Friday, October 31, 2003
Apparently being a Democrat is the only way a judge can be correct
Nat Hentoff comments on the false accusations of “racism” that have been used to bar the appointment of Judge Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Excerpt):
“Pickering, "in a 1999 essay on race relations in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, addressed racial bias in the courts, empathizing with black, not white, concerns. He counseled whites who were angry about the recent acquittal of a black murder suspect to look at the justice system from a black perspective. "While Mississippians may not realize that African-Americans are treated differently by the system," Pickering wrote, "it is the truth and a most disturbing one if you are black."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution added that "as a judge, Pickering has thrown out only two jury verdicts, both times because he felt the verdicts were biased against minority plaintiffs."
Charles Schumer, Richard Durbin, Russ Feingold, Pat Leahy, and the rest of the Democratic posse on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn't mention those parts of Pickering's record during the two Senate hearings on his nomination.
The national NAACP, which has largely become an adjunct of the Democratic Party, has treated Pickering as if he were in the tradition of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. But strong black support of Pickering throughout Mississippi includes such voices as Reverend Kenneth Fairley, Senior Pastor of Mount Carmel Ministries:
"I served as president of the Forrest County branch of the NAACP. . . . I currently serve as a State Coordinator for the Rainbow Coalition under the leadership of Reverend Jesse Jackson. . . . I wholeheartedly support Judge Pickering in his judgeship and request the United States Senate to ratify his appointment." Then there is Mississippi state representative Phillip West, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, who first opposed Pickering's nomination to the Fifth Circuit, but after fully examining Pickering's record has now reversed his position. He writes:
"While I do not condemn and judge all white men and women to be 'staunch racists,' I do believe many have racist tendencies and beliefs as evidenced by the racism instilled in our many institutions. At least Judge Pickering has shown a willingness to work for racial reconciliation prior to his consideration for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals position."
West also says Pickering's actions for racial reconciliation have gone "beyond . . . many whites we have supported . . . in our state. . . . It would also be 'Politically Correct' for me to remain silent. However, I cannot support a position that may be 'Politically Correct' but I feel is 'morally wrong.' I truly believe we all should embrace truth, justice, and fairness whether we are black or white, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican."
On January 8, the Federal News Service reported a press conference at which Charles Schumer and Illinois Democratic senator Richard Durbin once again opposed Pickering's nomination. Said Schumer: "There are issues where people of good faith can disagree. . . . This [nomination] is not one of those debatable issues. This [Pickering] is somebody who showed glaring insensitivity in 1994 [the cross-burning case], and I'm still scratching my head in amazement that they actually nominated him."
This depends on what Schumer means by "good faith." Not only Pickering's nomination rides on this nomination. So do the reputations of those Pickering opponents who demonize him. And that includes The New York Times' editorial writers. Now, on the floor, how many Democrats will vote for Pickering?
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Some extracts from an interesting recent post by the VERY incorrect Jim Kunstler:
I was warned before my lecture visit to a Union College sociology class that several black students in the class were "upset by what you wrote" in the assigned book, Home From Nowhere, specifically, the chapter titled "The Public Realm and the Common Good." in which I really did try to grapple with some of the problems of race and social status.
Well, anyway, I gave a formal slide lecture about civic design and then there was a Q and A period, and a very pretty Barbadian girl made a little speech saying, "I'm offended by what you wrote about the underclass and about affirmative action, etc etc." It was as though she were reciting a girl scout pledge, something beyond practiced: rote.
I'm not an academic, which is to say that I don't have to function in what must be a semi-psychotic melieu these days. But I have a keen interest in the phenomenon of political correctness for two reasons. 1.) it's so bizzare and nonsensical, and 2.) it was created, or perhaps a better word is developed, by my generation of 60s hippies who now run the universities. But I've been mystified as to actually what it is. Now I think I finally know: it's just good old-fashioned Maoism.....
So what we're seeing in the universities these days is a very special form of low-grade Maoism -- young people given a license by the university authorities to harrass and re-educate their elders. For practical purposes, only 'minority' students have that license.
What got me in the incident I describe is how perfectly programmed the young lady was, as though she had allowed herself to become a walking palm pilot. And the incident had the peculiar aura of an oft-repeated ceremony: visiting lecturer comes in, visiting lecturer gets scolded for incorrect thinking, visiting lecturer apologizes for all the multitudinous turpitudes of the white race.
I think I shocked the class by replying to the young lady that the time for complaining and being a crybaby is over; that this nation is about to face troubles that will dwarf her adolescent anxieties at a small private college; and the real issue for her and anybody else in the room will soon be how to live a purposeful life in the face of extremely difficult times.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
I must admit that this gave me a laugh:
“A year ago I spoke with a school principal about the fact that most schools don't allow the celebration of religious holidays. Christmas has become winter break, and Easter is spring break. She agreed. "Then why," I asked her, "do you celebrate the religion of witchcraft in your school?" She didn't realize that was what was happening, but after I explained the true significance of Halloween, she agreed that they would stop all celebration of the pagan aspects of the holiday and concentrate on a "fall celebration."
I am an atheist but I do believe in freedom of conscience so I find the attack on religion in U.S. universities an almost unbelievable assault on human rights. If I were a Christian I would call it Satanic. It may not be as bloody as the religious wars of Tudor England but the same intolerance and bigotry is in evidence. Queen Elizabeth I long ago taught the English tolerance of differing religious beliefs but that lesson has now been totally forgotten in American universities it seems -- unless you are a Muslim, of course.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Leftist racial hatred: “Freedom High School in Oakley, California made big news and big controversy recently when a freshman there, Lisa McClelland attempted to start a Caucasian Club. Of course her efforts became a target for the predictable cries of racism and bigotry.
It is a fact in America today that while Hispanic Club’s, African-American Clubs, or Asian Clubs are welcomed as diverse and wonderful, a White Club is berated as evil and racist. This is the result of the climate of racial hostility and divisions created by the multi-culturalists and political correctors in our nation. Instead of helping to create a truly color-blind society, as they claim to desire, these folks have only succeeded in labeling everyone by skin color. And in the process they have managed to increase rather than decrease racial tensions in America.
These people have never missed a chance to make race not only an issue but also the only issue at the drop of a hat, and they have usually been the ones dropping the hat in the first place. And usually they have been very quick to portray White people, especially White men, as the oppressors and the minorities as the victims in every instance.
So it was really no surprise when many Conservatives threw their support behind the effort to start a Caucasian Club at Freedom High School. Many saw it as a blow to be struck against the hypocrisy of political correctness and the frankly anti-White bigotry which infiltrates the political correctness movement.”
Chris Brand has recently commented at some length about the recent Charles Murray book on history’s top 4,000 geniuses, so I will just note here that Murray says that Western achievements have been amazing but that the rate has declined since the decline of Christianity. Quote: “What the human species is today it owes in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just half a dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the northwestern Eurasian land mass.... In all, Europeans and North Americans account for 97 percent of scientific accomplishment” Won’t the PC crowd love that! Such a pity for them that it’s true! (Crossposted from Dissecting Leftism)
Monday, October 27, 2003
Some excerpts from an article by Mick Hume. He refers to an undercover BBC program on which UK police trainess were heard to make racist remarks:
“Racism has been taken up as the cause of the moral crusade. Declaring that you are not a racist has become the bottom line that helps mark you out as one of the 'right-thinking people', in the words of one police chief this week. In an age when many of the old moral certainties have been badly eroded, distancing yourself from racist remarks and following the new etiquette is seen as one of the few ways to draw a clear line between Good and Evil.
That is why every British leader and institution is now so keen to swear their abhorrence of racism, as a pass to the moral high ground that might once have been provided by declaring their belief in God. It is a way of saying that we British might not know what we stand for these days, but at least we know we're not Nazis like Stephen Lawrence's murderers. (Although some might think that a pretty low foundation on which to try to build a national moral consensus.)
In the crisis sparked by the remarks of a few junior policemen, the authorities have been hoist with their own post-Macpherson petard, trampled by their own moral crusade. Having set up anti-racism as the one moral standard that none can be allowed to sin against, they feel obliged to come down hard on any hint of prejudice. It is their defensive reaction that has turned the row into a crisis, rather than anything some idiot boy copper said over Pot Noodles in his mate's bedroom. Thus a police force that survived the real battles of the inner-city riots and miners' strike of the 1980s is thrown into turmoil by a little television programme.
Those of us who have never quite shared the conviction that 'the British police are the best in the world' might not be too traumatised by the spectacle of the force turning in on itself. But we should also be clear that nothing good will come of all this. It will do nothing to combat racism or promote genuine equality. But it will reinforce dangerously authoritarian trends across society.
Some of the most worrying trends evident today are being promoted in the name of anti-racism - such as the injection of subjective, arbitrary elements into the law, the spread of conformist codes of conduct, the institutionalisation of mistrust and surveillance. And perhaps worst of all, the official anti-racism has established that people are now supposed to be judged more on their private thoughts than their public deeds. There is no benefit for any of us in this phoney moral crusade. It is the new thought police, rather than the old racist ones, who are running riot through Britain today.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Wow! THIS NYT article tells it like it is in NYC public schools. And I don’t blame the teachers one bit for not caring. It is the most reasonable response in a system which has given up on discipline. I feel sorry for the kids who want to learn, though. Political correctness has certainly destroyed what little chance a lot of black kids had of getting a decent education.
“I've been talking recently with a handful of dedicated teachers about the classroom conditions that have festered over the past several years at some of New York City's least successful high schools. These are places where fear and loathing take up the space that could have been occupied by progress and reform. You'll find these noisy, chaotic classrooms in almost any of America's big cities, not just New York. They are ruthlessly destructive, and scary to students and teachers alike. They are places where childhood dreams all too frequently expire.
The teachers would not go on the record. They were afraid of being punished by school officials for speaking out. And some worried about reprisals from their own union because of comments critical of teachers.
"What goes on in these classrooms, that's the story of urban education," said a teacher from Brooklyn. "You've got kids playing dice in the back of the classroom. You've got kids listening to their Walkman, or writing rap rhymes. And rapping to girls. And also practicing gang signs.... The teacher just teaches the ones in the front."
"You have violence in some of our schools, and people react to violence in different ways," he said. "You have teachers who have categorized all of the students as a problem. So they walk into the room afraid of the students without ever knowing them. To them, the students are one-dimensional. Everybody's a thug. Everybody's a problem. So they don't require anything of any of them.
"Meanwhile, the students themselves are scared. The class becomes undisciplined, and therefore dangerous. So the good students cut out because they don't want to be in that environment. That's one way you lose the good kids. You have a lot of students who are not thugs, but who left school because they couldn't learn — they couldn't even hear — in that noisy, disruptive atmosphere."
But there are many, many [teachers] who are not remotely interested in these kids. They tell the kids to their faces: `I don't care what you do. I'm still going to get paid.' "They mean it. They don't care. The kids pass classes they don't even attend, and attend classes they aren't even assigned to."
Saturday, October 25, 2003
I have just received a review copy of A reader for the politically incorrect by George Zilbergeld (Published 2003 by Praeger of 88 Post Road West, Westport, CT, 06881 -- www.praeger.com -- 176pp, paperbound).
It is a great book both for exposing and explaining what PC is doing and providing the non-PC side of the story on a lot of issues. One hopes that some of the less fanatical colleges will set it as a textbook for their students out of some residual notion of fairness and balance. And if you have a college student in your family, buy a copy and donate it to him/her. I reproduce below the opening page:
“The term "politically correct" (PC) was first used by supporters of the Communist Revolution in Russia. They decided that it would be politically incorrect to speak up about the mass murders being committed by the revolutionary government, since doing so would give comfort to the enemies of the revolution. To be politically correct was to support the promised goal of absolute equality, even if the means included mass murder.
Today being politically correct does not include tolerating mass murder, bit it does include the same willingness to destroy Western civilization in order to build a more perfect world. It also involves a similar belief in the need for a self-elected elite vanguard to lead the way to this perfect future.
Current political correctness is based on the belief that liberty, until now the prime value of Western civilization, must be supplanted by a new prime value -- equality. Unlike the old revolutionaries, the new politically correct revolutionaries no longer believe that the old strategy of a violent overthrow of our government is necessary. The PC much prefer a march through the institutions of the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and, above all, the educational system. The PC believe that they will soon dominate enough of the country to complete the changes needed to create a new and better world.
The PC establishment has created an atmosphere on many college campuses and elsewhere that squelches debate on many important academic and political topics. This viewpoint has completely altered the nature of college education, making most colleges separate communities that view themselves as morally superior.... “
Friday, October 24, 2003
By Gordon Bloyer (Excerpt)
“In his controversial statement on ESPN last Sunday, Rush Limbaugh stated that Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was not as good as the media made him out to be. He also said the media wanted McNabb to succeed because he was black. That was his opinion. I don’t know if his opinion is right or wrong. I have never watched McNabb play. I think many of the players are not as good as they are said to be. The league has been watered down by expansion and I watch very few pro games anymore. I don’t know that the media has given him a free ride because he is black. Knowing the media, I tend to believe that Rush was right on that one. That is my opinion.
Rush's opinion was not racist. In fact he was pointing out that the REAL racists are the people that think blacks are unable to succeed on their own and they need help with false praise.
I do know that ESPN and other media outlets are cowards when it comes to talking about race. I know they run scared if someone cries ''racist'' or ''racism.'' Black people are allowed to say things that whites are not allowed to say. In today’s USA, white people cannot talk about race and disagree with the politically correct crowd without paying a high price. Like Rush, they get attacked for having an opinion. They're called racists and said to be insensitive to minorities. This is all bull***t. We are in serious trouble in this country if people are silenced by these ridiculous charges.”
Thursday, October 23, 2003
“Backed by growing respect as a passionate and courageous pursuer of truth, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson - "the other Jesse" - is taking on America's "self-appointed" black leaders with his new book "Scam."
"I don't recall the entire black race in this country taking a national vote to elect Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, the NAACP, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Congressional Black Caucus or liberal black preachers as our leaders," Peterson writes, "yet they've seized the mantle of leadership and claim to speak for all blacks in this nation."
One day after hitting the shelves of major bookstores, "Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America," has risen to No. 62 on the Amazon sales list as WND Books author Peterson hits the air waves to promote it.
Peterson, born on a cotton plantation in Midway, Ala., does not mince words, asserting the leadership of black activists today has proven to be disastrous. "These arrogant elitists have given us a continuous diet of racism, paranoia, affirmative action programs and higher welfare checks," he says, "and many display little or no personal integrity in their own lives."
Admitting his positions are not politically correct, he says, "I'm convinced that the lack of moral character in many black men is the primary cause of the breakdown of the black family, high crime rates, domestic violence and other social problems within the black community."
Black families once were strong, he writes, but today 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock and black men comprise nearly 50 percent of the prison population.
But Peterson does not stop there. He offers proven solutions, stressing character, the building of strong family units, returning black churches to their spiritual purpose and helping individuals reach their full potential.
His aim, he has said, is to unite "the races based on truth, rather than dividing them based on lies, and rebuilding the family by rebuilding the man."
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, a much decorated soldier, was wounded by the political correctness movement last week over comments he made comparing the war against militant Islam to a battle against Satan. Boykin, who is deputy undersecretary of Defense, had told evangelical Christian audiences that radical Islam threatens to destroy America "because we're a Christian nation." He has also said, according to tapes of his remarks obtained by the Los Angeles Times and NBC News, that Muslims worship an "idol" and not "a real God."
After the predictable uproar in certain circles, Boykin issued the familiar "if I have offended anyone" boilerplate apology. There should have been a debate about the substance of his remarks. By silencing him and ordering retreat, the Pentagon apparently thinks it will mollify those whose language and actions are far more incendiary than whatever perceived sin the general has committed.
Why don't members of the Islamic faith silence some of their own? They can start with speakers at the Organization of Islamic Conference last week in Malaysia. Mahathir Mohamad, the Malaysian prime minister, told an applauding audience made up of kings, presidents and emirs that Jews are running and ruining the world. Jews, he claimed, "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others."
These are not "extremist" views held by a radical minority. These are mainstream Islamic views, as evidenced by the favorable response from the Egyptian foreign minister, who called the remarks, "a very, very wise assessment." Afghan President Hamid Karzai, an American ally whose country would still be governed by the Taliban were it not for American soldiers, some of whom are Jewish, called the speech "very correct."
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Letter to a college student
Just a few minutes ago as I was leaving work, I saw a campus feminist monitoring the bulletin boards here in the social science building at the University of North Carolina at Wonderland (UNCW). This is not the first time that I have seen her removing flyers from the bulletin boards simply because she deemed them to be offensive to women. I was not troubled by her removal of advertisements for local topless bars, but I was concerned that she was removing advertisements for fraternity parties. Since you are a member of a fraternity, I am sure that you agree that her behavior poses a grave threat to the liberties of all students, especially those in student organizations.
This incident probably reminds you of last spring when university employees removed your pro-war posters from the student union just minutes after you distributed them. This was despite the fact that the same employees left the posters of anti-war students untouched.
I also want to address the issue you raised concerning a picture of two naked men you found in dozens of gay magazines left in the student union. As you will recall, the picture showed a man standing in back of another man as he reached around and fondled his genitals. It appeared from the expression on his face, that he was also sodomizing the man standing in front of him. As I recall, you found this picture some time after you claimed that you were denied a position as a student orientation leader because of your religious objections to homosexuality.
I have since learned that this magazine, "Queer Notes," is a part of the university's diversity mission. You can even access the online version of the magazine on the Project B-Glad portion of the campus website, which is sponsored by the Office of Campus Diversity.
Finally, I want to address your concerns about the feminist play that the university sponsored last year, which you claimed was a celebration of pedophilia. I obtained a copy of the original play and found out that your assessment was pretty accurate. Clearly, a portion of that play celebrates a sexual act between an adult lesbian and a thirteen year-old girl. It also recounts an interview of a six-year-old girl, conducted by the author, which asks the child what her "vagina smells like."
Monday, October 20, 2003
Suspend judgment on the issue of gay rights for a moment, if you will, because the actions and methods of the gay rights activists are telling, even without the conflicting ideologies confusing the issue.
For one, the mock-wedding for same-sex couples was set up as a public protest of Marriage Protection Week, a national campaign, which, according to Donald Wildmon, Chairman of the American Family Association, serves to "promote traditional marriage between a man and a woman as the God-ordained building block of the family and bedrock of a civil society." Those who wielded signs and bullhorns in protest of the mock wedding were simply staging a counter-protest.
Why then, were the counter-protestors so visibly harassed by the attending students? The simple message was that one group is allowed to protest while another is not, and the rights to protest are distributed only among those who follow a politically correct, socially liberal agenda. Anyone who tries to protest these protestors will be systematically harassed, verbally abused and subject to accusations of intolerance.
Intolerance does not exist solely among those who counter the politically correct agenda. If it did, the Christian counter-protestors, who were only there to share their viewpoint with the public, would not have been harassed. Whether you love or hate their ideas, the Christian fundamentalists had a right to protest, and this right cannot be withheld while an opposing group is allowed it.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
An Italian Senator defends the recent remarks about the dictator Mussolini made by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi:
Mussolini and his regime had absolutely no intention of exterminating Jews. No Jews were deported to the Nazi death camps from Italy until after the fall of Mussolini in July 1943. The Jews deported thereafter — some 8,000 out of a total of 50,000 — were arrested on the orders of the Germans, not the Italians. In the Italian-occupied south-east of France, meanwhile, the Italians saved thousands of Jews from arrest and deportation by the all-too-willing French.
Nor was the military alliance between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy the inevitable consequence of Mussolini’s political creed. Only last week an extraordinary document, discovered in the Vatican archives, came to light. It reveals that in April 1938, one month after the Anschluss, which gave Germany a border with Italy, Mussolini urged the Pope to excommunicate Hitler. This suggests that Mussolini’s main motive in fighting on Germany’s side was fear of Hitler rather than greed for territory.
In the two decades that Mussolini was in power before the second world war, his regime condemned 42 people to death, of whom fewer than half were executed, and murdered perhaps half a dozen. So in fact what Berlusconi said about Mussolini being a benign dictator is more or less correct, at least when compared with other dictators of the time.
Berlusconi is not an apologist for Mussolini, any more than I am, and without a shadow of doubt he is anti-fascist, just as I am. He simply told the truth about Mussolini. But in Italy that is strictly forbidden — hence the howls of protest. For the truth contradicts the version of events still fed to the Italian people — a version that remains trapped in the ideological, quasi-religious straitjacket imposed at the end of the second world war. In Italy, historical truth — which elsewhere in the West is subject to continuous renewal and revision — remains embalmed like Lenin in his mausoleum. To preserve it requires that we say, we write and we teach that Fascism and Mussolini were uniquely bloody and murderous. The far worse crimes of Stalin, meanwhile, are played down.
Italian students are never told, therefore, that during the 1930s several hundred Italian Communists were killed without trial but that these executions took place in Moscow not Rome — that those responsible were Stalin’s Communists, not Mussolini’s Fascists. Nor are they told that those executions took place with the agreement of Palmiero Togliatti, the leader of the Italian Communist party, who, in his other job as the Comintern’s number two, had happily organised the liquidation of anarchists, Trotskyites and anti-Fascists in Spain during the civil war. Nor are they told that immediately afterwards Togliatti was responsible for the elimination of the Polish Communist party leadership as the prelude to the invasion of Poland by Hitler and Stalin in 1939.
What is often forgotten is that, unlike Hitler, Mussolini was the leader of the revolutionary Left and that Fascism was socialist and Jacobin in origin. Lenin considered Mussolini the only genuine revolutionary in Italy. The Fascist party — like the Communist party — was born in Italy out of the numerous schisms within the Socialist party and the impotence of the democratic system.
To describe Mussolini as right-wing, therefore, is grossly to oversimplify politics and history. Mussolini remained to the end a violent and wholehearted enemy of the bourgeoisie, capitalism, the free market and all those values that allowed the birth of democracy in Britain, America and, with one or two hiccups, in France.
In speaking as he did to The Spectator, Berlusconi was following his instinct for saying what most Italians believe. In common with the vast majority of Italians, I have no sympathy for Fascism, no sympathy whatsoever, but, again like the vast majority, I am fed up with the lies told about the Fascist period.
Berlusconi is indeed outspoken and politically incorrect; that is why he is so popular. Once again, he has given his friends and allies — and not just his enemies — the shivers. It is not the first time. And it will not be the last.
Saturday, October 18, 2003
David Limbaugh writes (Excerpts):
“A taxpayer-funded charter school in California that will stress values-oriented teaching about animal rights has been approved. A California church group upset with the promotion of a “Traditional Marriage Week” has called for a “Marriage Equality Week” to promote same-sex “marriage.” And, a highly decorated army general, Jerry Boykin, is castigated as a Holy Warrior because he had the audacity openly to declare his faith in the God of the Bible.
The pledge [of allegiance] case illustrates that certain groups in our society want to treat Christianity and references to the Christian God as a contagious disease, an unborn virus. If not contained within the four walls of our private homes, it will infect the population with an incurable affliction.
Those of you who think the Judge Roy Moore Ten Commandments flap in Alabama was some isolated sideshow are woefully misguided. Those of you who think that courageous Christians like Moore are the ones picking this fight by waiving the Bible in our faces apparently aren’t aware of the city by city, county by county, state by state crusade the ACLU is on to eradicate Ten Commandments displays from all public buildings.
This secularist obsession to achieve a strict separation of church and state is not only not mandated by the Constitution, it is at war with the Constitution’s very designs about religious freedom. In the name of promoting religious liberty, the enemies of Christianity are using the First Amendment Establishment Clause as a weapon to suppress Christian religious freedom.
No student is being forced to say the Pledge, much less the words “under God.” This isn’t a case of the government imposing Christian values on vulnerable children. This is not about separation, but about a small intolerant minority forcing its will on a heretofore passive and non-combative majority.
If the secularists were truly sincere about their affinity for the phantom principle of “separation of church and state,” they would be having seizures over this government-funded charter school imposing its values on school children. They would object to the education establishment’s emphasis on social engineering over academic achievement. They would go berserk over the schools’ speech and conduct codes disguised as anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies.”
Friday, October 17, 2003
(Background: Apparently the school and teachers were being sued by parents who wanted their children's failing grades changed to passing grades even though those children were absent fifteen or twenty times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.
This was said to be voted unanimously by the office staff as the actual answering machine message for the school:)
"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:
To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1
To make excuses for why your child did not do his work - Press 2
To complain about what we do - Press 3
To swear at staff members - Press 4
To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5
If you want us to raise your child - Press 6
If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7
To request another teacher for the third time this year - Press 8
To complain about bus transportation - Press 9
To complain about school lunches - Press 0
If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework, and that it's not the teacher's fault for your child's lack of effort, hang up and have a nice day!"
"There are few things more dangerous than a misinformed politician seeking to enact a politically correct regulation or legislation. And there is nothing quite like presumed global warming to provoke politicians and journalists (and even some scientists) into expressing incoherent hysteria and alarm. A perfect example of both is the recent action by the mayors of Newton and Worcester, MA, to curb global warming. Whoever is advising these mayors on climate change policy has grossly misinformed them."
Thursday, October 16, 2003
What "compassion"! (From the WSJ)
"Caney Creek High School of Conroe, Texas, has decided to expel 15-year-old Brandon Kivi because he let his girlfriend, Andra Ferguson, use his asthma inhaler when she had an attack after forgetting to bring her inhaler to school. Although the two teens both use the same prescription medicine, the school deemed Kivi's actions a violation of its zero-tolerance antidrug policy. (We noted the case Thursday.)
"On Friday, school officials decided to expel Kivi but not press criminal charges," reports Houston's KPRC-TV. Says Kivi: "I'm happy. Everything's final. I'm expelled till after Christmas and I can come back after Christmas, but I won't." He and Ferguson are both leaving Caney Creek High to be home-schooled."
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
An email just in
I teach mathematics at Glendale Community College, AZ, in the Maricopa Community College District and recently protested the "Dia de La Raza" event that a Latino group was hosting. Of course, "Dia" is the Hispanic subversion of Columbus day where Hispanics celebrate the idigenous peoples of America. I posted an email district-wide challenging the event, asking the legitimate question of why such a blatantly racist event was permitted. Of course I received all sorts of ridiculous email on being racist, a bigot, "I'm offended", "La Raza isn't really racist." etc. This was last Friday, the 10th. On Monday I posted district-wide a email acknowledging Columbus Day. My email included essays by Lowell Ponte and David Yeagley and a few others. Today, when I attempted to respond to postings like "Maybe we should have a Hitler Day" (This by what seemed to be a White woman. She should realize what's really at stake, but obviously doesn't have a clue.) I found that my posting is now blocked! I can no longer post district-wide but La Raza, Feminists, Gay and lesbian organizations, etc. will still be allowed free rein in posting district-wide. I have been censored for airing politically incorrect views! The situation may change since I intend garnering support for the right to post district-wide. However, you may post this letter to your PC Watch or Dissecting Leftism web site if you want. Maybe it'll help.
Walter K. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stalin would approve. He said: “There is complete freedom of speech in Russia -- as long as you agree with me
“Attacks on free speech in the name of political correctness have proliferated on and off the college campuses for more than two decades. The attempt to ban public displays at the University of Alabama was so blatant and so crude that it was relatively easy to galvanize opposition to it. A more censoring atmosphere lurks in the larger society, inhibiting debate and inflicting great harm because it operates under the radar of public consciousness. This is true particularly true of public and private opinions about blacks and women.”
What a total loss of perspective or ordinary common-sense there is in the Australian legal system! This guy remains free while Australia’s most politically incorrect politician, Pauline Hanson (a critic of multiculturalism), remains behind bars for a mere legal technicality. “BANDIDO Damian McEachern, caught with a cache of firearms and a mace while on parole for armed robbery, will remain a free man. The NSW Parole Board, which met on Friday, has refused to cancel his parole and put him back behind bars - despite a public outcry.”
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Under the heading: “The building that isn’t there”, Tom Wolfe has a sad story about a beautiful old New York building that is about to be pulled down and replaced at great expense by some deliberately dysfunctional modern monstrosity -- all in the name of political correctness. Tom Wolfe takes you on a tour through the weird world of American architecture to explain why it is politically incorrect. Like Leftist intellectuals generally, architects have a desperate need to be different which, in the absence of any real talent, mostly just leads them into a new conformity.
I agree with the Prince of Wales about modern architecture. It really is a curse. At least in Britain, the Prince only has to condemn some such proposal and it does not go ahead. It is an interesting phenomenon that the most effective voice of the British people in such matters is a member of the Royal Family. His views on architecture have overwhelming public support. Maybe he is needed in New York.
The birds must have looked down with envy Saturday, as Indian dancers, drummers and singers dressed in their finest feathers, skins and bells gathered for a Pow Wow to celebrate Berkeley's 12th annual Indigenous Peoples Day at Civic Center Park.
The birds were wondering if *their* feathers were next! Where were the animal rights protesters? Were the feathers and skins artificial and made in China (like many of the "Indian" souveneirs available along old Route 66? At least the wearers were safe, since Native Americans are the only Americans who are not sent to jail for posssession of eagle feathers! Consistency is not a characteristic of the left.
"The Pow Wow is really the only thing that's like a church for the Indians, it keeps the faith going," said Ron Walashek, an Indian artist of Urok, Cherokee and Irish descent. "It keeps the faith going."
Multiculturalism is a religion of the left, and this keeps *that* faith going also.
Jesse Holder, 15, of Alameda, resplendent in a yellow, red, white and black striped and fringed outfit and a headpiece fashioned from horse hair and porcupine quills, has been dancing for five or six years.
Who is speaking for the poor porcupine? Where was the Animal Liberation Front? When are they planning on burning down the The Department of Ethnic Studies (with it's Native American Studies section)? If you don't get with it, ALF folks, you'll show that American terrorists are inferior to Islamic lunatics. It would be a national disgrace!
Berkeley has suffered its share of jokes and jabs for replacing the Columbus Day holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day 12 years ago, to recognize the suffering and near annihilation of Native American peoples as settlers came and seized the Indians' lands.
Never enough! But then Bezerkeley has long done so many silly things that it's hard to laugh them all without choking!
Watching the primitive rituals of the
Indians Native Americans Indigenous Peoples is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Indian ceremonies are indeed quite colorful.
Throwing out today's celebration of Columbus' rediscovery of America is just
silly Politically Correct nonsense.
For that matter, where are the members of Italian-American community? Don't they realize they are being "dissed" by this nonsense?
At the very least, they should have a sit-in, shout a bunch of obscenities, dress up in "authentic" italian clothes, engage in an authentic Italian religious ritual (Catholic mass), and demand representation in the Department of Ethnic Studies. They should also, in the spirit of Bezerkeley, demand their own Residence Hall Theme Program (segregated housing).
(Also posted at Useful Fools)
Monday, October 13, 2003
One would be wrong!
We frequently use the services of a public library which serves a city of over 1,000,000 people, in an area of over 3,000,000. I won't name it here because I would hate for the librarians to vengefully start denying us service! Such is the power that these government employees hold.
We have noticed an enormous bias in their selections. For example, consider the wildly popular, if controversial book by Anne Coulter: "Treason", while they had about 50 copies of Hillary Clinton's boring screed, they had 2 of Coulter's (they have since gotten a bunch more). Both were best sellers. Coulter gives a vast number of facts (amidst the very witty polemics) about the behavior of the left in the US during the cold war and terror war times. Coulter's wit and writing style makes facts accessible and the reading pleasurable for casual readers. Hillary provides little original information and has benerally been viewed as boring and hagiographic.
But most disturbingly, the library has NO copies of "In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage" by John Haynes and Harvey Klehr, distinguished writers and experts on their subject; a book widely reviewed, and, of course, controversial. Furthermore, they claim that "few libraries own" it.
Most librarians, especially in large cities, adhere to the leftist American Library Association. So its not surprising that they don't carry enough conservative books.
They are, of course, self rightous about their efforts in preventing censorship. The ALA proclaims "Celebrate Your Freedom to Read September 20–27, 2003." Why don't they give me the freedom to read, from their libraries, critical books about the left?
Regarding their "Library Bill of Rights" they say:
Article II maintains that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Library services, materials, and programs representing diverse points of view on gender or sexual orientation should be considered for purchase and inclusion in library collections and programs. (ALA policies 53.1.1, 53.1.9, and 53.1.11). The Association affirms that attempts to proscribe or remove materials dealing with gay or lesbian life without regard to the written, approved selection policy violate this tenet and constitute censorship.
Okay, that's nice for gays and lesbians, but how about Conservatives? Are we going to have to parade down streets in our underwear and throw feces at leftist icons to get our rights?
The next time you hear a librarian brag about protecting your rights; about defending against censorship; about hysterically shredding records in fear of the dreaded Patriot Act; or about protecting the rights of their patrons to sit at a terminal next to children and view pornography (they don't put it that way), just remember:
Many of them are hypocrites! (also posted on Useful Fools blog.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
But it had to go all the way to Australia’s High Court for reason to prevail
Diane Burns was 47 and working as a teacher's aide when she took a group of disabled children to a Hoyts cinema in Bankstown in 1997. She left her seat to chase after a four-year-old boy who had crawled away. When she returned she did not notice the seat had retracted automatically; she sat down, missed the chair and hit a metal bar. The woman, who was not a regular cinema goer, sued the cinema operator, saying it should have erected signs warning the seats were retractable. The High Court, however, unanimously rejected her damages claim, saying there was nothing to suggest that, had there been a sign, she would have read it and pulled her seat down before she sat on it. The decision overturned a NSW Court of Appeal finding in her favour. She had entered the cinema when the lights were on, and when she chose a chair in the front row had pushed it down in order to sit on it.
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Don't those PC types really hate people!
Fifteen-year-old Andra Ferguson, a student at Caney Creek High School in Conroe, Texas, suffers from asthma, which she treats with Albuterol, a prescription inhaler. One day last month, Houston's KPRC-TV reports, she suffered an attack and had forgotten to bring her inhaler. Brandon Kivi, her boyfriend and a fellow asthmatic who uses the same medicine, lent her his inhaler. "It made a big difference," said Ferguson. It did save my life."
You can guess what happened: "The next day, he was arrested and accused of delivering a dangerous drug. Kivi was also suspended from school for three days. He could face expulsion and sent to juvenile detention on juvenile drug charges."
From the WSJ
Peter Hitchens on Zionism:
“Conservatives should support the State of Israel on principle, just as the globalist Left seeks to defeat Zionism on principle.
The legions of political correctness would usually approve of a state founded as the result of a classic “national liberation” struggle against a classic “colonial oppressor” and ought to endorse a country so profoundly secular in so many of its institutions and so dominated by social-democratic political and cultural thinking. Especially, they should be enthusiastic about a nation whose whole reason for existence is profoundly anti-racist.
But they don’t and they aren’t. The Left will readily forgive Irish Republicans for terror and even for Catholicism. They remain sentimental about Fidel Castro despite the show trials and the dungeons. They will pardon South Africa almost everything, including an incorrect attitude towards AIDS. But all the categories flip over and upside down when it comes to Israel and Zionism. Why?”
Friday, October 10, 2003
"The UN has told the Canadian government to ban all forms of corporal punishment of youngsters--including even a light slap," reports the CanWest News Service. The Committee on Rights of the Child said Canada, as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is obliged to make spanking illegal. So if you're a Canadian parent and you want to discipline your children without running afoul of the U.N., you may soon have to hire a Palestinian to blow him up.
From the WSJ
Thursday, October 09, 2003
"The mother of a man who killed three co-workers before shooting himself in a workplace rampage has asked the company to compensate her for her son's death because it occurred at work, the company said on Tuesday."
By: Michelle Malkin
"If Osama bin Laden snuck into our country illegally, bought fake immigration papers and changed his name to Osmundo Ben Ladeno, could he join the U.S. military? You betcha!
Last week, the Army announced that Pvt. Juan Escalante, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who had used a $50 bogus green card to enlist, would be allowed to remain in the armed forces. Wait, there's even more good news for ID fakers looking to infiltrate the military: Thanks to President Bush's executive order allowing non-citizen soldiers to obtain expedited naturalization benefits, Escalante -- an admitted, two-time lawbreaker -- will be rewarded with American citizenship. Army officials at Fort Stewart, Ga., have promised to actively assist Escalante in securing legal status.
An estimated 10,000 non-citizens in uniform have now applied for fast-track citizenship. The pander bears at the Pentagon have no idea how many are illegal aliens who used fake papers to enlist. Be all that you can be, be whoever you say you want to be, and an Army paycheck is yours.
Isn't there a federal law against knowingly hiring illegal aliens? Why, yes, there is. United States Code, Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part VIII, Section 1324(a) states unambiguously: "It is unlawful for a person or other entity to hire, or to recruit . . . for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien." The same section of the law also makes clear that any person "knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law" who "harbors . . . such alien in any place" shall be "fined" or "imprisoned."
And, wait, isn't the Department of Homeland Security trying to root out and deport illegal aliens using fake IDs to work on military bases? Why, yes, it is. This February, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) arrested 37 illegal aliens at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo. -- many of whom had used fake papers to gain employment and access to the headquarters of the nation's largest arsenal of intercontinental nuclear missiles.
In July, another group of illegal aliens with fake Social Security numbers was arrested at Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Last month, BICE arrested 14 more illegal aliens employed by a San Diego Navy contractor. They used fake green cards and Social Security numbers to get jobs repairing military ships. Four more illegal aliens were arrested last month at Grand Forks (N.D.) Air Force Base. Two were charged with possessing counterfeit immigration documents. The other two are being deported.
None of those arrested in the illegal-alien sweeps at our military facilities has been tied to Islamic terrorism. But the point being driven home by BICE is that if "well-meaning" immigration outlaws can penetrate our bases, so can far more nefarious con artists from abroad."
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Mexican food now in the gun. Are Mom's apple pies next? "The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) plans to make fast-casual Mexican restaurants its latest [target]. Sources tell the Center for Consumer Freedom that CSPI's health scolds are set to issue yet another predictable diatribe against foods they don't think Americans should enjoy. This won't be the first time CSPI has gone after Mexican food. In 1994 it called enchiladas and quesadillas 'Tortilla Terror' "
Under PC doctrine nobody is ever to blame for their own negligence or stupidity
"A Texan girl who suffered disfiguring burns in a fire allegedly started by a smouldering cigarette has won an unprecedented $2m (£1.2m) settlement from the tobacco firm Philip Morris. The girl, Shannon Moore, was 21 months old and asleep in a car seat in her mother's Buick when it burst into flames. According to the lawsuit her mother, Shelly, had briefly left the car and inadvertently allowed the still burning cigarette to fall on the seat, where it continued to smoulder and started the fire. Shannon was burned over 77% of her body and all her fingers had to be amputated. She also lost her hearing because of prolonged antibiotic treatment. Now 13, her hearing impairment has left her with a limited ability to speak."
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Following are some excerpts from an article that appeared in the Sydney Sun Herald (smh.com.au) on Sunday October 5th., 2003, p. 13.
SO, JUST WHO'S GAY NOW
GAV and Wazza, the gay couple from the hit TV reality show The Block, proved to be such nice people that any homophobia from middle Australia was quickly transformed into fan mail from families.
But just as they mainstreamed gaydom on Channel 9, along came the linguistic backlash. In every schoolyard in Sydney, children are using the word "gay" with a new derogatory meaning.
The latest Macquarie Dictionary which hit the bookstores last week, includes the new definition for the first time: 'Colloquial (especially among children) unfashionable, unstylish: that bag is really gay; don't be so gay!" Dictionary editor Alison Moore says the meaning has now embedded itself in everyday language, but she found citations from as early as 1991....
It's latest negative reincarnation may be a backlash by children against political correctness, suggests Sydney University's Gary Simes, who is compiling a dictionary of sexual language. "For all that society has become very [tolerant], I suspect it's a reaction against the fact they have to accept homosexuals and political correctness....."
Monday, October 06, 2003
"Writing a column on race is the political equivalent of walking through a minefield or playing Russian roulette with your reputation. It is also a striking reminder of how political correctness, the fascist thought control of the Left, has gained nearly complete mastery over the mindset of the American people. Ideological intolerance has choked off true discussion and intellectual interaction on the troubles that do face various ethnic groups in the United States. But without exploratory discussion and varied viewpoints true solutions and understanding cannot be accomplished."
In the Spanish city of Torredonjimeno, you can be fined for leaving your home between 9pm on Thursday and 2am on Friday... if you happen to be male, that is. Men are confined to their homes on Thursday nights by order of Javier Checa, the city's mayor, whose declared goal is to fight - well, sexual discrimination, of course.
Sunday, October 05, 2003
Sometimes the PC Freaks lose:
"The Washington Redskins football franchise can keep its trademark name and logo because a group of activists did not provide enough evidence that the team's moniker was disparaging to Native Americans, a judge ruled yesterday."
Setting aside separate smoking and non-smoking areas in Irish bars is now incorrect. Only non-smokers are allowed
“DUBLIN, Ireland - Rebellious pub owners and the health minister clashed Friday over the government's determination to introduce a smoking ban in workplaces across Ireland. Health Minister Micheal Martin has ordered that all workplaces must become smoke-free after Jan. 1 _ a ban similar to one enacted in New York City. John O'Sullivan, chairman of an association that represents the 380 pub owners in County Kerry, said more than 200 who attended an industry gathering had voted to ignore Martin's instructions and to create special areas for smokers in their pubs. Industry officials predicted more regional revolts -- making the proposed ban unenforceable -- unless he backed down.”
Saturday, October 04, 2003
David Biggs says:
Just how silly can the human race get? We have become so obsessed about being politically correct that we tend to forget what we actually set out to do.
I couldn't help chuckling when I read about a kindergarten teacher in a village near Salisbury (the one in England, not Harare) who was rebuked by the authorities for not providing the children in her care with "ethnic minority or disabled" dolls to play with.
Isn't that a bit ridiculous?
She is apparently expected to provide a black doll, a Chinese doll, a doll wearing an sari and a doll in a wheelchair, or at least on crutches.
She was also ordered to provide special meals to mark cultural occasions, such as the Chinese New Year or Bastille Day.
I was sent to a strictly Anglican Church boarding school and brought up in what I suppose was a rather closed Calvinistic community. But that didn't cause me to faint or fall over when I went to university and met Jews and Muslims for the first time.
A number of left-of-center columns have pointed out the Republicans already control all branches of Colorado government -- so why do they want to control colleges, too? This is obviously an anti-democratic argument, given legislators are popularly elected and Republicans outnumber Democrats in Colorado.
At the same time, Republicans have argued persuasively that conservatives are the minority in college humanities and social sciences departments. But this minority is not one that merits special legal protection, the left argues, for various reasons. Which minorities do so qualify? The "oppressed" ones, of course. And who decides what counts as "oppression?" The left does, of course.
Friday, October 03, 2003
“Six months ago, Jack Moody tried to send his son, Daniel, a care package containing a Bible study and other Christian religious materials. Daniel is a 21-year-old Army National Guardsman serving in the Middle East. He had written home requesting spiritual support while he risked his life abroad. The literature his dad packed included Christian comic books. But when Daniel's dad approached the post office in the family's hometown of Lenoir, North Carolina, he was told he would not be allowed to send the items.”
Thursday, October 02, 2003
A high school student has the right to wear a T-shirt to school with the face of President Bush (news - web sites) and the words "International Terrorist" on the front, a federal judge ruled.
"There is no evidence that the T-shirt created any disturbance or disruption," U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan said in the ruling released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) of Michigan, which sued the Dearborn school district on behalf of Bretton Barber.
An assistant principal had ordered Barber in February to conceal the anti-Bush message or go home. Dearborn High said it worried about inflaming passions at the suburban Detroit school, where a majority of students are Arab-American.
"The 1990's saw the total mutilation of the English language and American behavior patterns for the sheer sake of ripping apart long-standing American cultural and family traditions to enforce conformity and make nonconformity either intolerable or illegal.
We all used to know what it meant to "tolerate" someone. We put up with them even though we didn't particularly like or approve of them or their behavior. Examples we all know: the guy who lets his lawn grow to the height of an alfalfa field before mowing it. The neighbor who minds everyone else's business. The office kissup who is first to suggest anything that might please the boss. The neighbors whose brats are always running through our newly-planted flower beds. That's what we meant by "tolerate" and there was no confusion between tolerance and acceptance. If we tolerated certain people it surely had nothing to do with accepting them as friends, or saying their way of life (disrupting the neighborhood or the office tranquility) was acceptable to us. We knew, we understood, we agreed on the language even if we might have different ideas of the person or brats involved.
I grew up in a world where we were free to decide what people would be our friends, generally based on those with whom we had common ideas and a common background or, to use a new phrase, similar worldview. Maybe we simply had the same religious beliefs or nominal church membership or opposition to churches.
This is now the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Ed.) definition of tolerance as it applies to interpersonal relationships (not mathematical tolerances or medical applications):
1. The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
Specifically, "tolerance" was redefined to enforce a recalcitrant American public to set aside years of tradition, personal religious beliefs and the personal freedom to make choices in order to shove heretofore unacceptable persons and behaviors down the throats of American citizens. Government knows one cannot legislate belief systems, at least not until they can enforce total thought control. But they can set standards and legislate penalties for violating them.
This redefined tolerance is most actively seen in forcing people of different beliefs, and Christians in particular, to accept and embrace the politically correct, unnatural and repugnant acts of homosexuality and the minority (thus privileged) status of the entire homosexual communities under penalty of law.
Unlike Dr. Martin Luther King's dream where all persons of all colors would be accepted by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, "tolerance' means you accept non-European or non-white people regardless of their behavior. And this is to be enforced at a time when whites are a minority among the world's population (as they always have been), in a nation built largely by European immigrants through hard work and individual entrepreneurial effort.
Tolerance means we, the Americans who have built and developed this country by our work, shall, under penalty of law:
* Allow federalized education to inculcate the children with sex education, including the "fact" that homosexuality is an approved alternative lifestyle. Sex education is the responsibility of parents, but the government has taken charge, while removing from parents the authority to invest their children with the values of their heredity and culture, particularly if it is Christian or Bible-based.
* Accept the fact that parental discipline can be punishable by law (even a swat on the behind) to the extent that the government can remove the children from the offending parents and make them wards of the state, and many such children have been placed in foster care where their entire lives have been mutilated, traumatized and even terminated by intent or by neglect.
* We are to like all people of different races and colors even though in American history, the traditional European whites (which is ridiculous, no one is really white) were never legally bound to like one another. The law prevailed when it came to limitations on dislike, hence assault and battery or murder have always been illegal and punishable offenses. But to be forced to like one another? The mere thought was violative of basic American freedoms of choice, association and privacy.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
"In a recent opinion that is hostile to the traditional American system of checks and balances, Justice Stephen Breyer said that a world order is coming into being. The Supreme Court, he said, should consider taking judicial notice of the culture of this new world order in formulating its opinions. ... To understand why Justice Breyer's suggestion is inimical to the American system of checks and balances, a distinction is needed between relevant and irrelevant constitutional issues. The issue is not whether many Americans believe the death penalty is cruel or unusual."