliott. While our investigation has disclosed some incidents that give us concern, we do not believe the evidence is strong enough to suggest that the university administration is overly involved in the newspaper’s operations or is trying to control content. We do, however, urge the university to take a deep breath and make certain it has decided not to renew Mueller for the right reasons. His dismissal has, at best, created a perception problem for the university that it does not support its campus advisers. And at worst, the action may be unfair if the decision to let him go was simply based on one particular story, an article the students prepared that included the name of a teacher who had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. [emphasis added]Bottom line: it’s not blantant censorship on the part of Marquette. But then the University didn’t cover itself with glory either.
Contrary to what Murphy implies, a key issue was the naming, in the Tribune, of a faculty member who had tuberculosis. The response of the Administration was not merely negative, it was downright hostile. Fr. Wild wrote an intemperate letter to Mueller, dated December 15, 2003, saying that a document Mueller wrote “. . . has to rank right up there as among the most insufferable and self-righteous documents I have had the occasion to read during the eight years that I have been president here.” (See pages 16-17 of the SPJ Report.)
Wild’s letter goes on to berate Mueller for a possible violation of the privacy of the faculty member who had tuberculosis, but then changes direction and admits having checked with the General Counsel and learned that no legal violation of privacy rights had occurred, since the Tribune didn’t learn of the faculty member’s sickness from any restricted professional source. Three members of the Tribune staff were in the professor’s class, and were told they needed to be tested for this reason.
Indeed, a memo from Mueller to three Tribune staffers dated November 25, 2003 states that the Journalism faculty unanimously endorses the actions of the Tribune in publishing the name. (See page 18 of the SPJ Report.) Reliable sources in the Journalism Department confirm this. Indeed, a meeting was held in January, 2004 to review this Tribune decision. It included not only Journalism faculty but members of the local media (from Channel 12 and the Journal-Sentinel), and it concluded that the Tribune acted responsibly.
Given the fact that people who had come into contact with this faculty member needed to know that they should be tested for the disease, it would in fact be downright irresponsible not to identify the person.
Wild’s letter (a response to this memo) strongly objects to Mueller’s support for the student journalists. It reminds Mueller that Marquette University is the publisher of the Tribune, and instructs Mueller that:
. . . your very role as Student Publications Advisor is that of a quasi-publisher. You are not simply in such a role as the friend and advocate of student journalists; you have responsibilities to this university as an institution.Wild is right about the fact that Marquette University is the publisher of the Tribune, but dead wrong about the propriety of publishing the name of the faculty member. He wrote, in sum, a quite ill-considered letter.
Still, the Administration appeared to be sincere in its concerns about the performance of the Tribune. The Report notes:
While some encounters, probably should have been handled more carefully and tactfully, it is not out of line for administration to question the certain aspects of a paper’s performance. The concerns seemed to surround around ethics and accuracy, which under the current structure would be appropriate. (See page 6 of the SPJ Report.)There were other issues. The reporting of a sexual assault was indeed an issue, but it was contentious because the paper published the address at which it occurred. But since the address was a building with 30 units, no violation of the victim’s privacy occurred.
While Marquette had a right to be concerned about the legal, ethical and journalistic performance of the student paper, the simple fact is that on these two key issues (the faculty member with tuberculosis and the address of the sexual assault victim) the Tribune was right, and the Administration was wrong. Administrators should, at a minimum, have gotten the opinions of Journalism faculty before they got their undies in a bundle.
As long as Marquette supports and subsidizes the Tribune, conflicts of this sort are going to happen. The University can hardly ignore ethical and legal issues that arise because of a paper that it publishes. On the other hand, any attempts to intervene in the affairs of the paper are necessarily going to seem ham-handed and motivated by the bureaucratic interests of University administrators.
Which is why the University should sever its connection with the Tribune, kick it off campus, and let it function entirely as it sees fit. Plenty of examples from other universities show that this is a perfectly viable way to run a student paper.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Dubiously Lutheran — Sue Moline Larson on Concealed Carry
Case in point: Sue Moline Larson director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, located in Madison.
Larson, claiming to speak on behalf of Martin Luther, insists that the founder of her denomination would not want concealed carry gun laws in Wisconsin. “Most women here don’t want it; neither would Martin Luther” she says.
Proponents of legislation to allow concealed handguns in Wisconsin are eager for my support. They insist that correctly understanding the Second Amendment — “A well — regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” — ensures my and every citizen’s right to carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise.(We will leave aside for a moment the fact that the Wisconsin Constitution provides much more extensive and specific protection of the right to bear arms than the U.S. Constitution.)
Biblical scholars know that context is invaluable when interpreting the times and customs of ancient writers. That is no less true for the mindset of the authors of the U.S. Constitution.
The problem with context being “invaluable” is that people use this as an excuse to ignore both parts of scripture and parts of the Constitution that are inconvenient. Does the scripture condemn sex outside of marriage? Just explain that that was a bias of narrow-minded ancient people and ignore it. Does the Second Amendment protect the right to keep and bear arms? Just decide that times have changed and the amendment doesn’t count anymore.
Then Larson invokes public opinion. Dennis York isn’t impressed:
What amazes me is the fact that Reverend Sue, as the director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, would actually cite a poll of Wisconsin residents in her push against concealed carry. What religion bases their beliefs on public opinion? You think you’d ever see a press release from the Catholic Church that says “55% of Wisconsinites believe abortion is wrong, so therefore it must be?” You think the Catholic Church is going to change its stance on birth control because a high percentage of women use it? Is the divinity of Christ in question if a certain percentage of Wisconsin residents believe he ain’t coming back?People like Larson are good at using religious sounding rhetoric.
I’m no theologian, but religions exist to dictate public opinion, not reflect it.
Martin Luther recognized that every person is both saintly and sinful, capable of the most exalted acts of goodness and the most depraved despotic acts of criminality.This reminds us of a debate we had on Milwaukee Public TV that included a Lutheran minister (Rev. Ken Wheeler) who said that Luther would oppose the death penalty.
In reality, Luther was willing to be quite tough on lawbreakers. He is famous for writing Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants which called for the violent suppression of peasant uprisings in Germany.
But we suppose in the world of the politically correct clerics, all this can mean what you want it to. For Catholics, “social justice” can mean whatever trendy policy one favors. For Lutherans, Luther can be enlisted in one’s favorite cause. For both, scripture can mean what you want it to mean, and the Constitution can mean what you want it to mean.
Which means they really don’t mean anything at all.
Update: Marquette Administrators at Santa Clara Gay Activism Conference
Two Marquette administrators, David Borgealt from the Office of Student Development and Fr. Patrick Dorsey from University Ministry, attended the recent conference (Out There: The First National Conference of Scholars and Student Affairs Professionals Involved in LGBTQ Issues on Catholic Campuses) held at Santa Clara University. The conference convened faculty and administrators from approximately 40 Catholic universities to examine GLBT issues facing their campuses.Marquette, of course, wants to define its agenda as protecting homosexuals from “harrassment” and “discrimination.”
But much of the conference revolved around creating Gay and Lesbian studies courses and even majors. One policy touted at the conference was having separate gay living quarters, and indeed a group of students at a recent Marquette “Leadership Summit” appears to have endorsed the idea.
However much Marquette may talk about “serving the needs of students,” it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that strategically-placed University bureaucrats are simply opposed to the teaching of the Church on homosexuality, and seek to undermine it at Marquette so far as they are able.
They can hardly admit that, but the “body language” is pretty clear.
Guantanamo Prisoner Denied Bible, Allowed Quran
WASHINGTON - At the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, everyone gets a Quran, but no one gets a Bible.While we don’t think that this represents any simple kind of hostility to Christianity (such as we would find among the ACLU and People for the American Way membership), what we clearly have is bureaucrats who make a point of being “culturally sensitive” when Islamic holy books are concerned, but not “sensitive” at all when somebody wants a Bible.
Saifullah Paracha, a 58-year-old former Pakistani businessmen with reputed ties to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, has been in U.S. custody since 2003. Like the other inmates at Guantanamo, he has a copy of the Quran. But he also wants an English translation of the King James Version of the Bible.
Paracha believes that because the Bible is one of the scriptures accepted in Islam, he is entitled to a copy to read in his small wire-mesh cell. But after his lawyer shipped him a Bible, along with two volumes of Shakespeare, prison officials confiscated the package.
Paracha’s American lawyer filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, demanding that Paracha be given the Bible and copies of Hamlet and Julius Caesar. The government responded that certain books are kept from prisoners because they could “incite” them.
Paracha’s Washington lawyer, Gaillard Hunt, said he met with Paracha in September and learned that his client “has been in solitary confinement with very little communication with anyone for most of the last year.”
“I learned that he has been requesting a Bible,” he added. “From my general knowledge, I knew that the Bible (the Old and New testaments) is accepted in Islam as one of their holy texts, so I interpreted this as a religious request.”
On Sept. 30, Hunt said, he purchased a Bible and mailed it, still in the publisher’s shrink wrap cover, to a chaplain at the naval base. He included a cover letter explaining it was for Prisoner No. 1094, at Paracha’s request. Also in the package were the two plays and an English dictionary.
When Hunt visited again in October, Paracha told him no Bible or anything else had arrived. Hunt said one of the military lawyers “explained to me that Paracha would not be allowed to have a Bible as that would violate prison policy.”
A recent government lawsuit filed in response said none of the more than 500 prisoners is permitted any special treatment. And government lawyers said Paracha has not shown that the practice of his religion, Islam, has been “substantially burdened” because he does not have an accompanying copy of the Bible.
They also argued that letting Paracha have a Bible would set off a “chain reaction” among the other 170 detainees.
Could the Bible “incite” somebody? We suppose that one can be “incited” by all kinds of things if one wants to be. But as Thoughts on Politics, Life and God notes:
Funny that. I thought it was Muslims, inspired by the Quran, who plowed three aeroplanes into two of the tallest office blocks in the world and one (due to the heroism of the passengers of the third plane) into an empty paddock.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Affirmative Action Racism in Canada
A massive federal department is under fire for a “racist” new hiring policy that rejects candidates based on sex and skin colour.That last statement is a classic example of how bureaucrats can (on a generous assessment) engage in doublethink or (a less generous assessment) lie outright.
David Marshall, Deputy Minister of Public Works Canada, issued a memo Friday outlining a “special measure” to ensure a more diverse workplace.
Under the policy, outside applicants must be women, visible minorities, aboriginals or people with disabilities -- but white guys need not apply.
One job seeker, an experienced, well-educated white male, called the policy “offensive.”
“It’s racist and discriminatory,” he said. “It’s not possible to discriminate in favour of someone on the basis of race without unfairly discriminating against someone because of their race.”
The potential civil servant said the policy flies in the face of the Liberal government’s so-called devotion to a “colour-blind” society. The hypocrisy is “appalling,” he said.
Marshall’s memo said the policy is designed to achieve “Embracing Change” benchmarks for employment equity, and applies to all external recruitment. Government executives and managers must play a role to ensure the public service is “representative,” he said.
Public Works spokesman Pierre Teotonio said the policy will be in force until March 31, 2006, when it will be reviewed. It’s all part of a government-wide action plan to address the under-representation of minorities in the workplace.
“With this measure, the department expects to reduce the gaps in representation,” he said.
There has been a “regression” in the ratio of minority recruits, from one in 8 to one in 20 in the last six months, Teotonio said.
He dismissed the suggestion that the policy rejects certain candidates who could be the best qualified.
“This measure does not undermine the competition process for hiring personnel. It’s still based on merit principle,” he said.
The relevant question at Marquette is: how different is this, really, from Provost Madeline Wake’s Orwellian “diversity” policy that says a “diverse” candidate must be in every employment pool?
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Marquette Tribune Runs Salacious Ad, Backtracks
Jordan went on to say that “. . . it seems pretty clear that the content of the ad flies in the face of the morals and teaching of the Catholic Church.”
As I was reading a certain newspaper paper the other day, I was dumbstruck by an advertisement from http://www.your-thing.com/ that ran on the last page. The ad featured a list of ringtones, games and screensaver graphics for cell phone purchase. Aside from that oldie but goodie song, “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” by the music genius T-Pain; everyone’s wedding favorite, “Bad B***h”, by the classical artist Webbie; and what is now considered one of the best scores ever composed, “Because I Got High,” by Afroman, the most noteworthy aspect of the advertisement had to do with five downloadable graphics of scantily clad women with sybaritic expressions writ large on their faces. For example, one of these femme fatales is unstringing her bikini bottom as if to say to any would-be buyer, “Wherever your cell phone is, Big Boy, don’t forget that I’m there, too.” Let this one example suffice for descriptions of the others.
Where did this advertisement run, you say? Why, in our very own school newspaper. That’s right. In its Nov. 15 issue, The Marquette Tribune ran the Do-Your-Thing ad front and center on the last page.
Ironically, in the exact same number of the Tribune that carried Jordan’s column, the exact ad appeared on page 12!
To its credit, the Tribune didn’t merely blow off the issue. Buried at the bottom of page 2 in the November 22 issue was the following notice:
From the Student Media Advertising DepartmentWe aren’t able to evaluate the “changed content” since that particular ad did not appear in the November 22 issue.
The display advertisement for www.your-thing.com in the Nov. 10, 15 and 17 editions of the Tribune included some graphics and music titles that did not meet the standards of acceptance set by our office, the Department of Student Media and Marquette University. This was an error on our part, as the advertisement was not adequately reviewed before it was given approval. The content of the advertisement has since been changed by the third party producing it in order to comply with our standards of acceptance. Student Media Advertising regrets the error and any offense taken by Tribune readers.
This was in fact a fairly minor screw up -- not something in the “outrage” category but more something in the “we messed up, we’ll be more careful next time” category. Kudos to Michael Jordan for making an issue of it, however. Too many people let too many things like this simply “slide by.”
Tire Slashing Incident: It’s Been More Than a Year
A reminder that it has now been more than a year since the tires of a Republican “get out the vote” van were slashed in the run-up to the November 2004 election. There has been no trial.
The culprits have been identified and include Michael Pratt, son of the former Acting Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt, and Supreme Solar Allah, the son of then state Senator Gwen Moore (and now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
McMahon points out that the District Attorney E. Michael McCann is a Democrat.
Friday, November 25, 2005
More: Support for Homosexuality at Catholic Universities
Suhr, for example, established that the keynote speaker at the event has called Pope Benedict XVI a “former Nazi.” Suhr also uncovered quite a lot of information about other people at the conference.
As for the local angle: Suhr notes a document, from a Student Leadership Summit, that discusses “Homosexuality discrimination” and promises to “Look into writing a policy as far as homosexuals rooming together” and notes “There is no policy about homosexuals living together. Talk to hall directors @9:00AM Wednesday meeting.” (Here is a PDF version saved on our server.)
Given the politically correct groupthink that prevails among college administrators, we would not be surprised to see Marquette follow in the footsteps of Loyola (Baltimore) and set aside special housing for homosexual students.
Several of the links in the GOP3.COM article no longer work, the documents having been removed from the Santa Clara server. We managed to retrieve three:
How Should Moslems Deal With Christmas?
Much of the push for sanitizing all religious content out of the holiday is done in the name of “diversity.” We want, the argument goes, to be “inclusive” and not “marginalize” or make uncomfortable any non-Christian group.
Wanting to be “inclusive” is a a noble idea, but stifling the majority religious culture and traditions that have had a massively important part of forming Western culture is a high price to pay for “inclusiveness.” Indeed, it involves being intolerant of the majority culture so that minorities don’t have to feel like minorities.
How does this play out in practice, and especially how does it play out for Moslems, a group that (at least from a superficial persual of the news) seems to be sharply at odds both with the secularized culture of Europe and the Christian culture of the United States?
An interesting perspective on this can be found in an online discussion lead by Dr. Jamal Badawi, Famous Da’iyah and Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. The subject is “Our Kids & Non-Islamic Feasts.”
Badawi here functions as cross between Dear Abby and Dr. James Dobson, giving practical advice about child rearing and interpersonal matters from an Islamic perspective.
The dialogue shows a quite tolerant outlook. Nowhere is there the suggestion that Moslems should try to shut up or stifle any Christian religious expression. A cynic might say that Moslems would be willing to do exactly that if they had the political power, in Europe or the United States, to do so. This may well be true, although we can’t ignore the fact that, not that long ago, both Catholics and Protestants were willing to shut up and stifle religious expressions that they disagreed with.
But as it stands, these Moslems are quite a lot more tolerant than secular interest groups like People for the American Way or the ACLU. And indeed more tolerant than Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League.
Consider for example, the following question and answer:
As-Salam `Alaykum, I am new Muslim and I am living with my Christian family in a non-Muslim society. My family is celebrating Christmas and I want to ask if it is wrong for me to attend their celebration.One questioner seemed to have a problem with “Merry Christmas:”
Participating in the non-religious aspect of Christmas such as family reunion dinner or visitation is Ok. Attempts should be made to avoid situations where alcoholic drinks are served on the same table. Kindness to parents and family without compromising one’s beliefs is an Islamic duty.
During socialization and whenever appropriate, one may share his or her thought with them preferably in answer to their questions or comments without being too argumentative.
Is saying merry Christmas similar to saying: “I wish you longer commitment to your pagan belief.”If Moslems’ children are obligated to opt out of Christmas activities, isn’t this depriving them of something important? Badawi deals with this as follows:
I would rather use the term “happy holiday.”
[However] Social courtesies do not imply acceptance of the Person’s belief. Furthermore, it is unfair to call Christian belief “pagan”. The Qur’an never referred to Christians or Jews as pagans (mushrikeen). It distinctively called them “People of the Book” in spite of what we consider to be elements of Shirk. Yet, nowhere in the Qur’an were they given the title “mushrikeen” (see the Qur’an: 98:1).
. . . we should have a substitute interesting activities organized by the Muslim community, so that they do not feel deprived of legitimate entertainment.Badawi does take a bit of a “hard line” about some things:
Examples of these activities are: Qur’an competitions with awards followed by a pizza party, showing interesting Islamic video, or organizing a trip or camp.
My 10 year old son was a narrator in the christmas play at school. He had to attend the church, take part in their prayers and narrate for the play. I advised my son about the differences in the our 2 religions. Is it prohibited for muslim children to take part in these nativity plays? Should I have spoken to his teachers and got him out of taking part?Christian parents, or at least Christian parents who take their faith seriously, can only empathize with Moslem parents in situations like this. The former may find themselves in situations where their children are subjected to sex education classes which condone sexual promiscuity, and “diversity” programs that portray religious objections to homosexuality as bigoted.
You should have spoken to the teacher that you wished to preserve your child’s religious identity, as this play may not entirely fit with his belief. The teacher should be told that we believe in love and respect of Jesus as a great Prophet of God, but necessarily share the belief in his divinity.
The secular liberals want increasing religious pluralism in American society to be an excuse to sanitize relgious expression out of public life. A more appropriate response is to have more, and more pluralistic, expression. Back to Dr. Badawi’s online dialogue:
My kids really have some inferiority feelings due to the fact that their school – they go to a public school – celebrates all kinds of occasions that have not to do with islam they celebrate even the Chinese new year and educate kids about festivities here and there with no mention to Muslim celebrities. How can I regain my kids pride of their Islamic identity.Of course, no tolerant policy can prevent religious minorities from feeling like minorities. Only rigorous suppression of majority religious expression can do that.
Learning about other cultures without participating in purely religious or other forbidden activities is Ok. But you should also speak to the authorities in the school that Muslim children should also share their culture, which may be an indirect da’wah.
But being in a religious minority – whether it be Moslem or Amish or a Christianity that objects to teaching evolution – may not be a real spiritual disadvantage. It may be more conducive to a vital faith than bland acceptance of what “everybody believes.”
Our view is that American Christians should, in spite of theological disagreements, view these devout and moderate Moslems as allies in the Culture Wars.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Jesuit University Says Support to Gay Organizations is “The Catholic Thing” to Do
Santa Clara, Calif, Nov. 04, 2005 (CNA) - An official from the Jesuit-run Santa Clara University in California told Catholic News Agency that hosting a two-day long conference, on how to promote opportunities for gays and lesbians at Catholic colleges is “the Catholic” way to act as opposed to highlighting the intrinsic immorality of homosexual acts.It’s somehow not surprising that the campus ministry at Santa Clara funded this conference, which featured a gay activist professor saying that the election of Pope Benedict XVI “. . . is a catastrophe. I felt kicked in the stomach. . . .” After all, the University Ministry at Marquette is a staunch supporter of the gay agenda.
As the Vatican prepares a document reiterating its stance, particularly against homosexuality in seminaries, the aim of the conference entitled “Out There” was to highlight scholarships and student affairs being created to cater specifically to gays and lesbians at Catholic institutions.
The conference brought together representatives from the Universities of Georgetown, Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga, Fordham, DePaul, La Salle, Marquette and Emory, as well as Boston College, and College of the Holy Cross. Out of the plus 40 Catholic universities represented, thirteen were Jesuit institutions like Santa Clara.
The dean’s office and Santa Clara’s campus ministry helped finance the event, which was organized largely by English professor Linda Garber.
Joseph Winter, a professor at Loyola, said that his school is seen as very progressive, and even offers housing to LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered] couples.
The claim about Loyola (this is Loyola in Baltimore) is in fact true. The college’s web page on “Special Interest Housing” lists:
Stonewall Community in Adams HouseThis policy was apparently adopted in response to the local campus gay lobby, a group called Spectrum, which issued the following statement in response to the establishment of Stonewall House:
Stonewall house is an all-inclusive special interest housing option founded in the Jesuit tradition of men and women for others. Its mission is to provide and understanding, accepting, and nurturing environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied students (GLBTA). The members of Stonewall community must agree to foster open and honest campus-wide discussions about the diversity issues surrounding sexual orientation and the lives and experiences of sexual minorities. Population eligible: Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
Stonewall House was envisioned as an all-inclusive special interest housing option founded in the Jesuit tradition of men and women for others.It’s interesting how the kind of rhetoric that Marquette uses (“men and women for others”) can be used to support any policy, even one that flatly contradicts Catholic teaching.
It is meant to provide GLBT individuals and their allies with an understanding, accepting, and nurturing environment in which they can live their lives openly and honestly, free from bias and harassment.
The justifications for this form of special interest housing are many, and not least among these is Loyola’s climate. In a place where incidents of hate are communicated campus-wide through Special NewsHounds, the establishment of a visibly supportive community for sexual minority students and their supporters seemed logical and necessary.
The healthy and adaptive development of GLBT students and the protection of their rights as individuals, a development and protection guaranteed to every student at this college, have been Spectrum’s ultimate goals in proposing Stonewall House.
At what point, one wonders, does a university simply say “screw this ‘Catholic’ stuff, we are secular and liberal and are going to quit lying to prospective students and their parents.”
And one wonders: “is Marquette perceptibly different from Loyola?”
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
No Religious Christmas Music: WRIT Responds
Before blogging on the issue, we tried to contact (both by e-mail and by phone) WRIT Program Director Jeff Lynn. He failed to respond.
But now, James Wigderson, of the Wigderson Library & Pub, has gotten a reply from Lynn.
Lynn’s first response:
I guess I am curious how Christmas music, honoring a religious holiday avoids Christmas. Don’t believe everything you hear on our competitors.Wedgerson then pointed out to Lynn that the information didn’t come from “competitors” but from this blog. Lynn’s reply then repeats the idea that Christmas songs are religious no matter what the content:
CHRISTMAS songs . . . Have nothing to do with the birth of Christ? Christmas songs? What are they about then? Is there something else that Christmas stands for other than the birth of Christ? Please note the line in Professor McAdams blog that say [sic] “we are left to speculate.” His speculation is unfounded and incorrect.Of course we “speculated” about the motives of WRIT, since Lynn had refused to tell us what their motives were. But Widgerson then pressed him on the fact that we weren’t “speculating” on the facts of WRIT’s playlist, and asked “And please answer the question, will you play any religious Christmas music or not?” Lynn responded:
We are. That is what disturbs me so much about this whole thing.As for whether our messages had an “agenda,” the following is the e-mail we sent Lynn on Monday:
Perhaps I errored [sic] by not responding to The Professor but in his messages he seemed to have an agenda and it seemed like any debate with him was futile. Just moments ago I heard Kenny Rogers singing, “Away in a Manger.” I think that is a religious song. Yes, we are and will continue to.
Hi, Jeff,Readers can decide for themselves what “agenda” was involved here. Our intention was to get an explanation.
I’ve noticed something interesting about your playlist. You don’t play any religious Christmas music at all!
This can’t be an accident, since a large proportion of Christmas songs are explicitly religious. And it can’t be Clear Channel corporate policy, since WOKY is also Clear Channel, and their playlist has about the normally expected proportion of religious songs.
Is it your judgment that there is some market niche out there that wants Christmas music but doesn’t want any references to Baby Jesus, the stable, etc.?
Do you work up this playlist yourself? Or is it put together by somebody else (somebody at Clear Channel corporate or some such)?
I’ll be blogging on this soon, and really am wondering.
Any information you can give me will be appreciated. I’ll consider it “on the record” unless you tell me otherwise.
Feel free to call me at 414-963-[redacted] (evenings) or 414-288-3425 (days), if you would prefer to chat.
Marquette Warrior Blog
Had Lynn’s plan been to work Christian music into the rotation as Christmas drew nearer (a claim that the station eventually adopted), he could have easily said so.
Even when facing people having an “agenda,” giving an honest and straightforward reply is almost always the best policy — unless the honest and straightforward truth is that you are doing something that you would have trouble defending. In the latter case, dissembling and hoping the issue goes away might seem attractive.
It’s nice that, by the time Lynn replied to Wigderson, WRIT was playing some religious Christmas music. Lynn never addressed the fact that our somewhat haphazard but frequent monitoring of the station from early Sunday evening through late Tuesday afternoon turned up no religious music, nor the fact that our very rigorous monitoring Tuesday evening produced the same result.
Clearly, radio stations have the right to play the sort of music they want. But equally clearly, citizens have a right to have a poor opinion of stations that make bad choices, whether it be censoring religious music during the Christmas season or playing the sort of rap music that encourages violence toward women and contempt toward the police.
And audiences have a right to tell stations what they do and don’t want to hear.
Christian Christmas Songs on Radio: An Insider’s Perspective
Mr. McAdams,Charlie Sykes, on his show, is quoting an e-mail from a Clear Channel representative who claims they are going to “ease into” religious music as Christmas day grows closer. We don’t really follow the logic of this, but we’ll see whether it happens.
I agree. It is rather disheartening to hear that all of the Christmas songs on WRIT are void of any religious meaning.
My first reaction was going to be that sometimes stations play the fun, secular music to break into the season - gently adding songs with meaning as the season rolls on. After all, we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet. Upon looking at WRIT’s website, however, I see that they are playing ALL Christmas music. I find that to be very odd and rather disturbing.
I can guarantee you that when we start adding Christmas music to the rotation at WBWI (Thursday), the selection will definitely include songs with religious meaning. We, of course, don’t exploit the season by playing all Christmas music to get a ratings spike, though. Our Christmas music will be gradually mixed in until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Feel free to tune us in.
As of this moment, 1:34 p.m. on November 23rd, WRIT-FM shows two religious songs among the “Last 10 Played” on their web site. They are “Oh Holy Night” and “What Child is This?”
This is dandy, but if they intended to work religious music into the mix from the very beginning, why weren’t they willing to say so?
More: Religious Christmas Songs Banned on WRIT
We decided to do some more systematic sampling, and tracked every song played on WRIT-FM from 8:30 p.m. until midnight on November 22nd. We used the “Last 10 Played” section of the station’s website, which we printed every half-hour or so.
We counted 58 songs (all Christmas songs) played during that period. None was a religious song, with only one possible exception. Vince Gill’s “Let There Be Peace on Earth” mentions God. But that’s the only one.
It’s also interesting that the songs are picked from albums that are liberally laced with Christian Christmas music. WRIT, for example, plays an Andy Williams “Happy Holiday Medley” which comes from Disk 10 of the “Classic Album Collection, Vol. 2.” But that disk contains six secular Christmas songs, and six religious ones. Likewise, the station played a secular song from Harry Connick’s “Harry For The Holidays,” but six of the sixteen tracks on the album make specific reference to the Nativity.
Thus, it’s not that they happen to be playing certain artists, who just happen not to record religious Christmas music. They are picking very carefully.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Religious Christmas Songs Banned on Milwaukee “Oldies” Station
This past Sunday night, we had the misfortune to take an hour’s drive in a vehicle that lacked a CD player, and resorted to listening to the radio. Tuning to WRIT (95.7 FM), we heard the standard Christmas music, but after a while something became obvious. There was no religious music. Lots about “Christmas trees” (even that much is un-PC these days) and sleigh bells and rocking around the Christmas tree and mommy kissing Santa Claus, but nothing about the baby Jesus.
For the past 48 hours, we have been monitoring WRIT (excepting when sleeping or otherwise occupied), sometimes listening, but mostly just occasionally looking at their list of the “Last 10 Played” in their web page.
There has been nothing with any religious content. To be certain of this, we had to look up the lyrics of songs like Lou Monte’s “Dominick The Donkey” (not a fun experience) and Jim Brickman’s “Angels” (sounds religious, but it has no lyrics).
But no, nothing at all religious was played.
This banning of religious content could not be the policy of Clear Channel Communications, since the playlist of WOKY is laced with religious songs, and WOKY is also a Clear Channel station.
(Note that we haven’t monitored what WOKY is actually playing, as opposed to their posted playlist.)
We also checked another somewhat stodgy local station that plays Christmas songs pretty much 24/7 now, WMYX. Their web page labels their programing “All Christmas Music All the Time . . .” in contrast to WRIT which advertises “The Greatest Hits of the Holidays” (no mention of Christmas there).
WMYX plays almost entirely secular Christmas music, although without the rigorous exclusion of Christian themes. Their playlist includes two different versions of “Do You Hear What I Hear” and we caught them playing Pete Seeger’s version of “Little Drummer Boy.” But on the whole they are little better than WRIT.
These stations are, of course, private businesses that are entirely free to play what they want. But their motives are a bit obscure. It’s not that religious music is objectionable at Christmas to more than a tiny fraction of their audience, and it’s hard to argue that “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” somehow rivals “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” or “We Three Kings” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in terms of artistic merit.
WRIT program director Jeff Lynn failed to respond to both an e-mail and a phone call from us, so we are left to speculate as to what moves WMYX and (especially) WRIT.
Our guess is that people in the broadcast industry have internalized the notion that religion is somehow “controversial” and therefore best avoided, even in connection with a holiday named for Christ.
Our view is that Christians (or indeed, tolerant Jews, Moslems and atheists) have every right to make it even more controversial to stifle and suppress the Christian songs that are so much a part of America’s heritage.
People who don’t like this can (first) turn their radio dials to other stations, and second contact the stations that won’t play Christian Christmas music and (politely) inform them that they’ll be losing listeners because of their policy.
WRIT-FM (Program Director Jeff Lynn e-mail)
WMYX-FM (Internet contact page)
Monday, November 21, 2005
Unions Forcing Jobs Out of Wisconsin
Today, I had the privilege of attending a presentation by a Rockwell Automation Global Inventory Manager. Among a number of logistics strategy slides and detailed career advice, he mentioned the fact that Rockwell has a five year plan to move all of its manufacturing operations out of Milwaukee.Henak goes on to note how dependent Wisconsin’s Governor Doyle is on union money, and goes on:
When asked for the reasoning behind the removal, he stated that the high cost of unionized labor combined with one of the worst tax environments in the country had seriously impacted profits.
Many of the jobs will be moving to Iowa and overseas. The Rockwell representative also stated that many of it’s competitors had moved overseas already to escape devastatingly high union fees. The unions themselves are driving their jobs overseas with continuously outrageous demands and anti-business, liberal political activism.Eventually, of course, the market catches up with people who want to earn more than their productivity allows in a highly competitive world market. One can adapt, or one can pretend that the problem is only with evil corporations or Republican politicians. Taking the latter course merely increases the pain.
Confessions of a Black College Republican
. . . a black student named Marcus Miller, a Republican, explaining why he is a Republican. And he’s not apologetic at all, but rather a fellow who has learned from the experiences of his parents, reacted against racial hustlers, and come to believe in limited government.
. . . if I had to quantify my reasons for being a Republican, I would say that they came out to be 60% ideological, 30% reactionary, and 10% parentally influenced. . . . The 10% parental influence comes from watching my parents work ridiculously hard for pretty much everything, and simultaneously insulating me from a lot of the financial burdens that they have faced over the years. . . . To make a long story short, my parents busted their asses for 10 years straight to finally see both of their boys go off to college, and the values that they put before me were of a conservative nature: life is all about the choices you make, anyone can improve their situation with the right tools (and the same ones as everyone else), opportunities always make themselves available if you have faith in God, and of course, taxes suck. Bigtime. And terrorists. Terrorists really get on my nerves.Miller, apparently, didn’t wander haphazardly into a Republican identification and didn’t adopt it opportunistically, but drew the logical conclusions from his own experiences and his own judgments.
. . . I’m reacting to the concept of the African American that people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Kanye West, and other so-called and wannabe “spokespersons of the black community” proliferate throughout the nation and the world. I don’t want or need Jesse speaking for me as a black man under any circumstances. I don’t want or need Al Sharpton stirring up the already volatile racial brew in this country for me, despite what he or others think of his methods—I’ve dealt with what happens when you stir that brew in my life already. I sure as hell don’t want or need a guy who thinks he was abducted by aliens to sap credibility from the Black Muslims, one of the few uniquely black sources of faith and strength within the Afro American community.
The 60% ideological part of my political identity is simultaneously the most of where I get my ideas of government from and the easiest to explain, so I’ll make it short: I believe that government should be as limited as possible and entirely geared toward 1) defending the country, and 2) doing the best it can to allow society to live how it chooses. You can’t have the freedom to throw Oreos at me if you’re getting bombed into oblivion by terrorists or another country, can you? (I hate terrorists. They are the bane of my political existence.) I also believe that the government’s social responsibility should be limited towards ensuring that everyone in society has the same tools to be able to prosper and be successful.
A lot of people do that, but it requires an extra measure of courage for a black person to do that.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Why Liberals Hate Wal-Mart
Doing a little fact checking, he discovers that one central claim of the movie, that a small hardware store in Ohio was driven out of business by Wal-Mart, is simply false.
No company gets to be as big as Wal-Mart without being part evil. The movie would argue all evil.A lot of other stuff in the movie is untrue. For example, there is the claim that a large number of people are attacked on Wal-Mart parking lots. It’s true that in absolute numbers, there are a lot of attacks. But Wal-Mart is huge, and is necessarily going to have more muggings in its parking lots, heart attacks in its stores, and employees having sex in the stock room than any other retailer. Just as it has more shoppers and employees than any other retailer.
But [movie maker] Greenwald overplays his hand when he features a family hardware store supposedly crushed by Wal-Mart in Middlefield, Ohio. “The Wal-Mart had nothing to do with that store closing,” Dan Weir, the village administrator, told me. The store struggled after being passed from father to son, and died before Wal-Mart opened.
You also don’t learn from the movie that the store was taken over and renamed Middlefield Hardware by Jay Negin, who told me business is going great. For the record, though, Negin said he doesn’t like Wal-Mart’s employment practices and won’t shop there.
Negin and Weir could not think of any businesses in the village of 2,233 that closed after Wal-Mart opened in May.
Stuff like this makes me wonder what else in the 98-minute movie isn’t quite true. If you trust what’s on the screen, you won’t even want to drive past a Wal-Mart, let alone shop or work there.
Similarly misleading is the claim that many Wal-Mart employees are on Medicaid and Food Stamps because they aren’t paid “enough” by the huge retailer. This is true, but it’s equally true of adults working for McDonald’s or Burger King. Indeed, Wal-Mart pays well above the minimum wage.
People who make this argument tend to assume that the choice is between having low-paid jobs and having well-paid union jobs with ample benefits. In reality, especially for workers who are somewhat marginal (been on welfare, spotty work history, dropped out of high school) the choice is between a low paid job and no job at all. And public policies like Medicaid, Food Stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit are based on the idea that we want everyone who can to work. Thus we recognize that not everybody can earn a middle-class income, and the taxpayer should chip in to provide a decent living for people with modest earning power.
This is public policy. It’s very good public policy, and Wal-Mart fits in very well. The liberals would apparently prefer that people be on welfare.
Blogger Lance Burri discusses the effect Wal-Mart has had in his home town of Baraboo.
We’ve got a Wal-Mart in my home town. And not just a Wal-Mart, but a Wal-Mart Superstore. It’s a miracle we’ve survived this long.Burri goes on:
Oh, we’ve also got a K-Mart, a Menard’s, a Slumberland, a Gander Mountain, and, not too far away, a Home Depot.
Not only that, we’ve got a thriving downtown, full of small, independently owned shops and cafés. Empty storefronts don’t stay empty for long.
Wal-Mart was blamed for a couple of closings here in Baraboo, back when they moved in. A small hardware store closed. It had already been competing with two larger hardware stores at the time. Then a grocery store on the east side of town (Wal-Mart, Pick and Save, and Aldi’s are all on the west side). It’s reopened, now, under new management.
We’ve got a Book World chain store downtown. Hasn’t stopped the Village Booksmith, a used-book store, from thriving. Or so it seems.
Others before me have pointed out: we decry oil companies for charging too much, but Wal-Mart for charging too little. We don’t seem to understand: if Wal-Mart’s prices are lower, it means more disposable income for us. If one store offers a variety of products normally available only at multiple stores, it means less time spent shopping.Finally, a plaintive query:
And Wal-Mart might work hard to keep overhead – thus prices – low, and profits high. But that only makes them…ordinary. Every business, no matter the size, tries to do the same thing.We know the answer to that.
Which begs the question: why has Wal-Mart been singled out?
Wal-Mart is on the “wrong” side of the culture wars. The Volvo-driving, latte sipping crowd doesn’t like the cultural “vibes” the retailer sends out. Wal-Mart is very “red state.” It’s headquartered in Arkansas. It’s mentioned in all those country songs. It’s not stylish nor boutiquey. It’s about very ordinary Americans — the kind of people the elite leftists resent because they don’t properly defer to their “betters” (the elite leftists).
If these folks really cared for poor and people with modest incomes, they would like a place whose prices make a modest paycheck go a long way. But they prefer to fight the Culture Wars, and Wal-Mart is their bugaboo.
Friday, November 18, 2005
College Professor to Freshman: Soldiers Should Kill Their Officers
Dear Rebecca:Check here for an update.
I am asking my students to boycott your event. I am also going to ask others to boycott it. Your literature and signs in the entrance lobby look like fascist propaganda and is [sic] extremely offensive. Your main poster “Communism killed 100,000,000” is not only untrue, but ignores the fact that CAPITALISM has killed many more and the evidence for that can be seen in the daily news papers. The U.S. government can fly to dominate the people of Iraq in 12 hours, yet it took them five days to assist the people devastated by huricane Katrina. Racism and profits were key to their priorities. Exxon, by the way, made $9 Billion in profits this last quarter—their highest proft margin ever. Thanks to the students of WCCC and other poor and working class people who are recruited to fight and die for EXXON and other corporations who earning megaprofits from their imperialist plunders. If you want to count the number of deaths based on political systems, you can begin with the more than a million children who have died in Iraq from U.S.-imposed sanctions and war. Or the million African American people who died from lack of access to healthcare in the US over the last 10 years.
I will continue to expose your right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like your [sic] won’t dare show their face on a college campus. Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors and fight for just causes and for people’s needs—such freedom fighters can be counted throughout American history and they certainly will be counted again.
Prof. John Daly [emphasis added]
And check here for a news story where the professor stands by his position.
And Daly is a member of what department? You guessed it: English.
One Member of the Marquette Community Sizes Up the University
I attend a Jesuit university that went through the post-50s tumult rather badly to all appearances. The Jesuits lost control long ago and only a few oldsters are still in teaching positions. If you spot a young Jesuit, he probably pushes paper somewhere. Sad, sad, sad. Some departments may be opposed to hiring Jesuit faculty; I have been told by several faculty members that many were purged years ago by “progressives.”
At any rate, following larger trends abetted by internal feuding of many different kinds, a corporate managerial efficiency system now controls the place, and there really is no normative, public intellectual discourse where any kind of “we”/group identity comes forth, certainly not one expressed from an unapologetic position of religious faith and commitment to the church or even some sort of “mere Christianity.” This stuff is OK as long as it is kept as a private, personal affair—one’s choice of “spiritualities.” Anything along the lines of “unapologetic commitment” now is routinely derided as a conservative’s nostalgia and similar stock-phrases which evoke a sense of illiberality, if not crypto-fascism. Indeed, it is my experience as a graduate student at MU that such primitive sentiments have all the sense of unPC marginality that you find and expect at thoroughly “secular” institutions. Unfortunately there are a handful of truly reactionary conservative types still grumbling in the shadows here who are overrepresented in the fears of others, so perhaps that partly explains why any idea that connotes appreciation for the Catholic past (and in fact what is still officially considered orthodoxy) is likely to make even good folks run or raise cudgels.
That’s basically what I saw the other night at an event the university sponsored. To set the scene briefly, several hundred people with different relationships with the university from within and without got together for “cafe conversations” and then dinner and then more table talk. The longer unscripted parts were OK; the rest was more directly controlled by the presiding emcee, some sort of phoney-baloney talking head that companies hire when they are so at a loss to understand themselves, they need a stranger to come in and “facilitate” the process. To that end we were given questions to use to get to know one person over a 30-40 minute period after which we had dinner together with other pairs. This part was pretty good. But later we had childish exercises that involved answering questions like “what does the university produce at its best,” which led to a pile of predictable superlatives recorded on big pieces of paper. The numerous guy smiley alums helped make this part extra silly. Then we had to take these answers and make them into a “person” whom we had to describe in terms of what they would read, what friends they'd have and similar claptrap. The last question, “What should the university do to improve?” was a real, adult question. Among the responses, “diversity” was uttered a great deal, and unfortunately there was no opportunity for deeper discussion and definition. What do people mean by “diversity?” Most people I talked to seemed to operate on very simplistic, quasi-racist assumptions that it means “letting more blacks in,” which is “good,” but then they’d immediately talk about the danger of “lowering standards,” which is “bad.” I have totally different ideas about the matter, which involve long-term goals for improving the university’s troubled relationship to the city and breaking down the upper-crust bubble that exists around the campus. Not really something you can explain in a few minutes to people who (typically) know very little about the city’s economic and political life. It would have been striking if everyone in the room had been asked to stand if they lived within the city limits and then to sit down if they lived on campus…
But the really interesting stuff came right at the end. Two Jesuits questioned the diversity emphasis because their main concerns related to the need for a strong particularist religious identity so as not to end up bland and the same as everyone else. One Jesuit also mentioned—and I was waiting for this to come up—that there was absolutely no religious aspect to the whole event, just a lot of corporate group therapy-speak. It was definitely significant that no prayer had been said over dinner or at any other time during the evening.
Pitting religious identity against diversity was a bad rhetorical move for the Jesuit who did that, however. When his religious identity sentiment was expressed during the public pass-the-mic time, it was not an occasion for discussion where intentions and meanings could be clarified. So around my table there were just a lot of sarcastic responses that matched what I heard earlier at a table when similar points had been raised. This was a defensive, hostile reaction that assumed a radically regressive call was being made for “more religion” and therefore “less diversity;” more exclusion and oppression, etc. Many old canards about “religion” came tumbling out, even from people who consider themselves religious and even Catholic. Trying to interject a bit of reason unleashed a tirade about people who want to reinstate the Tridentine mass, something about kneeling being mandated, the return of the repressed rogation days, and something about a (no doubt crazy) professor who recently left his faculty post at Boston College to go to Ave Maria. Yipes! This adds a lot to my old theory that the prevailing “Catholic” sentiment at MU is that Catholics should become really liberal Episcopalians.
More: Gutting Arts & Sciences Graduate Programs at Marquette
We have updated information on the proposed policy.
Math and Computer Sciences will lose six graduate assistantships under the plan, Foreign Languages and Literatures will lose two, and English will lose four.
(We previously reported that English would lose two, but now have updated information.)
As we reported, six assistantships will be added to provide a neuroscience Ph.D. specialization in Biomedical Sciences. Nursing, Education and Communication will get the remainder (excepting one, discussed below).
There is speculation (not confirmed at the moment) that at least some of the four TAs lost by English will be given to the College of Communication which now teaches Communications 11, a course that students can take instead of the traditional English Composition course, English 2. The Communications course has had booming enrollments.
Also, Political Science will get an additional Graduate Assistantship. While we can’t say we are sorry about that, we can’t say we are happy about the broader trends that are hurting the Arts College. While Political Science has dodged this bullet, we can’t feel safe when the entire College is under fire.
The strategy the University is following is one that has been used by (for example) the University of Southern California and New York University: seek to build up your prestige by building up professional programs, rather than by strengthening the Liberal Arts. It’s not a stupid policy to follow, but one can question whether it’s really consistent with the Catholic, Jesuit mission of this place. Further, it makes little sense to erode an area of traditional strength in the quite uncertain hope that the emphasis on professional programs will add prestige and tuition dollars. There is no guarantee it will do either.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
New Conservative Wisconsin Blog
Marquette Strategic Plan: Gut Arts & Sciences Graduate Programs
Six will go to a new program in the Department of Biomedical Sciences: a doctoral specialization in neuroscience. The others will go to other schools.
Who will lose out? Apparently six will be taken from Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, two from Foreign Languages and Literatures, and two from English. Our sources don’t know about the other two.
A new program in Biomedical Sciences might or might not be a good idea (we frankly wonder why these courses aren’t taught in Biology). But raiding other programs isn’t the way to start a new program.
Graduate assistantships are the key “bread and butter” resource in any graduate program. They are, first, a form of financial aid that can be used to lure good students into a program. And graduate students perform valuable services, helping faculty with research and (in departments with heavy lower-division enrollments) taking some teaching duties.
This whole business, if it comes to fruition, looks like a clear signal that Marquette’s administration doesn’t especially value the Arts and Sciences, nor understand the basics of how a university nurtures good graduate programs.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Madison Leftists Take on McDonald’s
A bunch of Madison leftists want to (in their words) “take back State St. which has been occupied by corporate chain stores selling unhealthy swill and sweatshop-made consumer products.” Their first target: McDonald’s.
Of course, if they could convince consumers that the “unhealthy swill” at McDonald’s should be passed up, they would not have to “drive out the corporations with creative and informative protests.”
But being fascists, they aren’t willing to let consumers have what they want.
Although there are some conservatives in Hollywood, the more interesting point is that movies with conservative values tend to do well at the box office.
But guess what: ever more Americans are shunning Hollywood’s wares—and disgust with Left Coast politics, both on and off screen, clearly plays a part. In a time of declining moviegoing, what gets people out to the theaters, it turns out, are conservative movies—conservative not so much politically but culturally and morally, focusing on the battle between good and evil, the worth of heroism and self-sacrifice, the indispensability of family values and martial honor, and the existence of Truth. Hollywood used to turn out a steady supply of such movies—watch just about any film from its Golden Age of the thirties and forties—and it still makes them once in a while (sometimes thanks to off-screen lefties like Steven Spielberg). We may soon see a lot more of them.History appears to vindicate this claim.
The size of the market for such conservative films first grew clear in the late sixties and seventies, when Hollywood nearly stopped making them. Swept up in the era’s revolutionary spirit, the industry junked its decades-old production code—which mandated respect for marriage, the military, and religion, and forbade cussin’ and nudity—and went in for movies geared to “a rebellious generation . . . challenging every cherished tenet of American society,” as leftist film scholars Seth Cagin and Philip Dray approvingly put it. Production-code-era Hollywood hadn’t ignored the darker side of human existence, but even its hardest-boiled noir films weren’t anything like this. The countercultural movies of “New Hollywood”—such as Arthur Penn’s violent, criminal-glorifying Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Robert Altman’s cynical antiwar comedy M.A.S.H. (1970), Hal Ashby’s sordid paean to the sexual revolution Shampoo (1975), and Martin Scorcese’s urban nightmare Taxi Driver (1976)—wowed critics, who shared their anti-establishment and anti-American attitudes.But if the numbers show that liberal, cynical films don’t get an audience, why doesn’t Hollywood get the point?
But moviegoers turned up their noses. Weekly film attendance in 1967, the first year after Hollywood dumped the production code, plummeted to 17.8 million, from 38 million the year before (television had already eroded moviegoing from its late-1940s peak of 90 million a week). “In a single one-year period,” Medved notes, “more than half the movie audience disappeared—by far the largest one-year decline in the history of the motion picture business.” That audience then hovered around 20 million for the next three decades, despite a growing U.S. population.
There’s a simple explanation of why Tinseltown churns out so many commercial duds. Elite filmmakers want to make moola, of course—and they still do, lots of it, though not nearly as much as they could be making. But giving the public what it wants isn’t their prime motivation. More important is their wish for recognition as artists from peers, critics, and the liberal elites, says Emmy- and Oscar-nominated writer and director Lionel Chetwynd, one of Hollywood’s most vocal conservatives. “And it has been true from the late sixties on that if you wanted to be seen as an artist, you have to be a liberal—you have to rail against the government, be edgy,” he adds. Having the right artistic vision can mean other social advantages, too. “Making something commercially successful and appealing to a broad public, like The Incredibles, is less likely to get a Rebecca Romijn look-alike to sleep with you than making dark, hard-hitting, critically acclaimed material like Million Dollar Baby,” says longtime Hollywood watcher [Michael] Medved.In a market economy, ordinary Americans can hold the cultural elites accountable.
This, of course, is why the left so much likes Public Broadcasting. Without the discipline of the market, government funded stations can cater to the biases of their narrow liberal/left core audience.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Student Bill of Rights in Wisconsin State University System?
Democratic Representative Marlin D. Schneider of the 72nd Assembly District has introduced Assembly Bill 578, a “Student Bill of Rights” that would strictly regulate the way professors treat students in Wisconsin’s public (but not private) colleges.
According to the official legislative summary:
This bill requires the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin (UW)System to guarantee certain rights to students and to regulate the academic conductof instructors. Specifically, the bill does the following:
- Requires an instructor to approve or deny a request to add a course within five days of the request.
- Requires an instructor teaching a class with only one examination to provide a week of study time before the examination.
- Requires the suspension of all parking rules for the week preceding and following each semester.
- Requires grades to be submitted no later than ten days after the final examination for the course.
- Prohibits an instructor from requiring students to purchase or use a text the instructor has authored for the course without obtaining the approval of the student government.
- Requires the chancellor to revoke tenure of a faculty member or deduct six months’ pay for an untenured instructor whose academic advising causes a student to be enrolled at least one semester more than he or she otherwise would have been enrolled.
- Prohibits an instructor from requiring students to complete a course evaluation until after the final examination is given.
- Requires, by no later than the 2012 academic year, audio or video recordings of all lectures and course sessions to be made available to students for downloading from the Internet.
- Requires an instructor who adopts a policy of reducing the grades of a student due to illness resulting in absenteeism to state that policy in writing and permits a student to appeal any decision based on that policy to the appropriate academic dean.
- Requires an instructor to excuse the absence of a student whose family member, fiance, or fiancee dies or becomes extremely ill and to allow a student to take any examination missed because of the funeral of a family member, fiance, or fiancee.
- Requires an instructor to meet with a parent or guardian who requests to speak with the instructor concerning the academic performance of his or her child no later than one week after the request, unless mutually agreed to otherwise, if the child grants written permission.
- The bill also limits the work day of a medical intern to 16 hours and prohibits the Board of Regents from entering into a contract that grants naming rights to a UW arena, playing field, or stadium.
The thrust, basically, is that professors aren’t allowed to be complete jerks.
Grades have to be submitted within 10 days of the exam? We’ve had to submit grades within three or four days of the exam, and while we are notorious for getting grades in late, “late” is defined as 23 hours or so late.
And we can’t imagine a Marquette professor docking a student’s grade because he was out sick (and had a doctor’s excuse) nor forbidding a student to make up work missed because of the funeral of a loved one. As for a professor giving a student bad advice: the University doesn’t fully trust faculty on this score, and the Arts & Sciences College reviews student transcripts to see that the student is on track to graduate.
Another theme here is that students are allowed to be lazy slobs. Can’t students take a “week of study” time and go to class too? And why shouldn’t they have to obey parking rules around final exam time? Finally, can’t they get out of the dorm and go to class, rather than expect to get lectures and discussions delivered to their rooms via the Internet?
Given the tendency of liberal professors to want to outlaw everything they don’t like, and mandate everything they think to be good, we would rather like this bill to pass so they can have a dose of their own medicine.
But in reality, a source close to the legislature told us it has “as much of a chance as a rat in a cathouse.” The one cosponsor, Republican Robin Kreibich, has withdrawn his cosponsorship.
So it’s going nowhere.
It certainly paints an unflattering picture of the University of Wisconsin system, however. That system acts the way we expect large bureaucracies to act when they are free of the tonic effect of real competition. It’s true that there are plenty of private colleges in Wisconsin, but they don’t get the massive direct taxpayer subsidy of UW system campuses. Thus parents who don’t want to make huge contributions toward tuition, and students who don’t want to pile up a lot of debt, are going to favor a UW campus.
They are getting what they pay for, but unfortunately what they pay plus what the taxpayers pay should add up to a much better education than they are getting.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
“The Warrior” On Human Events Website
Cheap Shot at French: Enjoy!
There are two higher alert levels in France: “Surrender” and “Collaborate.”
The action was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed the factory that manufactures all of France’s white flags, which had the effect of disabling its military.
A pretty funny cartoon that’s a variation on the above came to us via e-mail today.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Barbra Streisand vs. Norman Podhoretz: Unequal Match
If there was ever a time in history to impeach a President of the United States, it would be now. In my opinion, it is two years too late. We should have done this before the election to spare the country the misjudgment, the incompetence and the malfeasance of this administration. . . . Why would you invade a country if there was still a chance for peace? Shouldn’t war be an absolute last resort? We went to war because we were misled. And we should be angry because of the 2,000 American soldiers and the 200 armed coalition forces that have died. We should be livid because of the 15,000 American soldiers that have been horribly maimed and wounded. We should be disgusted because of the 30,000 innocent Iraqi civilians that have been killed and the 20,000 that are wounded after administration officials claimed that the US was going to liberate the Iraqi people.Of course, most of the dead and wounded civilians in Iraq were the victims of the terrorists. But Barb blames Bush.
When does it stop? It stops with the indictment and impeachment of this corrupt, power-hungry, greedy group of incompetent leaders. How many more have to die before this happens?It might seem unfair to pick on a woman easily dismissed as a Hollywood airhead, but her rhetoric is all to typical of the loony left in the Democratic Party, which unfortunately looks very much like the mainstream of the party.
An intellectually serious discussion comes from Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary:
Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.Podhorentz also masterfully dissects the statements of the left’s favorite (but now discredited) critic of the Bush Administration, Joseph C. Wilson.
[. . .]
. . . it is as close to certainty as we can get that Bush believed in the truth of what he was saying about WMD in Iraq.
How indeed could it have been otherwise? George Tenet, his own CIA director, assured him that the case was “a slam dunk.” This phrase would later become notorious, but in using it, Tenet had the backing of all fifteen agencies involved in gathering intelligence for the United States. In the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2002, where their collective views were summarized, one of the conclusions offered with “high confidence” was thatIraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.The intelligence agencies of Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Israel, and—yes—France all agreed with this judgment.
In the protected little world of New York Times reading, NPR listening, Volvo driving and latte sipping liberals and leftists, the “Bush lied” rhetoric plays just fine. But it won’t play among people who care about history.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
GOP3 Bloggers “Out” Liberal Running as Moderate
It depends on whether anybody bothers to really research her record, her political associations and her sources of money.
Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District leans clearly conservative. Bush beat Kerry there by 55% to 44% in 2004.
Yet Democrat Nancy Nusbaum is running for the seat as a moderate.
Thanks to the GOP3.COM blog, we know her true colors: quite liberal, and definitely pro-abortion. Indeed, the student bloggers were on her case as early as this past July.
Perhaps she hopes people won’t notice how the tone of her 10/13/2005 press release compares with the tone of her 11/25/2003 press release.
The more recent one paints her as an advocate of economic development and law and order.
Nancy was then appointed as the state’s top protector of innocent victims of crime by the Attorney General. She recently left her post as Director of Crime Victim Services for Wisconsin, where for the past two years she led the fight to protect abused children and stood up for the victims of rape, domestic violence and other crimes.But the earlier one shows that she endorsed Howard Dean in 2003:
Nancy’s record of accomplishment shows that she will not follow any party line in Washington—but be an independent voice for the folks in northeast Wisconsin. She is ready to lead the fight for job creation, lower taxes and keeping our communities safe and healthy as the next Member of Congress from the 8th District.
“Governor Dean has been speaking up for change, for people, and for issues important to Wisconsinites. He’s the only candidate offering a clear alternative to President Bush, and I’m proud to be supporting his bid to take our country back. I look forward to working hard with his impressive grassroots organization to help him win on February 17th, and again next November,” Nusbaum said.Further, it identifies her as President of the Board of Directors of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin.
The more recent press release says nothing about Howard Dean, or President Bush or abortion.
It’s not surprising that liberal Democrats want to regulate bloggers. When traditional media are pliant and not inclined to ask questions about liberals, conservative bloggers do.
Liberals Continue to Attack “The Warrior”
But the intolerant side of contemporary liberalism was on display elsewhere. In addition to the “first out of the gate” post from the 1832 Blog, the blog Someone Took In These Pants... chimed in with an equally derisive article. The blogger (“Robola”) claimed that The Warrior is “a [sic] artificial news source that is trying to pretend it is a legitimate conveyor of news.” His definition of “artificial” appears to be “conservative.” Another poster (“Bru”), commenting on the original story claimed:
I would bet the farm more than a few of this rag’s lackeys are from suburban Chicago, which seems to infest Marquette with hundreds of students every year. They all look the same, dress the same, act the same...Way to go stereotyping people who disagree with you, Bru.
Even more intemperate, if that’s possible, is the “truth > lies” blog, which explicitly compares The Warrior to the official state media of the old USSR, and says:
A new reactionary Republican propaganda outlet, The Warrior, has been created by a cabal of right-wing students at the Marquette University campus. Complete with faux victim complexes already, their apparent plan is to mimic the tactics of Fox News. Despite Republicans being in control of pretty much the whole government and media, these college students feel victimized by the liberals that are hurting them oh so bad. Initially funded by the Leadership Institute (the only thing they lead in is creating state supporting propaganda), The Warrior’s aim is to react to their own fantasized perception of liberal bias in the normal Marquette paper, the Marquette Tribune.The last thing we would want is “reactionary cabals” expressing their opinions.
And note the description of the Tribune as “the normal Marquette paper.” How a liberal school-subsidized paper with a staff drawn overwhelming from journalism majors is somehow “normal” is not explained.
The post goes on to quote an harassing e-mail send to Warrior editor Diana Sroka. Here is one passage:
You must ask yourself what you intend to do in this paper. Are you really trying to inform people of news, or are you trying to mislead people with slanted coverage. While your printed words (or lack thereof) say one thing, your actions are very thinly veiled.We are used to getting hate mail like this, usually the result of appearances on Wisconsin Public Radio.
So I ask in closing:
How long are you and your staff going to continue to embarrass yourself with this transparent charade of untruth you are putting on? The first step toward answering that question accurately is to be honest with yourself.
Of course, one can say that these are atypical and extreme liberal reactions, and that most liberals are a lot more tolerant. This is probably true, but still the very substantial number of people who hate conservatives should be an embarrassment and cause for concern. While most liberals are not haters, the liberal culture is one that tends to nurture hate.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
The Becker-Posner Blog
Madison Student Paper Covers “The Warrior”
The story is a bit obsessed with proving that The Warrior is a conservative and Republican paper, with ties to the Leadership Institute. In true Mainstream Media form, any conservative media outlet is “controversial.”
Marquette’s own spokeswoman weighed in on the issue.
Marquette spokesperson Brigid O’Brien Miller said the university is happy to see any additional platform for its students to exercise their freedom of speech in a constructive manner.Indeed.
“Multiple media on campus is not a new thing, and we certainly welcome students expressing their opinions in constructive ways,” Miller said. “It’s every student’s right to express their opinions in constructive ways.”
Although the staff of The Warrior doubtless rather enjoy being “controversial,” and some campus liberals have played right into their hands by generating controversy, a new voice on campus really is, in principle, pretty mundane. The burden is now on The Warrior to provide quality journalism, from a critical and skeptical perspective. The fact that the staff is bright, conservative and entirely free of University control augers well.
The Mendota Beacon, a conservative Madison student paper, also has an article on The Warrior.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Marquette Tribune: A Gracious Response and an Example of Bias
It wasn’t obivous they would do that, since The Warrior has billed itself as an alternative to the purported liberal bias of the Tribune and its supposed timidity in writing stories critical of the Marquette administration.
Indeed, one liberal blog went entirely ballistic when the Warrior hit the streets, and another was snide and contemptuous.
We doubt the Tribune staff, in their heart of hearts, really likes the Warrior. It’s perfectly normal not to want competition, and this past spring semester the Tribune (admittedly with different people on the editorial board) took a dismissive attitude toward campus blogs — something that doesn’t suggest enthusiasm toward alternative media.
Still . . . being against a new campus paper is pretty much being against free speech, and sometimes you have to swallow hard and welcome the competition. The Tribune was smart enough to do that.
The claim that the Tribune has a liberal bias deserves some scrutiny. It’s true that the paper’s editorials are far to the left of the mainstream. They have actually called for the words “under God” to be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.
The opinion columns, in our experience, have been fairly balanced between liberal and conservative views.
Which leaves the news stories.
Like the rest of the mainstream media, the Tribune will insist that they don’t show a liberal bias. They honestly don’t believe they show a liberal bias. And indeed, frequently the stories are right down the middle.
But at other times, the fact that the staff is overwhelmingly liberal shows through.
“Protesting for Peace”
Consider a front page above-the-fold photo in today’s Tribune, with the headline “Protesting for Peace.” Protestors are holding a sign saying "Stop the War.” The notion they are really “protesting for peace” is debatable. What they are really wanting is American troops out of Iraq. That’s not likely to mean “peace.” That’s most likely to mean the odds in the war are skewed in favor of the terrorists, and against the democratically elected government of Iraq.
It could have said “Protesting the War” or “Demanding a Withdrawal.” Both would be neutral and accurate. But it said “Protesting for Peace.”
The story itself, printed on page nine, was quite fair, and the writer (Will Ashenmacher) took the trouble to fact check two key assertions that speakers voiced. This may sound routine enough, but reporters far senior to Ashenmacher have sometimes failed to do it.
What is questionable is even including the story in the paper — with or without the front page photo. Apparently not a single Marquette student took part — or if any did, Ashenmacher failed to find one and get any comment. And the photos show a very small bedraggled crowd. Indeed, there seem to be fewer protestors than The Warrior has staffers — and all the latter group are Marquette students.
Was this coverage an example of liberal bias? It’s possible that all that happened is that an editor sent Ashenmacher and photographer Krista Rizzo to a demonstration that turned out to be a nothing story, and didn’t want to tell them they had wasted their time. Or maybe there was a “news hole” to fill and the story was necessary to fill it.
Or maybe (given the biased headline) the Tribune takes an especially favorable view of anti-war protest.
Ultimately, the case for having The Warrior on campus does not depend on the Tribune being a bad paper or a liberally biased paper. Having some talented conservative young people who want to publish a paper is plenty of reason to have a paper. Ultimately, The Warrior will prosper if it provides information not available from the Tribune or any other outlet. It has a good shot at doing exactly that.