It’s not even an American fictional character, but I can’t help myself. In the British procedural “The Bay,” now on BritBox, the first season tells the ugly story of a police detective investigating the death of a teenage twin and the disappearance of his sister. Like so many TV shows today here and ‘across the pond,’ everybody portrayed is corrupt or otherwise deplorable, even the show’s protagonist. She is a single mother who is so obsessed with her career that her neglected children are falling into crime and ethics rot. The opening scene shows her having drunken sex in an alley outside a pub, being slammed into the wall by a scruffy local. Later she discovers that her spontaneous sex partner of the moment is the brutish married father of the missing twins, and a prime suspect in his disappearance.
Does she immediately recuse herself from the case, since her liaison took place the night of their disappearance and during the crucial hour when he claims he was with his “mates” and couldn’t have been involved in his children’s fate? No, she just counts on the fact that he’ll never tell, erases the CCTV tape that shows her in the bar, and proves that he wasn’t involved, at least in that crime. (Later she arrests him for another.)
The detective isn’t even the fictional character I’m furious with. That distinction goes to the twins’ mother, who flies into fury or hysteria at every development. Like the key figures in all procedurals, she withholds crucial information “she didn’t think was important,” constantly accuses the police of not doing enough because her kids haven’t been found ( post hoc ergo propter hoc, or consequentialism) and demands that they promise her future results beyond their control: “Promise me that you’ll find them!” Yet even these exhibitions didn’t make me want to strangle her.
Continue reading →
A survey just released by the Knight Foundation and Gallup shows that More than 75% of the college students surveyed want “safe spaces” on campuses that are free of “threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.” However, a majority of the same students support President Trump’s threat to withhold taxpayer dollars from universities that restrict speech.
Though 97% of college students believe that free speech is “an essential pillar of American democracy”, a majority of students support policies to restrict of speech on campus. 78% of students support “safe spaces” where threatening ideas and conversations would be barred. 80% favor the establishment of a “free-speech zone” where pre-approved protests and the distribution of literature are permitted. Continue reading →
Chapter I: In Georgia, two Carrollton High School seniors made a truly cretinous video. Filmed in a bathroom, the male and female students students pretend to be doing a cooking show as they pour cups of water into the sink.
Showing their faces in the mirror, she announces, “Hey, today we’re making…”as the camera aims at the sink where there’s a piece of notebook paper with “niggers” written on it. The male student intones the word. The male student lifts cups of water and pours each one into the sink, over the paper. Under each cup is a piece of paper with the name of an “ingredient” written on it, which the young woman reads.
“First we have ‘black,'” she says. He then pours the cup of water into the sink over the paper with the slur. “Next we have, ‘Don’t have a dad!'” Other ingredients include “eating watermelon and fried chicken” and “rob people.”
“Specifically whites,” guy adds as he refills the “robs people” cup over and over using the sink tap. One cup labeled “make good choices” is empty. The couple feign surprise over the cup having nothing in it.
Once their opus was complete, the couple was so proud that they posted it online.
Why this is discouraging: In what alternate universe would anyone from the age of seven up think something like that would be acceptable to publicize? What kind of polluted culture is being fostered in Carollton? What are they teaching in the schools?
Even passing on that, how could anyone be so stupid as to think posting an overly racist video wouldn’t have serious consequences? Again, who is teaching critical thinking in that community? What have the parents been doing for 17 years, getting stoned? Continue reading →
“Saying you need to understand gun terminology to have opinions on gun policy is the equivalent of saying you need to understand the biology of a heroin overdose to have an opinion on the drug war.”
Thus went the jaw-on-the-floor stupid tweet of Zack Beauchamp, a senior report at Vox. I had written a post about the ridiculous “gunsplaining” article in the Washington Post, and foolishly assumed that even anti-gun fanatics would be embarrassed to endorse the view expressed there that those arguing for material changes in public policy should be required to understand the object of that policy. Then came Zack’s tweet.
Admittedly, and to be fair, Twitter makes people stupid. We have documented the sad Twitter-feuled decline of Harvard Law School icon Larry Tribe, and new victims of Twitter brain-suck suface every day. Bill Kristol once had a rather impressive brain, for example; look what he tweeted last week:
Wow. What a terrible, and ahistorical, analogy. The Texans at the Alamo were fighting in a war to secede from Mexico. Santa Anna was an authoritarian all right, but to Texans he was being authoritarian in the same way Lincoln was when he used forcet to keep the South from leaving. Mexico was hardly “nativist”: it invited Americans to settle the territory, and their arrival was completely legal. Indeed, Texas is a great example of what can happen when a country doesn’t control immigration at all. Twitter makes you stupid, and bias makes you even more stupid. Add anti-Trump bias to Twitter and you get Bill Kristol sounding like Maxine Waters.
Zach liked Kristol’s bad analogy too!
The fact that Vox employs a senior reporter whose critical thinking skills are so poor and whose judgment is so wretched that he happily displays them on social media is instructive regarding the influence new media commentators like Vox wield. Thus I was grateful for this Comment of the Day, by Michael West, on the post, The Desperate “Gunsplaining” Dodge’: Continue reading →
One of the Washington Post’s rare conservative columnists has a solution for GOP candidates and office holders whose views on some subjects are likely to make them targets of furious criticism: refuse to express them. She writes in her latest column:
“Not everything is a political issue, nor one on which politicians have any particular insight. Candidates are not asked their views on divorce, for example. Each state has laws on the topic, and one’s religious views aren’t a topic for public debate. It is not (and shouldn’t be) asked of nor answered by politicians…Creationism? Unless you are running for school board and intend to be guided by your religious convictions, it does not matter. Born again? None of my business.
“…[Q]uestions about creationism, gay marriage, the nature of homosexuality and other value-specific questions serve no purpose other than to provide targets for faux outrage. These questions are designed to divide the population into believers and nonbelievers, between those who share the same cultural touchstones and those who differ.
“If a topic has no relevance to public policy or character or fitness to serve, why ask the question and why answer it? We aren’t electing pastors, family counselors or philosophers; we’re electing politicians whose job description and qualifications don’t include a great many topics. If we are heading for a more tolerant society, we have to agree to disagree on some issues and to respect some realm of private opinion and faith. For Republicans running in 2016, I would suggest a simple response to the sort of question intended to provoke divisiveness over irrelevant topics: “I can’t think of a single instance in which [creationism/the origin of homosexuality] would be relevant. I’m not here to sow division or take sides in faith-based debates. Let’s talk about something germane to the presidency.”
Incredibly wrong. Continue reading →
Here is the second of two Comments of the Day regarding the post-Parkland gun control freak-out, authored by recent addition to the commenter ranks, OhThatGuy, on the post, Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org.
(The first is here.)
The real issue, at least from my perspective, isn’t guns and gun control. Yes, this is one of the big emotional triggers right now, has been for years, and will continue to be so as long as there exists a gulf between those who enjoy the rights and benefits granted by the 2nd Amendment and those who do not.
The underlying concern to me is the lack of independent thought. While this is somewhat excusable in kids, it’s not in what are supposed to be adults. Displays such as the walkouts and marches are nothing more than peer pressure or what I call the Bandwagon Principle or Bandwagon Effect– doing something simply because others (in my peer group) are doing the same thing without any actual thought put into the decision. I see this on a daily basis – I teach juniors and seniors in high school.
Growing up, my parents, especially my father, were as near as I can remember, completely objective about things. There were no passionate appeals to emotion regarding the hot topics of the day. I was encouraged to read and form my own opinions about things as none were supplied to me from Mom and Dad. We (my friends and I) read the two newspapers available each day as well as Time, Newsweek, and other publications. This was in the early to mid 80’s so we weren’t subject to the cacophony of modern media but were as well informed about current events as most teens could be. The short version is, if I was to have a publicly stated opinion about something, I’d better have some idea what I was talking about and some facts to back it up. Any discussion of an issue that started with “I feel that…” or “They need to do SOMETHING!” wouldn’t have lasted very long. I don’t remember ever being told anything about what to think on a subject or even led to a conclusion to fit what my parents thought I should think. It simply wasn’t how they operated. Continue reading →