Me: What kind of intellectual climate do you want here at Centerville? Would you rather have option A: a school where people with views you find offensive keep their mouths shut, or B: a school where everyone feels that they can speak up in class discussions?
Audience: All hands go up for B.
Me: OK, let’s see if you have that. When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [About 70% said they feel free, vs. about 10% who said eggshells.] Now just the boys? [About 80% said eggshells, nobody said they feel free.]
Me: Now let’s try it for race. When a topic related to race comes up in class, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking, or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the non-white students? [The group was around 30% non-white, mostly South and East Asians, and some African-Americans. A majority said they felt free to speak, although a large minority said eggshells.] Now just the white students? [A large majority said eggshells.]
Me: Now let’s try it for politics. How many of you would say you are on the right politically, or that you are conservative or Republican? [6 hands went up, out of 60 students.] Just you folks, when politically charged topics come up, can you speak freely? [Only one hand went up, but that student clarified that everyone gets mad at him when he speaks up, but he does it anyway. The other 5 said eggshells.] How many of you are on the left, liberal, or democrat? [Most hands go up.] Can you speak freely, or is it eggshells? [Almost all said they can speak freely.]
Me: So let me get this straight. You were unanimous in saying that you want your school to be a place where people feel free to speak up, even if you strongly dislike their views. But you don’t have such a school. In fact, you have exactly the sort of “tolerance” that Herbert Marcuse advocated [i.e., “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”] You have a school in which only people in the preferred groups get to speak, and everyone else is afraid. What are you going to do about this? Let’s talk.
Free Speech: Progressivism vs. Liberalism November 29, 2015
China: An Evil Empire November 2, 2015
Following in the footsteps of Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D., I suggest that if a country’s score for iniquity were plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance were plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area would yield the measure of that country’s merited infamy. If charted, China’s rectangle of infamy would rank among the largest in the world.
Recently, the Chinese government reported that a 94-year-old, Roman Catholic bishop, Cosmas Shi Enxiang, had died in their custody. He had not been seen in public since he was detained on Good Friday of 2001, 14 years ago. Perhaps the government feared him speaking out against their one-child policy, their forced abortions and forced sterilizations, or their persecutions of Christians. This faithful bishop spent around half of his long life in Chinese prisons and labor camps. He died a white martyr for Jesus Christ.
By 2020, China plans to enroll all its people into a vast national database. This information will be distilled to output individual scores (between 350 and 950) to rate each citizen’s political loyalty. Favored behaviors will be rewarded, with penalties given for disfavored actions, opinions, and relationships. I wonder if the huge, red dragon that is China will soon be requiring its people to maintain at least a mid-range score of 666 in order to buy or sell things?
Living in Omelas October 4, 2015
The fictional Omelas was “a beautiful city that embodies everyone’s utopia, a magical place where everyone was joyful, a place where sorrow never touched the citizens or guests. But beneath that city lay a secret: all its joy and pleasure depended on the suffering and misery of a single lonely, abused child living in a filthy basement. If that child were saved, all of Omelas would fall, its beauty and perfection lost. The citizens of Omelas, when they reached a certain age, were taken below to view the child so that they might understand their civilization. Most rationalized the suffering, as was encouraged: the child was mentally defective anyway, it could never be happy now if taken out, it was incapable of appreciating the beauty of the world like others. Only a few could not bear the truth, but instead of removing the child and Omelas be damned, they walked away, leaving for parts unknown.”
Who are the “little ones” that we do not really care about in our society? You can be sure that they are weak, poor, unheard, and ignored.
Pelting Rocks & Jumping‑Related Incidents September 17, 2015
First, I read McSweeney’s How-To article about distancing narratives from facts through passive and ambiguous phrasings. Then, the next day, I see the New York Times report that some rocks in Israel apparently had it out for a Jewish man: “Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem.” (May he rest in peace.)
“Scare” Quotes August 20, 2014
Perverse Incentives August 18, 2014
When government programs punish productivity it is foolishness for a person to work harder.
The Solar Flare Will Not Be Televised August 7, 2014
If you find that your power is out, your phone won’t work, and nobody’s car will start, know that we have been hit by a natural or man-made EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse.)
NASA scientists estimate that a huge solar flare will hit Earth every 150 years, and — uh oh — the last big solar storm blasted us in 1859, 155 years ago. The 1859 flare didn’t cause much damage since we weren’t as wired as we are now, but it did take out almost 125,000 miles of telegraph cables.
How will you survive if the power goes out for a year?
How will you obtain water? (I thought of my rainspouts and water filters.)
How much food would you have? (I’m considering stocking up on canned goods.)
I recommend prudent preparation and preventative prayer.