Friday, August 01, 2008

Opponents of gay marriage say they'll sue over changed wording in California's Proposition 8

After a tweak by the state attorney general's office, the initiative now seeks to 'eliminate the right' of same-sex couples to marry, wording that the measure's proponents say could prejudice voters. Supporters of Proposition 8, the proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, said they would file suit today to block a change made by California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to the language of the measure's ballot title and summary. Petitions circulated to qualify the initiative for the ballot said the measure would amend the state Constitution "to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

In a move made public last week and applauded by same-sex marriage proponents, the attorney general's office changed the language to say that Proposition 8 seeks to "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry." Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for the Protect Marriage coalition, called the new language "inherently argumentative" and said it could "prejudice voters against the initiative."

Proponents of the measure said they want voters to see ballot language similar to what was on the petitions that began circulating last fall. "This is a complete about-face from the ballot title that was assigned" when the measure was being circulated for signatures, Kerns said.

On the other side, Steve Smith, campaign manager for No on Proposition 8, applauded the language change. "What Proposition 8 would do is eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, which is exactly what the attorney general put in the title of the measure," he said. "It will be very difficult for them to win the case." Political analysts on both sides suggest that the language change will make passage of the initiative more difficult, noting that voters might be more reluctant to pass a measure that makes clear it is taking away existing rights.

The dust-up reflects the fierce battle being waged over the question of same-sex marriage in California, the most closely-watched social issue that will appear on the November ballot. And it has raised suspicion in some circles that Brown, a possible candidate for governor in 2010, was influenced by politics. "He is delivering something . . . that is very important to the gay community, and that is a title and summary that is more likely to lead you to vote 'No,' " said political analyst Tony Quinn. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who became a hero to the gay and lesbian community in 2004 when he officiated same-sex marriages that were later invalidated by the state, is also exploring a run for governor. Quinn added that language changes that substantive are "highly unusual."

Gareth Lacy, a spokesman for the attorney general, denied that there was any political motivation for the move. Instead, he said, the change was necessary because of the dramatic turn of events that have taken place since the petitions were circulated: namely that the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and thousands of gay couples have since wed. "The title and summary accurately reflect the measure," Lacy said. He noted that language in titles and summaries often changes between the time a measure is circulated for signatures and when it appears on the ballot.

In another change, the revised language predicts a loss to state and local governments of tens of millions of dollars in sales tax revenues over the next few years if the measure passes. But the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said that in the long run there would "likely be little fiscal impact."


The German parallel with Islam

A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. 'Very few people were true Nazis,' he said, 'but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.'

We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectra of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.

The hard quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent majority,' is cowed and extraneous. Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.


Math Is Harder for Girls -- despite the lying New York Times

By Heather Mac Donald

The New York Times is determined to show that women are discriminated against in the sciences; too bad the facts say otherwise. A new study has "found that girls perform as well as boys on standardized math tests," claims a July 25 article by Tamar Lewin -- thus, the underrepresentation of women on science faculties must result from bias. Actually, the study, summarized in the July 25 issue of Science, shows something quite different: while boys' and girls' average scores are similar, boys outnumber girls among students in both the highest and the lowest score ranges. Either the Times is deliberately concealing the results of the study or its reporter cannot understand the most basic science reporting.

Lewin begins her piece with the mandatory mocking reference to former Harvard president Lawrence Summers' suicidal speculations about why women are underrepresented on science and math faculties. She also manages to squeeze in a classic feminist trope for how our sexist society destroys girls' innate abilities, invoking the infamous "talking Barbie doll [who] proclaimed that `math class is tough.'" Lewin implies that the new study blows Summers' wide-ranging speculations on gender and math out of the water; all that holds women back from equal representation in MIT's theoretical physics labs, it seems, is Mattel and other patriarchal marketers of gender myths.

On the contrary, Science's analysis of math test scores only confirms the hypothesis that cost Summers his Harvard post: that boys are found more often than girls at the outer reaches of the bell curve of abstract reasoning ability. If you're hoping to land a job in Harvard's math department, you'd better not show up with average math scores; in fact, you'd better present scores at the absolute top of the range. And as studies have shown for decades, there are many more boys than girls in that empyrean realm. Unless science and math faculties start practicing the most grotesque and counterproductive gender discrimination, a skew in the sex of their professors will be inevitable, given the distribution of top-level cognitive skills. Likewise, boys will be and are overrepresented among math dunces-though the feminists never complain about the male math failure rate.

Lewin claims that the "researchers looked at the average of the test scores of all students, the performance of the most gifted children and the ability to solve complex math problems. They found, in every category, that girls did as well as boys." This statement is simply wrong. Among white 11th-graders, there were twice as many boys as girls above the 99th percentile-that is, at the very top of the curve. (Asians, however, showed a very slight skew toward females above the 99th percentile, while there were too few Hispanics and blacks scoring above even the 95th percentile to compute their gender ratios.)

The Science researchers themselves try to downplay the significance of the two-to-one ratio for whites-the vast majority of students-on the grounds that it should produce a 67 percent to 33 percent disparity in male-to-female representation in math-dependent fields. Yet Ph.D. programs for engineering, they say, contain only about 15 percent women. Therefore, the authors conclude, "gender differences in math performance, even among high scorers, are insufficient to explain lopsided gender patterns in participation in some [science and math] fields."

This reasoning is flawed, however, because the tests used in their study are pathetically easy compared with what would be required of engineering or other rigorous math-based Ph.D.s. The researchers got their data from math tests devised by individual states to fulfill their annual testing obligations under the federal No Child Left Behind act. NCLB has produced a mad rush to the bottom, as many states crafted easier and easier reading and math tests to show their federal overseers how well their schools are doing. The Science researchers analyzed the difficulty of those tests and found that virtually none required remotely complicated problem-solving abilities.

That a gender difference at the highest percentiles shows up on tests pitched to such an elementary level of knowledge and skill suggests that on truly challenging tests, the gender difference at the top end of the distribution will be even greater. Indeed, between five and ten times as many boys as girls have been found to receive near-perfect scores on the math SATs among mathematically gifted adolescents, for example. Far from raising the presumption of gender bias among schools and colleges, the Science study strengthens a competing hypothesis: that the main drivers of success in scientific fields are aptitude and knowledge, in conjunction with personal choices about career and family that feminists refuse to acknowledge.

The same reality-denying feminists are itching to subject college science and math departments to gender quotas. They have already persuaded Congress to require university scientists to perform Title IX compliance reviews -- a nightmare of bean-counting paperwork-covering everything from faculty composition to lab space. Misleading reporting like Lewin's will only strengthen the movement to select cancer researchers and atomic engineers on the basis of their sex, not their abilities.

The Wall Street Journal, it should be noted, had no difficulty grasping the two main findings of the Science study: that "girls and boys have roughly the same average scores on state math tests," as Keith J. Winstein reported on July 25, but that "boys more often excelled or failed." That the New York Times, in an article over twice as long as the Journal's, couldn't manage to squeeze in a reference to the fact that boys outperformed girls at the top end of the curve should put its readers on notice: trust nothing you read here.


UN to Britain: Stop Being Islamophobic

These are the guys who constantly condemn Israel but who have yet to utter a single condemnation of the vast human rights abuses in Muslim countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia

Extending its campaign to squelch discussion of Islam and lobby member countries to roll back their citizens' speech rights, the United Nations has asked that Great Britain do more to challenge negative views about Muslims:
The nine-member human rights committee composed of legal experts said it was concerned "negative public attitudes towards Muslim members of society" continued to be allowed in Britain. It recommended the government "should take energetic measures to eliminate this phenomenon and ensure that authors of such acts of discrimination on the basis of religion are adequately deterred and sanctioned."
Concrete "acts of discrimination" are one thing; "negative public attitudes" are an entirely different matter. Is it the role of governments to allow or disallow certain beliefs to inhabit the minds of people? And who gets to decide what constitutes "negative public attitudes"?

Moreover, Britain already has bent over backwards for its Muslim population. The term "war on terror" - often criticized by anti-Islamist researchers as imprecise - was scrapped by the Foreign Office in 2006 due to concerns that it might anger Muslims. Earlier this year, ministers waded further into the swamp of political correctness by stipulating that Islamic terrorism should be referred to as "anti-Islamic activity." The nation has also done much to accommodate Islamic law in both welfare and finance. Furthermore, two leading public figures - Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips - have endorsed the adoption of Shari'a for adjudicating marital and financial disputes.

The committee's demand that Britain police the thoughts and words of its people is consistent with recent speech-suppression efforts undertaken by the Islamist-dominated UN Human Rights Council. In March, the body passed a resolution that condemns "attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence, and human rights violations," while declaring that "freedom of expression . may therefore be subject to certain restrictions . necessary for the respect of the rights or reputations of others." In June, the HRC severely constrained discussion of Islam during debates at the council, after Muslim members objected to a presentation on female genital mutilation, stoning, and child marriage.

"It is regrettable that there are false translations and interpretations of the freedom of expression," delegates from Saudi Arabia stated in March. What's truly regrettable is that the UN gives Islamists a platform from which to promote the curtailment of Western liberties.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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