One of the problems associated with the military is the issue of “stolen valor”, i.e. wannabes who claim service, awards and decorations they haven’t done or earned.
No one other than other wannabes defends this because it is so outrageously wrong in every way. They haven’t done the service or haven’t earned the awards and they aren’t who they say they are. And they are shamed and shunned because of their lies.
That seems to be the proper way to handle those sorts of things. If you’re not what you say you are, no amount of wanting changes that. So why should we as a society have to humor that? We don’t in this case. Why do we in other cases? If I paste a horn on my head and claim to be a unicorn, does that make me one? And do you have to accept my desire as “valid” or “true”?
Of course not.
Meet Spokane’s NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal. Ms. Dolezal, as she appears now, claims to have been a “bi-racial” child and having African-American blood. On the right is a picture of a younger Ms. Dolezal as she appeared years earlier when she was naturally blond haired and blue-eyed.
She’s claimed a black father and a black son for some time.
The young man is actually her brother, adopted by her real parents years ago. The man on the right she claims is her dad. He’s not. Here he is with her mom.
Yes, about as “white-bread” a pair of parents as you can get.
Ms. Dolezal has claimed a horrific earlier life to add to her “black” bona-fides. But they are as false as her racial claims:
In an interview with the Coeur d’ Alene Press, Dolezal’s mother shot down many other claims her daughter has made in interviews over the years. Specifically:
Dolezal’s claim she was born in a tepee.
‘Totally false,’ said her mother. She and Dolezal’s father once lived in a tepee but it was before Dolezal was born.
Dolezal’s claim she once had to use bows and arrows to hunt for her own food as a kid.
Not true, says her mother.
Dolezal’s claim she once lived in South Africa.
‘Rachel did not even ever visit us there,’ said Ruthanne, who lived there as a missionary.
Dolezal’s claim her parents punished her ‘by skin complexion’ with a ‘baboon whip’ reminiscent of those once used on slaves.
‘She is fabricating a very false and malicious lie,’ Ruthanne said.
Dolezal’s claim that Larry Dolezal, who is white, is actually her stepfather.
‘Anybody who lives in the town of Troy or Libby knows that Larry is her father,’ Ruthanne said.
So, what should we think of this pretender who has lied and fabricated so much about her life as well as making up horrific stories about her parents?
Well, my inclination is to treat her the same we we treat valor thieves … shame her. And to point out that as much as she wants to be black, claiming she is doesn’t make it so (take note, Bruce Jenner, your chromosomes still say “X” and “Y”, no matter how you dress or what you hack off).
But apparently that’s not how it works in this day and age:
Make up a few “facts” (“10% of all people are born (with the wrong skin color)” – really? And from whence does that little pearl originate?), claim victimhood, and bingo, you’re a “minority” with a “cause” which should be a) tolerated and b) treated as if your fantasy is reality.
Yeah, sorry, not playing this game.
You are what you are – that’s reality. If you can’t deal with it, it’s not my fault or my problem. You’re not a victim. You’re not entitled. You need help.
End of rant.
Again we are inundated with the usual and unusual via the internet. Let’s take a look at a few.
In a new interview, former Democrat President Jimmy Carter slammed America as a “racist” nation that refuses to let “old wounds” heal.
Carter spoke to the liberal AARP retirement group in an interview that was released late this week. At one point, Carter said that dreams of a color-blind society are still unrealized in the U.S.
“The recent publicity about mistreatment of black people in the judicial and police realm has been a reminder that the dreams of the civil rights movement have not been realized,” Carter said.
Carter continued insisting that “Americans still have racist tendencies or feelings of superiority to people of color.”
Unless he’s speaking for himself, he damn sure isn’t speaking for me. I’m not sure where he gets off with trying to tag all Americans with “racist tendencies” or “feelings of superiority to people of color”. And one must remember the party he’s affiliated with and it’s history in the region of the country from which he hails
Would someone inform this idiot that her 15 minutes of fame are over?
Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia graduate famous across the country as “Mattress Girl” after she hauled a mattress around campus for a year to protest the school’s handling of her alleged rape, has apparently released a sex tape recreating her alleged rape.
Like the Rolling Stone “rape” story out of UVa, she is a fraud. Now Sulkowicz inflicts this nasty little piece of work on the internet? Shuffle off to … wherever, lady. You’ve overstayed your welcome and our tolerance.
Lord they must think we’re dumb (“Wizard’s first rule). NOAA has suddenly discovered “adjustments” in temperature data that conveniently wipes out the 15 year hiatus on warming:
To increase the rate in warming, NOAA scientists put more weight on certain ocean buoy arrays, adjusted ship-based temperature readings upward, and slightly raised land-based temperatures as well. Scientists said adjusted ship-based temperature data “had the largest impact on trends for the 2000-2014 time period, accounting for 0.030°C of the 0.064°C trend difference.” They added that the “buoy offset correction contributed 0.014°C… to the difference, and the additional weight given to the buoys because of their greater accuracy contributed 0.012°C.”
This, my friends, is not science. This is adjusting the data to get the result one wants. And we all know what that is.
The federal government is notifying up to 4 million current and former employees that their personal financial data may have been breached by a hack attack from China, the Obama administration said Thursday.
Credit card data, banking records, and other forms of financial information could have been stolen in the attack, affecting people across the spectrum of the federal government, officials said.
Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing investigation, said hackers working with China are the main suspects.
Hey, I know, let’s trust them with our medical records, shall we?
New testimony reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress’s investigation of the IRS targeting of conservatives.
According to new congressional bombshell testimony today, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).
The “special project” this team was given? Concealing information from Congress.
The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.”
Our government is becoming more and more of a criminal conspiracy daily.
Why are so many poor people obese? Well, as the SJWs would like you to believe its because of “food deserts”. That is they don’t have access to nutritious food, but are stuck with fast food, etc. A new study says “not so fast”:
The paper — “What Drives Nutritional Disparities? Retail Access and Food Purchases Across the Socioeconomic Spectrum,” by economists Jessie Handbury, Ilya Rahkovsky and Molly Schnell — found that “systematic socioeconomic disparities in household purchases persist after controlling for access.”
Translation: Even when healthful food choices are available, low-income consumers don’t always take them.
As a result, the authors suggest, local policies intended to punish fast-food purveyors, liquor stores, quickie markets and other sellers of high-calorie, low-nutrition food might not be the best way to go.
One thing that can make a difference is education. Low-income households with higher education levels, the authors say, “purchase more healthful foods.” Those with low income and low education “respond very little” to having healthful foods available.
Of course this won’t deter SJWs from trying to limit choice even more, will it. After all, they always know best how you should live your lives.
Finally a little piece on “Progressives: The target is never what it seems” which hits on some points we’ve talked about here many times.
I have written (here and here) how progressives are masters are distorting words and redefining them so that they no longer are even close to their original meanings. “Liberal” and “gay,” of course, are probably the most such distorted words. Words are the ammunition of discussion and debate, and if one side is allowed to select the ammunition, well, the ensuing discussions and debates are to be expectedly one-sided.
When you’re allowed to redefine words within the narrative, you own the narrative. And when you own the narrative and you’re a progressive, you end up driving the cultural bus off a cliff.
There’s a lot going on but not much that needs a long and laborious explanation or rant.
The Clinton Foundation and our former Secretary of State are really starting to stink it up. And my guess is there’s a lot more to come. Years ago Terry Goodkind wrote a book called “Wizard’s first rule”. The Clinton’s operate by that rule. The rule? “People are stupid”. And there’s a Clinton corollary – “so is the media”. They’ve operated off of that rule and corollary for decades. They don’t see any reason to stop now.
The administration is claiming it has killed 10,000 ISIS members since it began its campaign of airstrikes. Most people in the know doubt that number is anywhere near the truth and that, in fact, it’s much, much lower. Here’s why:
Three out of every four times that Obama dispatches American warplanes over Iraq, they return to base without dropping any bombs or firing any missiles.
“Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs, mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target,” said U.S. Army General (ret) Jack Keane in testimony before the U.S. Senate last week.
That’s why White House and Pentagon briefers usually talk about the number of sorties, not the number of air strikes. The number of missions flown is four times larger than the number of bombing runs.
There’s a simple fix, but it is politically unpalatable to the “lead from behind” crowd:
Gen. Keane offered a straightforward solution. “Forward air controllers fix that problem,” he said.
You know, “boots on the ground?” Doing what they’re doing is sort of like firing artillery without forward observers. Yeah, you’re likely to hit something every now and then, but is it really effective? Uh, no.
Apparently ISIS acted as our own forward air controllers:
“Defense Tech reports that at a Air Force Association breakfast meeting in Washington DC on Monday, General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, shared a story of how a careless social media post directly led to an airstrike against ISIS.”
While that is all well and good and wonderful, my question is why we have a General out there sharing this intel?
“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL,” Carlisle said.
“And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”
He was careful not to share sensitive details about the location of the building and airstrike, but he noted how ISIS’ enthusiasm of social media was turned against them in this case.
“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Incredible work when you think about [it].”
He shared a timeframe for a mission to be put together and why they were successful. Who is the real “moron” here? Before ISIS may have been guessing why they were hit. Now they know.
This is going to disappoint the enviro-whacko crowd:
A decade into an energy boom led by hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded there is no evidence the practice has had a “widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.”
The report is the federal government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue of fracking and drinking water, and it bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry.
Yeah, fracking has only been around 66 years and been used on a million wells. One might think that if there were a drinking water problem it would have been discovered before now.
That won’t stop the narrative however. “Science” is only useful when it backs that narrative. When it doesn’t, it’s just to be ignored. See “climate change”.
Another liberal professor speaks out about the SJW “crisis” on campus:
The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.
Hey, you created it. You get to live with it. Either that or you grow a pair and take academia back.
Finally, in the “out of control government” category, we have this little jewel:
IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and re-file for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.
The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off-the-books and never paid taxes in the first place.
Now, these are “laws” the Obama administration is more than happy to follow. Pay up, sucker.
It seems everyone is weighing in on the oppressive nature of today’s college campus where “rape culture” is a given (even if it isn’t true) and “triggers” and perceived “aggressions” are treated as unforgivable sins to be punished by the “student collective” in the name of feminism. I remember when feminism used to mean strong, empowered women. Now, apparently, it means women who are victims of hurtful words and are afraid to come out of their “safe spaces” lest they hear some.
David Brooks actually does a fair job of describing the problem.
The problem is that the campus activists have moral fervor, but don’t always have settled philosophies to restrain the fervor of their emotions. Settled philosophies are meant to (but obviously don’t always) instill a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality. But many of today’s activists are forced to rely on a relatively simple social theory.
According to this theory, the dividing lines between good and evil are starkly clear. The essential conflict is between the traumatized purity of the victim and the verbal violence of the oppressor.
According to this theory, the ultimate source of authority is not some hard-to-understand truth. It is everybody’s personal feelings. A crime occurs when someone feels a hurt triggered, or when someone feels disagreed with or “unsafe.” In the Shulevitz piece, a Brown student retreats from a campus debate to a safe room because she “was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against” her dearly and closely held beliefs.
Today’s campus activists are not only going after actual acts of discrimination — which is admirable. They are also going after incorrect thought — impiety and blasphemy. They are going after people for simply failing to show sufficient deference to and respect for the etiquette they hold dear. They sometimes conflate ideas with actions and regard controversial ideas as forms of violence.
Essentially the special snowflakes, who can only exist in a closed system like a college campus, have created an oppressive atmosphere in a place that should be open and free because … feelings. And college administrators have allowed this nonsense to go on because of two reasons – students are paying the freight and Title IX. But Brooks is right … the end state of this nonsense is the creation of thought police. And the SJW’s on campus use their leverage (paying customer) and a wildly misinterpreted law (Title IX) to carry out their vendettas. And for years, college administrations have been complicit in advancing this nonsense to the the point, now, of absurdity.
However, it has begun to bite back, as it had to, within the college collective. Megan McArdle brings you up to date on the latest:
In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern, wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education in which she decried the creeping bureaucratization and fear that surrounds sexual activity on campus. Last week, she revealed that as a consequence of that article, she had been investigated for violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
No, I’m not eliding some intermediate step, where she used printed copies of the article as a cudgel to attack her female students. The article itself was the suspect act. According to Kipnis, it was seen as retaliation against students who had filed complaints against a professor, and would have a “chilling effect” and create a “hostile environment” for women in the Northwestern community. Northwestern put Kipnis through a lengthy process in which she wasn’t allowed to know the nature of the complaint until she talked to investigators, nor could she have representation.
You need to read that article to understand what kangaroo courts the “system” within colleges have set up to appease their Title IX requirements as directed by the Obama Administration. They are incredible and a far cry from anything anyone in the country would call “fair”. But then fairness isn’t the goal … silence is. They want to silence all “uncomfortable” ideas that may “trigger” their angst. And, as you’ll note, the inmates are running the asylum. Title IX is out of control as Naomi Schaefer Riley points out:
Yes, that’s right, legislation that was originally supposed to combat sexual discrimination in public education and athletics is now being used to silence professors who write essays that contradict progressive wisdom.
Because, you know, they were offended. They thought they were “safe”. And since they weren’t or at least didn’t consider themselves to be, they had to act by attacking the source of their angst. Anonymously, of course. With no burden of proof. Just an accusation is all that is necessary, because in SJW-land, feelings rule, no matter how arbitrary and capricious they may be.
Is this the new face of feminism?
What a debacle the hire of Saida Grundy has been for Boston U. 8 years ago, Ms. Grundy apparently plead down two felony accounts for a misdemeanor in an act of irrational jealousy in which she tried to hurt, bully and harass someone she’d never met:
Grundy used the identity of a Virginia woman in a jealous fit over a man in late 2007 to create online accounts in the woman’s name, including one on an adult website for people looking for trysts, according to a police report obtained by the Herald under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Grundy got one year of probation after pleading guilty to malicious use of telecommunication services, a misdemeanor, according to online court records and Dan Dwyer, the court administrator at Washtenaw County Trial Court in Michigan. Two felony charges, identity theft and using a computer to commit a crime, were dismissed.
The cyber harassment took place in December 2007 when Grundy was at the University of Michigan, where she earned a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate of philosophy in sociology and women’s studies in 2014.
The victim told police in Charlottesville, Va., that someone was creating accounts in her name and posting her personal information online, according to the police report.
A detective traced the suspect, identified as Grundy, to Ann Arbor and reached out to police there.
During an interview with detectives at her home in May 2008, Grundy said she had never met the victim but “this was a jealous thing regarding another man,” according to the police report.
She claims it was a bad decision by a 24 year old. Yet we saw last week that she’s either not learned a thing or is still prone to bad decisions. This was highlighted with her bullying a white rape victim on line.
Boston U’s reaction? “Meh”:
In a statement Wednesday night, Boston University said: “A number of years ago, when she was a student at the University of Michigan, Dr. Grundy made a mistake. She admitted the mistake, accepted the consequences, and brought closure to that case. Eight years later, we do not see any reason to reopen it.”
In other words, character doesn’t matter when it comes to “diversity”. Diversity always wins out. Boston U would rather inflict a racist bully on it’s student population than admit it’s made a wrong decision in hiring her.
Oh, and the department she will teach in?
On Monday, BU’s African American Studies faculty posted an online message welcoming Grundy, saying she had been hired after a nationwide search and chosen from over 100 applicants. The post mentioned Grundy’s tweets and said they’ve been “shocked by the number of voicemails left and the hostile emails sent to our office and our individual accounts. … However, most troubling was that among the numerous that were serious expressions of dismay were many vile messages, explicitly racist and obscene, that consider cyber-bullying a substitute for frank discussion and freedom of speech.”
“Physician, heal thyself.” You’re welcoming a cyber-bully into your bosom, for heaven sake. You ought to be ashamed.
One of the favorite ploys of Democrats is to claim the GOP has a tendency to “politicize” tragedies.
Well, there’s politicizing a problem and then there pretending there is a problem in order to politicize it. This recent Amtrak tragedy is the latter.
What do I mean? Well, they hadn’t even cleared the bodies from the wreckage before former Governor Ed Rendell was on “Morning Joe” talking about how it was due to a lack of infrastructure spending.
Meanwhile, the NTSB is putting out stuff like this:
Oh … 100 mph in a 50 mph curve? That’s an obvious problem with “infrastructure spending”, isn’t it?
But that didn’t stop the Democrats talking point from continuing to roll, did it? Nope, the good old reliable media pitches in as well. Phillip Bump in the Washington Post:
As The Post’s Colby Itkowitz noted, Congress has delayed passing legislation to fund Amtrak since 2013. The last time it did so, in 2008, the vote passed only after a rail disaster. Which, of course, happened again Tuesday night.
The constant struggle of Amtrak to get funding derives largely from the fact that not very many Americans use the rail system. Ridership is heavily centered in the Northeast, in the corridor between Boston and Washington where Tuesday’s accident occurred. But more than that, ridership is unevenly distributed politically. Data from the National Association of Railroad Passengers shows the number of passengers that get on or off the train in any given congressional district, and reveals an obvious reason why Republicans might not be too concerned about funding the system.
Amtrak has never had a profitable year since its inception. In fact it is a totally subsidized rail system that would fail if not subsidized. And as Bump mentions, it is “heavily centered” in a northeastern corridor. So essentially, given the fact that the “elites” want Americans in mass transit and this fits the description, plus it is very handy for said elites to use if they so choose, they’re fine with a wealth transfer from the rest of the country to support their desires.
Powerline picks up on the media bias as well:
There is a certain irony in these three stories perching one above the other on Politico’s main page: House panel votes to cut Amtrak budget hours after deadly crash; Analysis: GOP cuts to transportation, housing draw fire; and Derailed Amtrak was likely traveling at twice recommended speed.
Politico is a mouthpiece for the Washington establishment, where all spending is good spending. But the anti-Republican theme was picked up by many other news outlets, like Reuters: “Amtrak crash throws spotlight on funding disputes; Republicans back cuts.” And the New York Daily News: “Deadly malfeasance: Amtrak passengers paid with their lives for Washington’s neglect of transportation.”
But funding is not the problem. Amtrak has gotten over 30 billion dollars in subsidies since its founding in 1970. 30 billion. For a small railroad. The WaPo’s Bump also claimed that “Republicans” hadn’t funded Amtrak since 2013.
In fact, they gave Amtrak nearly $1.4 billion less than five months ago.
One of those anti-narrative facts that keep ruining their righteous rant.
Oh, and as for “infrastructure spending?” You remember the stimulus don’t you? Wasn’t that for “infrastructure?” And who was in charge of doling out the loot then?
Yeah, certainly not Republicans.
Meanwhile, the union associated with Amtrak decides it too needs to score political points on the back of the 7 dead and many injured:
The Teamsters-affiliated Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Lodge 3014(BMWE) published a blog post on Tuesday attributing the deadly crash to new safety standards proposed by management of the government-partnered railroad.
“The new ‘One Amtrak Way’, along with the new inexperienced Amtrak senior management (after the old experienced senior managers were fired) has lead to this massive derailment,” the union said.
Reuters reported that the train was not equipped with the latest U.S. safety controls that are supposed to prevent high-speed derailments.
The Pennsylvania-based BMWE failed to mention the actions of the operator on its website, instead focusing on the union dispute with management. The crash, the post said, came as “senior management has declared war on safety with it’s [sic] unions.” Union membership unanimously approved a resolution in April giving union leadership permission to call a strike. Lodge 3014 had about 240 members in 2014, according to its most recent federal labor filings.
“The unions [sic] struggle to maintain safe working conditions is hampered by Amtrak senior management’s lust for complete control and railroad inexperience,” the blog post said.
Why does Amtrak continue to be such a fiscal wreck? The usual reasons:
In its current form, Amtrak is less a for-profit passenger rail corporation and more a union jobs program (its ridiculous labor contracts are a major reason why the company is perpetually swimming in red ink).
Despite all the disingenuous chatter about a lack of infrastructure funding for Amtrak, the company’s salary costs absolutely dwarf its infrastructure depreciation expenses. In 2013, for example, Amtrak spent $2.1 billion on salaries, while it recorded $687 million in annual depreciation costs. Amtrak’s pension losses alone in 2013 totaled $425 million.
The numbers are pretty easy to compute. Nothing is going to change here. Amtrak will continue to be a money pit that benefits only a relative few in the country.
However, again, funding and spending wasn’t the reason this train crashed and killed, is it? At least no according to witnesses and a preliminary finding by the NTSB.
But since the politicizing has begun by the left, why not jump in. Powerline asks the pertinent questions:
The real question is, why is the federal government in the railroad business at all? Far more people are killed in automobile accidents than train crashes, but no one says the problem is that the federal government doesn’t pay enough money to car companies. If Amtrak can’t operate safely–reasonably safely, since nothing is absolutely safe–based on the revenue it gets from customers, it should go out of business, like any other company.
Here is another question: why should businessmen, journalists, lobbyists and politicians who commute between Washington and points north have their travel costs subsidized by taxpayers? Train travel costs what it costs. Those who ride the trains should pay those costs, just like those who fly in airplanes. It is absurd that the richest and most powerful companies in the United States have their employees’ travel costs subsidized by you and me. This is cronyism at its worst. Amtrak should be a wholly private enterprise. Having ridden that Northeastern line that goes to Washington a number of times, I think it has great advantages over air travel and could easily charge enough money to be profitable in competent hands.
Look folks, the federal government has proven its incompetence for decades when it comes to running or managing anything in a efficient and cost-effective way. Why? Because there are no penalties for it not doing so. It just takes more of your money to cover its incompetence or goes into debt in your name.
These questions deserve answers. The incompetence involved, the fiscal waste, is simply staggering. And 7 people paid with their lives because of it.
Will we get any answer to those questions? Oh, no. The elites are fine with you subsidizing their travel expenses. And since, it seems, most of our “leadership” comes out of that area anymore, you’re not going to see that change anytime soon.
Divestment of Amtrak is the answer, but then, passengers would have to pay real costs wouldn’t they? And the leaching elites, who will condemn you in a NY minuted for not paying your “fair share” aren’t about to see this bit of subsidized cronyism pass by the way side are they?
I mean how would Joe Biden get home?
I’m always intrigued when I find this sort of nonsense about “equality” being trotted out as anything but stupidity on a stick. But here we go:
‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.
‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’
Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.
So, what to do?
According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.
‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’
Instrumental position? I’m not sure what that means, but in the larger sense, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a philosopher got it wrong because everything was based on a false premise. That somehow the “family” is at the root of inequality of opportunity. In reality, as you’ll see, he’s not at all interested in equality of opportunity. He’s more interested in equality of outcome. To make that happen, you have to control the variables.
But there’s more to this examination by philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse. The premise is nonsense as history has proven. To their credit, Swift and Brighouse sort of get it, but they have a goal in mind, so they really don’t. They just hide the goal in a bunch of blathering about families and “equality” and attempt to convince you they’re pushing “equality of opportunity”.
‘Nearly everyone who has thought about this would conclude that it is a really bad idea to be raised by state institutions, unless something has gone wrong,’ he says.
Intuitively it doesn’t feel right, but for a philosopher, solutions require more than an initial reaction. So Swift and his college Brighouse set to work on a respectable analytical defence of the family, asking themselves the deceptively simple question: ‘Why are families a good thing exactly?’
Not surprisingly, it begins with kids and ends with parents.
‘It’s the children’s interest in family life that is the most important,’ says Swift. ‘From all we now know, it is in the child’s interest to be parented, and to be parented well. Meanwhile, from the adult point of view it looks as if there is something very valuable in being a parent.’
He concedes parenting might not be for everyone and for some it can go badly wrong, but in general it is an irreplaceable relationship.
‘Parenting a child makes for what we call a distinctive and special contribution to the flourishing and wellbeing of adults.’
It seems that from both the child’s and adult’s point of view there is something to be said about living in a family way. This doesn’t exactly parry the criticism that families exacerbate social inequality.
Here comes the “but” however. And it leads to the very same place it always does:
Swift and Brighouse needed to sort out those activities that contribute to unnecessary inequality from those that don’t.
‘What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children’.
The test they devised was based on what they term ‘familial relationship goods’; those unique and identifiable things that arise within the family unit and contribute to the flourishing of family members.
Got that? In case you missed it they said “what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children.” Control in the name of “equality” as defined by … who?
My next question was “who is ‘we'” and by what right do ‘we’ pretend to have the power to allow or disallow activities that parents determine might help their children and are within their power to give them? Certainly not me? You? Who?
I think we all know.
Now we arrive at “equality” crap. Equality has somehow become the standard by which you must live your life. In the US, equality has always meant equality of opportunity, equality before the law, etc. The leftist view has always been “equality of outcome” and has spawned such monstrosities as socialism and communism in its name. Where these two are headed is toward the latter. And how do that do that? By the fact that they’re interested in restricting parents in what they can do for their children so the outcome is more likely to be “equal”.
For Swift, there’s one particular choice that fails the test.
‘Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,’ he says. ‘It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realise these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.’
We’ve now pretty arbitrarily defined “familial relationship good” and we’ve decided that certain things don’t really contribute that to which we’ve now restricted parents – producing familial relationship goods. And while research points to bedtime stories as being much more of an advantage to those who get them than private schooling, the intimacy of such a “product” and the trouble enforcing their ban (and its unpopularity) see them wave it off … for now.
‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t—the difference in their life chances—is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says.
This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion—that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted. In Swift’s mind this is where the evaluation of familial relationship goods goes up a notch.
‘You have to allow parents to engage in bedtime stories activities, in fact we encourage them because those are the kinds of interactions between parents and children that do indeed foster and produce these [desired] familial relationship goods.’
But, as they finally admit, it isn’t really just about fostering and producing familial relationship goods so much as “leveling the playing field”. So out of necessity, the family goods list must be short and universal, or they’re a “no-go”. They just can’t seem to find a way to make the family unit regressive enough to go after it, so they’re reduced to going after things that may provide an advantage to some children over others – like private schools.
Now these two have taken a ration of grief based on click bait headlines which have claimed they’re for the abolition of the family. Well, they’re not, really. But they are for “leveling the playing field” – i.e. that is the goal of this exercise. So they’re not at all above finding ways to restrict families who might be able to provide activities and events that they feel (see the arbitrariness creeping in) provide advantages to their children that others don’t enjoy.
It’s certainly not a stretch to believe they’d be fine with doing away with family vacations – after all, not all children can afford to go on vacations and the advantages they would provide to those who can would lead to “inequality”. And besides, they’re not necessary to produce “these desired familial relationship goods”, are they? Special summer camps? Yeah, no, sorry. A voice coach? Really? You have to ask?
You get the point. Everyone hates the word “elite” so load your discussion with those type trigger words. Imply that you don’t want to hurt the family, but you do want the “children” to have equal opportunity. And ease them into these restrictions you propose with one that is viscerally easy for the vast majority who don’t have children who attend “elite” private schools. A little class warfare always helps.
Folks, this isn’t “philosophy”, this is socialist snake oil in a new package. Once you’ve seen it, you never forget what it is regardless of how they dress it up or pitch it.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m going to talk about how the left continues to attack free speech by trying to argue that somehow what they consider “hate speech” isn’t a part of it. We watched CNN’s Chris Cuomo embarrass himself (well he probably wasn’t embarrassed, but he should have been) when he admonished the right to read the Constitution because it clearly didn’t support such speech. And I pointed out yesterday the totalitarian origins of “hate-speech” exemptions from free speech rights.
That said, I’m fascinated by the attacks on this event in Texas and its sponsor, Pamela Geller. Agree or disagree with her agenda, in terms of free speech she had every single right in the world to put that on and not expect to be attacked. The presumption that she would be attacked is just that, a presumption. It isn’t valid in any terms but apparently the left feels that their presumption that an attack would happen is all that is necessary to condemn Geller’s event as a hate-fest and hate-speech. You have to wonder what they’d have said if no violence had erupted?
The usual suspects, however, attacked her. In the particular case I’ll cite, it was the NY Times. Watch how they set up their editorial “But!”:
There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.
End of editorial. That’s the crux of the free speech argument. There are no “buts” after that. However, there is for the NYT:
But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.
Pure editorial opinion masquerading as some sort of “fact”. What is the NYT doing here? Arbitrarily deciding what is or isn’t hate. And how dangerous is that? See the USSR and all previous and existing totalitarian regimes. They do that every day.
Anyway, in 1999, the NYT wasn’t in such a rush to equate an extraordinarily similar event as “an exercise in bigotry and hatred”. You may remember it:
The Times in 1999 endorsed the showing at a public museum in New York of a supposed art work consisting of a crucifix in a vial of urine, arguing, “A museum is obliged to challenge the public as well as to placate it, or else the museum becomes a chamber of attractive ghosts, an institution completely disconnected from art in our time.”
And what happened at that time?
Well, apparently the “image ridiculing” this religion was tolerated to the point that no violence occurred, meaning one can assume that leaders of that religion must have made it clear that it didn’t “justify murder” and none occurred. That’s as it should have been.
So why, then, if the Times believed in free speech in 1999 when an obviously a large segment of the population viewed the crucifix in urine as offensive, provocative and sacrilegious, does it not believe the same thing in 2015 when the same conditions exist?
Because of the “but”, of course. A “but” that didn’t exist when it was a religion being ridiculed that was not in favor with the left.
Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism. As for the Garland event, to pretend that it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.
The Times has yet to answer how “inflicting anguish” on millions of Christians who have done nothing to the artist is somehow “striking a blow for freedom of expression” or how that display wasn’t motivated by “hate” (hint: because their definition of “hate” is arbitrary). It sure had no problem putting it’s editorial heft in support of that “hate” then. And there’s no argument by anyone who can reason – it was as “hateful” as anything at the Garland event. And pretending otherwise is, to borrow the NYT term, “hogwash”.
But the LA Times thinks there is as it states in its piece about the Garland, TX attack by Islamists:
The Garland attack refocused public attention on the fine line between free speech and hate speech in the ideological struggle between radical Islam and the West.
Hate to break it to them but what they categorize as “hate speech” is a subset of “free speech”.
Of course the term is now in popular use all across the world, but it has very interesting and nasty origin as the Hoover Institution discusses here.
The origin of the term comes from the Soviet Union and its satellites in arguments about the 1948 UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (udhr). The arguments during its drafting and particularly the area concerning freedom of speech showed the world the totalitarian concept of “free speech” as articulated by the USSR and its satellites.
The drafting history of the protection of the freedom of expression in the udhr does not leave any doubt that the dominant force behind the attempt to adopt an obligation to restrict this right under human rights law was the Soviet Union. On the other hand, led by the U.S. and uk, the vast majority of Western democracies, albeit with differences in emphasis, sought to guarantee a wide protection of freedom of expression and in particular to avoid any explicit obligation upon states to restrict this right.
In particular the USSR sought language that addressed “hate”:
The first draft was limited to the prohibition of “any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hostility that constitutes an incitement to violence.” However, a number of countries led by the Soviet Union were adamant that incitement to violence was insufficient, and sought a broader prohibition against “incitement to hatred.” Poland expressed dissatisfaction with a provision only prohibiting incitement to violence, since it did not tackle “the root of the evil,” and worried that freedom of expression could be abused and “contribute decisively to the elimination of all freedoms and rights.” The Yugoslav representative thought it important to “suppress manifestations of hatred which, even without leading to violence, constituted a degradation of human dignity and a violation of human rights.”
Of course we all know how loosely such a term as “hate” can be interpreted and how arbitrarily it can be applied, especially by a state bent on oppression of the opposition. And, of course, that was the point. The totalitarian regimes were looking for the blessing of the UDHR to sanction their planned oppression.
Eleanor Roosevelt found the language “extremely dangerous” and warned against provisions “likely to be exploited by totalitarian States for the purpose of rendering the other articles null and void.” She also feared that the provision “would encourage governments to punish all criticism under the guise of protecting against religious or national hostility.” Roosevelt’s concern was shared by, among others, the five Nordic countries. Sweden argued that “the effective prophylaxis lay in free discussion, information, and education,” and that “fanatical persecution” should be countered with “free discussion, information and debate”. Australia warned that “people could not be legislated into morality.” Furthermore, it noted that “the remedy might be worse than the evil it sought to remove.” The uk representative stated that “the power of democracy to combat propaganda lay . . . in the ability of its citizens to arrive at reasoned decisions in the face of conflicting appeals.” When challenged by the Soviet Union, the uk representative pointed out that during World War II, Hitler’s Mein Kampf had not been banned and was readily available in the uk, and that its government “would maintain and fight for its conception of liberty as resolutely as it had fought against Hitler.”
Of course, at the time this was being discussed, the West was adamantly against the restrictions that the Soviets were seeking, i.e. including “hate speech” as a legitimate reason to limit speech. They clearly understood the implications of such restrictions and how they could and most likely would be used.
Fast forward to today:
All western european countries have hate-speech laws. In 2008, the eu adopted a framework decision on “Combating Racism and Xenophobia” that obliged all member states to criminalize certain forms of hate speech. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Supreme Court of the United States has gradually increased and consolidated the protection of hate speech under the First Amendment. The European concept of freedom of expression thus prohibits certain content and viewpoints, whereas, with certain exceptions, the American concept is generally concerned solely with direct incitement likely to result in overt acts of lawlessness.
So, in essence, Europe has capitulated to Soviet demands a few decades after the communist nation ceased to exist. It apparently buys into the notion that that state has the right to limit speech if hateful and reserves to itself the right to define what is or isn’t hate. Eleanor Roosevelt, of course, was right – such laws are “likely to be exploited by totalitarian States for the purposes of rendering” free speech “null and void”. That’s precisely what totalitarian regimes always do, with or without the blessing of a UDHR. They are going to control speech and they’re going to suppress as “hateful” anything they don’t agree with.
Interestingly it was a representative from Columbia who said it best:
Punishing ideas, whatever they may be, is to aid and abet tyranny, and leads to the abuse of power . . . As far as we are concerned and as far as democracy is concerned, ideas should be fought with ideas and reasons; theories must be refuted by arguments and not by the scaffold, prison, exile, confiscation, or fines.
Kirsten Powers points out that we’re slowly drifting toward tyranny when she talks about how it once was on the college campus and how it is now. Contrary ideas are now characterized as “violence” and intolerance to those ideas is rampant for some. Interestingly, for the most part, those who would ban speech they disagree with mostly find themselves on the left side of the political spectrum, which, at least, is historically consistent. They’re heirs to the Soviet Union’s attempts to oppress free speech.
They must be very proud.
It is interesting to me to examine events and the reaction too them in certain contexts, such as left and right. Below is a listing I found on Facebook (h/t Christopher Buckley) which succinctly states the left’s reaction to each of the events listed:
Rioters in Baltimore: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Stomping on US flag: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Crucifix in a jar of urine: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Cartoon art display: UNPROTECTED INCENDIARY HATE
In fact, rioting is now being redefined (or at least the attempt is being made) from a criminal enterprise to a “free speech” event if a protected minority is involved. If it’s a bunch of straight white guys, they’re going to jail.
Stomping the flag and a crucifix in a jar of urine have always been defended by the left as free speech. Burn the flag – free speech. Neo-Nazi’s marching in a Jewish neighborhood – free speech. The list goes on.
However, it appears that there is a line somewhere on the left where that changes. Outrageous acts focused on offending certain groups are always free speech. Outrageous acts, of exactly the same nature but against protected groups, yeah, screw free speech, it’s hate speech. And, of course, the protected group is the “victim”. On the other side, however, the deeply offended group is told to get over it, free speech is inviolate … well, except … yeah. I’m not sure how the left keeps it straight in their tiny little heads and don’t keel over from an overdose of hypocrisy.
But then, they seem to have developed some sort of tolerance for hypocrisy over the ages – no pun intended.