Sunday, December 31, 2006

You Can Spin Polls Either Way

From Drudge, an opinion poll, conducted by Ipsos, looks forward to the new year. Two different stories, both from the AP, differ quite a lot on how the data should be interpreted. So it seems that public opinion polls, like all the rest of the raw data about politics, can be spun pretty much the way you want to spin it.

Saddam Hanged

We agonized a bit as to whether we should post this, and decided it should be posted.

We know nothing of the provenance of the video clip, but it certainly appears authentic. It was apparently made surreptitiously.


Liberals Latch Onto Ford, Conservatives Put Off

Liberals in the media, quite predictably, have latched onto Gerald Ford and used him to bash more recent Republican leaders, and especially President Bush.

In addition to his criticisms of the Iraq War, the media liberals are puffing Ford for being “bipartisan.”

Translation: Ford was the sort of Establishment Republican would would not fight hard for conservative principles. Or at least not fight hard if it was going to make the Democrats mad.

GOP3.COM takes note of this. Blogger Brandon Henak says “I am sick and tired of the media referring to the Republicans’ newfound activism as ‘divisive partisianship’.”

Of course, liberals only dislike “divisive partisanship” when it comes from Republicans. It’s just fine coming from the likes of Howard Dean.

Along similar lines, DAD29 notes the mainstream liberal media claim that the Republican party “lurched to the right” after Ford. He responds:
Did Jerry Ford think that he had a Divine Right to the office of President? Look—his most celebrated act was pardoning a crook. After that, it pretty much went downhill; Kissinger was another Metternich, Ford caved in on social spending (see NYC), and he was a Proud Moderate—not to mention his utterly disgraceful treatment of Solzhenitsyn. It’s clear that Reagan offered a much better alternative (see the results of 1980 and 1984, e.g.)
We think Ford’s pardon of Nixon was an honorable act.

But the fact remains that if people like Ford (rather than Reagan and Gingrich) had continued to dominate the Republican party, it would have remained an impotent minority party, instead of being (as it now is) an equal competitor to the Democrats.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

It Was Time

Friday, December 29, 2006

Why Islam is Politically Correct

From our Canadian correspondent, the following interview with Flemming Rose, the Danish editor who published those cartoons of Muhammed.

The interview was with Boulder Weekly’s Pamela White.
BW: I’m a card carrying left-wing nut cake, but I was surprised when I originally wrote about the cartoons to find that almost no one on the left wanted to comment. Why, in your opinion, are the issues surrounding the publication of these cartoons such an uncomfortable topic for the left? Few on the left want to talk about this.

FR: I think the left has betrayed its own ideals in this case, because the publication of the cartoons is exactly about what the left has been fighting for in the past 150 years—free speech and the right to challenge religious authority and to challenge a religion that, in fact, favors the oppression of women. [Muslim extremists] do not accept the equality between the sexes. They do not accept equality from representatives of different religions. They specifically say, “Our religion is better and should have favorable treatment compared to other faiths.”

But I think it has to do with the fact that the left—at least in Europe, I can’t speak about the left in the United States—views the Muslims as the new proletariat. They’re the new oppressed minority that they have to defend. It shortcuts all rational thinking. [Islamic radicals] can say and do almost anything, and it will be explained away by saying, “These people are victims.”

It also has to do with the legacy of the Second World War and the Nazis and the establishment of the United Nations and the fact that it became taboo to speak about cultural differences in Western Europe because of the imperial legacy. It’s very sensitive to be critical toward a culture. It’s taboo, no matter how oppressive that culture might be in itself.

The left is trapped in that position. It’s very counterproductive toward the Muslim community, because by treating them like a weak, victimized minority, they in fact make it far more difficult to Muslims to integrate.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Diversity Nazis in the U.K.

From the Daily Mail:

A teenage schoolgirl was arrested by police for racism after refusing to sit with a group of Asian students because some of them did not speak English.

Codie Stott’s family claim she was forced to spend three-and-a-half hours in a police cell after she was reported by her teachers.

The 14-year-old - who was released without charge - said it had been a simple matter of commonsense and accused the school and police of an over-the-top reaction.

The incident happened in the same local education authority where a ten-year-old boy was prosecuted earlier this year for calling a schoolfriend racist names in the playground, a move branded by a judge “political correctness gone mad.”

Codie was attending a GCSE science class at Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester, when the incident happened.

The teenager had not been in school the day before due to a hospital appointment and had missed the start of a project, so the teacher allocated her a group to sit with.

“She said I had to sit there with five Asian pupils,” said Codie yesterday.

“Only one could speak English, so she had to tell that one what to do so she could explain in their language. Then she sat me with them and said ‘Discuss’.”

According to Codie, the five - four boys and a girl - then began talking in a language she didn’t understand, thought to be Urdu, so she went to speak to the teacher.

“I said ‘I’m not being funny, but can I change groups because I can’t understand them?’ But she started shouting and screaming, saying ‘It’s racist, you’re going to get done by the police’.”

Codie said she went outside to calm down where another teacher found her and, after speaking to her class teacher, put her in isolation for the rest of the day.

A complaint was made to a police officer based full-time at the school, and more than a week after the incident on September 26 she was taken to Swinton police station and placed under arrest.

“They told me to take my laces out of my shoes and remove my jewellery, and I had my fingerprints and photograph taken,” said Codie. “It was awful.”

After questioning on suspicion of committing a section five racial public order offence, her mother Nicola says she was placed in a bare cell for three-and-a-half hours then released without charge.

She only returned to lessons this week and has been put in a different science class.

School insiders acknowledge that at least three of the students Codie refused to sit with had recently arrived in this country and spoke little English.

But they say her comments afterwards raised further concerns, for example allegedly referring to the students as “blacks” - something she denied yesterday.

The school is now investigating exactly what happened before deciding what action - if any - to take against Codie.

Headteacher Dr Antony Edkins said: “An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark by one student towards a group of Asian students new to the school and new to the country.”

“We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards people and pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form.”

Salford was at the centre of a storm last April after a ten-year-old boy was hauled before a court for allegedly calling an 11-year-old mixed race pupil a ‘Paki’ and ‘Bin Laden’ in a playground argument at a primary school in Irlam.

When the case came before District Judge Jonathan Finestein he said the decision to prosecute showed “how stupid the whole system is getting”.

But was himself fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders for “feeding a pernicious agenda” that aided the BNP.

The prosecution was eventually dropped.

Greater Manchester Police denied Codie had been kept in a cell but would not comment further.

We are all for encouraging students to learn to work with students from other cultures, and to appreciate cultural diversity.

But some demands are simply unreasonable. When one’s grade depends on communicating with fellow students, being unable to communicate is a good reason to demand an accomodation.

And having somebody dragged off by the cops for an offense against the Great God Diversity makes one think of Storm Troopers and jackboots.

Given that Stott was indeed finally released from custody, one might say “no harm, no foul.” But that would be dead wrong. The article continues:
Last night Robert Whelan, deputy director of the Civitas think-tank, said: “It’s obviously common sense that pupils who don’t speak English cause problems for other pupils and for teachers.”

“I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time, but it’s a sad reflection on the school if they can’t deal with it without involving the police.”

“A lot of these arrests don’t result in prosecutions - they aim is to frighten us into self-censorship until we watch everything we say.”
And that is the point of politically correct censorship. People who get charged with saying unkind things about immigrants, homosexuals or other politically correct victim groups seldom (if ever) actually get sentenced to prison.

But the threat, and the hassle of dealing with legal charges, is enough to thoroughly chill free speech.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Santa 2006

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

This was close to the perfect Christmas in the McAdams household.

We hope it was in yours too.

Best wishes for the New Year.

War On Christmas In Canada

We’ll do one final War on Christmas post before move on to other subjects (expecting to have to deal with the same subject next year).

This time from Canada:
A Toronto judge is standing firm by her decision to keep a Christmas tree out of her downtown courthouse lobby, despite backlash from the public and objection from Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Justice Marion Cohen’s order caused one protester to show up at the Jarvis Street courthouse Friday and display her disgust.

Kaitlin Toph marched out front holding a placard that read, “Mrs. Grinch, was it in the name of intolerance to get rid of the Christmas tree? Shame on you. Merry Christmas.”

“I am all for immigration and multiculturalism, no problem with it whatsoever,” Toph told CTV News. “I have many friends who are from other cultures. They respect my views and I respect theirs, but there is another way of doing something like that.

“If they put a menorah or any other religious symbol, I have no objection, but leave the Christmas tree alone.”

Cohen ordered the tiny plastic tree removed earlier this week, saying it’s not an appropriate symbol to non-Christians. In a letter to staff, she said courthouse visitors are “confronted” with it, which makes them feel “they are not part of this institution.”

Employees called the move stupid and insulting, saying the tree has been a lobby staple for decades.

The story has triggered a flurry of angry responses from CTV viewers and readers.

A number of Christmas trees are on full display inside other public institutions, including at the Ontario legislature, Toronto City Hall and at Nathan Phillips Square. There are also trees inside the Old City Hall courts.

Lawyers at the Jarvis Street courthouse were also upset and puzzled. McGuinty slammed the judge’s order, calling it “unfortunate.”
The logic of what ought to be done is overpowering.

Accommodating greater religious and cultural diversity is properly done by recognizing traditions in addition to Christian ones.

And not by censoring Christian religious traditions.

The problem here is that the anti-Christmas crowd does not consist of people who want to respect diverse traditions. It consists of people who have a grudge against Christians and Christianity.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Real Duke Lacrosse Rape Victim

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gay Nativity In Italy

We recently blogged about conservative University of Texas students who staged an “ACLU Nativity Scene.”

Given the obsession of the organization with “gay rights” the students had, in the stable, not “Mary and Joseph” but rather “Gary and Joseph.”

But now, via Drudge, a story from Italy.
ROME (Reuters) - Two leftists in Italy’s ruling coalition on Wednesday outraged fellow lawmakers by placing four dolls representing homosexual couples near the baby Jesus in the official nativity scene in parliament.

The two parliamentarians from the small “Rose in the Fist” party said their gesture was to promote the legalization of gay marriage and granting legal recognition to unmarried couples.

Bruno Mellano and Donatella Poretti placed the Barbie and Ken-type dolls in the parliamentary nativity scene, each couple lying down embraced among the shepherds witnessing the birth of Jesus.
Aristotle’s dictum, in the Poetics, was that art imitates life. Wags quickly noted that it’s also the case that life imitates art.

But it also seems that life, in this era, imitates parody.

Get Over It, Kid

Virginia: Breakup of Episcopal Church Continues

From the Washington Post:

At least seven Virginia Episcopal parishes, opposed to the consecration of a gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions, have voted overwhelmingly to break from the U.S. church in a dramatic demonstration of widening rifts within the denomination.

Two of the congregations are among the state’s largest and most historic: Truro Church in Fairfax City and The Falls Church in Falls Church, which have roots in the 1700s. Their leaders have been in the vanguard of a national effort to establish a conservative alternative to the Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.

The result of the week-long vote, announced yesterday, sets up the possibility of a lengthy ecclesiastical and legal battle for property worth tens of millions of dollars. Buildings and land at Truro and The Falls Church are valued at about $25 million, according to Fairfax County records.

The votes are fresh evidence of an increasingly bitter split within the U.S. Episcopal Church. Seven of its 111 dioceses have rejected the authority of Presiding U.S. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, installed in November as the first woman to head an Anglican church. Schori supports V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man elected bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

“I grew up in the Episcopal Church. I hope I don’t cry when I talk about this,” said a shaken Katrina Wagner, 37, an accountant and member of Truro’s vestry, after the congregation’s vote was announced. “But the issue is: Are we going to follow Scripture?”

Bishop Peter James Lee of the Diocese of Virginia said yesterday in a statement that he was “saddened” by the churches’ decision but that he would not yield in seeking to retain ownership of the parishes’ land and buildings. The two congregations voted not only to sever ties with the U.S. church but also for a resolution saying that they should keep the property.

“As stewards of this historic trust, we fully intend to assert the Church’s canonical and legal rights over these properties,” said Lee, who is scheduled to meet today with the executive board and standing committee of the diocese to discuss the situation.

In cases like this, the denominational bureaucracy usually retains ownership of church property. That’s what the law says.

Of course, if the church bureaucrats had any decency, they would turn the property over to local parishioners who, after all, have worked and given and maintained the property and the congregation. And who have also remained faithful to scripture and to the traditional doctrines of the church.

But the bureaucrats want to assert their power.

The Post goes on to predict:
The defections are likely to continue. Two other small Northern Virginia churches, Our Saviour Episcopal in Oatlands and Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, are expected to vote on separation early next year.
The issue is indeed, as Katrina Wagner put it, “Are we going to follow Scripture?” The Episcopal bureaucracy, which very much represents the fashionable and trendy attitudes of the media and academia, says “no.” The parishioners say “yes.”

The former would deny that their viewpoint is fundamentally secular. But on virtually every social and political issue they side with those who are admitted non-believers and non-church goers.

They toss out all sorts of religious-sounding rhetoric. But the substance isn’t there.

For more coverage of this issue check:

Campus Free Speech: Communications Faculty Poised to Make Trouble for the Administration

In the wake of a series of highly controversial actions by Marquette to limit free speech and expression on campus, the faculty of the Communications College has decided to take a public stand.

In a faculty meeting at the College on Friday, December 9, a motion was passed to issue a statement, yet to be drafted, in defense of free speech on campus.

Subsequent e-mail exchanges among Communications faculty have produced the following statement, which appears to reflect a consensus.
Free Speech Statement

Whereas most scholarly communication organizations such as the National Communication Association believe “freedom of speech and assembly must hold a central position among American constitutional principles” and express “determined support for the right of peaceful expression by any communicative means available,” and whereas the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication requires members to serve “as the voice and support of free expression on their campuses and in their communities whenever the right is threatened,” the faculty of the Diederich College of Communication hereby opposes any attempt at Marquette University to silence or punish students or faculty for making, posting or distributing political tracts or for artistic expression. In furtherance of free and responsible communication in a democratic society, the faculty will schedule in the near future public forums and seminars on free speech and press.
Communications College Dean John J. Pauly has promised to make money available to fund the public forums and seminars, which will take place this coming Spring semester.

Just holding forums and seminars might not seem to be an impressive program of political action (Where are the noisy demonstrations outside O’Hara Hall? What about a sit-in in the office of President Robert Wild?).

But in fact, nothing so discomforts those temperamentally ill at ease with free speech as engaging in free speech. And doing it on campus.

And being critical of their policies and decisions.

Backstory

The faculty statement follows a long series of actions by Marquette administrators hostile to free expression.
Not all Communications faculty, of course, necessarily disagree with all of these actions on the part of the University.

And that is the rub.

Any pro-free speech agenda at Marquette needs the support of both campus liberals and campus conservatives. Campus conservatives can hardly support an agenda to allow free speech for liberals, while continuing to deny it to conservatives.

So far, both the campus left and the campus right have been slow to make common cause with the other side.

When the “Adopt A Sniper” fund-raiser was shut down, for example, the Marquette Tribune supported Marquette’s act of censorship.

And the President of the College Democrats, Rebeccah Sjolund, also backed the administration’s decision to shut down the fund-raiser.

Along similar lines, the Marquette Tribune supported the Philosophy Department’s censorship of the Dave Barry quote.

What about the campus right? The guys at GOP3.COM, unfortunately, continue to want pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Theology faculty member Dan Maguire fired.

So it remains an open question whether both sides can agree on a free speech agenda for both sides.

But even if the Communications College forums fail to influence University policy in any way, only good can come from a campus discussion of speech and expression.

Those issues, after all, are the most fundamental ones in any democracy — and in any university.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Massachusetts: Gay Marriage Supporters Scoff at State Constitution

From Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, and account of how Massachusetts liberals have simply ignored the law in order to protect gay marriage.
A lawsuit filed in US District Court last week accuses 109 Massachusetts lawmakers of violating the US Constitution. The plaintiffs are leaders of VoteOnMarriage.org, a grass-roots campaign to amend the Massachusetts constitution by defining marriage “only as the union of one man and one woman.”

It was a year ago this week that the proposed amendment, having attracted a record-setting 170,000 signatures, was formally transmitted to the Legislature by the Massachusetts secretary of state. What was supposed to happen next is spelled out in the state constitution. Article 48 directs the House and Senate to meet jointly and vote on amendments proposed by citizen initiative; those that get at least 50 votes in two consecutive sessions are then put on the state ballot.

But for a year now, the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature has declined to obey the law. On May 10, it voted to delay consideration of the marriage amendment until July 12. On July 12, it recessed until Nov. 9. On Nov. 9, by a vote of 109-87, it recessed yet again, to Jan. 2, 2007. Which just happens to be the day the current legislative session expires — and all unfinished business dies with it. If that happens, it will mark the second time in five years that the Legislature has killed a marriage amendment by flouting the Constitution and brazenly refusing to vote.

So the amendment’s sponsors have gone to court, in the longshot hope that a federal judge will either order the recalcitrant legislators to comply with the law and take the required vote, or put the amendment on the 2008 ballot anyway if they won’t. (Governor Mitt Romney has filed a similar complaint in state court. So have sponsors of another amendment, one dealing with statewide healthcare.)

The response to all this from many supporters of same-sex marriage has been a tortured explanation of why defying the Massachusetts Constitution is actually a good thing. “It’s not a matter of following the constitution,” the legal director of the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU told my Boston Globe colleague Sam Allis. “It’s following the constitution down the drain.” In other words, nothing must be allowed to jeopardize same-sex marriage — not even democracy and due process of law.

Not all advocates of same-sex marriage have been that cynical. “The legislature has done, in my opinion, the wrong thing,” writes Andrew Sullivan, a leading gay-marriage proponent. “By denying the voters the chance to have the final decision on marriage rights, the pro-marriage forces have lost a clear chance at democratic legitimacy. Yes, in some respects, civil rights should not be up for a vote. But many opponents of equality in marriage do not accept the premise that civil marriage is a civil right for gays. I think they’re wrong; but it’s an honest disagreement.”

America’s political battles would be a lot less poisonous if more combatants would acknowledge that their opponents are not monsters or villains, but fellow citizens with an “honest disagreement.” And as Sullivan notes, political actors forfeit legitimacy when they win their ends through undemocratic means.

Nor is legitimacy all they forfeit. When the legal process is subverted by lawmakers who care more about blocking a certain result than obeying the constitution they swore to uphold, they leave all of us — including themselves — less secure.
The problem, of course, is that liberals so dominate the politics of Massachusetts that the normal checks and balances simply don’t work.

So that state is, quite simply, a liberal banana republic, where the rule of law doesn’t hold when it threatens the ruling powers.

And the ACLU is quite happy with that.

Global Warming Conspiracy

A Visit From St. Hillary

What would Christmas be without a political parody on a classic poem.

With sincerest apologies to Democrats everywhere and, once again, to Clement Clark Moore.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, in two-thousand six;
All the lefties were bustling; their Party to fix.
The vote had gone centrist, they struggled for air,
And hoped that St. Hillary soon would declare.
As liberals awaited, awake in their beds,
Impeachable articles danced in their heads!
But since moderate Dems had prevailed in their views,
I’d just settled down to a sweet solstice snooze.

When out on the Beltway arose such a clatter,
I headed for Fox News to check out the chatter.
I reached for my clicker with partisan glee;
But only to witness a blacked-out TV.
The moon through the window cast light all about
And showed me quite clearly the plug had come out.
When what did I see on the former dark screen
But the visage of DNC chair Howard Dean!

When he introduced someone with wings on his back;
I knew in a moment it must be Barack.
More rapid than eagles his worshippers came,
When he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dorgan! Now, Durbin! Now, Eliot Spitzer!
On, Matthews! On, Russert! On, Woodruff and Blitzer!
To the Sunday news shows! To the National Mall!
Now moderate! Moderate! Moderate all!”

As big bucks before dirty congressmen fly,
When they meet with flush lobbyists, eager to buy;
To placate the middle and dogs that are blue,
They dumped Alcee Hastings, and John Murtha too!
But then in a twinkling, I saw on the set,
A startling scene that I’ll never forget;
As I grabbed for my clicker to turn up the sound,
Through my Sony, St. Hillary came with a bound!

She was bathed all in Earth tones from head down to toe,
With a big goofy grin, ala H. Ross Perot;
Her eyes — how they sparkled! Her cheeks were so rosy!
Her little pug nose just like Nancy Pelosi!
Her actions were strange and her tone made me wary,
She dressed like Babs Bush but she talked like John Kerry!
She turned with a jerk in a move that was deft,
Then she zig-zagged to center, before lurching left.

She spoke of Obama in tones that were hushed;
(But she couldn’t conceal that her forehead was flushed).
“Barack is a rock star, his feats superhuman;
(Though born with the ears of an Alfred E. Neuman).
His face is quite winsome, his teeth white and pearly;
(But to covet my White House; it’s rather too early!)
And he could be elected; it may come to pass;
(But he hasn’t a record, and no gravitas.)”

Her handlers were nervous, her stance was a fright;
As her feet kept on dancing between left and right!
Barack was a problem, he filled them with fear;
And they needed to think up a plan that was clear.
But Hill had recovered, she filled them with smiles,
When she shouted out, “Get me his FBI files!”

And I watched her exclaim with a flip-flopping gait,
“HAPPY CHRISTMAS, Obama! At least till ‘08!”

School Chorus Forced to Limit Religious Songs

The War on Christmas continues. From the Detroit News:
The “Hallelujah Chorus” from “The Messiah,” “Glory, Glory” and “Weep O Mine Eyes” are among the repertoire of musical selections to be sung by the nearly 300 members of Howell High School choirs at 7 tonight and Thursday.

But, for every religious song performed by the nine choral groups, 3.33 others have to be secular yuletide offerings as required under a school district’s policy.

“We’re falling within the guidelines. I comply with (the rules) although I don’t agree. I just find the whole thing disturbing that we’re not able to do all the literature I’d like to do,” said Rod Bushey, choral director at Howell High.

Howell Public Schools is one of a handful of districts statewide that limits the amount of religious selections that can be performed.

The 30 percent rule is a 10-year-old policy that erupted in controversy in September when a visiting choir from Germany, arranged through prestigious Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, was told to limit its sacred selections during a school performance.
So it seems that the school district is not merely censoring its own school choir, but visiting choirs as well.

The bureaucrats running the school district don’t see a problem.
“Since that time I have not heard that this is of vital interest to anyone in the community,” Deputy Superintendent Lynn Parrish said Tuesday.

School administrators, who set the guidelines years ago, were told to handle the issue after board members briefly discussed the issue Monday.
Interestingly, the people who have a professional interest in choral music don’t like to be censored.
The Michigan School Vocal Music Association and the American Choral Directors Association endorse a statement claiming sacred text is crucial to choral music education. Excluding religious music from public school curriculum “is to severely limit the possibilities of teaching for artistic understanding,” it says.
We can imagine, of course, that the same secular liberal parents and bureaucrats who demand that religious songs be limited would have a fit if the school district refused to allow, for example, “The Vagina Monologues.”

Indeed, the American Choral Directors Association has adopted the following statement:
Problems of misunderstanding and intent seem to arise most frequently with solo songs and choral compositions which have a sacred text. While public school teaching objectives and criteria for repertoire selection should not include religious indoctrination, the selection of quality repertoire will invariably include, within its broad scope, music with a sacred text. To exclude from a public school curriculum all choral music which has a religious meaning associated with the text is to limit severely the possibilities of teaching for artistic understanding and responsiveness. Such exclusion has as its parallel the study of art excluding paintings related to the various religions of the world, the study of literature without mention of the Bible, or the study of architecture without reference to the great temples and cathedrals of the world.
But what about non-Christians who don’t want to hear Christian music?

They might simply stay home.

They certainly don’t have the right to demand that a program be censored to fit their own religious views (or lack thereof).

In the final analysis, non-Christians have to accept that a large part of the best choral music, and a very large part of the best choral music having anything to do with any holiday celebrated in December, is Christian.

Just as whites have to accept that the black community has produced the vast majority of basketball players of NBA caliber, and the English have to accept that virtually every country on earth has a cuisine better than theirs.

Some things have to be judged on their merits, without any religious bias.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Try to Make Them Believe That

The ACLU’s Unsavory Past

When conservative students at the University of Texas recently staged an “ACLU nativity scene,” they portrayed the three Wise Men as Lenin, Marx, and Stalin “because the founders of the ACLU were strident supporters of Soviet style Communism.”

Anybody who thinks this was some sort of right-wing fantasy should read “Freedom in the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.” by ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, as it appeared in Soviet Russia Today in 1934.

Here is one memorable passage:
When the power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies, at home and abroad. [emphasis in original]
The issue, of course, is whether the ACLU is fundamentally different today.

Yes, support for the old Soviet Union is out of fashion. But the organization is still a group of people moved by their desires to see certain policies implemented and not any broad and disinterested concern for civil liberties. There are a few honorable exceptions (the group has opposed campaign finance reform, for example), but basically, the “civil liberties” rhetoric is hogwash.

Just as it was in 1934.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Picture Makes It Clear

Christians Winning the War on Christmas?

A recent article in Christianity Today suggests that Christians (and tolerant people generally) are winning the War on Christmas.
Glad tidings: Christmas is saved. Sure, this season has seen its grinches. But after last year’s “holiday” attack, we’ve mostly run them back to Mt. Crumpit. Wal-Mart has prominently replaced last year’s “Happy Holidays” greetings with “Merry Christmas,” and promises 60 percent more Christmas-labeled merchandise.

“We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year,” a spokeswoman told USA Today. Target, Macy’s, Carson Pirie Scott, and other stories are also getting out of the holiday spirit in favor of Christmas.

One of this year’s early battles was short-lived. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation initially rejected a gift of 4,000 biblically themed dolls, then changed its mind after a brief uproar. “We realized it’s a lot less time-consuming to find homes for the dolls than it is to answer media and complaints,” foundation veep Bill Grein told The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, last year’s “holiday tree” at the Michigan Capitol is once again a “Christmas tree,” a once-banned nativity float has returned to Denver’s Parade of Lights, and a momentary manger omission in St. Albans, West Virginia, has been rescinded.

Even the U.K. is seeing a backlash against a generic holiday. The Royal Mail’s seasonal stamps may omit religious imagery, and some town councils may have renamed their celebrations “Winterval,” but now even Muslims are calling for more Christ in Christmas. The Christian Muslim Forum, headed by leading clerics from both religions, argued: “Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and we wish this significant part of the Christian heritage of this country to remain an acknowledged part of national life. The desire to secularize religious festivals is offensive to both of our communities.”

Here’s more from that Christian Muslim Forum statement: “Those who use the fact of religious pluralism as an excuse to de-Christianize British society unthinkingly become recruiting agents for the extreme Right. They provoke antagonism towards Muslims and others by foisting on them an anti-Christian agenda they do not hold.”
One has to be careful about generalizing from what one sees in the media, of course.

All that media reports show is that those tolerant of religion, when the choose to make a fuss, quite frequently win.

The times they didn’t bother to make a fuss, or complained quietly and didn’t go public, aren’t reported.

But so far, this would seem like good news.

But the author of the article, one Ted Olsen, won’t enjoy the good news, and turns moralistic.
Meanwhile, we hear very little of the old complaints about the “commercialization of Christmas.” In polls, it’s still more of a concern than “opposition to religious symbols in public places” (64 percent vs. 46 percent among evangelicals). But one wonders if all the shows of economic force, through boycotts and such, has dulled the moral force of that critique.

Those who engage in combat to remind others of “the reason for the season” would do well to remember that the Christmas season as such has only existed for about a century and a half. The 1,500-year-old Christian season that precedes December 25 is Advent, a time of fasting, penitence, and somber waiting.
The problem with this quite moralistic argument is that, if we take Christ out of Christmas, just what standard can we use to oppose the season being an orgy of commercialism? We can attack commercialism as not being consistent with the celebration of Christ’s birth, but once we forget Christ’s birth, what’s the problem?

In fact, we think that all the huffing and puffing about “commercialism” is misplaced. Christmas is the time when we all buy presents for each other. We sometimes buy presents for people we almost never see, and sometimes for people we don’t even much like.

It is, in other words, a season when we are all reminded that we are enmeshed in a web of social ties, and that those ties involve obligations we have, and obligations others owe us.

What could be more Christian than doing something nice for other people? Indeed, wouldn’t Jesus have wanted us to do nice things for people we don’t even like much?

If Christmas were the season in which we all engaged in an orgy of buying things for ourselves, that would be grounds for condemnation.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Terrorist Tactic

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Turkish Airlines Employees in Trouble for Camel Sacrifice

From USA Today:
ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) — Turkish Airlines took swift disciplinary action Wednesday after it emerged that members of its technical staff had sacrificed a camel to celebrate getting their job done.

Maintenance workers all pitched in to buy the beast to mark the long-awaited dispatch to Britain of the last of 11 RJ100 aircraft which Turkish decided to leave out of its fleet due to a series of accidents involving the planes.

The camel was sacrificed Tuesday at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport and about 1,540 pounds of meat was distributed among the staff.

The event surfaced when several newspapers ran the story along with photographs of the camel being led into the airport grounds and of workers holding up bloody pieces of meat after the sacrifice.

Turkish said in a brief statement that it had launched an investigation and temporarily suspended the head of the maintenance department.

Ataturk airport manager Vedat Muftuoglu said he had received an apology from those involved, but underlined that disciplinary action was nonetheless coming their way.

“No one should do such a thing just because an airliner has rid itself of some aircraft,” Muftuoglu was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency.

In Turkey, it is a widespread practice to sacrifice animals to mark a happy event or the accomplishment of a difficult task.
Oddly enough, we see nothing wrong with sacrificing an animal in a case like this. (Whether an airport is the proper venue is another question.)

Just consider the number of animals “sacrificed” to produce steaks, ham, sausage, fried chicken and bacon in this country.

Although “multiculturalism” in academia is pretty much just a euphemism for politically correct victim studies, there is value in appreciating and tolerating other cultures.

Just don’t blunder into complete moral relativism. Sometimes the way we do things here really is morally superior.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Carols For Those a Few Bricks Short of a Load

Via Dad29, originally from Orthometer, a list of Christmas Carols for the Psychologically Challenged.
  1. Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear, the Voices, the Voices?
  2. Amnesia - I Don’t Remember If I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  3. Narcissistic - Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
  4. Manic - Deck The Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and Fire Hydrants and...........
  5. Multiple Personality Disorder - We Three Queens Disoriented Are
  6. Paranoid - Santa Claus Is Coming to Get Us
  7. Borderline Personality Disorder - You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Shout, I’m Gonna Cry, and I’ll Not Tell You Why
  8. Full Personality Disorder - Thoughts of Roasting You On an Open Fire
  9. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
  10. Agoraphobia - I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day But Wouldn’t Leave My House
  11. Senile Dementia - Walking In a Winter Wonderland Miles from My House in My Slippers and Robe
  12. Oppositional Defiant Disorder - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus So I Burned Down the House
  13. Social Anxiety Disorder - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas While I Sit Here and Hyperventilate
  14. Attention Deficit Disorder - We Wish You......Hey Look!! It’s Snowing!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

This Was a Surprise?

This feature may not be reproduced or distributed electronically, in print or otherwise without the written permission of uclick and Universal Press Syndicate

The Nanny State In New York City

From Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe, an essay lamenting the steady encrochment of the Nanny State.
Big Brother has been busy.

New York City’s board of health voted last week to ban the use of trans fats in restaurants, a step that will force many of the Big Apple’s 26,000 eating establishments to radically alter the way they prepare food. The prohibition is being called a model for other cities, such as Chicago, where similar bans have been proposed.

Is it a good idea to avoid food made with trans fats? That depends on what you consider good. Trans fats are said to raise the risk of heart disease by increasing levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They also contribute to the appealing taste of many baked and fried foods, and provide an economical alternative to saturated fats. As with most things in life, trans fats carry both risks and benefits. Do the possible long-term health concerns outweigh the short-term pleasures? That’s a question of values — one that scientists and regulators aren’t competent to answer.

Different people have different priorities. They make different choices about the fats in their diet, just as they make different choices about whether to drive a Toyota, drink their coffee black, or get a tattoo. In a free society, men and women decide such things for themselves. In New York, men and women are now a little less free. And since a loss of liberty anywhere is a threat to liberty everywhere, the rest of us are now a little less free as well.

But the slow erosion of freedom doesn’t trouble the lifestyle bullies. They are quite sure that they have the right to dictate people’s eating (and other) habits. “It’s basically a slow form of poison,” sniffs David Katz of the Yale Prevention Research Center. “I applaud New York City, and frankly, I think there should be a nationwide ban.”

Yes, why go through the trouble of making your own decision about trans fats or anything else when officious bureaucrats are willing to make it for you? It’s so much easier to prohibit something — smoking in bars, say, or cycling without a helmet, or using marijuana, or gambling, or working a job for less than some “minimum” wage — than to allow adults the freedom to choose.
Interestingly, the liberal nannies, who want to regulate whether people can smoke in bars, eat trans fats or buy a car without an air bag would not think of interfering with risky sexual behavior.

They fully believe in individual freedom where that’s concerned.

And the nannies can’t really be sure of the science they claim they are using to “protect” the public. For years, margarine was supposedly more healthy than butter (which was claimed to be full of cholesterol). Now, the tables are turned.

The real purpose isn’t keeping the public safe. It’s to redistribute power into the hands of the nannies.

Frank Capra’s Christian Vision

You are almost certainly going to see the movie It’s A Wonderful Life this Christmas season.

So from Christianity Today, here is an essay on the vision of Frank Capra, the director of that film and of several more American classics.

The whole essay is worth reading, but if we had to summarize a bit, we would quote the following passage:
Capra was acutely aware of the inherent worth and dignity of each man and woman, as bearers of the divine image. As he later wrote: “Be he saint or sinner, rich or poor, black or white, coward or hero … be he lame, halt or blind … each (man) is a piece of his Maker.” This belief suffused all his films.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Not The Same At All

Heretical Idea: Academic Freedom for Students

The Marquette Chapter of Students for Academic Freedom is anathma to staffers in the Office of Student Development, particularly Kelly Neumann and Mark McCarthy, because it favors academic freedom for students. Why is this controversial? Because it is claimed to conflict with academic freedom for faculty.

But other academic institutions don’t seem to have a problem with specifying student rights that might, in some circumstances, cause problems for some faculty member who wants to use the classroom for indoctrination, or who merely wants to spout off about some academically irrelevant political opinions.

These institutions include Temple University, and Penn State.

In both cases, the institutions have adopted politics that incorporate important elements of the Academic Bill of Rights, which the national Students for Academic Freedom is promoting. The Marquette Chapter is committed to promoting the adoption of that document at Marquette. Kelly Neumann has claimed there is some “scary stuff” in the document.

First, Temple University.

An official policy statement from that institution says:
  1. Faculty are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial (or other) matter which has no relation to their subject. The faculty member is responsible, however, for maintaining academic standards in the presentation of course materials.
  2. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for the truth.
  3. Faculty members in the classroom and in conference should encourage free discussion, inquiry and expression. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.
  4. Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the information or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but students are responsible for learning the content of the course of study in which they are enrolled. The validity of academic ideas, theories, arguments and views should be measured against the relevant academic standards.
  5. Students should have protection through orderly grievance procedures against prejudiced or capricious evaluations that are not intellectually relevant to the subject matter under consideration. At the same time, students are responsible for complying with the standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.
The document goes on to to provide detailed grievance procedures for students who feel their rights have been violated.

The statement from Penn State is, if anything, even stronger.
PURPOSE:
To outline the conditions of academic freedom for faculty members.

TO WHOM IT APPLIES:
This policy applies to members of the faculty who have official teaching or research responsibilities at the University.
The document then discusses faculty academic freedom to act as a citizen outside the university, the requirement that faculty perform the duties reasonably assigned them, and their right to freedom in research and publication, and continues:
IN THE CLASSROOM:
The faculty member is entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing his/her subject. The faculty member is, however, responsible for the maintenance of appropriate standards of scholarship and teaching ability. It is not the function of a faculty member in a democracy to indoctrinate his/her students with ready-made conclusions on controversial subjects. The faculty member is expected to train students to think for themselves, and to provide them access to those materials which they need if they are to think intelligently. Hence, in giving instruction upon controversial matters the faculty member is expected to be of a fair and judicial mind, and to set forth justly, without supersession or innuendo, the divergent opinions of other investigators.

No faculty member may claim as a right the privilege of discussing in the classroom controversial topics outside his/her own field of study. The faculty member is normally bound not to take advantage of his/her position by introducing into the classroom provocative discussions of irrelevant subjects not within the field of his/her study.
All this, of course, it consistent with traditional notions of academic freedom.

A more recent concern in academia has been to protect the rights of certain minorities, and that protection has often been extended to include what professors say in the classroom.

Feminists have frequently complained about classroom statements they considered “sexual harassment.” Sometimes they have been right, and the comment in question was out of line. Minorities have claimed a “hostile learning environment” violates their rights, sometimes for no reason beyond the fact that they might hear ideas expressed with which they disagree.

It’s perfectly sensible that, in the vast majority of college classes, negative comments about homosexuality should be out of bounds. What should be acceptable is a professor teaching a course on sexual ethics outlining in a sympathetic and favorable way the view of the Catholic Church that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.

(Unfortunately, a lot of people even at Catholic universities would like to shut up that viewpoint.)

So why not extend that protection to students based on their political views?

Why not equally prohibit a professor of engineering saying that “Republicans are selfish bastards?”

The honest answer, if the OSD bureaucrats and the leftist faculty were being candid, is that they think conservatives are an evil oppressor group and ought to be attacked.

But Marquette should not accept that kind of logic.

Academic Fascism at Michigan State

Via Toyah an account of how a speech by anti-immigration Congressman Tom Tancredo was disrupted by campus leftists.

Cars were keyed, people kicked and spat upon, protestors took over the front of the room where Tancredo was speaking, and (most disruptive) the building fire alarm was set off twice.

The tenor of the protest is conveyed in an account published on a gay website:
The lecture hall had about 35 members of the sponsoring groups, as well as one man from the community who had found out about Tancredo’s visit from his recent appearance on Larry King.

Confrontations between audience members, and leaders of the groups broke out through out the lecture hall, and MSU police were summoned.

“They wanna be hiding in their little fucking racist bubble,” shouted protestor Jose Villigran upon entering.

“We believe in having an open and willing dialogue. But within the rules,” Jeff Wiggins, chair of the MSU College Republicans, told protestors.

“Come to my neighborhood and have a fucking conversation about immigration,” Villigran said under his breath.
Happily, Michigan State authorities called the cops, and Tancredo was able to finish his talk.

You can check out:
Interesting that the Mainstream Media pays little attention to incidents like this.

One could argue, of course, that they aren’t really that newsworthy.

But if a racist organization similarly disrupted a speech by (say) Jesse Jackson on a college campus, you can be sure it would be all over CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN for the next several days.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Profiling, or Provocation?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tidbit: The Media & Global Warming

Via Drudge, a press release from the National Center for Policy Analysis on how the media report “global warming.”
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- David Deming, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma and an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), testified this morning at a special hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The hearing examined climate change and the media. Bellow are excerpts from his prepared remarks.

“In 1995, I published a short paper in the academic journal Science. In that study, I reviewed how borehole temperature data recorded a warming of about one degree Celsius in North America over the last 100 to 150 years. The week the article appeared, I was contacted by a reporter for National Public Radio. He offered to interview me, but only if I would state that the warming was due to human activity. When I refused to do so, he hung up on me.”

Meet the New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

Carleton University Student Council Votes to Ban Anti-Abortion Groups

We recently blogged about a movement in the student government of Carleton University to forbid anti-abortion student groups having any recognition, money or use of university facilities.

The issue came to a vote, and the Carleton University Students’ Association voted by a margin of 25 to 6 to support the proposal.

Those who wanted to ban anti-abortion speech gave the usual politically-correct reasons:
Council executives argued that campaigning to criminalize abortion, which has been legal in Canada for more than two decades, discriminates against women.

Some students agreed, including graduate student John Baglow, who spoke in favour of the motion.

“This campus is supposed to be about human rights, diversity, mutual respect,” Baglow said. “Well, there isn’t respect when you want to throw women into jail for choosing abortion.”
These, of course, are the sort of folks who would happily throw people in jail for owning a gun. And somehow, in the world of the politically correct, “respect” not only requires that one agree with a certain political position, it needs to be enforced by punishing people who don’t show it.

“Respect,” in other words, doesn’t extend to people having different moral or political views.

Carleton University itself takes a much more tolerant stance.
While the University said it respects “CUSA’s independent decision-making process,” it added that “The University, however, is not bound by the views or opinions held by the Carleton University Students’ Association.” The university states that “Student groups, both those recognized by CUSA and those that are not, have had and will continue to have the opportunity to book space on campus in accordance with Carleton’s existing policies and procedures.”
The more serious question, of course, is how Canadian society and a Canadian university produced such a bunch of nasty authoritarians as those running this Students’ Association.

And are we doing any better here in the U.S.?

Texas Students Stage “ACLU Nativity Scene”

From The American Mind, an account of how some conservative students at the University of Texas have had some fun with the prudishness of the ACLU about displays showing the birth of Christ.

See here, and here and here. The conservative group explains:
“We’ve got Gary and Joseph instead of Mary and Joseph in order to symbolize ACLU support for homosexual marriage, and of course there isn’t a Jesus in the manger,” said Chairman Tony McDonald. “The three Wise Men are Lenin, Marx, and Stalin because the founders of the ACLU were strident supporters of Soviet style Communism. The whole scene is a tongue-in-cheek way of showing the many ways that the ACLU and the far left are out of touch with the values of mainstream America.”
The president of the group explained that, given the ACLU’s position on abortion, having a baby in the scene would be inappropriate.

An historical note: the founders of the ACLU were indeed supporters of Soviet-style communism.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Marquette Continues to Stonewall Students for Academic Freedom

From Students for Academic Freedom President Charles Rickert, an e-mailed letter sent to two staffers in the Office of Student Development, concerning a meeting today what included Dr. Peggy Bloom from the Office of the Provost.
From: Rickert, Charles
Sent: Tue 12/5/2006 4:13 PM
To: Neumann, Kelly; McCarthy, Mark
Subject: SAF - objections

Greetings,

Thank you for meeting with me today and arranging for Dr. Bloom to join us, as well. I do not mean to be a bother. I like to think of myself as a student that Dr. Bloom would be proud of (willing to stand up and voice concerns).

I understand the reasons you have shared for the possible rejection of the Students for Academic Freedom Constitution but I do not agree with them nor do I believe the same standard(s) are equally applied to other groups.
  • Name (something very trivial)
  • Affiliation to national organization
  • “note and object” (usurping MUSG responsibility)
In the AMU, right now, JUSTICE has a table that notes and objects to a lack of fair trade coffee available at campus coffee shops. Their table is collecting signatures for a petition to make a change that will affect all students and university members. I spoke with the president of JUSTICE and he said he has no intention of working with MUSG on this issue. Using the standard applied to Students for Academic Freedom, this effort by JUSTICE should not be allowed on campus because if students have a grievance, the proper/existing mechanism is MUSG.

I am not asking for JUSTICE to have their table shut down. However, it should be acknowledged that OSD-approved student organizations do “note and object” on university property. I do not expect any member of JUSTICE is “qualified” to speak about “economic justice” or the “stewardship of God’s Creation” as their current petition reads. They are entitled to share their opinion(s). In this case, they are entitled to share their opinion at an AMU table.

There was no disagreement that there are currently OSD-approved organizations with affiliation to controversial national organizations. Some of these national/parent organizations argue vehemently against the Catholic Church and/or its teachings (Amnesty International). I imagine that “Students for a Fair Wisconsin” was affiliated to a disreputable “Fair Wisconsin” effort. Fair Wisconsin made deception an art form during its 2006 television/radio commercials. I assert that Fair Wisconsin has/had a credibility issue.

It was said earlier that a Black Student Council does not usurp power from MUSG because they also perform social events. However, one of MUSG’s largest functions for students are social events. In a related note, if an African-American student has a grievance, should they report it to MUSG, the Black Student Council, the administration or each?

It was also agreed at this afternoon’s meeting that Marquette’s policy on Academic Freedom is not infallible nor is not non-negotiable. Marquette and OSD believe protections of academic freedom are not for students. Many students, other universities and I disagree with Marquette’s view of academic freedom. An objection of “students do not have academic freedom” will never resonate with our organization because this exactly the mindset/policy that our group seeks to reform.

In sum, I understand OSD’s objections but I do not agree with them. Of course, when Students for Academic Freedom requests either a formal acceptance or rejection letter, OSD is free to decide how they wish.

Best regards,
Charles

Charles Rickert
Students for Academic Freedom
Marquette bureaucrats thus continue to make excuses (most of them quite lame) to reject Students for Academic Freedom.

The claim that the organization would somehow usurp MUSG responsibility is a new one and -- as Rickert points out -- a rather silly one.

Marquette bureaucrats simply don’t like the national organization, Students for Academic Freedom. They asserted it is “controversial” and “unfairly targets professors.”

The latter is a reference to the fact that the organization does indeed publicize instances of leftist bias and activism from professors. Are these professors being “unfairly” targeted?

That is entirely a matter of opinion. It seems the Marquette administration wants to impose its opinion of the organization on campus discourse about bias.

Students for Academic Freedom has never, to our knowledge, attacked any professor for anything besides public statements on controversial issues, or statements made in a class, or public associations with particular groups or movements, or their treatment of students who disagreed with them.

Some, it seems, believe that “academic freedom” means that professors can say whatever they want and not even be criticized. And it also means that students cannot say what they want about their professors.

Not Fun Being A Packer Fan

Monday, December 04, 2006

Humbug! Can’t Sit On Santa’s Lap Unless You Buy the Photos

An e-mail correspondent sent this message to our daughter.
The Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, Florida now requires that parents purchase a picture package in order for children to “sit” on Santa’s lap. Anyone who doesn’t purchase a package can have their children stand in front of Santa, facing him, with their requests. This is to make sure that parents aren’t able to steal a photo-op.
The mall, on receiving an irate e-mail from our daughter’s e-mail correspondent, replied as follows:
Dear Lisa -

Thank you for taking the time to visit our website and submit a comment. I have spoken to the Regional Manager of our photo operation regarding your complaint and have obtained additional information about your child’s visit with Santa. Santa has a significant hearing loss and in fact wears hearing aids in both ears; because of this, he often leans in to better hear the child and visits in this manner. It is not the mall’s policy or the photo vendor’s policy to not allow a child to sit on Santa’s lap - whether the child is just visiting Santa or having a photo taken, all children are entitled to visit with Santa. I have requested that Santa make more of an effort to sit children on his lap in the future and this will be monitored more closely.
But the correspondent also noted:
Interesting how Santa didn’t have hearing problems when it came to those children who paid for photo packages. The only children denied lap visits were the ones who wouldn’t pay for photo packages.
Add to that the fact that Santa needs to hear what the kid is asking for. So this Santa would appear to be unqualified.

And we don’t want any argument on this issue from skeptics who think that Santa only needs to ask the kids whether they have been good (they will always answer “yes”) and then promise them whatever they ask for. They might be asking for a real live elephant.

Whatever the case at the Fashion Square Mall, at least one mall in Massachusetts has this odious policy.
A mall in Massachusetts issued an apology after a 4-year-old girl was apparently told she was not allowed to sit on Santa’s lap unless she purchased a $21 picture of the meeting, according to a Local 6 News report.

Maria Grigorian said she took her daughter, Michelle, to the North Shore Mall in Peabody to visit Santa Claus.

However, when the 4-year-old got to the front of the line, she was not allowed to sit on Santa’s lap because her mother did not have cash to pay for the picture.

Grigorian said the least expensive photo offered was $21.

“I am a single mom and don’t have that money right now,” Grigorian said.

Michele was so upset over the incident that she burst into tears and left with her mother.

“To see her crying and saying, ‘Mommy I just want to tell Santa what I want for Christmas,’” Grigorian said. “I was heartbroken, totally heartbroken.”

An official with the Northshore Mall has apologized and said a meeting with Santa is free of charge.
And it’s not just the United States. The blog of an Australian mother recounts the exact same sort of experience.

We suppose one could say that Santa is offering a service, and in good capitalistic fashion has a right to charge for the service.

But we have to buy the whole capitalist package. And that involves having mom and dad and the kids leave the mall happy, and willing to come back and spend more money.

Darfur Action Coalition Meeting This Wednesday

From the campus Darfur Action Coalition:
If you would like to do something to stop genocide, you can attend the Darfur Action Coalition meeting from 5-6:30pm on Wednesday December 6 in William Wehr 153.

At this meeting you will hear an update on recent events in Darfur and reports on Darfur activities in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S.

The purpose of the meeting is to plan activities and events for next semester. We need your energy, ideas and judgment.

If you can, bring your laptop so you can help the Darfur Action Coalition of Wisconsin copy email addresses from petitions into computer files to create email lists for future publicity.

Snacks will be provided.

Last spring the Darfur Action Coalition collected 4,500 signatures and moved our Representative in Congress, Gwen Moore, to undertake civil disobedience to stop genocide in Darfur. With your help, we can do even better next spring.

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Attempted Pro-Abortion Censorship on Carleton Campus

From Carleton University in Canada, an attempt to stiffle anti-abortion speech on campus.
Ottawa, Canada (LifeNews.com) -- Carleton University is coming under fire from pro-life advocates in Canada because the student government there is considering a proposal that would prohibit pro-life organizations on campus. Pro-life advocates are upset saying it would restrict free speech at the college.

Katy McIntyre, vice-president of services for the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA), proposed a motion last week that would amend the student society’s discrimination policy.

Her proposal would state that “no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding be allocated for anti-choice purposes.”

Shawn Menard, president of the association, told the CBC the motion came in response to complaints from the pro-abortion group on campus about a debate the campus pro-life group Lifeline organized about whether abortion should be legal.

“It’s discriminatory to not provide a female with a choice surrounding her body,” Menard said.

Sarah Fletcher, the president of Lifeline Carleton, told the CBC the motion discriminates against the pro-life group and threatens the existence of religious clubs on campus that oppose abortion as well.

“There are students at Carleton who do have a pro-life point of view, and those students need to be represented,” she said. “We feel it’s an infringement on our basic rights.”

Menard said students are free to debate but shouldn’t use CUSA space or money.

The council is expected to take a vote on the pro-abortion proposal on December 5.
Another source gives some more detail about the “reasoning” of the very politically correct Ms. McIntyre.

According to McIntyre, anti-choice groups are gender-discriminatory and violate CUSA’s safe space practices.

The motion focuses on anti-choice groups because they aim to abolish freedom of choice by criminalizing abortion. McIntyre said this discriminates against women, and that it violates the Canadian Constitution by removing a woman’s right to “life, liberty and security” of person.

McIntyre said she received complaints after Lifeline organized an academic debate on whether or not elective abortion should be made illegal.

“[These women] were upset the debate was happening on campus in a space that they thought they were safe and protected, and that respected their rights and freedoms,” said McIntyre.
You read that right. Some feminists were “upset” because there was a debate on campus.

Such is the sort of argument that the leftist authoritarians use to try to shut up ideas that they don’t like.

It’s quite similar to that of Marquette Gay/Straight Alliance President, who said that no speaker opposing gay marriage should be allowed on campus because any such opposition would be “hate speech.”

And indeed it’s reminiscent of Philosophy Department Chair James South, who tore down, from the door of a gradute student, a quote from humorist Dave Barry claiming it was “patently offensive.”

The campus left, in other words, has a rapidly proliferating battery of arguments for silencing viewpoints they don’t like.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It’s Different Today

Insulting Every Country Equally

Via we live our lives among giants, a web page titled “Conan O’Brien Hates My Homeland.”

It’s a long list of insults directed at virtually every country in the world, except for those that come alphabetically after Russia.

Some examples:
Albania
The perfect getaway for people who love Kosovo, but hate the working phone service
Algeria
It took you eight years to beat France
Azerbaijan
Believe it or not, you can use oil for more than just killing seals
Bahrain
A thriving centre of trade and culture... until 2000 BC!
Belgium
The only European country to never successfully invade Belgium
Botswana
Diamonds are forever; too bad your people check out at 35
Central African Republic
So bad, the gorillas learn sign language for “Poach me”
Democratic Republic of Congo
Where even a poor boy with no prospects can grow up to be run over by a presidential motorcade
Cuba
Where “high-tech” means you’ve got a radio on your homemade raft
El Salvador
Where no resumé is complete without the phrase “Supervised six-person death squad”
Finland
You’ve had over 5,000 years of culture, and the world’s most famous Finn is still Huckleberry
Grenada
When you’re at the end of a grueling fifteen-hour day peeling the husks off nutmeg, remember this: without you, the world would have to sprinkle its eggnog with cinnamon
Guinea
Even guinea pigs have the good sense to claim they’re actually from Peru
Haiti
You just celebrated two hundred years of independence. Congratulations. Now make a wish and blow out your burning pile of tires
Italy
The newspapers are reporting a miracle. Apparently, a statue of Mary moved her hand and said, “I just worked harder than 80% of your workforce”
Kyrgystan
If your country could afford vowels, you could spell “this place sucks”
Mongolia
Where Chinese freedom meets Siberian comfort
The Netherlands
Congratulations, you’ve turned 500 years of culture into a pot joke
The page is certainly politically incorrect. Insulting. Gross.

Read the whole thing!