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Ignorance Is Bias

The DDT fiasco. Le Moyne alums. Video meanness. Winter traumas. Plus much more.

2.27.05

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HOSTILE INTENTIONS
Re: Gerald and Natalie Sirkin's DDT, Fraud, Tragedy:

Glad the Sirkins reminded us about that DDT fiasco. Dixy Lee Ray, the former Governor of Washington State (a Democrat, believe-it-or-don't), wrote a couple great books on the environment that the greenies seem to detest: Trashing The Planet (1990 Regnery Gateway pub.) and Environmental Overkill (1993 same publisher). Highly recommended; two of the finest books I've ever read!
-- Geoff Brandt
Quintana, Texas

Is it too cynical of me to speculate that an environmental type -- a closet Earth-Firster, perhaps -- would view DDT's perpetual ban as an acceptable and effective means of population control in certain highly populated areas of the world? For such willful ignorance to continue over the decades, over mounting evidence of non-science, there has to be a hidden agenda, such as the protection of the tropical forests in which many of these populations live.

As a sage once put it, "To err is human; to persist in error is diabolical."
-- Jeffrey S. Erickson
Davidson, North Carolina

I spent many years overseas in the Marine Corps and the use of DDT was used by everyone to control mosquitoes. Every night we would spray the inside of our tents and later when we had Quonset Huts these also were sprayed. Even after breathing all that DDT and being 90 years old I can say that the DDT didn't have any ill effects on my health. The best thing it did do was to reduce malaria and dengue fever to where it was nonexistent. To that I am thankful for.
-- unsigned

The farmers in Central Illinois will tell you the songbirds nearly disappeared in the '50s and '60s and have returned since the ban of DDT. Is this an urban legend?

I agree there has been a lot of silliness brought forth in the name of science, and am ready to accept the Sirkins' premise on DDT, but I know people who are adamant on the detrimental effects of the chemical DDT.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

Gerald and Natalie Sirkin reply: This is a rural legend. If one wants to know about the effects of DDT on birds, why would one want to ask farmers when you have scientists and ornithologists who can tell us about them? They testified at the 7-month hearing held by Administrative Law Judge Edmund Sweeney and he concluded that DDT does no harm to wildlife.

HARM'S BEEN DONE
Re: Doug Bandow's The World Harm Organization:

I found the above article to be very informative except in one respect. The assertion that "although widespread outdoor use of DDT years ago did have adverse environmental consequences" seems to take a position at odds with numerous articles on the use of DDT published here in the Spectator. Everything I have read concerning the use of DDT is that it is perfectly safe and that no "adverse environmental consequences" could be plausibly tied to its use. Just another case of the big lie? Repeat something loud enough and long enough and people will start to believe it even in the absence of any evidence.
-- Bill White
Great Mills, Maryland

BERRIGAN COLLEGE
Re: David Holman's A Neo-Jesuit Education:

As an alumnus of Le Moyne College I am not surprised by what happened to Mr. McConnell. I attended Le Moyne in the late '70s. At that time it was a good Jesuit liberal arts education at a reasonable cost. I had a number of teachers (mostly Jesuit) who profoundly influenced my life. That said, you could already smell the odor of political correctness creeping in. Liberation Theology was just coming into vogue at the time -- Marxist thuggery dressed up in the white vestments of the Catholic Church. Also let's not forget that Le Moyne was the home of Fr. Daniel Berrigan of the infamous Berrigan brothers. In reading the alumni magazine over the last twenty years you could definitely tell that the school was moving from the mission of providing a rigorous liberal arts education to the promotion of multi-culturalism as an end all and be all. The irony of the situation is that Le Moyne was founded in 1946 as an institution that first catered to WWII GI bill veterans. How sad that Mr. McConnell, himself a veteran, has been treated so shabbily by this institution.
-- Ron Pettengill
London, United Kingdom

I am not surprised at the rejection of this young man from the teacher prep program at Le Moyne. Thinking like that of the people at Le Moyne is the norm in many schools. The barbaric behavior, low achievement, and rejection of education taking place in the nation's secondary schools is reflective of this mindset. What does "treating all students with respect and dignity and creating learning environments that nurture self-confidence in the context of diversity. Le Moyne believes it is obligated to take into account whether a potential teacher rejects those values" mean? It is precisely this kind of gobbledygook that has wrought havoc on the educational system of the US.

How stupid I am! Here I have taught all of these years with the idea that it was my job to TEACH these students how to write, read, and think; how to analyze literature, criticize ideas, and synthesize. And all this time, I was supposed to be "nurturing self-confidence in the context of diversity." If it weren't so tragic, it would be hilarious. I wonder what Mel Brooks could do with this.
--Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

David Holman's article, "A Neo-Jesuit Education" reinforces a belief that I've held since graduation from Seattle University in 1965; i.e., I've managed to keep my Catholic faith in spite of 4 years of a Jesuit education. At the time I was in school, I hung on their every word. My parents were practicing Catholics at the time and were conservatives, and I might add Wm. Buckley fans, etc. This environment was all that stood between me potentially becoming like today's Jesuits, and still knowing the "Truths of Life" as I call them. At the time I was in school, the radical left influence by the Jesuits hadn't really made itself apparent. However it was getting started for sure. What that great order has become is a tragedy. I would not pick a Jesuit university for my kids or grandkids under any circumstances. I suspect that this would apply to many other so-called Catholic Universities. There are other better choices than Le Moyne. It seems so typical of the left to react in the way Cathy Leogrande did; i.e., out of fear that McConnell's ideas posed a serious threat to the validity of her and apparently Le Moyne's philosophy of "education." It's as if they know their positions will not stand the scrutiny of even a cursory analysis, so they play the "mean-spirited" card and demagogue the source of the perceived threat. It's quite apparent that this is the case in light of the fact Leogrande wouldn't even call McConnell in for a face to face discussion of his ideas to allow him to defend himself. She knew she couldn't risk it. Just as the voters in the last several national elections have been moving to the right and gaining more ground, the same will happen with Catholic education.
-- Mike Spengler
(A long-time subscriber)

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
Re: Christopher Orlet's Game Blame:

You know? It irks the h**l out of me when people get away with this kind of blame and litigation. And what inflames my senses is that the PARENTS LET THIS KID PURCHASE IT AND USE, USE, USE IT!!! The kid was 16 -- a minor still under the charge of his parents. And don't anyone tell me that they didn't know! They also have no excuse to make that they didn't know what was in the games. The kid was 16 -- a minor still under the charge of his parents -- who with half a brain and a few minutes' notice, would be able to see what the game involved.

I'm very, very, very tired of this ACLU/entitlement mentality. And then of course, there are the judges, courts, and MSM press that will enable it all.
-- Sue Ellen Hirtle

"Sony is being sued because, well, because they manufacture PlayStation 2 and Grand Theft Auto, like thousands of other video games, is designed to play on PlayStation 2. One wonders why the plaintiffs are not suing the manufacturers of the television set as well?"

Maybe he played the game on a Sony TV purchased at Wal-Mart.

Since I've been playing video games since about 1980, you should expect to see my name on the national news any day now for some gruesome crime I'm past due to commit. Be on the lookout.
-- Chuck Lazarz

Although the positions advanced in Christopher Orlet's article, "Game Blame" are defensible, the wisdom of publishing such a piece in TAS is questionable. I could see someone justifiably condemning the lawsuit or its amount of damages on the basis that it singles out only the most litigationally lucrative causes that led to the deaths of the victims. However, I cannot see any morally responsible person defending any individuals or companies involved in the marketing of games that encourage, promote, or otherwise glorify violence.

Some might suggest that enforcing community standards regarding the appropriateness of such entertainment is best left to free market dynamics. But that doesn't mean that the companies that profit from "media violence" should be completely unaccountable until these dynamics come to bear. Nor does it mean that conservatives who want to advocate tort reform will benefit their cause by defending said companies. Ditto free market advocates.

I readily admit to having little or no legal knowledge about lawsuits, but nonetheless question the relevance of Orlet's paragraph about a "single root cause for murder." The term "psychopath" is subjective, and the "factors that create a psychopath" even more so. Orlet seems to suggest that without objective proof of "media violence" as the "root cause," no amount of blame can be assigned. He compounds that intellectual dishonesty (or deficiency, or bias) by quoting an "expert" making a general statement on "societal violence" which, while being an informed opinion, is subjective nonetheless. And is the "expert" speaking of societal violence as a whole, or specifically about this case. If he's speaking about societal violence as a whole, media violence would quite naturally be a minor cause.

I hesitate to accept on face value that media violence does not play a part in perpetrated violence. Playing Grand Theft Auto is similar to role playing. And consider how often role playing is used to effect beneficial changes in behavior and attitude. In sales and marketing, role playing is effectively used to overcome inhibitions and condition personal responses according to likely scenarios. And you can't discount the persuasion of media in media violence. Advertising is built upon media persuasion, and the billions of advertising dollars spent each year attest to its power to influence behavior.

You can roll out the old but solid argument that guns don't kill people, people kill people. However, I think even Orlet would agree that the prohibitions of the possession of guns by felons and by anyone in a place where alcohol is served are reasonable laws and a necessary abridgement to the second amendment. I don't think we can readily identify those who are psychopathic, or have psychopathic tendencies, in whose possession a violent media game would be similarly dangerous, but that doesn't mean that such a similar danger doesn't exist.

In the absence of being able to identify beforehand those who should not play violent media games, there is an inherent risk in marketing them. Wal-Mart and Gamestop (but not Sony) took that risk in order to reap the financial rewards. Up until now, the rewards have been greater than the risks. But a judge and/or jury may change all that. And if $600 million in damages should make the risks of marketing a dangerous product outweigh the rewards, no matter how much I may loathe trial lawyers, I will applaud their effort in this case as being beneficial to society.

On somewhat of a different note, I clicked on the link to the author's bio and found none. I am left to wonder the age of Mr. Orlet, and whether by chance he is a bit of a gamer. If he is a gamer or has been, he should let the reader know that in his article.

Thank you for letting me express my opinion, and for the time you may have taken to read it.
-- Mark

Christopher Orlet replies:
The game in question (Grand Theft Auto) is rated M for Mature. It is no more violent than many Restricted films which 18-year-old are able to see. I am inclined to think a government that sends 18-year-olds to fight in combat should allow them to play violent video games if they so desire. That is why I recommended the Entertainment Software Rating Board raise the age of mature from 17 to 18. I also recommended Wal-Mart, etc., stop selling such violent games, much as they have banned CDs with obscene lyrics. But the issue isn't black and white. Do we want to tell adults what kind of games they can play and what kind of videos they can watch in the privacy of their homes? Studies do suggest violent images negatively effect children, but there not a single shred of evidence that violent video games have any effect on adults. The real issue here is personal and parental responsibility and a judicial system badly in need of tort reform.

WINTER BLUES
Re: Lawrence Henry's Driving to Florida:

Always appreciate your stuff and this time your musings hit home, as it were.

I live approximately 35 miles south of Pt. St. Lucie in Jupiter, FL, which is the farthest north I've ever lived, save a three-year sentence in northwestern PA as a teenager where I endured winters worse than Boston typically gets. It wasn't the judicial kind but a family split and exile. Prior to that I was born in Miami-Dade county and grew up down in Broward (Ft. Lauderdale area). Today I live in Jupiter, just five miles off that damnable "river" as you call it, I-95, that Floridians can neither live with or without.

I can relate to your tale from my days in PA where the shock of full blown winter plunged me into environmentally induced funks I couldn't have imagined. We moved to the "snow belt" (90 miles north of Pittsburgh/40 miles south of Lake Erie) in August of '75 when I was 14. South Florida then was a very different place than now and I grew up like a Tom Sawyer mostly barefoot and shirtless year 'round. It was much more open, far fewer people, wide open spaces, lots of green, year 'round 70 degree seas and sunlight, always the sunlight. The tallest building I saw once in a while was no more than about 15 stories. I-95 didn't even go through the area I live in now because the state had floated bonds to pay for the Turnpike and part of the deal was I-95 would not be completed until the bonds matured so as not to compete with the state's new toll road (the two are less than 200 yards apart in this area for a stretch of some 15 miles).

The first winter in rural PA was certainly a shock but the next blew my mind. That would be the winter of '76-'77 when Buffalo got buried so badly and it snowed down here. Where we lived they actually broadcast warnings not to walk along the country roads as you might step on a power line buried in the tops of heaps of plowed snow. I'll never forget in early March of '77 watching a news report out of Erie when "Joey" the weatherman chatted about something called a "sun index" measuring the amount of direct sunlight (we don't need no stinkin' sun index!) the area had received throughout the month of February -- one hour! I turned to my mom and informed her in a no-BS tone that the minute I was out of high school I was "going home" to South Florida. Sure enough, in July of '78, four weeks after graduation I was riding my motorcycle southward to get back to the sunlight, the warmth and the open city feel of South Florida.

Today the "river" carries visitors and transplants to Florida in a continuous stream that never ceases. In fact, we have some 5,000 people a month migrating to Florida and that number has held constant for most of my life. Most days it seems they're all on I-95 and driving slowly in the left lane. Whenever we natives (yes, there are lots of us) get on the topic of snow birds and transplants one of the mysteries I've pointed out for many years now is why there are any folks left up there. One hundred years ago moving 1,500 miles was a pretty big deal, 50 years before that it was a daunting, dangerous journey and there was almost no civilization here at all. Today, as you pointed out and I learned almost 30 years ago, a person can cheerily get in their vehicle and be in paradise in 24 hours with very little risk so it's a mystery to me why anyone puts up with those winters. Yes, I know the answer and I for one am darned glad most of you seem to like "experiencing the seasons" as unthinking transplants call it when extolling the virtues of the lands they fled….
-- Mark Shepler
Jupiter, Florida

WEIRD HISTORY
Re: Judd Magilnick's Deconstructing Winston:

What a sad, sad way to honor one of the truly great men of English and world history. The left has again won out in its deconstruction of greatness. Whoever was in charge of putting together this monstrosity should be pilloried and ridiculed. However this should not come as a surprise, deconstructing the accomplishments of anyone who is truly great is the favorite pastime of these leftist, thieves of history. We are seeing the same thing here in the US in our colleges. We'll probably soon see a museum to Stalin put together by these people and it won't be in a basement.
-- Carl Benson

TURKISH GERMANY
Re: Christopher Orlet's Turkey Talk:

You forgot to mention that a survey conducted days after 9/11 found that +90% of the Turks supported Bin Laden. It might not have been reported here in the US, but certainly was reported in Germany, if only for a day or two. Politically not correct, remember Mr. Schroeder is a Liberal, a Socialist and a Globalist. Besides Germany has to watch what it says because of its history. You also forgot to mention that the Turkish guest workers, immigrants and illegals in Germany, as well as in other European countries, are not really welcomed, especially since demanding that they be allowed to build their mosques, disobey the local laws and adhering to Muslim laws. Many areas in German cities, such as Berlin, are ruled by Muslim law and German cops avoid those areas because they are too dangerous. There Turks in Germany, who have lived and worked there for twenty, thirty years, and still don't speak German. All too often the only one speaking German is the head of the household. The male Turks engage in all vices forbidden by the Koran, because as they put it Allah is far, meaning in Turkey. In fact there are two distinct societies in many areas/cities in Germany, German and Turkish. If the German people were to given the opportunity to vote in a referendum whether to allow Turkey to join the EU, they would solidly defeat the measure. But, the German Grundgesetz (Constitution) does not allow that to happen. If it did the Germans would still have the German Mark for their currency instead of the Euro, and they would not have joined the EU. If the Turkish Military ever falls, and it will, because of human rights groups, complaints and on insistence by the EU to clean up their act, Turkey will return to Islam in a matter of minutes.
-- Guenter Strebeck

TYPING IMPAIRED
Re: Chris Moser's letter (under "Sweetheart of the Month") in Reader Mail's Museum Pieces:

Yet *another* typographically-botched last name!

Get ready for the backlash, you stupid jerks. -- Chris Moser

Memo to Chris: One row up, two keys to the right---painful though those transitions might be!
-- David Gonzalez
Wheeling, Illinois

INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Re: unsigned's "Design of the Times" letter in Reader Mail's Museum Pieces:

The unsigned letter in Friday's edition is a well-stated position. But, I wonder what the author would say to the hypothesis that God is an omnipotent R&D engineer, who during the first six days created the "alpha" version, rested on the seventh day, and then began the "beta" version on the eighth day? Then what human observers see as "evolution" is really tinkering by God and the "Big Bang" was Day One.
-- Bruce Thompson

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