Monday, July 25, 2005


When Rick Plouffe picked up a copy of a book on his daughter's school reading list, he came across something he didn't expect - pages littered with obscenities. To his shock, the book on Wellesley High School's required summer reading list contains dozens of vulgarities. ``I got four pages into it and f-bombs started flying all over the place,'' said Plouffe, whose daughter is a sophomore. ``You get a few more pages into it and the language gets even more colorful.''

Despite the book's goal of helping people understand autism, Plouffe said ``The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'' is not appropriate for young teens and violates the school's student handbook, which bars students from using ``abusive'' or ``hostile'' speech. The book tells the story of Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic savant. WHS Principal Rena Mirkin defended the book's choice, saying its message overrides the vulgarities. She said the school considered other books, but none were as effective in conveying the realities of autism. ``It's not about the language; it's about the issue,'' she said.

Ploufee said, ``I'm sure they can find plenty of books that convey the same message without the use of vulgarity. This is a distraction to conveying the story about autism.''



Miss Universe is one of many victims of liberal narrow- mindedness, which is in reality a rigid intolerance masquerading as tolerance, Michael Coren argues

We should remember the last few days as The Week of Hypocrisy. A revealing glimpse into the world of contemporary North America and its ways and wants. As so often, it started with the CBC. Taking its lead from the BBC and Reuters, the network refuses to employ the word "terrorist" when describing people who purposefully murder harmless men, women and children.

Quite clearly, we need to distinguish between armed resistance to oppression and the intentional killing of the innocent. But when the latter is obvious, as with the London mass murders, we cannot hide behind euphemisms. This is particularly so for the CBC, which for years has used pejorative and judgmental words to describe people who are pro-life, orthodox Christian and conservative. If the words aren't enough, one only has to look at the gestures and listen to the inflection of various anchors and interviewers, to know where they stand. Some years ago, a leading CBC commentator and host described Roman Catholicism as an international criminal organization and was not even challenged. There's fairness for you.

In Toronto, the city's mayor sensibly apologized to the new Miss Universe, who happens to be a Canadian. She had been refused a welcome at City Hall because municipal bylaws prevent any "activities which degrade men or women through sexual stereotyping, or exploit the bodies of men, women, boys or girls solely for the purpose of attracting attention." Odd, then, that the rainbow flag is now officially flown from City Hall by this same authority every year for the Gay Pride parade and the ceremony around this is attended by the mayor, the chief of police and assorted political and business figures. Odd because at the Gay Pride Parade, numerous women march topless, men dance about as sexual objects in leather briefs and male cross-dressers cover themselves in ghoulish make-up, wear high heels and claim to look like women. Not only does this objectify women, and men, but it degrades them as well. As for "attracting attention" and "stereotypes," the truth really does cry out to be heard.

A new cause: The fashionable left has found a new cause in Hassan Almrei, a 31-year-old Syrian accused of having ties to al-Qaida. He has been detained for almost four years because Canadian intelligence believes him to be a threat to our security. Alexa McDonough, Alexandre Trudeau, Avi Lewis and their friends believe this to be unacceptable. Perhaps they are correct. Yet why, one wonders, did they not speak out when Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was also categorized a security threat and kept in solitary confinement? Islamic fundamentalist terrorism (apologies to the CBC) is certainly a threat. Nazi propaganda may be vile, but is far less serious. As awful as he may be, it could well be argued that Zundel is less of a threat than Almeri. Yet fashionable he certainly is not.

Across the border in the United States, a 24-year-old female teacher conducted a sexual relationship with a boy of fourteen. What she did was, of course, repugnant and immoral. The same public and politicians who are so angry at her behaviour, however, said very little when the age of consent was lowered, when the law was changed to allow young girls to go on the contraceptive pill without parental consent and when major corporations produced, and produce, clothing for six-year-old children that is sexually suggestive.

Job at risk: Finally we have intolerance in the name of tolerance. Marriage commissioner Orville Nichols has supervised thousands of weddings in Saskatchewan but now looks likely to lose his job. The reason is that he has refused to marry a gay couple. Predictably, the people he so offended have gone to the provincial Human Rights Commission and the 69-year-old Nichols knows that there is none so angry as a liberal scorned. Perhaps comrades McDonough, Trudeau and Lewis will fight for his right to have an opinion without being fired and stand up for his freedom. Then again, perhaps not.


No more cheating for a good cause


Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement from the Supreme Court should make us ponder affirmative action. Her most influential piece of writing might well be the 2003 court opinion allowing the University of Michigan Law School to continue race-based admissions for the time being - so long as there were no racial quotas. It was the first time the court had ever endorsed race-based university admissions.

And of course, O'Connor herself was the first woman on the Supreme Court. When President Reagan nominated her in 1981, affirmative action was fairly new; O'Connor made it look good. She was superbly qualified, yet presumably would have been overlooked had Reagan not searched expressly for a female.

But that was long ago. Today, affirmative action is ripe for the junkyard. There's dramatic evidence in President Bush nominating a garden-variety white male to O'Connor's seat. He said something important by doing so. Consider the fact that for much of the 20th century, the "Jewish seat" was a Supreme Court convention. To have one Jew on the court (no more, no less) seemed proper and fitting. But in time Jews went mainstream and the single "Jewish seat" quietly disappeared. (There are now two Jewish justices).

Bush has delivered a comparable message to women and minorities: Welcome to the mainstream! We don't need a "woman's seat" on the court. There are no more outsiders in American life.

Now let's get rid of affirmative action. In practice, affirmative action means cheating in a good cause. (But all cheating, for any cause, gnaws at a nation's moral innards like termites.) Affirmative action means a plus factor in university admissions, job hiring and promotion for candidates from protected groups, in the interests of "diversity." (But why should "diversity" mean official "minorities" and women but not libertarians, farmers, Mormons, Texans, children of soldiers, aspiring Catholic priests, etc.?)

Affirmative action is highly unpopular: A 2003 Washington Post-Harvard-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 92% of the public (86% of blacks) agreed that admissions, hiring and promotion decisions "should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race/ethnicity." Only bureaucrats and intellectuals (species that are more closely related than they seem) love affirmative action.

Is it really "cheating"? In 2003, Linda Chavez, the head of the Center for Equal Opportunity, described University of Michigan freshman admissions as they stood in the mid-1990s: "We found that the odds ratio favoring admission of a black applicant with identical grades and test scores to a white applicant was 174 to 1." The high court struck down that admissions procedure, but it's a frightening reminder of what people can do in the name of fairness.

Affirmative actions begs comparison with the Vietnam War: two hugely ambitious programs with no exit strategies. In 1965, the Johnson administration launched affirmative action. The Nixon administration relaunched it in 1970, requiring all federal contractors to set "goals and timetables" to govern black hiring. It spread quickly (as a legal requirement or voluntary policy) to unions, government agencies, big business, universities.

It was intended originally not to create diversity but to stamp out prejudice in a hurry. As such, it bears another strange resemblance to Vietnam. You could argue in both cases that we won but refused to admit it. Some modern historians insist that we defeated the Vietnamese communists, then walked off and let them win by default. And we have stamped out so much prejudice that nowadays we are at least as strongly bigoted in favor of women and minorities as we are bigoted against them - as any 10-year-old can tell you.

Textbooks widely used in public schools consistently downplay white men in favor of women and minorities. (Thomas Edison gets less space than a black scientist who tweaked one of Edison's inventions. A Navajo physicist gets a detailed write-up, but Albert Einstein doesn't appear. A biologist of the Seneca tribe is credited with nothing noteworthy, but he gets a picture while James Watson and Francis Crick, co-founders of modern genetics, don't rate a mention. At virtually any U.S. university, female or minority faculty candidates are in vastly greater demand than plain old white males.

Affirmative action has turned the United States into an aristocracy. British aristocrats have enjoyed their own kind of "reverse discrimination" for a thousand years. America's affirmative-action aristocrats were only created a generation ago; until then, they were targets of bigotry themselves. So what? No aristocracy is acceptable in the U.S.

O'Connor wrote in the University of Michigan ruling that affirmative action must end some day. George W. might be just the man to end it.

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