Apparently the Orange County school district (Florida/Orlando) has plans to monitor students’ social media messages in an effort to curb cyberbullying, crime on campus and suicide. Because, you know, that’s what they’re there for:
Orange County Public Schools announced Thursday that it has acquired software to monitor social media “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.” The district has obtained an annual license with SnapTrends, software that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
The district said it plans to use the software to conduct routine monitoring for the purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues in which students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others.
OCPS said the company will assist district law enforcement and security personnel in monitoring publicly available social media communications that are relevant to school operations and personnel.
“This is a tool that gives the district intelligence into a situation that could possibly prevent something more serious from happening,” Orange County Public Schools Senior Director of Safety and Security Doug Tripp said.
“Safety in and around school campuses is the top priority for Orange County school leaders,” OCPS said in a news release. “Recognizing social media is a major communication system, the district has acquired social media monitoring software.”
School officials acknowledge the online snooping might raise privacy questions. But board member Linda Kobert said the district is taking advantage of “new tools to protect our children.”
Might raise some privacy questions? Well, social media are indeed made up of public postings. But let me ask you a more important question? Is this a role for a school district? Or is this another example of a creeping bureaucratic mission? And what will the school district do with any information it gleans from its “monitoring?”
Note again, that we have a public official putting “safety” over supposed privacy concerns. Oh, and btw, do you suppose that potential or real cyber-bullies don’t know how to set up fake accounts? And is this a good use of school funds with the literacy problems most public school districts face? The questions are endless.
Some people feel they have to take everything to an extreme. Why, I’m not sure. And I’m also pretty sure I think this particular extreme is both unnecessary and provocative. If there’s trouble, will it rise to the level of “incitement”?
Jon Ritzheimer is a former Marine, and he has no middle ground when it comes to Islam.
A T-shirt he wears pretty much says it all: “F— Islam.”
Ritzheimer is the organizer of Friday’s “Freedom of Speech Rally” outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.
It’s the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofiattended for a time. They’re the men who drove from Arizona to a Dallas suburb to shoot up a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest there. Both were killed by police early this month.
Many Muslims consider any depiction of Mohammed to be blasphemous and banned by the Islamic holy book, the Quran.
“This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist(s), with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad,” the event’s Facebook page said.
Some 600 people say they’re attending.
It is one thing to hold an event in another part of the state and end up being attacked by people/terrorists who chose to travel there and do so. It is another thing to go to a group’s home and intentionally antagonize and invite an attack by showing up uninvited and attempting to provoke a response.
Other reports have said the group will be heavily armed, quoting Ritzheimer as saying they are going to exercise their First Amendment rights and back them with their Second Amendment rights.
I support both rights, but I think this is foolish, stupid and deliberately antagonistic as well as being unnecessary. The point has been made. It will continue to be made. But this is not the right way to make it again.
Nice economic growth we had in the first quarter, no? Apparently adjustments have seen the reported GDP numbers fall from 0.2 growth to a 0.7 contraction. Economists want to argue that its just the way the government computes this stuff:
Economists, however, caution against reading too much into the slump in output. They argue the GDP figure for the first quarter was held down by a confluence of temporary factors, including a problem with the model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.
Economists, including those at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, have cast doubts on the accuracy of GDP estimates for the first quarter, which have tended to show weakness over the last several years.
They argued the so-called seasonal adjustment is not fully stripping out seasonal patterns, leaving “residual” seasonality. The government said last week it was aware of the potential problem and was working to minimize it.
I’m sorry, boys and girls, since when is 0.2 growth in any quarter “good news”. Its sort of like the unemployment figures. Mostly fudged. And apparently that’s precisely what the government will now attempt to do to show better numbers. These bad numbers just don’t help the government tell you how well it’s doing, do they? What’s this, our 6th or 7th “summer of recovery?”
Excellent Kevin D. Williamson article about the old and discredited ideas of Bernie Sanders, which he ends with a caution that we should all understand by now:
Senator Sanders may insist on living in the dark ages, and his view is not without its partisans. But those views are crude, they are backward, and they are, objectively speaking, incorrect about the way the economic world works. They are barely a step above superstition, and they merit consideration for only one reason: “Voters — all they gotta be is eighteen.”
And if they’re illegal, the Democrats say, “meh”.
Meanwhile in liberal bastions, things are just going swimmingly. Detroit:
No getting around it: Filling up your gas tank at certain stations in Detroit can be hazardous to your health.
Police Chief James Craig said at a Tuesday media conference that he’d avoid getting gas late at night in the city unless he had to, and he urged residents to be careful at the pump, according to Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News.
“I wouldn’t, but if I had to, I would,” Craig said. “But I’d probably be very aware of my surroundings.”
Craig’s commented after a driver was killed early Monday evening while trying to flee a carjacking attempt at an east-side gas station.
A wasteland run by Democrats for decades.
Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray’s death April 19. But the 38 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.
With one weekend still to go, May 2015 is already the deadliest month in 15 years, surpassing the November 1999 total of 36.
Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.
Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well – 91 so far in May, 58 of them in the Western District.
The mayor said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate.
I’m sure they are “examining” it – and they’ll likely conclude its a matter of racism at some level. While she is “examining” the relationship, she should ponder the statistic that says child victims of shootings are up 500% this year. Well done!
While overall crime is down almost seven percent, shootings are up 7.1 percent so far this year. Murders are up 15.3 percent. Even with the increase, it’s a much lower number than the 1980s and 1990s.
The mayor blames it on gangs. Why have gangs again become a problem?
Of course each of these cities can look to the midwest and say, “hey, at least we’re not Chicago.”
From Reason, a Nick Gillespie quote that perfectly sums up the precious snowflake/SJW phenomenon in colleges:
But really, what the f*ck is wrong with kids these days and, more important, the supposed adults who look after them? They act as if they are raising human veal that cannot even stand on their own legs or face the sunlight without having their eyeballs burned out and their hearts broken by a single deep breath or uncomfortable moment. I’m just waiting for stories of college deans carrying students from class to class on their backs.
“Human veal”. A perfect metaphor. Calling PETA … lol.
A well known and respected scientist resigns from the American Physical Society? Why?
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
Read the whole thing. His point, of course, is that any scientist with a shred of integrity who has examined the “evidence” presented should be doing precisely what he is doing – shaming those perpetrating the fraud and refusing to be associated with them.
Billy Bob in his usual role as Denier-in-Chief:
“No one has ever tried to influence me by helping you,” the former president added while channeling his wife. “There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy. That just hasn’t happened.”
There was no doubt in his mind he hadn’t had sex with that woman too! If his lips are moving he’s … yeah, he is. And his wife is no better.
Nothing to see here citizen … keep moving, keep moving.
Guy Benson lays it out:
“A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country is not obliged to be confined to a bedazzled ideological straitjacket because that’s how they ‘ought’ to think and ‘ought’ to vote and ‘ought’ to rank their priorities,” he said. “It’s not true, it shouldn’t be true, and I think part of liberty and tolerance and coexistence is understanding that, ‘Hey, I might have something in common with this person over here, and they have every right under the sun to disagree with me on this whole panoply of public policy questions over here.’ And if their views on those things lead them to another conclusion about how they exercise their right to vote, to jump to the conclusion that that is borne of some secret, deep-seated, self-loathing is just lazy and boring.
Bingo. And given what we see today, we’re hardly “A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country”.
So many things, so little time.
-You have to laugh at this one, I don’t care who your are.
In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality.
About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman were able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails.
The left often times seems intent upon removing parody as a means of criticism by becoming parody proof. And you wonder why tuition continues to spiral out of control?
-Special Snowflakes rule academia anymore, and they’re not fans of free speech. Collective tantrums apparently work. From the inaugural “Disinvitation dinner”, George Will:
“Free speech has never been, in the history of our republic, more comprehensively, aggressively, and dangerously threatened than it is now,” Will, who’s had his fair share of protests, panics, and bans, told the audience. Today’s attack isn’t just about process, he noted: It’s “an attack on the theory of freedom of speech,” with a belief “that the First Amendment is a mistake.”
All you have to do is watch how speakers who rub the dominant feminist culture on any campus the wrong way are treated:
Witness Christina Hoff Sommers, a well-known author, former philosophy professor, and, most recently, a YouTube star. Sommers, who describes her approach as “equity feminism,” is a refreshing change from mainstream modern feminism, which long ago click-clacked aboard the crazy train, ripped up all return tickets, and then hit the bar in the club car hard — not in a fun way, alas, but rather to weep and mutter various bad words over low-grade apple martini knockoffs garnished with mascara smears. Partnering with the American Enterprise Institute, Sommers has made a splash with her “Factual Feminist” video series, in which she calmly challenges and debunks oft-accepted and frequently absurd feminist talking points.
Bad news for those in the cocoon. So, instead of being intellectuals and curious, they retreat to their “safe spaces” or ensure that the speaker can’t be heard by themselves or others.
Sommers’ approach, in other words, is straightforward, fact-based, and lucid. But this, as the zealous, easily wounded students at Oberlin College and Georgetown University demonstrated over the past week, simply will not do. Faced with a speaker who thinks outside the box, campus groups lit up in protest. Students taped their mouths shut. Others heckled and jeered Sommers as a “rape apologist.” Still others advertised alternate “safe spaces” for students “traumatized” by a speech.
“The students were so carried away with the idea that I was a threat to their safety,” Sommers told the website Campus Reform, that Oberlin officials “arranged for security guards to escort me to and from the lecture to protect me from the safe spacers.” This sounds sane, if it’s Opposite Day.
What’s a good comparison of the state of places of higher eduction that have enabled such behavior? Well this seem right to me:
If you’ve ever been to a junior high slumber party, you might recognize the following scenario: In the midst of high jinks and general good times, suddenly one girl will drift off to a corner. Her feelings, somehow, have been hurt. Slowly, a few sympathizers, clear suckers for drama, make their way into her corner. They rub her back, ask why she’s crying, and, even if the answer is absurd, spend the rest of the evening casting baleful looks at the rest of the girls, who are oblivious, living large, sucking down Mountain Dew, and gleefully watching movies their parents would never allow them to watch. (In my case, this was almost always “Dirty Dancing.”)
Cowardice might not be fun, but for some, self-pity — cowardice’s common companion — certainly is. This is especially true if someone else is egging you on. Sadly, huge swaths of today’s college campuses, supposedly pinnacles of higher learning, have morphed into a giant preteen slumber party with an alarming population of sulking corner girls.
-The circus is back in town and the Hill/Billy act is just as tired and old as it used to be. There’s a new book out pointing to how corrupt these people are … as if you needed a reminder. The “dead broke” Clintons are multi-millionaires who’ve raised government influence peddling to new and even more corrupt heights. And then we’re treated to the spectacle of Hillary flying coach and railing against the 1% and CEOs when she makes more money than any of them and her only child is buying a 10 million dollar Manhattan apartment. Forget about questioning lack of accomplishment as SecState – look at the money the Clinton Foundation raked in while she was in office. Quite an accomplishment wouldn’t you say?
“For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars.”
They just missed it … and, they’ll get away with it too, hide and watch.
-And while you weren’t watching, Erica Holder, er, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as AG by the Republican Senate.
Traditionally, academic disciplines conveyed a body of knowledge to students: chemistry, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, philosophy, economics and so on.
And what colleges and universities then did was teach critical thinking and the application of that knowledge taught in those traditional disciplines.
About 25 years ago, American higher education was swept up in the identity studies fad. A great many colleges and universities created courses, departments, degree programs, and related administrative posts in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Latina/o Studies, Queer Studies, and others.
Few college officials could resist the loud demands for that expansion even though it diverted funds from serious academic uses. Giving in demonstrated their fealty to a host of “progressive” notions about social injustice and oppression, while saying “no” would badly tarnish a college leader’s liberal halo. A Hobson’s Choice.
Giving in to that has led to this:
And now there is a new fad rampaging across the college landscape—sustainability. For the last ten years, this mania has been gathering momentum because, like identity studies, sustainability pushes the hot buttons for leftist academics: environmentalism, anti-capitalism, salvation through liberal activism, and the chance to hector all those wrong-thinking people. It’s almost irresistible.
The problem, however, is that sustainability isn’t an academic discipline, ” it’s an “ideology that unites environmental activism, anti-capitalism, and a progressive vision of social justice.” Like a religion (hence the reference to fundamentalism), sustainability never questions its tenets. It posits them and even has “pledges” for students and school officials to adhere to. And the courses that go into the sustainability curriculum are far more like preaching than teaching.” Or so a study from the National Association of Scholars claims.
And yes, the study refers to “sustainability” as a sort of fundamentalism.
What other sorts of courses do students take in the sustainability curriculum? It’s a hodge-podge, including “trash studies,” “environmental poetry,” and my favorite, ”Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces. Frequently, courses link some “identity” belief with sustainability, such as that “patriarchy” is the enemy of sustainable life and therefore must be ended.
Most often, however, courses involve the supposedly unquestionable science of global warming and impending catastrophe. There are plenty of serious questions for academic study here. Wood and Peterson write:
“Is the climate really changing? In the direction of global warming? Because of human activity? And if the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ are the interventions proposed by sustainability advocates plausible responses? These are key questions, but the sustainability movement does not welcome them.”
The sustainability movement isn’t interested in the kind of analysis that scholars bring to controversies. It wants zealots, such as the “eco-reps” now employed on many campuses to push the agenda. Recycling, for instance, is always advanced as an imperative for saving the planet. There are trade-off questions about recycling that have caused many people to conclude that its costs often exceed its benefits, but students are not encouraged to think about them.
Sustainotopians (as the authors call them) don’t want doubts about their creed seeping in. As the report documents, when students dare to question the beliefs that undergird sustainability, they’re often treated in an uncivil, unscholarly fashion. That’s what happens when true believers take charge of education; a “you’re with us or you’re against us” mindset shoves aside reflective inquiry and discussion.
It’s bad enough that there are openly doctrinaire sustainability courses, but at least students can avoid them. Frequently, however, sustainability precepts are smuggled into other courses, where, Wood and Peterson write, “the unsuspecting student meets it not as a tenet to be discussed, but as a baseline assumption on which all subsequent scholarship and dialogue rests.”
George Will took notice of this study as well.
The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:
Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.
As Will points out, this is simply political correctness repackaged.
He goes on:
They see [sustainability] as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand it — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.
And progressivism mandates authoritarianism. It always has and it always will. The point is to make it as palatable as possible until it can be established. One way to do that is through indoctrination. Sustainability is nothing more than that if you consider how it approaches the subject in a strictly unacademic way. No one is taught to think for themselves or actually weigh “evidence” – the demand is they believe what they’re fed and act on it.
The very definition of propaganda. And indoctrination.
However, not all is lost. Will says there is a silver lining to this cloud:
There is a social benefit from the sustainability mania: the further marginalization of academia. It prevents colleges and universities from trading on what they are rapidly forfeiting, their reputations for seriousness.
I quit considering them to be serious quite some time ago. What I am enjoying is the entertainment value as they increasingly are hoist on the petard of their own making concerning identity studies and now sustainability. Both seem to be synonyms for abject stupidity masquerading as academic pursuits. At some point, the whole house of cards has to come down – especially when consumers realize that they’re being robbed by colleges and universities who are supposed to be teaching real academics instead of this repackaged political correct ideology.
This is actually quite amusing to me because it is the left getting caught up in a trap of their own making. Via Powerline we learn of Laura Kipnes, a Northwestern University feminist film professor (no, really, that’s what she is) who penned a piece entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for the Chronical of Higher Education in which she had the temerity to say:
If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama . . .
But what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life? What becomes of students so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life? I can’t help asking, because there’s a distressing little fact about the discomfort of vulnerability, which is that it’s pretty much a daily experience in the world, and every sentient being has to learn how to somehow negotiate the consequences and fallout, or go through life flummoxed at every turn. . .
The question, then, is what kind of education prepares people to deal with the inevitably messy gray areas of life? Personally I’d start by promoting a less vulnerable sense of self than the one our new campus codes are peddling. Maybe I see it this way because I wasn’t educated to think that holders of institutional power were quite so fearsome, nor did the institutions themselves seem so mighty. Of course, they didn’t aspire to reach quite as deeply into our lives back then. What no one’s much saying about the efflorescence of these new policies is the degree to which they expand the power of the institutions themselves. . .
The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist. . . The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing. Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims.
Seems pretty tame to me, even though it also seems a pretty accurate description of the problem that now exists on any number of college and university campuses.
As you might imagine, to the feminist left at the college, that’s heresy. And, as if she were an Islamic apostate, she was immediately attacked. Protests erupted on the Northwestern campus, “complete with feminists aping the mattress-carrying stunt of Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University.” How dare she say what she said?!
Interestingly enough, the publication which came to Kipnes defense was none other than the bedrock of the far left – “The Nation”. It too seems to realize that enough is enough when it comes to stifling free thought:
As the protesters wrote on a Facebook page for their event, they wanted the administration to do something about “the violence expressed by Kipnis’ message.” Their petition called for “swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article,” and demanded “that in the future, this sort of response comes automatically.” (University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily Northwestern, a student newspaper, that he would consider it, and the students will soon be meeting with the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs to further press their case.) Jazz Stephens, one of the march’s organizers, described Kipnis’s ideas as “terrifying.” Another student told The Daily Northwestern that she was considering bringing a formal complaint because she believes that Kipnis was mocking her concerns about being triggered in a film class, concerns she’d confided privately. “I would like to see some sort of repercussions just so she understands the effect something like this has on her students and her class,” said the student, who Kipnis hadn’t named.
Kipnis could hardly have invented a response that so neatly proved her argument. . .
This atmosphere is intellectually stifling. “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious,” Kipnis told me via e-mail. “I got many dozens of emails from professors (and administrators and deans and one ex college president) describing how fearful they are of speaking honestly or dissenting on any of these issues. Someone on my campus—tenured—wrote me about literally lying awake at night worrying about causing trauma to a student, becoming a national story, losing her job, and not being able to support her kid. It seemed completely probable to her that a triggered student could take down a tenured professor with a snowball of social media.” . . .
“It’s the infantilization of women fused with identity politics, so that being vulnerable, a potential victim—or survivor, in the new parlance—becomes a form of identity,” Kipnis told me. “I wrote a chapter on the politics of vulnerability in The Female Thing from 2006, and since then it strikes me that vulnerability has an ever more aggressive edge to it, which is part of what makes the sexual culture of the moment so incoherent.”
As a quick aside, this statement had me laughing out loud – “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious.” Yes, Ms. Kipnis, we agree – we dealt with Professor Oblivious yesterday.
Moving on though, it appears that the left is eating its own. The Nation realizes that what has happened has become “intellectually stifling”. It was a natural end state to the creeping oppression of speech codes, the “right” not to be offended and the idea that colleges should be “safe spaces” removed from the reality of the world where nasty things (and ideas apparently) can hurt you. If you don’t agree or if you wander outside the bright lines of approved speech and thought, they think nothing of subjecting the violator to everything they’re trying to avoid. Heresy is, after all, a serious matter when speaking of “religion”, and that certainly is how the devotees treat their ideology.
Steve Hayward wonders that if these attacks will actually cause the administrators at Northwestern to grow a spine and “tell the mob to sod off”. My guess? No, not yet. Don’t forget it was these university administrations that put this structure in place as well as aiding and abetting its growth. They’re hardly about to now say they were wrong to let this intellectual fascism bloom.
Another interesting perspective was found on Tumblr by Hayward. Another professor confessing his or her fears:
Personally, liberal students scare the sh*t out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.
Paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.
The fact that this problem is now a monster that devours its own is probably considered an “unintended consequence”. The fact that they didn’t take into consideration that limiting speech they found “unacceptable” would come back to bite them seems to be a result of some very sloppy thinking, doesn’t it? Or was there any real thinking going on at all when they began to impose their will? And then, of course, there’s the problem of the inmates essentially running the asylum. Hayward’s hope that a spine will somehow grow among the administrators of that school is a fairly farfetched hope. There is no prior history of that so why would we expect this instance to be any different? Until the administration does act in such a manner that tells the students to “sod off”, we shouldn’t expect it at all.
In the meantime, pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show.
Jonathan Adler points to a NY Times piece by Judith Shulevitz about the “infantilizing” of college students, enabled, of course, by the administrations of various colleges and universities. Shulevitz:
Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material. . . . the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer. . . . while keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?
We’ve talked about this in the past – this escape from reality which, in many cases, is simply an extension of many students life to that point. That has been enabled most times by parents who see their role as protectors rather than teachers. And they hand that responsibility off to college administrations who seem eager to continue the escape from reality.
What that has begotten is, ironically, a huge dollop of intolerance. These children don’t feels safe unless everyone “conforms” to a comfortable set of norms and beliefs. Those norms and beliefs are never to be challenged or argued because somewhere along the line they were graced with a pseudo right to never be offended or “uncomfortable” about anything.
Wow … a completely different world than I grew up in.
Addler adds these comments that I think are both appropriate and pertinant:
1) It’s not entirely clear how prevalent this phenomenon is. The demand for insulating students from potentially upsetting ideas does, for the moment, appears to come from a vocal minority and does not appear to have widespread support. Yet isn’t that always how these sorts of things start? And isn’t it well established that a vocal and highly motivated minority interest group can have an outsized influence on institutional policies?
2) Efforts to insulate students from challenging and even potentially offensive ideas cuts them off from the world and compromises much of the value of a traditional “liberal” education. It’s like some want to turn universities into the secular equivalents of Ave Maria Town.
3) One of the benefits of having been right-of-center in college was that my political and philosophical views were constantly challenged. There was no “safe space” — and I was better for it. I often felt that I received a better education than many of my peers precisely because I was not able to hold unchallenged assumptions or adopt unquestioned premises.
Point number one is important. We know it goes on, you just have to read Tanya Cohen’s piece to understand that was incubated somewhere and if you bother looking her up, she has connected with a good number of people who agree with her screed on “hate speech”. That sort of intolerance to other ideas came from somewhere. But as Addler points out, she’s hardly a majority, but certainly a part of a vocal minority. Here’s the difference though – while we may point and laugh at her premise, in the society we prefer, she has every right to express her absurd opinion. However, if she were in charge, we’d be in jail … or worse.
Point two is what it is all about. How does one become educated when any “offensive ideas” are excluded from the learning. How does one compare and contrast? How does one learn to reason? Well, “one” doesn’t. They learn only what they’re comfortable with and of course, that will be whatever plays well to their biases and preconceptions. Then they step out into the real world and reality flattens them like a freight train. Naturally they’re totally unprepared for the event.
Finally, point three makes the case for ignoring this “vocal minority” and welcoming dissenting and potentially offensive and upsetting ideas on campus. It goes back to the two questions I asked in the paragraph above. The marketplace of ideas is a powerful place and it winnows away ideas and premises that can’t stand the light of true scrutiny. But if you’re never exposed to it, you have no way to test your premise or challenge your assumptions. And if that is the case at a college or university, you’re not being educated, you’re being indoctrinated.
The short answer is “yes”. Megan McArdle makes the point :
Higher education is becoming the ginseng of the policy world: a sort of all-purpose snake oil for solving any problem you’d care to name, as long as we consume enough of it. Education is a very good thing, but it is not the only good thing. An indiscriminate focus on pushing more people into the system is no cure for society’s ills–and indeed, often functions as a substitute for helping the people who are struggling in the current system.
In fact (beside the fact we can’t afford “ObamaCare for colleges”):
What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? My grandfather graduated into a world where a man with a high-school diploma could reasonably hope to own his own business, or become someone else’s highly valued employee, a successful pillar of a supportive community. His grandchildren graduated into a world where a college diploma was almost the bare necessity to get any kind of a decent job. Why aren’t we at least asking ourselves if there’s something we can do to create more opportunity for people without diplomas, instead of asking how many more years we can keep everyone in school? Why do all of our proposed solutions essentially ratify the structure that excludes so many people, instead of questioning it?
Indeed. For too long our policies have been driven by an elite. And for the most part, the elite have made an awful mess of things. Now they want to take on “community colleges”.
Anyone? How long before they start looking at 4 year colleges?
McArdle suggests the following probable effects of any program like Obama has proposed:
1. Offer a subsidy to middle-class kids who don’t really need the money?
2. Encourage middle-class families to transfer their kids to community college for the first two years of school, and thus help to moderate college costs?
3. Encourage financially constrained students who might not have gone to college to enter the system en route to a degree?
4. Encourage marginal students with a low chance of completing a career-enhancing degree to attend school, mostly wasting government money and their own time?
As she points out 2 and 3 are actually not bad policy goals in and of themselves. However, the much more likely effect will be 1 and 4. Another government sponsored and taxpayer funded boondoggle that will essentially give community colleges a subsidy (it’ll be all about headcount – no one will really care if the student’s succeed) and create bureaucratic jobs while doing little or nothing in terms of “education advancement”.
Oh, yeah, did I mention we can’t afford it?
I thought I did.
So I’m reading Kevin Williams National Review article about the state of Connecticut wanting to pass a law that requires homeschooling parents “to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction.” This is in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings and implies that the problem was centered in “homeschooling” and not the fact that the killer was a mental case. Not only that he was a well-known mental case having been in public schools until, as a last resort, he was home schooled. Williamson then goes on to put forward the real reason the Sandy Hook excuse is being used. And it is something any life long observer of the “progressive left” figured out years and years ago:
The Left’s model of society is still the model of Marx and Bismarck: one big factory to be managed by experts. The government schools are an assembly line for human widgets, who are in theory there to be taught what the state requires them to know in order to fulfill their roles as workers, administrators, and other bits of human machinery. That is the assumption behind President Obama’s insistence that “if you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself — you’re quitting on your country.” Students are also there to be instructed in the official, unspoken state ideology: submission to official power.
The Left’s organizing principle is control, and the possibility that children might commonly be raised outside of its control matrix is an existential threat from the progressive point of view. Institutions such as free markets and free speech terrify progressives, because they are the result of arrangements in which nobody is in control.
This is just another attempt at exerting control over a segment of society which eschews that control and the indoctrination it entails. And the thin gruel provided by the Sandy Hook tragedy was all the excuse necessary to try to exert control over this segment. It also sends a message – “we believe homeschooling may be the bastion of extremists”.
More than anything exerting such control serves both a constituency and an ideology which identified education decades ago as the road to political success.
If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.
But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run bynakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.”
Contrary to all of the sanctimony surrounding them, the government schools are in fact the single most destructive institution in American public life, and they are the bedrock of the Left’s power, providing billions of dollars in campaign contributions and millions of man-hours for Democratic campaigns. But they do more than that: They are the real-life version of those nightmarish incubator pods from The Matrix, and home-schooling is a red pill. We entrust our children to the state for twelve or thirteen years, during which time they are subjected to a daily regimen that is, like the school buildings themselves, more than a little reminiscent of the penitentiary: “bells and cells,” as one of my teachers used to call it. They are instructed in obedience and compliance, as though the most important skill in life were the ability to sit quietly and follow instructions; those children who are more energetic than the authorities care for are given psychiatric diagnoses and very often put on psychiatric drugs: Since the 1980s, the rate of antidepressant prescription for children has increased five-fold, while the rate of antipsychotic prescription has increased six-fold. Locking children up for the largest part of the day, in a dreary room with 20 to 30 other children all born within nine or ten months of each other, is a model that make sense — that is something other than insane — only if you think of children as batches — if you believe, as our president and those who share his views believe, that the children are the government schools’ product rather than their customers.
And that “product” is trained and expected to follow its indoctrination – you know, things like this:
A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.
“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.
The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”
“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.
The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”
Other items on the list include asking all students about their preferred pronouns and decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers.
If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither.”
Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.
“Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing gender in a binary manner,” it states. “Ask things like . . . ‘What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.’ Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”
The teachers were also given a handout created by the Center for Gender Sanity, which explains to them that “Gender identity . . . can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual,” and an infographic called “The Genderbred Person,” which was produced by www.ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com.
But the real problem and danger is among the homeschooled. Meanwhile, in the public schools, the enculturation continues unabated. The product, if metaphorically beaten over the head with nonsense like “purple penguins” will learn to eventually pretend reality doesn’t exist and that “gender” is actually a figment of the oppressor’s imagination. What they can’t risk is individualism – those who will pull the curtain back and reintroduce reality into the world. Homeschoolers are one segment that threaten that exposure because they reject the indoctrination. Time to get them under control. Time to make it more and more difficult for homeschoolers to continue to do what they do. Because as far as the left is concerned, the future belongs to “purple penguins” – as determined by their betters, of course.
It is in that benighted land that irony, reason and hypocrisy are unknown concepts:
In California, Ventura High School Principal Val Wyatt barred the football booster club from selling meals donated by Chick-fil-A at back-to-school night to raise money. Wyatt cited company President Dan Cathy’s opposition to gay marriage as the reason for the ban. Superintendent Trudy Tuttle Arriaga backed up Wyatt. “We value inclusivity and diversity on our campus and all of our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission,” she said.
What could be more “inclusive” than allowing opinion that doesn’t agree with you to “coexist” without forcing everyone to suffer your biases because you have the power? I mean if you’re really, honestly and truly interested in “inclusiveness”. Oh, and what happened to tolerance, Arriaga and Wyatt? What could be more diverse than a community that welcomes all opinions as long as they don’t advocate violence or other forms of coercion? Is there something wrong with having a differing opinion about a subject based on principles that may be different than yours but are certainly shared by much of the mainstream (such as students at this school)? Apparently. Conformity with the opinion in power is the rule there it seems. The irony? This sort of action is blatantly exclusive and it makes a laughing stock of the word “diversity”. It says diverse opinion certainly isn’t welcome if it doesn’t conform with the people in power’s opinion.
Mouthing of platitudes doesn’t change that. Their “mission” has nothing to do with “inclusivity and diversity”. It has to do with ideology. A particular ideology. One that abuses the english language daily as well as our freedoms.
And I’m not talking about Putin’s attempt to resurrect it – I’m instead talking about this horrific overreaction by state of Maryland to … a book set in the future:
A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—”taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace’s Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, according to news reports from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future. . . .
Imagine that—a novelist who didn’t store bombs and guns at the school at which he taught. How improbable! Especially considering that he uses an “alias,” which is apparently the law-enforcement term for “nom de plume.” (Here is the Amazon page for The Insurrectionist, by the way. Please note that the book was published in 2011, before McLaw was hired.)
According to an equally credulous and breathless report in the Star-Democrat, which is published in Easton, Md., the combined efforts of multiple law-enforcement agencies have made area children safe from fiction. Sheriff Phillips told the newspaper that, in addition to a K-9 sweep of the school (!), investigators also raided McLaw’s home. “The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Phillips said, with no weapons found. “A further check of Maryland State Police databases also proved to be negative as to any weapons registered to him. McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.”
As I find and read more stories like this on a much more frequent basis, I have to wonder what happened to America. Where did it go? And when?
The fact that anyone would find this supportable is phenomenal in and of itself, yet here we have the report … McLaw was obviously taken as a credible threat because he wrote … fiction to sell books.
Jeffery Goldberg goes on:
It is somewhat amazing that local news reports on this case don’t make clear whether McLaw is under arrest, and if so, on what charge. It is equally astonishing that the reporters on this story don’t seem to have used the words “First Amendment” in their questioning of law-enforcement officials, and also astonishing they don’t question the Soviet-sounding practice of ordering an apparently sane person who has been deemed unacceptable by state authorities to undergo a psychological evaluation.
It would be useful to know if McLaw is under investigation for behavior other than writing two novels—and perhaps he will be shown to be a miscreant of some sort—but so far, there is no indication that he is guilty of anything other than having an imagination, although on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as news reports make clear, his imagination is considered an active threat.
Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner told WBO that police will be present at the middle school “for as long as we deem it necessary,” and the sheriff said that law-enforcement officials across the Delmarva peninsula have been given McLaw’s photo in case he shows up in their jurisdictions—though again, it is not clear if he is, in fact, in police custody at the moment.
This is what happens when people quit thinking and only do “their duty”. When rules like “zero tolerance” replace common sense.
What happened to McLaw is an outrage. It is unacceptable. It should be condemned in the very strongest of terms.
Yet, at least by the media there, it seems all perfectly sane and normal. And, apparently, the police force as well. School. Etc.
Maryland (and Cambridge in particular) should be utterly ashamed.