The Internet today offers us not just instant access to images of kittens and puppies and smiling newborns, but an evil avalanche of images of abuse, sick fantasies, and child rape that are easily accessible with a click on a child’s smartphone or iPad. Senator Todd Weiler, a state senator in Utah, has unleashed a storm of controversy by initiating a bill in Utah legislature that would declare pornography to be a public health crisis. It should be noted that Weiler doesn’t specifically advocate banning or regulating anything; even so, he says he is “mocked internationally” because he has opened up discussion about the easy accessibility to pornography on smartphones and tablets.
The Nation’s Pulse
The latest tempest in a teapot controversy is over a lack of black nominees for this year’s Academy Awards in Hollywood.
The assumption seems to be that different groups would be proportionally represented if somebody were not doing somebody else wrong. That assumption carries great weight in far more important things than Academy Awards and in places more important than Hollywood, including the Supreme Court of the United States.
In an earlier era, the groupthink assumption was that groups that did not succeed as often, or as well, were genetically inferior. But is our current groupthink assumption based on any more hard evidence?
Having spent decades researching racial and ethnic groups around the world, I have never yet found a country in which all groups — or even most groups — are even roughly equally represented in most endeavors.
When I took high school chemistry in the late ’50s, the classroom/lab featured a large colorful chart of the periodic table of elements which hung over the blackboard at the front of the room. It featured an arrangement of the chemical elements, ordered by their atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus), electron configurations, and recurring chemical properties.
We learned the symbols for the basic elements like iron (Fe), copper (Cu), oxygen (O), hydrogen (H), and a few that were more difficult to remember like silver (Ag), gold (Au), and tungsten (W). The periodic table displayed the 94 elements then known to exist, but we were told to expect a few more discoveries in the future.
Well, the future is now. We’re up to 118 elements. So, throw out the old periodic tables and start drafting a new more complete version including the 24 new elements.
Christmas will be different this year.
Oh, there still will be plenty of joy and merriment. The holiday lights will shine just as brightly and children will bubble with anticipation just as they have for generations. On the surface the season will look and feel about the same.
But there will be changes nonetheless, subtle and yet unmistakable. Some of the grand old traditions, customs, and icons of our most revered holiday season will look different in the age of political correctness.
Some say that this PC trend has smothered spontaneity, undermined creativity, and threatens our fundamental freedoms. They argue that in our zeal not to offend or hurt anyone else’s feelings, we risk never expressing our own. Others say it’s simply an effort to make our society more sensitive, tolerant, and respectful of others. They say it’s all part of the mellowing of America in which “kinder and gentler” has become a reality and hugging is de rigueur.
No matter which view is correct, the images of Christmas and the mythological magic it spins will look entirely different through the PC prism. Here’s a sampling of the spectrum of changes we may see.
In the age of the cellphone camera, interactions that are best forgotten instead escalate and become chew toys for the chattering class. When a video goes viral, the public’s sense of proportion often goes AWOL.
It started last Sunday when San Franciscan Rasheed Albeshari, 31, went to Lake Chabot Regional Park, in Castro Valley, California, with two friends to play volleyball. The three friends are Muslim, so though they went to the park to play volleyball, “when prayer time comes, we pray for four or five minutes and get back to the game,” Albeshari told me. Last Sunday, Castro Valley resident Denise Slader objected to their prayers and started to argue with them. She later told KTVU-TV, “I’m a Christian, and so I wanted to tell them about Christ” and that what they were doing was “not of God; it’s of the devil.”
Recently, there were two highly publicized shootings in five days, and Republicans are being blamed for only one of them — the one that occurred at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs the day after Thanksgiving.
In case you didn’t hear, the alleged shooter, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., supposedly said something about “no more baby parts” after his arrest. Consequently, according to the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, “Republican politicians who fueled the overwrought and unsupported controversy over selling baby parts bear some measure of responsibility.”
“Inflammatory rhetoric inflames,” Marcus wrote. “Words — extreme language and overheated representations — have consequences.”
In 1789, America’s first president proclaimed a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” George Washington implored the heavens to “pardon our national and other transgressions” and urged the citizenry to practice “true religion and virtue.”
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln urged his countrymen to set aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Subsequent presidents continued this civic-religious tradition. “More than three centuries ago, the Pilgrims, after a year of hardship and peril, humbly and reverently set aside a special day upon which to give thanks to God,” said John F. Kennedy in his first Thanksgiving proclamation. “They paused in their labors to give thanks for the blessings that had been bestowed upon them by Divine Providence.” Quoting the Bible, President Kennedy affirmed: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, was the old America.
In the New America, we apparently know better. Our culture transformers are eagerly remaking Thanksgiving in their own image. This is especially true on the education front.
“Unfairly targeted” and “disproportionately punished” appears to be the final rallying cry of the Obama administration — sort of like a grand finale after a prolonged series of duds.
As the administration’s attempted vote-solidifying storyline goes, America’s cops are unduly targeting communities that are disproportionately populated by members of the nation’s most historically oppressed constituency, aiming particularly at young males, while teachers and school administrators, allegedly employing the same racially prejudiced and gender-biased approach, are disciplining and expelling the nation’s students of color in disproportionate numbers, primarily males, for supposedly no good reason.
Continuing down the same path of purportedly righting the nation’s racial wrongs, thousands of drug dealers are now packing up and prematurely leaving the nation’s prisons as the Obama administration plays a supersized get-out-of-jail-free card by implementing the nation’s largest mass release of federal prisoners, while, simultaneously, guys who landed too many flounder are being hauled around in handcuffs to serve lengthening jail sentences.
You could call me an “accidental” Naval Officer who served on active duty during the Vietnam Era.
I wasn’t in ROTC in college. I didn’t aspire to an appointment to the Naval Academy. I didn’t come from a long line of generation after generation of Navy men tracing family roots back to John Paul Jones or Admiral “Bull Halsey.”
To be sure, my father served proudly in World War II as captain of a “crash boat,” a nimble sister craft of PT boats whose primary mission was to rescue downed flyers and their crews.
He was a so-called “90-day wonder,” college graduates who were given accelerated Naval training at various colleges and universities across the country to ramp up the Navy Officer corps to wartime strength (his program was at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire).
But, back then, volunteers flocked to the armed services with patriotic zeal to fight the spread of Nazism. It was a noble cause and those disqualified from serving for physical reasons were disappointed or angered or both. It was a difficult time, and members of the “greatest generation” answered the call to arms in droves.
This story starts with a transgender high school student who was born male but identifies as female. As a public high school student, she wants the school to recognize her as a girl, to call her by her new legal name, to allow her to use the girls’ bathroom and to accept her in girls’ athletic programs.
Her high school in Palatine, Illinois, has pretty much complied. Teachers call the girl by her female name. She uses the girls’ bathroom. She plays on a girls’ sports team. Except, she does hit one wall: The school doesn’t provide unfettered access to girls’ locker rooms where students shower or change clothes. Administrators have experimented with different arrangements — such as a separate room. The New York Times reported the district said it would allow Student A (her name in this legal case) to change in the girls’ locker room, “but only behind a curtain.” Student A, for her part, “said she would probably use that curtain to change. But she and the federal government have insisted that she be allowed to make that decision voluntarily, and not because of requirements by the district.”