Friday, February 18, 2005


"A judge dismissed charges on Thursday against four anti-gay Christians accused of violating hate crime laws when protesting at a gay street festival, saying free speech rights allowed them to do so. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe said the four members of "Repent America" exercised their right to free speech when they refused to move away from the city's gay pride "Outfest" last October.

The protesters used bullhorns and placards to warn festival participants that they would suffer eternal damnation for their homosexual behavior. After a noisy, nonviolent confrontation with gay people, they were charged with incitement to riot, and violating a 1982 Pennsylvania law that bars inciting hatred on the basis of race, color, religion, nationality or sexuality. "You cannot stifle free speech because you don't want to hear it," Dembe said. "Many of these messages may be repulsive and offensive but people are allowed to make them. The right to free speech extends to neo-Nazis marching in towns where Holocaust survivors live and to the Ku Klux Klan, the judge told a packed courtroom.

The leader of the group, Michael Marcavage, 25, said after the ruling that he felt vindicated. "It's a good thing to know that there are still some judges who respect the First Amendment," he said, adding that his group plans to protest another local gay rally on May 1".

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No free speech or concern about the truth at the People's Republic of Harvard

The president of Harvard University is under attack from his academic colleagues that could force him from his job after he suggested that women may be not as good as men at mathematics and science. Lawrence Summers, who was Treasury Secretary to President Clinton, was buffeted by complaints about his leadership at an angry faculty meeting on Tuesday and could face a confidence vote next week. Many professors at the Ivy League school were outraged by Dr Summers’s suggestion, at an academic seminar last month, that “innate differences” may be the reason why fewer women than men teach mathematics and science there.

More than 250 professors crowded University Hall on Tuesday for what old hands described as the most heated staff meeting since the Vietnam War. It was closed to the press except for The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, and professors recounted their remarks to reporters outside. “Many of your faculty are dismayed and alienated and demoralised. There is a legitimation crisis concerning your leadership and style of governance,” Arthur Kleinman, chairman of the anthropology department, told Dr Summers.

Dr Summers, a former World Bank economist known for his blunt manner, has said that the comments were made “in the spirit of academic inquiry” to underscore the need for further research. According to the Crimson, he began the meeting by reiterating that he regretted his remarks. “I deserve much of the criticism that has come my way,” he said. “If I could turn back the clock, I would have said and done things very differently.” He cited his creation of two task forces on hiring female professors as proof of his commitment to improving the status of women at Harvard.....

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Larry Summers vindicated

Men and women do think differently, at least where the anatomy of the brain is concerned, according to a new study. The brain is made primarily of two different types of tissue, called gray matter and white matter. This new research reveals that men think more with their gray matter, and women think more with white. Researchers stressed that just because the two sexes think differently, this does not affect intellectual performance.

Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico. Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men. "These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior," said Haier, adding that, "by pinpointing these gender-based intelligence areas, the study has the potential to aid research on dementia and other cognitive-impairment diseases in the brain." The results are detailed in the online version of the journal NeuroImage.

In human brains, gray matter represents information processing centers, whereas white matter works to network these processing centers. The results from this study may help explain why men and women excel at different types of tasks, said co-author and neuropsychologist Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico. For example, men tend to do better with tasks requiring more localized processing, such as mathematics, Jung said, while women are better at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions of the brain, which aids language skills.

Scientists find it very interesting that while men and women use two very different activity centers and neurological pathways, men and women perform equally well on broad measures of cognitive ability, such as intelligence tests.

This research also gives insight to why different types of head injuries are more disastrous to one sex or the other. For example, in women 84 percent of gray matter regions and 86 percent of white matter regions involved in intellectual performance were located in the frontal lobes, whereas the percentages of these regions in a man’s frontal lobes are 45 percent and zero, respectively. This matches up well with clinical data that shows frontal lobe damage in women to be much more destructive than the same type of damage in men.

Both Haier and Jung hope that this research will someday help doctors diagnose brain disorders in men and women earlier, as well as provide help designing more effective and precise treatments for brain damage.


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