Monday, February 19, 2018




A Cure for Mass Shootings Doesn't Exist

There need to be a lot more articles like the one below.  Politicians on all sides are always offering solutions to social problems.  But what if all the offered solutions do more harm than good?  They often do in fact.  It would take a brave politician to say of some problem:  "We cannot solve that" but  we need bravery like that

Every time there is a mass shooting, a chorus goes up: "We must do something to keep this from happening again. We can't tolerate it any longer."

Revulsion understandably creates a demand for remedies. But every time, we do nothing, to the fury of those who denounce the inaction as shameful.

There is a simple explanation, though, for the inaction. It's not that the National Rifle Association is all-powerful, that too many Americans are blind to reason, or that most are complacent about wanton slaughter. It's that there are no plausible options that offer more than the faintest prospect of preventing a massacre in the next year or the next decade.

Our constitutional framework was not designed to facilitate drastic government action. It was designed to prevent it in the absence of a clear and durable public consensus. In this instance, there is none.

Mass shootings are a horrific problem that is peculiarly resistant to solutions. To a great extent, public policy is impotent. Until the advocates of new restrictions can make the case that they would make a difference, little is likely to happen.

What answers do they offer? One is reinstituting the federal ban on "assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines that was in effect from 1994 to 2004. Another is expanding the federal background check system to cover private sales. Another is to make it easier to flag people with mental health problems and bar sales to them.

These are not necessarily wrong, but they are unpromising. Though an AR-15 may be particularly useful for mass shootings, there are many substitutes that fire just as rapidly and use equally destructive ammunition. A ban on high-capacity magazines would be a puny impediment to someone like the killer in Parkland, Florida.

Mass shooters, Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck told me, "always use multiple guns and/or multiple magazines, enabling them to easily fire many rounds quickly even if they had only smaller-capacity magazines. And they do not need guns that fire fast, because they do not fire fast during their crimes." The Parkland shooter had multiple magazines.

A 2013 study of the 1994 law for the National Institute of Justice said, "We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence." It also said, "Should it be renewed, the ban's effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement."

Even if the law had any positive effect then, it would be far less likely to help today, because there are far more of these guns now. In 1994, Americans owned about 1.5 million "assault weapons." The number is now around 8 million.

Restoring the 1994 law would not eliminate them. It would only block new sales—and foster new models engineered to get around the new rules. People would be able to keep and buy the "assault weapons" already out there.

Background checks for private sales would make it harder for felons to acquire guns. But mass shooters have typically gotten their arms legally from licensed dealers as the alleged killer in Parkland did.

Yes, it might make a difference if the United States emulated Australia by outlawing certain guns and requiring owners to surrender them. Constitutional issues aside, that sort of law couldn't be passed here—or enforced. It belongs in the realm of fantasy.

Broadening the exclusion for mental health problems would mean penalizing millions of people who pose no danger. It would also deter troubled gun owners from seeking treatment.

"To say no one with mental illness should have a gun—how do you accomplish that?" Ronald Honberg, senior policy adviser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, asked The New York Times. "Does that mean anybody that goes to a therapist for depression or anxiety should be reported and put in a database and prohibited from purchasing a firearm? That would impact a fair number of police officers."

None of this is to argue against any changes whatsoever. Some reforms could modestly reducing gun crime without putting much of a burden on law-abiding gun owners. Universal background checks, banning bump stocks, and improving databases to prevent the omission of people who are barred from purchasing guns could help diminish gun violence.

Outrage is an appropriate response to the carnage in Parkland, but it's not an answer. Those demanding dramatic action accuse those who disagree of enabling murder. But it's no sin to reject false remedies.

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The British Labour Party in the era of Jeremy Corbyn

No longer a party of the workers.  Comments below by a "moderate" Labour party member

Corbyn circumvented Labour's institutions and drew his authority from the plebiscite of the membership. A You Gov analysis described the new membership as "not remotely representative of the rest of the country". For many this difference was a virtue to be celebrated. Labour was now a party of social liberalism dominated by the public sector and higher educated middle class. The trade unions, once a bulwark against the hard left, gave their money and support. A generation of graduates indebted by tuition fees and raised on identity liberalism provided energy and enthusiasm.

In 2017 Corbyn led the party into the election under the certainty of a heavy defeat. The 1980s had taught that hard left sectarian politics could not build a broad based coalition to win an election. National political culture punished political moves to the extremes. In the event the lessons of the 1980s proved correct. Labour was defeated by a Conservative Party running the worst campaign in its history. But against the low expectations the defeat was victorious. Corbyn won over young people, added ten points to Labour’s vote share and achieved 41 per cent of the total vote.

And so Jeremy Corbyn marks a revival of the Labour Party under the new class and sociological conditions of post-industrial Britain. After a long period of torpor Labour has energy and a sort of anti-leadership, if no strategy. It believes it can win. The sectarians of the hard left, a very small minority, have been buoyed up for their march through the institutions of the party. Corbyn’s summer Tour of Britain attracted large enthusiastic crowds. Like the music industry, politics has lost its old system for distributing product and reward. Corbyn is out on the road and his young supporters have gone online.

Moderates

It’s time for those of us who identified themselves as moderates to reject the label. It was conferred by the media. To have one’s identity defined by others is a symptom of powerlessness. It persuades us that somehow we are in the right place politically in the country, in tune with the majority, when in reality we are in a state of acute political crisis.

Many of those who originally opposed Corbyn did so because they argued he was unelectable. Moral or ideological objections were trumped by tribal loyalty to Labour. During the election, local campaigns were fought on the basis that a vote for the local Labour candidate would not mean a vote for Corbyn. With a 41 per cent vote share this option is now closed. A future election campaign means a vote for the Labour candidate will be a vote for Prime Minister Corbyn and Chancellor McDonnell, including their record on defence and security, their historical allegiances and their foreign alliances.

The election of Corbyn as leader tipped the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party]  upside down. Once the pre-eminent institution of the labour movement it had taken for granted an authority conferred on it by the electorate.  The role of the membership was to follow instructions and service it. The tables are now turned. The PLP failed to recognise the nature of the threat from the hard left. To use a military metaphor, it became the victim of an encirclement by the combined populist forces of leadership and membership. It might imagine itself autonomous. Its political resources might appear intact, but in reality it has been kettled and its authority within the party broken.

The PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] does not have the trust of a majority of the membership. It has had no collective sense of how to resolve its predicament. It has had no language, no conceptual framework and no distinctive corporate identity with which to challenge the sectarian forces that want to destroy it. It has never had to fight for its authority and hasn’t yet learned how to. And so its tactics – the mass resignations from the front bench, the second leadership contest - backfired.

The task of its sectarian enemies who do not believe in representative democracy is to destroy its institutional power. Within the PLP there has been a resurgence of machine politics from the right to defend its positions, but it has been more of a fighting retreat. Its goal of restoring the status quo was never a viable option. Having failed in the last two years to build a collective sense of political strategic purpose, individual MPs are left to battle for their own survival.

Where is Labour going?

Labour’s 2015 manifesto was full of technically competent and costed policies that had been tested for their popularity. But what it did not include was a compelling story about the country and the British people. Where was the hope? We had only a bleak story to tell. And what did Labour stand for? People no longer knew.

Labour’s manifesto in 2017 was a bolder more hopeful version. But it wasn’t "genius" as some have claimed. It suffered from the same limitations. It took little account of the participatory politics championed by Corbyns supporters. It opposed the dominance of the market but instead of devolving and spreading power through society, it gave more power to the central state. It settled for the same kind of command and control, tax and spend politics that had characterised Labour in the last century. In place of reform and innovation it promised very large sums of money and in spite of its accompanying costings the sums didn’t add up. Fortunately no-one seemed that interested in checking, least of all the Tories, a neglect unlikely to be repeated. 

Despite the surge of hope and optimism that has swept over the party, our 2017 manifesto showed an organisation still limited by its institutional conservatism and its failure to reform its centralising, top down approach to politics.

The excitement of Labour’s resurgence hides a more prosaic truth. At its heart the Labour Party remains intellectually threadbare. As a consequence all kinds of pseudo theories and ideas are sucked into its empty centre without being contested. In this ideological battle over the future character of the Labour Party the PLP has nothing much of interest to say. The right that was once New Labour has become irrelevant. The hard left and its Trotskyist allies are fit only to pursue their entryist tactics of taking over CLPs [Constituency Labour Parties] by boring them to procedural death.

The membership want power with purpose. Most are idealists rather than idealogues and many no doubt would have supported New Labour in 1997. The political system is broken and they want change: a more equal society and an end to poverty and homelessness. They want a properly funded NHS, a mental health care system, and respectful treatment of the disabled who cannot work. But as time passes the likelihood of a Labour election victory will start to fade. If the Conservatives succeed in muddling their way through Brexit the threat of a Labour election disaster that didn’t happen in 2017 will return. Labour will need to reassess its current belief that one more heave brandishing its 2017 manifesto will win it power.

SOURCE






Infamous Google memo author shot down by federal labor board Panel: Damore's gender-focused memo was "discriminatory, constituted sexual harassment.


Certain scientific truths are now illegal to be stated in the USA. What about all the scientific papers indicating gender differences?

Former Google engineer James Damore has attempted to take civil and legal action against his former employer after being fired in August, but on Thursday, a federal memo revealed that one of Damore's filings has been unequivocally denied.

The National Labor Relations Board published its memo this week, which was issued in January after Damore filed a charge against his former employer on August 8. In spite of Damore withdrawing his NLRB filing in September, the board proceeded to examine and issue its own ruling: Google "discharged [Damore] only for [his] unprotected conduct while it explicitly affirmed [his] right to engage in protected conduct." The NLRB emphasized that any charge filed by Damore on the matter should be "dismissed."

In explaining the board's reasoning, NLRB member Jayme Sophir points to two specific parts of the controversial memo circulated by Damore in August: Damore's claim that women are "more prone to 'neuroticism,' resulting in women experiencing higher anxiety and exhibiting lower tolerance for stress" and that "men demonstrate greater variance in IQ than women."

Sophir describes how these gender-specific claims resemble other cases decided by the NLRB that revolved around racist, sexist, and homophobic language in the workplace. She says that specific Damore statements were "discriminatory and constituted sexual harassment, notwithstanding [his] effort to cloak [his] comments with 'scientific' references and analysis, and notwithstanding [his] 'not all women' disclaimers. Moreover, those statements were likely to cause serious dissension and disruption in the workplace."
The NLRB memo also includes a quote from Google's letter of termination given to Damore in August, which Sophir says focused specifically on offending, fireable content while also protecting other portions of his speech:

I want to make clear that our decision is based solely on the part of your post that generalizes and advances stereotypes about women versus men. It is not based in any way on the portions of your post that discuss [the Employer’s] programs or trainings, or how [the Employer] can improve its inclusion of differing political views. Those are important points. I also want to be clear that this is not about you expressing yourself on political issues or having political views that are different than others at the company. Having a different political view is absolutely fine. Advancing gender stereotypes is not.

Damore's lawsuit, which was joined by former Google employee David Gudeman when filed in January, is still awaiting trial.

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People Will Eat What They Want, Not What Government Prefers

This month, a pair of seemingly unrelated stories—a story about Chile's crackdown on subjectively unhealthy foods and a bill now before the U.S. Congress—make clear that the legions of do-gooders who want to compel you and others to eat just what they think you should eat are—despite their persistence—failing miserably at their jobs.

In Congress, the bill in question seeks to modify and delay the FDA's menu-labeling mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The bill is nothing new. It's been kicking around since at least 2012, shortly after Obamacare became law.

Currently, the menu-labeling portion of that law, set to take effect later this year, would require many chain restaurants, vending-machine owners, grocers, theater owners, and others to post total average calorie information for most menu items.

The bill to amend the Obamacare menu-labeling law, dubbed the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, which passed the House last week, would allow chain restaurants to list calories per serving for menu items intended to be consumed by more than one person, and allow pizza chains and other carry-out restaurants to post calorie information online instead of in stores. It would also delay implementation of Obamacare's menu-labeling provisions for at least two years.

Supporters claim the existing law would help people make better and more-informed choices, and oppose the listing of calories per-serving (rather than total calories), along with the other elements of the bill.

"[W]e see from the research that actually, when consumers are given this information, they actually can make lower-calorie choices, and restaurants can also come out with lower-calorie options," Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told CNN.

Certainly people can actually "make lower-calorie choices." It's just that, with mandatory menu labeling, research shows they most often don't actually make those lower-calorie choices.

"Overall, when you are looking at average consumer response to labeling, there doesn't appear to be much difference in calories purchased before and after labeling," said Dr. Jason Block, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, coauthor of a recent study on menu labeling, also in remarks to CNN.

But even that's an optimistic take on the impact of mandatory menu labeling.

"Research has shown that posting mandatory calorie counts on restaurant menus doesn't help people make better choices," I wrote last year.

Why don't people just do what the law wants them to do? Well, maybe one reason is that dietary preferences and choices are deeply personal, and laws like this one that seek to change those habits ignore that fact.

A 2016 study sheds more light on that idea. In the study, researcher Olga Kozlova looked at food choices made by people in months when they had comparatively more money available (due to lower heating costs). The study found that when low-income consumers have more disposable income, they tend to buy more of the foods they already purchase, rather than spending the additional money on healthier foods.

"[I]f you were thinking—or hoping—that low-income consumers look on healthy food as a luxury that they could buy if only they could afford it, the evidence in this study doesn't seem to be in your favor," reads a New Food Economy piece on the study.

That has serious implications, writes the New Food Economy's Patrick Clinton, for many people's thinking (though not my own) around policy strategies to deal with the (now mainly debunked) problem of food deserts.

So what can be done if both nudgy policies and better economic situations don't lead individuals to make the choices that food policymakers and activists want them to make? Restrict choice!

Two years ago, as a lengthy New York Times piece last week detailed, Chile did just that, enacting pervasive and intrusive anti-obesity regulations, including bans on marketing foods to children, removing junk food from schools, adopting mandatory packaged-food nutrition warnings, and sugar taxes.

How's that working? As the Times piece notes, "Obesity rates in Chile have yet to fall."

This mimics what's happened in the United States, where despite eight years of sweeping policy changes designed to cut obesity, many enacted with the support of then-First Lady Michelle Obama, obesity rates continued to rise.

Several years ago, I wrote a column here in which I blasted the negative results produced by efforts to socially engineer our food choices. For these failed efforts, it appears there's no end in sight.

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Sunday, February 18, 2018




Leftist think tank Eyes Quashing Military Vote  

On the Center for American Progress (CAP) website is a May 12, 2017, article that discusses the “Five Truths About Voter Suppression.” It begins by noting how America “has a troubled history of voter suppression.” But even though the U.S. is past its mid-20th-century Jim Crow epoch, “some lawmakers continue to pursue policies that would undermine our nation’s progress.” The organization takes issue with things like voter ID requirements and early voting scale-backs. Ominously, it warns, “The right to vote is a fundamental pillar of American democracy, but if the new administration succeeds, countless Americans could face barriers to voting ahead of the next election.”

Trump’s targeting Americans’ ability to fairly cast a vote is baloney, of course. In contrast, however, if CAP succeeds in its sinister plan, the military will find it exceedingly more difficult to take part in what CAP rightly calls “a fundamental pillar of American democracy.” Sadly, in addition to its supposed devotion to anti-voter-suppression methods, CAP also believes that efforts to thwart voter suppression should pertain only to select groups and constituents and be contingent on their voting records.

According to The Washington Times: “After years of accusing states of voter suppression, the Center for American Progress, citing election security, wants to make voting tougher for Americans serving overseas in the military. The left-wing public policy group issued a report Monday, ‘Election Security in All 50 States,’ that called for stricter standards to prevent cybermeddling in elections by foreign governments, including banning military stationed abroad from submitting ballots via email or fax. One state that allows such vote casting is Colorado. The center called on the state to ‘prohibit voters stationed or living overseas from returning voted ballots electronically.’”

In other words, CAP is calling for actual voter suppression by virtue of advocating prohibitions on the already limited voting abilities of soldiers. What would prompt such a turnaround? After all, the Times notes, “The report is something of a departure for the center, given its record of fighting for greater ballot access.” Here’s how: To the organization’s chagrin, the Armed Forces are a different breed. Responding to the report, Public Interest Legal Foundation’s J. Christian Adams hit the nail on the head. He rightly points out that the organization doesn’t “like that the military votes against their interests nearly all of the time.” Moreover, “CAP wants to make it easier for felons and criminals to vote, but wants to make it harder for fighting men and women overseas.”

In 1797, John Adams cautioned, “We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections.” The Center for American Progress would probably claim that it agrees wholeheartedly with that statement. But the way in which it wants to discriminate against its political opponents tells us something very different. In this instance, those “political opponents” are the ones who fight to protect our freedoms — like voting. To put our military members in the crosshairs is adding insult to injury.

SOURCE






The War That Never Ends
   
There is a war that has lasted longer than the one in Afghanistan. It is the so-called “war on poverty,” launched by President Lyndon Johnson during his State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964.

While the poverty rate dropped from 17.3 percent to 11.1 percent in the ensuing decade, it has remained between 11 percent and 15.2 percent ever since, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Interestingly, as Census figures show, the poverty rate had already begun to decline starting in 1959, five years before the LBJ initiative was announced.

Many conservatives have argued that anti-poverty programs have created a permanent underclass that has little motivation for doing what is necessary to raise them from poverty to independence. These include, among other things, two essentials: a decent education (denied by the Left, which opposes school choice), and a strong two-parent family unit.

In his budget proposal Monday, President Trump is asking Congress to cut certain entitlement programs that have arguably failed to motivate people to emerge from poverty and instead have subsidized and sustained many in poverty.

The Washington Post’s reporting is typical of what the Left has promoted for more than 50 years. It says the proposed budget “takes a hard whack at the poorest Americans, slashing billions of dollars from food stamps, public health insurance and federal housing vouchers, while trying to tilt the programs in more conservative directions.”

If the more liberal directions aren’t working, why not try a more conservative direction? It was the late Jack Kemp, former congressman and secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who best addressed the conservative and most compassionate approach to ending poverty when he said: “Conservatives define compassion not by the number of people who receive some kind of government aid, but rather by the number of people who no longer need it.”

That should be the goal of most federal programs and not just the ones addressing poverty. They should be measured by a standard of success, not seen as permanent entitlements into which increasing amounts of money is poured.

I recall an experience I had a few years ago in Singapore where I asked a taxi driver about that country’s poverty rate. At the time, he said it was less than 2 percent. I asked how that was possible. He replied that Singapore has no welfare. The government will help the truly needy, but if one is able-bodied and doesn’t work, he said, that person gets nothing from the government. The threat of an empty stomach is a prime motivator to find a job and take care of one’s self.

That has been the missing ingredient in America’s broken welfare system. Programs need to be reformed and the approach to poverty re-imagined, and not just by the government but also by those who are stuck in poverty, believing there is no way out.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. The key to a better life is inspiration, followed by motivation, followed by perspiration. A change of mindset can produce a change in virtually any circumstance.

President Trump’s budget proposal offers an opportunity to open a new front in the anti-poverty campaign, one that has the potential for success. It worked once before when President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich forged what was called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The Left screamed that people would starve. They didn’t. In fact, many found jobs and discovered they no longer had to rely on government. That produced then and can produce again a sense of self-worth that is necessary for the improvement of any life.

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Black History Month

Walter E. Williams
   
Carter G. Woodson, noted scholar, historian and educator, created “Negro History Week” in 1926, which became Black History Month in 1976. Woodson chose February because it coincided with the birthdays of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. Americans should be proud of the tremendous gains made since emancipation. Black Americans, as a group, have made the greatest gains, over some of the highest hurdles, in a shorter span of time than any other racial group in mankind’s history.

What’s the evidence? If one totaled black income and thought of us as a separate nation with our own gross domestic product, black Americans would rank among the world’s 20 richest nations. It was a black American, Colin Powell, who, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed the world’s mightiest military. There are a few black Americans who are among the world’s richest and most famous personalities. The significance of these achievements is that in 1865, neither a former slave nor a former slave owner would have believed that such gains would be possible in a little over a century. As such, it speaks well of the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as importantly, it speaks well of a nation in which such gains were possible. Those gains would have been impossible anywhere other than the U.S.

Putting greater emphasis on black successes in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds is far superior to focusing on grievances and victimhood. Doing so might teach us some things that could help us today. Black education today is a major problem. Let’s look at some islands of success from yesteryear, when there was far greater racial discrimination and blacks were much poorer.

From the late 1800s to 1950, some black schools were models of academic achievement. Black students at Washington’s racially segregated Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, as early as 1899, outscored white students in the District of Columbia schools on citywide tests. Dr. Thomas Sowell’s research in Education: Assumptions Versus History documents similar excellence at Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High School, Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High School, Brooklyn’s Albany Avenue School, New Orleans’ McDonogh 35 High School and others. These excelling students weren’t solely members of the black elite; most had parents who were manual laborers, domestic servants, porters and maintenance men. Academic excellence was obtained with skimpy school budgets, run-down buildings, hand-me-down textbooks and often 40 or 50 students in a class.

Alumni of these schools include Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice (Frederick Douglass), Gen. Benjamin Davis, Dr. Charles Drew, a blood plasma innovator, Robert C. Weaver, the first black Cabinet member, Sen. Edward Brooke, William Hastie, the first black federal judge (Dunbar), and Nobel laureate Martin Luther King Jr. (Booker T. Washington). These examples of pioneering success raise questions about today’s arguments about what’s needed for black academic success. Education experts and civil rights advocates argue that for black academic excellence to occur, there must be racial integration, small classes, big budgets and modern facilities. But earlier black academic successes put a lie to that argument.

In contrast with yesteryear, at today’s Frederick Douglass High School, only 9 percent of students test proficient in English, and only 3 percent do in math. At Paul Laurence Dunbar, 12 percent of pupils are proficient in reading, and 5 percent are proficient in math. At Booker T. Washington, the percentages are 20 in English and 18 in math. In addition to low academic achievement, there’s a level of violence and disrespect to teachers and staff that could not have been imagined, much less tolerated, at these schools during the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century.

Many black political leaders are around my age, 81, such as Rep. Maxine Waters, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Jesse Jackson. Their parents and other authorities would have never accepted the grossly disrespectful, violent behavior that has become the norm at many black schools. Their silence and support of the status quo makes a mockery of black history celebrations and represents a betrayal of epic proportions to the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors in their struggle to make today’s educational opportunities available.

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House Conservatives Gear Up to Hold Line on Immigration

Some conservative lawmakers in the House say they will be uncompromising on legislation to reform the nation’s immigration system, regardless of what more liberal colleagues urge.

“The idea that we are just going to do whatever the Senate says is a little too played out, and it’s really especially wearing thin after we didn’t even make the Senate vote on our budget,” Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said Wednesday during Conversations with Conservatives, a monthly meeting with reporters hosted by conservative lawmakers and The Heritage Foundation.

“The feedback I got from our district was pretty strong, like, ‘You guys really let us down on the spending plan, we’re not sure if we are going to hang with you if you let us down on immigration.’ ”

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said his colleagues as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will face consequences if immigration reform isn’t in line with what President Donald Trump campaigned on in 2016.

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That, he said, includes the solution to those brought to America illegally as children and protected from deportation in 2012 under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump ordered phased out by March 5.

“It is the defining moment for this speaker,” Meadows said of Ryan. “If he gets it wrong, it will have consequences for him, but it will also have consequences for the rest of the Republican Party.”

Meadows added:

We can’t afford to miss the opportunity and do it right because we promised the American people we would do it right. This president was elected largely on an immigration issue that defined him differently than every other candidate, and so it is the defining moment, more so than the budget or anything else that we passed.

“We clearly need to address this issue in March; I’ll just leave it at that,” Ryan said Wednesday.

Trump is asking lawmakers to support an immigration bill, introduced Monday, that mirrors his framework for reforms.

The bill, sponsored by seven senators, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would allocate $25 billion for border security measures, including radar, physical and virtual fencing, and other technologies. A border wall is among those measures.

“The Grassley bill accomplishes the four pillars of the White House framework: a lasting solution on DACA, ending chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery, and securing the border through building the wall and closing legal loopholes,” Trump said Wednesday in a statement issued by the White House.

“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars—that includes opposing any short-term ‘Band-Aid’ approach,” the president said.

But conservative lawmakers such as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, are throwing their support behind a House bill proposed by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

Jordan said conservatives like the bill that Goodlatte put together with Reps. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho; Michael McCaul, R-Texas; and others:

It’s the only piece of legislation we’ve talked about that is consistent with the mandate of the 2016 election, because it does all the security things, several good policy areas, border security, wall, chain migration, [Diversity] Visa Lottery, E-Verify, sanctuary cities, it does all of the things that regular, commonsense Americans want dealt with. And then it also says we’ll address the DACA situation. So it’s the one bill that is consistent with the mandate of the election, and that’s why we support it.

House Republicans’ whip team started counting votes Wednesday for the Goodlatte bill, Roll Call reported.

“The Goodlatte-McCaul bill is the bill that we’re moving,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said. “And if you look at where we start today we are finally at least working on a way to come together to address this problem.”

The Goodlatte bill would give legal status to DACA recipients for three years, which would be renewable, and also end the Diversity Visa Lottery.

The latter is a controversial program that issues green cards granting legal permanent residence to 50,000 immigrants each year, as described in a commentary by David Inserra, a policy analyst specializing in homeland security and immigration at The Heritage Foundation.

The legislation also would require employers to use E-Verify, now a voluntary system, to check the immigration status of workers. And it would authorize a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and other efforts designed to increase border security.

The Grassley plan in the Senate, however, which mirrors Trump’s framework, would grant amnesty to 1.8 million illegal immigrants in exchange for new priorities for legal immigration and more border security, including the president’s promised border wall.

Lawmakers said they will stick to conservative principles in the immigration debate.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., called it “a watershed moment.”

“I … really don’t care what the Senate does, we in the House, we are responsible for a good bill, putting it forward and sticking with it,” Norman said, “because a lot of us just aren’t going to settle for anything just because the Senate wants us to. This is a watershed moment, in my opinion … this was the 2016 election.”

The Grassley bill also would restrict family-based immigration to the nuclear family; budget for increased border security personnel; and close what sponsors call loopholes in the immigration process.

The six other Republican senators whose names are on the bill are Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, David Perdue of Georgia, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

The Grassley bill “grandfathers all pending family-based visa applications in order to reward those who chose to follow the law and immigrate legally,” according to a press release from Cotton’s office. “The allotment for the Diversity Visa Lottery will be reallocated to reduce this backlog and the employment-based visa backlog.”

Meadows said lawmakers in the House like the Goodlatte bill, and Scalise and other leaders should be able to drive support for it.

“I think that when they whip it, it will have more votes than the tax reform bill did when they originally whipped that,” the Freedom Caucus chairman said. “It will have more votes than the budget that we passed had when they originally whipped that. So getting to 218 would be easier to do if we just continued to work the Goodlatte-Labrador bill, and not try to run to some Senate bill.”

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

***************************




Friday, February 16, 2018



An end to separate men's and women's sport? Australian Government MP makes radical suggestion for 'desegregated' competitions during heated debate about females in war

This should set the cat among the pigeons

A Turnbull Government MP has suggested men and women should compete against each other on the sporting field.

Perth-based Liberal senator Linda Reynolds made the radical call during a Twitter debate about women serving on the frontline of war.

In a social media battle with former Australian Christian Lobby boss Lyle Shelton, the 52-year-old backbencher suggested sporting codes allow women to compete against men - like the Australian Defence Force does when it comes to recruitment.

'So why don’t we take the lead from the ADF and desegregate women in sport, so men and women compete equally on talent, not by gender?,' she said.

Mr Shelton, who plans to run as an Australian Conservatives candidate at the next federal election, is opposed to the idea of female soldiers fighting in battle.

'If the AFL and the NRL are allowed to recognise the physical differences between men & women, why can’t the Army?,' he said.

Senator Reynolds, who spent 28 years in the Australian Army Reserve before becoming a brigadier, had described Mr Shelton's views as '1950s'.

'Your flippancy does great disservice to the thousands women who have, and continue, to serve our nation with great distinction side by side with their equally capable male counterparts,' she said.

She pointed out the Women's Royal Australian Army Corp was disbanded in 1985 when women were fully integrated into the Army.

The Australian government took another 26 years to allow females to join combat regiments.

Her proposal on mixed-gender sports could see the likes of Women's One Day International cricket star Ellyse Perry play on the same Test team as Steve Smith.

Australian women's soccer star Sam Kerr could be playing on the same side as Socceroos goal-scoring legend Tim Cahill.

However almost all sports have seperate competitions for male and female athletes, because of the difference in physical traits such as speed and strength.

Senator Reynold's call to gender desegregate sport comes as the AFL allows transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey to play in women's state and territory league matches.

SOURCE






More Cops Means Less Crime, Analysis Shows

An increase in the number of policemen, driven by an Obama-era boost in federal funding, led to drops in violent and property crime, including a reduction of one murder per every 11 police officers, a new paper argues.

The analysis, authored by Princeton Ph.D. candidate Steve Mello, examines what Mello identifies as a natural experiment in the relationship between the number of police and the rates of crime in a given jurisdiction.

Specifically, Mello focuses on the increase in police funding that came when a newly elected President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, allocating some $2 billion to the Department of Justice for police hiring grants, mostly through the Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. COPS grants were issued based on a "fuzzy cutoff," meaning a city's chances of receiving a grant jumped substantially if its scoring by DOJ (a combination of factors including crime rate and current police force size) passed a certain threshold. That fuzzy cutoff creates two natural groups for comparison: Those that received COPS funding and those that didn't.

Mello demonstrates that, while "high and low scoring cities follow[ed] similar trends in police and crime prior to the application year," cities above the threshold saw a 3.6 percent increase in police. This translated into a 4.8 percent decline in violent crimes and a 3 percent decline in property crimes for cities over the threshold, over average, an effect which Mello ties directly to the increase in police.

Those declines are driven especially by police effects on robbery, larceny, and auto theft, Mello notes. But police also exert a notable downwards pressure on murder rates, with the analysis finding a particularly robust negative response: For every 11 police officers hired, one murder is prevented.

The analysis concludes these declines are not driven merely by incapacitation, i.e. the prevention of crime by the physical removal of offenders from the streets. To determine this, Mello analyzed arrest rates and found they did not increase concurrently with the increase in number of police officers.

This, Mello argues, "suggests a deterrence mechanism underlying the estimated crime effects," with the simple presence of additional police reducing criminals' likelihood of committing a crime.

Mello's paper contributes to a growing body of research that supports a relationship between an increase in the number of police officers and a decline in the crime rate. This seemingly intuitive point struggled to find empirical verification until a 1997 paper by noted University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt analyzed the effects of police hiring driven by the ostensibly independent variable of electoral cycles, at last identifying a relationship between cops and crime.

Since then, the literature has grown, including more than one other analyses of COPS, and a natural experiment analyzed by Jonathan Klick and Alexander Tabarrok, who found fluctuations in police around the Capitol in Washington, D.C., affected crime rates.

Mello's paper provides a novel contribution to this body of literature because "several of the most-cited papers on the topic have studied the high crime periods of the 1980's and 1990's," whereas Mello "study[s] a period with low and falling crime rates and show[s] that additional police still have a meaningful impact in this very different environment."

This means that even during the notably low-crime 2010 to 2013 period police still drove crime rates down. Today, the 20-year crime decline may be in jeopardy: after having risen for two years in a row, violent crime rates fell in the first half of 2017, but murder continued to increase.

Funding for police hiring, specifically through COPS, has been a priority of the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In November, Sessions announced $98 million in new COPS grants, allowing 179 law enforcement agencies nationwide to hire 802 new full-time officers. COPS has provided over $14 billion in funding since 1994.

SOURCE





Pesky! Countries with greater gender equality have a lower percentage of female STEM graduates

Why does this matter?  If women have equal access that should be the end of it

Countries with greater gender equality see a smaller proportion of women taking degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), a new study has found. Policymakers could use the findings to reconsider initiatives to increase women's participation in STEM, say the researchers.


Dubbed the 'gender equality paradox', the research found that countries such as Albania and Algeria have a greater percentage of women amongst their STEM graduates than countries lauded for their high levels of gender equality, such as Finland, Norway or Sweden.

The researchers, from Leeds Beckett University in the UK and the University of Missouri in the USA, believe this might be because countries with less gender equality often have little welfare support, making the choice of a relatively highly-paid STEM career more attractive.

The study, published in Psychological Science, also looked at what might motivate girls and boys to choose to study STEM subjects, including overall ability, interest or enjoyment in the subject and whether science subjects were a personal academic strength.

Using data on 475,000 adolescents across 67 countries or regions, the researchers found that while boys' and girls' achievement in STEM subjects was broadly similar, science was more likely to be boys' best subject. Girls, even when their ability in science equalled or excelled that of boys, were often likely to be better overall in reading comprehension, which relates to higher ability in non-STEM subjects. Girls also tended to register a lower interest in science subjects. These differences were near-universal across all the countries and regions studied.

This could explain some of the gender disparity in STEM participation, as Gijsbert Stoet, Professor in Psychology from Leeds Beckett University explains:

"The further you get in secondary and then higher education, the more subjects you need to drop until you end with just one. We are inclined to choose what we are best at and also enjoy. This makes sense and matches common school advice." he said. "So, even though girls can match boys in terms of how well they do at science and mathematics in school, if those aren't their best subjects and they are less interested in them, then they're likely to choose to study something else."

The researchers also looked at how many girls might be expected to choose further study in STEM based on these criteria. They took the number of girls in each country who had the necessary ability in STEM and for whom it was also their best subject and compared this to the number of women graduating in STEM. They found there was a disparity in all countries, but with the gap once again larger in more gender equal countries. In the UK, 29% of STEM graduates are female, whereas 48% of UK girls might be expected to take those subjects based on science ability alone. This drops to 39% when both science ability and interest in the subject are taken into account.

Co-researcher Professor David Geary from the University of Missouri said: "Although countries with greater gender equality tend to be those where women are actively encouraged to participate in STEM, they lose more girls from an academic STEM track who might otherwise choose it, based on their personal academic strengths. Broader economic factors appear to contribute to the higher participation of women in STEM in countries with low gender equality and the lower participation in gender-equal countries."

Countries with higher gender equality tend also to be welfare states, providing a high level of social security for their citizens, compared to those with lower gender equality which tend to have less secure and more difficult living conditions. Using the UNESCO overall life satisfaction (OLS) figures as a proxy for economic opportunity and hardship, the researchers found that in more gender equal countries, overall life satisfaction was higher.

Professor Stoet said: "STEM careers are generally secure and well-paid but the risks of not following such a path can vary. In more affluent countries where any choice of career feels relatively safe, women may feel able to make choices based on non-economic factors. Conversely, in countries with fewer economic opportunities, or where employment might be precarious, a well-paid and relatively secure STEM career can be more attractive to women."

Professor Geary adds: "Essentially when you lessen economic concerns, as is the case in gender-equal countries, personal preferences are more strongly expressed. In this situation, sex differences in academic strengths and occupational interests more strongly influence college and career choices, creating the STEM paradox we describe."

Despite extensive efforts to increase participation of women in STEM, levels have remained broadly stable for decades, but these findings could help target interventions to make them more effective, say the researchers.

"It's important to take into account that girls are choosing not to study STEM for what they feel are valid reasons, so campaigns that target all girls may be a waste of energy and resources," said Professor Stoet. "If governments want to increase women's participation in STEM, a more effective strategy might be to target the girls who are clearly being 'lost' from the STEM pathway: those for whom science and maths are their best subjects and who enjoy it but still don't choose it. If we can understand their motivations, then interventions can be designed to help them change their minds."

SOURCE





Sex and STEM: Stubborn Facts and Stubborn Ideologies

Many academics in the modern world seem obsessed with the sex difference in engagement with science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) fields. Or rather they are obsessed with the fact that there are more men than women in some of these fields. There is particular concern about the lack of women in prestigious STEM fields, such as Ph.D.-level faculty positions, but surprisingly there is no concern about the under-representation of women in lower-level technical jobs, such as car mechanics or plumbing.

The concerned academics have been especially effective in convincing others, or at least intimidating them, into accepting their preferred interpretations regarding the source of these sex differences (as illustrated in the Google memo debate). These interpretations are not surprising and they include sexism, stereotype threat, and more recently implicit bias and microaggression. Each of these ideas has gained traction in the mainstream media and in many academic circles but their scientific foundations are shaky. In this essay, we’ll provide some background on the STEM controversy and consider multiple factors that might contribute to these sex differences.

The U.S. National Science Foundation reports that women are awarded 57 percent of undergraduate STEM degrees, but with substantial differences across fields. Women earn the majority of degrees in the life and social sciences but less than 20 percent of the degrees in computer science and engineering, sex differences that have held steady for several decades. The STEM debate is primarily about sex differences in educational and later occupational choices in inorganic fields, those focused on understanding non-living things. These differences are socially important because these tend to be prestigious occupations, and practically important because the different numbers of men and women in these fields contribute, in part, to the sex difference in earnings.1

At the core of the obsession is the zeitgeist that there should be gender equity – equal outcomes – for anything of monetary or social value. The combination of an extreme agenda among some feminists and a stubborn sex difference has created a cottage industry focused on rectifying this ‘injustice.’ The federal governments in the U.S., U.K., and other Western nations have devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to interventions to close the gap. Some of the activities funded by these initiatives make sense and are possibly helpful in some ways, such as programs to increase interest in mathematics or programming among girls. Other programs, such as developing mentoring programs exclusively for women who are junior faculty in science and engineering in university settings (e.g., U.K. Athena Swan’s programs) are ethically problematic because they assume men do not need that level of support. From an evidence-based perspective, the most questionable and perhaps the most favored of these interventions are focused on stereotype threat, implicit bias, and microaggression.

Stereotype threat occurs when one is confronted with tasks or situations that trigger negative stereotypes (e.g., that “women are not as proficient at math as men”), that in turn result in a preoccupation about performing in a way that confirms the stereotype.2 Critically, the preoccupation is said to undermine actual performance, even when there is no factual basis to the stereotype. Implicit bias is a related concept and involves an unconscious association between group membership (e.g., sex) and stereotypical positive or negative attributes that can also, in theory, result in prejudicial behavior towards individuals within that group.3 Microaggressions are subtle behaviors (e.g., facial expressions) or statements that are not explicitly hostile but are nevertheless interpreted by the receiver as conveying contempt, stereotypical attitudes, or other negative beliefs.

Proponents of these theories and their activist followers believe that some significant proportion of the sex differences in STEM fields – but curiously only those in which men outnumber women – are thought to be caused by pervasive negative stereotypes about women’s abilities in these fields that in turn undermine their performance. Their argument is that in school and in the workplace, women in these fields are subjected to microaggressions by teachers and colleagues that seep from their unconscious belief in these same stereotypes. The result is the creation of unsupportive and even subtly hostile classrooms and work environments. These types of explanations fit hand-in-glove with the narrative of some feminist scholars; that the sex difference is largely due to oppressive social and cultural factors that undermine women’s pursuit of degrees and occupations in STEM fields.4

These concepts have been embraced by the mass media and beyond, and include accusations made in the New York Times that the wording of several SAT items trigger stereotype threat and undermine girls’ performance on the mathematics section of the test, and the publication of self-help books to purge one’s own unconscious biases.5 On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with an academic and mass media focus on these topics. The real issues concern the magnitude of these effects on women’s STEM participation and the foregone opportunities of not focusing on other factors that might have an even stronger impact on their participation.

Let’s start with the magnitude of stereotype threat on girls’ and women’s mathematics achievement.6 Given the prominence of the topic and the resources devoted to it, we carried out the first meta-analysis (i.e., statistical aggregation of experimental results across many studies) of the effect of stereotype threat on sex differences in mathematics performance.7 We reasoned that if stereotype threat had a substantive effect on girls’ and women’s mathematics performance then the most basic experimental manipulation of the effect should replicate across studies. It replicated in about half of the studies that used the same and most basic experimental design. And of the half that replicated, half of these used a questionable statistical approach. The summary of the other half did not show a stereotype threat effect. Thus, if you accept the questionable statistical approach, you may still argue that a small stereotype threat exists.

In a related analysis, Flore and Wichert found a similar overall effect, but when they corrected for publication bias – the tendency for positive but not negative results to be published – the effect essentially disappeared.8 Because studies that do not find an effect tend not to get published, this means that even when there is evidence for a small stereotype threat effect in some reports, the real-world impact could be close to zero. Currently, a large replication effort is being carried out, and we are optimistic that this will be a significant step towards finally determining whether or not stereotype threat can undermine girl’s and women’s performance in mathematics, and if so to what extent.

More HERE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Thursday, February 15, 2018



CENSORIOUS MILLENNIALS ARE THE NEW VICTORIANS

Matt Ridley, below, is more puzzled by the things he notes below than he should be.  The "Puritanism" he notes is not a phenomenon of young people generally.  It is another pose of the Left.  As they have gained power and influence they have become snooty and have alienated their old power-base -- the workers. So they are going all out to get any minority they can onto their plantation. 

By exaggerated concern for any conceivable minority they hope to get votes from the minorities concerned.  They live off victims.  They need victims as a justification and outlet for the anger that is always boiling within them.  It is also a form of patronage that makes the patron feel good



I am sure I am not alone in finding the cultural revolution that we are going through difficult to understand. Like a free-living Regency rationalist who has survived to see Victorian prudery, like a moderate critic of Charles I trying to make sense of the Cromwellian dogma, like a once revolutionary Chinese democrat hoping not to be denounced and sent for re-education under Chairman Mao (or John McDonnell), I am an easygoing Seventies libertarian baffled by the aggressive puritanism and intolerance that seems to be everywhere on the march.

I turned 60 last week and expected by now to find myself in periodic, grumpy disapproval of the younger generation’s scorn for tradition, love of change and tolerance of “anything goes”. Instead I find something approaching the opposite. Many people of my generation have mentioned the same experience recently: the terrifying censoriousness of the young, even sometimes their own children, and the eggshell-treading dread of saying the wrong thing in front of them. The young are a bit like our parents were, in fact.

What happened to the liberation of the Sixties and Seventies, when you could start to forget hierarchy and say just about anything to and about anybody? Pictures of young women in make-up, short skirts and high heels walking down the street in Kabul or Tehran in the Seventies are in shocking contrast with the battle that modern Iranian women, dressed mostly in all-concealing black, are bravely fighting to gain the right to remove a headscarf without being arrested.

Is it so different here or are we slipping down the same slope? Pre-Raphaelite paintings that show the top halves of female nudes are temporarily removed from an art gallery’s walls; young girls are forced to wear headscarves in school; darts players and racing drivers may not be accompanied by women in short skirts; women are treated differently from men at universities, as if they were the weaker sex, and saved from seeing upsetting paragraphs in novels; sex is negotiated in advance with the help of chaperones. We have been here before.

In Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s novel of 1928, she portrayed the transition from the 18th century to the Victorian period thus: “Love, birth, and death were all swaddled in a variety of fine phrases. The sexes drew further and further apart. No open conversation was tolerated. Evasions and concealments were sedulously practised on both sides.”

How we laughed at such absurdity in my youth. But even for making the point that some of the new feminism seems “retrograde” in promoting the view that women are fragile, the American academic Katie Roiphe suffered a vicious campaign to have her article in Harper’s magazine banned before publication. “I find the Stalinist tenor of this conversation shocking,” she told The Sunday Times. “The basic assumption of freedom of speech is imperilled in our culture right now.”

The sin of blasphemy is back. There are things you simply cannot say about Islam and increasingly about Christianity, about climate change, about gender, to mention a few from a very long and growing list, without being accused of, and possibly prosecuted for, “hate speech”. Is it hate speech to say that Muhammad “delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse”? That was Voltaire, one of my heroes. You may disagree with him but you should, in accordance with his principle, defend his right to say it. In demanding tolerance of minorities, many younger people seem to be remarkably intolerant.

There is an odd contradiction between the declared wish to live and let live — “diversity!”, “don’t judge!” — and the actual behaviour, which is ruthlessly and priggishly judgmental. They never stop drafting acts of uniformity, always in the name of the collective against the individual. The minority of one is the most oppressed minority of all.

Perhaps, being a meat-eating, heterosexual, titled, atheist, climate-sceptic male who thinks communism was evil, gender is partly biological, genetically modified crops are good for the environment, free markets make people nicer and that Britain should leave the European Union, it is just me who finds himself perpetually on the politically incorrect side of arguments, or at least the opposite side from the BBC. But it does feel as though almost everybody, whatever their views, is one step away from public denunciation.

We need a morality, of course, and one that does more to challenge bad behaviour whether in Hollywood or Oxfam, but that does not require being more puritan about speech and thought. I have often wondered how it was that in the past societies suddenly became more censorious, conservative and intolerant, as they did at the start of the Victorian era, but I thought that I was living in a time when none of that could happen, when culture was on a one-way escalator towards liberality.

In the Sixties Francis Crick held a contest for what to do with the college chapels in Cambridge, because in the future nobody would be religious. Imagine that. Of course, we knew what was going on in China — the Cultural Revolution was a political purge dressed up as moral rearmament — but we shuddered at the alien nature of such a thing. Now it seems closer.

The thugs who recently tried to prevent Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking at a university are now a familiar routine on campus. But, as the American journalist Andrew Sullivan warns, the campus is a harbinger for the whole of society: “Workplace codes today read like campus speech codes of a few years ago . . . the goal of our culture now is not the emancipation of the individual from the group, but the permanent definition of the individual by the group. We used to call this bigotry. Now we call it being woke. You see: we are all on campus now.”

Nevertheless, I remain a rational optimist. Like the psychologist Steven Pinker in his new book, I think “the Enlightenment is working”, still. Reason can prevail over dogma, science over superstition, freedom over tyranny, individualism over apartheid. Progress is not dead. Yet. But we have certainly taken a few steps backward towards a darker way of running society. Why? I still don’t have an answer.

SOURCE






Trigger warning: Either you’re for free speech or you’re not

A broadly reasonable article from the Left below

THE HUMOR POLICE are cracking down, from the right and left.

During a lecture on “The rule of law in a time of polarization,” Northeastern University Professor Barry Bluestone said, “This president that we have is really out of control. . . . Sometimes I want to just see him impeached. Other times, quite honestly — I hope there are no FBI agents here — I wouldn’t mind seeing him dead.”

“ . . . Of natural causes,” quickly added liberal journalist Robert Kuttner, who also participated in the event.

“Of natural causes. Thank you. Thank you,” said Bluestone, according to an account by Campus Reform, which identifies as a campus watchdog “exposing bias and abuse.”

Reasonable people could interpret Bluestone’s initial comment as a weak joke, not incitement to violence against President Trump. And the follow-up banter definitely comes off like academia’s idea of jocularity. But the right was not amused. Fending off backlash from angry conservatives, Northeastern quickly distanced itself from the professor’s remark. Bluestone apologized, said the comment was “stupid,” and explained he didn’t mean it literally. A video of the public lecture was taken down from YouTube.

So much for lefty humor.

But seriously, folks, have you heard about the latest uproar over at WEEI concerning the stereotypical Asian accent used by cohost Christian Fauria to mock sports agent Dan Yee?

Fauria apologized and was suspended for five days. My colleague Shirley Leung argues that’s not enough. She believes the cohosts who laughed along with Fauria’s sorry joke should also be punished. While I absolutely respect Leung’s perspective and agree that the pretend Asian accent was offensive, I just wonder where we draw the censorship line. What if the agent had an Italian-sounding name, and a radio host did a Marlon Brando-Godfather-like impersonation? Or aped an Irish brogue or upper-crust British accent? If the radio station is going to ban pretend-Asian accents, shouldn’t it also ban all fake accents? Otherwise, where’s the consistency? And how will WEEI hosts know the rules of engagement?

Leung is also much braver than I. She actually reads what WEEI listeners tweet at her. I generally leave that to others, although I do read and respond to as much e-mail as possible. I understand her disgust with the tone of the daily conversation and the middle-school meanness it elicits from the audience. But you’re either for free speech or you’re not. That’s why I reluctantly backed WEEI cohost Alex Reimer’s use of an unpleasant word to describe Tom Brady’s five-year-old daughter and suggested Brady had no grounds for complaint, since he put his daughter in his “Tom vs. Time” video. Trust me, that was an unpopular position, on both the left and right.

WEEI’s suspension of Reimer had rare appeal across the ideological spectrum. Usually, outrage breaks along predictable political lines. Indeed, an entire book has been written about that. In “Free Speech for Me, But Not For Thee,” Nat Hentoff explains “how the American left and right relentlessly censor each other.”

That applies to humor, too. Comedian Kathy Griffin sparked outrage for posing with a replica of President Trump’s bloody, decapitated head last May. For that, she was fired from CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast. She’s just starting to venture back in public and made her first red carpet appearance since the controversy, at the 2018 Writers Guild Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Entertainment just issued an apology over a scene in its new film “Peter Rabbit,” during which a character with an allergy to blackberries is attacked by them. “Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis . . . being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” Sony said in a statement after an advocacy group, “The Kids with Food Allergies Foundation,” complained about the movie.

Someone also told The New York Times the movie should come with a “trigger warning.” Maybe this column should, too.

I know. There’s no absolute right to free speech. Employers can set limits and the marketplace applies its own standards. So do individuals. I’d prefer a less sexist and less racist radio station. But I also support Bluestone’s right to muse out loud about a Trump-free world. So I find it hard to call for censoring one without censoring the other. And that’s no joke.

SOURCE





California Yoga Studio Offers ‘Rap Yoga’, Black Lives Matter Immediately Makes Absurd Move

It’s really unfortunate watching the left turn everything into a race issue. It’s starting to become really clear that race is the most important thing in the liberal mind. Your typical liberal will look at a person and see a white man or a black woman. That’s wrong in a variety of ways. Primarily because it’s racist.

In California, one of the most liberal places in the world, a yoga studio thought it would be fun to offer ‘rap yoga’. Harmless right? A bunch of people getting together to exercise while listening to one of the most popular music genres on the planet. Maybe drop a few bars (rap thing) during the session? What’s wrong with that?

According to Black Lives Matter, it was offensive enough of a move to cause a protest.  From The Daily Caller:

The Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter staged a protest outside a yoga studio Saturday because the studio had planned to host a yoga and rap session.

An instructor at Solfire Yoga came up with the idea to hold a blended rap and yoga session, only to draw the ire of the local Black Lives Matter chapter, reports Fox 40.

Though the studio quickly canceled it because the group did not like the idea of a white woman hosting it, Black Lives Matter still decided to host a demonstration outside the studio to protest cultural appropriation.

“Historically rap music has been a way of expression for black folks to talk about the pain that they go through in their neighborhoods and their lives,” Tanya Faison, the founder of the Sacramento BLM, explained. “We’re just trying to make change and we’re trying to get them to acknowledge what they’re doing and be accountable.”

Music is art. No one owns any certain kind of music. The idea that a yoga studio can’t play rap music or do whatever they want with rap music without being called racist is absurd.

The message here from Black Lives Matter is that only black people can listen to rap music. That’s an argument a small child would find strange. These are adults. Also, the argument is apparently that only white people do yoga. That’s also not true.

It’s unfortunate that the studio canceled the event but that’s pretty much how BLM operates. They intimidate small business owners until they do what they want. It’s similar to Antifa and we see it all over with today’s left. No tolerance. Just bullying. It’s so important to stand up to people like this. Rap music is an art that was created for everyone to enjoy.

Simply put. This is racism and it’s racism that is propped up by Democrats constantly.

SOURCE





The EU is the enemy of the working classes

Leftists who support the EU should look at Greece, and be ashamed.

There are two European Unions, it seems. There is the EU that stands up for the citizen, for his or her rights; the EU that can face down the behemoths of global capitalism and rein in their avarice and callousness; the EU that has legally enshrined workers’ freedoms, and which exists as a bulwark against untrammelled neoliberalism. And then there is the real EU.

That heroic EU is a castle in the anti-Brexit sky, built by those who identify themselves as left-wing. It is maintained by those Labour MPs and peers who, as they did on the eve of Labour’s autumn conference, ceaselessly urge Labour leader Jeremy Corybn ‘to commit to staying in the Single Market and Customs Union… and to work with sister parties and others across Europe to improve workers’ rights’.

It is fortified by the self-appointed keepers of the left-wing flame, those among the commentariat who never tire of telling us that ‘workers’ rights… would be imperilled’ by a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’. And it is peopled by all those who cling to this image of the EU as an essentially social-democratic institution, sticking it gently to the man, defying the Daily Mail, and protecting working men and women against the inhuman workings of capital.

Then there’s the other EU, the one that actually exists. This is the EU that uses the pooled-without-consent sovereignty of its member states to pursue its own institutional self-preservation, impoverishing struggling Eurozone members, from Spain to Italy, in the name of economic stability; imposing leaders-cum-administrators on recalcitrant electorates in the interests of austerity; and brazenly betraying workers’ rights at every self-interested turn. This EU – the actual EU, the one stubbornly committed to its own, not citizens’, interests – is not on the side of the worker. And it never was. Because this EU, when the economic imperative demands, is always against the worker.

But those attached to their fantasy left-wing ideal of the EU refuse to see the reality. To face up to this reality would simply be too much. It would mock their left-wing pretensions, humiliate and expose them for what they are: a craven defence of the status quo – a status quo in which they have long prospered.

This is presumably why so little attention has been given to what happened in Greece last month, when the real EU was there for all to see. The EU forced the Syriza-led government of Alex Tsipras to implement new anti-union legislation, rendering strike action illegal unless over 50 per cent of union members have formally approved it. The effect of such a measure, as the British trade-union movement discovered in the 1980s, will be to strangle workers’ freedoms in bureaucracy, and emasculate organised labour.

Not that the legislation was a surprise – it was a condition of the bailout package agreed with the EU (alongside the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank) back in 2015. But that doesn’t make it any less of an assault on the Greek working class. ‘These were rights won with sweat and blood more than three decades ago’, said Odysseus Trivalas, president of the union of public sector workers. ‘Banks, industrialists and foreign investors want to deny us them. We won’t make it easy. We will take to the streets.’

And take to the street they did, when workers and union activists stormed the Greek labour ministry last month, prising open metal shutters before confronting the minister, Effie Achtsioglou, and hanging a banner from the ministry’s windows that declared: ‘Hands off strikes, it’s a labour right.’ But it has all been to no avail. The bill, of which the anti-union laws were part, was passed by the Greek parliament, as well it would given Greece’s political class has pinned its own survival to that of the EU and the Eurozone, taking the cash in return for giving up even the semblance of political autonomy.

Not that you would be especially aware of any of this from the UK’s media coverage of the EU’s continued assault on Greece, and Greek workers’ rights in particular. Instead, the focus among the rump of the UK’s pro-EU media has been on Greece’s journey back from a double brink — the brink of economic collapse in 2010, and the brink of Grexit in 2015—with the bailout programme due to end in August this year. ‘2018 should be the year Greece ends eight years of economic tutelage’, as the resolutely Remainer Financial Times put it, ‘closing a chapter on an extraordinary period in the EU’s financial crisis fighting’.

Yet peer beneath the narrative peddled by the EU’s UK-based PR machine, be it the FT or The Economist or the Guardian, and the reality of life under the EU in Greece tells us something different. It speaks of EU-driven impoverishment, of a nation in which nearly one in four adults is unemployed (an unemployment rate that rises to one in two among under-25s); a nation in which net household income has fallen by over 40 per cent since 2009; and a nation, above all, in which people’s freedom to resist, to try to determine their own future, has been curtailed and, at points, eviscerated. As Fotis, a 70-year-old former welder from Athens, put it, ‘It is a moment of humiliation I never expected to live. It is what our lives have been reduced to for the sake of getting the national numbers right.’

This EU, in which Greece is impoverished and politically neutered, is what Remainers support. This is their utopia of workers’ rights and compassionate capitalism. This is their oh-so-left-wing cause. They should be ashamed.

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018



California Will Free 10,000 Sexual Predators

California will soon send 10,000 sexual predators pouring onto the streets and into neighborhoods where children play, and the vulnerable make easy targets.

California is a state of rich and poor, great wealth despite being the poorest state in the union. They spend obscene sums of money on welfare for foreigners but leave their roads in disrepair. There is a housing shortage and the taxes are very high.

Businesses are fleeing while environmental regulations grow ever more oppressive. They also have tons of criminals released from prison early because prisons are overcrowded. They won’t build new jails, instead, they let them loose on the streets.

The residents are obedient and say nothing unless the gas tax is raised or a Republican needs to be silenced. They now face the likelihood of 10,000 sex offenders pouring into their neighborhoods all at once. It’s unlikely they will say anything about that either.

The Daily Caller reports that Cali will release 10,000 perverts because Proposition 57 orders California prisons to consider early parole for non-violent offenders.

It’s amazing what they think is non-violent. Brown promised voters non-violent sex offenders would not reap the benefits, but a Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner knocked that down.

Pimping minors, incest, and child pornography is non-violent according to this judge. Their rights trump the victims.

“If the voters had intended to exclude all registered sex offenders from early parole consideration under Proposition 57, they presumably would have said so,” Sumner told reporters.

However, California is on top of the real crimes. They plan to put people using improper LGBT pronouns in nursing homes in prison. Waiters offering straws in restaurants without being asked are in danger of fines and prison.

Democrat Cali has their priorities straight. No wonder so many people are fleeing the state.

SOURCE





GENDER POOL ROW in Britain.  Feminists protest against decision to let transgender women into Hampstead Heath’s female only swimming pond

A row has erupted after the City of London Corporation allowed self-identifying trans women to use the ladies' pond and the female changing rooms

FEMINISTS have called for a ban on self-identifying transgender women from using a female-only pond on London’s Hampstead Heath.

Activists from Mayday 4 Women protested outside a private meeting of the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association (KLPA) as they sat to discuss the situation on Thursday, February 8.

Around 100 members of the 400-strong association held a closed meeting to discuss “perspectives on transgender swimming”.

It comes after the City of London Corporation, who are responsible for the facility, said self-identifying trans women were now welcome to use the pond and the female changing rooms.

In a statement, the Corporation said: “Over the last year all lifeguards and managers at Hampstead Heath ponds have taken transgender awareness training courses, which have been offered to, and taken by, the ponds’ swimming associations as well.

“We are working with the LGBTQ community to ensure our facilities are fit to serve the needs of everyone who enjoys them, and will continue to do so in the future.”

The pond in question is the only all-women swimming area in Britain and counts actress Helena Bonham Carter, comedian Rhona Cameron and author Esther Freud among its regular users.

According to the Guardian, activists from the radical feminist group Mayday 4 Women protested outside the meeting, urging members to lobby to “keep the Hampstead Heath ladies’ pond a sanctuary for women”.

Armed with flyers and placards, the group added: “Males already have access to two ponds: the men’s pond and the mixed pond. Why should they have access to three ponds when they already have access to two?”

The group also urged members attending the closed meeting to “represent the voices of women to have a space where women can feel safe, bring their daughter and not worry about a man who says he’s a woman being allowed through the gates.”

SOURCE






Do-gooder evil

The sexual misconduct scandal at Oxfam deepened on Monday night as the charity's former head of safeguarding revealed teenage volunteers at UK shops had been abused and overseas staff had traded aid for sex.

In some of the most explosive allegations yet against the charity, Helen Evans accused her bosses of ignoring her evidence and her pleas for more resources, forcing her to quit in despair.

Ms Evans said that staff had been accused of rape and that sexual abuse by shop managers in UK stores against young volunteers was covered up.

Ten per cent of staff in some countries had been sexually assaulted by colleagues or witnessed abuse, she added.

Her allegations emerged just hours after Penny Lawrence, the charity's deputy chief executive, quit over the scandal and the Government announced that it would be launching a unit to investigate sex abuse in the aid sector.

Any suggestion that the furore was subsiding was quashed by Ms Evans' new revelations which included that volunteers in Britain were not subjected to criminal checks and that her complaints were dismissed by senior Oxfam managers, the Charity Commission and the Home Office.

Speaking on Channel 4 News she said: "Behind Oxfam there are thousands of committed staff. They put their lives at risk every day. In terms of the senior leadership team I think they need to look back and say, did they do everything they needed to keep beneficiaries safe?"

The latest allegations emerged as there were calls for criminal charges to be brought against Oxfam executives and staff in the UK if they had turned a blind eye to abuse overseas. Concerns were also raised over Oxfam's use of public money.

Oxfam executives met with Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, on Monday evening in an attempt to assure the minister that the charity could be trusted with the £32m of public finding it receives.

Caroline Thomson, Oxfam chair of trustees, said: "We recognise that we have some way to go to persuade her that we have the right moral leadership to be fully entrusted with public money."

But the problems deepened less than an hour later as Ms Evans came forward with a number of claims including that volunteers as young as 14 in Oxfam shops in the UK had complained of abuse.

She detailed one case of an adult volunteer assaulting a child volunteer and said that she was extremely concerned that children were being left alone with volunteers who had not been checked for criminal records.

There were 12 allegations of abuse over two years and one involved a shop manager allegedly attempting to force a young volunteer to drop charges against an adult male volunteer who was said to have assaulted them.

Furthermore, in the course of one day in 2015 she received reports from the charity's global operation of "a woman being coerced to have sex in a humanitarian response by another aid worker, another case where a woman had been coerced in exchange for aid and another one where it had come to our attention where a member of staff had been struck off for sexual abuse and hadn’t disclosed that and we were then concerned about what he might be doing."

It comes just 24 hours after the charity insisted that it had not detailed the allegations surrounding the use of prostitutes, some of whom were said to be underage, because they did not involve "sex for aid".

Ms Evans said that the latest revelations about the use of prostitutes in Haiti were "not a surprise" as she had been informing the charity commission of her concerns since 2015.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, on Monday night apologised to Ms Evans and said that he would resign if the board of trustees asked him to.

He told Channel 4 News: "I certainly apologise for not acting fast enough, I think we did take them seriously and we responded on many different fronts - the records checking was one of them, training was another, the promotion of the helpline was another - she did some great work.

"What I recognise now, with the severity of issues as they have emerged, is that we should have resourced that team up faster as we now have, indeed, done."

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said that in 2015: “We took the concerns Ms Evans raised very seriously and engaged with Oxfam on a formal regulatory basis to address them. This included meeting with the charity and requesting detailed information about its safeguarding procedures. Indeed Ms Evans acknowledged our initial response at the time; stating that she appreciated 'the time taken by the Charity Commission to look into safeguarding concerns'."

They said that she did not raise concerns on specific incidents and they met her again in 2017 and "opened a formal regulatory compliance case with the charity which has been ongoing since that time".

It came after Professor Andrew MacLeod, a  lawyer and former aid worker, said: "Under the UK child sex tourism laws, if one of these prostitute was underage, then the person has broken the law here. And possibly Oxfam executives have broken the law by aiding, abetting and supporting."

He said that if the charity "were treating this seriously" they would hand a dossier on the Haiti allegations to police, adding: "Until they start putting people in jail nothing will change."

But Penny Mourdant, the International Development Secretary, announced instead that she had asked for the crimes to be investigated in the home countries of the aid workers.

Though she has written to all charities asking for assurances over their safeguarding procedures she has not announced any investigation into the Haiti allegations.

Ms Lawrence on Monday became the first executive to resign, admitting that the charity were made aware of allegations relating to prostitute use by Roland van Hauwermeiren and his team in Chad in 2006.

Five years later he was posted to Haiti and became embroiled in a scandal where senior aid workers were accused of using prostitutes at orgies, some of whom were allegedly underage.

Four members of staff were dismissed as a result of Oxfam's 2011 investigation into the claims and three, including Mr van Hauwermeiren, were allowed to resign before it concluded.

SOURCE





Transgender Ideology Is Riddled With Contradictions. Here Are the Big Ones

People say that we live in a postmodern age that has rejected metaphysics. That’s not quite true.

We live in a postmodern age that promotes an alternative metaphysics. As I explain in “When Harry Became Sally,” at the heart of the transgender moment are radical ideas about the human person—in particular, that people are what they claim to be, regardless of contrary evidence. A transgender boy is a boy, not merely a girl who identifies as a boy.

It’s understandable why activists make these claims. An argument about transgender identities will be much more persuasive if it concerns who someone is, not merely how someone identifies. And so the rhetoric of the transgender moment drips with ontological assertions: People are the gender they prefer to be. That’s the claim.

Transgender activists don’t admit that this is a metaphysical claim. They don’t want to have the debate on the level of philosophy, so they dress it up as a scientific and medical claim. And they’ve co-opted many professional associations for their cause.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can't be done alone. Find out more >>

Thus the American Psychological Association, in a pamphlet titled “Answers to Your Questions about Transgender People, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression,” tells us, “Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.”

Notice the politicized language: A person’s sex is “assigned at birth.” Back in 2005, even the Human Rights Campaign referred instead to “birth sex” and “physical sex.”

The phrase “sex assigned at birth” is now favored because it makes room for “gender identity” as the real basis of a person’s sex.

In an expert declaration to a federal district court in North Carolina concerning H.B. 2, Dr. Deanna Adkins stated, “From a medical perspective, the appropriate determinant of sex is gender identity.” Adkins is a professor at Duke University School of Medicine and the director of the Duke Center for Child and Adolescent Gender Care (which opened in 2015).

Adkins argues that gender identity is not only the preferred basis for determining sex, but “the only medically supported determinant of sex.” Every other method is bad science, she claims: “It is counter to medical science to use chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, external genitalia, or secondary sex characteristics to override gender identity for purposes of classifying someone as male or female.”

This is a remarkable claim, not least because the argument recently was that gender is only a social construct, while sex is a biological reality. Now, activists claim that gender identity is destiny, while biological sex is the social construct.

Adkins doesn’t say if she would apply this rule to all mammalian species. But why should sex be determined differently in humans than in other mammals? And if medical science holds that gender identity determines sex in humans, what does this mean for the use of medicinal agents that have different effects on males and females? Does the proper dosage of medicine depend on the patient’s sex or gender identity?

But what exactly is this “gender identity” that is supposed to be the true medical determinant of sex? Adkins defines it as “a person’s inner sense of belonging to a particular gender, such as male or female.”

Note that little phrase “such as,” implying that the options are not necessarily limited to male or female. Other activists are more forthcoming in admitting that gender identity need not be restricted to the binary choice of male or female, but can include both or neither. The American Psychological Association, for example, defines “gender identity” as “a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else.”

Adkins asserts that being transgender is not a mental disorder, but simply “a normal developmental variation.” And she claims, further, that medical and mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of gender dysphoria are in agreement with this view.

Transgender Catechism

These notions about sex and gender are now being taught to young children. Activists have created child-friendly graphics for this purpose, such as the “Genderbread Person.” The Genderbread Person teaches that when it comes to sexuality and gender, people have five different characteristics, each of them falling along a spectrum.

There’s “gender identity,” which is “how you, in your head, define your gender, based on how much you align (or don’t align) with what you understand to be the options for gender.” The graphic lists “4 (of infinite)” possibilities for gender identity: “woman-ness,” “man-ness,” “two-spirit,” or “genderqueer.”

The second characteristic is “gender expression,” which is “the way you present gender, through your actions, dress, and demeanor.” In addition to “feminine” or “masculine,” the options are “butch,” “femme,” “androgynous,” or “gender neutral.”

Third is “biological sex,” defined as “the physical sex characteristics you’re born with and develop, including genitalia, body shape, voice pitch, body hair, hormones, chromosomes, etc.”

The final two characteristics concern sexual orientation: “sexually attracted to” and “romantically attracted to.” The options include “Women/Females/Femininity” and “Men/Males/Masculinity.” Which seems rather binary.

The Genderbread Person tries to localize these five characteristics on the body: gender identity in the brain, sexual and romantic attraction in the heart, biological sex in the pelvis, and gender expression everywhere.

The Genderbread Person presented here is version 3.3, incorporating adjustments made in response to criticism of earlier versions. But even this one violates current dogma. Some activists have complained that the Genderbread Person looks overly male.

A more serious fault in the eyes of many activists is the use of the term “biological sex.” Time magazine drew criticism for the same transgression in 2014 after publishing a profile of Laverne Cox, the “first out trans person” to be featured on the cover.

At least the folks at Time got credit for trying to be “good allies, explaining what many see as a complicated issue,” wrote Mey Rude in an article titled “It’s Time for People to Stop Using the Social Construct of ‘Biological Sex’ to Defend Their Transmisogyny.” (It’s hard to keep up with the transgender moment.)

But Time was judged guilty of using “a simplistic and outdated understanding of biology to perpetuate some very dangerous ideas about trans women,” and failing to acknowledge that biological sex “isn’t something we’re actually born with, it’s something that doctors or our parents assign us at birth.”

Today, transgender “allies” in good standing don’t use the Genderbread Person in their classrooms, but opt for the “Gender Unicorn,” which was created by Trans Student Educational Resources. It has a body shape that doesn’t appear either male or female, and instead of a “biological sex” it has a “sex assigned at birth.”

Those are the significant changes to the Genderbread Person, and they were made so that the new graphic would “more accurately portray the distinction between gender, sex assigned at birth, and sexuality.”

According to Trans Student Education Resources, “Biological sex is an ambiguous word that has no scale and no meaning besides that it is related to some sex characteristics. It is also harmful to trans people. Instead, we prefer ‘sex assigned at birth’ which provides a more accurate description of what biological sex may be trying to communicate.”

The Gender Unicorn is the graphic that children are likely to encounter in school. These are the dogmas they are likely to be catechized to profess.

While activists claim that the possibilities for gender identity are rather expansive—man, woman, both, neither—they also insist that gender identity is innate, or established at a very young age, and thereafter immutable.

Dr. George Brown, a professor of psychiatry and a three-time board member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, stated in his declaration to the federal court in North Carolina that gender identity “is usually established early in life, by the age of 2 to 3 years old.”

Addressing the same court, Adkins asserted that “evidence strongly suggests that gender identity is innate or fixed at a young age and that gender identity has a strong biological basis.” (At no point in her expert declaration did she cite any sources for any of her claims.)

Transgender Contradictions

If the claims presented in this essay strike you as confusing, you’re not alone. The thinking of transgender activists is inherently confused and filled with internal contradictions. Activists never acknowledge those contradictions. Instead, they opportunistically rely on whichever claim is useful at any given moment.

Here I’m talking about transgender activists. Most people who suffer from gender dysphoria are not activists, and many of them reject the activists’ claims. Many of them may be regarded as victims of the activists, as I show in my book.

Many of those who feel distress over their bodily sex know that they aren’t really the opposite sex, and do not wish to “transition.” They wish to receive help in coming to identify with and accept their bodily self. They don’t think their feelings of gender dysphoria define reality.

But transgender activists do. Regardless of whether they identify as “cisgender” or “transgender,” the activists promote a highly subjective and incoherent worldview.

On the one hand, they claim that the real self is something other than the physical body, in a new form of Gnostic dualism, yet at the same time they embrace a materialist philosophy in which only the material world exists. They say that gender is purely a social construct, while asserting that a person can be “trapped” in the wrong gender.

They say there are no meaningful differences between man and woman, yet they rely on rigid sex stereotypes to argue that “gender identity” is real, while human embodiment is not. They claim that truth is whatever a person says it is, yet they believe there’s a real self to be discovered inside that person.

They promote a radical expressive individualism in which people are free to do whatever they want and define the truth however they wish, yet they try ruthlessly to enforce acceptance of transgender ideology.

It’s hard to see how these contradictory positions can be combined. If you pull too hard on any one thread of transgender ideology, the whole tapestry comes unraveled. But here are some questions we can pose:

If gender is a social construct, how can gender identity be innate and immutable? How can one’s identity with respect to a social construct be determined by biology in the womb? How can one’s identity be unchangeable (immutable) with respect to an ever-changing social construct? And if gender identity is innate, how can it be “fluid”?

The challenge for activists is to offer a plausible definition of gender and gender identity that is independent of bodily sex.

Is there a gender binary or not? Somehow, it both does and does not exist, according to transgender activists. If the categories of “man” and “woman” are objective enough that people can identify as, and be, men and women, how can gender also be a spectrum, where people can identify as, and be, both, or neither, or somewhere in between?

What does it even mean to have an internal sense of gender? What does gender feel like? What meaning can we give to the concept of sex or gender—and thus what internal “sense” can we have of gender—apart from having a body of a particular sex?

Apart from having a male body, what does it “feel like” to be a man? Apart from having a female body, what does it “feel like” to be a woman? What does it feel like to be both a man and a woman, or to be neither?

The challenge for the transgender activist is to explain what these feelings are like, and how someone could know if he or she “feels like” the opposite sex, or neither, or both.

Even if trans activists could answer these questions about feelings, that still wouldn’t address the matter of reality. Why should feeling like a man—whatever that means—make someone a man? Why do our feelings determine reality on the question of sex, but on little else? Our feelings don’t determine our age or our height. And few people buy into Rachel Dolezal’s claim to identify as a black woman, since she is clearly not.

If those who identify as transgender are the sex with which they identify, why doesn’t that apply to other attributes or categories of being? What about people who identify as animals, or able-bodied people who identify as disabled? Do all of these self-professed identities determine reality? If not, why not?

And should these people receive medical treatment to transform their bodies to accord with their minds? Why accept transgender “reality,” but not trans-racial, trans-species, and trans-abled reality?

The challenge for activists is to explain why a person’s “real” sex is determined by an inner “gender identity,” but age and height and race and species are not determined by an inner sense of identity.

Of course, a transgender activist could reply that an “identity” is, by definition, just an inner sense of self. But if that’s the case, gender identity is merely a disclosure of how one feels. Saying that someone is transgender, then, says only that the person has feelings that he or she is the opposite sex.

Gender identity, so understood, has no bearing at all on the meaning of “sex” or anything else. But transgender activists claim that a person’s self-professed “gender identity” is that person’s “sex.”

The challenge for activists is to explain why the mere feeling of being male or female (or both or neither) makes someone male or female (or both or neither).

Gender identity can sound a lot like religious identity, which is determined by beliefs. But those beliefs don’t determine reality. Someone who identifies as a Christian believes that Jesus is the Christ. Someone who identifies as a Muslim believes that Muhammad is the final prophet. But Jesus either is or is not the Christ, and Muhammad either is or is not the final prophet, regardless of what anyone happens to believe.

So, too, a person either is or is not a man, regardless of what anyone—including that person—happens to believe. The challenge for transgender activists is to present an argument for why transgender beliefs determine reality.

Determining reality is the heart of the matter, and here too we find contradictions.

On the one hand, transgender activists want the authority of science as they make metaphysical claims, saying that science reveals gender identity to be innate and unchanging. On the other hand, they deny that biology is destiny, insisting that people are free to be who they want to be.

Which is it? Is our gender identity biologically determined and immutable, or self-created and changeable? If the former, how do we account for people whose gender identity changes over time? Do these people have the wrong sense of gender at some time or other?

And if gender identity is self-created, why must other people accept it as reality? If we should be free to choose our own gender reality, why can some people impose their idea of reality on others just because they identify as transgender?

The challenge for the transgender activist is to articulate some conception of truth as the basis for how we understand the common good and how society should be ordered.

As I document in depth in “When Harry Became Sally,” the claims of transgender activists are confusing because they are philosophically incoherent. Activists rely on contradictory claims as needed to advance their position, but their ideology keeps evolving, so that even allies and LGBT organizations can get left behind as “progress” marches on.

At the core of the ideology is the radical claim that feelings determine reality. From this idea come extreme demands for society to play along with subjective reality claims. Trans ideologues ignore contrary evidence and competing interests, they disparage alternative practices, and they aim to muffle skeptical voices and shut down any disagreement.

The movement has to keep patching and shoring up its beliefs, policing the faithful, coercing the heretics, and punishing apostates, because as soon as its furious efforts flag for a moment or someone successfully stands up to it, the whole charade is exposed. That’s what happens when your dogmas are so contrary to obvious, basic, everyday truths.

A transgender future is not the “right side of history,” yet activists have convinced the most powerful sectors of our society to acquiesce to their demands. While the claims they make are manifestly false, it will take real work to prevent the spread of these harmful ideas.

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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