Saturday, July 15, 2006


How can there be a male/female "balance" when all the great composers are men? I am a Bach/Mozart man myself but all the other highly esteemed composers are men too. And they are highly esteemed because they are the composers whom most people enjoy listening to. People won't pay to listen to music unless they enjoy it.

If you go to a classical concert, the organizers almost always pop in a "modern" piece somewhere to "educate" you but they never make it the last piece on the program because they know that many in the audience would start walking out at that point if they did.... and "modern" music written by women is no different. Let them put it last on the program if they want to get in touch with reality. But they know the reality well enough.

Not all modern composers are hopeless but needles in the haystack like Philip Glass (another male) are both exceedingly rare and in no need of promoting. Glass's music speaks for itself and who cares what program it is on when you can buy it all on CD? Click here to hear some typically mesmeric Glass

In A remarkable gaffe, the BBC Proms season that opens tonight features not a single piece of music composed or conducted by a woman. For the first time in at least 20 years, men will have written and will direct all 270 pieces at the 73 evening concerts. The absence of women composers or conductors has caused consternation, even in the male-dominated world of classical music. "I'm hoping this is a statistical accident, to be handsomely corrected next year," said Judith Weir, a leading British composer whose operas have been staged at Covent Garden.

Defending the all-male line-up of composers and conductors this summer, Nicholas Kenyon, the controller of the BBC Proms, said: "We achieve balance over several seasons, not every season."

This gender imbalance also extends to the choice of instrumental soloists for the 112-year old concerts at the Albert Hall. There are twenty male pianists, but only two females. And overall, male instrumental soloists outnumber women by a ratio of five to one. "There are women writing brilliant and highly individual music," said Jude Kelly, the artistic director of the South Bank Centre in London. "Perhaps they won't need the Proms, but the Proms might need them."

"I would hate to be included in the Proms as a token woman," said Sally Beamish, a composer whose work is heavily featured in this year's Cheltenham Music Festival. "But young composers should see that composition is something that women do, and from that point of view [their omission] is a pity."



Single women and lesbians will have the right to seek fertility treatment after the most radical shake-up of Britain's embryology laws for 16 years. A child's need for a father will no longer have to be considered by clinics before they provide IVF or sperm donation services, under proposals announced yesterday by Caroline Flint, Public Health Minister. However, doctors will still be obliged to consider the welfare of any children who might be born, and the "need for a father" may be replaced by the "need for a family".

The review of the 1990 Fertilisation and Embryology Act, considered widely to be out of date, will also formally ban parents from choosing the sex of their child for non-medical reasons. It will include a set of broad principles outlining when it is acceptable to screen embryos for genetic diseases. The reforms are expected to be set out in a White Paper by the end of the year.

The 1990 Act states that clinics cannot provide treatment to infertile patients "unless account has been taken of the welfare of any child who might be born as a result . . . including the need of that child for a father". Some clinics interpret this as a ban on treating single women and lesbians; some accept such women provided that there is an uncle, grandfather or family friend who will act as a paternal figure. Gay and lesbian groups and infertility support charities regard the rule as discriminatory and anachronistic. Dame Suzi Leather, chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, has attacked it as a "nonsense". Some lawyers consider the rule illegal under human rights legislation, and it is out of step with the Government's Equality Bill, which will outlaw the refusal to provide services on grounds of sexual orientation.

Ms Flint said that the Government accepted the case for reform. "We are minded to retain a duty in terms of the welfare of the child, but we are thinking that there is less of a case for retaining the law in reference to a father," she told the Commons Science and Technology Committee. "What's important is looking at the family environment. There's less of a need for the reference to the father in that circumstance. That's not to say that fathers are not important. What's important is that the children are going to be, as far as we know, part of a loving home." Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat member of the committee, who has led the campaign to change the law, said: "I'm pleased that after 16 years of licensed discrimination against solo mothers and lesbian couples there are signs that it will come to an end. Susan Crane, a former board member of the lesbian and gay group Pink Parents, said: "It's not before time that they have recognised the changing nature of families and the validity of many different kinds of families. The requirement was an anachronism that was judgmental and insulting."

Campaigners for traditional values, however, said that the move would undermine the importance of fatherhood. Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "This is exactly what we expected - politically correct gender politics gone mad with inherent contradictions and the rights of women trumping everything else, including the welfare of the child. "Fathers will be written out of the Act on one hand, but no gender discrimination is allowed when it comes to sex selection of embryos. I think the world will ridicule most of these recommendations, as will the majority of people in the United Kingdom, especially the attack on the role of fatherhood."

The Science and Technology Committee recommended last year that sex selection be allowed for "family balancing", where a couple already had boys or girls and wanted a child of the opposite sex. Dr Harris said: "The State should be giving good reasons before restricting the reproductive choice of adult citizens."



From Dennis Prager

I was recently shown a videotape of people reacting to radio talk shows. Organized by a firm that specializes in analyzing radio talk shows, the members of the listening panel were carefully chosen to represent all major listening groups within American society. But I quickly noticed something odd - I saw no blacks among the selected listeners. I asked why. And the response was stunning.

Blacks had always been included, I was told, but no more. Not because the firm was not interested in black listeners - on the contrary, blacks are an important part of the radio audience. They were not invited to give their opinion about various radio shows because in its previous experience, the company had discovered that almost no whites would publicly differ with the opinions of the blacks on the panel. Therefore, once a black listener spoke, whites stopped saying what they really thought, if what they thought differed from what a black had said.

I believed that this was the reason - not some racist animosity toward blacks - since such companies are paid to give accurate reports on audience reactions to radio programs, and clearly their results would be skewed without input from black listeners. But I still needed to test this thesis. Do most whites really not publicly say what they believe, if what they believe differs from what a black believes - even when the subject has absolutely nothing to do with race (i.e., reactions to a radio talk show discussing other subjects)?

So I posed to this question to my radio audience, and, sure enough, whites from around the country called in to say that they are afraid to differ with blacks lest they be labeled racist.

I could not imagine anything more detrimental toward abolishing racism and to enhancing black progress in America than such an attitude. But apparently it is the norm in American life to so fear being called a racist that individuals as well as institutions react to blacks as they would to children - humoring them rather than taking them seriously.

This is another terrible legacy of the dominant liberal attitudes vis a vis America's blacks. For the liberal worlds of academia and media, as for the Democratic Party, blacks are not seen as individuals, the way members of virtually other minority and majority groups are. In the liberal mind, blacks are an oppressed group - the ultimate oppressed group in America - and there is little more about black Americans that one needs to know.

Therefore, in a mind-numbing non sequitur, blacks are not be judged, talked to, talked about or hired as other human beings are. I write "non sequitur" because even if one were to agree that blacks are an, or even the, oppressed minority, why would that obviate the need to judge, talk to, talk about or hire black human beings differently than anyone else? It would seem that anyone with equal respect for blacks would judge and talk to them just as they would all other people. But high schools and universities, newspapers and television, the Democratic Party and other liberal institutions have made it very difficult to do so.

Anyone who argues that standards should be identical for blacks - in hiring and in college acceptance, for example - is likely to be labeled a racist. And if the person making that argument is himself black, he becomes a member of the group liberals most hate, black conservatives - "traitors" to fellow blacks.

This also explains why, if one differs with a black, one is not perceived as merely disagreeing with him, but as "dissing" him. That is what started the liberal hatred of former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers. After asking Harvard Professor Cornel West to engage in more scholarship and less rap music making and politicking (West was a major figure in the Al Sharpton campaign for president), Professor West announced that President Summers had shown him "disrespect." Even a Harvard president doesn't tell a black professor what to do.

After dismissing Cornel West's books as "almost completely worthless," the New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier was attacked in ways that made it clear that one should simply not attack a black professor's literary output as one would a white professor's.

Every time liberals force universities to lower standards for black applicants, and every time liberal activists force civil service exams to be rewritten so that more blacks can pass those exams, another person learns not to treat blacks and their ideas as he would anyone else's.

That is why most whites won't differ publicly with most blacks. And that is why liberals and Democrats will have to answer to history for the harm they have done to at least two generations of black Americans.


Thank Heaven for moral violence

From Dennis Prager

Let us make war on the phrase "violence doesn't solve anything." It is a lie, and anyone who utters it cannot be taken morally seriously. Take, for example, the American use of violence against the Taliban. Thanks to it, Afghani women may get an education, attend public events without a male escort, and otherwise ascend above their prior status as captive animals.

Thanks to American violence in Afghanistan, Islamic terror has started to decline in prestige among many Muslims who had previously romanticized it. Though many Muslims still glorify Muslims who blow themselves up in order to murder Jews and Americans, the glamour of terror is dwindling. In Pakistan, for example, there are almost no Osama T-shirts on sale, and no more demonstrations on his behalf. Even more significantly, a handful of Muslims and Arabs are beginning to ask what is wrong in their cultures, rather than continuing to blame America, Christianity and Israel for their lack of human rights, political democracy and economic progress. Once again, violence properly used has led to major moral gains for humanity.

You have to wonder how anyone can utter, let alone believe, something so demonstrably wrong as "violence doesn't solve anything" or "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind," or any other pacifist platitudes. These are the moral and intellectual equivalents of "the earth is flat." In fact, it is easier to show that violence solves many evils than it is to show that the earth is round. It was violence that destroyed Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Only violence. Not talk. Not negotiations. Not good will. It is violence used by police that stops violent criminals from murdering or otherwise hurting innocent people. There are many innocent men and women alive today solely because some policeman used violence to save their lives. It was violence that ended slavery in America. Had violence not been used against the Confederacy, the United States would have been cut in half, and millions of black men and women would have remained slaves.

The list of moral good achieved by violence is endless. How, then, can anyone possibly say something as demonstrably false as "violence doesn't solve anything"? The answer is difficult to arrive at. Given how obviously moral much violence has been, one is tempted to respond by asking how people can believe any absurdity -- whether it is that Elvis Presley is still living, or that race determines a person's behavior, or that 72 women in heaven await mass murderers.

Vast numbers of people believe what they want to believe or what they have been brainwashed to believe, not what is true or good. For vast numbers of people, it is simply dogma that all violence is wrong. It is a position arrived at with little thought but with a plethora of naive passion. It is also often the position of the morally confused. People who believe in moral relativism, who therefore cannot ever determine which side in a conflict is morally right, understandably feel incapable of determining when violence may be moral. Those who say violence never solves anything have confused themselves in other ways as well. They have elevated peace above goodness. Therefore, in these people's views, it is better for evil to prevail than to use violence to end that evil -- since the very use of violence renders the user of it evil.

For those people whose moral compasses are intact, the issue is as clear as where North and South are. There is immoral violence and there is moral violence. That is why it is so morally wrong and so pedagogically foolish to prohibit young boys from watching any violence or from playing violent games like "Cops and Robbers." Just as with sex and ambition and all other instincts, what must be taught about violence is when it is right to use it. For if we never engage in moral violence, it is as certain as anything in life can be that immoral violence will rule the world.


No comments: