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Revisiting a bad faith media narrative on the Covington Catholic story

original article: A Year Ago, the Media Mangled the Covington Catholic Story. What Happened Next Was Even Worse.
January 21, 2020 by ROBBY SOAVE

Journalists and pundits who frantically doubled down on their initial bad takes deserve more criticism.

On the weekend of January 18, 2019, a short video appeared on Twitter that purported to show a group of Catholic high school boys—one young man, Nicholas Sandmann, in particular—harassing a Native American elder named Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

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Does University culture think racism is sometimes okay?

The University of Alabama recently found itself undesirably in the spotlight again when an administrator of high standing lost his job at the institution. The essence of the matter appears to be that Dr. Jamie R. Riley, dean of students and assistance vice president of student life, resigned from UA in a mutual agreement with the institution after some allegedly racist social media comments of his publically surfaced.

The Tuscaloosa News has two stories about the incident published Sep. 13 and Sep. 18, both written by Ed Enoch. The earlier story focuses on student reaction to Riley’s resignation, the latter focuses on the UA Faculty Senate’s reaction. While some details on the initial comments are mentioned, neither story focuses much attention on the controversial comments that serve as the catalyst for the entire situation.

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Protesting athletes have forgotten what “pastime” means

The recent athletic protests of the U.S. national anthem highlight some important points we all know but are worth reiterating. First, no matter how important some may think they are, professional sports are a pastime. Second, how other people view your actions is not in your control.

Let’s expound on the nature of professional sports. The United States is a country of such opportunity and prosperity that millions of us have enough time and money to watch athletes play a game, and pay them for the pleasure of doing so. This is no chump change. Do you realize how much money we the people pour into professional sports each year? It’s a lot. The professional athletes protesting our national anthem are paid very well to play a game. And why do so many of us have the ability to make those athletes filthy rich to play a game? Because we live in a country based on freedom, and we have people who put on the uniform to protect that freedom. Respect for those who risk their lives to defend the American experiment was built into our sports tradition long ago. Those who make a living (becoming filthy rich) playing a game should respect that.

There are multi-millionaires taking a knee out of protest of the country, not out of respect for it. Professional sports are a pastime. We the people engage in pastimes to get away from things like politics.

And what are these professional athletes protesting? Well that brings us to the second point: we don’t control how other people view our actions.

The infamous Colin Kaepernick, the catalyst for the controversial displays of protest, lays out his reasons at NFL.com:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…

Keep in mind there are multi-millionaire athletes who get to play a game for a living who are basically calling America a racist country. That brings us to a problem of intellectual dishonesty.

Kaepernick, and many others, would have us believe the United States is a racist country. And, of course, when I ask where are the Jim Crow laws, where did the poor white unemployed whose kids are stuck in bad schools put their privilege, and how did a racist country let a black guy get elected for the most powerful office in the world not once, but twice, the inevitable lame response is to accuse me of falsely claiming there is no racism here anymore. Which is hogwash.

No one is claiming racism has been eliminated, no one. Accusing people of thinking that doesn’t make it so. But where are the Jim Crow laws? Today Jim Crow HAS BEEN eliminated (except in institutions of higher education, where leftwing extremists are once again demanding racial segregation, renewing a long standing Democrat tradition).

On the contrary, affirmative action is the rule of the day. Historically disadvantaged people groups now have privileges while folks (who invented and implemented Jim Crow) used to enjoy. (Did you notice that? Right here I’ve acknowledged slavery and racism actually happened. No one denies these things happened, so it’s really quite ridiculous to suggest anyone is. And it’s intellectually dishonest to accuse anyone of denying these things.)

But the tables have been turned. The Duke Lacrosse team showed us a glaring example (one of many) of how while folk can now be falsely accused of a crime and deprived of their civil rights, not least of which is the the right to due process. Thankfully the anti-white racism was noticed and refuted, despite getting a jump start by a complicit media and over 80 Duke faculty who had already convicted the accused before the facts were made known and then incredulously tried to deny they jumped the gun, and called for the dismissal of the accused boys by claiming they were “merely” trying to bring greater attention to the abuse of women.

So, yes, racism still exists. But institutional racism does not. Racism still happens but it does not lurk around every corner. Given the scare stories the media has published about white supremacy, it is absurd to think an inherently white supremacist nation would elect a black guy to the most powerful position in the world. It is asinine to suggest white supremacists let Obama win the presidential election as a “token” black guy, yet the same white supremacists were so upset he won that they let it happen a second time.

Besides, do you realize how insulting it is to suggest Obama didn’t actually win the 2008 or 2012 elections, but he was merely allowed to win so white supremacists could have their token black guy? In a slightly “you didn’t build that” way, it is profound partisan blindness to think those elections were merely handed to him. If you think Obama’s critics opposed him because they’re racist, the last thing you should do is act like Obama didn’t win two terms of the presidency because of his own abilities. It sounds racist when you do that.

While those who get paid to find racism even when it isn’t there continually stir up strife and manufacture fear that racism lurks around every corner, filthy rich athletes protest the flag and the national anthem. It doesn’t look like they are protesting oppression, since it is we the supposedly racist middle-America types who spend our hard earned dollars that make them rich. People don’t pay to watch professional sports despite the skin color of the athletes, they watch professional sports because they DON’T CARE about the skin color of those athletes. The only begrudging thing about this is the fact we are paying these athletes and then watching them accuse us of racism.

That’s precisely how millions of Americans feel when professional athletes protest the anthem or the flag. We feel we are being called racist, by the multi-millionaires taking a knee during the anthem. When a white supremacist waves the Confederate flag and says “it’s not about race, it’s about heritage” do you buy that? I don’t. So when the protesters say “I’m not anti-America, I’m protesting oppression of people of color” I don’t buy that either. Protesting against bad cops is one thing, something all reasonable people agree with, but acting like ALL cops are bad is ridiculous. If it’s not okay to think all Muslims are evil, it’s not okay to think all cops are evil (or all Republicans, or all conservatives, or all Christians either).

If rich athletes really want to protest oppression, there are plenty of other venues for doing that, and they will have a much easier time than I would in building an audience simply because they’re famous.

Actual racists don’t care about being called racist. People who are NOT racist are offended by such accusations. Athletes have the right to protest as they wish. And I have the right to respond as I wish. I’m not going to pay for that. And many other people feel the same.

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The political left can’t tell the difference between fantasy and real life, and doesn’t care to

original article: The media doesn’t understand guns — and doesn’t want to
October 4, 2017 by Stephen L. Miller

The American political left and mainstream media pundits at large do not understand guns. They are not educated about them and they refuse to learn about them. They could not tell you the difference between an automatic or semi-automatic firearm. They don’t understand what a suppressor does or does not do. It’s safe to say most of them have not heard the term “bump stock” until this week.

What they are, however, is convinced that we need more laws to prevent mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas from happening ever again – and they will host guest after guest on their shows who are not experts in firearms, or firearm training, to lecture the American public at large about why this needs to happen.

If anyone out there on that side of the aisle is wondering why your pleas to “do something” are falling on mostly deaf ears,that would be why.

Democrats would be better off offering up legislation banning high-rise hotels in attempting to make a connection to the Las Vegas shooting than they would suppressors or background checks

It’s a largely one-sided debate happening on cable networks, and it is why those on the right – including everyday Americans and lawful gun owners not responsible for mass shootings or breaking gun laws – largely ignore what is blaring out at them from their televisions and social media.

Column after column is fired off about how much the National Rifle Association donates to congressional candidates (spoiler: it’s not much, about 200K a year). For every breathless declaration that the NRA has blood on their hands, it’s worth noting more journalists have committed mass shootings in this country than NRA members.

Firearm experts in media such as Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski (also an NRA-certified instructor), National Review Online Editor Charles Cooke and Federalist co-founder Sean Davis are sidelined from national cable news and Sunday show appearances in favor of guests who suggest suppressors are used by hunters to prevent deer from hearing a fired shot. Gutowski, Cooke and Davis will never be invited on Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert’s shows to clear up the falsehoods being spread to mass audiences or to defend the second amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Las Vegas narrative jumped to ludicrous speed shortly after the massacre ended when losing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton demanded that we “put politics aside” right before immediately politicizing the shooting in the same tweet. She then went on to state, “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.” Mrs. Clinton’s claim that firearm suppressors render guns “silent” was given three Pinnocchios by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post. This of course didn’t matter. Kessler’s fact check went mostly ignored on social media. Clinton’s false tweet about firearm suppressors garnered more than 58,000 retweets on Twitter. Glenn Kessler’s fact check? Thirty.

Kimmel chastised Paul Ryan and the GOP Congress for not enforcing laws about guns that literally do not exist.

Within hours of the Las Vegas shooting, Senator Chuck Schumer was pushing the narrative that the GOP was ramming through legislation to de-regulate silencers. This was also a fabrication. Reporters began shouting questions at Paul Ryan about “Silencer” legislation. The 64-year-old shooter in Las Vegas did not use a suppressor but Democrats have found their shiny object to fixate on – much like the no-fly list post-Orlando – which had nothing to do with the actual tragedy at hand.

Democrats would be better off offering up legislation banning high-rise hotels in attempting to make a connection to the Las Vegas shooting than they would suppressors or background checks.

America’s foremost health care expert, Jimmy Kimmel, once again repeated long-debunked Democrat talking points in another tearful monologue (Las Vegas is his hometown so it’s hard to berate him for showing emotion). Kimmel chastised Paul Ryan and the GOP Congress (again) for not enforcing laws about guns that literally do not exist. These include the so called “gunshow loophole,” an online background check loophole and allowing mentally ill individuals (a move supported by the ACLU) from purchasing firearms. All of these claims have been debunked and yet are ignored by fact-checkers at mainstream outlets and cable news pundits. Stephen Paddock did not have a criminal background, prior record and no evaluations of suspect mental health. So what then?

New York Times Magazine’s Ana Marie Cox tweeted “Man, imagine if the right believed in unfettered access to the ballot box as much as they believed in the right to own guns.” Her sudden support of background checks and voter ID laws (two things needed to purchase a firearm in America) are a welcome surprise.

Politico reporter Dan Diamond tweeted out an email announcement from The American College of Physicians calling for a ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons. What Diamond did not reveal is a ban on semiautomatic weapons would include most handguns. I’m not sure members of media know this fact, and more importantly, have demonstrated zero willingness to learn. But sure, let’s put them in charge of the health care debate.

And this is where the credibility chasm exists in media as they continue to parrot Democrat narratives on guns. As the sun rose on Vegas the morning after, and before Americans could grasp the facts of what had happened, Democrat leaders including Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer and their celebrity Hollywood base were already pointing fingers and placing blame without facts and without knowledge.

Law-abiding, gun-owning Americans will not be lectured to about a national tragedy they had nothing to do with, and they certainly won’t be lectured by elitists in media who refuse to understand even a basic grasp or terminology about a sacred constitutional right.

And until they do, we will refuse to have that “conversation” the left and the media keep telling themselves needs to happen.

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More social justice math, it’s “discriminatory”

original article: Math is ‘unjust and grounded in discrimination,’ educators moan
August 23, 2017 by Toni Airaksinen

  • Two national organizations of math teachers are on a mission to prove that math education is “unjust and grounded in a legacy of institutional discrimination.”
  • In a joint statement, the groups complain that making students “master the basics” leads to “segregation and separation,” and call on math instructors to adopt a “social justice stance” in the classroom.

Two national mathematics organizations are on a mission to prove that math education is “unjust and grounded in a legacy of institutional discrimination.”

The National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and TODOS: Mathematics for All “ratify social justice as a key priority in the access to, engagement with, and advancement in mathematics education for our country’s youth,” the groups declared last year in a joint statement, elaborating that “a social justice stance interrogates and challenges the roles power, privilege, and oppression play in the current unjust system of mathematics education—and in society as a whole.”

Next month, NCSM and TODOS, along with a few other membership societies for math teachers, will host a free webinar drawing upon the principals noted in their joint statement, inviting any interested members of the public to join in hearing “A Call for a Collective Action to Develop Awareness: Equity and Social Justice in Mathematics Education.”

[RELATED: Teachers learn to use math as Trojan horse for social justice]

The president of NCSM, Connie Schrock, is a math professor at Emporia State University, and multiple professors serve on the board of TODOS.

While the organizations hope that math can be used as a tool for social justice in the future, they also believe that math has historically perpetuated “segregation and separation,” asserting in their joint statement that “mathematics achievement, often measured by standardized tests, has been used as a gatekeeping tool to sort and rank students by race, class, and gender starting in elementary school.”

Citing the practice of “tracking,” in which pupils are sorted by academic ability into groups for certain classes, NCSM and TODOS argue that “historically, mathematics and the perceived ability to learn mathematics have been used to educate children into different societal roles such as leadership/ruling class and labor/working class leading to segregation and separation.”

[RELATED: Michigan colleges drops math, considers diversity course instead]

“In practice, children placed in ‘low’ groups experience mathematics as an isolating act consisting of fact-driven low cognitive demand tasks and an absence of mathematics discourse opportunities,” the statement contends, attributing the condition to “a pervasive misguided belief that students must ‘master the basics’ prior to engaging with complex problems [sic] solving.”

The groups also bemoan the “white and middle class” workforce of math teachers, fretting that it may not appropriately “reflect” the demographics of the communities in which they teach, such as immigrant or racial minority communities.

Social justice could be the key to solving these issues, they say, calling on math teachers to assume a “social justice stance” that “challenges the roles power, privilege, and oppression play in the current unjust system of mathematics.”

[RELATED: Prof finds ‘no evidence’ sexism is behind gender gap in STEM]

NCSM and TODOS even provided detailed strategies that math teachers can use to promote social justice, such as advocating for increased “recruitment and retention of math teachers from historically marginalized groups” and challenging “individual and societal beliefs underlying the deficit views about mathematics learning and children, with specific attention to race/ethnicity, class, gender, culture, and language.”

But social justice work is nothing without accountability, they warn, declaring that “we must hold the profession and our organizations accountable to making a just and equitable mathematics education a sustainable reality.”

Campus Reform reached out to NCSM and TODOS for more information. TODOS did not reply, and NCSM President Connie Schrock declined to schedule an interview.

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Transgender boy defeats girls, so much for empowering women

original article: Matt Walsh: Please, leftists, explain how this ‘transgender’ madness empowers women
June 6, 2017 by Matt Walsh

Tell me again, leftists, about your abounding concern for women. Please tell me about the need to empower young girls and provide them with opportunities. Please tell me all about your “pro-woman” stances and policies. Then, if you could, kindly explain how this story fits into all of that.

A mustachioed boy who “identifies as a girl” heroically won gold in the 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash for the Connecticut high school girl’s state championships last week. His times would have placed him a full second behind last place in the boy’s competition, but against the girls he easily came in first. Aside from the general insanity of the situation, there are two particularly disturbing aspects of this story, and I’m hoping you can help us all see the positive in these:

First, the boy and his parents have demonstrated total disregard for the girls he disenfranchised in order to win. The boy, “Andraya,” gloated that he’s happy to have won but he “kind of expected it.” Gee, I wonder why?

His dad graciously conceded that fairness is irrelevant and all that matters is whether his son is happy. “In terms of the fairness aspect, I don’t think about that as a father. I only think about, is my [son] happy, healthy and able to participate in what [he] wants to do… [He] got to compete as a girl where [he] feels [he] should compete.” This is what you call terrible parenting.

His mother also waved her hand dismissively at the girls who were robbed of an opportunity to win a fair race. “I know they’ll say it is unfair and not right, but my counter to that is: Why not… [He] is competing and practicing and giving [his] all and performing and excelling based on [his] skills. Let that be enough. Let [him] do that, and be proud of that.” It should be “enough,” she says, that her son is happy and proud. That’s all that should matter to anyone. Please explain, leftists, how the parents and the boy have the right attitude here.

Second, the actual girls in the race have been so beaten into silence and submission that they were afraid to even voice their displeasure over the competition being blatantly rigged against them. Kate Hall, the student who came in second but really came in first, cried and confessed to being “frustrated,” but then added, “that’s just the way it is now.” “I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it,” she muttered dejectedly.

So, leftists, tell me how these girls have benefited from this fantasy that biological males can also be girls. Better yet, tell them. Go up to Kate Hall and explain to her that she has no right to be disappointed. Explain that, although Andraya has insurmountable biological advantages, it’s still fair that he compete against her because that’s what he wants. Explain that his desires and his feelings must always come before her own. Explain how the happiness of one biological male outweighs the happiness of every girl he raced against. Please, explain.

And then perhaps you should have a sit down with all of the girls across the country and let them know that the extinction of women’s sports is on the horizon. Please explain how this is all for their own good. After all, women cannot compete in women’s leagues if men are competing in women’s leagues. So, there will be no more women’s leagues. There will be men’s leagues and then cross dressing men’s leagues. I’m really hoping you can explain to my daughter and to all of our daughters how empowering it will be to witness the end of female athletic competition.

And, while you’re having this discussion, make sure you also explain how their silence and submission is, in this case, right and healthy. These girls are scared of speaking out and letting their feelings be known. They’re scared of saying they want their own leagues, and their own bathrooms, and their own identity. They’re scared of asserting their right to safety and privacy. But this is good, yes? Those bigots ought to be intimidated, right? They ought to just shut up and go along. Please tell them that. Please explain it. I don’t think they quite understand yet. Please, you pro-women folks, you women’s rights defenders, you protectors of female autonomy. Please come forward and lay it out clearly so everyone comprehends it. Say it just as it is, like this:

“No, girls, you don’t get your own bathrooms anymore. You don’t get your own leagues. You don’t get your own identity. Not if men want in. Shut up and let the man beat you. Let him take your gold medal. Let him disrobe in front of you. Let him do what he wants. You have no choice. The proclivities and fetishes of men must come first. The desire that you may have to retain and defend your own unique identity is transphobic. Shame on you. Your feelings are not legitimate.”

Put that on the banners at your women’s marches.

Make it your rallying cry.

Go ahead.

Please.

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Progressives Eat Another One of Their Own

original article: Progressives Eat One of Their Own in the Latest Campus Controversy
May 8, 2017 by DAVID FRENCH

Every single time I think the academy has reached peak intolerance and peak insanity, it proves me wrong. There is no argument that is too stupid for academic radicals. There is no lie that these “scholars” aren’t willing to tell to advance their agenda.

Just ask liberal-feminist philosophy professor Rebecca Tuvel, the latest victim of the ritual “two minutes hate.” Her crime was serious: She had the audacity to write a paper exploring the arguments “for and against transracialism” and argued that “considerations that support transgenderism extend to transracialism.” In other words, she took the question that millions of Americans asked when Rachel Dolezal was exposed — if a man can “really” be a woman, why can’t a white person “really” be black? — and explored it through a liberal, feminist lens.

Judging from the reaction, you would have thought she burned a cross in the quad. A fully woke University of Tennessee professor named Nora Berenstain fired the first shots. Her (now-private) Facebook post reads like an Onion parody of political correctness. It’s worth quoting at length:

Tuvel enacts violence and perpetuates harm in numerous ways throughout her essay. She deadnames a trans woman. She uses the term “transgenderism.” She talks about “biological sex” and uses phrases like “male genitalia.” She focuses enormously on surgery, which promotes the objectification of trans bodies. She refers to “a male-to- female (mtf) trans individual who could return to male privilege,” promoting the harmful transmisogynistic ideology that trans women have (at some point had) male privilege. In her discussion of “transracialism,” Tuvel doesn’t cite a single woman of color philosopher, nor does she substantively engage with any work by Black women, nor does she cite or engage with the work of any Black trans women who have written on this topic.

For those who don’t know, “deadnaming” is the practice of using a transgender person’s “old” name. In this case, she had the audacity to type the name “Bruce Jenner.” This, friends, is deemed to constitute actual violence. As is the notion that Bruce — when he was an Olympic champion and featured on cereal boxes from coast to coast — could have ever enjoyed male privilege. That’s violence. All of it. Perhaps now you can see why radicals riot. They’re not committing crimes, they’re engaging in acts of collective self-defense.

Berenstain was hardly alone in her anger. Furious philosophers penned an open letter to Hypatia, the peer-reviewed journal that published Tuvel’s paper, accusing her, among other things, of using “vocabulary and frameworks not recognized, accepted, or adopted by the conventions of the relevant subfields,” mischaracterizing “various theories and practices related to religious identity and conversion,” and failing “to seek out and sufficiently engage with scholarly work by those who are most vulnerable to the intersection of racial and gender oppressions (women of color) in [her] discussion of ‘transracialism.’”

These critiques — in addition to their typically intolerant intersectional incoherence — were plainly false, as New York Magazine’s Jesse Singal pointed out: “All in all, it’s remarkable how many basic facts this letter gets wrong about Tuvel’s paper. Either the authors simply lied about the article’s contents, or they didn’t read it at all.” The only word I’d quibble with here is “remarkable.” It’s entirely normal for radicals to either refuse to read work they purport to hate or to lie about its contents. Just ask Charles Murray.

Rather than defend Tuvel, Hypatia’s board of associate editors responded with one of the most craven and cowardly statements in the history of craven academic cowardice. It begins:

We, the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors, extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists, and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused.

“Harms”? Are “transfeminists, queer feminists, and feminists of color” really so delicate that they can’t withstand the publication of a paper they don’t even have to read? Apparently. But back to the letter, which gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it):

In addition to the harms listed above imposed upon trans people and people of color, publishing the article risked exposing its author to heated critique that was both predictable and justifiable.

“Predictable,” yes, but “justifiable”? At this point, “scholars” are threatening Tuvel’s future in the profession, and she’s been deluged with hate mail and denunciations. How is any of that “justifiable”?

In all of this madness, there are — perhaps — some seeds of hope. There has been a backlash to the backlash. Singal’s excellent piece in New York unequivocally condemned the attacks on Tuvel as a “witch hunt.” Vanderbilt philosophy professor Kelly Oliver wrote a thoughtful essay calling for “critical debate and philosophical arguments instead of cyber-shaming and personal insults.” Other academics have weighed in on Twitter and elsewhere in Tuvel’s defense.

But in reading these pieces, a troubling subtext becomes apparent: It seems that the outrage isn’t only the attack on free expression and academic freedom, it’s that it was directed at a liberal in good standing. For example, in a Chronicle of Higher Education piece called “Academe’s Poisonous Call-Out Culture,” writer Suzanna Danuta Walters begins with this:

We are in the midst of the Trumpian apocalypse. Actual bigoted provocateurs like Charles Murray and Ann Coulter throw flames in the academy. Hate crimes against trans people and people of color and Muslims are on the rise; women’s reproductive rights are on the line, as are just about every other aspect of bodily autonomy and gender justice. So what’s making scholars hyperventilate in outrage? A feminist academic whose body of work is clearly on the side of progressive social justice.

Is she even aware of the irony? I suppose the “call-out culture” is only poisonous when directed at progressives. Otherwise, Charles Murray is fair game. Otherwise, hyperventilation is fine. After all, abortion and “just about every other aspect of bodily autonomy and gender justice are on the line.”

Academic freedom cannot and will not flourish if its alleged defenders reserve their outrage only for when their ideological allies fall victim to the online mob. If progressives feel they have to torch conservative straw men before mustering up the courage to defend free inquiry, then academic freedom has a dark future indeed. Conservatives will be walled out entirely, and progressive discourse will be jammed into ever-tighter ideological spaces as a brave few liberals fight a desperate rear-guard action against the true radicals.

One hopes that professor Tuvel’s ordeal will serve as yet another wake-up call, teaching professors that there is no safe space from social-justice warriors. But if the Left’s defense against the far-Left is limited to calls for unity against the true enemy (men such as Charles Murray, apparently), then it’s just disguised intolerance. “We should want academics to write about complicated, difficult, hot-button issues, including identity,” Singal wrote. “Online pile-ons cannot, however righteous they feel, dictate journals’ publication policies and how they treat their authors and articles.” One wonders how many campus progressives are likely to agree with his sentiment.

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No, GOP’s Obamacare Update Doesn’t Make Rape A Pre-Existing Condition

original article: No, GOP’s Obamacare Update Doesn’t Make Rape A Pre-Existing Condition
May 8, 2017 by Robert Tracinski

The American Left is finishing its sixth straight month of losing it. They have been pegged at “total freakout” for so long now that it is impossible to tell when anything they say is valid or wildly exaggerated.

Take the headline you undoubtedly saw, or had forwarded to you on social media if you interact much with people on the Left, which proclaimed that the American Health Care Act—House Republicans’ Obamacare tweaks—makes sexual assault a pre-existing condition.

AHCA_preexisting

What’s actually going on here? The House bill, which mostly just tinkers with Obamacare instead of actually repealing it, still contains a requirement that insurers have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. But a late addition, the MacArthur Amendment, gives states the ability to ask the federal government for a waiver that would allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions higher rates.

The amendment itself—and I had to search around for a while to find its actual text rather than somebody’s short-stroke summary of it—makes no mention of sexual assault or rape.

Ah, but somebody realized that rape victims sometimes suffer medical problems as a consequences of the assault and that these problems would count as “pre-existing conditions” under the law. They would count as such because they have always counted as pre-existing conditions. But so would any number of other conditions resulting from other tragic and unfortunate events. In other words, this headline is so misleading that even PolitiFact rates it as “Mostly False.”

The new law does not “make” sexual assault a pre-existing condition. The medical consequences of rape have always been considered a pre-existing condition, because that’s what the phrase “pre-existing condition” means. It refers to a condition that existed previously.

“Pre-existing condition” is not a value judgment. It does not imply that the pre-existing condition is the patient’s fault, or that this person is somehow unworthy of receiving medical treatment. It is a merely factual description, but one that has special relevance when talking about insurance. When you require insurance coverage for a pre-existing condition, it’s no longer insurance. Insurance is a financial mechanism for hedging against an unknown future risk, not a way of seeking compensation for damage that has already occurred.

If that seems like a nitpicking distinction, it’s one with very big real-world consequences. Telling insurance companies that they have to cover pre-existing conditions and can’t charge more for that coverage breaks the actuarial calculation behind insurance and contributes to the “death spiral” of escalating premiums, which we could already see under Obamacare. So you can understand why there’s a rational argument for not requiring pre-existing conditions of any kind to be covered under the heading of “insurance.”

So are Democrats making this claim about sexual assault because they want to lobby for free medical treatment for victims of sexual assault—a worthy cause they just discovered five minutes ago? No, they’re doing it because evoking sexual assault victims, as opposed to sufferers of any other kind of pre-existing condition, packs a special emotional wallop. Then when somebody responds by carefully and rationally explaining what’s really going on and why pre-existing conditions can’t be covered if health insurance is going to function properly—as I just did above—that person suddenly looks like a callous heel. How can he approach the issue with such cool logic? How can he be so insensitive to the victims?

In short, it’s a raw appeal to emotion, specifically designed to make rational analysis of the issues look not just inappropriate, but positively immoral.

The Appeal to Emotion is a fallacy that’s thousands of years old, but what makes this particular case a microcosm of today’s style of argument is one extra twist. If the purpose of the Appeal to Emotion is to make logical analysis seem insensitive, the purpose here is to make the user of logic seem insensitive specifically to women. This fits right in with the target audience’s prejudices. Of course those evil people on the Right, those old white men reveling in their patriarchal privilege, would be callously indifferent to the suffering of women. Of course they want women to bear the blame for their own sexual assaults. It’s just like “The Handmaid’s Tale.” We knew it all along!

That’s what makes the headline “too good to check” and ensures its entry into the natural life cycle of a “fake news” story: blaring viral headlines, followed by low-key, surreptitious corrections in the more reputable outlets, followed by the cementing of the headline as an established fact that will never be dislodged from the minds of its target audience. We’ll still be hearing about it 30 years from now.

This fits into a larger problem with how the Left tends to interact with everyone else while they’re in Perpetual Rage Mode. As someone who attempts to interact with the other side pretty regularly on social media—and not always just to score rhetorical points—I’ve begun to notice a distinct pattern. People on the Left will interact with someone on the Right just long enough to be able to find some sign, some slip of the tongue, some violation of accepted speech codes (like not being a prig about Cinco de Mayo) that allows them to dismiss that person as racist, sexist, homophobic, or just insensitive—which provides an excuse to ignore anything he has to say. The conclusion is always the same: all arguments from the Right can be dismissed without consideration because they come from bigots.

They need to stop doing this, and not for our sake—if you’re on the Right, you’re probably used to coping with an omnipresent background radiation of political hostility—but for their own sake. It is a spectacularly unconvincing method of argument that drives people back into their own social media “filter bubbles.” It doesn’t convince anyone. It just convinces them not to talk to you any more. Then you end up on an evening in November, stunned at the fact that so many people voted for a candidate whose sole political function is to stick a finger in your eye.

The Left is already paying the price for making “race, class, and gender” into a substitute for argument and persuasion. They might want to consider not digging that hole any deeper.

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Documentary promotes euthanasia

original article: Doctors agreed to euthanize this depressed woman. Moments before her death, everything changed.
November 16, 2015 by Jeanne Smits

The poignant story of a young and healthy Belgian woman, “Laura”, 24, who obtained permission for legal euthanasia earlier this year because of “unbearable psychological suffering,” has come to an unexpected conclusion. Her last months and days before obtaining a lethal injection were filmed by The Economist in her hometown of Bruges. The documentary has been online since November 10 and – spoiler! – it has a happy end. “Laura”, whose real name is Emily, chose life in what would have been her last hour.

This is of course good news. A young life has been saved. Hopefully, Emily will be able to get on with her life and be fully liberated of her profound despair. But the documentary, with its dramatic and also complacent portrayal of a suicidal young woman, is above all a plea for legal euthanasia in cases like hers.

The gist of the argument goes like this: as long as this deeply depressed young woman felt there was no way out, she desired death more than anything else in the world. But once it was within reach, legal euthanasia freed her of her most terrible anxieties. Knowing it is there, at her fingertips as it were, has given her some peace of mind.

This is an obvious fallacy. When Emily obtained permission to be euthanized from a team of three doctors and psychiatrists, the whole idea was that her condition would not and could not improve, and that no treatment whatsoever was available that would rid her of her mental illness or give her even the slightest hope. Now the fact that she was facing death certainly triggered something in her mind, helping her to find reasons to live. If that means anything, it shows that her despair was not so deep-rooted as to be utterly beyond help. The resources were in her own mind – and, probably, in the sympathy, the listening, the support of her mother and her friends who are shown in the 20 minute film, who were in turns supportive of her decision and devastated by it.

STORY: Disability activist: I was struck by would-be Belgian suicide-girl’s self-absorption

So her illness was not untreatable after all, and even though at the end of the documentary Emily does not seem to be entirely freed of her death wish, she obviously considers life worth living.

Arguably, the doctors and psychiatrists who have been taking care of her for the last three years have failed, not because there was no solution, but because they found no way to give Emily hope. In the film, the young woman shows the reporter her drawer-full of antidepressants and other medication which did not relieve her of her incessant bouts of self-hate and self-harm, much less heal her. Medication is certainly indicated when mental illness creates such a terrible imbalance in the mind – but in this case it was not enough, to say the least.

Emily’s story starts with a video she shot of herself a few years ago expressing her death wish openly for the first time, before being approached by The Economist’s reporter. “It keeps feeling empty, whatever I do,” she says, cringing in a corner, her arms scarred and bandaged where she cut herself. She remembers thinking she “shouldn’t be here” when she was three – Emily was born in a dysfunctional family. Her mother had no other choice than to live apart from her father, a violent alcoholic, and Emily spent most of her time with her maternal grandparents. Aged six, she was already dreaming of killing herself.

In an interview she gave last spring, Emily, under the assumed name of “Laura,” said she was convinced her family troubles were not linked to her death wish. She started harming herself, but those who surrounded her did not realize the gravity of the situation. After high school, she embarked on a theatrical career and moved in with a girlfriend in what she called a “very agreeable amorous passion.” The relationship was to end because of problems caused by Emily’s ongoing depression.

At this point a psychiatrist challenged her to apply for internment in an institution. Emily agreed to let go of the theatre; from that point onwards, episodes of self-harm became more frequent and more intense. In the documentary, she explains that she wanted to get rid of the “evil monster” she felt was trapped in her rib cage: cutting herself would give her the feeling the evil was leaving her body but only for a few minutes; she would bang her head against the wall in an effort to free herself of her inner pain.

The documentary does not underscore what she said during her interview last spring about her difficult childhood, nor does it say her anger and aggressiveness were so bad she was regularly sent home to give workers at the psychiatric institution a rest.

It was at the institution that she met another psychiatric patient, a woman she names “Sarah,” who was organizing her own euthanasia. The two would often talk about death and it was the “example” of her friend that pushed Emily to request for a lethal injection – not doctor assisted suicide, which is also legal under Belgian law. In the documentary, she says she would have killed herself but that it would have been “an awful, painful and lonely death.” “Without the option of euthanasia, I would have committed suicide,” she says.

But would she?

The three doctors who authorized Emily’s euthanasia – as the Belgian law requires when psychological suffering is given as the reason for the request – decided, after several months of consultations, that her suffering was indeed unbearable and that no amount of treatment could offer her hope of getting over her depression. Among them, Lieve Thienpont is a psychiatrist who specializes in assessing euthanasia requests. She authored a book about euthanasia and psychological suffering, Libera me. For her, this is fully a part of the question of “death with dignity” and euthanasia is an acceptable answer from her point of view. Calling her a proponent of euthanasia in these cases does not seem unfair.

She appears several times in the documentary to comment on Emily’s situation. The reporter even filmed the moment when three doctors, including Thienpont, explain the death process to Emily, insisting that she should feel absolutely free to pull back even at the very last moment, without being afraid that her “credibility” would be any less because of that.

In one interview, Thienpont explains that Emily’s suffering is so bad that it is “not compatible with life,” saying only prolonged and profound discussions with the patient can let one become sure of this. She adds that her life does not have a “sufficient quality” for her to go on.

The documentary also shows Emily’s mother and two friends coming to terms with Emily’s death: they are filmed less than two weeks before Emily’s “due date.”

The reporter was also present during those last hours before that day when Emily was to have received a lethal injection at 5 p.m. At the very end, she decided not to go on. “Very rationally, I said: ‘I cannot do it’, because the last two weeks before that Thursday when it should have happened were relatively bearable. There were no crises. And it was very unclear to my why that was so. Was it because the serenity of death was so close? Because we were saying goodbye and that I was feeling OK because of that? Or has something changed?”

What is certain is that Emily’s story is being used to promote euthanasia as a possibility for all who want it, and even as a solution that can, ultimately, help some people choose to go on living. But in Belgium, even if a number of these cases have been documented, others do die at the hands of their doctor while physically in good health, like Emily.

Notably, the filmed documentary does not bring up the subject of Emily’s troubled childhood, nor of her lifestyle. It just notes that she is not a believer, and has no idea whether there is an afterlife.

Did she need spiritual help and support above anything else? The question deserves to be asked, in the same way that the validity of her psychiatric treatment could also have been questioned, but never was in the documentary. At a time when so many young people are struggling with their own identity, not least because of school methods that encourage them to imitate others rather than to gain consciousness of their individuality – so many young people today are not even able to distinguish between the subject and the object in an ordinary sentence – Emily’s case should be a wake-up call rather than being used to lobby for euthanasia.

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Pence reveals a triple standard, and you should care

Imagine if you will two men, public officials in American politics (so we’re dealing with only two big political tents). These officials each belong to opposing sides of the political isle. The issue of sexual harassment is of particular significance to both.

For one, let’s call it the Gentleman’s standard. This official is accused of sexual harassment by one woman. She can’t keep her story strait, so the allegation is difficult to corroborate. But the public narrative is not deterred. We are told the following:

  • character matters
  • women don’t lie about this sort of thing
  • the nature of the evidence doesn’t matter, only the seriousness of the charge
  • the allegation itself should be treated as evidence
  • therefore, the accused man is disqualified from public office on ethical grounds

For the other, let’s call it the Politician’s standard. There is no pretense of integrity in this scenario. This official is accused of sexual harassment and assault by numerous women. Some of them produce significant evidence to support their claims. But the public narrative is not deterred. We are told the following:

  • character does not matter
  • a man’s personal life has no affect on his professional life
  • bimbo eruption (women lie about this sort of thing all the time)
  • vast rightwing conspiracy
  • when damning evidence is finally recognized (despite dismissing previous damning evidence) we are told it doesn’t matter anyway
  • therefore, the accused man is not disqualified, leave him alone, move on

These two men are both confronted with allegations of sexual harassment and they are treated with opposite standards. Some of you are old enough to know exactly who is being described here. The Gentleman’s standard was applied to Clarence Thomas during his supreme court confirmation hearings. The Politician’s standard was applied to president Bill Clinton throughout his two terms.

To those of us who have the stomach to actually pay attention to politics, this is no surprise. Republicans and Democrats are treated very differently regarding scandals. For Republicans, allegations of sexual misconduct are serious matters; sexual harassment is sexual harassment. For Democrats, allegations of sexual misconduct are often no more than amusement; sexual harassment is nothing more than a meaningless sex scandal. If you defended Clarence Thomas, you didn’t care about women. If you failed to defend Bill Clinton, you didn’t care about women.

Enter Mike Pence. Pence knows politics works this way. He knows Democrats will be defended when sex scandals are made public, and he knows Republicans will be crucified. So he adopts a very reasonable policy to avoid putting himself in a situation where he can be too easily accused of such things. This has the twofold result of protecting his career and that oh-so-minor detail of guarding his marriage.

So what is the political left to do when it turns out Pence hasn’t provided enough room for them to manufacture an empty sex scandal? Easy – find a way to misconstrue anything else.

Pence’s recent admission that he doesn’t go to dinner alone with women he works with has caught the liberal left by storm. Instead of acknowledging the obvious political reality of the situation, they simply contorted the logic into some other form of scandal.

PenceProtest1

This photo, borrowed from Campus Reform, is a microcosm of the objection. The statement reads “Because women are people, not weird demons who you can’t be trusted to enjoy a meal with #NotMyCommencementSpeaker”.

If you haven’t heard, the fake scandal drummed up by liberals is that Pence is discriminating against women, making it more difficult for them to advance their careers by not giving them an opportunity to schmooze with him after hours. Does the notion of performing well AT THE JOB count for anything? On the other hand, has the political left completely forgotten about Rape Culture, the notion all men are predators and potential rapists? Does “Duke LaCrosse Team” mean anything to anyone? The fact Pence has often declined to dine with men after hours conveniently escapes mention in the criticism.

Notice, also, the swipe at Pence’s religious beliefs: the comment about demons is obviously meant to suggest he is some sort of religious extremist, given the well known fact Pence is Christian. Ah, gratuitous religious intolerance added onto the fake scandal. What’s cherry picking worth without the cherry on top? Douglass Gibbs at Canada Free Press has a good take on this fake scandal.

So the double standard is not available for those who want to attack Pence. But making up a fake scandal is always a valid option. Simply by being smart about defending himself, Pence is faced with a logical distortion only politically correct feminists could invent. This is the triple standard: it really doesn’t matter what happens, if a way can be found to make Republicans look bad, that becomes the official narrative of the day.

But if you think about it, you already know this. We all do. The main stream media has an obvious preference for the Democrat perspective on any and all subjects. That’s precisely what we see with Judge Thomas and President Clinton. There was a way to construe Anita Hill’s allegation against Thomas to make it appear more legitimate, and the main stream media ate that line hook, line, and sinker. And they delivered that line to the people with enthusiasm. There was also a way of defending Bill Clinton in which the women he abused were made to look like liars. While the mere allegation of impropriety was enough to convict Clarence Thomas in the eyes of his critics, suddenly the mere allegation of sexual misconduct was not enough by itself for Bill Clinton’s defenders (the same people who condemned Judge Thomas a few years earlier).

Even if you can’t stand Trump (and I sympathize with you), please defend his administration against this hypocrisy. Partly because of his high dislikability, Hillary Clinton’s hypocrisy wasn’t called out in the main stream press when she pretended to be a defender of sexual assault survivors. She had the exact opposite attitude as first lady when she defended her philandering husband by attempting to destroy any woman who made an allegation against him. Also partly because of his high dislikability, Trump was not defended on the matter of his past treatment of women when the media applied the Gentleman’s standard to him. They could just as easily have applied the Politician’s standard. They opted to attack him, rather than to defend him the way they defended Bill Clinton.

If you don’t want to defend Trump, at least hold liberals to their own standards. “But they don’t have any standards” some might retort. They claim they do. But their supposed standards are quite fickle (such as claiming to value free speech when they want to say something, but are eager to restrict other people’s right to speech). Please don’t let them get away with that. It does none of us any good to let the political left lie to us. Yes, one can say it does us no good to let Trump lie to us either, and you’re right (some of us said the same of Obama for eight years). But if you’re willing to call out Trump’s lies, why would you let other lies from the media, Hollywood culture, and Democrats go unchallenged? Don’t play that game. If you act like you care about truth and justice when Trump says something absurd, you can at least act like you care about truth and justice when other people lie about Trump, Pence, Jeff Sessions, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. You don’t have to like any of those names to be intellectually honest. Truth works for the betterment of all of us. Play that game.

Keep in mind, there was a time when all politicians were expected to act like gentlemen.

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