SCOTUS Unties the Hands of School Districts

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When the Supreme Court, this week, very narrowly ruled that using race as a criterion for assigning children to schools was unconstitutional, they set off attack after attack claiming that the Supremes have negated the “advances” made under the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling.

There were essentially two parts of the 1954 Brown v. B.O.E. ruling. One part of Brown declared that states could not continue to create intentionally segregated schools; that part of Brown is “golden” and has not been affected by this weeks decision — nor should it have been. The second part of Brown, however, used flawed logic, needed to be reversed and should have been reversed long ago. This second part of Brown determined that the answer to unequal education was to establish arbitrary racial quotas for schools; all school districts were directed to achieve “racial diversity;” as if sitting children of different races in the same classrooms was, in itself, a solution to the problem of unequal education. This tied the hands of school districts — it gave them no alternative but to move children around like chess pieces so the districts could meet their “quotas.” Viewed from this distance, its easy to see that that accomplished nothing. Oh there were many successes, but any educational advances made by any students of any race under Brown should be attributed to students who had the determination to succeed and the advantage of being raised to believe they could succeed by hard work and proper attitude — to attribute their hard-won successes to a Supreme Court ruling is to deny them the credit they are due.

What Brown should have done, and what must now be done by state governments, is the setting of high educational standards for all schools. The racial make-up of a school should be of no importance; each and every school, however, needs to be a quality school with a fully qualified staff and a budget that allows the educational needs of every student to be met.

Now, with the burden of artificial racial quotas out of the way, school districts can concentrate of improving facilities and staffing levels and can find creative but fair ways to make every school an educational showpiece. If there is to be a Federal mandate it should mandate the quality of the schools and the quality of the education provided, not the racial makeup of the school.

Among the charges flying around in the wake of this weeks SCOTUS decision is an accusation that this is all part of a “Bush administration” plan to create a social system run by “a monied (white) elite”. That particular charge is posed by an activist sociologist by the name of Rowan Wolf in her article at a “progressive” web site called “OpEdNews.com” (linked below). Here is the charge in context:

“What the Bush administration, “conservatives,” and now Bush’s Court, are attempting is the elimination of civil rights and affirmative action advancements over the last 50 years. Why? Is it because they do not want a society with increasing levels of equality and participation? Do they want a society of peasants and patricians? Do they oppose a representative democracy, but support a feudal government run by a monied (white) elite?”

Ms. Wolf is certainly entitled to her opinion but any intelligent reader can tell that this is a lady with a political ax to grind who cares not a whit for logic or truth.

The facts are: institutionalized racism died long ago in the United States but all racism did not die with it. There are still individuals and perhaps entire communities who want no part of anyone who is not of their same race — and this goes for black and oriental and hispanic individuals and communities as well as for white individuals and communities. If Rowan Wolf and other “progressives” like her are expecting the Supreme Court or the Federal government to resolve this situation they are looking in the wrong place. You cannot change opinion or bias with laws, a law will only change what is defined as legal. Attitudes change very slowly and in some individuals they do not change at all. That’s a fact of life that can’t be touched by any government or legal entity.

Links:

Washington Post: Court Ruling Likely to Further Segregate Schools, Educators Say

OpEdNews.com: Race(ing) Backwards With Boost From SCOTUS

Wikipedia: Brown v. Board of Education

What Bloggers are saying:

JD2718: Positive discrimination

PREA Prez: Rotherham Watch

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

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Why Should Public Nudity Be Illegal?

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In 1992 New York State’s highest court ruled that it was legal for a woman to go into public without covering her breasts. Many people have derided that decision — most calling it immoral — and by most moral standards they are probably right. In most places in the world, covering your body is considered as important, if not more important, than cleaning your body. So in New York, in spite of a law that allows it, the overwhelming majority of women do not bare their breasts in public. Why? Two reasons: The main reason is because women have been taught since childhood that exposing their breasts is embarrassing, sinful, immoral and, in general, “unladylike.” The second reason is that most citizens of New York — including police officers — have no idea that it is perfectly legal for a lady to bare her breasts in public.

Case in point: Two years ago, a 27-year old New Yorker, Jill Coccaro took a walk without covering her breasts. She was arrested, taken for a psychiatric exam, and thrown in jail for 12 hours. Finally, after someone in the District Attorney’s office realized what had happened, she was released and told no charges would be pressed. In turn, Jill sued the city and, just recently, received a $29,000 settlement.

Don’t try this outside of New York! Anywhere else in the country you will likely have to pay dearly for your ‘nature walk.’

The questions this issues raise are: Is someone being victimized by a pair of breasts? Is a lady endangering anyone’s life or destroying anyone’s property by shedding shirt and bra? These are, of course, rhetorical questions and the answer is: course not! So if no one or nothing is damaged by a pair of exposed breasts, why should it be illegal anywhere for a lady to walk around with her breasts exposed. Might this be frowned upon by those who object to the practice, yes! Might a topless lady be subjected to social castigation, certainly! A topless lady will certainly not be allowed in many places of business and that’s fine; but to be incarcerated and fined for exposing your breasts — that’s ludicrous.

Our legal system is supposed to protect us against people who want to, or in some cases unintentionally do, harm our persons or our property; the legal system should not be misused to enforce social taboos! There are many things I don’t like to see — and I’m sure there are many things you don’t like to see; some of these things may just upset you and some may deeply offend you — but should they all — or any of them — be made illegal?

In this case, we’re talking about the human body. Hey, everyone has one and they all basically look alike except for gender differences. If you don’t like to look at a naked or partially naked human body, YOU may be the one with the problem and if you teach your children that they should be ashamed of their body you’re passing that problem on to the next generation.

On your next vacation, I would suggest a week in a naturist facility or, as some call it, a nudist camp; by the end of the week you will have an entirely new perspective.

Links:

Houston Chronicle: Topless woman accepts $29,000 in NY settlement

Beloit Daily News Editorial: EDITORIAL: Exercising ‘right’ to be indecent

From the blogosphere:

Humor in Verse: You have nothing to loose except your bra-strings

Tim Worstall: Phoenix Feeley (Jill Coccaro)

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Ben Shapiro’s Divine Insight

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Ben Shapiro’s sermon at Townhall.com this week (I wonder if he wears liturgical vestments while writing this stuff or, at least, sits on a Holy book) is titled: Dreaming Of A World Without God. No need to hear the entire sermon, if you know the Townhall crew, you already know that you either believe as they do or you go straight to Hell and, as a bonus, you take the entire United States of America with you!

According to Shapiro and the other right-wing religious extremists, morality is based on the the firm belief that there is a God up in a heaven watching us, wringing his hands at our every misstep and preparing a list of hellbound souls. He criticizes Christopher Hitchens’ statement in his new best seller, “God Is Not Great”: “We believe,” Hitchens wrote, “with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion.” Shapiro states, in reference to that quote, that “Hitchens, consciously or unconsciously, speaks for the liberal movement.”

There you have it, right from the pen of one of ‘God’s warriors:’ If you do not endorse organized religion or at least believe in their ‘hand-wringing’ God, you are a bad, bad person — aka, a Liberal. NO separation between where you stand politically, how you act in your personal life and what, if any, God you believe in.

It IS fair to state that your political beliefs, your personal actions and your religious beliefs or disbeliefs are all tied up into one big bundle and that that bundle represents YOU! But to imply, as does Shapiro, that those three aspects of “you” are inseperable, is an affront to what this country stands for. The Religious Right may have no respect for individual freedom, but personal, political and religious freedoms are the very basis of this country’s founding documents.

It is evident that the Religious Right has little respect for the basic separation of church and state that is legislated (not suggested, mind you, but legislated) by the first phrase of the First Amendment to the Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . .”

Granted, I’m not suggesting that the Religious Right has attempted to pass a law making Christianity the religion of the land (not that they wouldn’t love to), but they continue to behave as if this law exists! The proof! A proposed Constitutional Amendment that bans same sex marriages and the open advocation of laws that ban abortions except in the most extreme circumstances; there is only one rationale for these laws and that is that these practices run counter to religious beliefs!

I’ll close my rant with Mr. Shapiro’s closing rant — it’s a gem! It should be chiseled onto a slab of granite and place upon a burning bush (or at least embroidered onto a large hanky) :

“We have witnessed four decades of a punctuated slide down to the ant heap, thanks to the morality of those who reject the possibility of the soul and the righteousness of the Divine moral mission. But it is not too late. It is never too late, as long as the Divine spark smolders in the human heart — the spark that is always ready to burst into a renewed flame of enlightened morality. And no amount of liberal obfuscation and atheistic bluster can extinguish that spark.”

I don’t know about you but to me phrases such as “the righteousness of the Divine moral mission” and “a renewed flame of enlightened morality” stink of a desire for the American Theocracy theorized in Kevin Philips’ bestselling book by the same name.

Links:

Townhall.com: Dreaming Of A World Without God

The Atlantic Online: Crises of Faith

NPR: A Political Warning Shot: ‘American Theocracy’

What bloggers are saying:

Forever Nocturnal: Morality is not Christianity

Blogmower: Good and Evil

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The ‘Ugly’ Face of the Republican Party

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Many political headlines, starting this past Friday, had a similar theme:

“The Religious Left” screamed the Dallas Morning News; The Kansas City Star reports that “Democratic candidates are closing the ‘God gap’ ” and the New York Times hit the nail on the head with their headline: “A Tentative First Step in Bridging the Gap Between Faith and Politics.” The tones of these articles and many others were positive, as if the Democrats have found the Republican secret to success and are now exploiting it.

The real news is that the Democratic party seem to be on the road to making the same mistake that the Republicans made; the Republicans joined forces with religious right activists and totally destroyed the Republican party’s credibility with millions of voters who keep their religion ‘at home’ and don’t want to be preached to by a president, senator or representative.

Many Republicans are now starting to realize their mistake — the mistake that started when the Republican Party’s ‘face’ became the same ‘face’ as the Moral Majority — a face that led to a successful run and allowed the Republican party to dominate the House, Senate and the Presidency but a face that, ultimately turned ugly and showed its lack of understanding of common American values.

Yes, Americans are proud to be the “good guys” and a powerful force in the world but most Americans, understandably, reject a policy, dictated from a ‘presidential pulpit,’ that puts our government in the position of moral arbiter for the world and/or send our troops into battle against cruel and inhuman dictators only because they are cruel and inhuman. There is a line to be drawn between keeping America safe and saving the world from itself — one is the job of the president and the other is the job of the United Nations. If the United Nations isn’t doing its job to our president’s satisfaction, the American people don’t want to see our president jeopardize American lives because he ‘talked to God and God told him it was the right thing to do.

Good luck to the Democrats in their public relations stunt, designed to get more Christian votes, but if they are successful in 2008 they will also, hopefully be smart enough to keep their newly-found moral principles close to their homes and away from their workplace. Our Government needs to be run on an intelligent, common sense basis — while religion has many answers for the individual, it has very few answers for strong government.

Links:

New York Times: A Tentative First Step in Addressing Faith and Politics

Kansas City Star: Democratic candidates are closing the ‘God gap’

What bloggers are saying:

The Alligator: Morality and Ethics Should Shape Our Political Dialogue, Not Faith

Soldier in the Army of the Lord: Where Is The Religious Right Hiding These Days?

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Republicans, Darwin and God

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I’m always interested in two primary topics: U.S. Politics and religion (especially their relationship to each other)and because I work evenings I have missed the last few presidential debates. So, Wednesday morning, this CNN.com story caught my eye; the headline: “Debate evolves into religious discussion” seemed to have been written just for me!

The lead paragraph captured my interest right away:

“During the first GOP presidential debate last month in California, three Republican candidates raised eyebrows by indicating they did not subscribe to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, a widely accepted scientific concept about the origins of life.”

“Raised eyebrows”? The CNN writer has apparently not been paying attention to the relationship between the Religious Right and the Republican Party — I’d be surprised if any of the Republican candidates mounted any whole-hearted defense of Darwin’s theory . . . or perhaps I’m just a bit guilty of stereotyping Republicans.

I’m admittedly not a student of evolution but, as I understand Darwin’s theory, we all evolved from some other life form so any dedicated religious person would have to reject it because most every monotheistic religion holds that God created man in His image and, according to some sources, this happened just about 10,000 years ago.

An interesting and short read on the subject of Darwin’s theory is available at National Geographic online; at this link they provide a preview into a longer article titled “Was Darwin Wrong?” (and a link to print the entire article).

Some interesting facts from this preview article:

“According to a Gallup poll drawn from more than a thousand telephone interviews conducted in February 2001, no less than 45 percent of responding U.S. adults agreed that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” Evolution, by their lights, played no role in shaping us. . . . 37 percent of the polled Americans were satisfied with allowing room for both God and Darwin—that is, divine initiative to get things started, evolution as the creative means . . . only 12 percent, believed that humans evolved from other life-forms without any involvement of a god. (This) statistical breakdown hasn’t changed much in two decades. Gallup interviewers posed exactly the same choices in 1982, 1993, 1997, and 1999 . . . the creationist conviction—that God alone, and not evolution, produced humans—has never drawn less than 44 percent.”

Not that it matters what I think but my personal view is that Intelligent Design Theory wraps the whole argument up nicely (and logically). The obvious complexity of this world is not likely to have been a random event.

Links:

CNN.com: Debate evolves into religious discussion

National Geographic: Was Darwin Wrong?

Latter Day Saints Messenger and Advocate: Defending Religion in America?

What bloggers are saying:

Regaining the Center: 2008 Presidential Religious Tests

Phonelesscord: Raise Your Hand if You Don’t Believe in Evolution, in a Subtle/Nuanced/Well-Reasoned Way

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News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Christopher Hitchens on Religion

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At the top of most every bestseller list right now is a book written by Christopher Hitchens titled: “ God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

From the title you may assume that Christopher Hitchens is a atheist but you would not be quite right — Hitchens is a self-proclaimed “non-theist.” The difference, according to Hitchens, during an appearance on “Hannity’s America” is that many atheists take the position that they cannot believe but qualify that disbelief with statements like: “I wish I could believe . . .”. Hitchens, on the other hand does NOT wish he could believe in a God who has allowed his creations (humans) to do so much damage to the earth and to each other.

I heard portions of a debate today on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program that pitted Hitchens against two opponents, Hugh Hewitt himself and Dr. Mark Roberts, theologian, professor, pastor, New Testament scholar and author of many books including the just published Can We Trust The Gospels? On every point, Hitchens’ opponents came out with ‘the short end of the stick.’

You can try looking for a transcript of that debate on Hugh Hewitt’s Blog but I can’t promise that he’ll post it . . . but for a rich assortment of bits of Christopher Hitchen’s many televised appearances, you can go to You Tube and type his name in the search box.

Just to wet your appetite, here is an 8 minute excerpt you can find on You Tube (the final 8 minutes of a 20 minute speech) Hitchens delivered in Canada in November of 2006. The title is Christopher Hitchens — Religion and it provides only a glimpse into this brilliant man’s reasoning for his positions and for writing a book that has a title that will offend and anger so many believers.


The final 8 minutes of a 20 minute speech delivered by Christopher Hitchens, in Canada, in November of 2006.

Assisted Suicide Back in the News

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It is obvious, and sad, that an individual American citizen’s life, health and welfare is no longer that citizen’s responsibility. Our government clearly has a responsibility to protect its citizens from harm that may be brought about by outside forces, e.g., terrorists, unsafe public transportation, unsafe buildings or structures, etc. but that responsibility, like many other things in the hands of government, is abused.

Case in point! Late last week, after eight years behind bars, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was released from prison. Back during the 1990s, Dr. Kevorkian became famous (or infamous, if you prefer) for assisting people who were terminally ill and who had lost their desire to live — he assisted them by giving them the means to commit suicide . . . to end their own lives at the time of their choosing.

In interviews over the weekend, Dr. Kevorkian was unapologetic about the activities that saw him convicted of one count of second-degree murder but made it clear that, as much as he believes he did the right thing, one of the provisions of his parole from prison was his agreement to never assist in anther suicide.

Who’s Life Is It?

Understandably, as viewed by many religions, the act of suicide is immoral but why is it illegal? Why indeed! It is obvious that we have legislators and jurists who find it impossible to do their jobs without forcing their own moral/religious perspectives onto everyone else. It is assumed, here in the United States, that the Christian view of the world is the only permissible view of the world. In some areas that is not a bad thing because many Christian beliefs are based on common moral values that are considered essential to a civilized society, e.g., it is wrong to commit murder or take a person’s property or enslave a person (hold them against their will), etc.; in other words, all acts that can be performed by one person that will injure another person in some way against that person’s will. But try harming yourself or putting your own life in jeopardy and you’ll be incarcerated, if not in jail, in a psychiatric facility or you will, at least, be fined. If you doubt that, try driving without your seatbelt in any state in the union.

Who’s life is it? Why you know the answer to that! As a member of American society your life belongs to society, not to you! Oh, it’s the same in most countries around the world and that’s fine — that’s their problem. But what happens here in the United States is our problem and this one, like many, many others, needs to be fixed.

Back on topic: As of this moment only one state has had the wisdom to pass a law that decriminalizes assisted suicide: Oregon. The chances of many other states joining Oregon are pretty slim. When Dr. Kevorkian was asked about the likelihood of the United States becoming one of the countries to allow assisted suicide he responded: “It’ll be the last one, if it does ever. It’s a tyrannical country.” The man is, not surprisingly, bitter!

The United States is, on the whole, the freest, greatest country on the globe but in some few areas its citizens are no more free than the citizens of theocracies such as Iran or other countries with officially established state religions.

Links:

New York Times: Kevorkian Speaks After His Release From Prison

KXMC News: Kevorkian: Other doctors support assisted suicide

Wikipedia: Legal views of suicide

What bloggers say:

Burton’s View: Jack Kevorkian

Fracas: Kevorkian. 130 assisted suicides, ready to profit

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals