Sunday, April 27, 2014

Torquemada Invades America

Torquemada has landed in America. This nation of free and open inquiry has been seized by totalitarians who refuse to entertain other points of view. The debate about global warming is over say adherents of this position. When, if ever, has the debate about any scientific issue been over?

That is the least of it. So complete is the feminist assault on the culture that one can no longer say men and woman aren't interchangeable. Should a military officer challenge the faith, he can be sure promotion is not in his future. Common sense is in retreat before the gods of cultural reformation.

It is now part of the orthodoxy to contend that all nations and cultures are equally good, with the possible exception of Israel. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the author of Infidel, had the temerity to challenge this "truism" and was denied an honorary degree Brandeis authorities had promised her. Skeptics are not welcome at American universities. In fact, should one leave the herd of independent thinkers, he will feel the full wrath of faculty and student chastisement. The orthodoxy will not accept a challenge.

Here is American fundamentalism with a vengeance. A business executive gave money to an organization that supports traditional marriage and he is hounded by homosexual activists. A photographer refuses to take pictures at a homosexual wedding and he is treated as a sinner who must be punished. A business executive argues against homosexual marriage and his entire food chain is imperiled until he repents.

This is secular religious fervor as passionate as any formal religion. Kids are indoctrinated at the earliest age to imbibe the "truth." In fact, "critical thinking," the goal of education, involves neither a critique nor thought. The imposition of belief is right out of an Orwellian playbook. A search for truth has been subordinated to the acceptance of belief. To be an outlier in the nation is to be a recluse, cut off from social exchange, a leper in the modern age.

We do not yet have reeducation camps since the educational institutions are "doing their jobs," albeit there are always sensitivity training sessions. Stigmata are effective tools in holding back dissent. Who doesn't fear being described as foolish or the equivalent of a Holocaust denier? The instrument of social ostracism is almost foolproof.

Now a generation of scientists is saying the human mind is programmable like a software program. Life is no longer unpredictable, a human centered world view. Instead it is within the reach of programmers who can manipulate thought. The sacred is being desacralized, a humanistic vision made blind.

In the midst of this totalitarian attack the public has been mute. One wonders why there isn't blind rage. How can people be indifferent to the casual take-over of their thinking? So immersed in self-gratification and popular culture are John and Mary Q. Public that they do not recognize what is happening around them. Schools and colleges promote the orthodoxy and not a peep form the academics whose bread and butter is being usurped. If there is thinking in Academe, it is only whose thoughts that fit a priori conclusion. Dogmatism prevails.

Where did we come from? Where are we to end up? Questions involving the unknown are no longer unknown. The dogmatists have an answer. It is in a scientific equation or the mind of the grand inquisitor. The answers are known or about to be known. No need to ask questions. In fact, there isn't any need for debate.

Yet I hope there is a day when there will be a cri de coeur heard throughout the land. The words "I disagree" should be loud and forceful. At the moment, however, I regard this hope as wishful thinking.


God Movies Make Money

The accountants in Hollywood don't have to believe in heaven to notice the box office numbers on recent movies with religious themes.

"Heaven Is for Real" opened in the days before Easter and grossed more than $22 million, coming in second for the weekend, just $3 million behind the latest "Captain America" blockbuster (in its third week). The movie's per-screen average — $8,895 — was far above the rest of the top five.

"Heaven Is for Real," like many movies, is based on a best-selling book. It's a real-life story about 4-year-old Colton Burpo and his visions of heaven after an emergency surgery in 2003. Within three weeks of its November 2010 release, the book debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times best-seller list. Eventually, it made its way to No. 1.

Box Office Mojo reported, "Sony targeted their marketing towards Christian audiences, and placed an emphasis on calling ahead for group ticket sales." Stop the presses. Breaking news. There is a Christian audience, and it has wallets that open.

This has happened repeatedly this year.

It happened in mid-March, when "God's Not Dead" opened at No. 4 with a $9 million gross, and then surprised the ticket-watchers by persistently drawing an audience, as it now approaches $50 million at the box office. This comes despite film critics trashing it, and one insisting, "Even by the rather lax standards of the Christian film industry, 'God's Not Dead' is a disaster."

This was not a studio movie, but a production of the Arizona-based Christian company Pure Flix. At the center of the plot is a debate between a college philosophy professor and a freshman student over the existence of God. No, it's not your usual popcorn fare, but there is an audience that surely enjoys the rare occasion of a script strongly striking back at Richard Dawkins and Charles Darwin, offering rebuttal to the usual atheist arrogance of most pop culture products.

Interestingly, there is also this: In the corners of the plot are several Christian product placements — appearances testifying to Jesus by "Duck Dynasty" stars Willie and Korie Robertson, and the Christian-rock band, the Newsboys. Jesus sells.

One can easily see how the word of mouth spreads on a movie like this, when all the people attending the Newsboys' concert at the movie's end are asked to text message "God's not dead" to their friends and acquaintances.

"Son of God" was produced by adding some new footage and re-editing the Jesus sections of Mark Burnett's History Channel miniseries "The Bible." It was released in mid-February and also showed surprising strength, grossing $25 million in its first weekend and a total of $60 million so far. And why not? "The Bible" has become the top-selling miniseries on DVD of all time.

Some have compared these numbers to "Noah," which hasn't lived up to expectations — especially after the endless hype. But there's a reason it disappointed. Despite the movie's putative inspiration in the Bible, "Noah" isn't a religious movie. The leftist critics were kind, but critics at the conservative Intercollegiate Review panned it as "The Rocky Horror Bible Show," comparing its Noah to a man-hating, eco-maniacal unabomber, and its story as Genesis "rewritten by Cher." It should tell us something that another big-money Russell Crowe movie, "Gladiator," had a nobler view of God and man.

Just as there's always an audience for a horror movie, and there's always an audience for a romantic comedy, there is always an audience for faith-friendly films. Theater owners have been learning that lesson all year. Will the Hollywood studios ever catch on?


Feminists Fighting McDonald’s Are Learning The Wrong Lessons

A recent article in Slate by Antonia Ayres-Brown, a junior in high school, details the valiant feminist struggle she ultimately brought to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities against McDonald’s for … discriminating on the basis of sex in the distribution of Happy Meal toys. “Despite our evidence showing that, in our test, McDonald’s employees described the toys in gendered terms more than 79 percent of the time, the commission dismissed our allegations as ‘absurd’ and solely for the purposes of ‘titilation [sic] and sociological experimentation,’” she wrote.

Let’s leave aside the fact that Connecticut has a Commission on Human Rights and note that this girl sincerely believes McDonald’s offering toys described, at times, as being for a girl or for a boy is a human rights violation.

While I admire the girl’s plucky disposition and effort, I do hope one day she learns to channel her energy into productive uses that will advance her cause in positive ways. This could have all been solved by her parents simply encouraging her to ask for the toy she wants.  If girls are continually taught that they as individuals have no power to negotiate a situation as simple as “I’d like that toy” without the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights getting involved, I submit that these women are proving the case that they should not be put in positions of leadership or power.

By the author’s own admission,“McDonald’s is estimated to sell more than 1 billion Happy Meals each year.” Yet it does not occur to her that the fast food worker giving a “girl’s” toy to a girl is simply trying to give the customer what she wants in the most expeditious manner possible.  This is a company that sells a billion of these things a year and gets them in the hands of their customers as fast as possible.

People do not eat at McDonald’s to get into a gender studies discussion with the teenage kid at the register; they go there to get food fast, hence the term “fast food.” If the author had worked in fast food for any nominal period of time, she might realize that the employee’s main motivation is not to spend any time persecuting women but to make it through his or her shift as painlessly as possible.

The author predicates her case based on a “concern with the harmful effects of gender-classified toys” but spends no time noting or referencing any data that proves that gender-based Happy Meal toys are harming anyone. If we want women in STEM careers we might want to inform them of the basic premise of the scientific method.  She spends no time seeking data to prove her hypothesis and therefore isn’t providing McDonald’s or the reader any scientific reason to change practices. She has gathered data proving that McDonald’s most often allocates gender-based toys to the appropriate gender. This likely was already evident to majority of humans on this planet and in rational circles makes sense.

No data is offered to demonstrate that there is actual harm being done to children when given a toy that often coincides with their personal preference. Her entire assumption is that it offended her so therefore it must have some long term effect on all people. The only long-term effect evident is this child has spent way too much time writing letters to McDonald’s instead of learning to simply ask for the toy she’d prefer.

If there is such a great demand out there of girls who desire the boy-labeled toy, wouldn’t McDonald’s know that? The corporation is known for studying its customer base intensely to move product. That’s the handy thing about capitalism: If parents feel like their children are having a negative experience at McDonald’s; parents will not take their children there. McDonald’s is in the business of giving its customers what they want and logically for their supply chain it makes sense to allocate toys to the appropriate gender. In fact, it would be cheaper for McDonalds to have just one toy available but the company differentiated its product to meet demand for girl-specific toys in Happy Meals.

When I went to McDonald’s as a kid there wasn’t a choice. You did what you were supposed to and fought with your siblings over who got the best toy. There was no campaign to write letters to the CEO of McDonald’s or asking for a different toy. That wasn’t even an option. So basically we have a kid complaining that this company has the audacity to better serve girls instead of sticking girls with the toy their older brother will take because she doesn’t want it.

McDonald’s, like many companies, has realized the buying power of women and has smartly begun to target them. To misinterpret this as a setback is a strange feature of feminism. But much of modern feminism’s main arc seems to be spending time taking gains that women had pocketed already and demonizing them. Followed by the same women wondering why people don’t promote them or take them seriously. You can’t advance women’s voices in the world by spending the majority of your time being embarrassed by basic female preferences. Companies recognizing female preferences and catering to them is now bad in the eyes of modern feminism? That makes no sense.

Girls would be better served learning about the beneficial reciprocity of capitalism and the innate power of just asking for what they want in the first place. McDonald’s will be happy to accommodate them.


Calif. moves to ban judges affiliated with Boy Scouts

California is proposing to ban members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) from serving as judges because the Boy Scouts do not allow gay troop leaders, The Daily Caller has learned.

In a move with major legal implications, The California Supreme Court Advisory Committee on The Code of Judicial Ethics has proposed to classify the Boy Scouts as practicing “invidious discrimination” against gays, which would end the group’s exemption to anti-discriminatory ethics rules and would prohibit judges from being affiliated with the group.

“The Committee’s invitation ignores the fact that the change also encompasses other youth organizations whose membership is limited on the basis of gender, e.g., the Girl Scouts, as well as the military, which continues to practice ‘discrimination’ on the basis of gender,” wrote Catherine Short, legal director of the pro-life group Life Legal Defense Foundation, in a letter to the Committee obtained by TheDC that predicts possible implications for pro-life judges in the future.

“Perhaps this is not an unintended consequence,” wrote Short.

“This proposed amendment has as its overtly-stated purpose the branding of the BSA as an organization whose members must be assumed to be biased and thus unfit for the bench. The Committee states that ‘eliminating the exemption… would enhance public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,’” Short said.

“On the contrary, by promoting a hierarchy of politically-favored ‘victim’ status through pointlessly impugning the integrity of members of a venerable American institution, the proposed Amendment will communicate to the public that judges are being told by the California Supreme Court what to think, whom they may associate with, and what are permissible opinions to hold, and that only those who toe the line will be allowed to sit on the bench. The public can hardly expect impartiality from the judiciary in such a climate of intolerance,” Short wrote.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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