Monday, January 05, 2015

Multicultural boyfriend turns out to be not a good choice

At least this lady did better than Nicole Brown Simpson

A teen in Ohio says she was ambushed by six women who took turns brutally beating her on Christmas Eve — then spread photos and videos of the attack on social media to humiliate her.

Cheyanne Willis, 19, says she was pulling into the parking lot of a suburban Cincinnati mall with her then boyfriend, Quincy Gardner, when he parked and pulled her out of the car.

A group of six women, including two she knows, was waiting for her and allegedly took turns kicking and beating Willis, slamming her face on a car hood and shaving her head, WCPO reported.

Willis is heard pleading and crying in a video of the incident while others in the group shout angrily, according to the station.

The attackers wrote 'I got my a** whopped' on her forehead with eyeliner and signed their names, the video shows.

Willis says they took her purse with $50 and her cell phone, then destroyed her driver's license and threatened to kill Willis if she reported the crime.

'I am scared to leave my house still,' Willis, who was left with a black eye and multiple concussions, told on Friday.   'I still haven't been to sleep— I hate to fall asleep because I have nightmares.'

Gardner, 20, and Cheyenne Fisher, 21, were charged with robbery in connection with the incident, according to WCPO.


The Year in Art Censorship, Hate Speech and Gender Consent Laws

The statists were busy in 2014

Perhaps it was inevitable: Freed from first-hand experience with either mid-century authoritarianism or the excesses of 90s political correctness, millennials have been enthusiastic about using state power to enforce preferred social and cultural norms. Taken together with the portion of the population that will always embrace big government—sex-fearing social conservatives, sex-fearing feminists, narcissistic idealists of all stripes—these well-intentioned but deluded young statists have been busy busy busy ushering in an era of neo-victorianism.

Unfortunately, this neo-victorianism hasn't involved any economic deregulation, making more drugs available over-the-counter (though freeing birth control from its prescription shackles was a major theme for enterprising Republicans around election time), or a renewed fancy for French cuisine. (All Victorian-era elements I could get behind!) Rather, it's taken the form of fighting to shield delicate sensibilities from "offensive" ideas, limit the parameters of free expression, and return women to the realm of dainty dolls needing special protection. Here are four ways neo-victorianism has reared its ugly head in 2014:

Art Censorship

This year's seen an array of high-profile cases of art censorship, albeit not at the hands of the state. These days, it's more generally commercial or non-profit institutions—a university, a gallery, a theater—caving to public pressure to ban some art work. Brendan O'Neill catalogued 10 such instances from 2014 here.

There's nothing new about places succumbing to public outrage over offensive art. But in the past, this outrage tended to be the purview of conservatives or religious types, and their objections centered on material deemed sacrilegious, sexually explicit, or just plain "vulgar". These days, calls for art censorship come largely from the left, who object to works perceived as racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise intolerant and triggering.

The thing is, there's little market for intentional and explicitly hateful art these days, and it's not works of this variety that receives the wrath of our nouveau Anthony Comstocks. Ironically, the art modern progressives deem beyond the pale tend to be pieces aimed at challenging bigotry, misogyny, etc. In one recent instance, students at the University of Iowa demanded—and the administration obliged—that a visiting professor's installation highlighting race-based violence be removed because it involved the "real and scary symbol" of a Klu Klux Klansman. In London, protesters demanded that the Barbican shut down an exhibition designed to "confront colonial atrocities committed in Africa" for being racist.

Kara Walker, a black artist whose work often deals with racial stereotypes, was criticized harshly for a Brooklyn sculpture dealing with racial stereotypes. Artist Allen Jones' pieces designed as commentary on the objectification of women got him roundly panned as a misogynist. In New York, the Metropolitan Opera's production of "The Death of Klinghoffer"—a play concerning the murder of an American Jew by Palestinian terrorists in 1985—was met with protests for being anti-Semitic because it "humaniz(ed) the terrorists' actions."

Scotland-based writer and sociologist Tiffany Jenkins summed up the travesty of all this nicely in a recent piece for The New Republic. "Underlying these protests ... is the idea that we, the audience, are not capably of empathy, and that the purpose of art is not is not to create and convince people of other worlds but to reflect the reality as the self-selecting chosen ones see it," wrote Jenkins. "It is an exclusive and divisive outlook, and it is one that ultimately negates the basis of art."

Sex-Trafficking Hysteria

In America and around the world, prostitution prohibitionists have been embracing a new rationale for why it's imperative to criminalize the sex trade. Gone are the days when it was good enough to simply say "the dirty whores have it coming" because they're dirty whores, or allude to some vague "societal ills" that prostitution causes. These days, the culturally correct way to criminalize prostitution is to define all sex workers as de facto victims and all clients as committing "violence" against them—hence the need to make purchasing sex illegal and selling sex slightly less illegal. It's a theory of prostitution law that started in Sweden and Norway and officially came to Canada this year with the passage of Bill C36. It's also begun to assert itself in American cities through the employ of "prostitution diversion" programs, special sex-work courts, and an increased focus on punishing (and publicly embarassing) johns.

In order to make these strategies more publicbly palatable, anti-prostitution advocates (and the lawmakers who love them) have been doing their damndest to drum up fear about the great sex-trafficking menace. Sure, sex trafficking exists, and like all human trafficking it's terrible. But it's nowhere near as prevalent as these folks would have us all believe. Time and time again, their numbers and rhetoric have been debunked; in 2014 alone, the "true stories" of several famous sex-trafficking victims-turned-advocates have fallen apart. But this doesn't stop politicians like Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) from pushing "anti-sex trafficking" legislation that conveniently "saves" women by expanding federal wiretapping authority and web censorship capabilities. As I've said before, when the government goes after "sex trafficking", somehow everybody becomes a little less free.

What does all this have to do with neo-victorianism? The ideas that 1) no woman could possibly consent to sex work, and 2) sex traffickers are lurking around every corner are tenets that both took hold in the Victorian era. Before this, prostitution was seen as the purview of wicked harlots who delighted in defiling the husbands of God-fearing women, but a shift in Victorian England social mores soon branded prostitutes as victims—forced into it by hard times, or perhaps ignorant of the error of their ways (what today's zealots might call "false consciousness"), or most likely made to do it by evil men.

Back then, no one used the term "sex trafficking" but instead spoke of women sold into "sexual slavery"—and by the time this meme hit America it was a 'hide-your-kids, hide-your-wife, they're making everyone sex slaves!' kind of panic. As Thaddeus Russell detailed in Reason's May 2014 issue, "thousands of newspaper articles, books, sermons, speeches, plays, and films depicted a vast underground economy of kidnappers and pimps" leading young women to their ruin, but "there is scant verifiable evidence of American women being kidnapped and physically forced into prostitution." Nonetheless, "the claims made by the movement against 'white slavery' helped create, expand, and strengthen the police powers of an array of government agencies."

Hate Speech Hoopla

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has called ours a "new age of sensitivity and compassion." He doesn't seem to mean that as a compliment. It's not that sensitivity and compassion aren't worthy norms, but in trying to enforce them by fiat, today's progressives—particularly of the sort vocal on Twitter and on college campuses—"are echoing, in rationale and substance, the thinking of the old Victorian censors both in the UK and the United States," Lukianoff told the British mag Spiked. "Campaigners in both eras share this idea that there are certain moral ends which are so much more important than someone’s measly right to freedom of speech."

Today, the way around normally robust respect for free speech in America is to label something "hate speech." Who could be for hate speech? With that rhetorical construction, it's a politically toxic thing to defend. But of course for the First Amendment to mean anything, noxious sentiment is exactly the kind of speech it much extend protections to.

This is a hard sell, however, to young progressives and Twitter mobsters, who seem to a) take defending "free speech" as code for "I hate blacks, women, trans people, gays, and I rape puppies", b) believe it's possible to definitively classify what is and isn't "hate speech", and c) restrict or punish hate speech without (unacceptable) unintended consequences.

Obviously, I reject all three of those ideas. The first is patently ridiculous; the last reflects hubris and shortsightedness. The second reminds me of a book I'm reading right now on the history and future of privacy law (Intellectual Privacy, Neil Richards).

In the late 1800s, one of the main motivations in conceiving of invasion of privacy tort law was to prevent newspapers from publishing any info on the "private" realms of (rich) people's lives. Though the distinction between private and public facts was surely a blurry one, lawyers Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis wrote in their famous 1890 paper on the issue, certainly it was something courts and law enforcement could easily sort out on a case by case basis.

"The right to privacy was born as a reactionary defense of the status quo," wrote Stewart Baker at the Volokh Conspiracy. "Then, as now, new technology suddenly made it possible to spread information more cheaply and more easily. This was new, and uncomfortable. But apart from a howl of pain—pain 'far greater than . . . mere bodily injury'—Brandeis doesn’t tell us why it’s so bad."

That privacy-invading speech caused unquantifiable emotional costs, and that these warranted the overrule of normal First Amendment protections, was at the core of early privacy tort law. And circling this were cries for civility and worry over the ways new cameras and publishing mores were enabling crimes against it.

Sound familiar? The rational for banning/criminalizing hate speech is that it's so emotionally traumatizing it serves, even in the absence of any incitement or physical consequence, as a form of violence, and this trumps free speech concerns. When Professor Steven Salaita had a tenured job offer rescinded over comments he made concerning Israel and Palestine this summer, many insisted that it wasn't his political opinions but his uncivil tone—his "hate speech"—that was unacceptable. When folks rush to take a legislative sledgehammer to problems like sexting or digital harassment, it's done under the logic that the Internet, smart phones, and social media have imbued the issue with a completely new and unprecedented urgency.

As a Supreme Court justice in the 1920s and '30s, Brandeis came to reject his early privacy paper's possibility of a court system equipped to separate privacy-infringing speech from permissible speech. And its concept of a legal scheme built on separating private and public spheres turned out to contain some pretty nasty assumptions about gender roles and a sexist, inflated concern for women's purity and protection. The hindsight of the past seems to hold at least some considerations relevant to speech-limiting efforts today.

"We may well be an increasingly ill-mannered society, one that's soaking in violent video games, instantly available online porn, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo like our mothers used to soak their hands in Palmolive liquid," wrote Nick Gillespie earlier this year in a defense of vulgarity. "But we are also a society in which youth violence, sex, and drug use are all trending down. If that means putting up with, you know, ladies cursing and other examples of unambiguously crass behavior, it seems a small price to pay."

We are also a society that—for all the way's social media's microscope may make it appear otherwise—is becoming more tolerant, more open-minded, less bigoted, less homophobic, and less accepting of sexual violence. Now is not the time to panic, and certainly not to trample rights; why make bigots into free-speech martyrs? If tolerance and equality truly are winning on their own merits (and I think they are), then letting their opponents freely express their grievances with them can only help.

Gendering Consent

In the Victorian era though parts of last century, men were considered unable to be raped. Prostitutes were considered unable to be raped, as were female slaves. Married women were unable to be raped by their husbands. And the logic behind these all dismissals lay in the fact that rape's criminalization had naught to do with its general violation of bodily autonomy. Rape was, rather, a very specific offense rooted in the guarding of (white) women's purity. Rape was considered wrong only so far as it defiled a "good" girl or woman.

This is obviously a shit way to look at rape, and certainly one that none (or at least few) now wish to return to. For decades, feminist-minded folk have been working to obliterate the more entrenched distinctions, arguing that things like sexual history or a prior relationship with a perpetrator are irrelevant. And while some more radical feminists object, mainstream feminists have also been leading the charge to recognize sexual violence against men as real, too.

But in recent years, something subtly undermining of these concepts has been brewing, and it reached a tipping point in 2014. This is the year that The Great Campus Rape Crisis became front-page news, as California passed "affirmative consent" legislation and the Obama administration mandated new ways for universities to handle sexual assault. These developments haven't been universally bad—the way colleges handle sexual assaults does deserve examination, and encouraging young men and women to think about the way they give and express consent could be a worthy endeavor. Yet as Reason's Robby Soave, Cathy Young, Shikha Dalmia, and I have all elaborated on here previously, the way we've been going about these things is something of a disaster.

I won't rehash all our particular complaints (which are myriad) with California's affirmative consent legislation and many university sexual-conduct codes. For my purpose here, the part that matters is the gendered double standards. In everything from the way people talk about these rules to the way they're written, male students are almost always presumed to be the aggressors, and female students the victims. In the realm of words, perhaps this isn't so pernicious—it is the more common scenario, and we have to be able to talk without 1,000 caveats sometimes. But often the talk belies deeper things than just a need for shorthand. In practice, we see things like female students being deemed unable to give legal consent if they're intoxicated, while intoxicated male students are considered totally legally culpable. We see the idea that saying "no" to unwanted sexual encounters may be too taxing for women to handle—and thus we should come up with new legal standards rather than teaching women to toughen up and assert their own sexual wishes. We get a scenario where rape means one thing for women, and something different for men.

When you add in the class element at play here—women on college campuses experience equal or lower levels of sexual violence than similarly aged women not in college, yet our focus on "ending rape" and teaching consent has centered almost exclusively on collegiate sex lives this year—a picture disquietingly similar to the old rape law disparities begins to emerge. Men and many women are considered to retain their agency when drinking, considered strong enough to voice non-consent when they're non-consenting, and to report sexual violations without coddling; but some young women, our elite young women, are just too delicate for these type of expectations.


The politician, the coach, and the Founding Father

Honesty and integrity in the face of temptation is so rare that it made big news

by Jeff Jacoby

IN A CHRISTMAS DAY update to his email list and Facebook followers, Governor-elect Charlie Baker touched all the right notes: gratitude to Massachusetts voters who elected him, admiration for "the ideas and the genuine commitment" he encounters in his travels across the commonwealth, sobriety regarding the gaping hole in the state budget ("the only outstanding question is how big it will be"), and optimism about the "smart, experienced, and unabashed" individuals who have agreed to join his new administration.

But the most valuable part of Baker's message was his celebration of Derek Herber, a track coach at North Attleborough High School, who led his team to a second consecutive Division II state championship last spring — only to realize after the trophy had been awarded that a scoring error had given North Attleborough too many points.­­

"Herber didn't hesitate," Baker wrote. "He called state officials and notified them that Central Catholic from Lawrence had actually won the meet, and his team had finished second. Then he faced his kids — to inform them about what he had done and what it would mean. And everybody got it."

Baker is by no means the first to extol Herber's sportsmanship. After relinquishing the trophy, the coach told the Boston Globe, he was interviewed 34 times — which was 33 more interviews than he gave after winning the state title in 2013. To be praised for his probity by the incoming governor, however, was especially significant.

Some months back I deplored Baker's choice of "loyalty" as the quality he most valued in others. Loyalty in the abstract is a fine trait, but loyalty-above-all is an invitation to corruption, particularly in politics. The favoritism and venality in the Probation Department scandal, I wrote at the time, were only the latest reminder of what can happen when loyalty trumps integrity. So it was heartening to see Baker make a point of singling out Coach Herber for putting integrity first and giving his young athletes a demonstration of honor far more valuable than any mere trophy.

When such exemplars of good character are "recognized for what they are and what they mean," Baker wrote, "we all benefit." That is absolutely right, and it can't be emphasized enough. Which is why I hope Baker will seek out more opportunities to celebrate standout models of admirable character, and to make clear that the inculcation of good character is as important a policy goal as economic development or reducing opiate addiction.

"The development of character is perhaps the central task of any civilized society," affirms Richard V. Reeves in a recent essay in the journal National Affairs. To a generation raised to think that it is no business of the state to concern itself with shaping the civic virtue, prudence, and integrity of its citizens, it may seem radical or illiberal to claim otherwise. In reality, argues Reeves, a British historian and philosopher now based at the Brookings Institution, to focus on the importance of character is to "echo classical liberal ideas about what government is for" — ideas stretching from the ancient Greek and Roman republics to the thinkers who inspired America's founding fathers in the 18th century.

Good character reveals itself in the choices individuals make, above all when those choices pit integrity against expediency, self-discipline against temptation, or ethical standards against popularity or personal advancement.

"Every man has his price!" exclaims the ambitious Richard Rich in the opening scene of "A Man for All Seasons" Robert Bolt's classic play about Sir Thomas More. "In money.… Or pleasure. Titles, women, bricks-and-mortar, there's always something." The only defense against that cynical worldview is good character, and only where good character is cultivated can freedom and democracy thrive.

Over and over the founders underscored the indispensability of character to liberty. At his inauguration next week, Baker, like his predecessor, will take an oath to "bear true faith and allegiance and … support the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." The principal author of that constitution was John Adams, and his remarkable charter — the oldest still in effect anywhere in the world — directly links character and democratic statecraft.

"Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people," the constitution declares, are "necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties." Accordingly, it is "the duty of legislators and magistrates … to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings … among the people."

When good character is scarce, social problems multiply, opportunity shrivels, and freedom recedes. Every society needs more Coach Herbers, and the integrity they exemplify. "Let's be great again, Massachusetts," exhorts the incoming governor. It will take a lot to make that happen, but character is where it starts.


This TV Star Doesn’t Consider Herself a Feminist

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting doesn’t consider herself a feminist. “The Big Bang Theory” star danced around the question in a new interview. “Is it bad if I say no?” she told Redbook magazine. “It’s not really something I think about.”

Then she elaborated: "Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around. … I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality."

Cuoco-Sweeting, who is 29, has a point: Feminists from past eras did achieve many of the goals.  We’re no longer stuck in an era where women can’t hold many jobs or receive the same level of education as men.

In fact, today young women often are outpacing young men. Consider this data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a study released in March: “By 27 years of age, 32 percent of women had received a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24 percent of men.”

That’s a sizeable gap.

Young women also are earning more than their male peers in some situations: “Census data from 2008 show that single, childless women in their 20s now earn 8 percent more on average than their male counterparts in metropolitan areas,” wrote American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Summers in a 2012 U.S. News and World Report article.

In fact, Cuoco-Sweeting herself is a prime example of a successful woman: She makes $1 million per episode.

Now, it’s true that not every feminist goal has been achieved. Although it’s certainly possible fewer women than men would like to be executives or politicians, it would be great to live in a world where more than 5 percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500s were women and where more than one out of five senators were women.

It’s also concerning that we live in a nation where legislation that would have banned abortion on the basis of sex selection couldn’t pass in the House of Representatives two years ago. Shouldn’t feminists want to make sure that unborn girls aren’t discriminated against?

But for many, perhaps even most, women, serious sexism isn’t a problem they have to face in their day-to-day lives.  That’s something we should celebrate: that women don’t have to spend time and energy fighting for equality anymore, that they are free to focus on other things instead.



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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