Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

I grew up with two moms: here’s the uncomfortable truth that nobody wants to hear

original article: I grew up with two moms: here’s the uncomfortable truth that nobody wants to hear
August 14, 2012 by Robert Oscar Lopez

Between 1973 and 1990, when my beloved mother passed away, she and her female romantic partner raised me. They had separate houses but spent nearly all their weekends together, with me, in a trailer tucked discreetly in an RV park 50 minutes away from the town where we lived. As the youngest of my mother’s biological children, I was the only child who experienced childhood without my father being around.

After my mother’s partner’s children had left for college, she moved into our house in town. I lived with both of them for the brief time before my mother died at the age of 53. I was 19. In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under “gay parenting” as that term is understood today.

Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.

Inside, however, I was confused. When your home life is so drastically different from everyone around you, in a fundamental way striking at basic physical relations, you grow up weird. I have no mental health disorders or biological conditions. I just grew up in a house so unusual that I was destined to exist as a social outcast.

My peers learned all the unwritten rules of decorum and body language in their homes; they understood what was appropriate to say in certain settings and what wasn’t; they learned both traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine social mechanisms.

Even if my peers’ parents were divorced, and many of them were, they still grew up seeing male and female social models. They learned, typically, how to be bold and unflinching from male figures and how to write thank-you cards and be sensitive from female figures. These are stereotypes, of course, but stereotypes come in handy when you inevitably leave the safety of your lesbian mom’s trailer and have to work and survive in a world where everybody thinks in stereotypical terms, even gays.

I had no male figure at all to follow, and my mother and her partner were both unlike traditional fathers or traditional mothers. As a result, I had very few recognizable social cues to offer potential male or female friends, since I was neither confident nor sensitive to others. Thus I befriended people rarely and alienated others easily. Gay people who grew up in straight parents’ households may have struggled with their sexual orientation; but when it came to the vast social universe of adaptations not dealing with sexuality—how to act, how to speak, how to behave—they had the advantage of learning at home. Many gays don’t realize what a blessing it was to be reared in a traditional home.

My home life was not traditional nor conventional. I suffered because of it, in ways that are difficult for sociologists to index. Both nervous and yet blunt, I would later seem strange even in the eyes of gay and bisexual adults who had little patience for someone like me. I was just as odd to them as I was to straight people.

Life is hard when you are strange. Even now, I have very few friends and often feel as though I do not understand people because of the unspoken gender cues that everyone around me, even gays raised in traditional homes, takes for granted. Though I am hard-working and a quick learner, I have trouble in professional settings because co-workers find me bizarre.

In terms of sexuality, gays who grew up in traditional households benefited from at least seeing some kind of functional courtship rituals around them. I had no clue how to make myself attractive to girls. When I stepped outside of my mothers’ trailer, I was immediately tagged as an outcast because of my girlish mannerisms, funny clothes, lisp, and outlandishness. Not surprisingly, I left high school as a virgin, never having had a girlfriend, instead having gone to four proms as a wisecracking sidekick to girls who just wanted someone to chip in for a limousine.

When I got to college, I set off everyone’s “gaydar” and the campus LGBT group quickly descended upon me to tell me it was 100-percent certain I must be a homosexual. When I came out as bisexual, they told everyone I was lying and just wasn’t ready to come out of the closet as gay yet. Frightened and traumatized by my mother’s death, I dropped out of college in 1990 and fell in with what can only be called the gay underworld. Terrible things happened to me there.

It was not until I was twenty-eight that I suddenly found myself in a relationship with a woman, through coincidences that shocked everyone who knew me and surprised even myself. I call myself bisexual because it would take several novels to explain how I ended up “straight” after almost thirty years as a gay man. I don’t feel like dealing with gay activists skewering me the way they go on search-and-destroy missions against ex-gays, “closet cases,” or “homocons.”

Though I have a biography particularly relevant to gay issues, the first person who contacted me to thank me for sharing my perspective on LGBT issues was Mark Regnerus, in an email dated July 17, 2012. I was not part of his massive survey, but he noticed a comment I’d left on a website about it and took the initiative to begin an email correspondence.

Forty-one years I’d lived, and nobody—least of all gay activists—had wanted me to speak honestly about the complicated gay threads of my life. If for no other reason than this, Mark Regnerus deserves tremendous credit—and the gay community ought to be crediting him rather than trying to silence him.

Regnerus’s study identified 248 adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships. Offered a chance to provide frank responses with the hindsight of adulthood, they gave reports unfavorable to the gay marriage equality agenda. Yet the results are backed up by an important thing in life called common sense: Growing up different from other people is difficult and the difficulties raise the risk that children will develop maladjustments or self-medicate with alcohol and other dangerous behaviors. Each of those 248 is a human story, no doubt with many complexities.

Like my story, these 248 people’s stories deserve to be told. The gay movement is doing everything it can to make sure that nobody hears them. But I care more about the stories than the numbers (especially as an English professor), and Regnerus stumbled unwittingly on a narrative treasure chest.

So why the code of silence from LGBT leaders? I can only speculate from where I’m sitting. I cherish my mother’s memory, but I don’t mince words when talking about how hard it was to grow up in a gay household. Earlier studies examined children still living with their gay parents, so the kids were not at liberty to speak, governed as all children are by filial piety, guilt, and fear of losing their allowances. For trying to speak honestly, I’ve been squelched, literally, for decades.

The latest attempt at trying to silence stories (and data) such as mine comes from Darren E. Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, who gave an interview to Tom Bartlett of the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which he said—and I quote—that Mark Regnerus’s study was “bulls**t.” Bartlett’s article continues:

Among the problems Sherkat identified is the paper’s definition of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers”—an aspect that has been the focus of much of the public criticism. A woman could be identified as a “lesbian mother” in the study if she had had a relationship with another woman at any point after having a child, regardless of the brevity of that relationship and whether or not the two women raised the child as a couple.

Sherkat said that fact alone in the paper should have “disqualified it immediately” from being considered for publication.

The problem with Sherkat’s disqualification of Regnerus’s work is a manifold chicken-and-egg conundrum. Though Sherkat uses the term “LGBT” in the same interview with Bartlett, he privileges that L and G and discriminates severely against the B, bisexuals.

Where do children of LGBT parents come from? If the parents are 100-percent gay or lesbian, then the chances are that the children were conceived through surrogacy or insemination, or else adopted. Those cases are such a tiny percentage of LGBT parents, however, that it would be virtually impossible to find more than a half-dozen in a random sampling of tens of thousands of adults.

Most LGBT parents are, like me, and technically like my mother, “bisexual”—the forgotten B. We conceived our children because we engaged in heterosexual intercourse. Social complications naturally arise if you conceive a child with the opposite sex but still have attractions to the same sex. Sherkat calls these complications disqualifiable, as they are corrupting the purity of a homosexual model of parenting.

I would posit that children raised by same-sex couples are naturally going to be more curious about and experimental with homosexuality without necessarily being pure of any attraction to the opposite sex. Hence they will more likely fall into the bisexual category, as did I—meaning that the children of LGBT parents, once they are young adults, are likely to be the first ones disqualified by the social scientists who now claim to advocate for their parents.

Those who are 100-percent gay may view bisexuals with a mix of disgust and envy. Bisexual parents threaten the core of the LGBT parenting narrative—we do have a choice to live as gay or straight, and we do have to decide the gender configuration of the household in which our children will grow up. While some gays see bisexuality as an easier position, the fact is that bisexual parents bear a more painful weight on their shoulders. Unlike homosexuals, we cannot write off our decisions as things forced on us by nature. We have no choice but to take responsibility for what we do as parents, and live with the guilt, regret, and self-criticism forever.

Our children do not arrive with clean legal immunity. As a man, though I am bisexual, I do not get to throw away the mother of my child as if she is a used incubator. I had to help my wife through the difficulties of pregnancy and postpartum depression. When she is struggling with discrimination against mothers or women at a sexist workplace, I have to be patient and listen. I must attend to her sexual needs. Once I was a father, I put aside my own homosexual past and vowed never to divorce my wife or take up with another person, male or female, before I died. I chose that commitment in order to protect my children from dealing with harmful drama, even as they grow up to be adults. When you are a parent, ethical questions revolve around your children and you put away your self-interest . . . forever.

Sherkat’s assessment of Regnerus’s work shows a total disregard for the emotional and sexual labor that bisexual parents contribute to their children. Bisexual parents must wrestle with their duties as parents while still contending with the temptations to enter into same-sex relationships. The turbulence documented in Mark Regnerus’s study is a testament to how hard that is. Rather than threatening, it is a reminder of the burden I carry and a goad to concern myself first and foremost with my children’s needs, not my sexual desires.

The other chicken-and-egg problem of Sherkat’s dismissal deals with conservative ideology. Many have dismissed my story with four simple words: “But you are conservative.” Yes, I am. How did I get that way? I moved to the right wing because I lived in precisely the kind of anti-normative, marginalized, and oppressed identity environment that the left celebrates: I am a bisexual Latino intellectual, raised by a lesbian, who experienced poverty in the Bronx as a young adult. I’m perceptive enough to notice that liberal social policies don’t actually help people in those conditions. Especially damning is the liberal attitude that we shouldn’t be judgmental about sex. In the Bronx gay world, I cleaned out enough apartments of men who’d died of AIDS to understand that resistance to sexual temptation is central to any kind of humane society. Sex can be hurtful not only because of infectious diseases but also because it leaves us vulnerable and more likely to cling to people who don’t love us, mourn those who leave us, and not know how to escape those who need us but whom we don’t love. The left understands none of that. That’s why I am conservative.

So yes, I am conservative and support Regnerus’s findings. Or is it that Regnerus’s findings revisit the things that made me conservative in the first place? Sherkat must figure that one out.

Having lived for forty-one years as a strange man, I see it as tragically fitting that the first instinct of experts and gay activists is to exclude my life profile as unfit for any “data sample,” or as Dr. Sherkat calls it, “bullshit.” So the game has gone for at least twenty-five years. For all the talk about LGBT alliances, bisexuality falls by the wayside, thanks to scholars such as Sherkat. For all the chatter about a “queer” movement, queer activists are just as likely to restrict their social circles to professionalized, normal people who know how to throw charming parties, make small talk, and blend in with the Art Deco furniture.

I thank Mark Regnerus. Far from being “bulls**t,” his work is affirming to me, because it acknowledges what the gay activist movement has sought laboriously to erase, or at least ignore. Whether homosexuality is chosen or inbred, whether gay marriage gets legalized or not, being strange is hard; it takes a mental toll, makes it harder to find friends, interferes with professional growth, and sometimes leads one down a sodden path to self-medication in the form of alcoholism, drugs, gambling, antisocial behavior, and irresponsible sex. The children of same-sex couples have a tough road ahead of them—I know, because I have been there. The last thing we should do is make them feel guilty if the strain gets to them and they feel strange. We owe them, at the least, a dose of honesty. Thank you, Mark Regnerus, for taking the time to listen.

children, culture, discrimination, diversity, family, homosexuality, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, political correctness, scandal, sex, tragedy

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Educating people about religion by keeping them dumb

original article: CNN religion quiz needs to take Christianity seriously
March 19, 2017 by John Stonestreet

In what has become an annual tradition of television programming claiming to reveal the real Jesus of Nazareth, it seems that CNN is off to an early start. Every Easter season, cable networks fill their lineups with specials featuring biblical and historical experts who often represent only the skeptical side of the longstanding debate about the historical Jesus.

This year, CNN even preempted their special series, “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery,” with an even stronger than usual dose of their “we will tell you, especially you Christians, what Christianity really is…” attitude towards believers and matters of faith. At CNN.com, all are invited to take a ten-question online promotional quiz entitled, “Do you have faith in your knowledge of Christianity?”

Among the crucially important matters of faith revealed by this little test are what a commune in southwest France serves for the Easter meal, what household items believers in Norway hide from evil spirits, what objects are thrown to celebrate Fat Tuesday in the Belgian town of Binche, which African nation claims to have the Ark of the Covenant, and who the shortest reigning Pontiff was.

In a quiz claiming to test one’s knowledge of Christianity, there is sum total of one question about Jesus Christ (where did He walk on water?). Nothing is asked about Jesus’ birth, words, death or resurrection. There are no questions about the Christian understanding of truth, sin, or salvation. Nothing about Paul or Peter. Nothing about the afterlife. Nothing about the human condition.

In reality, the quiz reveals virtually nothing about one’s knowledge of Christianity. It does, however, reveal much about how CNN and so many secular elites view religion, and the blind spot that clouds their thinking:: that secularists are just as much people of faith as the faithful they hope to educate.

For secularists who tend to see religion as little more than a cultural artifact of a world fast slipping away, the sort of obscure questions asked in the CNN.com quiz makes sense. Religious truth claims, in this view, only reflect the irrational beliefs of people hanging onto traditions from a time before omniscient science and enlightened reason. Religion describes only what people believe and do. It does not, and cannot, describe the world as it is.

In a recent presentation to the employees at Google, Tim Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church called this view of religion “simplistic and naive.” First, the world – when one looks outside of Europe and North America – is getting more, not less, religious. To suggest the opposite is a statement of cultural imperialism. Second, if secularists are right about God – that He doesn’t exist – then the universe and everything that exists, including our brains, resulted from natural, mindless processes. If this is really our story, than how can we substantiate our faith in human reason? Third, and this is critical, our faith in human reason is just that: faith. The statement that all things must be proven by reason to be true is an assumption we make that itself is not provable by reason. If embraced, it is taken by faith.

None of this is to say that secularism is false and Christianity is true. Both secularism and Christianity make claims about the world we live in, about human nature, and about God. Both secularists and Christians, as Keller went on to demonstrate, rely on reason and faith in investigating and offering explanations about the world we experience.

Too many brilliant people, after investigating Christian truth claims in light of their own existential struggles, have embraced faith for it to be cavalierly dismissed. Atheists like Anthony Flew, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and C.S. Lewis came to believe that the intricate design and stubborn persistence of moral norms we see in the universe were best explained by the existence of a Higher Power. Skeptics like Lee Strobel and Malcolm Muggeridge found that there was far more to this Jesus of Nazareth and the historical evidence of His resurrection than typically presented in the annual network specials.

Christianity, like all belief systems, certainly deserves to be investigated and scrutinized. No one settle for an unexamined faith. But, by all means, it deserves to be taken seriously.

anti-religion, bias, bigotry, christian, culture, discrimination, elitism, ideology, indoctrination, intolerance, pandering, political correctness, relativism, religion, theology

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What does a progressive consider “righteous anger”?

Allison Stranger, the Middlebury College professor injured by protesters opposing Charles Murray’s appearance on campus, has something to say. The New York Times published her comments on the incident in an article titled Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion.

Stranger has some straightforward and well justified criticism of the protesters, the extremely illiberal liberals supposedly fighting against hate (by using hate). And yet she also has an odd attitude about the whole thing. Stranger construes the hateful speech and hateful actions of the progressive protests as “righteous anger” and curiously proceeds to build a case showing the exact opposite.

Nearly half way into her article Stranger admits this “righteous anger” was in fact hate: “Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray…” She proceeds to describe what is unavoidably understood as intimidation and terrorism as she states “I feared for my life.”

The problems only continue to mount. Strange proceeds to describe how the well was poisoned long before Murray even showed up on campus.

Part of the problem was the furor that preceded the talk. This past month, as the campus uproar about Dr. Murray’s visit built, I was genuinely surprised and troubled to learn that some of my faculty colleagues had rendered judgment on Dr. Murray’s work and character without ever having read anything he has written.

Once the propaganda began, college progressives were simply uninterested in intellectual (or any other kind of) honesty.

Intelligent members of the Middlebury community — including some of my own students and advisees — concluded that Charles Murray was an anti-gay white nationalist from what they were hearing from one another, and what they read on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. Never mind that Dr. Murray supports same-sex marriage and is a member of the courageous “never Trump” wing of the Republican Party.

There is no excusing what happened at Middlebury, and those who prevented Charles Murray from speaking must be punished for violating college rules. But what the events at Middlebury made clear is that, regardless of political persuasion, Americans today are deeply susceptible to a renunciation of reason and celebration of ignorance. They know what they know without reading, discussing or engaging those who might disagree with them.

It’s true, as Stranger says, “People from both sides of the aisle reject calm logic, eager to embrace the alternative news that supports their prejudices” but we should note it is not the political right who is engaging in and celebrating violent protests: that is the hallmark of the modern political left.

Stranger honorably recommends “We must all be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger, or this pattern of miscommunication will continue on other college campuses.” But it would be good for her to take her own advice. Notice how she seems to have blindly embraced the anti-Trump narrative of the left.

Throughout an ugly campaign and into his presidency, President Trump has demonized Muslims as terrorists and dehumanized many groups of marginalized people. He declared the free press an enemy of the people…, and seems bent on dismantling the separation of powers and 230 years of progress this country has made toward a more perfect union. Much of the free speech he has inspired — or has refused to disavow — is ugly, and has already had ugly real-world consequences.

In an effort to “be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger” let’s take a closer look at Stranger’s allegations.

No one is claiming all Muslims are terrorists, while the vast majority of terrorist actions in the world today are in fact committed by Islamic extremists (or American progressives). To even acknowledge this plain fact garners the label “Islamophobic”. Why? Because over generalizing and making blanket accusations are fine if the target is Christianity or conservatism, but Islam is to be protected at all costs, even the cost of one’s own intellectual credibility.

Ignoring the influx of violent immigrants and imported gang violence (especially among states bordering Mexico) does no good for the American people despite the gains it provides to the political left vilifying those who acknowledge this. No one is claiming all immigrants are a danger. But pretending there is no danger is downright idiotic especially considering ISIS has bragged about infiltrating other countries with operatives posing as refugees (something that has actually happened).

The American “free press” has chosen sides in political conflict and it is absurd to deny this: it has been the case for decades. With very few exceptions they are an enemy of Trump and were nauseatingly fond (and protective) of Obama and Clinton (either of them). As a single piece of evidence: Stranger accuses Trump of being bent on dismantling the separation of powers and over two centuries of progress in the United States when that dishonor could easily be placed on Obama’s shoulders.

Also, it is common place for politicians to portray their agendas as the will of “the American people” so there no point in denying this when Trump brands the press as the enemy. It would be easier to reject his claims if the press weren’t so hell bent on pumping any and all criticisms and accusations Democrats throw at Trump when they worked so hard to refute or dismiss Obama’s critics.

And so what if a lot of the free speech of late has been ugly? Falsely accusing the political right of various forms of bigotry (something that has been done for decades) is also ugly, but that doesn’t stop the political left doing so. Stranger is doing that very thing even here in unquestioningly regurgitating the left’s narrative on Trump. Did you notice how Nazi comparisons were treated as distasteful when Obama was president but were perfectly fine when Bush was president, and are once again in vogue with president Trump?

Intentionally misconstruing the political right’s comments provides an excellent example for Stranger and the rest of the political left to “be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger”. With very few exceptions Stranger’s criticism of hate is an apt description of the common progressive, and even more apt of left wing activists. It looks like Jonathan Haidt is proven right once again.

abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, culture, Democrats, discrimination, education, extremism, free speech, hate crime, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, news media, oppression, pandering, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, relativism, scandal, tragedy, victimization

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University presidents more concerned with climate than free speech

original article: University presidents nationwide refuse to sign ‘Intellectual Freedom Commitment’
March 10, 2017 by NATHAN RUBBELKE

Zero presidents have signed it; all refuse

In November 2015, as racial protests engulfed the University of Missouri and students issued demands nationwide, Peter Wood thought the rocky campus landscape was ripe for higher education leaders to affirm their commitment to intellectual and academic freedom.

With that in mind, the prominent scholar penned a “College and University Presidents’ Intellectual Freedom Commitment.” However, campus leaders completely rejected it.

“Zero, absolutely zero” presidents have signed on, Wood said in an interview, but the president of the National Association of Scholars isn’t giving up on his mission.

Wood’s efforts initially began in the fall of 2015, as the Mizzou protests garnered national attention and ousted university leaders, spurring students nationwide to make demands at their respective campus.

At that time, Wood saw a number of conservative commentators responding with “very aggressive statements” about the need to preserve freedom of speech on campus. While he didn’t disagree with them, he thought “something a little bit more thought through about what kind of actions could and should be taken to preserve the intellectual freedom” might be needed.

MORE: It might be time to defund colleges that suppress free speech, scholar writes

Wood initially published in January 2016 a 30-page document entitled “The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom.” He shared it with several thousand university presidents and trustees, but received little feedback.

“It certainly did not hit home,” Wood said.

That led Wood to develop the “College and University Presidents’ Intellectual Freedom Commitment,” a single-page, 340-word document he describes as less historical and philosophical and more of a “definite pledge.”

The document states “that intellectual freedom is the foundation of higher education.” It calls in part for the protection in academia to raise questions, analyze claims, express doubts and to argue for and against conclusions.

The commitment acknowledges intellectual freedom often results in controversies and public scrutiny.

“With that in mind we believe it is important from time to time for the leaders of colleges and universities to affirm strongly the principle of intellectual freedom,” it reads.

College and University Presidents’ Academic Freedom Commitment by The College Fix on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/341416284/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-LbyqKpDThhST7eAmM6jh&show_recommendations=true

The model for enlisting higher education leaders to sign on to such a cause comes from the progressive left, Wood said.

He pointed to the success of the “American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” which was brought forth by a dozen college leaders in 2006. The group worked with climate advocacy groups like Second Nature, ecoAmerica and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to push the pledge forward. By the end of 2007, the commitment had more than 300 signatures and eventually more than 650 institutions committed to it.

Wood hoped to have the same success. He reached out to university presidents one by one. Could he enlist campus leaders?

“The answer is a big flat no. I can’t,” he said.

Wood said it appears college and university presidents have moved so steadfastly to the left that they’re “much more interested in mounting the resistance to the rule of law and to President Trump than they are in protecting the rights of their own students and faculty members.”

However, that’s the negative way to look at the lack of signatories.

“The positive way is that the time has not yet come when they are really ready to commit themselves to this,” he said.

However, the fight for intellectual freedom on college campuses hasn’t stopped with Wood. It’s expanded outside academia. Wood pointed to model campus free speech legislationdeveloped by the Goldwater Institute and Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Additionally Wood and his organization, the National Association of Scholars, are working on proposed changes to the federal Higher Education Act.

MORE: Public colleges that threaten free expression would face steep penalties under model bill

However, Wood isn’t giving up on his intellectual freedom pledge. The potential legislation might spurn campus leaders to act on their own.

“As they begin to notice that their states and federal government are about to move into this territory, they may well begin to think that voluntary and self-regulation might not be a bad idea and could stave off these external authorities,” Wood said.

He also noted that recent riots at UC Berkeley over the appearance of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos “revived public interest in the topic and that opens up another chance.”

Wood isn’t discouraged by the original lack of response.

“I expect that everyone of these fights is going to be hard and I understand that higher education is now pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of the progressive left,” he said.

While there are conservative scholars and conservative institutions, Wood said it doesn’t particularly help him in getting them aboard given they’re a small demographic ignored by the mainstream.

It’s the larger demographic Wood wants to reach.

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“My hope is to make this a mainstream thing,” he said.

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Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women

original article: On This ‘Day Without a Woman,’ Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind
March 8, 2017 by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Wednesday is International Women’s Day, and the organizers of the Women’s March are holding another protest. This one is called A Day Without a Woman, in solidarity with those women who have lower wages and experience greater inequalities.

The protest encourages women to take the day off work, avoid shopping other than in small women- and minority-owned stores, and wear red.

The problems being protested against Wednesday—inequality, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity—are all too real for many disadvantaged women, but the legal protections for them are in place here in the United States. Women who are unfairly treated at work or discriminated against can stand up, speak out, protest in the streets, and take legal action. Not so for many women in other parts of the world for whom the hashtag #daywithoutawoman is all too apt.

Around the world women are subjected to “honor violence” and lack legal protections and access to health and social services. According to Amnesty International’s recent annual report, throughout the Middle East and North Africa, women and girls are denied equal status with men in law and are subject to gender-based violence, including sexual violence and killings perpetrated in the name of “honor.”

The relationship between the sexes in Muslim majority countries is inspired and often governed by a mix of tribal, traditional practices and Islamic law. Algerian author Kamel Daoud recently referred to this system as entailing “sexual misery” for both men and women throughout the Islamic world.Daoud favors the full emancipation of Muslim women, yet many commentators criticized him as being guilty of “Islamophobia,” a term increasingly used to silence meaningful debate.

International Women’s Day should be a day to raise our voices on behalf of women with no recourse to protect their rights. Yet I doubt Wednesday’s protesters will wave placards condemning the religious and cultural framework for women’s oppression under Sharia law. As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman’s testimony in court as worth half that of a man’s; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It’s not only women’s legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.

In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria, where Sharia law underpins the judicial system, women’s rights suffer greatly.

There is a growing trend among some feminists to make excuses for Sharia law and claim it is nothing more than a personal moral guide, and therefore consistent with American constitutional liberties. Yet the rules that such “Sharia-lite feminists” voluntarily choose to follow are also invoked to oppress women—to marry them off, to constrain their economic and human rights, and to limit their freedom of expression—who have not consented to them. The moral conflict between Sharia and universal human rights should not be dismissed as a misunderstanding, but openly discussed.

Many Western feminists struggle to embrace universal women’s rights. Decades ago, Germaine Greer argued that attempts to outlaw female genital mutilation amounted to “an attack on cultural identity.” That type of deference to traditional practices, in the name of cultural sensitivity, hurts vulnerable women. These days, relativism remains strong. Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women—female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, marital rape, and honor violence, particularly in non-Western societies. Women’s rights are universal, and such practices cannot be accepted.

The revival of part of the women’s movement, catalyzed by the election of Donald Trump, has deeper roots than can be seen on the surface. Like Wednesday’s protest, a large portion of Western feminism has been captured by political ideologues and postmodern apologists. Rather than protecting women’s rights, many feminists are focused on signaling opposition to “right-wing” politics.

One of the organizers of the Women’s March movement recently tweeted: “If the right wing is defending or agreeing with you, you are probably on the wrong side. Re-evaluate your positions.”

I’m all for dissent, but that “us vs. them” mentality has caused political gridlock, even on humanitarian issues where the left and right should work together. Hostility and intolerance to others’ views have made rational discussion on important issues taboo. A robust defense of universal women’s rights should welcome support from both the left and the right, overcoming domestic partisan divisions in order to help women abroad attain their full rights.

This International Women’s Day, we should protest the oppression of women who have no access to legal protections. We should support those Muslim reformers, such as Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and Irshad Manji, who seek to reform Islam in line with full legal equality between men and women. And we should strive to overcome domestic political divisions to defend the universality of women’s rights.

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Middlebury College enabled student riot

original article: How Middlebury College Enabled The Student Riot During Charles Murray’s Visit
March 7, 2017 by Peter W. Wood

School administrators must stop abasing themselves to student outrage. Colleges should foster intellectual community—not progressive appeasement.

The fracas at Middlebury College on March 2 has been widely reported. Both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal covered it, though perhaps no report improved on the local Addison County Independent: Middlebury College professor injured by protesters as she escorted controversial speaker.” Web coverage and commentary has also been ample. The American Interest was among the first to post.

This is an ongoing story with important details to come. The links above provide concise versions. What follows is a zoomed-in look at the events that preceded the apparent effort by a protester to inflict serious harm on a Middlebury professor, a professor who herself played an ambiguous part in the disturbance.

read full article

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Instructor files complaint against free speech on campus

original article: Instructor files ‘hostile work environment’ grievance because university let Milo on campus
March 2, 2017 by Grace Curtis

President prioritizes free speech over ‘safety and well-being’

A doctoral student is accusing the University of Washington of creating a hostile work environment by letting anti-feminist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos speak on campus in January.

Alan-Michael Weatherford, a diversity and queer studies instructor, filed a complaint through his labor union. He personally confronted UW President Ana Mari Cauce at a student government meeting last month, saying he was “very busy taking care of your mess.”

Cauce bucked heavy pressure from students and faculty to cancel the Yiannopoulos event, hosted by the UW College Republicans (UWCRs), even after someone was shot outside the building where he spoke. Doing so would embolden other protesters to try to shut down other events, Cauce later told the community.

A law professor told The College Fix that Weatherford’s union complaint “makes little sense” legally.

Respecting free speech ‘will only replicate systems of inequality’

Weatherford made himself a target by organizing a “day of resistance” composed of “peaceful teach-ins” at the library across from Yiannopoulos’s venue, the instructor wrote a lengthy op-ed in The Daily.

Hours before Yiannopoulos arrived, Weatherford and his crew started marching downtown to continue the protest. They covered their faces with masks because of UW’s failure “to protect its own population” from “neo-Nazis” who supported Yiannopoulos, an “internet hate-mongerer,” Weatherford wrote.

The instructor told Seattle Weekly that he tried to block a man who continually tried to film them as they marched.

By the next day videos and photos of his protests were circulating online, and Weatherford was “doxxed” when internet users found and published his email address, social media profiles and office location and hours.

He began receiving “homophobic and transphobic slurs” and threats of rape, while users “libeled” his page on RateMyProfessors, he wrote in the op-ed. (Those reviews have apparently been removed, while several new glowing reviews have since been added. His page is now limited to registered users.)

Weatherford has since shut down his social media pages and his university email is no longer listed on UW’s directory. He declined to teach class the Monday after he was identified.

“All of this is especially shocking, provided that I was just recently nominated for a Distinguished Teaching Award and have a great track record in teaching my own courses,” Weatherford wrote. He said teaching “diversity courses” made him “an exemplary target.”

MORE: UW president says we can’t shut down Milo any more than Black Lives Matter

The instructor urged students to consider the “enormous differences in power, privilege and safety” between people with the same constitutional rights.

“I am urging you to recognize that blithely promoting free speech in all contexts without consciously and intentionally prioritizing the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable will only replicate systems of inequality,” he wrote.

“I ask that in the future when the University considers upholding free speech at the expense of physical safety, that the administration thinks hard about those consequences,” Weatherford said.

He did not respond to interview requests from The Fix.

Falsely accused of ‘exchanging grades for sexual favors’

The instructor wasn’t the first person to get doxxed in response to the Yiannopoulos event: Two weeks earlier, UWCRs President Jessie Gamble was pictured on a flyer that included phone numbers for her and her father, calling her “the racist in your class.”

Weatherford’s department, Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media, released a statement against the “hateful internet bullying, sexual harassment and violent threats” against him, including claims of “exchanging grades for sexual favors.”

Echoing Weatherford’s op-ed, the department said the behavior toward him was not protected by the First Amendment. It cited a 1992 Supreme Court ruling “protecting individuals from … the possibility that the threatened violence will occur.”

MORE: College Republicans leader says UW employee threatened her over Milo

The instructor’s union complaint that allowing Yiannopoulos on campus created a hostile work environment was revealed in a lengthy feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education. After Weatherford filed a report with university police, a detective started investigating a threat against him and an officer now escorts him to class, it reported.

Grievance is just a formalized heckler’s veto

George Washington University Law Prof. John Banzhaf told The Fix that Weatherford’s hostile-workplace complaint is not legally actionable because it targets “things which are essential” to his workplace.

“Most would agree that an important purpose served by a university is to permit its students to be exposed to new and often unpopular viewpoints, often by inviting (or having student groups invite) them to speak on campus,” Banzhaf said in an email.

He called the filing of a grievance an update of the “heckler’s veto,” in which “the mere threat that there will be disruptive hecklers” leads a university to “stifle speech with which the hecklers disagree.”

The UW taking Weatherford’s union grievance seriously would be like “acting on complaints from doctors that they may be exposed to blood with the AIDS virus,” Banzhaf said.

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Harvard – look what happens when you give social justice warriors free rein

original article: Harvard’s anti-male committee wants to overturn campus democracy and a free press
February 28, 2017 by Greg Piper

When it became clear that faculty might vote to overturn Harvard’s punitive rules against members of single-sex organizations such as final clubs, the university created a faculty review committee rather than suffer an embarrassing defeat.

Some people thought it was purely “window dressing,” a way for Harvard to make professors feel like they had a say when they really didn’t.

The administration would still get what it wanted, the thinking went: the blacklisting of club members from elite fellowships (like the Rhodes) and leadership roles on athletic teams and student organizations.

But it looks like the faculty review committee might actually serve as a useful check on even worse recommendations coming from the implementation committee that made the original recommendations.

MORE: Harvard is ready to blacklist 1 in 4 students

The Harvard Crimson reports that the implementation committee now wants to ban fraternity, sorority and final-club members from “several more post-graduate fellowships,” not just those requiring the dean’s recommendation.

It’s also refusing to give out copies of the new recommendations, probably anticipating that they would go viral very quickly:

Implementation committee members did not receive copies of the report, developed over the course of last semester, according to several members of the body. Rather, committee co-chairs Douglas A. Melton and Kay K. Shelemay printed copies of the document and placed them in University Hall. Members traveled to the building at select times earlier this month to physically examine the report and offer feedback.

This is similar to the protocol by which members of Congress can review classified material, so you get a sense of how important this committee thinks it is.

MORE: Dean chickens out of blacklist on eve of risky faculty vote

But it’s not just post-graduate fellowships the committee wants to put off-limits:

In another section of the group’s final report, the implementation committee recommended that The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council be subject to the College’s policy, according to the three committee members. Such a step would aim to bar members of final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions on either The Crimson or the UC.

In other words: This big-headed committee is so determined to snuff out men and women spending time with their own kind, which is allegedly sexist and elitist, that it will destroy democracy and a free press on campus.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sounds the alarm on this “super-blacklist,” which validates Harvard’s earlier inclusion in the group’s “10 Worst Schools for Free Speech” list.

MORE: Harvard punishes men’s team for crude comments of prior team

In earlier eras Harvard tried to out gay men and communists, and now it’s using the same tactics against people who like the platonic company of their own sex, writes FIRE’s Ryne Weiss:

[W]e really wish we could stop covering this car wreck. Unfortunately, Harvard keeps driving towards the wall.

He also notes the classified hush-hush procedure, and muses how the committee would even enforce these proposed rules against final clubs:

Maybe by calling the programs and warning them that the student applying had committed the unforgivable crime of throwing a “Headbands for Hope” charity fundraiser with Kappa Kappa Gamma? …

What is more democratic than a secret, authoritarian body telling you who you can’t vote for? There’s nothing troubling about that at all!

MORE: Harvard designates ‘open forum’ off the record to stifle criticism

The committee’s new recommendations are also a slap in the face to Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, a tinpot dictator who nevertheless had earlier promised The Crimson – which is totally separate from Harvard – that its leaders wouldn’t be ensnared by the rules:

To sum it up: Harvard administrators would purport to dictate who could lead an independent student newspaper, who students could vote for in their student government, and who could hire graduates of the university.

Harvard’s erratic behavior over the past month – creating the faculty review committee only two days after the implementation committee gave its (secret) final report to Khurana – makes more sense now, Weiss says:

Harvard was afraid that the new sanctions-on-steroids regime would leak to faculty, students, the public, and FIRE, and profoundly damage the regime’s public support. Harvard calculated that if it could keep the details secret until the last possible minute, it would give students and faculty too little time to do anything about it. And Harvard administrators really, really do not like embarrassing leaks. We’re talking a “we’ll-inspect-faculty-members’-emails-without-their-knowledge” level of hating leaks. …

MORE: Harvard promises special treatment to women-only club

It seems extremely unlikely that Dean Khurana just coincidentally announced the new panel two days after he was handed these recommendations. He probably saw these recommendations, was aghast, realized the faculty vote was nigh and that they would never go for this, and got a new group.

With this huge embarrassment stemming from her own illiberal impulses, maybe Harvard President Drew Faust will finally decide to zip her lips on how freedom of association is just another way of saying Jim Crow.

MORE: Hanging out with other males is like stopping blacks from voting

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Former Muslim: criticism of Islam not allowed

original article: Muslim convert to Christianity: Oxford lecturer barred me from asking questions critical of Islam
February 28, 2017 by Dave Urbanski

A Muslim convert to Christianity said he was barred by an Oxford University lecturer from asking questions critical of Islam.

Iranian-born Shahriar Ashrafkhorasani — who’s studying to become a Church of England priest — said the lecturer pointed at him during a seminar and said, “Everybody can ask a question except you,” Heat Street reported.

The outlet said Ashrafkhorasani has issued a formal complaint accusing the university of discrimination and bias, adding that the lecturer is Minlib Dallh, a research fellow at Regent’s Park College in Oxford.

Ashrafkhorasani, 33, said after Dallh learned during a seminar coffee break that he’s a convert from Islam who was persecuted in Iran, the lecturer wouldn’t let him ask questions critical of Dallh’s description of Islam as a religion of peace and love, Heat Street reported.

Three students confirmed Ashrafkhorasani’s assertion, the outlet said, citing the Sunday Times of London.

Heat Street said Ashrafkhorasani, a master’s student in applied theology, added that Dallh’s lecture “was at best a very poor Islamic apologetic, and at worst academically dishonest and misleading. While the government is rightly concerned about Islamophobia, there is no concern whatsoever for Christianophobia.”

The outlet noted Oxford’s response: “All complaints made to the proctors’ office are treated with the utmost seriousness and with the interests of the student paramount.”

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School officials threaten, bully pro-life students

original article: Pro-life students say school officials threatened them if they sought legal help
February 27, 2017 by College Fix

Adoption message is ‘offensive’ to one student

When Carmel High School officials tore down a display created by pro-life students that had taken 25 hours to complete – after a student complained it was “offensive” – Carmel Teens for Life was miffed.

The display bore approval marks from the office that regulates student signage, and other signs from Democratic and LGBTQ student groups had been posted and left alone.

But the pro-life group was frightened when officials at the Indiana school threatened to force its leaders to resign, “jeopardizing the club’s existence,” if they didn’t “immediately” sign an agreement that waived their right to seek “legal assistance” in response to the school’s actions, LifeNews.com reports:

School personnel had also demanded the Carmel Teens for Life student members sign an agreement prohibiting club members from using the word “abortion” in any club communications, verbal or written, including on Facebook, school posters and other official correspondence. … The students were not allowed to take the agreement home or to discuss it with their parents.

School officials backed down when religious liberty law firm Liberty Counsel threatened to sue for First Amendment violations, agreeing to let the students rehang their poster – which promotes adoption over abortion – for 10 days. It still claimed that student-made signs are “not allowed to advocate a club’s agenda or cause.”

MORE: Pro-life club told it can’t use ‘abortion’ on club sign

Carmel Clay Schools said school officials “did not believe [the original sign] met club signage guidelines and had not received the proper approval by administration.”

Liberty Counsel claimed the principal and assistant principal had said the sign – actually several smaller signs arranged into one large display – was not allowed to “interfere with what folks are thinking or feeling comfortable with.”

According to the Indianapolis Star, the school district says signs can only include “time, date and place of meetings” for student clubs, not “messages.”

The school district also punished the club because its own rules were ambiguous:

The dispute arose after the students in Teens for Life got a little creative. Club members can hang up to 10 signs and display them in the cafeteria.

The club taped their 10 signs together to create one large banner and hung it in the cafeteria. …

MORE: University ditches ‘diversity grant’ rather than give it to pro-life group

Some basic facts remain in dispute. [Carmel Teens for Life President Mary Carmen] Zakrajsek says administrators approved the sign, which is a school requirement, before it was put up.  Hung during National Adoption Month, the word “abortion” was altered to say “adoption.”

[District spokesperson Tammy] Sander, though, said text was added after the banner was approved, which Zakrajsek disputes.

Zakrajsek also said it was unclear to her that signs could only contain times, dates and places of meetings, not other messages. She recalled seeing a sign for Carmel High School Democrats that included an image of a donkey.

The Indiana Family Institute is using the dispute to promote a state bill to expand students’ rights to freely express their religious views “in homework, artwork and other assignments,” as well as on their clothing, and to create a “limited public forum” for such viewpoints at school events.

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