This isn’t worth a post, but it drives me crazy. Movies, which are primary cultural fodder, especially when the government is forcing the public into solitary confinement, have an obligation not to make society stupid. This is especially important when society’s educational system is dysfunctional, as ours is. Thus I find it both annoying and insulting when a supposedly serious film deliberately abandons all logic and expects audiences to swallow it.
My wife wanted to watch “The Pelican Brief” again, so we did. The film of the John Grisham legal thriller is pretty good, and it has a scene that is supposedly in Georgetown Law Center (it’s not), and has my colleague and sometimes partner Paul Morella in the role of a sinister lawyer. The ending, however, is ridiculous and insulting. Juilia Roberts is a law student at Tulane who ends up being hunted and shot at because she has stumbled upon the reason two Supreme Court Justices were assassinated and who orchestrated it in conspiracy involving law firms, the White House and a billionaire. She ends up bringing down all of them with the help of courageous investigative reporter, then leaving the country for her own safety. Her name, Darby Shaw, is on the reporter’s bombshell news story that exposes the plot. Yet the movie ends with the reporter (Denzel Washington) being asked in a TV interview (by real news anchor )Edwin Newman, who looks like a fool)whether she really exists. The woman is 24 years old. The news media has her real name. She was enrolled at Tulane. She’s paid taxes. The slightest effort by any news organization would have uncovered her entire life history.
1. Neera Tanden (cont.) The divisive, dishonest, hyper-partisan and uncivil nominee for Budget Director was a dead nominee walking since February 18, when Sen, Joe Manshin broke ranks and said he would vote against her. The responsible move would have been for Tanden to withdraw then, but instead she waited two weeks, finally pulling her name (or being forced to) yesterday. I guess this gave Democrats a chance to claim Republicans were against her because she was “of color” and a “strong woman,” which indeed they did, but the fact is she should never have been nominated.
2. When the Equality Act goes down in flames in the Senate, as it will, the LGBTQ community will have no one to blame but itself. The bill that narrowly passed in the House seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add explicit bans on discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in both public and private spaces.
The Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision in June, 2020 that the 1964 Civil Rights law protects gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination, and that the language of the law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. House Democrats sought to build on that ruling with the Equality Act, which would expand the scope of civil rights protections beyond workers to consumers at businesses. But activists want to be able to force bakers to make same sex wedding cakes and photographers to photograph gay weddings, which would gut the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That was the law that spawned the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case prohibiting governments from enacting laws that “substantially burden” an individual’s freedom to exercise religious beliefs. The House bill, if passed by the Senate, would also probably prohibit athletic organizations from banning ex-males and transitioning females from competing against natural females in athletic competitions.
Also prohibited would be the right of a beauty contest to declare that its contestants had to be “natural-born” females. A federal judge last week threw out a lawsuit by a transgender woman who accused the private pageant corporation of discrimination for denying her the right to participate in competitions. U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman said, “I view it as an association that cannot under the Constitution be required to allow plaintiff to participate in what defendant says is a contradiction of that message.”
From deliberately targeting religious business owners to force them to do what they feel their faith prohibits, to insisting that anyone who calls herself female must be treated as one even if every biological marker of maleness is intact, the LGBTQ community has alienated even many of its philosophical allies. A little acknowledgement of the legitimate concerns of others not in their group as well as respect for choices other than theirs might have led to a less radical bill and some real progress. Most Americans don’t think of this…
…as progress, and I doubt that they ever will.
3. From the “Twitter makes you stupid” files. Bill James is a thinker I admire greatly: he’s responsible for the concept of “signature significance” that I use a lot on Ethics Alarms, and his critical thinking skills are often remarkable. But Bill is addicted to Twitter, and a while back he tweeted,
Bill did not, in fact create the field of baseball analytics, though he was instrumental in publicizing it, popularizing it, and advancing the discipline. It was a foolish and pompous thing to say that insulted his colleges and collaborators. After being thoroughly flamed, James took down the tweet and tweeted,
What kind of excuse for saying something untrue and insulting is “It’s Twitter”? You don’t “have to give the short version,” in fact, you don’t have to use the platform at all. I recommend that responsible people don’t.
4. One more time: the totalitarian Left accuses conservatives of doing what they are doing. I go back and forth on the worst of the New York Times op-ed writers. There are so many dishonest and unethical ones to choose from. I rarely read the op-eds in that paper any more, but when I decided to open the Times Review section on Sunday after months of just tossing it, I encountered this Orwellian screed by a front-runner for the worst of the worst, Michelle Goldberg. Her argument—read the thing yourself; I don’t want to spend more time on it than I have to—is that it’s hypocritical for conservatives to complain about all the frightening censorship of counter-woke opinions and voices on social media, in the news media, by Big Tech and by streaming services ( Amazon pulled a best-selling book criticizing the transgender movement last week, and stopped streaming the critically acclaimed documentary about Clarence Thomas—during Black History Month, yet!) because the Evil Right is passing measures to stop the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the schools.
Of course, Critical Race Theory is racist, and anti-American, and as much intellectual poison as other forms of bigotry. A government has an obligation to stop schools from indoctrinating children in such cynical and hypocritical garbage. Goldberg even has the chutzpah to complain about an Arkansas legislator’s bills banning the teaching of The Times’s “1619 Project” curriculum, despite the fact that it has been thoroughly proven to be historically inaccurate, ideology-driven propaganda.