Precinct 333

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Innocuous Comment, Serious Sanction

Hans Hoppe is a professor of economics at University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He is currently under threat of sanction from the university because ONE anonymous student was offended by a comment he made in the course of a 75 minute lecture and didn't feel that the professor took the concern seriously enough.

Hoppe, 55, a world-renowned economist, author and speaker, said he was giving a lecture to his money and banking class in March when the incident occurred.

The subject of the lecture was economic planning for the future. Hoppe said he gave several examples to the class of about 30 upper-level undergraduate students on groups who tend to plan for the future and groups who do not.

Very young and very old people, for example, tend not to plan for the future, he said. Couples with children tend to plan more than couples without.

As in all social sciences, he said, he was speaking in generalities.

Another example he gave the class was that homosexuals tend to plan less for the future than heterosexuals.

Reasons for the phenomenon include the fact that homosexuals tend not to have children, he said. They also tend to live riskier lifestyles than heterosexuals, Hoppe said.

He said there is a belief among some economists that one of the 20th century's most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, was influenced in his beliefs by his homosexuality. Keynes espoused a "spend it now" philosophy to keep an economy strong, much as President Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hoppe said the portion of the lecture on homosexuals lasted perhaps 90 seconds, while the entire lecture took up his 75-minute class.

There were no questions or any discussion from the students about the homosexual comments, he said.

"I have given lectures like this for 18 years," said Hoppe, a native of Germany who joined UNLV's faculty in 1986. "I have given this lecture all over the world and never had any complaints about it."

But within days of the lecture, he was notified by school officials that a student had lodged an informal complaint. The student said Hoppe's comments offended him.

A series of formal hearings ensued.

Hoppe said that, at the request of university officials, he clarified in his next class that he was speaking in generalities only and did not mean to offend anyone.

As an example of what he meant, he offered this: Italians tend to eat more spaghetti than Germans, and Germans tend to eat more sauerkraut than Italians. It is not universally true, he said, but it is generally true.

The student then filed a formal complaint, Hoppe said, alleging that Hoppe did not take the complaint seriously.

The school originally threatened a letter of reprimand and the loss of a week's pay. That was rejected by the Hoppe's dean and the University provost. Now the school has said they will issue a reprimand and require that Hoppe forego his next pay increase -- an economic sanction that will follow him the rest of his teaching career at the school and beyond, as it would have an ongoing, cumulative effect on his future salary and retirement benefits.

Frankly, I don't see where there is a basis for action against the good professor. In context, there was nothing wrong with his comments. There is apparently some support for his position among professionals in the field. Other than treading on the over-wrought feelings of some (presumably, but not necessarily, homosexual) student, there is no substance to the entire complaint. Must the entire educational process come to a screeching halt because some member of a class of people deemed by the politically correct to have special rights complains?

I hope the university loses -- and that any litigation names not just the school and the officials involved, but also the offended student. The original complaint was frivolous, and Hans Hoppe has been damaged by this attempt to limit his academic freedom and First Amendment rights.


"Cookie Cuties" Find Americans Are Generous

I briefly noted this story about two girls from Colorado who were sued over their anonymous delivery of cookies to a neighbor in my abbreviated post for Friday. Their plight after performing a "random act of kindness" has prompted an outpouring of generosity from people around the country.

The Cookie Defense Fund has swelled to thousands of dollars.

Hundreds of Denver Post readers e-mailed and called to express "shock" and "outrage" that two 18-year-old Durango girls were sued for something they did last summer: drop off a plate of cookies and a paper heart on a neighbor's porch.

Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Zellitti lost in Small Claims Court in La Plata County on Thursday. Their impulse to bake cookies and treat neighbors by knocking, dropping off and running away went awry. One of nine neighbors who received a plate of cookies said the pounding on her door about 10:30 p.m. July 31 frightened her into an anxiety attack. A Durango judge awarded about $900 to the 49-year-old woman to cover some medical bills incurred when she ended up at the emergency room the next day.

If the people who called and wrote make good on their pledges, that $900 will be recovered many times over. Several people offered to personally cover the whole amount themselves.

The attention has been overwhelming.

The girls will be appearing on "Good Morning, America", and have an invitation (probably to be rejected) to appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.


Embryos=Human Beings

This ruling out of Illinois makes clear the basic scientific and legal truth -- human life begins at conception.

Alison Miller and Todd Parrish hoped to conceive a child with help from the Center for Human Reproduction, but the one fertilized egg the couple created was thrown out "in error" by a clinic worker.

Friday, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence II said "a pre-embryo is a 'human being' ... whether or not it is implanted in its mother's womb" and the couple is entitled to seek the same compensation awarded to other parents whose children are killed.

"Philosophers and theologians may debate," he wrote, "but there is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins. It begins at conception."

Hurrah for Judge Lawrence!


What Hypocrisy!

In light of the threat by the Mexican government to use all means at its disposal to overturn Arizona's Proposition 200, doesn't this seem to be monumentally hypocritical?

President Vicente Fox's office retorted that Mexico "does not permit judgment from any foreign government about political actions taken to confront its problems."

Hey, Vincente -- roll it in a tortilla and shove it!

Maybe the time has come for us to take Joe Farah's suggestion.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Friday Round-Up

I took last night off because I was tired and thought I might be getting the virus that is slowly picking off my colleagues and students. So now that I don't feel like I'm catching the flu, here is a quick round-up of all the items I was too tired to post about.

Assaults on marriage continue, as a New York judge attempts to impose homosexual marriage on the state and the Utah Supreme Court appears poised to strike down the state's ban on polygamy. See what happens when you tinker with the settled definition of a social institution?

The Washington governor's race still continues, as a judge refuses Democrat demands that the outcome of the fraud-tainted election be left to the Democrats in the legislature.

Rocky Mountain News columnist Mike Rosen presents a case (which I don't necessarily agree with) for firing fake Indian, 9/11 apologist and generally anti-American professor Ward Churchill.

Rich Lowry points out that HIV testing for newborns has resulted in more maternal testing during pregnancy -- and helped bring about a decrease in HIV infected babies because their mothers can get on a treatment program that cuts the chances of the child becoming infected.

Archaeology and history geeks (folks like me) might enjoy this article on Raleigh's "Lost Colony". Have historians and archaeologists been looking in the wrong place?

Is it anti-Americanism or support for Catholic teaching? Marquette shuts down College Republican fundraiser to buy equipment to assist American snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then there is the absurd story of the two girls who baked cookies for their neighbors and delivered them anonymously that night -- who were then sued and found liable for the medical bills of a neighbor who had a panic attack.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

FBI Investigating Christian Sermons -- But Will It Look For Terror Links At Mosques?

The concept of spiritual warfare is a common one in Christian theology. In the evangelical church, the concept is a regular part of preaching and teaching. It is apparently also grounds for an FBI investigation. Just ask Randy Steele, senior pastor at Southwest Christian Church in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He found out that preaching on spiritual warfare regarding abortion and homosexuality will bring the FBI to your door, demanding that you answer questions and show them copies of your sermons.

When two FBI agents arrived at the church, Steele said they traded small talk for a few minutes before the suspense got to him and he asked about the nature of their visit.

Their answer stunned him.

“One guy opened a file,” Steele said. “And he said, ‘This is pertaining to a sermon that you preached on Memorial Day.’”

On Memorial Day 2004, Steele was in the middle of preaching a sermon series he called “Life Issues” dealing with controversial cultural issues from a biblical perspective. One such sermon was about abortion and Steele chose Memorial Day to preach about it.

“I shared the number of people who have died in wars versus the number who had died through ‘legal’ abortion since 1973,” Steele said. “I stated that we are in a different type of war that is being fought under the 'presupposition of freedom.’”

Steele said that he went on to name an abortion clinic in Granite City, Ill., a city just outside St. Louis, and pointed out that they perform as many as 45 abortions per week.

Somebody in the church that day apparently misunderstood Steele’s “different type of war” comment to mean that he was actually calling his congregation to a physical war against abortion clinics, so he or she placed an anonymous phone call to the FBI.

The informant allegedly told the FBI that in addition to Steele calling for a war against abortion clinics, he also said he was willing to go to jail over such a cause.

Steele said that he had spoken about his willingness to go to jail, but that he made those remarks in a different sermon that dealt with homosexuality from the same sermon series.

“I had mentioned a pastor in Canada who had been arrested for speaking about homosexuality in his church,” Steele said. The pastor said he went on to tell his congregation that “if speaking the truth means that we go to jail, then by golly, that’s where I'm going to be and I’m going to save you a seat next to me.”

“That was the major gist of why [the FBI] felt like they could come here and look through my sermons,” Steele said.

Now I know Hope Clinic. I've picketted there, years ago when I lived in the St. Louis area. It is the biggest provider of abortions in the region. Of course it would be mentioned by name. And saying that you are willing to go to jail for preaching the Gospel -- hardly an outrageous concept. It really isn't too different from sermons preached in black churches in the 1960s, if you stop and think about it. The pastor was simply telling his congregation what the Gospel demands of them as Christians.

Steele said he was initially a little irritated that the FBI would ask to see his sermons, especially since he had to take time away from the grieving family in his congregation to answer questions, but he said he has no plans to stop preaching messages that are culturally relevant.

“As a pastor I believe that as Christians we are called to speak the truth no matter what,” Steele said. “And we have to continue to speak that truth in love to all people and to share the message of Christ because it’s the only message that's going to change the lives of people.”

Roger Lipe, senior pastor at Woodlawn Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Convention congregation, in nearby Woodlawn, Ill., agreed with Steele’s position of speaking the truth in love to a culture that isn’t always going to be tolerant of such a message.

“Just look at what’s happening in our society and what’s happening in Canada -- the laws that have been made there -- and the pressure on Americans today to enforce hate crime laws,” Lipe said. “Obviously it’s going to mean that someday when you [as a pastor] get into your own pulpit, your own church, among your own people to preach against subjects like abortion and homosexuality and other biblical things that we’ve got to preach on, then there’s probably going to be a price to pay.”

Yes, the Gospel does call upon us to pay the price for standing up for god and His Word. Many faithful Christians have paid it over the last two millenia, standing up to governments that would force them to live their life according to some philosophy or faith other than that which is rooted in Scripture. Christians have stood up against the manifest injustices and evils promoted by government, and many have paid the ultimate price. What Pastor Steele preached was no different, and meritted not one minute of FBI investigation. I only hope that the poor soul who made that call to the FBI has been given the grace to understand what Pastor Steele was saying in those sermons.

But I have an even bigger concern than the waste of resources on the harrassment of Chistian pastors who ware speaking well-within the bounds of their First Amendment rights. What about Islamist imams? Is the FBI monitoring them, questioning them and demanding to see the texts of their sermons? After all, we in the US are at war with terrorism -- a jihad declared by radical Muslims against the United States. Or will politically correct concerns about the profiling of Muslims stop such investigations, even when the imams and their congregations have a history of supporting terrrorist groups like Hamas, preaching jihad against Christians and Jews, or distributing radical Islamist literature which is supportive of the same philosophies that gave us the September 11 attacks?

In short, will loyal Americans who peacefully dissent from the politically correct liberalism of the American Left be investigated while the Islamist fifth column gets a pass?


British Columbia Courts To Legalize Polygamy?

I seem to recall Senator Rick Snatorum catching all sorts of heat for suggesting that the Lawrence v. Texas decision could open the door to polygamy. That hasn't happened -- yet -- in the US, but it looks possible in Canada, according the the Attorney General of the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Canada's law prohibiting polygamy is vulnerable to a legal challenge and could be struck down because of a conflict with religious freedom, says B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant.

Mr. Plant, whose view is based on confidential legal opinions provided to the B.C. government on two occasions, said he has failed to convince the federal government to amend the anti-polygamy law.

He said the legal opinions have played a major role in the refusal by police over many years to lay charges against polygamists in the B.C. community of Bountiful, where girls as young as 13 have allegedly been forced to become "celestial wives" of much older men.

"There might well be a case where the court would have to deal with religious freedoms arguments, and I think there is at least some risk that those arguments might succeed," Mr. Plant said.

And why shouldn't it succeed, once the legal concept of marriage has become unmoored from its traditional Western definition of a union of one man and one woman?

And as I've said elsewhere, given the trend of using the laws and precedents of foreign countries continues among American judges (confirming conservative judges will hopefully check that trend), we ought to be concerned about the future impact of trends like this in our northern neighbor.


Dialogue Or Monologue On Homosexuality?

Should discussion of homosexuality in schools be a dialogue or a monologue? All too often, it is the latter, with only the pro-gay side being heard in school. Attempts to present a different view are labeled as intolerant hate speech which is implicitly and explicitly forbidden by school administrators. Attempts to get "the other side" presented are usually met with fierce opposition.

Which leads us to the case of Fairfax County School Board member Stephen M. Hunt.

In a Jan. 30 letter, Stephen M. Hunt (At Large) asked the principals to host speakers with an "ex-gay perspective" and offer students, teachers and counselors literature provided by the conservative group Concerned Women for America and other organizations.

"Children are being taught that homosexuality is normal and natural. It is neither," Hunt wrote. "To state that it is normal or natural is to promote the myth that accompanies the homosexual activist rhetoric."

Hunt's letter, which was not reviewed by other members of the 12-person board before it was sent, sparked sharp rebukes from some other board members and Superintendent Jack D. Dale.

Several board members said that although the letter was on private stationery, it was inappropriate because principals may have believed it was endorsed by the board. "By signing his name as a School Board member, it calls into question whether he is speaking on behalf of the board, and he is not," board member Jane K. Strauss (Dranesville) said.

Dale said he has written the principals to let them know Hunt's view is not sanctioned by the board or administration. "I very much regret that our principals received this letter, which is not representative of the School Board's views," Dale said in a prepared statement. "We want our schools to be seen as welcoming places for all individuals."

Really? You folks don't sound very welcoming of Mr. Hunt, an elected member of your board. You've chosen to condemn him and his point of view -- expressed in his capacity as a private citizen and taxpayer -- which certainly isn't a very welcoming way to behave. What message does this action send to a student who agrees with Mr. Hunt? Is it one of welcome, or one of condemnation and rejection? Especially given that such beliefs often have a religious component, can you say that your actions are welcoming for individuals whose faiths teach that homosexual behavior is immoral? And what does your response teach your students about their right to practice their faith, to speak about their faith, and to communicate their concerns about public matters with public officials and employees? Are they welcome to do such things, or are they and their beliefs, words, and concerns unwelcome?

Hunt claims he was trying to make sure that such students knew that they and their views are welcome, even as contrary views are presented. And he made it clear that his position was one of inclusion, not of exclusion.

Hunt said yesterday that he is concerned that students who do not support homosexuality may be afraid to speak up in school or labeled as intolerant. Hunt said he is not seeking to ban material or programs in place but believes that other information should be included.

Hunt said his letter specifically notes that students should respect the rights of gay peers. "If a person does choose a gay lifestyle, we should respect their freedom, their safety and their choice," he said.

But in the letter Hunt said students often are exposed to the "Will and Grace version of homosexuality." He contended in the letter that gays often suffer drug and alcohol abuse or physical abuse and that gay men don't live as long as heterosexual counterparts. "There are huge ramifications for people who may make a choice to go into that lifestyle, and we should make sure they are fully aware of the entire issue," Hunt said in an interview.

But probably the most troubling aspect of this situation is the comment from the head of the district PTA.

Lynn Terhar, president of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs, said that she's satisfied with the way sexual orientation is handled in the schools and that she hasn't heard concerns from parents. "In my personal opinion, his comments strike me as those coming from a religious point of view," Terhar said. "I don't believe there is any place for that in the Fairfax County school system."

I guess that Ms. Terhar didn't get the memo. She certainly doesn't sound very welcoming of individuals with diverse religious values. Her message to Christians is "Sit down! Shut up! Pay your taxes, but don't you dare try to influence what goes on in the public schools where your children are educated. Be happy you get to ride in the back of the bus."

I wonder when the Board will condemn Ms. Terhar's message of intolerance. Or will it?


Will Texas Keep 10% Law?

Here in Texas, graduating in the top 10% of your high school class gets you an automatic berth at any state college or university. Now there is talk of eliminating or modifying it. That sort of talk is appropriate, as it was adopted to replace affirmative action following a court decision which (temporarily, it turned out) banned such programs. But there have been complaints about inequities in the program, including the problem with using a single measure to determine whether a student is eligible to enter the college of their choice.

Citing the unfairness of the law and the way it forces some students to take a lighter course load or even transfer to a different high school, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, filed a bill this week to eliminate the rule altogether.

"The top 10 percent law is inherently unfair because it uses only one criteria on which to either accept or reject applicants to institutions of higher education in Texas," Wentworth said. "It would be like saying, 'We are not going to consider anything but your SAT score,' and that would be wrong, too."

The top 10 percent rule was enacted after a 1996 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision made affirmative action illegal in Texas. But last year, a U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, saying race could be used as a factor in admissions for public universities.

Since then, officials at the University of Texas at Austin have said they will consider race, while Texas A&M University officials said they will not.

"The reason we passed the top 10 percent rule in 1997 was in reaction to a federal judge's order," Wentworth said. "But that federal judge's order was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, so we don't need this anymore."

In other words, the very reason for adopting the program in the first place doesn’t exist. That should be reason enough for eliminating it, at least if a campus plans on reinstituting race-based admisions. But then again, this is government. Since when does a program go away because it isn’t necessary? After all, once a program is created, it has a constituency that will fight its elimination tooth-and-nail.

I personally like the proposal to modify the program that has been floated by Rep. Rob Eissler.

Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, has filed a bill that would allow UT and A&M officials to choose what campus to place a top 10 percent student in. For example, instead of being guaranteed admittance to the flagship in Austin, UT officials could admit a student to the San Antonio campus.

That makes sense to me – graduating in the top 10% should guarantee you a spot in the particular system, but not necessarily allow you to pick which campus. If your grades are high but your admissions test (SAT, ACT, or THEA) results in a score below a certain threshold, you probably don’t belong in Austin at University of Texas. This would also solve the problem we’ve had with kids who have a 1560 SAT and a 3.7 GPA from a top high school (such as Bellaire High School in Houston) finding themselves locked out of UT and A&M because they were not in the top 10% of their class because they took AP or IB courses, while others took average classes and graduated higher in the class. The advantage to this would be that students will be better matched to the campus they attend.

There are, of course, objections to any changes being made. But I hope enough members of the legislature will see the sense in Eissler's proposal to make it law.


Will "Sheets" Byrd Seek Ninth Term?

Senator Robert Byrd has served in the US Senate since 1958. Now it appears that he plans to seek reelection to the Senate in 2006.

Byrd, 87, has been negotiating with Paul DeNino, one of the Democratic Party’s top fundraisers, to assist his reelection efforts, according to Democratic sources. Byrd’s office confirmed that the senator had been talking with DeNino and other fundraisers but said no contract had been finalized.

Byrd, who maintains a tight circle of political advisers, told The Hill he does not want to talk about his political future now. “Not ready yet,” he said on the way to a Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday.

“He has every intention to seek reelection,” said his spokesman, Tom Gavin, “but he has not made a final decision.” Gavin said Byrd would make a decision before West Virginia’s filing deadline next year.

Byrd hasn’t held a fundraiser in the past six months and has less than $100,000 in his campaign account, although he would have little trouble raising the money needed for a campaign.

Even those close to Byrd said they don’t know his definite plans. Some Senate observers said Byrd, elected to the Senate in 1958, intends to remain in office for the remainder of his life.

Byrd may intend to remain in the Senate for the rest of his life, but that doesn’t mean we have to let him do it. His treatment of Dr. Rice showed the former Klan Kleagle’s unfitness for office. This racist relic should be resisted by every American.


"No Class"-ocrats Sully Reagan Resolution

Resolutions honoring distinguished citizens and important dates in history are generally pretty non-controversial. One would think that a resolution honoring the late President Ronald Reagan would make it through a state legislature with little discussion or controversy. But not in Minnesota.

A resolution honoring the former Republican president's birthday caused partisan friction in the state Senate Thursday and passed only after it was retooled to mention the fact he never won Minnesota and tax increases that occurred under his watch.

The Democratic-controlled Senate spent more than 30 minutes debating the Republican-offered resolution, which recognizes Reagan's Feb. 6 birthday. Reagan died in June of complications from Alzheimer's disease at age 93.

Minnesota was the only state Reagan lost in 1984. It went for Democrat Walter Mondale, a native son.

Democrats criticized the original resolution as ideologically skewed. It said, among other things, that Reagan "worked in a bipartisan manner to enact his bold agenda of restoring accountability and common sense to government which led to an unprecedented economic expansion and opportunity for millions of Americans."

The revised version ends that sentence with "not paralleled until the Clinton presidency," a nod to the two-term Democratic president. Democrats also added lines about tax increases under Reagan and hold up his presidency as "a lesson to the current administration in the areas of bipartisanship, economic recovery, and the need for world support in foreign initiatives."

Shame! Shame! Shame!

But then what do you expect of a state and a party that turned Paul Wellstone's funeral into a campaign rally?


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Well, we keep hearing from folks that allowing gay marriages won't interfere with our rights if we are opposed to them. We keep hearing that religious organizations won't be forced to participate in what they view as pseudo-marriages.

Well, the same arguments were made up north in Canada, where the courts have imposed gay marriage on most of the country and the Liberal government is seeking to impose it on the rest, regardless of the will of the people. And so you get a case like this one.

Deborah Chymyshyn and Tracey Smith found just the hall they wanted to rent for their wedding reception. It was located behind a church in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam and managed by the Knights of Columbus, an organization they thought was the same as the Elks.

That mistake -- confusing the Elks with the Knights -- has taken them into the epicentre of the national debate on same-sex marriage, with Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives citing the couple as Exhibit A in the Tories' declaration that government legislation unveiled yesterday permitting homosexuals to marry will result in severe assaults on Canadians' freedom of religion.

Prime Minister Paul Martin defended the bill, insisting that no religious organization will be forced to perform homosexual marriages if their teaching is opposed to them. But he also said that "Canada is a country where minorities are protected" -- a claim the Tories sought to turn against him by saying the debate on same-sex marriage will be all about protecting Canadians' religious freedoms.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has just finished hearing Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith's claim that the Knights, a Roman Catholic men's fraternal and philanthropic society, discriminated against the couple by refusing to rent the hall to them after learning it was for a same-sex wedding reception.

The Knights, adhering to church teaching, which is against homosexual marriage, cancelled a rental contract that had been signed, returned the couple's deposit and paid for both the rental of a new hall and the reprinting of wedding invitations after Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith complained that invitations listing the hall's address for their reception had been mailed.

That was in September, 2003. In October, the couple complained to the Human Rights Tribunal, which heard the case last week. A decision is not expected for months.

So, religious groups won't be forced to participate against their principles? Then why is this case even being heard? The Knights are clearly a Catholic organization, and are clearly adhering to Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality.

Their case points to what many legal scholars and religious leaders say is a murky area between protection of freedom of religion and protection against discrimination. They say it could lead to religious organizations and individuals by the phalanx heading to courts and rights tribunals once the same-sex marriage legislation becomes law.

"It's going to be endless," said University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman, a specialist in freedom of expression and legal regulation of adult relationships.

The B.C. Knights of Columbus case focuses on whether a church-related organization is the same as a church and whether freedom of religion extends beyond refusing to perform a same-sex marriage to refusing to celebrate one.

Given Canada's dreadful record in cases in which religious believers have asserted their right to publicly dissent on matters involving homosexuality, it is unlikely that the rights of the Knights will be respected here. The ersatz right to enter a same-sex marriage will be allowed to trump the human right to hold and follow one's religious beliefs.

Now folks may attempt to dismiss the relevance of this case because it isn't happening in this country or under American law. But that is a smokescreen. The Texas Sodomy Case, Lawrence v. Texas, was decided in part upon the legal trends and practices of foreign nations. As such, this case from British Columbia could be used to undermine the rights of religious believers in the United States to live out their beliefs.


An Ultimatum To Iraqi Terrorists

We need more of this going on.

The chief of police in the Iraqi city of Mosul has given insurgents two weeks to give up their weapons or face a crackdown by security forces emboldened after the election.

But al Qaeda militants in Iraq issued a new threat to assassinate the northern city's governor.

"Hand over your weapons or we will come and get you," police chief Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed al-Jabouri said in a television address on Tuesday.

The Brigadier claims to know where the terrorists are hiding. While I'd ratehr see a quicker deadline, it is good to see that action is being taken.

Hopefully the election will embolden some folks in authority to take similar action.


Malkin Rocks Atlanta

Michelle Malkin (EDITED) tells us all that she had a grand old time at Emory yesterday.

Highlights include a column in the campus paper insisting that the College Republicans were irresponsible for bringing such an offensive speaker to campus. Why? Because of her book on the Japanese internment, which was totally unrelated to the topic of her speech.

The College Democrats hastily organized a speaker to rebut her book immediately following the speech, but didn't bother to invite Malkin to defend herself. But the ever resourceful Michelle publicly shamed the Democrats and their speaker into extending an invitation to debate the topic -- and Malkin appears to have cleaned the floor with her opponent, who even had the nerve to suggest that her pregnancy while would prevent her from doing adequate historical research on the subject. Do the critics of Larry Sumner Have anything to say about that charge?

Her little travelogue is certainly worth the read.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Mama Manis Mania

First she was doing detention with her delayed daughter. Now Susan Manis is doing time for her deadbeat delinquent son.

The arrest warrant was issued after Manis failed to make a monthly payment on fees and fines levied against one of her sons when he was a juvenile.

"I accepted responsibility for them," Manis said. Because her son, now 19, doesn't have a steady job, she agreed to send the court $50 a month to repay about $10,000 he owes from three different convictions of offenses as a juvenile. She said she was unable to make last month's payment.

She said she was handcuffed, put in a patrol car and taken to a holding cell at the Brazoria County Jail.

While the officers and jailers treated her with respect, being in jail wasn't pleasant.

"I just cried at first," she said.

Her husband, Steve Manis, called a judge, who called the jail and ordered her release. She was in court Monday and agreed to make a payment by Thursday.

Frankly, I am not disturbed by this arrest. What does she thinks happens to folks who fail to pay their fines? That her husband was able to get her sprung without a hearing is much more disturbing to me. Why shouldn’t she have to wait in jail like anyone else would? It must be that she thinks that the rules don’t apply to her and her family. Maybe that’s why she has such a difficult time allowing her children to accept responsibility and punishment for their own wrongdoing. I can now certainly understand why the people of Pearland rejected Susan and her husband for school board last year.

I also have to wonder if this is the reason for her failure to complete her reply to my earlier post the other night. She suddenly trailed off, and didn't come back to finish. Maybe it was because she was being "cuffed and stuffed" by her local police.


How Should Fans Respond?

Carlos Delgado the newly-signed first baseman for the Florida Marlins, refuses to stand for God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. That is his right. His actions are appropriate in form, time, and place. So says Howard Wasserman of the Florida International University College of Law. And to be honest, I’d have to agree with him.

An essential element of free speech is the right to counter-speak, protest and dissent from the original message. Delgado does that by declining to stand, but he does so in a way that in no way interferes with the ability of the Marlins, his teammates or the fans to make their statements through the song. Nor can it be that Delgado has forfeited his right to protest U.S. policies because he makes $13 million per year. Attaining financial success cannot rob one of the right to criticize government and society.

The other simple answer is that fans remain free to counter-protest Delgado's protest. They can sing God Bless America louder. They can display signs reaffirming their support for U.S. policy and signs criticizing Delgado for his dissent. They can boo him.

In fact, it might be interesting to see what happens when Marlins fans' political passions collide with their passion to root for the home team. On the other hand, many fans may support Delgado, either because they agree with his position or simply because they respect his willingness to take a stand by not standing.
The point is that this exchange of views on weighty matters, initiated by one ballplayer willing to speak out, occurs comfortably in the public forum that is a Major League baseball game.

But fans in Florida are, as Wasserman points out, perfectly within their right to make their voices heard. Or better yet, to not make their voices heard. How about if Marlins fans refuse to cheer, refuse to boo, and refuse to acknowledge anything that Delgado does on the field.

After all, he’s really not all that important, and baseball can and will go on without him.


Monday, January 31, 2005

College Of Education Outrage!

Scott McConnell, a student in the masters of Education program at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, got an A- on his paper. He also was kicked out of school because of it.

LeMoyne College expelled Scott McConnell, a student from its Masters of Education program, for writing a paper in which he advocated the use of corporal punishment in schools, he said.

The paper, written for a class on classroom management, originally earned McConnell an A-. However, when he attempted to enroll in classes for the spring semester, he found he couldn't.

"LeMoyne doesn't believe students should be able to express their own views," McConnell said. "If you differ from our philosophical ideal you will be expelled from our college."

McConnell, who hopes to become an elementary school teacher, was informed last Tuesday that he couldn't continue at the school.

Now hold on. The paper was well-written, so that wasn't the issue. It clearly met the (presumably) rigorous standards of a graduate program. The only issue seems to have been that McConnell dared to take a position on the issue of corporal punishment that the school disagrees with. He also, according to one source, challenged current notions of multicultural education. And so McConnell, who had been conditionally admitted and attended course last summer and fall, was rejected for regular admission after doing a 60 hour internship in a local school after writing the paper.

“Even though I have strong convictions and I believe in corporal punishment, I do follow the law of the school and I have never had any problems. If Lemoyne was so afraid of this paper, why did they allow me to do more than 60 hours of in one classroom even after I wrote the paper,” McConnell said.

That would appear to be an excellent question. Assuming the evaluations were good (and he was notified that the problemwas his philosophy), does that not settle the issue of his ability to conform to expected norms in the classroom? And the evaluations were good.

McConnell did well during a practicum he served this fall at Syracuse's Franklin Magnet School of the Arts and as a daily substitute teacher in the Syracuse school district, said Neil Driscoll, a spokesman for the district.

So the issue isn't one of how he conducts himself in the classroom, it is one of whether or not he thinks the right thoughts and believes the right beliefs. COnsider the content of his rejection letter.

"I have grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals," leading to the decision not to admit him, Leogrande wrote.

What we have here, then, is an attempt to create ideological clones. The college is serving as a gate-keeper, and won't let those with divergent views pass.

The issues that this case raises are very complicated, said Joseph Shedd, chair of the teaching and leadership programs in Syracuse University's School of Education.

It is about more than just a student's right to express their own opinions, he said.

"There is no clean dividing line between a person's opinions and his or her ability to make responsible professional judgments," Shedd said in an e-mail.

No there isn't -- but there is the question of academic freedom and the right to hold to a minority position within one's field of study. Especially when one considers, as is true here, that the law in a number of states continues to allow the use of corporal punishment. Is it the place of colleges and universities to expel or keep out students for advocating LEGAL activity?

By the way, the matter has spilled over into McConnell's employment. After getting good reviews as a substitute teacher, McConnell has been called on the carpet and faces an interview with the personnel department to determine if he will be permitted to continue as a substitute -- based not upon complaints about his conduct in the classroom, but upon the content of his paper.

The Education Wonks also blog on this story. So do the fine folks at Captain's Quarters, Peter the Elder, and Number 2 Pencil


Hillary Health Scare

I don't like the lady. I won't vote for her. But I send her best wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton fainted today after complaining of a stomach virus before a scheduled speech on Social Security.

She received medical attention at the scene and then went on to give another speech at a Catholic college this afternoon.

"It wasn't as dramatic as it sounds," Clinton said after the 30-minute speech.

Clinton aides said doctors believed she had a stomach virus. They said she felt weak at the private club where she was to speak, needed to sit down, and then fainted briefly.

Clinton, 57, was smiling when she walked out of the club, the general manager said.


Time To Strip NAACP Of Tax Exemption

They've run ads containing blatant falsehoods. They've tried to influence elections. They've functioned as an adjunct of the DNC. Now the NAACP is refusing to cooperate with an IRS probe of its tax-exempt status.

The nation's largest civil rights group is refusing to turn over documents for an Internal Revenue Service investigation into allegedly improper political activity, claiming the probe is politically motivated.

In a letter to the IRS Friday, the NAACP cited what it contends is evidence that the agency launched the audit before the November election because of political pressure.

Sorry, folks, but it doesn't matter what prompted the complaint. Cooperation with this sort of investigation is an obligation.

Time for them to lose their tax exempt status if they don't immediately comply.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

"This Is A Glorious Day For Iraq"

The message rang out loud and strong from the minaret near a polling place in Basra.

"This is a glorious day for Iraq. Iraqis, you should vote. This is a historic day. It's not been witnessed in Iraq for over 40 years. This is the day Iraqis dreamed of. Please take part so as not to allow another dictatorship to come to power," it said.

Yes, it was a glorious day. The Iraqi people have stood up to the threats of terrorists and voted -- turnout is estimated to be about 72%, higher thn what you get in An American election (much to our shame).

Results are not yet in, but the people of Iraq have spoken. May the terrorists heed their voices.


German Government Pimps Unwilling Women Into Sex Slavery

In Germany, if you turn down a job you lose your unemployment benefits.

Sounds reasonable, at first glance.

Until you realize that prostitution is legal in Germany.

And refusing to be a whore will cost you your unemployment check.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

They can't distinguish between a bar and a brothel? Really? One would think that the issue of whether or not one is required to have sex with the customers as a condition of employment would be something of a brght line.

Miss Garweg believes that pressure on job centres to meet employment targets will soon result in them using their powers to cut the benefits of women who refuse jobs providing sexual services.

"They are already prepared to push women into jobs related to sexual services, but which don't count as prostitution,'' she said.

"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."

Come on, all you feminists out there. Join all of us awful women-hating religious conservatives in denouncing women being forced into prostitution. Or does the fact that it is your fellow socialists doing it prevent you from standing up for women being made into sex slaves.


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