Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Pro-Marriage TV Ad

From the Wigderson Library and Pub, a new TV ad promoting Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment.

It’s high time the pro-marriage folks got into the media with an ad campaign.

The gay lobby has a huge amount of money, and has been on the air for months.

Tennessee Democratic Candidate Harold Ford: Republicans “Don’t Love the Lord”

Yep, the guy is imploding.

Will you hear about this in the Mainstream Media?

What would happen if a Republican said that Democrats don’t “love the Lord?”

Not-So-Live Blogging on Gay Marriage Amendment Debate

We promised it would be good, and it was.

No wireless connectivity in the venue, therefore no real live blogging. But we took running notes, which we now post.

Rich Orton, President of Pi Sigma Alpha, is the moderator. Introduces speakers, and warns the audience that cheers and boos are inappropriate, and that civility must prevail. For the most part it does, all throughout the debate.

The opening statements

Christopher Wolfe (for the Amendment):

Addresses the argument that the Amendment is not needed, since gay marriage is outlawed now. Wolfe points out that the proponents of gay marriage would cheerfully enshrine gay marriage in the Constitution.

Wolfe now turns to judicial activism, and points out that there is a real possibility that activist judges might well (as in Massachusetts and New Jersey) impose gay marriage.

Wolfe rebuts the notion that the second part of the Amendment would somehow interfere with existing rights and privileges.

“Domestic partner” benefits and such would not be touched by the Amendment.

Opponents have engaged in a campaign of “manipulation” rather than honest political argument.

Mike Tate (against the Amendment):

”We don’t know for sure” what the Amendment would do.

Wants to talk about “why this is on the ballot.” Says it “inflames peoples’ passions.”

Says there would be no debate if the Amendment had stopped with the first clause.

Says second sentence would could “harm things” and “jeopardize things” like domestic partner benefits.

“Has been used to try to take away” domestic partner benefits in other states.

Says gay marriage is “not what’s at stake here.” It’s “about who we are as a people.”

Rick Esenberg (for the Amendment):

Not convinced that homosexual relations are immoral, but does care about marriage.

“Each child should have his or her birthright:” to know and be raised by a mother and father.

Points out fundamental dishonesty of Amendment opponents: they assure people that gay marriage won’t happen, while devoutly believing that the lack of gay marriage is an injustice.

Says that homophobia can’t explain the public resistance to gay marriage. “Are we prepared to create motherless and fatherless families.” Public isn’t prepared to do that.

Scott Moss (against the Amendment):

Says “none of the arguments in favor of the Amendment hold up.”

Says Amendment “would create quite a lot of uncertainty.”

Not sure about the argument that every child should have a mother and father. Discusses gay adoption, saying that some kids are in foster care or in an orphanage.

Says issue isn’t “which is better? Mom and Dad, or Dad and Dad.”

Preserve traditional relationships? Says “I am married, and I expect to remain married.”

Says we have often changed the policy toward marriage.


First part of the question and answer section, questions posed by Orton:

Question to Wolfe: Will we be incorporating discrimination into the state Constitution.

Wolfe: Yes, but that’s what the law always does. It’s appropriate to treat people differently. Some people are eligible for welfare benefits, and others aren’t.

Do we “discriminate” against groups of three or more people who want to be married? Yes, because we think that there are fundamental things about marriage, including giving yourself to one person.

Most important thing: children. “It’s not primarily about an intimate personal relationship.”

Of course some heterosexual relationships don’t create children.

Mike Tate Responds:

Returns to “what’s really going on here.” Claims that the intend is to eradicate the benefits of any kind of relationship aside from marriage.

Claims that adopting the Amendment will create a lot of legal cases.

Question to Mike Tate:

How does defeating the Amendment “promote family values,” as sidewalk chalking around Marquette asserts.

Tate claims that the Amendment would remove all legal protections from homosexual couples.

Really demagogues the issue. Claims the support of the AFL-CIO and various interest groups (ignoring the fact that they are liberal interest groups).

Esenberg Responds:

Debunks notion that failure to pass the amendment would hold down litigation. “This is the United States, if a butterfly flaps it’s wings, there is litigation.”

Horrible things haven’t happened in other states that have adopted a Defense of Marriage Amendment.


Question to Esenberg:

Will Amendment destroy protection against domestic violence?

No, since the Wisconsin statute says nothing about a sexual relationship between the two parties.

The intention of the people who wrote the Amendment would be a key factor when the courts interpret it. The clear intention was not to (for example) remove domestic partner benefits.

Scott Moss Responds:

Points to examples of interest groups in Ohio who have tried to remove protections. (But doesn’t say that any of these suits were successful.)

Question to Scott Moss:

What about judicial activism?

Moss doesn’t think that any other states will follow New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Kalamazoo, Michigan was threatened with a lawsuit, and withdrew medical benefits from gay partners.

Wolfe Responds:

Anybody who knows anything about the modern judiciary knows that judges are “a real danger” in advancing a social agenda that can’t succeed in the democratic arena.

Audience Questions Begin:

Brandon Henak:

Works for GE Medical Systems, which provides domestic partner benefits, including in states that have Protection of Marriage Amendments.

Mike Tate says that conservative interest groups would pressure companies to stop providing domestic partner benefits.

Esenberg Responds:

Points out that no court anywhere has prevented private employer from providing domestic benefits.

Jess Cushion Asks Wolfe:

Which legal protections that married people get don’t you think that homosexual couples should get?

Wolfe responds, largely dodges the question.

Rebuts the notion that the intention was to “stick it to gays.”

Moss responds:

Points out that Wolfe can’t point to one specific right that gay couples can’t have.

Believes “protecting marriage” is “a bizarre term.”

Another questioner:

Says that the real issue is the extension of benefits at taxpayer expense to relationships that add nothing to society.

Mike Tate goes really demagogic, and misinterprets speakers question to mean that gay people add nothing to society.


Wolfe responds: again denies that the intention is to harm gays.

Question to Esenberg:

Questioner says that “neither side knows what will happen.” “So why should we vote to something that will be part of the Constitution forever.”

Esenberg points out that he can’t received veterans benefits, because he wasn’t a veteran.

The rules that surround marriage follow from the fact that the rules surrounding marriage are shaped around the fact that heterosexual relationships might produce children.

Closing statements:

Moss:

Wants to talk about kids. Says “whenever kids are involved, it’s more image as opposed to substance.”

Says gay marriage won’t take kids away from straight parents.

Says you make it harder for homosexual couples to enter long-term stable relationship if the Amendment is passed.

Says proponents want to limit democracy by “preventing people in the future from changing their mind.”

Esenberg:

Law has two functions: to set rules and to reinforce social norms.

Example: no fault divorce. Changed the way people think about commitment in marriage.

“Are we prepared to accept as a social norm, a signal we sent to the rest of society, that mothers and fathers don’t matter.”

Mike Tate:

Repeats that “what happened in other states” was questionable.

Attacks Wolfe and Esenberg claiming they “would not be first in line” to protect domestic benefits.

Says the other side “just wants to talk about marriage.”

Chris Wolfe:

Point is not “what benefits should be denied to homosexual couples.” What would be denied would be “the whole bundle” of benefits. Any individual benefit would be up for consideration, but the whole package would be precluded.

Issue is “how does gay marriage affect our understanding or marriage.” Makes the analogy to no fault divorce in the early 70s.


Conclusion:

A splendid debate, all in all.

Now some individual evaluations, no doubt biased by our opinions on the issue:

Rich Orton – fine job as moderator.

Rick Esenberg – fine job too. An eloquent advocate.

Chris Wolfe – good job too, but a bit defensive, insisting that the point isn’t to hurt gays. Also, should have answered Cushion’s question about what benefits he would deny gay couples. (We have a short list.)

Scott Moss – bright, personable and witty, but there was a fundamental incoherence to his argument. While Amendment opponents argue that this is “not about gay marriage,” Moss insisted on making a case for gay marriage! Anybody watching would conclude that the issue is gay marriage, and that Moss and Tate favor it (while insisting that it won’t come to Wisconsin).

Mike Tate – came across as a rather harsh demagogue, more intent on attacking Amendment opponents than making an argument. But unlike Moss, he stayed “on message” and avoided admitting that the whole debate is about gay marriage.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Marquette Tribune Chastised For Failure to Support Free Speech

From the blog of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a post about an editorial in the Marquette Tribune supporting Marquette’s censorship of a Dave Barry quote posted on the door of a graduate student in Philosophy.
What is most disturbing about this editorial is not this [factual] error, though. It is the fact that the editorial treats the avoidance of institutional embarrassment as a higher value than liberty. It is the rare college newspaper that will cheerfully proclaim that speech can be arbitrarily censored because the school “is not a free-speech zone.” One suspects that the Marquette Tribune might feel differently if, instead of removing a Dave Barry quote, Professor South had decided to throw out a stack of issues of the Marquette Tribune. And the idea that free speech is to be confined only to “free-speech zones” is a shocking departure from the ideals of free speech that have served our nation and its universities well for over two hundred years.

There is simply no plausible defense for Marquette’s removing a Dave Barry quote from Stuart Ditsler’s door. The office hallways of most colleges boast doors festooned with quotes, cartoons, political posters, etc. If a Dave Barry quote is the most offensive thing on display at Marquette, it must be a boring place indeed.
What does it say about the culture at the Marquette Tribune that they were unwilling to support free speech in this instance?

Nothing at all flattering. When student journalists turn into authoritarians, free speech on campus is in real trouble.

But we’ve known that for a while.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Follow Up: Department of the Interior Blocking Conservative Blogs?

There was a bit of a buzz a couple of weeks ago about the supposed fact that the Department of the Interior was preventing its employees from viewing conservative blogs on its internal network.

Supposedly, liberal blogs were unblocked.

We called the Department of the Interior and talked to a source in the IT department who denied any partisan motive, and indeed confirmed for us that both the Daily Kos and the Democratic Underground were blocked at the time we made the call.

Now, an employee has posted a very detailed account of what went on on the Gates of Vienna blog.

Bottom line: never attribute to evil motives what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

And since this is the government, incompetence is an extremely plausible explanation.

But utterly priceless is a document showing just what is blocked at the DOI, and what is unblocked. The document also shows the supposed justification for blocking certain content. It is Exhibit Number 1 for the case that all nanny-state policies like this are silly.

For example, sites are blocked if they:
. . . sell, promote or glamorize the use of tobacco related products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco. Sample sites: www.philipmorrisusa.com/en/home.asp
But use of tobacco is perfectly legal -- at least if DOI employees don’t do it on the job. Likewise blocked:
Sites promoting the use of alcohol, drink recipes, bartender guides, home brewing methodology, drinking.
Oddly, weapons sites are unblocked. It seems the nannies care more about tobacco and alcohol than about guns, knives and swords.

“Social opinion” sites are unblocked, but “Hate & Discrimination” sites are blocked. Of course, deciding where one leaves off and the other begins is inherently a subjective call. Further, blocked sites include “Sites that promote the sale/use of illegal drugs and narcotics . . . or sites that glorify the effect of illegal narcotics.” But isn’t this a form of “social opinion?”

And blocked are “Sites that contain information regarding militias, anti-government/antiestablishment groups, terrorism, bombmaking/usage, anarchy, etc.” We wonder, in the first place, whether libertarian sites are blocked as being “anti-government.” Are leftist sites blocked as being “antiestablishment?” And if not why not?

Even assuming that only genuinely fringe sites are blocked (MILITIA OF MONTANA is one listed) don’t concerned citizens have a right to know what these folks are up to?

Instant messaging and chat is blocked, as are message boards.

Blogs are blocked, including this one!

Porno sites are blocked, as are streaming media sites (supposedly because they would overburden the network).

Sites that encourage and assist hacking are unblocked!

Art sites are unblocked, but comics sites are blocked. Do we see a highbrow bias here? Except that online greeting card sites are unblocked.

Game sites are blocked, but kids sites are unblocked. Do Department of Interior employees often bring their children to work?

Dating and Personal sites are blocked. This category includes:
Sites related to personal ads, dating sites, dating services, dating tips, relationships, introductions, “how-tofind-a-mate” sites, introductions for purposes of finding friends or other relationships, etc.
But unblocked are “lifestyle” sites:
Sites that contain material relative to an individual’s personal life choices. This includes sexual preference, cultural identity, or organization/club affiliations.
All this is typical when the nannies try to decide what people can and can’t view.

So what we have here is not any liberal conspiracy to silence conservative voices. It’s normal governmental incompetence, which looks very much like incompetence in the corporate world, and in universities.

Imagine Contemporary Democrats At Iwo Jima

Students For Academic Freedom at Marquette?

From a press release from the already formed, but not yet officially recognized, Marquette chapter of Students for Academic Freedom.
“Students for Academic Freedom” to launch soon;
Constitution awaiting OSD approval

A petition signed by more than 25 Marquette students seeking to launch a new student organization called “Students for Academic Freedom” and the organization’s constitution is awaiting approval from the Office of Student Development. Students for Academic Freedom aims to:
  • Promote intellectual diversity on campus
  • Defend the right of students so they will be treated with respect by faculty and administrators regardless of their political or religious beliefs
  • Encourage fairness, civility and inclusion in student affairs
  • Secure the adoption of an “Academic Bill of Rights” as official university policy
“Marquette students need this group to secure greater representation of under-represented ideas on campus,” Charles Rickert, senior in the College of Business Administration and founder of Students for Academic said. “We need to make all of campus a free-speech zone if we are serious about becoming a marketplace of ideas.”

The Marquette organization would join more than 150 other Students for Academic Freedom organizations across the nation.

“I look forward to working with faculty, administrators and MUSG to bring positive change and intellectual diversity to Marquette,” Rickert said.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Marquette administrators react to this.

No matter how attractive the mission of the organization sounds, the truth is that not everybody wants to make “all of campus a free-speech zone.”

And not everybody wants “intellectual diversity on campus.” A lot of people want lockstep political correctness.

Marquette administrators have to know that they are likely to get flack from this group when the go along with demands that certain kinds of speech should be shut up, as happened recently in the Philosophy Department.

But given that Marquette recently approved, in a very short time, a campus chapter of FAIR Wisconsin (a pro-gay marriage group that flatly opposes Church teaching), it will be extremely embarrassing to refuse to recognize Students For Academic Freedom.

Gay Marriage Debate at Law School: Audio

While we look forward to a great debate on the Wisconsin Defense of Marriage Amendment tomorrow night, we have to note a most successful debate on the same subject at the Law School on October 3rd.

Check this blog entry for a link to the audio.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dixie Chicks Film Publicity Stunt

We recently reported on how the NBC network rejected ads promoting the new Dixie Chicks film.

It turns out the “rejection” was part of a publicity stunt arranged by the film’s producer.

From USA Today:
NEW YORK — The Dixie Chicks are again at the center of a controversy over the limits of opinionated talk. A film company said Friday that NBC wouldn’t accept an advertisement for Shut Up & Sing, a movie about the fuss created by Dixie Chick Natalie Maines’ comment that she was ashamed President Bush was a fellow Texan. The network suggested the complaint may be a publicity stunt.

The problem arose when the Weinstein Co. began conversations with networks about buying ads to be shown nationally, in anticipation of later wider release of the film.

But Alan Wurtzel, head of standards and practices at NBC, said it is network policy not to accept ads on issues of public controversy — like abortion or the war.

While the Weinstein Co. had shown NBC its ads, it had not inquired about buying commercial time, he said. Generally, when an ad is rejected, prospective advertisers return and work with the network on ways to make it acceptable — as was done with the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11, he said.

But NBC heard nothing more from makers of Shut Up & Sing until portions of what NBC executives thought were confidential business correspondence showed up in a news release, he said.

“There was no attempt to come back and have a conversation,” Wurtzel said. “There are times when some advertisers get more publicity for having their ad rejected.”
It seems that attempts to exploit claims of victimization are not limited to the Chicks. Their producer is doing the same thing.

And maybe some very naïve people will believe them.

The Reality of Illegal Immigration

Giving the Feds the Bird

From USA Today:
Feds say Maine restaurant must give up 150-year-old stuffed gull

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Government agents have served notice on a Camden restaurant that the stuffed bird that adorned its upstairs dining room for more than 20 years is illegal.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents, unshaven and clad in camouflage pants and plaid shirts, arrived Thursday at Cappy’s Chowder House to confiscate the 150-year-old greater black backed gull that is mounted under glass and surrounded by an ornate frame.

Gulls have been a federally protected species since 1918, and the agents acted in response to a customer complaint.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act calls for penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for possessing a prohibited species, said Eric Holmes, one of the agents who visited Cappy’s. The law makes no exception for birds acquired before the passage of the treaty act, he said.

The visit was a surprise to Cappy’s owner, Johanna Tutone, who said it never occurred to her that it was illegal to own the stuffed bird she had bought at the auction of a sea captain’s estate. She initially thought that the two visitors who presented badges and identified themselves as federal agents were pulling a prank.

“I thought they were joking,” she said. “I thought any minute someone would come up the stairs and say, ‘Gotcha!’”
Our first question is: what kind of customer would complain about this?

Answer, the same sort of person to would complain to Philosophy Department Chair James South about a Dave Barry quote on a graduate student’s door.

In both cases, the proper response would be “get a life.”

Friday, October 27, 2006

Canadian Postal Workers Refuse to Deliver “Anti-Gay” Booklet

From CTV.ca, an account of the increasing willingness of liberals and leftists to censor material about homosexuality of which they disapprove.
Canada Post plans to go ahead with the delivery of controversial booklets this week, despite protests from Vancouver postal workers who refused to distribute the mail they called “homophobic.”

“It hasn’t gone out today because of all the attention and we wanted to make sure other mail wasn’t disrupted,” Lillian Au, communications manager for Canada Post’s pacific region, told CTV.ca.

“But it will be going out as scheduled within the next three days, that’s our time commitment to our client.”

If the postal workers were to refuse to distribute the unaddressed booklets prepared by an Ontario-based religious group, they would be notified they were participating in an “illegal work stoppage,” Au said.

Sixty-eight workers, who worked for a medium-sized postal facility in the Commercial Drive area, walked off the job for about 15 minutes Thursday morning rather than distribute a brochure they characterized as “anti-gay.”

President of the Vancouver local of the Canadian Union of postal Workers, Ken Mooney, told CTV.ca that the religious group picked the wrong community to receive the mail.

“Of all the communities to target, this is probably the poorest choice,” Mooney said in a telephone interview from Vancouver.

“The consciousness of social issues is very high here,” he said of the community he described as left-leaning.

Mooney said his office received several calls from offended local members regarding the booklet.

“It’s a 28-page booklet I would character as nothing but a 28-page diatribe against members of the homosexual community. It’s hate literature and nothing else,” he said.

“It never should have been accepted for delivery by Canada Post,” he said.

The pamphlet calls homosexuality “ungodly,” “unhealthy,” and “unnatural” and blames homosexual people for spreading AIDS by living without “any moral restraints.”

The walkout sent the message that the postal workers “weren’t going to take it. People are deeply offended by this literature,” Mooney said.

Mooney is calling for Canada Post to implement a policy that would spell out its position for future cases such as this one.

“That way, we don’t have to get them to stand off,” he said.
Here we have the usual politically correct notion that it’s acceptable to censor speech that certain groups consider “offensive.”

The gay lobby is, of all political groups modern democracies, the most intolerant. They fully believe they have the right to shut up anybody who is in any way critical of homosexuality, or of the political agenda of the gay lobby.

Not, Unfortunately, Born Free

Dixie Chicks: Whine, Moan, Bitch

Via Drudge, news that NBC news has refused to run ads promoting the new Dixie Chicks movie.

NBC says that the ads are “disparaging to President Bush.”

Given that NBC News is quite willing to run material disparaging to President Bush, it appears that NBC simply doesn’t want to run supposed movie trailers that are in fact political ads.

You can see one of the ads here, and another here.

The trailers imply that we are “not living in a free society.”

According to Drudge:
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company stated, “It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is sad and profoundly un-American.”
In fact, the Chicks are in commercial trouble because we are living in a free society.

Entertainers who make thenselves obnoxious to fans can expect CDs to stay on the shelves, online downloads to drop off, and concert tickets to go unsold.

That’s called free consumer choice.

The rhetoric about the “corporate media” is equally silly. The bête noire of the leftists is Clear Channel Communications. But the local Clear Channel country station, WMIL-FM, continued to play Dixie Chicks music long after lead singer Natalie Maines attacked Bush at a London concern in 2003.

What finally pushed WMIL Program Director Kerry Wolfe over the line was statements made by the Chicks attacking country music fans, and a rather sleazy interview with Howard Stern.

From the “not so corporate media,” Program Director Fuzz Martin of WBWI-FM said that “Our policy has been, since March 2003, no Chicks. Sometimes our satellite affiliates sneak them in - but it’s very very minimal, and usually overnight.” Martin made it clear that this was in response to his perception of what fans wanted to hear. He suggested that the failure of a Dixie Chicks single happened because “. . . a lot of radio stations that were hot to start playing them again, did so, and then received a rash of ‘I can’t believe you’re playing the Dixie Chicks’ phone calls (or test results).”

Natalie Maines blundered when she attacked Bush in 2003. But that was not fatal. Like petulant brats, the Chicks overreacted, started attacking country music fans and saying they wanted to make music for the “cool people.”

Country music fans are loyal, but if you insult them enough they will turn away.

What do the Dixie Chicks have now? The hate Bush crowd can go to Air America or the Daily Kos. People who want to listen to nondescript pop music have a lot of options.

But it’s a free country, and you can throw your fan base away if you want to. Just please spare us the whining.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Trick, No Treat

Marriage Amendment Debate at Marquette: Clash of the Titans

Well . . . as close as a campus debate ever comes.

Monday, October 30th
8 p.m.
Weasler Auditorium
Panelists include
Mr. Mike Tate
Campaign Manager for Fair Wisconsin
Dr. Scott Moss
Professor of Law, Marquette University
Dr. Christopher Wolfe
Professor of political science, Marquette University
Member of Wisconsin Coalition for Traditional Marriage
Dr. Rick Esenberg
Professor of Law, Marquette University

With both sides represented by top-notch advocates, this is about the best opportunity anybody at Marquette or in the entire Milwaukee area will have to sort out the issue.

Check out the poster for the event here.

Marquette Tribune Supports Philosophy Department Censorship

What ever happened to the notion that student journalists favor free speech?

It seems to depend on the ideological complection of the speech.

It seems they don’t favor free speech when a libertarian graduate student in the Philosophy Department posts a quote knocking the Federal Government on his office door.

Exhibit one: the Marquette Tribune, dealing with the issue in an editorial this past Tuesday, takes Marquette to task over communication about the issue, but sees nothing wrong with the actual act of censorship. According to the fledgling journalists:
The university could have easily defended South’s actions with its Student Handbook policy. Despite the romantic impressions of some, Marquette is a private institution — not a free-speech zone.

The removal of the quote didn’t clearly violate any freedoms granted by the Constitution, federal or state, nor by the university. Marquette’s Student Handbook demonstrations policy states when people differ on whether a demonstration infringes on the rights of others in the community, an authority — in this case South — communicates his judgment and can require the demonstration be “promptly terminated.”
So the argument appears to be “since Marquette has a legal right to censor speech, that makes any particular act of censorship legitimate.”

Particularly bizarre is the statement about “. . . when people differ on whether a demonstration infringes on the rights of others in the community. . . .”

Just what rights did Ditsler’s office door quote infringe upon?

Let’s look at it:
“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”
Just how does this “infringe” upon anybody’s rights?

The Tribune appears to have bought into the politically correct notion that people on the left have a “right” not to be confronted with ideas they dislike.

The more senior journalists at the Journal-Sentinel sided with free speech on this issue.

But what happens to journalism when younger journalists, steeped in the intolerance of political correctness, come to dominate the profession?

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Unmarried Straight Couples and the Marriage Amendment

Via columnist Patrick McIlheran, a sensible comment about the claim, made by people who oppose the Marriage Amendment, that it will deprive heterosexual unmarried couples of the benefits of marriage.

Community columnist Vivian Roe observes:
. . . regarding unmarried straight couples, I’m all for preventing those who want the milk without buying the cow from being on equal legal footing with couples who make it legal. Many unmarried couples have children and say they want to ensure benefits for their kids. Perhaps the first step toward stability and security is to not have kids illegitimately.

No one benefits when society accepts irresponsible behavior or grants perks without demanding the work. And a couple who only sort of commits to each other should not expect the benefits of a marriage license any more than a person who takes a few classes in college should expect a diploma (even if he went to all the frat parties).
Of course, this is similar to the argument for excluding homosexuals from marriage.

If you decline to participate in the kinds of sexual activity that might produce children, you have opted out of an institution whose purpose, from the very beginning, was to create the proper context for the conception, birth and rearing of children.

We personally think of gays demanding the right to be married as like pacifists demanding the right to be admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

In virtually all ways, pacifists have the same rights as people willing to fight. But when you make certain choices, you have closed off certain options.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ann Althouse: Failure to Pass Amendment Might Lead to Judicial Imposition of Homosexual Marriage

Ann Althouse is a social liberal, and supporter of gay marriage.

So she deserves a lot of credit for admitting that it’s quite possible, if the Marriage Amendment is not passed, that a liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court might impose gay marriage by judicial fiat.

Reviewing an article in the Wisconsin State Journal, she admits:
. . . the judges do not, I think, provide the kind of assurances that would undercut the argument proponents of the amendment make that it is needed to thwart some future state supreme court case finding a state law right to same-sex marriage. . . .
The State Journal article says the following:
“In my judgment that would be a very, very close vote on the court,” said William Bablitch, a former Supreme Court justice who served on the court for two decades and took part in two key decisions relating to gay couples and families. “It could come out either way.”

Recent cases in other states have been a mixed bag.
And further:
For his part, Bablitch guessed that in a hypothetical marriage law challenge, of the court’s seven members, Justices Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley would likely vote to throw the current law out and Wilcox, appointed by former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, and Justice Pat Roggensack would likely vote to uphold it.

Justice Louis Butler Jr., an appointee of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, might vote to throw out the law as well, Bablitch said. That would be 3-2 in favor of ending the ban on gay marriage, leaving Justice N. Patrick Crooks and Justice David Prosser Jr., another Thompson appointee, to decide which side would prevail.
Thus, people who say the Amendment is “not needed” are, quite simply, people who favor gay marriage and wouldn’t mind it being imposed by judicial fiat.

Obama Mania

New Jersey Gay Marriage Ruling: Huge Gift to Republicans

It could not have come at a better time for Republicans.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that the state must either approve gay marriage, or provide for civil unions for homosexuals, such unions having all the same privileges as marriage.

This makes the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment, already ahead in the polls, a virtual slam-dunk to pass.

It shows the utter dishonesty of Amendment opponents who claim that the Amendment is not needed since “gay marriage is already illegal in Wisconsin.”

Sure, it’s illegal until and unless Wisconsin’s liberal Supreme Court gets around to legalizing it.

The ruling should affect House and Senate races around the nation.

Of course, most Democratic candidates will say they oppose gay marriage. Those in moderate or conservative districts will say they oppose civil unions too.

But they will necessarily be put on the defensive, having to distance themselves from a policy that clearly is being pushed by an important part of the Democratic coalition (the gay lobby) and imposed in some states by liberal activist judges.

And a policy that most voters know that Democrats activists and office holders, in their heart of hearts, favor.

Democrats will be off-message, and in damage control mode.

Social conservatives will be energized.

Those Republicans who have been whining about how the Bush White House and a Republican controlled Congress have accomplished little will be reminded how much damage liberal Democrats can do.

If Bush, for example, gets to appoint another justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s essential that he not have to appease a Senate Judiciary Committee controlled by Democrats.

Even governors races may be affected. Wisconsin has a liberal Supreme Court largely because Jim Doyle, as Governor, got to appoint a liberal justice to replace conservative Diane Sykes (who left to take a place on the Federal bench).

If the next governor of Wisconsin gets to make such an appointment, will it be Doyle or Green making it?

If the Democrats pick up (say) 12 seats in the House of Representatives (short of the 15 they need for control), the New Jersey Supreme Court can thank itself for having saved the House from the Democrats. We doubt the liberal judges who made this ruling intended that.

Likewise, the Democrats gaining control of the Senate has always been a long shot. Now it’s close to impossible.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Surrender or Else

Eric Allie

Was Marquette Less Than Frank About Letter to FIRE?

When the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter to Marquette about the censorship of a posting on the office door of a graduate student in the Philosophy Department, they asked Marquette for a response by October 11, 2003.

On October 18, not having received any response from Marquette, FIRE went public, attacking the University for censorship.

Marquette then produced a letter, dated October 16, which claimed to address FIRE’s concerns.

FIRE, which is located in Philadelphia, has now finally gotten the letter.

Interestingly, although the letter was dated October 16, it was postmarked October 19.

FIRE is wondering aloud whether Marquette, in response to the breaking of the story on October 18, quickly drafted and sent a letter which it backdated to make the University appear to be responsive on the issue.

We, quite frankly, are wondering about that too.

We’ll provide an update on this when we hear from University spokeswoman Brigid Miller.

[Update]

Brigid Miller did indeed return our phone call, and suggested that the letter, after being printed with the October 16 date, may have sat around for a day or so before being signed by Fr. Wild. She also suggested that campus mail is slow, and it may have taken another day for it to have made it to General Services to be metered.

Another Doyle Scandal? UWM Dorm Project “Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test”

From Milwaukee Magazine, Bruce Murphy’s column outlines what may well be another in a long line of Doyle scandals.
Quietly and cleverly, a new project is being created on the west bank of the Milwaukee River. Lots of strings were pulled to make this happen, involving at least six different government entities. Yet there have been no public bids and little public scrutiny of the development, even as companies that donated to Gov. Jim Doyle were chosen to build it. The whole thing doesn’t pass the smell test.

The new project is a six-story dormitory for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students at North Avenue and the west bank of the river. To oversee the $23 million development, UWM has created a new real estate foundation, a private nonprofit that in turn operates as an arm of another private nonprofit, the UWM Foundation. That makes the new dorm project twice removed from UWM.

[Update:]

Murphy has more on this in a later column.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Steve Kagen Gaffe: “Injuns” versus “Warriors”

Via Sykes Writes, the fact that a Democratic congressional candidate (running in Wisconsin’s 8th district) excused his being late to one event by saying “Our excuse, uh, in Oneida was, well we are on Injun time. They don’t tell time by the clock. Our excuse here is I’m a doctor and we’re never on time.”

Referring to American Indians as “Injuns,” of course, is the sort of thing that has to be viewed as derogatory and offensive. Especially when Indians are portrayed as being unable to be on time because “they don’t tell time by the clock.”

But more interesting to us is the question: is there outrage in the American Indian community at this slur?

Apparently not. One of Sykes listeners asked a local TV station in northern Wisconsin whether they were going to run a story on the gaffe, and they got this response.
From: “FOX11 News”
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2006 9:39 AM
Subject: RE: Story Idea

Thanks for writing. We are aware of the comment referring to “injun time” it was not a reference to any one person.

A spokesperson for the tribe said she believes he was trying to be funny. She was not personally offended, and she is a member of the tribe.

We are considering a story.

Brian Kerhin
Assignment manager
WLUK-TV Green Bay
920-490-1407
bkerhin@wluk.com
So a tribal spokesperson “was not personally offended.”

But these same “tribal spokespeople” claimed to be sorely offended at the fact that Marquette University was considering changing the nickname of its athletic teams back to “Warriors.”

By any reasonable standard you honor a group when you name your team after them. By any reasonable standard, you demean a group when you say that they can’t tell time.

But political correctness has nothing to do with reasonable standards. Being “offended” has nothing to do with objective offensiveness.

Rather, it’s a tool to be used by activists to bully people.

But they only want to bully certain kinds of people.

They are – and they know that they are – clients of white liberal elites. They are the pets of the liberal elites, and if they play the game the way the white liberals want, they get rewarded for doing so (with lucrative gambling monopolies, for example).

So they don’t use the race card against their patrons.

Journal-Sentinel Slams Marquette Over Philosophy Department Office Door Censorship

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, in today’s edition, slammed Marquette for censoring a quote from columnist Dave Barry that was posted on the door of a graduate student’s office.
Editorial: It’s all a free-speech zone

We were under the impression that the entire United States is a free-speech zone. Which is why the phrase’s use is puzzling in the case of a teaching aide and graduate student at Marquette University who had a quote from a well-known humorist removed from his office door recently.

The quote from Dave Barry was, “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”

Philosophy department chairman and associate professor James South called the quote “patently offensive” and said that the campus’ free-speech zones required him to take it down.

Point No. 1: If this quote is “patently offensive,” then a whole lot of folks who call themselves conservatives or Libertarians are patently offensive. Variations of this theme operate as their mantra. There’s nothing offensive about it. It’s a point of view. Agree or disagree, but don’t ban it.

Point No. 2: Lighten up. Most folks recognize hyperbole when they see it, particularly educated people such as those who walk the non-free-speech hallways of Marquette.

Point No. 3: While no right is absolute - yeah, yeah, yelling fire in a crowded theater - free speech should come pretty darn close. An easily offended nanny state might police cartoons and posters pinned up on office doors and walls. Thank goodness we don’t live in one. Right?

Of course, Marquette is a private university. OK, but one that presumably subscribes in some measure to the concept of academic freedom. Or is this reserved only for those graced with tenure?

No, the teaching assistant and graduate student who put up the quote - Stuart Ditsler, who says he is a Libertarian - should qualify. A campus spokeswoman said this is a workplace issue, not one of academic freedom. This makes no sense. The workplace in this case is a university.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken up Ditsler’s cause. A letter to the foundation from Marquette President Father Robert A. Wild said, because the quote wasn’t attributed, “someone reading . . . may not have understood the humor/satire of Dave Barry.”

So, here’s a compromise. Attribute the quote and return it to the office door. But here’s a better one. Allow Ditsler to put it up anyway if he chooses.
Of course, it’s not just conservatives and libertarians who distrust the Federal government. Where the Patriot Act is the issue, it’s liberals and leftists who do that.

Which doesn’t matter at all here, since you can be liberal, conservative, libertarian or whatever and still have a right to academic freedom.

And the leftists who run the Philosophy Department probably do believe that “folks who call themselves conservatives or Libertarians are patently offensive.”

And they believe that they have the right to shut up people they find “offensive.”

But it’s the job of Deans, Provosts and, if necessary, university presidents to protect students from those sorts of attitudes.

Mike McKinney, where were you on this?

Madeline Wake, where were you on this?

You both look as silly as James South does.

We know where University President Robert Wild was. Out to lunch.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

United Nations on the Case

John Trever

Muslim Lawlessness in France

From the International Herald Tribune, an account of the lawless climate that afflicts heavily Muslim suburbs of Paris.
EPINAY-SUR-SEINE, France When the call came about a car burglary in this raw suburb north of Paris one night last weekend, three officers in a patrol car rushed over, only to find themselves surrounded by 30 youths in hoods throwing rocks and swinging bats and metal bars.

Neither tear gas nor stun guns stopped the assault. Only when reinforcements arrived did the siege end. One officer was left with broken teeth and in need of 30 stitches to his face.

The attack was rough but not unique. In the past three weeks alone, three similar assaults on the police have occurred in these suburbs that a year ago were aflame with the rage of unemployed, undereducated youths, most of them the offspring of Arab and African immigrants.

In fact, with the anniversary of those riots approaching in the coming week, spiking statistics for violent crime across the area tell a grim tale of promises unkept and attention unpaid. Residents and experts say that fault lines run even deeper than before and that widespread violence could flare up again at any moment.

“Tension is rising very dramatically,” said Patrice Ribeiro, the deputy head of the Synergie-Officiers police union. “There is the will to kill.”

The anger of the young is reflected in the music popular in the suburbs. In her latest album, the female rap singer Diam’s accuses Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy of being a “demagogue” and the police of hypocrisy. The rapper Booba proclaims that “Maybe it would be better to burn Sarko’s car,” while Alibi Montana, another rapper, warns Sarkozy, “Keep going like that and you’re going to get done.”

Next Friday is the one-year anniversary of the electrocution death of two teenagers as - rumor had it - they were running from the police in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.

The tragedy triggered three weeks of violence in which rioters throughout France torched cars, trashed businesses and ambushed police officers and firefighters, plunging the country into what President Jacques Chirac called “a profound malaise.”

Last month, a leaked law enforcement memo warned of a “climate of impunity” in Seine-Saint-Denis, the notorious district north of Paris, where clusters of suburbs like Clichy-sous-Bois and Epinay-sur-Seine are located.

It reported a 23 percent increase in violent robberies and a 14 percent increase in assaults in the district of 1.5 million people in the first half of 2006, complaining that young, inexperienced police officers were overwhelmed and that the court system was lax. Only one of 85 juveniles arrested during the unrest had been jailed, it added.
Of course, the International Herald Tribune, being part of the mainstream media, won’t label the hoodlums “Muslim,” although the euphemistic language “offspring of Arab and African immigrants” makes it clear.

There is also some of the politically correct language about “promises unkept and attention unpaid,” as though the fundamental problem is the lack of social welfare spending, rather than the lack of respect for the law.

Does this sound familiar to Americans?

The massive riots of Muslim youths a year ago, and the increasing lawlessness that continues to this day, are a rebuke to those Europhiles who think that Europe is somehow oh so much more civilized than the United States.

Liberals have to face the fact that, even if the proper way to handle any social problem is increased social welfare spending, the French have not solved the problem.

And conservatives will note that Europe doesn’t like to punish criminals -- with the natural consequence of increasing crime rates.

Then there are things like homelessness in Paris.

Americans should sympathize with the problems the French have. But schadenfreude is the proper attitude toward the snobbish blue-state Europhile Americans, and the European elitists who share their attitudes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Senator Reid’s Floozie

Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

More Gay Intolerance From (Where Else?) San Francisco

Via Heart, Mind and Strength, San Francisco columnist Debra J. Saunders about a talk show host who (although mostly an orthodox liberal) uttered some mildly politically incorrect notions about a gay and a lesbian couple who had a child to make a political point.

The gay establishment in that city demanded that he be fired.

Sanders concludes:
. . . [W]hen the gay lobby has power, straight Americans will enjoy less freedom. . . .
We’ve seen that on the Marquette campus, where the President of the Gay/Straight Alliance, Jess Cushion, has said that no speaker opposed to gay marriage should be allowed on campus. Why? According to Cushion, any such opposition is “hate speech.”

Current St. Norbert College Poll: Good News for Democrats?

A poll released this past Wednesday by Wisconsin Public Radio seems to have good news for liberals.

It shows, for example, that Gov. Jim Doyle has a comfortable lead over Mark Green, with Doyle being favored by 51% of likely voters and Green by 38%.

Both the Death Penalty referendum and the ban on Gay Marriage are favored in the poll, but by smaller margins than one might expect.

The former appears to be favored by 50% of likely voters (with 45% opposed) and the latter favored by 51% of likely voters (with 44% opposed).

But the poll might have a Democratic bias. It included 44% Democrats and 33% Republicans. That’s an 11 percent Democratic lead.

Yet other highly reputable polls show Wisconsin more balanced between Democrats and Republicans. The 2004 Annenberg survey shows Democrats having a 5% advantage in party indentification in Wisconsin.

And a 2006 Pew Research Center analysis showed Republicans having a 1% advantage in Wisconsin.

Only one factor complicates the issue. The St. Norbert poll asked about party identification only among people who had previously been identified as “likely voters.” So it’s impossible to know whether they had too many Democrats in their sample, or whether their sample was accurate and more Democrats made the cut by saying they would “definitely” or “probably” vote. If that latter supposition is true, Democrats are more mobilized to vote this year.

Given that their results are more pro-Doyle and less pro-Marriage Amendment and pro-Death Penalty than other polls, we tend to believe that a sampling fluke has simply produced a poll with a liberal, Democratic-leaning bias.

This happens every so often, and happens to quite reputable polls.

[Update]

Wagner on the Web notes that the St. Norbert poll has a history of producing results biased in a Democratic/liberal direction. Perhaps they need to carefully evaluate their sampling procedures.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Marquette: We Can’t Allow Speech To Which Somebody Objects

It’s been all over the news: the fact that Marquette Philosophy Chair James South tore down a quote from columnist Dave Barry that was posted on the office door of a graduate student.

South explained that people “complained” about the quote, and that it was “patently offensive.”

What was the terrible thing that the graduate student posted? Judge for yourself:
“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”
In an e-mail to the student (one Stuart Ditsler) South explained his rationale for the censorship.
I had several complaints today about a quotation that was on the door of CH 132F. I’ve taken the quotation down. While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I’m afraid that hallways and office doors are not “free-speech zones.” If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note.
Ditsler, doubtless astounded by the effrontery of this message, replied as follows.
Dr. South,

Because I know that it is tricky trying to convey the right tone over e-mail, I’m going to make an extra effort to be respectful. I just want to express my concerns about a discrepancy in the way this matter has been handled. To wit, last year Dr. [redacted], who I like, respect, and admire very much, posted a cartoon by Pat Oliphant of the Washington Post about the ethical principles (or lack thereof) in the Bush administration that stayed on his door for I believe the entire academic year. The year before that, you posted a piece on your door immediately after the 2004 presidential election criticizing “family values” voters for preferring Bush and the Republican Party to Kerry and the Democrats. What this tells me is that doors and hallways are not “free speech zones” (a Bush administration term, which is ironic in itself) only when the opinions expressed are contrary to those of the majority of the members of the department. Nor do I see, in the first place, what is “patently offensive” about a quotation (taken from a Dave Barry piece) the import of which is that we should always be on guard against the expansion of government power, a sentiment that has been expressed by too many brilliant thinkers for me to even try to recount them (although I will drop Thomas Jefferson’s name). By contrast, the two aforementioned pieces are explicitly critical of a particular political party and a particular administration.

In sum, I feel like not only is the department treating me unfairly, but the complaints are without merit in the first place. I am deeply concerned, and have been since I arrived, about the intellectual atmosphere of the department. This only gives me more reason to worry.

Thank you for taking the time to take my concerns into account, and I sincerely hope that I have been able to convey a properly respectful tone.

best,
Stuart
[emphasis added]
That’s right. Professors had posted partisan anti-Bush cartoons on their doors, and left them there for months, with no attempt at censorship.

South responded with an e-mail that entirely missed the point.
Hello Stuart,

Thanks for your e-mail. I take it that you are responsible for the message on the door?

As I said in the e-mail, I am happy to talk with you about this matter. E-mail does not seem a very helpful way of have a thorough discussion.

Just to be clear, I don’t go around policing doors. I received complaints and that meant I had to take note of what was on the door. I did not do so unilaterally, but consulted two members of the Executive Committee and the Assistant Chair. My action and my e-mail to those using 132F were merely informational and designed to minimize offense to others. They were in no way related to any disciplinary procedure. Also, as I made clear, nothing in my e-mail is related to the responsible use of academic freedom in the context of the classroom.

I’m sorry if you’re bemused by my use of the term “free speech zone” -- I was not using it in the sense in which you construed it, but merely pointing to the fact that university office buildings, like shopping malls and restaurants, are not unregulated spaces.

The larger concerns you raise, while interesting, are not connected to my decision to remove the unattributed passage that was on the door of 132F. My action was based on specific complaints and consultation with other faculty in a leadership role in the department.

Finally, I encourage you to reread the passage I sent from the Marquette Faculty Handbook regarding academic freedom and its correlative responsibilities.

Sincerely,

James South
The passage from the Faculty Handbook involved responsibilities that accompany academic freedom for faculty. Nothing in the Handbook said that faculty have a responsibility never to express opinions that somebody might disagree with.

South claims “I received complaints and that meant I had to take note of what was on the door.” Why? Nothing was on the door but a political opinion that some leftists might take offense at.

Further, South claims that “I did not do so unilaterally, but consulted two members of the Executive Committee and the Assistant Chair.”

A thoroughly damning statement. It makes it clear that intolerant groupthink dominates the decision-making processes of the Philosophy Department.

Ditsler, getting no satisfaction from his department, went to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. They sent a letter to Marquette President Fr. Robert Wild, outlining the case and asking for a response. Wild took his time responding, and FIRE went public with the issue.

Wild did eventually send FIRE a response, however.
October 16, 2006


Ms. Tara E. Sweeney
Senior Program Officer
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
601 Walnut Street, Suite 510
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

Deal Ms. Sweeney:

I have received your letter dated September 27, 2006, regarding an incident that occurred in Marquette’s Philosophy Department.

I believe this matter has now been resolved within the academic department, as properly it should be, and that the original difficulty arose out of misunderstanding. However, I do want to correct a few points in your letter. Specifically, when the quotation cited was posted, it was without attribution; therefore, someone reading the quotation may not have understood the humor/satire of Dave Barry. Second, the e-mail from Dr. James South, Chair of the Philosophy Department, was sent not only to Mr. Stuart Ditsler but to all four students who occupied the shared graduate student office. At the time, Dr. South was unaware of who had posted the flier.

As you correctly point out in your letter, Marquette is a private, Catholic institution. That does not in any way diminish the importance we place on the principles of academic freedom. Marquette’s Faculty Handbook states, “academic freedom is prized as essential to Marquette University and to its living growth as a university.”

Thank you for taking the time to write.

Sincerely,


Robert A. Wild, S.J.
This is an ineffectual, indeed almost bizarre response.

Wild asserts that “when the quotation cited was posted, it was without attribution; therefore, someone reading the quotation may not have understood the humor/satire of Dave Barry.”

The implication here is that the quote would have been acceptable if people had known it was satire, but since they took it seriously, it had to be torn down.

In other words, nobody is allowed to seriously say, on the Marquette campus, that the Federal government is our enemy.

Dave Barry, being a libertarian, almost certainly seriously believes that the Federal government is our enemy -- notwithstanding the humor in his writing.

Wild’s statement about how “academic freedom is prized as essential to Marquette University” would be comical, if censoring free speech could ever be comical.

It’s time to tell the truth about Robert Wild, S.J.

He is utterly ineffective in dealing with the excesses of politically correct faculty and administrators. A well-meaning Jesuit, he simply fails to understand what is going on.

He’s actually capable of saying “academic freedom is prized as essential to Marquette University” while trampling on academic freedom. It’s a problem of intellectual horsepower.

We doubt that if a female student came to the Administration complaining about a case of sexual harassment that had not been properly dealt with at a lower level she would have been blown off in the way Ditsler was. But this is academia, political correctness reigns, and free speech takes a back seat.

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Prof. James South, Marquette Philosophy on Fox News “Grapevine”

When you engage in a senseless act of censorship, expect to be ridiculed in the national media.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Philosophy Department Censorship Story in the Media

Marquette’s attempt to stonewall on the censorship of a quotation from columnist Dave Barry posted on the door of a Philosophy Department teaching assistant has backfired.

Philosophy Department Chair James South tore the quotation down, and wrote the graduate student saying it was “patently offensive.”

The story has gone national, and been picked up by several outlets.

Perhaps the most important: Fox News Grapevine.

The Grapevine, part of Fox News “Special Report,” is pretty much a collection of stupid and repressive things that liberals do. Marquette’s Philosophy Department has made the cut.

The Journal-Sentinel finally picked up the story. Reporter Megan Twohey managed to extract some information from Marquette (which has stonewalled us). According to Twohey:
Marquette spokeswoman Brigid O’Brien Miller said South’s decision was primarily a workplace issue, not an issue of academic freedom, and that he was responding to complaints regarding what “some felt was offensive material.”

She offered up a letter from Wild to FIRE dated Oct. 16, in which Wild said that because the quote was posted without attribution, “someone reading the quotation may not have understood the humor/satire of Dave Barry.”

Miller said the posting might have been handled differently if it had included the attribution. She said there is no university policy dictating what can or cannot be posted on office doors.
What sort of “workplace issue” does a political quote on an office door raise?

Did some leftist Teaching Assistants or faculty take offense, and demand that it be taken down?

If so, what does that say about them, and about South (who was willing to cave to demands for censorship)?

TV station WBAY in Green Bay ran a brief Associated Press story on the incident.

Not surprisingly the blogosphere, a bastion of pro-free speech sentiment, has been withering in it’s criticism of South and the Philosophy Department.

Eminent Domain called the censorship sarcastically “Another Graceful PR Move by Marquette.”

Homeland Stupidity said “Marquette University is patently offensive.”

Gratuitous Advice opined (also sarcastically) “You have to love Marquette University.”

David Boaz at the Cato Blog says that “. . . Marquette University seems to have reached new heights, or depths, in what it considers offensive.” And further:
Marquette is a private university and is thus free under the First Amendment to regulate speech as it chooses. But if libertarian jests are “patently offensive” and subject to censorship at Marquette, it might want to note that in a new paragraph of its academic freedom guidelines and perhaps in the catalog provided to prospective students.
Undernews covered the issue, and a reader posted a comment saying that:
If they’ve reached the point where they believe Dave Barry is a dangerous threat who needs to be censored, then you know some kind of all-time new low in mindless hysteria has just been achieved.
The Oregon Commentator observes that:
No surprises there: it’s a University. And as everyone who’s been following the Commentator for a past few years knows, words (and jokes in particular) are a potentially hurtful force in academia that must be vetted by secretly appointed committees before being uttered, posted, printed, or (if it were only possible) thought.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of ... [sic] blog says:
So you can say anything you want as long as the University says its OK.

Got it. I weep for the future of America when our future is learning, very early on, that you can use coercive power to stifle even the most innocuous dissent.
lowercase liberty surmised that:
Here’s what I suspect. If some commie had posted a quote on his office door about how the capitalist class constitutes a “dangerous, powerful, and relentless” common enemy , a conservative philosophy professor -- someone who, we are assuming for the sake of argument, would find such a sentiment “patently offensive” -- would nevertheless recognize Marxist class-warfare rhetoric as having “obvious academic import”. Just my guess.
But the blog of the Miami Herald had an extended essay of “supporting” South and the Philosophy Department:
So it is that I invite you join me saluting the heroic Anti-Dave Freedom Fighters of Marquette University, who struck a major blow for our cause recently when they demanded that a grad student in the philosophy department remove a “patently offensive” Barry quote that was posted on his office door. Ordinarily this is a family-friendly blog (provided you are a member of the Manson Family) but for you to understand the magnitude of Dave’s offensiveness, I’m going to have to reprint his repugnant words here. Women, children and Parents Television Council members, avert your eyes NOW.
As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.
Whew. Okay, it’s safe to look again. Gad, can you imagine if some innocent Marquette philosophy student had been inadvertently exposed to that tirade? Fortunately, they are under the brave and benevolent protection of Thought Police Chief James South, the chairman of the school’s philosophy department, who quickly warned the grad student who put up the offending quote that Marquette is not some anarchic hellhole where people can just go around saying what they think.
Once again, leftist authoritarians have caused Marquette national embarrassment by shutting up rather innocuous political speech. But this time, the authoritarians are not those in the Office of Student Development, but those in the Philosophy Department.

Philosophy Department Office Door Censorship Goes National

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken up the cause of a Marquette Philosophy Department graduate student who posted a quote from columnist Dave Barry on his door.

Dr. James South, Chair of the Philosophy Department, tore it down, claiming there had been “complaints” and that the quote was “patently offensive.”

From the FIRE website:
MILWAUKEE, Wis., October 18, 2006—Writer and humorist Dave Barry probably never expected that one of his jokes would spark a university free speech dispute. But in early September, a Marquette University administrator removed a Barry quote about the federal government from Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler’s office door because the quote was “patently offensive.” Facing this arbitrary exercise of political censorship, Ditsler contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.

“There have been several high-profile free speech controversies on campuses recently, such as at Columbia this month. But incidents like this one at Marquette and on other campuses illustrate how even innocuous expression is under ongoing assault at our colleges and universities,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said.

In late August, Ditsler posted a quote by Dave Barry on his office door in the philosophy department. The quote read, “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” On September 5, Philosophy Department Chair James South sent Ditsler an e-mail stating that he had received several complaints and therefore removed the quote. He wrote, “While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I’m afraid that hallways and office doors are not ‘free-speech zones.’ If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note.”

“This incident at Marquette is part of a truly disturbing trend,” Lukianoff said. “Administrators seem willing to ban speech across the board and to designate increasingly tiny ‘free speech zones’ rather than risk any student or faculty member being offended.”

Ditsler reports that other members of the philosophy department have posted materials on their doors in the past without receiving reprimand or sanctions. FIRE wrote to Marquette University President Robert A. Wild on September 27 stating that Marquette’s policy against “offensive” materials is completely discretionary and therefore subject to abuse. FIRE also reminded Wild that Marquette’s Student Handbook protects the “right of the members of the university community freely to communicate, by lawful demonstration and protest, the positions that they conscientiously espouse on vital issues of the day.” Wild has not responded to FIRE’s letter.
Marquette’s policy of stonewalling on this issue is particularly disturbing.

It suggests that the University knows that South blundered, but lacks the courage to set things right.

At a minimum, Ditsler is owed an apology.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wild Defends Award to Pro-Abortion Congressman Lewis

In the wake of the luncheon in which Marquette’s Aspin Center gave its “Democracy Award” to Congressman John Lewis (D. Ga), a member of the University community wrote Marquette President Robert Wild to complain.

Lewis has a strong pro-abortion voting record in Congress. Indeed, he has a liberal voting record on a variety of issues on which the Catholic Church has conservative positions.

But here is what Wild said:
From: “Wild S.J., Robert”
To: [Redacted]
Subject: FW: John Lewis Luncheon
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 09:00:11 -0500

I have received your message regarding our presenting Congressman John R. Lewis with the Les Aspin Center Democracy Award. I have been president here at Marquette for ten years and have thought a great deal about this question of having political leaders speak on our campus. Here is my general sense of things.

First, the individual you are complaining about is in fact an elected member of Congress, having served in the United States House of Representatives since 1987. A majority of the voters of the 5th District of Georgia have elected him to that post 10 times to date. Like it or not, this is our democratic process. Consequently, I believe there must be a general openness to the efforts of whatever administration is in power and, whatever else, a clear sense of civic respect for these individuals. That certainly does not mean agreement with all their positions and views but it does entail due regard for the democratic choices made by the voters of this nation. That’s the way it works in this country, and our democratic system, even granted its limitations, is decidedly held in admiration by much of the world community.
Why a Catholic university has to defer to the voters in any congressional district, or indeed in the entire nation, is a mystery.
Secondly, I most certainly do not have any problem with your choosing to disagree with some of positions advanced by Congressman Lewis and/or the Democratic Party. As a citizen of this country you most certainly have that right. And, further, because political leaders have to take a stance on a great array of issues, I assume that none of them are very likely to hold no position whatsoever that does not pose some problems in terms of the considered moral judgment of significant groups of people in this country or in terms of religious teaching, that of Roman Catholicism or of some other group. So if on that basis alone we would exclude a political leader from speaking on this campus, then on that same basis we had better exclude all of them. To put matters plainly, rare is the Democrat and rare the Republican who does not advance some position that poses moral and/or religious problems, e.g., the Iraq war on the Republican side, the pro-choice position on abortion taken by most Democrats.
But Lewis’ voting record, as recorded on the Issues 2000 web site, shows him to be opposed to the Catholic position not merely on some issue, but on a very wide range of issues.

For example, he:
  • Voted YES on allowing human embryonic stem cell research. (May 2005)
  • Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions. (Apr 2005)
  • Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004)
  • Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life. (Oct 2003)
  • Voted NO on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research. (Feb 2003)
  • Voted NO on funding for health providers who don’t provide abortion info. (Sep 2002)
  • Voted NO on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad. (May 2001)
  • Voted NO on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes. (Apr 2001)
  • Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortions. (Apr 2000)
  • Voted NO on barring transporting minors to get an abortion. (Jun 1999)
  • Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a “pro-choice” voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Voted NO on allowing vouchers in DC schools. (Aug 1998)
  • Voted NO on vouchers for private & parochial schools. (Nov 1997)
  • Voted NO on reducing Marriage Tax by $399B over 10 years. (Mar 2001)
  • Rated 7% by the Christian Coalition: an “anti-family” voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Voted NO on banning physician-assisted suicide. (Oct 1999)
  • Voted NO on continuing military recruitment on college campuses. (Feb 2005)
  • Voted NO on eliminating the “marriage penalty.” (Jul 2000)
  • Voted NO on treating religious organizations equally for tax breaks. (Jul 2001)
  • Received a score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign, indicating complete agreement with a gay lobby agenda.
So Lewis is not a congressman who is good on some issues, and bad on others. On any issue having to do with abortion, homosexuality, family and the treatment of religious organizations, Lewis is hostile to Church teaching.

Wild continues:
To exclude all politicians, however, from speaking on this campus seems contrary both to the democratic values of this country and the four and a half centuries of efforts by Jesuit educators to form their students into individuals that will be engaged members of their respective civic communities. True, there may be specific individuals so identified with a highly problematic moral stance that one immediately identifies them with that specific issue. But such are rare, especially since most politicians in our democratic society necessarily must address a great variety of issues and cannot afford in the political arena in which they operate to be, equivalently, a “one issue” person. Conclusion: it should be rare here at Marquette that we would have sufficient reason on that side of things to deny a platform to a political leader, and all the more so to a senior official of our national government.
This argument is beside the point, and Wild ought to know that.

The issue is not whether people holding all kinds of views can speak on campus, but whether Marquette will honor certain people.
Third, we do need to be even handed in extending invitations to such leaders and most certainly should not limit our invitations to members of one major political party to the exclusion of members of the other. Our students and our entire Marquette community have a right to hear on occasion from members of both major political parties so that they become more aware of the issues that are at stake and can reflect more knowledgeably upon them.
Again, Wild evades the point.

And the issue is not whether members of only one party should be honored. There are plenty of Democrats who, for example, oppose abortion, or at least oppose partial birth abortion, and who favor treating religious organizations equally with secular organizations.
Fourth, I fully expect any time we invite a political figure to our campus that I will receive expressions of concern from a variety of people who legitimately disagree with this or that position held by that individual, and in that expectation I don’t think I have ever been disappointed. It is not at all unreasonable that in our democratic society there will arise such disagreements; that is the very nature of a democracy. Indeed, it should be a source of pride for all of us that we are free as a people to voice such disagreements. Yet at the same time the present polarization of our American political life, while hardly without parallel in this nation’s past history, is unfortunate in that many come to think in such an environment that political opponents are simply evil and political allies simply good. But my point is that things are not so “simple” since the vast majority of political leaders represent in their views a mixture of good and evil - like the men and women who elected them, like, in fact, you and I. Political leaders, that is, deserve our respect not only as fellow human beings but also specifically for the office they hold even while we remain quite free, as we should, to disagree with positions they seek to advance.
One wonders whether Wild, had he been President of Marquette in the 1960s, would have approved giving a major honor to a segregationist political figure. Would he blow the issue off by scoffing at the idea that some people are “simply evil?”

Or would he insist that some political positions really are evil, and Marquette should not honor people who hold them.

We all know the answer to that.
It is on this basis that I respectfully disagree with your conclusion that we should not have invited Congressman Lewis to this campus and with those who have written me in the past about the presence of Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Vice President Al Gore, and a variety of Democratic and Republican political leaders on this campus. Their presence does not mean that the university as a body endorses the whole range of their political views or even any specific view. But since it is of the nature of a university-and that includes a Catholic university-to provide a privileged space in which a vast variety of issues can be discussed and debated, our campus ought generally to be open to such individuals as occasion offers.
Wild continues to not get the point. It’s one thing to be willing to hear a particular position advocated, and another for Marquette to honor somebody who holds a vast number of positions that the Church disagrees with.
There may be, as I noted above, individual exceptions to this, but this seems the right stance for Marquette University to adopt and it is the one that I personally share.

Let me also add that Marquette was honoring Congressman Lewis’ long-standing and tireless commitment to civil rights in our nation, not his position on abortion.
Nonsense. He was honored as a person.
Few can quarrel with the truly admirable work that Congressman Lewis has done in the field of civil rights.

Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns. Whether you agree with the perspective I am advancing here or not, I do hope that it helps you understand better Marquette’s position. I certainly pray that our loving and gracious God will bless you as you continue your studies.

Sincerely,
Robert A. Wild, S.J.
President
Marquette University
It’s certainly the case that speakers of all persuasions should be able to speak at Marquette. But it’s in no way necessary for Marquette to honor people of all persuasions.

It’s doubtless prudent for the Aspin Center, which is dependent on the good will of both Democrats and Republicans, to honor both Democrats and Republicans.

But not all Democrats are at odds with Catholic teaching on so many issues.

But let’s be frank about the real reason for honoring Lewis. The luncheon at which Lewis was honored was a fundraiser for the Aspin Center.

To get in, an individual had to pay $100. But that was small potatoes. Businesses (and here we mean businesses wanting to curry favor with Congressman Lewis) were encouraged to pay $3,000 to be a “Bronze Sponsor,” $5,000 to be a “Silver Sponsor,” $10,000 to be a “Gold Sponsor,” or $15,000 to be a “Platinum Sponsor.”

All of these sponsorships included a table for eight people, although two of the seats at the table were reserved for Aspin Center students.

So what we have here is simply a crass way of raising money.

There is nothing unusual about crass behavior on the part of a university. Give enough money, and you can get a building named after you. Give enough money to a highly selective college, and your kid may get admitted, in spite of sub-par SAT scores.

But if Marquette is going to be crass, could it not be crass and honor somebody who isn’t in favor of partial-birth abortion?

The Clinton Administration Approach

Monday, October 16, 2006

Department of the Interior Censoring Conservative Blogs?

It has been widely reported on conservative blogs that the U.S. Department of the Interior has blocked employee access to conservative blogs.

This has resulted in some speculation that Clinton era holdovers in the Department are engaging in partisan censorship.

We just talked to a source in the Information Technology Department of the Department of the Interior who denies any kind of partisan censorship.

Our source insists that all blogs are blocked, and have been blocked since the weekend of October 7-8. Also, Yahoo groups, game sites, gambling sites and cartoon sites have been blocked.

Our source confirmed that both the Daily Kos and the Democratic Underground are currently blocked, and even read us the error message that attempts to connect produced.

Apparently, “studies” showed that DOI employees were wasting a lot of time going to these web sites, and the blocking is an attempt to make them more productive.

An outside contractor handles the blocking, although our source was vague on the technical details.

Somebody who has a work related need to access a blog can petition to be allowed access.

Sure sounds like government, doesn’t it?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Clueless Canadians

OK, not all Canadians, but certainly the ones who wrote to the Toronto Star about the North Korean nuclear test (or at least, supposed test).

From Fraley’s DailyTakes, a collection of the most utterly clueless comments one can imagine.

Although come to think of it, these aren’t any worse than what we get from leftists here in the United States.

And We’re Going to Sanction You Too!

Why Liberals Don’t Want Free Speech

Via Sykes writes, columnist Peggy Noonan on the intolerance of liberals and leftists when faced with speech they disapprove.

She deals with one case we have blogged about (the uproar at CBS over giving a Christian parent of a Columbine student victim a chance to speak).

She also discusses three other cases of liberal or leftist intolerance, and observes:
It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don’t. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn’t come quickly, they’ll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don’t always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America. [emphasis in original]
This is certainly true on the Marquette campus, where the President of the Gay/Straight Alliance insisted that no speaker should be allowed on campus who opposes gay marriage, since opposing gay marriage is “hate speech.”

Likewise, Philosophy Department Chairman James South tore down a quote from columnist Dave Barry that was posted on the office door of a graduate student. He claimed it was “patently offensive.” What did it say?
“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”
So here at Marquette, as in the broader culture, liberals and leftists think they have the right to shut up ideas with which they disagree.

They are a very unattractive bunch.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Amnesty International Favors Hate Speech Laws

Not a surprise, since Amnesty is pretty much your standard liberal interest group, but in the wake of the flap over Danish cartoons showing images of Muhammad, the organization issued the following statement:
The right to freedom of opinion and expression should be one of the cornerstones of any society. . . .

However, the right to freedom of expression is not absolute -- neither for the creators of material nor their critics. It carries responsibilities and it may, therefore, be subject to restrictions in the name of safeguarding the rights of others. In particular, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence cannot be considered legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. Under international standards, such “hate speech” should be prohibited by law.

AI calls on the government officials and those responsible for law enforcement and the administration of justice to be guided by these human rights principles in their handling of the current situation.
Given the context, the Danish cartoons, it’s clear that Amnesty is interpreting “advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred” very broadly. In fact, in practice it will mean nothing more nor less than saying something that some politically correct group objects to.

“Safeguarding the rights of others” of course means protecting the “right” of politically correct groups not to hear things they dislike.

So for Amnesty, “human rights” means shutting people up.